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Communists at the NUT conference

April 2010

Unity! Education economics: learning the lessons

Is Britain on its way to economic recovery! No.The so-called “recovery” is dependent on working people making sacrifices – jobs, pay, pensions, resources and much more. All workers, including those in the school system and in colleges will experience an imposed system of “sacrifice” – immediately if the Tories get in, and after a little while if New Labour scramble back. Just how long will we tolerate this Alice- i n -Wonderland interpretation of the world, where working people pay for the crisis generated by those who have got very rich and powerful by exploiting them in the first place? Where public services – so essential to working people who can’t buy into the privileged

areas of private education and health etc – are cut in order that the bankers and speculators can return to “business as usual”? “Protect and improve our public services – no cuts. End corporate profiteering in health, education, social and other public services. Stop the EU privatisation Directives.” The People’s Charter Where children in State schools will have to share books and equipment in oversized classes and inadequate buildings, often taught by unqualified staff, while those who brought the world into crisis remain free to buy their children the small classes and “old school tie” privileges of private education? see above Where schools which want to cooperate with each other in

order to do the best for all the children are forced to compete for bums on seats and the money that goes with them… or go under? On top of the cuts, the parliamentary parties promise to plough ahead towards privatisation of education… through the discredited Academies and Trusts programme and ever more bizarre proposals… the Tories have recently discovered “workers’ cooperatives” which they think might ease the process! And there will be no shortage of public money to pump straight into the private sector through the fragmentation of state education. And there is money – real profit – to be made already… at the beginning of this school year the Times Education Supplement reported, “The management of a special school for boys with behavioural problems (The Priory School in Taunton, Somerset) could be handed to a profit-making company in the first deal of its kind…” The TES in the same issue (4.9.09) also reports “Edison, an American education firm, took over the management of Turin Grove School in Edmonton, North London, back in 2007 in a £1.3million three-year deal…. The company, which runs about 100 Charter Schools in the USA, wants to now manage Academies”.

Policies for the people not the bankers The Labour leadership are missing a big opportunity to present a clear alternative programme to the policies of the Tories and LibDems. The pre-election Budget confirmed New Labour priorities which put the interests of big business before those of the people of Britain. The public spending cuts floated in the Pre-Budget Report are to be increased – although neither New Labour nor the Tories are being honest about the even deeper cuts they would announce after winning a General Election. Cutting the wages of public sector workers in real terms is unjust and unnecessary, especially when the Chancellor is prepared to take another £4 billion from the reserves to fund the unwinnable Afghanistan war. Extending the jobs and training guarantee scheme will not compensate for the jobs and college places lost as a result of public spending cuts. Tax information exchanges with Belize and elsewhere may embarrass Tory tax-dodger Lord Ashcroft, but the anticipated revenue of £500 million is peanuts compared to the £100 billion plus that would be gained by closing all tax havens under British jurisdiction and taking on more Revenue staff to end avoidance and evasion. continued overleaf


Unity! NUT conference Liverpool 2010

continued from front page A windfall tax on monopoly profits in the private banking, retail, pharmaceutical and energy sectors would have made an extra £10 billion available to boost working class living standards and the quality of life for millions more people. Instead, the Chancellor handed out tax cuts, rate relief and increased allowances to millionaires and big business. The proposed new £2 billion fund for so-called ‘green investment’ is puny when contrasted to £1,350 billion in funds and guarantees to bail out the banks and the money markets. Darling’s words ring hollow when it is recalled that his government refused to help keep open Britain’s only wind turbine plant. Subsidising private profiteers to build more nuclear power stations will mean a new generation of environmental and security dangers – and even higher decommissioning costs in the future when private companies walk away from their responsibilities yet again. The state now owns or controls three and a half high street banks, so why sell them back to the private profiteers instead of using them alongside the post offices to create a strong, permanent public banking sector? Instead of maintaining New Labour’s commitment to waste more than £75 billion on a replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system, Darling could have announced that this money would be invested in our railways, a national water grid and a massive public sector housebuilding programme. It’s all very well lifting stamp duty for first-time homebuyers – but in many areas there are no affordable houses for single people and young couples to buy.

