Labour Party Conference 2021 Photo Credit: Elena Wilson

The Labour Party Conference (#LAB21) took place in Brighton from the 25th – 29th September. Being the first full conference since the 2019 General Election (where the party suffered its biggest defeat since WW2) it offered an urgent opportunity for the party to come together to challenge, debate and decide on their future goals.

We felt a tangible sense of energy and urgency rippling through the conference over the five days with considerable breadth of discussion exploring topics such as:

  • the Covid-19 recovery (“Reform, resilience and recovery in 16-19 education” hosted by NFER and Nacro);
  • the reform of our assessment system  (“The future of GCSEs” hosted by the EPI and AQA);
  • from the impact of child poverty (“No child left behind – ending child poverty” hosted by the NEU);
  • to the future of work (“Technology and the Future of work” hosted by Labour Digital and Google).

There were recurring themes that emerged across the discussion and what was particularly moving were the powerful questions and earnest life stories which brought these issues to life.

We heard just how difficult the past year has been for teachers, and how much we need to wrap our arms around them after they have done so much.

We heard from young people who have had to cram for high-stakes exams, questioning whether it has all been a waste of their time. There was much discussion around the reform of assessment, and how powerful this lever could be to unlocking change in the system.

We also heard from neuro-diverse young people just how much of a struggle their school experience had been, and how much more work needs to be done to support learners with SEND.

These are the stories that bring our work to life, and by immersing ourselves in five days of discussion, debate and lived experiences, we have learnt so much. It also highlights how much excellent work is being done across the sector, but how much more needs to be done to ensure the education system works for all young people, and for those who work in it.

And on this – it is good to see that Labour have been listening. Shadow Education secretary, Kate Green MP took many opportunities to thank the sector for our hard work, and for our persistence in raising the issues and opportunities across education. 

Looking to the shorter term recovery, Kate Green MP highlighted Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan which set out the following ambitions:

  • Create a Further Education Recovery Premium, available on the same basis as the Pupil Premium in secondary schools
  • Extend the National Tutoring Programme, to reach the equivalent of all pupils currently eligible for free school meals at a cost of £572 million
  • Extend existing tutoring support in further education at a cost of £100 million
  • Extra support for continued teacher training
  • Extra school time for children to play and socialise through extracurricular activities
  • Extend alternative provision to post-16 to support those who have faced the greatest disruption at a cost of £90 million.

It is also heartening to see education sitting at the heart of Labour’s long term vision for a better society with Sir Keir Starmer highlighting: “if you can’t level up our children, you’re not serious about levelling up at all”.

Here is a flavour of some key education and skills priorities that were highlighted in Keir Starmer’s speech to the conference:

  • Digital skills: Sir Keir said that fewer than half of British employers believe young people have the right digital skills and noted that the UK has lower rates of computer skills than its economic rivals. He promised a “curriculum for tomorrow” and said that digital skills would be the fourth pillar of education under Labour. He argued that students must emerge from school “ready for work. And ready for life”.
  • Life skills: Sir Keir said that employers demanded young people who were well-rounded. He noted the importance of skills like communication and teamwork. He said Labour “will make a priority of getting this country ready for work” and will focus on practical life skills. He said it was “stupid” to allow theatre, drama and music to collapse because they develop these skills.
  • Education recovery: Sir Keir raised the lack of commitment to investment in recovery as demonstrated by the departure of the Education Recovery Commissioner Sir Kevan Collins. He said Labour will “launch the most ambitious school improvement plan in a generation” but that “it needs to do more than just recover” and be re-orientated “towards skills” and “towards work.”
  • Careers advice and work experience: Labour will reinstate two weeks of compulsory work experience, and would guarantee that every young person gets to see a professional careers advisor one day a week.
  • Mental health: Children and young people will be supported with their wellbeing by ensuring every school has specialist mental health support.
  • Green jobs: Sir Keir said that Labour’s Green New Deal would create “thousands of jobs in the process”, for example in making every new home carbon zero.
  • Education Excellence Programme: Which would include recruiting more teachers and a focus on reforming struggling schools.

Although not noted in the speech, Sir Keir has confirmed that he would end charitable status for private schools, to fund a learning revolution for state-educated ­children.  He has also pledged to ensure that every child has access to a laptop at home, and to provide £250 million to local authorities to re-engage the 65,000 16- to 17-year-olds who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

At Edge, we are particularly pleased to see Labour recognising the importance of education “developing the skills ready for work, and ready for life” and the role of work experience in developing rounded learners. For us, nothing is more important than a rich, relevant curriculum which brings learning to life, and develops the skills that our young people will need to thrive in their working and personal lives.

This is something we have long called for at the Edge Foundation. Our Skills Shortages bulletins consistently highlight the importance of essential skills, and our network of ‘Edge Future Learning’ leaders are bravely forging bolder, more innovative models of education. 

We are also working closely with colleagues at the Rethinking Assessment movement and New Era Assessment to explore workable solutions for a reformed curriculum and assessment system. Join us to be part of the change.

While there is much that we can celebrate, we now need to see the detail on ‘how’ Labour propose this change to take place. We must also remain alive to the challenges, and opportunities for even more ambitious reform.

Delegates and audience members called multiple times for bolder, more urgent action. So we cannot just “strive” to make change happen. We must now get it done. This will require all of us across the sector to work together, alongside policy makers and politicians of all hues.

Elena Wilson, Policy Manager, The Edge Foundation

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 23 hours 32 minutes ago

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work: Stats and Benefits: Working from home is a necessity rather than a luxury… https://t.co/NEJrovahxg
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page