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 Socialism in the 21st Century

 

Higher education and Schools

The Socialist Party stands for 

  • Free, high quality education for all, from nursery to university.
  • A massive increase in public spending to provide the
  • increased staffing, 
  • smaller class sizes, 
  • and good quality resources needed to ensure the best education and individual support for every child.

To recruit and retain teachers, there should be an 

  • immediate end to performance pay, 
  • a minimum 20% non-contact time for teachers and 
  • significant pay rises for all school staff.
  • There should be a campaign to recruit greater numbers of Black and Asian teachers to support students from ethnic minorities.
  • Private-sector involvement in running schools and Local Education Authorities (LEAs) should be ended.

"Education, education, education".

New Labour came to power proclaiming that its priority was "education, education, education".

It then abolished all student grants and introduced tuition fees.

Now, one in five students drop out of university as a result of poverty.

Increasingly, the children of working-class families simply cannot afford a university education.

Those who struggle through have to work long hours to fund their studies and still end up with the millstone of thousands of pounds worth of debt around their necks.


Taxed higher than millionaires!

The government’s latest plans, to introduce graduate tax and top-up fees, will only worsen the situation.

Graduates will be expected to pay for their degree once they are working and earning a measly £15,000 a year – at a rate of 9% tax – higher than the rate paid by millionaires!

At the same time the top-up fees will mean that from 2006 it will cost £3000 a year to attend most universities.

Even worse, the top-up fees open the door to a complete Americanisation of the university system.

The Russell Group, made up of the vice-chancellors of the 19 'most prestigious' universities, has already declared it wants to get rid of the £3000 ceiling.

If these vice-chancellors get their way, universities like Oxford and Cambridge will charge £16,000 a year – moving towards the level of fees charged by their US equivalents, Harvard and Yale.


Education should be a right for all

Education should be a right for all, not just for a privileged few.

Under capitalism this has never truly been the case, but reforms that were won in the past – such as the student grant – vastly improved the opportunities for working-class students.

We are now moving back towards the days when 'high quality' education was only for the elite.

The cost of abolishing tuition fees, reintroducing a full grant for all students comparable to its 1979 level (around £4,200, before 21 years of cuts began), along with the reintroduction of the right to claim benefits outside of term-time, would be about £3 billion a year.

To put the figure of £3 billion into context, it is equal to the profits of BP for the first quarter of 2004 alone!


Schools

Privatisation is becoming the norm in Britain’s schools.

New Labour’s latest ‘new’ idea is for City Academies.

These schools are private companies, which only have to raise £2 million sponsorship, and then receive 100% state funding!


Big business brainwashing

Even in other schools the influence of big business is increasing.

For example, in Scotland the government agency Scottish Enterprise distributed 20,000 copies to schools of a magazine called "Biotechnology and You".

It claimed to be a teachers’ resource helping children to navigate the moral and scientific complexities surrounding genetically engineered crops.

In fact it was published by the "Biotechnology Institute" a lobby group funded by agri-business and the pharmaceutical industry.

The magazine repeated Monsanto’s misleading claim that its best-selling herbicide is "less toxic to us than table salt".

It also suggested it would be immoral not to develop GM crops.

At the same time we are witnessing the abolition of comprehensive education and the wholesale reintroduction of selective schools.


For free, high quality education for all

Comprehensive education, based on the development of all-round skills, was an attempt to partially overcome the greed and anarchy of the market which, of course, favours the children of the rich.

Despite the limitations of the comprehensive system, its abolition will be a severe step backwards.


The Socialist Party stands for 

  • Free, high quality education for all, from nursery to university.
  • A massive increase in public spending to provide the
  • increased staffing, 
  • smaller class sizes, 
  • and good quality resources needed to ensure the best education and individual support for every child.

To recruit and retain teachers, there should be an 

  • immediate end to performance pay, 
  • a minimum 20% non-contact time for teachers and 
  • significant pay rises for all school staff.
  • There should be a campaign to recruit greater numbers of Black and Asian teachers to support students from ethnic minorities.
  • Private-sector involvement in running schools and Local Education Authorities (LEAs) should be ended.

Teachers should be employed through fully democratic LEAs run by elected representatives, subject to recall, with the full involvement of school teachers and non-teaching staff, parents, local trade unionists, community organisations and secondary school students.

Schools should also be run by similar democratic governing committees.

To allow more working-class parents to become involved, governors should receive paid time off to attend governors meetings during the day.

  • Adequate time must be allowed for trade union organisation and for school students to develop their own unions.
  • Selection on any grounds, be it by ability, aptitude or religion, should be abolished.
  • All schools should be brought under local democratic control.
  • We stand for a democratically planned equitable admissions policy based on genuinely comprehensive, co-educational, neighbourhood schools.

 

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