Commenting on the proposals for education set out in the Green Party Manifesto, If Not Now, When?, published today, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“We welcome the Green Party’s focus on ensuring that all children receive the basic elements of a good childhood - a decent place to live, safety and security in their community, time and space to play. These are essential prerequisites of children’s learning.
“The Green party has grasped the nettle on school funding, pledging to increase funding by at least £4 billion per year. This is a necessary step by all parties if we are to end the funding crisis which has blighted education in England since 2015, resulting in larger classes, fewer resources, less subject choices and reduced support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
“We welcome the proposal to end academisation and bring all schools back into the control of democratically elected local authorities, empowering councils with the responsibility and accountability for education within their communities. This is a vital step in restoring democratic accountability of education to parents and local communities.
“The education profession will welcome the party’s pledges to reduce class sizes to under 20 in the long term, to restore arts, music and sports’ education and promote outdoor education.
“The pledge to end centrally-imposed testing and Ofsted inspections is a welcome recognition of the pressures high-stakes accountability places on schools, narrowing the curriculum and driving teachers out of the profession. We need an intelligent school and college accountability system which puts educational professionals in the driving seat, and supports children and young people to succeed in all circumstances.
“Parents of children with SEND will welcome the option of a place in inclusive mainstream education or a special school for their child. And young people and adults going into further, higher and adult education will be pleased with the commitment to end university tuition fees, scrap student debts and increase funding for adult education.
“Further education colleges are drivers of social justice but for too long FE has been the poor relation of our education system, with over 30% reduction in overall funding in the last decade. We welcome the Green Party’s pledge to enable the FE sector to expand its provision, raise and inflation-proof the funding rate for 16–17-year-olds and introduce a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers.
“The proposal to begin mainstream education at age six with a focus on play-based learning and access to nature for those below that age would bring English education in line with Scandinavian countries but will require a dialogue with parents. The parallel pledge to provide free childcare for all children from age 9 months will give some reassurance that pre-school children will be provided for under the Green’s plans.
“We hope to see similar pledges in the manifestos of the parties likely to be leading the next government in a month's time."