On September 9th our Secretary, Alana, and Treasurer, Sarah, attended a training day in London on School Cuts. Below Alana answers some questions on the day and the key takeaways.
Who ran the training & what was the purpose of it?
The training was organised by the National Education Union (NEU). They believe that school cuts don’t affect people from one political group, but instead span across the political divide. They want every day people – parents, students, teachers, teaching assistants & head teachers – to work together on a non-party political basis to oppose school cuts.
As such the day itself was to show those in attendance how they could do this; how they could motivate and engage others, and how they could approach the issue as non-party political.
School cuts, according to the NEU, led to around 800K voters changing their vote. It is obviously something people feel really passionate about and by channelling this passion toward MPs, we can put pressure on them to change Government policy.
What did you think were the key takeaways?
We definitely learned a lot on the day – more than we both expected. We are looking forward to sharing this with other members in the coming months, and building on the work done previously on school cuts in West Berkshire – not only by our own CLP members, but Wokingham CLP members too.
Working against school cuts on a non-party basis is important to the NEU because they feel people may have misgivings or misconceptions about a particular party, but not about the issue itself. It was clear that they felt talking about the cuts and their impact was more powerful if it was followed and not preceded by politics. Doing otherwise could put people off campaigning, or could be viewed as using Education as a political football, and as Labour members this is quite an interesting perspective to consider.
Pressure on politicians is key, but thinking about how to best put this pressure on them is what makes a campaign effective. They pointed out the different political climate since the June result, and the difference between attitudes of Conservative MPs in marginal versus non-marginal seats.
Any final thoughts?
A good education includes many things.
It includes having small classes, and properly qualified teachers and teaching assistants. It is having an enriched curriculum that includes music, art and sport. Equally as important is teacher planning time, early intervention and additional support for students who may need it. We also need to retain state ownership of our school buildings and playing fields.
When you consider what constitutes a good education it quite clearly cannot be achieved while cutting the funding for our schools and, as the heading quite clearly states, we need to invest in our young people for the future of our communities and country.
Figures given are from schoolcuts.org.uk and were collected prior to Justine Greenings most recent statement.