Tag 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

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/

 

Charlotte Farrell – High Peak Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

?????????????????????????????I am standing as a parliamentary candidate for High Peak constituency because I believe it is important to give people the opportunity to vote for the Green party wherever possible.

I became interested in environmental issues back in the 1980’s, concerned about the effects our current way of life was having, and the impact of climate change on the world generally.

I believe that capitalism is incompatible with a sustainable society and that while we continue to follow the present economic trajectory we will inevitably cause untold harm to mankind and to the planet. I believe that the alternative is to build policies which put people and the planet first before profit.

I originally trained as a nurse and worked as such for 15 years before re-qualifying as a solicitor. Last year, after 10 years in the law, I left to work with my partner making orthopaedic footwear; so that I could devote more time to politics.

I live and work in the High Peak and am involved in various community activities there. In particular I was involved in the purchase of Derbyshire’s first community owned and run village pub which now provides a focus for the local community.

If I was elected I would stand for:
•  meaningful action to combat climate change and pollution
• providing decent jobs with a living wage and truly affordable housing
•  fighting cuts to public sector jobs and services
• increased investment in health and education, in particular ending the pernicious privatisation of services
• integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport
•  zero tolerance inequality and discrimination
• immediate unilateral nuclear disarmament and an end to UK involvement in overseas conflict and war.

I believe that there needs to be a fundamental change to our present economic and political system to combat the inevitable global destruction which we otherwise seem to be heading towards. I believe in providing a fairer and more equal society which is not at the expense of the environment.

Green Party candidate contact details

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

Belper School students asking excellent questions of Natalie Bennett

SONY DSC

Students at Belper School not backward in coming forward as they ask questions about education, taxation and other topics.  Great to see Natalie in her element!

SONY DSC

Belper students to question Natalie Bennett!

belperschool

As part of her very full day in Belper next Monday (17th Nov), the leader of the Green Party will be visiting Belper School & Sixth Form Centre.

Natalie_Bennett

Natalie will be meeting the students studying for their ‘A’ Levels in Government and Politics, giving a talk and then answering questions.

Later the same day, Natalie will be hosting a public meeting at No. 28 in The Marketplace from 7pm until 8:30pm and will be taking questions from attendees. All are welcome.

 

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/

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]

How The Greens Would Help Students

Students of the University of Derby submitted these questions to candidates in the Derby and High Peak constituencies:

1.  As the economy is moving towards recovery, how would the economic policies of your party help those looking for graduate employment?

The Green New Deal, which we have adopted, envisages the creation of one million green jobs, including investment in renewable energy technology, public transport and social housing. All of these initiatives will provide opportunities for graduates with technical and people/project management skills. We will seek to promote leadership opportunities for women in particular, requiring 40% of board members of larger companies to be female within 5 years. (For more information see http://www.neweconomics.org/projects/green-new-deal)

2.  The average student debt is approximately £27,000 upon graduating.  How would you reduce the cost of higher education without lowering standards?

The Green Party manifesto has a carefully costed pledge to abolish tuition fees. The cost of higher education is to be funded out of general taxation, maintaining current spending and standards:

Norwich Green Councillors Call For The Abolition Of University Tuition Fees
Norwich City Council on 2nd March, resolved to support the Union of UEA Students’ Higher Education funding campaign and write to the Government opposing an increase in tuition fees.  Green Party Councillors asked the Council to call for fees to be abolished altogether, but this proposal was voted down by Labour and Conservative councilors, who supported retaining the current fees of up to £3,000 per year for students.  Green Councillor Adrian Ramsay, who will be making a submission to the Browne Inquiry in to Tuition Fees on behalf of the Green Party, commented: “I am pleased to be joining the student demonstration against tuition fees. If I replace Charles Clarke as MP I will fight for tuition fees to be replaced by a fairer funding system involving a return to grants for students so that talented young people can go to university regardless of their background.”

3.  Building upon this; how would you maintain the quality of public services, in particular universities, in an atmosphere of public funding cuts?

We do not intend to cut public spending as a whole although we would reduce spending in certain areas, (defence, road building, expanding prisons for example), and save £2.5 billion by not introducing ID cards. We believe that we should pay for public services with a taxation system that promotes fairness and rewards behaviour that’s good for society and good for the environment. This will mean raising taxation for high earners, many of whom will be graduates, who thus will be repaying the cost of their education.

4.  As local councils provide much of the services that students use, how much responsibility would you like to see local councils have?

The Green Party manifesto calls for the revival of local government, with the introduction of proportional representation to encourage a grassroots democracy in smaller community and district councils. Such authorities should have enhanced powers over those areas of policy best settled at the local level including housing, education and the promotion of wellbeing by supporting cultural and sporting activity. Eventually this reinvigorated local democracy would have new tax raising powers delegated from central government.

5.  Given a finite pot of money in the Treasury, which would be your priority – returning those to work who could or supporting those who could not work?

This is a false and cruel dichotomy. All who are able to work must have the option to do so. Unemployment should not be used as either an economic or a political instrument. It represents a waste of our most valuable resource, human talent and aspiration. To squander this resource is gross mismanagement. Any person is at risk of suffering unemployment, may be through redundancy, injury, illness or because family circumstances. People in this situation should not be stigmatised. In many cases, they continue to make contributions to society. The humane and civilised society, to which we aspire, would continue to count all people as its members and beneficiaries, regardless of employment status.

6.  What are your views on how to combat Climate Change?

The failure of the Copenhagen Conference makes it more obvious than ever that finding a global solution to climate change must involve global justice. Rich countries need to reduce their emissions drastically, we think by 90% from 1990 levels by 2030, starting now! Our manifesto refers to the new three Rs: Remove, Reduce, Replace. Remove demand where possible, reduce demand through for example, energy efficiency measures, and recycling and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. The lead must come from government, both through direct investment and through enacting the necessary legislation and tax regimes for a sustainable low carbon economy.

For more information and policy detail go to http://www.greenparty.org.uk/