Category Archives: Education

A place to learn

We see that education is in crisis at all levels. The most visible symptom of a sick system is certainly university tuition fees – more expensive than in any EU country. Our country is one of the most wealthy in the world, but the government claims we cannot afford to provide free university education – though several European Union countries can.

A generation of young people are leaving education burdened with debt. According to an Institute of Fiscal Studies report, 3 out of 4 graduates will still be paying the debt 30 years after leaving university – at which point the debt will be written off. This is a cruel policy – and one that fails to bring in significant revenue. The Green Party believes that higher education should be free. Developing the talents of young people is a benefit to our communities.

But the issue of tuition fees is just the tip of the iceberg. We have a deeply disaffected teaching profession whose professional expertise has been ignored, and who have been turned into form fillers. One-size-fits-all courses and bean counting tests have been introduced, that ignore the professional expertise of teachers to determine the individual needs of children.

The Green Party believes that children are over-assessed and teachers are over-regulated. Teaching to the test is not satisfying teaching and it’s boring for students, yet that’s what successive governments have obliged teachers to do. We need to free teachers and pupils to rediscover the excitement of learning, released from the shackles of a system designed with only economic competitiveness and preparation for work in mind, and with excessive teacher workloads burdened by bureaucracy.

Take a look at Green Party policy on education.
https://derbysgreens.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/education.pdf

Imagine Free Education

Imagine Free Education

Vote for What you Believe In Quality Education, no tuition fees

Quick Quotes: Alice Mason-Power – Candidate for Derby North Constituency

Alice Mason Power“I am currently working towards Qualified Teacher Status as I believe every student is entitled to an expert, qualified teacher in every subject in every school. The growth of Private School style Academies, allowed to run for profit and employ unqualified teachers must be reversed.”

Matt Genn – Candidate for Chesterfield Constituency

Matthew Genn“In addition to being a champion for young people, who often end up being disenfranchised by our current political system, I want to give the young people of Chesterfield a voice.”

Green Party candidate contact details

Generation Green – the most exciting new student society at Derby Uni

Generation Green logoGeneration Green is a fresh new voice in the student community, promoting the values of the National Green Party of England and Wales to create a fairer, healthier, and sustainable democratic society.

Generation Green encourages its members to get active in the student community, in the city of Derby and in their respective home towns, because Generation Green believes that politics should be the result of people’s will, and should work for all people – not just for corporations or the wealthy.

Generation Green’s aims are:
• Supporting the local Green Party
• Encouraging student participation in the elections nationally
• Raising awareness of local environmental issues
• Translating party policies in a student friendly way
• Encouraging recycling within the sphere of the university and local community.

Prior to 2014 there was no real green presence in the city of Derby, Generation Green wish to change that. They say:

“We don’t ask our members to be full members of the Green Party of England and Wales (though we encourage it). We do not ask that you come out protesting every other weekend, though we seek to facilitate that if need be. We only ask that you agree with the Green Party’s ‘Core Values’ and its stance on the Environment, the Economy, Education, Welfare, and progressive Social policies. If that sounds like you then please like our Facebook page”:

https://www.facebook.com/UDSUGenerationGreen

‘Message of Hope’ for 3 Million Student Loan Holders

 Over 550 Green candidates will support the wiping of Student Tuition Fee debts.

PrintAll the 3 million people with student loans (+ family and friends) have to do is Vote for them, and they will have to change the colour of the door in No. 10!

If you can spread the message particularly now, as the deadline to register to vote is the 20th, then sixth formers and their concerned parents, etc, will also have the opportunity to vote Green.

To watch part of Natalie Bennett’s speech with a list of candidates and a link to registration click the link.

http://abolishtuitionloans.co.uk/

 

'Message of Hope' for 3 Million Student Loan Holders

 Over 550 Green candidates will support the wiping of Student Tuition Fee debts.

PrintAll the 3 million people with student loans (+ family and friends) have to do is Vote for them, and they will have to change the colour of the door in No. 10!

If you can spread the message particularly now, as the deadline to register to vote is the 20th, then sixth formers and their concerned parents, etc, will also have the opportunity to vote Green.

To watch part of Natalie Bennett’s speech with a list of candidates and a link to registration click the link.

http://abolishtuitionloans.co.uk/

 

David Kesteven – North East Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

David KestevenAs the Green Party candidate for North East Derbyshire, I think that the most important thing for the party is to field as many candidates as possible to give the public a chance to vote Green. Despite supporting Green Party values for as long as I can remember, I have never voted Green because I have never had a candidate to vote for.

