@UKLabour - Kate Green’s Festival of Education speech
Speaking at the Festival of Education, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary will argue for a “new settlement” in education which sees government working closely with education professionals to better support children and overcome challenges from exams this summer to children’s pandemic recovery.
Green will argue that the “consequences of a government that has failed to work with our education system are all too plainly visible.” She will highlight the government’s delay in getting plans in place for this summer’s assessments, despite calls from Labour, school leaders and education unions for a Plan B. Green will say she’s heard huge concerns from teachers and from pupils about whether they will get fair grades, warning that the “lack of consistency, not just from region to region, or school to school, but even within individual schools, is striking, and concerning.”
She will challenge the Education Secretary to: “set out clearly what he will do in the next month to make the system for awarding grades as fair as possible.” Highlighting the constant delays in government planning over the last year, Green will argue that a plan for 2022 exams is needed urgently, saying: “To repeat the mistake of 2021, and wait until the week before January exams are due to begin to start the process of planning and consultation, would be inexcusable.”
Green will go on to warn that the impact of the last year of disruption has not just been on lost learning, but also children’s socialisation and development. She will argue that this has not been felt equally, with children and young people in the North and Midlands living under tougher restrictions for longer and the Government’s failure to respond quickly to the challenges of equipment and data making “access to remote learning was a luxury rather than a right”.
She will warn that a failure to address these inequalities now, and a failure to deliver a credible recovery plan, swiftly and at scale is “nothing less than a reckless disregard for the future. That is the reality of the Government’s failure to deliver on Sir Kevan Collins’ proposals.
Arguing that Labour has delivered where the Government has failed, Green will highlight the core elements of Labour’s £15bn Children’s Recovery Plan, with investment starting in the early years and running through to further education. In schools, she will say Labour’s plan would “create new opportunities for children to socialise and develop” giving them back time with their friends that the pandemic took away while boosting their learning.
For children who need academic support, Labour’s would provide tutoring and an education recovery premium so schools can target support to the children who’ve struggled most to learn from home, and access to professional development for education staff “who transform children’s life chances”.
Green will argue that unlike Boris Johnson who said education was his priority but failed to stand-up for the investment needed “When Labour says education is our priority, we mean it – and we fund it.” In making education a priority and ensuring children bounce back from the pandemic “we build a future in which everyone, whatever their background, can fulfil their potential.”
Green will conclude by challenging the Secretary of State’s narrow definition of the purpose of education, arguing that “children are so much more than would-be economic units, going through our education system only with the objective of the employment that is to be their destination.”
“They are young citizens of our country, with developing and inquiring minds, they contribute their own ideas and experiences to our society, they have a right to a safe, happy and fulfilling childhood. It is the role of our education system to enable them not just to learn to earn, but to develop and flourish.”
Working with education professionals, she will conclude saying: “I am confident that together we can bring about Labour’s bold vision – to make this the best country in the world to grow up in.”