A New Direction for Schools and Labour (FORUM 3)
Author: JAMIE AUDSLEY, JIM O'CONNELL
JAMIE AUDSLEY, JIM O’CONNELL
The authors argue that it is time to get radical about the Left’s vision for education and develop a direction that communities can really own. The Labour Party being out of government for the first time in 13 years gives us a chance to consider what education means to the Left, and allows us to be innovative in how the Party can approach education both now and in anticipation of an eventual return to government. The authors consider the interaction between policy and citizen action in education, highlighting the importance of both and their complementary nature. It is argued, following some of the values and reasoning of the ‘Blue Labour’ dialogue, that for schools to be both truly free and effective they need to be governed by alliances of parents and teachers and not by the state or the market. This requires a shift of trust on the part of the Left, and in particular a willingness to accept pluralism and diversity in education contra both the centralised prescriptions and target setting of the New Labour Government and its moves towards marketisation with the ‘choice’ agenda. In particular, against the consumerist approach to education, they envisage an onus on parental agency beyond selecting the school – on being trusted to work continuously in collaboration with other school stakeholders and inculcating a sense of citizenship in children in order that they should do the same.