I work as Head Gardener at Renishaw Hall.  Working outside I am keenly aware that climate change is actually happening. In the 12 years that I managed the vineyard at Renishaw, harvest dates came forward an average of one week, that is proper scary. My employer has also invested in renewable energy (three wind turbines and a biomass boiler). However, seeing the decision making process that led to this, I can assure you that ‘leaving it up to the market’ will not solve our energy problems.

In fact, it is the abject failure of free market capitalism to deliver anything worthwhile (apart from i pods) that has politicised me even more than imminent climate catastrophe. After all, unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may not be that bad, the results from this experiment are not in yet. Also driving at speed down the M1 with your eyes shut may be safe, it’s something else I haven’t tried. But to expect the market to deliver fairness and a more equitable society is just plain silly.

I have read and completely agree with the Green Party manifesto 2010. Here are some bits I’m particularly passionate about:

• Re-nationalise the railways.

• Education: Get rid of SATS, league tables and, Ofsted, while you’re at it; Teachers are professionals who should be allowed to teach – ticking boxes should be reserved for pupils in multiple choice examinations. I also believe that there should be no tax relief for private schools.

• Health: I believe we should get rid of all markets within the NHS; give nurses and staff a decent pay rise then ask them what needs to be done to make the NHS better. Patients should also be fed proper food while in hospital.

• I also personally believe that it would be wise to nationalise the national grid and power generation.

I hope for your support. We have a lot to do.

Green Party candidate contact details

Mid Derbyshire Greens attend East Midlands Conference

Belper Greens candidate John Devine was interviewed by BBC TV at the EMGP conference in Nottingham yesterday.

John-Devine-002

Several members of the Mid Derbyshire Greens attended the conference which had over three times as many people as expected turn up!  This really reflects the overall surge in local Green Party membership  as well as nationally – which has grown to more than 25,000, with the number of young greens more than doubling!  This has a lot to do with young voters increasingly wanting to  make their voices heard on the subjects of austerity, education and the Citizens Income.

EMGP_2014Conference_Web

 

Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party will be visiting Belper tomorrow (Monday 17th Nov) to meet with students studying Government and Politics at Belper School & Sixth Form Centre and to later host a public meeting and Q&A session at No. 28 in the Belper Market Place (7 pm until 8:30 pm – All welcome).

Please contact John Devine (07932 576159) or Sue MacFarlane (07774 004240) for more details.  Both candidates will be present at tomorrow’s public meeting.

October newsletter shows Belper Greens mean business!

newslet amended1

The ‎Mid Derbyshire ‪Green Party clearly mean business!  Their October newsletter has been delivered to every house in the town’s North Ward!! Bring on the elections!

So what makes The Greens different?

  • Every citizen will receive the ‘Citizen’s Income’ – no matter what!
  • The NHS will be protected;
  • The railways will be returned to public hands;
  • Student tuition fees will be abolished and so will student loans;
  • Most importantly, we will do what is needed to ensure our kids have a planet to inherit!

Join us and make a difference!!  We meet every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month at The Bulls Head, Belper Lane End, DE56 2DL

Natalie Bennett's Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

Natalie Bennett’s Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

People’s Assembly Against Austerity

PA CropThe Tories have unleashed the biggest assault on ordinary people for generations. It needs to be met head-on. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a key opportunity to bring together all those who want to stop the cuts and the ­devastation they are bringing to millions of people in the UK, and to launch the next steps in the fightback.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched with a letter to the Guardian on February 28th 2012.  Two of the initial signatories were Caroline Lucas MP and Natalie Bennett. 

The Green Party had voted at their conference in February to support the event and agreed to send a delegation to the People’s Assembly and to  encourage local parties, regional federations and other GP bodies to also send delegations and to support future local People’s Assemblies.

People’s Assembly Against Austerity – Saturday June 22nd 

GeneralThis gathering is going to be a huge expression of opposition to “austerity” and privatisation involving all the main Trade Unions, local Trades Union Councils, local and national anti-cuts groups, campaign groups focused on NHS, Education, Housing, the People’s Charter, Coalition of Resistance and the Green Party.  Most of the policies that the People’s Assembly are advancing are Green Party policies

Derby People’s Assembly – A new local “networking” group has been formed in Derby made up of individuals and people representing local groups concerned with issues such as Climate Change, Taxation, NHS etc.  Two Green Party Members attended the initial meeting.  The aim of the meeting was twofold: to publicise the national gathering in London on 22nd June and to arrange a follow up event in Derby in the Autumn. 

