Ryan Carter and Roxana Andrusca, Co-Chairs of Hampshire and Isle of Wright Young Labour and Anatomy local coordinators, report on the latest down south.
In the past few weeks we have led three events around Hampshire as part of the latest Young Fabian Anatomy on Our Responsibility Towards Education. The area itself has interesting politics as the only place on the south coast with constituencies with the three main parties adjacent with one another. We held a discussion at the regular meeting of Southampton Fabians, and dedicated sessions with Southampton University Labour Students and in the New Forest. Our intention of organising three events across different areas meant that we were certain to make our events accessible to everyone. We have also sent a list of questions along the same line to current student and parent governors to try and get a broad view of what can be done and from different perspectives.
There was a consensus that teachers are underpaid and undervalued, reinforcing the recent report by the Varkey GEMS Foundation that found that teachers in China were respected almost three times as much as teachers in the UK. We believe that teachers should be paid more. A teacher switching schemes was also proposed – secondments for teachers to schools at the other side of the league tables in order to share practices and foster better ties between institutions.
On the question of unqualified teachers, the debate concluded that they should only teach in subjects where they have appropriate experiences or qualifications. The title Teacher should have legal protection, with others referred as Visiting Fellows or similar. Christianity could be taught by a Vicar and Physics by a Physicist, and they could undertake apprenticeships to become qualified teacher.
There was strong desire to see large employers having a legally obliged to hire apprentices and more support given to small firms to support apprenticeships. More internship opportunities need to be available before graduation so that students who work part time can have a job in a relevant field. They gain professional experience that can be used in the remainder of their studies and puts education into practice. There was a desire that apprenticeships and internships should be paid at least the minimum wage.
The state should also oblige employers in different sectors to match with areas of the national curriculum (For example: business studies, or sports with the local football coaches or teams).
Our discussions found time again the idea that the state should have more power to intervene when a school or college is failing. The recently criticised Al-Madinah ‘Muslim Free School’ is an example where the council felt like it lacked the power to intervene with only Ofsted holding power to do anything about the failings. This is made even worse if there is no alternative capacity locally. In many areas of the country we see a shortage of primary school places yet free schools are being set up wherever they feel like it and the local authority has no say.
Being Anatomy local coordinators for Our Responsibility Towards Education has provided us with a great opportunity to not only engage people from across the community and party but hear some fantastic, creative ideas as to how we can go about improving our education system and by working with stakeholders and holding them accountable for their responsibilities.
On Monday 28th this Anatomy goes to Cambridge, and on Tuesday 29th the Young Fabians host the main summit in London with a plathora of special guests.