Sunday, February 02, 2014

Defend Public Education from cradle to grave

Report on UCU Conference "Defend Public Education from cradle to grave”

NUS President Tony Pearce

The cuts are preventing disadvantaged students from accessing higher
education. Much of what we want to defend in public education no
longer exists. We will need to build a public education system from
cradle to grave. The co-operation of UCU and the NUS is an example of
what the trade unions can do if they put their mind to it.

Bonnie Greer

When Bonnie Greer was in first grade in her Catholic School, her
teacher was convinced that she could not understand the holy trinity
"because it is a mystery." She believed she could. Water exists as
ice, liquid and vapour - three different forms but it is still water.
She bases her work on the assumption that even the most disadvantaged
people can understand a sight more than they are given credit for.

She has worked using Shakespeare as a tool of basic literacy with
pupils who are at the bottom of the pecking order in society. She
mentioned a group of refugees from Somalia with whom she used Othello
as a way in to literacy. They understood what it was like to be an

Intelligence tests cannot tell us about people's intelligence, an MIT
physicist who was joint winner with Bonnie of a Horizon test of
potential intelligence, asserted that the tests were crap. "You really
need 4 billion different tests for intelligence!"
Education for democracy is about creating a human being "fit for
purpose" who can stand on their own two feet and help other people to
do the same.

Paul Gethyn member of the Welsh Assembly

Paul Gethyn was standing in for Hew Lewis and made a good job of it.
His speech was very good but he was not the most exciting of speakers.
Since 1999 Wales has diverged from England on educational policy.
Consequently they have, for example, retained the EMA and opposed the
privatisation of education. "We do not want a Darwinist education
system based on competition and "the devil take the hindmost". The
early years are critical and money will be weighted towards the early
years. In an atmosphere of cuts, this does mean other sectors will
suffer however.

They will be bringing in a Wales-only GCSE in English, Welsh and Maths
in September 2015.

Max Hyde NUT President

Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.” according to Nelson Mandela. That is the reason the government is so concerned to impose their model of education. Further Education has been a test bed for many of the things which are taking place in schools. Turning schools into a cash cow for big business concerns makes the government the enemies of promise..

Max stressed the importance of early years education and the need to have qualified teachers so that pupils get a wide repertoire of skills and play. The government seem to idolise the South Korean system and the appalling pressures put on children. “Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. Childhood is a small window in time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child.”

Politicians believe they understand education because they once went to school. In most cases they went to public schools and have no idea what happens in real schools.

The unions have to fight to win as they did in the Stem 6 Free School where they gained union recognition against a vicious employer. The defeat of Michael Gove over the Ebacc was a result of the union working together with other campaigners. 'The more often the words “Humiliated Gove” appears in the newspaper, the happier teachers will be.'

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