Transport has been arranged for those who would like to attend the London event.  See our events page for details.  A Facebook page has been established (https://www.facebook.com/groups/143367235856170/?fref=ts ) and a blog and website will also be set up 

The time has come for us, the People, to make our voice heard. We are a democracy.  We must demand that the Government uses the power and money we give it to serve our interests, and not just those of the wealthy vested interests that are controlling politics.  Austerity will never succeed because the economic crisis was not caused by public spending. We must demand that the government we elected adopts policies that address the causes of the financial crisis.  We must demand that they invest in our future to build a sustainable economy.  We must make it clear that if this Government will not listen to us, we will elect one that will.

Education and The Green Party

If you look at http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/ you will see that nationally The Green Party leads overall, but that its biggest single policy lead comes in Education. In my own constituency of Erewash Greens lie second overall but again lead in Education and, again, that is the biggest lead of any party on any policy. Sadly, the educational landscape of this country has moved radically since the 2010 election and with very little consultation. With our policies clearly so popular with thinking people, it looks as if this Government is completely out of touch with reality.

There are enormous issues about further and higher education, about access, about fee levels, about the ways in which apprenticeships, vocational education and academic paths are structured and are respected. That would be the basis for a set of further articles. But let’s start with the youngest end and look at schools and teacher issues.

At the moment the government is ‘consulting’ over changes which would increase the child to adult ratios for pre-school children. They maintain that this will allow cuts in the costs of childcare and private nurseries although how this would be enforced is a mystery. They ignore all the research evidence which shows clearly that children need a rich language environment at this crucial stage with meaningful dialogue with adults being an integral part of this. By altering the ratio they are inevitably denying children the quality of conversation they need, and this is apart from any issues of safety that arise from the changes. The government speaks loudly about its desire to enable children in social deprivation to have equivalent chances and yet fail to underpin one of the clearest ways that this can be facilitated.

But trumpeting one thing and then rejecting compelling evidence is a bit of a theme with this government!

Yes No Banner

Clearly we should never abandon our commitment to community-based education for all children in a localised school.  We support local and democratically accountable education authorities and comprehensive secondaries.  It concerns us that over half of English secondary schools are now academies and that all local authorities have lost a substantial number of staff.  Academy chains are very vigorously promoted and the biggest of these are essentially new local authorities with all the infrastructure schools need to run efficiently but none of the accountability through the local election system. Privatisation is only a click away and ‘for profit’ schools would be a very real part of that. The chains do not often have the richness of the previous Local Authority system of advisors, school improvement partners, and learning support consultants. Development is seen simply in terms of standards raising (ie test and exam grades) alone.  Academies are claimed by virtue of the name itself to enhance standards and are held up as a panacea, but we believe their real purpose is privatisation and profit. We have seen the ruthlessness of the government’s determination to pursue that path in the case of the Sinfin Community School in Derby, where the governors were sacked for refusing to turn the school into an academy.  Yet also here in Derbyshire in a single town, Ilkeston, two linked academies are currently in special measures and the chain which runs them has two other schools elsewhere with the same status. But does this draw a comment from the borough’s Conservative MP? No. As a party we would ensure that academies  would have the same status as all schools with no extra funding, no rights to ‘select’ in any form, no rights to hire unqualified teachers or set different salary rates and with a requirement to offer the same agreed curriculum  as other schools.

This leads us onto the next area where opinion and evidence are ignored, with what can only be called rudeness and arrogance. See Michael Gove’s and Michael Wilshaw’s comments about a letter signed by 100 eminent academics and check out the twitter feed @toryeducation for good examples of this. The proposed new national curriculum has drawn waves of protest from within the education sector, and Greens share the concern expressed.  We have to consider the learning needs of all children, not just those who can follow a purely academic approach and succeed like Michael Gove! Rote learning only works for a small minority who learn in that way and the role of engagement, access, motivation and experience all need to be at the forefront of the underpinning of any curriculum.

