Anticipations Editorial: Education and Opportunity

It is an exciting and daunting challenge for me to take on the editorship of Anticipations against the backdrop of recent changes in the world. The UK voted to leave the EU, Donald Trump is president elect of the United States, and many of Labour’s sister parties in Europe join us hesitantly watching the rise of the “alt-right”.

 

It is an exciting and daunting challenge for me to take on the editorship of Anticipations against the backdrop of recent changes in the world. The UK voted to leave the EU, Donald Trump is president elect of the United States, and many of Labour’s sister parties in Europe join us hesitantly watching the rise of the “alt-right”.

The UK and the world, need creative policy solutions to the problems which are being raised again and again. Generations of people feel ‘left behind’, Globalisation and capitalism does not seem to have delivered the trickle down it promised. People are defying traditional democracy and those they view as “the Establishment”. I do not purport to explain the global political shifts that led to this, but it is clear that we cannot continue with business as usual. On the left, we need to start listening, experimenting and winning back trust on the issues that matter.

One of those issues is Education and Opportunity, the theme of this edition of Anticipations. The Labour party has a strong history when it comes to education. Clement Attlee implemented the Education Act 1944, making free secondary education a right for the first time, increased Treasury Funds available for education, and created the Ministry of Education. Harold Wilson took up the mantle and created comprehensive education in 1965. Tony Blair came to power in 1997 with the mantra ‘ Education, Education, Education’. The Labour party increased funding per pupil in real terms, increased the number of teachers and support workers In recent years, introduced SureStart, and the list goes on. The Labour party has always recognized that getting education policy right is key to equality and opportunity.

Conservative Government policy in the past few years has cut funding to local authorities, pushed Acadamisation and increased tuition fees, to name but a few examples. Theresa May has already spoken about allowing Grammar Schools to make a come back, and ‘de-prioritising’ children born to parents without full immigration status. Ms May states that she wants a country that works for all people, but the Conservative Party’s policies on education show that this is lip service only.

We cannot allow Education to fail in this country. We must fight for affordable, accessible education from pre-school to adult learning. Those who advocate Grammar schools gets one point right – education gives the opportunity to break from your background and defy what might be expected of you. However, they get it wrong by allowing this to be selective. It is not enough to give everyone the ‘chance’ to have a good education – we must give everyone a good education.

I was so pleased by the range of submissions I received about education policy. It reflects how multifaceted this topic is. The features include interviews with politicians fighting on the ground for Labour in education policy, and many of the articles discuss the solutions being proposed in different regions around the UK. Looking at what Labour can do when it is in power should be an inspiration for our policies on the left.

Anticipations over the years has produced fantastic journalism from young writers of all backgrounds, and it is a privilege to continue this work. I repeat my opening – we need creative policy output on the left more than ever. So don’t just read, engage with the pieces, submit your comments to the blog, or send a pitch for your own article. I will be publishing more articles on education on the Young Fabians blog over the next month, so please email at anticipations@youngfabians.org.uk to take part in the conversation.

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