Austerity doesn’t just make life harder in the present, it’s impact can reach far into the future – nowhere is this more true than our neglected school system. Standards of education, teacher morale, and school buildings have crumbled in front of our eyes. In the last four years cuts of up to £500 per head have left headteachers to make impossible choices. Children’s futures are being sacrificed with hardworking staff have been let go and essential building repairs put off indefinitely. Perhaps the ultimate shame is that in 21st century Britain letters are being sent home with children begging parents for help to pay for basic supplies. This is a moral scandal that should simply not be possible.
What Britain needs is a new education agenda which will prepare children for a transformed working world. But far from preparing for the future, the Tories are letting the current system decay. Indeed the false solutions of free schools and grammar schools will only make matters worse. Segregating children based on arbitrary tests and letting business make profit from education is no way to tackle burgeoning inequalities.
The situation is urgent, but a Labour government can still reverse the Tories mismanagement. We need to let teachers get back teaching our children, not poring over paperwork or chasing ill-conceived targets. More than that, we must set out a plan for a curriculum that prepares children not just for the working world, but which helps them grow into happy and responsible young adults. This will never be accomplished by chasing grades, whilst simultaneously denying schools essential funding. This only serves to stifles ambition and ignores the multifarious talents that we know our young people possess.
This matters so much because we hold our schools in trust, not just for todays children, but for their children as well. This is a responsibility that Labour must bear with a firm determination, in the knowledge that our countries future depends upon our success.
Councillor Lucy Smith