Child Poverty and the Primary Curriculum Robin Alexander must have got something right. Within hours of the publication of “Children, their World, their Education — the final re p o rt and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review” last December, it had been dismissed out of hand by the Government and damned with faint praise by the Tories. Maybe it was Alexander’s clarity about the enormous difficulties facing schools in a class divided society that meant the report could not be accepted by the parties of the ruling class. Teacher unions responded with dismay to the knee-jerk response of government and press; for the NUT, Christine Blower responded that, ‘It is absolutely extraordinary that the Government has decided to ignore the Cambridge Review recommendations. Any government worth its salt, particularly in front of an impending general election, would have embraced this immensely rich report as a source of policy ideas. The ATL warned that ‘Primary education must not become a battlefield in the forthcoming election — children and their learning will be the first casualties’. Chris Keates for the NASUWT commented that ‘The report appears to be being hijacked by those who seek constantly to denigrate the achievements of state education and wish to present a picture of a broken education system.’ The report notes that England remains “a country of massive inequality”, and “the persistent

long tail of educational underachievement, in which Britain compares unfavourably with many other countries, maps closely onto gross disparities in income, health, housing, risk and well-being.” It considers that reducing these gaps must remain a priority for social and economic policy generally, not just for education. Of course the unsurprising news is that the Government got nowhere near its target of “halving child poverty by 2010” and blames “the recession” – ie capitalist economics – for children having to remain in poverty beyond 2020 when they “promised” its end! Now, rather bizarrely Brown claims that they would legislate it out of existence. Perhaps any child found to be in a state of poverty would be given an ASBO. That should sort it.

Women and Class by Mary Davis

The Politics of Britain’s Economic Crisis poverty is useful for more information

COMMUNIST REVIEW Quarterly theoretical and discussion journal Education For Tomorrow is produced by a collective of teachers of like mind, most of the time, and certainly on all vital matters of education and politics.

Pamphlets, Communist Review and books from or CPB Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, Croydon CRO2 1BD

Unity! NUT conference Liverpool 2010

A revolution in education by Nick Wright The singular successes of the Cuban education system are treated to a deep, comprehensive and fraternal analysis by Dr MacDonald, a world authority on human rights and a sharp critic of contemporary imperialism. The book covers with great authority the full range of Cuba’s innovative education system, from pre school and primary education, through the secondary and tertiary sectors, the experiences of the pioneering literacy programmes and the comprehensive nature of adult education. He locates the children’s Pioneer movement, the day care system, school and community relations and specialist, technical and vocational education in the framework of Cuba’s distinctive pedagogy. Dr MacDonald is a chartered psychologist, emeritus professor and director of postgraduate studies in health at Brunel

In 2009, the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution, a delegation from the NUT visited Cuba as the guests of our sister union, and we returned impressed and inspired by what we saw.

University. The book includes pictures from the NUT delegation to Cuba and a foreword by Christine Blower, Bill Greenshields and Martin Re e d The education revolution Cuba’s alternative to neoliberalism Théodore H. MacDonald 265pp Illustrated ISBN 978-1-90746402-7 Nick Wright is editor of Manifesto Press

■ manifesto press Manifesto Press is a new publishing ve ntu re with a focus on politics and analysis, action and culture.The press aimes to make the link between working class power and liberation with an ambitious publishing programme. Uniquely, the press commissions work in cooperation with trade unions and progressive campaigns and pressure groups with the aim of reaching new audiences with books that connect directly with their experience and interests. Recently published in addition to The Education Revolution is: ■ The Imperial controversy: Challenging the empire apologists by Stop the War chair Andrew Murray (£12.95, £2 p&p, 150pp) ■ Killing no murder? South Wales and the Great Railway Strike of 1911 by Robert Griffiths £12.95, £2 p&p 126pp illustrated) published in cooperation with the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. ■ US interventions in Latin America published for free distribution with the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Every child in school – and in schools which offer real opportunities to children of all abilities, and which stand at the heart of their communities. Small classes – much smaller than ours in Britain – where real priority is given to building strong relationships between pupils and teachers throughout their schooling, and getting the very best out of individual children. We saw an integrated system providing free uniform, free meals during the day, family education and comprehensive medical care attached to the schools. Everywhere we found confident, assertive young people with a very strong sense of their communities, their history and their futures. Young people with real purpose and justifiable pride in the achievements of their country. We saw young people of all ethnic backgrounds studying, working and playing together without the curse of racism. Where the Cuban authorities are aware of continuing discriminatory ideas – specifically in the area of LGBT equality – they are not trying to hide this or gloss over it – they are tackling it head on with well thought out programmes in the formal and informal education systems, through the media, and through the involvement of ordinary people. We saw an education system which famously eliminated illiteracy in the early years of the Revolution, and which has