A sector which is not greatly in the public eye, but which is crucial to the development of schools is teacher education. Again this has been subject to total upheaval in the last three years. Schools are now encouraged to bid for teacher training places with only a proviso that they link with an HE institution for validation. They can organise the training in any way they wish and the marketplace is held up as the main driver for this. It is not that school-centred provision is wrong (I manage such a course myself) but schools are experts at teaching children while teacher education is a science in its own right and needs a strong university presence along with excellent school partnerships to ensure we have thinking reflective teachers for the future. Trainee teachers now also have to borrow £9000 for a one-year course and government support is given on the basis of degree class and shortage of candidates for certain subjects. The rhetoric is that someone with a first class degree will be a better teacher than someone with a lower second class degree and so the first candidate (on a primary teaching course) will receive a bursary to cover the fee while the second candidate will receive nothing. This is simplistic! We need as a party to rationalise how places are allocated and the degree of collaboration needed to ensure success with both sides playing to their strengths. And of course we need to look at funding for all post-18 education.

Against this background of rapid change, Greens must now focus attention on the needs of real children and young people, and not the fantasy population this government imagines.  We have popular policies but this is no time to be complacent, we must mount evidence led opposition to this Government’s policies while ensuring that our own policies address the realities in our society.

Philip Hood

You might be interested in checking out the following site:

Gove Versus Reality looks at the policies pursued by Michael Gove for his radical and draconian transformation of the English education system challenging his assumptions and the evidence he advances to support his approach.  http://www.goveversusreality.com/

A Policy for Youth

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signIn a remarkable piece of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ the Tories running DCC are trying to claim that their proposed budget cuts to the County Youth Service were in fact part of an ambitious plan to make youth provision in the County ‘Bigger and Better’.  Their original plan to axe all youth clubs and to scale back its professional youth workers met with such an outcry of opposition that the Council has been forced into a rapid rethink, which they are trying to dress up as the product of a consultation.  One is forced to wonder why they didn’t think to consult first and avoid all the uncertainty for young people, parents and workers.

Adults have a moral responsibility to ensure there is adequate provision for young people in society, enabling them to develop and mature into citizens who are able, in time to take over the running of society.  It is wrong to think that we can cut and privatise youth services, leaving them to the whims of ‘the market’, as if youth provision was some sort of expendable luxury.  It is not. It is a necessity, never more so than in times of economic hardship and high youth unemployment.

Young people face the same range of problems that adults do, but of course they can lack the experience of knowing how to handle them.  It is in our collective interest to ensure that they are able to find and implement solutions to these problems before they become deep seated and built in to the fabric of the emerging adult.  Of course some of these problems can be properly handled by parents or by close relatives, some can be addressed at school, but in many instances this is not enough.  A young person may feel unable to approach a parent or simply doesn’t have the opportunity to do so and teachers might seem too remote.  In the absence of any other provision, they will turn to friends, who also lack experience, to the internet, that may give poor advice, or fall into a fantasy world making up strategies that have no basis in reality.

??????????????????????????????????????To give structure to a youth service, the Green Party supports the introduction of ‘youth schools’ in every community, as found in some European countries such as Denmark.  These are informal, but professionally managed providing a safe place for young people to go and meet out of school hours.  They are like an enhanced youth club but offering a much wider range of activities, and free at the point of use.  In addition to structured courses along the lines of adult evening classes, they offer the opportunity for socialising and for finding informal but informed advice, attendance is voluntary and the management aims to be inclusive.

Green education policy recognises the importance of involving young people in the design and content of their education. This is taken from article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Any policy relating to youth provision must closely involve young people themselves.  It is not enough to ask them what they want, often they will not know.  Why should they?  It is adults who have the understanding of what works and of what is possible, and who hold the purse strings. But they must ensure that what is being provided does meet young people’s needs and not the needs and wishes of the older generation.  We want to see ‘youth schools’ develop as a partnership between  the users and the providers, not tied to an imposed curriculum with targets, but meeting the needs brought by the young people involved.

While we want to see a properly financed and managed structure to youth provision, we also recognise the importance of the voluntary sector.  The enthusiasm and energy that volunteers bring to youth activities is inspiring and so important in firing the young imagination and sense of belief.   To hand over youth provision to voluntary groups as the Tories want to do under their ‘Big Society’ banner will overwhelm this volunteer enthusiasm with the day to day demands of management,  financing and insurance regulations.  We believe that the Local Authority has to back up the volunteer sector with professional management, help and advice, training and secure finance.

The idea of the ‘youth school’ is not meant to be some stand alone solution to the ‘problem of youth’.  We do not see young people as a problem, however we do see that too often their ability to grow and develop their own potential is frustrated by the constraints of adult society, and too often by the policies of Government fixated by the demands of the avaricious market.  Too often politicians, who talk of the ‘problem of youth’ rather than the ‘opportunity of youth’, seem incapable of making any other provision than organised activity that usually centres on sport.  Providing properly funded and universally accessible sporting opportunity is good, but it is not a complete youth policy.  Of greater importance is developing the means by which young people can become active members of their society, including becoming economically active. Green economic policy recognises the importance of fostering the often dismissed informal economy and self employment. Often crudely dismissed as the black economy, this sector makes a significant contribution to the local economy and can provide a route into employment.  Helping young people into self employment would be another function of the ‘youth school’, giving help and advice on converting their ideas into a viable business proposition.

