The time to vote Green is now. We know these are dark days. The threat of #Brexit hangs over us and our democracy is under attack.
Above all, the climate and environmental emergency rages from the Amazon to the Arctic.
The science is clear – the next ten years are probably the most important in our history. At this time of crisis, we cannot go on as we are. If ever there was a time to vote Green, it’s now.
We want to unleash a revolution that lifts up everyone. Our plan for a Green New Deal, and four related programmes of reform, will transform the UK and improve the quality of everyone’s lives by creating a safer, fairer future for all.
We are the only party you can trust to act in time to tackle the Climate Emergency in a way that also tackles pressing social problems.
We are the only party you can trust to stand up for remaining part of Europe and for a final say on Brexit, whilst at the same time tackling the underlying reasons why many people voted to leave.
We are the only party you can trust to fix our broken democracy, by sharing power as well as wealth more equally, so that we can all be heard.
The Green Party has always been on the right side of history and you can trust us to get the future right too. The choices we make now matter like never before. The UK needs a new start.
If not now, then when?
Education should be about nurturing potential and inspiring a love of learning. Yet all too often it can feel like a production line, manufacturing children-shaped pieces to fit gaps in the workplace. The freedom to let children play, flourish and grow has been replaced with endless testing and measuring.
It demoralises teachers and adds yet more pressure on young people. And we have turned further and higher education into a commodity, when it should be a basic right. It’s time to build an education system on the principles that learning must be lifelong, liberating and accessible to all. Education can and should unlock creativity and enable self-expression across all ages.
Our plan to unlock education will:
- Relieve the financial squeeze on schools after years of education cuts, by increasing funding by at least £4 billion per year.
- Focus funding to reduce class sizes down to under 20 in the long term, to help teachers focus on individual pupil needs and create a pleasant learning environment.
- Free schools from centrally imposed testing regimes, OFSTED inspections, rigid national curriculum and league tables. Teachers will be trusted to plan their lessons and assess progress according the needs of their pupils, not to meet one-size-fits-all measurements that currently cause huge stress to pupils and teachers alike. Formal education will start at 6 years, to allow young children to develop at their own pace. Those under 6 will remain in early years education, with a focus on play-based learning and access to nature. Sweden has hugely benefited from using a similar system.
- Strengthen the link between schools and the communities they serve, by ending academisation and bringing all schools back into the control of democratically elected local authorities, not private companies, and empowering local authorities with the responsibility and accountability for education within their communities.
- Replace OFSTED with a collaborative system of assessing and supporting schools locally, to improve standards and be accountable to the communities in which they serve.
- Create a fully inclusive education system, where children with special education needs are able to access their local school and are fully supported in that school. This means ensuring accessible buildings, an inclusive curriculum and the provision of specially trained teachers across the school system. Specialist schools will be retained, for when children and parents would prefer that option.
- Introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues. We will also enable more outdoor lessons, where children will learn more about nature, animals and the environment, and a new Nature GCSE.
- Restore arts and music education in all state schools, to enable children to develop their creative potential.
- Make sure all children get at least a half-day equivalent of sports in school and encourage both the use of schools sports facilities by the community and participation in regional and national sporting events by our young people.
- Remove charitable status from private schools and charge full VAT on fees. The private school sector will be subject to regular independent audits, to ensure private schools improve accessibility and pay their taxes in full.
- Ensure that all children receive the basic elements of a good childhood: a decent place to live, safety and security in their community, time and space to play, as well as opportunities to learn and develop inside and outside of school.
- Revive the further education sector to provide a wider choice of academic and vocational learning. We will also raise the funding rate for 16–17-year-olds, followed by an annual rise in line with inflation, at the same time as introducing a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers.
- Fully fund every higher education student and scrap undergraduate tuition fees. University will be fully accessible, with courses being offered as learning experiences, not as pre-work training. Education will be for education’s sake.
- Write off existing debt for former students who studied under the £9k tuition fee regime.
- Increase funding for adult education across England and Wales, creating a range of new adult education programmes for learners to access. These programmes will be integrated with Green New Deal training projects.
Commenting on the proposals for education set out in the Green Party Manifesto, If Not Now, When?, published today,
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“We welcome the Green Party’s focus on ensuring that all children receive the basic elements of a good childhood - a decent place to live, safety and security in their community, time and space to play. These are essential prerequisites of children’s learning.
“The Green party has grasped the nettle on school funding, pledging to increase funding by at least £4 billion per year. This is a necessary step by all parties if we are to end the funding crisis which has blighted education in England since 2015, resulting in larger classes, fewer resources, less subject choices and reduced support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
“We welcome the proposal to end academisation and bring all schools back into the control of democratically elected local authorities, empowering councils with the responsibility and accountability for education within their communities. This is a vital step in restoring democratic accountability of education to parents and local communities.
“The education profession will welcome the party’s pledges to reduce class sizes to under 20 in the long term, to restore arts, music and sports’ education and promote outdoor education.
“The pledge to end centrally-imposed testing and Ofsted inspections is a welcome recognition of the pressures high-stakes accountability places on schools, narrowing the curriculum and driving teachers out of the profession. We need an intelligent school and college accountability system which puts educational professionals in the driving seat, and supports children and young people to succeed in all circumstances.
“Parents of children with SEND will welcome the option of a place in inclusive mainstream education or a special school for their child. And young people and adults going into further, higher and adult education will be pleased with the commitment to end university tuition fees, scrap student debts and increase funding for adult education.
“Further education colleges are drivers of social justice but for too long FE has been the poor relation of our education system, with over 30% reduction in overall funding in the last decade. We welcome the Green Party’s pledge to enable the FE sector to expand its provision, raise and inflation-proof the funding rate for 16–17-year-olds and introduce a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers.
“The proposal to begin mainstream education at age six with a focus on play-based learning and access to nature for those below that age would bring English education in line with Scandinavian countries but will require a dialogue with parents. The parallel pledge to provide free childcare for all children from age 9 months will give some reassurance that pre-school children will be provided for under the Green’s plans.
“We hope to see similar pledges in the manifestos of the parties likely to be leading the next government in a month's time."