long achieved and exceeded the UN Millennium Development Goal in education – despite five decades of hostile political and economic blockade from the most powerful nation in the world, the USA. We saw a system which has achieved very many of the ambitions of our own Union expressed in our policy documents, “Bringing Down The Barriers” and “A Good Local School for Every Child and Community”. In Britain currently we are facing the fragmentation of the state education system, and the threat of huge cuts in spending. We see continuing social class divisions which blight the lives of children, and limit their educational achievements. In Cuba, our sister union is involved directly with their Government in expanding educational opportunity and the development of an integrated education system as a key to social progress for all. What is more, the Cuban education system does not only serve its own people well. Cuban teachers are working throughout the developing world, both in providing direct assistance, and in training the young people of those countries to develop their education systems for themselves – a truly internationalist approach. Solidarity is a two way process. We have a great deal to learn from a system which puts the needs of its people first, and we have a continuing duty to defend their right to do so in a world which, for the most part follows a neoliberal agenda with very different priorities. Extracted from the foreword to The Education Revolution – Cuba’s Alternative to Neoliberalism by Dr Théodore H. MacDonald


Unity! NUT conference Liverpool 2010

NUT Conference Fringe event Education, trade union rights and the Peoples Charter Saturday 3 April 5.45pm Lower Galleria, BT Conference Centre Chair: Bob Oram, Morning Star Management Committee Speakers: Carolyn Jones, Director IER, Bill Greenshields, The People’s Charter; Hank Roberts, UNIFY The parliamentary parties argue about when, not whether, to make huge cuts. All of them agree that teachers and other public service workers must take pay cuts, and pensions too will be under attack They all plan to step up the break up and privatisation of services – attacking state education with Academies, Trusts, Free Schools, and now (the Tories favourite!) “worker cooperatives”… Where workers in other services and industries have recently decided that they need to ballot for industrial action, the anti-union laws have been used to stop them. Challenges to ballots and antiunion injunctions have become the norm. The defence of education is weakened by the competition and hostility between teacher unions, and a lack of organisation in many schools and workplaces. We need a strategy for dealing with these – and we need it now! Organised by the Institute of Employment Rights Reclaim our Rights! United campaign Supported by Morning Star, The People’s Charter, Unify and Education for Tomorrow

daily paper of the left 60p from your newsagent

Workers’ ballots and bosses’ bonuses by Carolyn Jones As we count down to a general election, one thing seems certain – post-election cuts will fall on the many, not on the few. The working majority will pay for an economic meltdown created by the privileged few. Deregulated during the Thatcher years and encouraged under New Labour, bankers and bosses speculated, asset-stripped and exploited until the whole rotten system stumbled and fell. Now, in an effort to rebuild a meaner, leaner international capitalist structure, politicians, media moguls, employers and the judicial system are united in their determination to ensure that the workers pay while the capitalists play. And play they are. Bosses bonuses and bankers bonanzas are back. £38 million to HSBC bosses; £1.3billion to investment bankers at RBS; 58% rise in profits to British Gas shareholders. This is war. Class war. And battle lines are being drawn throughout Europe. In Greece, France, Germany and Spain, thousands are taking to the streets under a common

theme – we will not pay for your crisis. Back off and look elsewhere for savings (war machine) and income (Fair taxes). Noting and fearing a similar response, British bosses are inceasingly turning to anti union laws to deny democratic decisions of workers. Recent injunctions against First London bus drives, BA cabin crews, EDF Power workers and Milford Haven harbour crews show how the full force of the law is being used to quell worker resistance and undermine union attempts to protect members’ jobs and conditions. If the law on ballots continues to prevent unions responding to their members then the law must go. That’s why we continue to support calls for a Trade Union Freedom Bill and why we support John McDonnell’s EDM 710 on simplifying the balloting procedure. But the law will not change until it’s challenged. And the time to challenge is now.★ Carolyn Jones is director of the Institute of Employment Rights

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Aces from the 586th Women’s Fighter Regiment Lilya Litvyak, 12 kills, Katya Budanova, 11 kills and Mariya Kuznetsova

Unity! NUT Conference 2010  

Unity bulletin published by the Communist Party for the 2010 NUT Conference

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