I’ve been surprised throughout this election at the lack of questioning during hustings and interviews about education.
With cuts being felt right across the county, we really should be more focused on this issue that we are. I was tweeted tonight by a parent led group campaigning against cuts in school funding in Oxfordshire asking if I realised just how bad the situation was.
At this point I’m the only candidate to reply. But maybe the others will catch up later.
But playing catch-up seems to be the way for our education system, with a report coming out only a few days ago on the dire state of repair of some school buildings. As someone who went to school in the 70s, I find it shocking that we should have let our education system become so under-valued in such a short period of time.
My best friend from back in those days keeps in touch with me, and he has just retired as a senior head teacher. He now does consultancy work for schools that are suffering under the same system he battled through. Essentially the privatisation of our education system that does little to help students and puts a lot of money into the pockets of Academy shareholders.
The future of our children should not be for sale to the highest bidder, and we should not be seeing a situation where parents have to raise hundreds of pounds to subsidise books or pay for bus passes so their children can actually get to school. Again, I remember free bus passes for school-children, but that seems like a long-lost utopia now.
We need an education system that provides opportunity to everyone. Schools that cater for all levels of ability and aspiration. The chance for everyone who wants to move on to further and higher education to do so without saddling themselves with a lifetime of debt.
We also need to value our teachers and educators, paying them a decent salary and ensuring they have fair conditions to work in. Like doctors and nurses they are taken far too much for granted and expected to cope with appalling stress simply because they are dedicated people.
The Conservative’s promises of extra funding don’t come close to addressing the problems that have been stored up over the past 10 years. Their so-called ‘extra’ spending amounts to nothing more than setting the clock back to the point before they imposed austerity on us all.
See the Green Party Manifesto by clicking here. Go to page 55 to see our comprehensive range of proposals and policies about revitalising our education system and bringing schools into the 21sct century, whilst unlocking the potential of students and teachers at all levels.
A proper education for the next generation should be a priority for all of us. Without that what kind of world are we building for our children and ourselves?