Greens therefore want to see increased provision for young people away from formal education.  We accept that this has cost implications but we regard these costs as an investment not a waste.  It is our responsibility to make this provision, it is not some ‘bolt on’ extra.  The fact that Government does not do this is symptomatic of their priorities, set by powerful vested interests.  Despite the so called ‘economic crisis, we can afford to give a £160 million tax break to the oil industry, the richest business on the planet, with a visceral aversion to paying tax.  We can afford to spend a similar amount on a decade long programme of weapons procurement for the Ministry of Defence.  Spending £5 billion on refitting the Aldermaston nuclear weapons facility passes ministers without even an announcement.  The Treasury is defrauded annually out of £30 billion on unpaid tax that is legally due to it, and of course we can’t even begin to discuss the £37 billion bonus pot paid out by business, most of which will disappear off shore.  So it’s not a matter of what we can afford, it is where we choose to spend – and in a democracy, that should be down to us. It is time for the people to speak.

It is in our collective interest to provide a nurturing and enabling environment for each emerging generation, they after all will inherit the Earth.

© Mike Shipley

A Policy for Youth

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signIn a remarkable piece of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ the Tories running DCC are trying to claim that their proposed budget cuts to the County Youth Service were in fact part of an ambitious plan to make youth provision in the County ‘Bigger and Better’.  Their original plan to axe all youth clubs and to scale back its professional youth workers met with such an outcry of opposition that the Council has been forced into a rapid rethink, which they are trying to dress up as the product of a consultation.  One is forced to wonder why they didn’t think to consult first and avoid all the uncertainty for young people, parents and workers.

Adults have a moral responsibility to ensure there is adequate provision for young people in society, enabling them to develop and mature into citizens who are able, in time to take over the running of society.  It is wrong to think that we can cut and privatise youth services, leaving them to the whims of ‘the market’, as if youth provision was some sort of expendable luxury.  It is not. It is a necessity, never more so than in times of economic hardship and high youth unemployment.

Young people face the same range of problems that adults do, but of course they can lack the experience of knowing how to handle them.  It is in our collective interest to ensure that they are able to find and implement solutions to these problems before they become deep seated and built in to the fabric of the emerging adult.  Of course some of these problems can be properly handled by parents or by close relatives, some can be addressed at school, but in many instances this is not enough.  A young person may feel unable to approach a parent or simply doesn’t have the opportunity to do so and teachers might seem too remote.  In the absence of any other provision, they will turn to friends, who also lack experience, to the internet, that may give poor advice, or fall into a fantasy world making up strategies that have no basis in reality.

??????????????????????????????????????To give structure to a youth service, the Green Party supports the introduction of ‘youth schools’ in every community, as found in some European countries such as Denmark.  These are informal, but professionally managed providing a safe place for young people to go and meet out of school hours.  They are like an enhanced youth club but offering a much wider range of activities, and free at the point of use.  In addition to structured courses along the lines of adult evening classes, they offer the opportunity for socialising and for finding informal but informed advice, attendance is voluntary and the management aims to be inclusive.

Green education policy recognises the importance of involving young people in the design and content of their education. This is taken from article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Any policy relating to youth provision must closely involve young people themselves.  It is not enough to ask them what they want, often they will not know.  Why should they?  It is adults who have the understanding of what works and of what is possible, and who hold the purse strings. But they must ensure that what is being provided does meet young people’s needs and not the needs and wishes of the older generation.  We want to see ‘youth schools’ develop as a partnership between  the users and the providers, not tied to an imposed curriculum with targets, but meeting the needs brought by the young people involved.

While we want to see a properly financed and managed structure to youth provision, we also recognise the importance of the voluntary sector.  The enthusiasm and energy that volunteers bring to youth activities is inspiring and so important in firing the young imagination and sense of belief.   To hand over youth provision to voluntary groups as the Tories want to do under their ‘Big Society’ banner will overwhelm this volunteer enthusiasm with the day to day demands of management,  financing and insurance regulations.  We believe that the Local Authority has to back up the volunteer sector with professional management, help and advice, training and secure finance.

