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2011 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2011
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that education has been at the forefront of the Conservative-led Coalition’s attempts to re-shape the UK and the education and childrens services of England. The common thread is one of disempowering and cutting democratic public authorities and encouraging the growth of private education providers and markets. These developments in turn put pressures on the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow.

Conference regrets that the first Coalition legislation was to pass an Academies Act to enable more schools in England to become Academies or Free Schools outside nearly all education regulation of the last 60 years. Conference is convinced that Academies and Free Schools will: not improve education; try and lower staff pay and conditions; frustrate local planning and fragment high quality local education services provided by Councils. Conference condemns the market logic of these proposals and the resulting abolition of the new School Support Staff Negotiating Body in England, a body designed to introduce greater fairness and consistency across schools and authorities. Furthermore, the pupil premium in school funding for children in receipt of free school meals will not match the Coalition rhetoric as the promised solution to all problems because it is not new money and will lead to cuts elsewhere in the education system.

Conference is shocked that many of the cuts in the Emergency Budget (June 2010) and the Comprehensive Spending Review hit services and state benefits for children and young people. From cuts in Child Benefit, Tax Credits, Sure Start maternity grant, Child Trust Funds, Youth services, careers/connexions services to Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA), the Coalition seem to be restricting opportunities not enhancing them as hollowly claimed. The future of Sure Start Centres is also uncertain. Conference is therefore also alarmed at the budget cuts in both further and higher education and the massive increase in student tuition fees proposed in England (up to £9,000 pa).

Conference notes that the education systems in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offer community based alternatives that value co-operation, local authority professionalism and a team approach to improve education for all and not a system based on constant upheaval and competition.

Conference believes in free, comprehensive, secular education available equitably to all. We therefore believe in a good local school for all. We further believe in the positive role of local education authorities in ensuring good educational provision in a way which is democratically accountable to the entire community through elected councillors. For this reason, we oppose the creation of Academies, Free Schools and all other measures designed to weaken democratic control of local education.

Conference believes free education is a right worth fighting for and is heartened by the joint campaigning and demonstrations by education unions, governors, parents and students.

This Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)continue to promote good local comprehensive schools for every child and work with the other education unions, the TUC, Anti-Academies Alliance and Campaign for State Education against privatisation and in favour of comprehensive education provided through local education authorities;

2)campaign against the Education Bill and for the valuable and efficient services provided by local authorities;

3)campaign against the cuts in state benefits, EMA, careers/connexions, youth and other education and childrens services;

4)continue to campaign with the education unions and the National Union of Students against cuts in Further Education and Higher Education and the introduction of vastly increased tuition fees in England;

5)work with the STUC, WTUC and ICTU, where appropriate, in helping the devolved administrations, to stand up to the cuts and marketisation pressures coming from the Coalition government;

6)work with Labour Link to influence Labour Party policy to support comprehensive education provided through local education authorities.