The idea of the ‘youth school’ is not meant to be some stand alone solution to the ‘problem of youth’.  We do not see young people as a problem, however we do see that too often their ability to grow and develop their own potential is frustrated by the constraints of adult society, and too often by the policies of Government fixated by the demands of the avaricious market.  Too often politicians, who talk of the ‘problem of youth’ rather than the ‘opportunity of youth’, seem incapable of making any other provision than organised activity that usually centres on sport.  Providing properly funded and universally accessible sporting opportunity is good, but it is not a complete youth policy.  Of greater importance is developing the means by which young people can become active members of their society, including becoming economically active. Green economic policy recognises the importance of fostering the often dismissed informal economy and self employment. Often crudely dismissed as the black economy, this sector makes a significant contribution to the local economy and can provide a route into employment.  Helping young people into self employment would be another function of the ‘youth school’, giving help and advice on converting their ideas into a viable business proposition.

Greens therefore want to see increased provision for young people away from formal education.  We accept that this has cost implications but we regard these costs as an investment not a waste.  It is our responsibility to make this provision, it is not some ‘bolt on’ extra.  The fact that Government does not do this is symptomatic of their priorities, set by powerful vested interests.  Despite the so called ‘economic crisis, we can afford to give a £160 million tax break to the oil industry, the richest business on the planet, with a visceral aversion to paying tax.  We can afford to spend a similar amount on a decade long programme of weapons procurement for the Ministry of Defence.  Spending £5 billion on refitting the Aldermaston nuclear weapons facility passes ministers without even an announcement.  The Treasury is defrauded annually out of £30 billion on unpaid tax that is legally due to it, and of course we can’t even begin to discuss the £37 billion bonus pot paid out by business, most of which will disappear off shore.  So it’s not a matter of what we can afford, it is where we choose to spend – and in a democracy, that should be down to us. It is time for the people to speak.

It is in our collective interest to provide a nurturing and enabling environment for each emerging generation, they after all will inherit the Earth.

© Mike Shipley

Government Axes School Meals Trust

Government Axes School Meals Trust..

Sinfin Community School – Derby

Derbyshire Green Party supports the governing body and leadership team of Sinfin Community School in opposing the government’s requirement for the school to become a forced academy in the light of its OFSTED inspection reports from 2012. The most recent monitoring inspection visit from October 12th 2012 reports progress being made in a number of areas including the school’s highest ever attainment in the GCSE results in the Summer of 2012. While the report does note where further progress is required and focuses on the speed of that development, it nevertheless mentions a number of ongoing improvements, which suggest that the school’s staff is working hard to address the issues raised. Why then in November 2012 did the government replace the governing body and order the conversion into a forced academy?

Academies are exempt from the national curriculum, the regulations concerning the quality of food provided for students, the teachers pay scale and even the requirement to hire qualified teachers. All of these are the essential elements of an accountable and equitable education system serving both a defined national need and that of a local area. It would appear that community involvement in education is now unimportant in government policy, which is that every school in the country will be an academy by 2015. In other words there will not be a national education policy for the curriculum our children learn or the rates at which our teachers are paid or the fact that teachers need to have qualifications. It is unsurprising that the Department for Education is cutting hundreds of jobs at the moment, because it will be private companies in the form of academy chains who will be running our school system, not the democratically controlled Ministry of Education or Local Education Authority. We are a short step away from schools being completely privatised and eventually from schools being run for profit. This was never revealed in the Conservative election manifesto or in the published Coalition agreement. This policy has been forced through with out the proper engagement of the stakeholders in our education system.

A school like Sinfin Community School needs to support its students using deep knowledge of its local context. It does not need a formula solution using business people whose first priorities will be the for profit business model rather than teaching and learning. Ten miles away in Ilkeston a school which was previously designated as satisfactory is now inadequate in three of the four inspection categories including leadership and management. This has occurred after a year as an academy with the Ormiston Trust. As an extra affront to the local community the parents of children at the other Ormiston academy in Cotmanhay are facing a merger into this currently failing school. This proposal has come about because of falling rolls (a temporary issue) and despite an assurance when the chain took over both schools that they would remain separate.

There is no such thing as one size fits all in education and academies are certainly not that solution. The Green Party urge all with an interest in the education of our young people to vigorously oppose this stealth privatisation of our education system.

[Philip Hood, Ilkeston]

Cuts To Our Democracy

The 7% cut being made to Derbyshire services is not just a blow to public services, it’s a strike made directly at those with the least amount of power to fight back. The £1.4 million cut to the local Library service is a shock to the system, and many feel that it is merely the tip of the iceberg. Once the quality of services begins to dwindle, the customers and investment will inevitably follow. Many people rely on the services provided by the Council and their Libraries to do things most of us take for granted. Not everyone in Derby can afford internet access, so the Library has it for free. Not everyone can afford books, clubs or ‘how to lessons’, so they are provided for free. Taking away these services is taking away the voice of those who struggle most in society.

In the light of these cuts the Lib Dem pledge to save the libraries starts to look a bit hollow – once you examine how they plan to cut jobs and automate the service, rather than retaining knowledgeable staff. Many local residents in the city rely on the facilities of the local Library, especially young people, parents of young children, older residents and disabled people. This policy has the same ConDem trade mark as the Education Bill, a plan to reform schools into Academies. Speaking about this Bill, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP said

“We should be improving the quality of every local school for all children, rather than accelerating Labour’s programme of academies to deepen divisions between schools.”

The National Union of Teachers has described the bill as an “attack on the very existence of democratic accountability, free state comprehensive education.” Only a hand-full of Derbyshire schools have applied for Academy status so far, but the real worry is this change in mindset. Once we start to accept that privatisation is a part of our culture then we are giving away our rights to democratic representation.

The access to education is not something to be reserved for ‘more privileged’ children, and the same goes for the right to access basic services like our Libraries. Derbyshire will to loose out on £39.9 million in the coming budget; £23.6 million is going from child and adult services. It looks like we are entering into a time where Democracy is reserved for the rich and able, and Academic elitism is set to ruin the dream for countless young people.

Tom Reading

Greens now the only political party fighting for free education

Green Party education policy states: “education is a right and an entitlement and should be free at the point of delivery to people of all ages”. Education does not just benefit the student; by developing skills and knowledge, it benefits society. It is reasonable that society should enable all its members to receive a good education. It is not reasonable to limit good education to those who can afford it. Education is an investment in the future. If that investment is limited, the future will be poorer. Making higher education once again a privilege for the affluent is socially divisive; it will also exclude many people from careers that require graduate training. Inequalities within society will increase which will affect everyone’s quality of life. This will be the outcome of the ConDem Governments policy on financing higher education.

Speaking after the House of Commons vote on tuition fees, Caroline Lucas said: “This is a dark day for the future of higher education in this country. The huge hikes in tuition fees, together with the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance and proposed cuts in college funding, amount to nothing less than a Government assault on our young people – and an attack on the principles of universal education. Many people may be priced out of going to university as a result of today’s vote – and those who do go are likely to be saddled with massive debt. This is unacceptable for a society which values social mobility and inclusiveness.”

There are alternative ways to fund education, including a more progressive taxation system.  For example, raising UK corporation tax to the G7 average would generate the funds needed to abolish tuition fees and still leave our main corporation tax below that of the USA.  A business education tax levied on the top 4% of UK companies, as proposed by the University and Colleges Union, would require business to pay its fair share for the substantial benefits it receives from higher education and would allow us to raise investment in our Universities to the average for a developed country.

The Conservative Party is aggressively pursuing a policy of privatization, aiming to disconnect Government at all levels, from the supply of services to the public. They have both health and education clearly in their sights and the Liberal Democrats are not opposing them. The withdrawal of funding to arts and social science courses, and the hike in fees is part of this policy. Our Universities are to be run as businesses, selling their product – education, at a profit. Courses offered will be those that run at a profit as required by their corporate sponsors and investors. Their customers will buy their product with the principle intention of getting a well-paid job.  Education will no longer be about developing the mind, or about intellectual challenge. Students will no longer experience the excitement of discovery, the joy of learning, the profound satisfaction of understanding new and challenging concepts. In the sterile learning factories of the ConDem world, they probably will not even be much interested in their fellow students beyond simple sensual gratification.

Greens believe that Higher Education is essential in developing a civilized society. Education is a process, not a product. It should be available to anyone who wants to study for a degree regardless of his or her age or background. Its purpose is to challenge ignorance and prejudice, to raise and answer questions and indeed if necessary, to challenge orthodoxy and authority. This will prevent the fossilization of society and the emergence of a new dark age.

Mike Shipley 14 December 2010

Free Membership For Students And Young People

Join the Green Party here.

In an unprecedented move, the Green Party today offered free membership to people under 30 or in full-time education.

Any student or young person who applies to join the Green Party before 31st January 2011 will pay no subscription for the coming year. Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP said today:

“I want students and young people to know there is a political party that still cares about their future, and that will keep fighting for a fairer future and will not give up on doing the right thing.

“We have to keep fighting, because we can’t leave the future of our country and our planet to people who want to run things primarily in the interests of big business and the wealthiest people.

“Politics is important and it’s time to reclaim it. I want to extend the warmest possible welcome to all new members, but not least to students and young people who are having such a difficult time at the hands of the other political parties.”

Greens want “a society which values mobility and inclusiveness”

Caroline, who was elected as Britain’s first Green MP in this year’s general election – and who has stood strongly by the Green Party’s policy of universal free education – said last night after the tuition fees vote:

“This is a dark day for the future of higher education in this country. The huge hikes in tuition fees, together with the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance and proposed cuts in college funding, amount to nothing less than a Government assault on our young people – and an attack on the principles of universal education. Many people may be priced out of going to university as a result of today’s vote – and those who do go are likely to be saddled with massive debt. This is unacceptable for a society which values social mobility and inclusiveness.”

Further information

1. Students and young people can join the Green Party free here.

2. Students can normally join the Green Party for £5, as opposed to the standard membership rate of £31. Many people, however, pay higher membership fees to help the party fund its campaigns. Donations are always welcome, as the Green Party receives no financial backing from unions or big businesses as Labour and the Conservatives do, but gets the bulk of its income from members and ordinary supporters.

3. For any enquiries regarding individual membership call 020 7272 4474. For media enquiries only, call 020 7561 0282.

The Green view of Higher Education

The Green Party views education as a right and an entitlement that should be free at the point of delivery to people of all ages. Education at all levels represents an investment in the future of the country and we all benefit from that investment. It is reasonable for society to pay for that investment through general taxation.

Higher and continuing education is essential in developing a civilized society. We should continue to treat it as a process and not a product, as this government does. Greens aim to democratise knowledge and skills, making them available to anyone who wants to study, regardless of their age or background.

The ConDems approach assumes that higher education is of value only to the individual, not to society or the economy. They fail to recognise the contributions that our students will make to science, medicine, engineering and the arts and therefore to wider society. To shift the responsibility of funding these widely enjoyed benefits to students and their families is manifestly unfair.

The LibDems, faced with a rebellion in their own ranks, desperately claim the new measures are ‘progressive’. They aren’t, and the key flaw is that a low-income household won’t trust the huge ‘pay later’ package, given the way politicians constantly fiddle with it and break promises. Pressure will mount for the threshold for repayment to be lowered. Also in this country, access to the best-paid jobs remains skewed towards those from privileged backgrounds and the private education sector.

The government’s vision is for our universities to become businesses, offering a product to consumers, a product that only the moneyed elite will be able to afford. It wants to wash its hands of responsibility for the education of our young people, leaving this to market forces and private institutions. It fails to recognise that the talents and abilities of our young people represent our hope for a better society in the future, and that government, acting on behalf of its people, should take a lead in fostering and nurturing this talent.

Commenting on the student demonstration that took place in Westminster, Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:
“This Government’s assault on education funding and future generations of students seems to know no bounds. The recession has already had a disproportionate effect on young people’s lives, with rapidly disappearing university places and increasing youth unemployment. Now it’s clear that they will be amongst those hardest hit by the ConDem cuts, with the Educational Maintenance Allowance being scrapped, college funding slashed, and the huge hikes in university fees. I fully support the action being taken by our students today.”

The University and College Union, representing many lecturers have voiced their own opposition to the Government proposals. “If implemented, the government’s plans will completely change the landscape of further and higher education. They would represent the final nail in the coffin of affordable university education and the end of genuine choice of a degree for thousands of people.”

And what future for the arts and humanities in this Government’s vision for education? Under government proposals, teaching grants are to be restricted to certain science courses. We can presume that these will be those courses that lead to a quick commercial output and a quick profit for UK plc. Other courses will have to fight for funding from student fees – those designed to foster enquiry, creativity and imagination. Under the new business models that our universities are being required to adopt, many of these will close as ‘unprofitable’, so narrowing educational choice, reducing it to vocational training. The purpose of higher education will be simply to fit its cleaver customers in to the highly paid jobs that they are going to expect from their investment. So we lose the creativity and rigorous analysis of history and society that a wide diversity of courses provides. In the ConDems ‘Brave New World’, our culture becomes poorer and, starved of new ideas and information, our democracy weaker.

[Mike Shipley. 11 November2010]