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13651_20 Reproduced from electronic media, promoted by Jennie Formby, General Secretary, the Labour

Party, on behalf of the Labour Party, both at, Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QT.
I want to start by thanking you
for taking the time to respond
to this consultation.
Coronavirus is the biggest crisis our country has faced in a generation.
It is a health crisis, an economic crisis and – for many – a personal crisis.

Our immediate attention must be on responding to the pandemic


and ensuring the health and safety of people across the country. In
this context, it is appropriate that our policy-making in response to
coronavirus is swift and responsive to the circumstances.

But this is also an important moment of change for our country. The
decisions made over the next five to ten years will fundamentally alter
people’s lives for generations to come.

It is therefore right that we pause and consider the context and values
of our policies, as we look to build our policy platform over the coming
years ahead of the next General Election.

The Labour Party is an incredible and powerful force for good. But
we’ve just lost four elections in a row. It is essential that we use the
next few years to reconnect across the country, to re-engage with our
communities and voters, to establish a coalition across our towns and
our cities, regions and nations, to speak for the whole of the country.
Policy development is central to that aim.

I want this consultation to engage all parts of our Party in a broad


discussion about our beliefs and principles, and the issues we all
connect on. Although we are not starting from scratch, these are
important issues that deserve careful and considered deliberation;
they will be the starting point for us to rebuild our society.

This year’s consultation covers eight areas, all relating to the current
coronavirus crisis. It asks questions about how we can rebuild our
economy, environment, public services, international relations and
political system once the pandemic has passed.

Over the course of the consultation we will be running a programme


of activity to connect and engage with as many people as possible.
Although we would never have chosen these circumstances, the
current context offers us the opportunity to begin exploring new
methods of engagement. This must be an inclusive process, where
we are actively making sure everyone can participate on an equal
footing.
I recognise that our policy-making processes are due for review.
New developments and new movements have presented us with an
opportunity to consider how we engage with one another, both within
and beyond our membership.

I want us to use this consultation process to learn and assess the


strengths and weaknesses in our own structures. I want us to build
on the work that has already been done and consider how we can
gain wider public support for our policies, while also ensuring that our
policy making processes provide genuinely meaningful, democratic
policy engagement. To win again, we need to connect with the voting
public on the issues they care about most, inspire them with our vision
of the future, and build the case for why supporting Labour meets their
everyday concerns.

I hope that you look at these consultations as an opportunity to re-


shape the future of both our country and our Party. Please use them
to engage with your fellow members and supporters and submit your
ideas to the National Policy Forum, whether individually or as part of a
collective group.

Thank you again for taking part, I very much look forward to hearing
your insight and ideas on how we can re-shape our policy platform to
win again so that we can ensure a fairer Britain for all.

Yours,

Keir Starmer
Leader of the Labour Party
Thank you for taking part in the Labour Party’s 2020
National Policy Forum Consultation. Through this
consultation, and the wider policy making process,
we want to work with our members, supporters and
stakeholders to discuss issues which impact on people’s
everyday lives to help shape our policy platform.

This booklet is one of eight policy documents published by


the Labour Party as part of our consultation this year.

Each document outlines the background of the consultation topic,


followed by a set of questions. You do not need to answer every
question, nor is there a specific way to answer them. We suggest using
the questions to stimulate and develop your thoughts on what you
think are the main issues in the consultation’s policy area.

Once you have written up your response, you can submit it to us


through Labour Policy Forum: www.policyforum.labour.org.uk. For
more information on how to make a submission, see https://www.
policyforum.labour.org.uk/consultation-submission-guide.

On the website you will also find guides on other ways to get involved
in the consultation, as well as information on the programme of online
events we will be running.

There are seven other documents that might interest you covering
different policy areas, which you can also find online. If you have an
idea or issue you would like to talk about that is not covered in this
year’s consultation, you can submit these to us too.

Whether you are a Labour Party member, supporter or stakeholder,


we want to hear your views on the issues which impact on people’s
everyday lives.

Want to know more about how


Labour makes its policy?
You can learn more about how
Labour develops its policy, find further
information on the 2020 Consultation
and see our programme of online
policy events on our website
www.policyforum.labour.org.uk.
ACCESSIBLE MATERIALS

The Labour Party is an inclusive


member-based organisation that prides
itself on being accessible to all who
share its values. If you would like an
accessible version of the consultation
documents please email us at
policydevelopment@labour.org.uk
to discuss how we can best
accommodate your requirements.
The education system after coronavirus

This year coronavirus has fundamentally changed the way we are able to carry out our
daily lives. Over the past few months, many of us have been unable to see our family and
friends, and where possible we’ve been asked to stay at home.

At the same time, hundreds and thousands of key workers have continued to go to work,
risking their lives to provide us with the services needed to ensure that the majority are
safe and well, and our society is still able to function.

Alongside our NHS and social care workers, and many other key workers, our education
staff have played a vital role.

Over the past few months they have continued, as they always have done, to provide
support to children, young people, their families and their communities.

They have kept education institutions open to provide care for the most vulnerable, and
created virtual lessons to help learners continue their education at home. They have
continued to demonstrate what we have always known; that our education system is a
vital public service, one that is integral to a fair and functioning society.

Although all of our education staff have been doing an incredible job of providing this
support, the past few months have also exposed and exacerbated the deep inequalities
that exist in our society.

Throughout the crisis, many children have been left without access to free school meals,
demonstrating the stark reality that without the meal provided in schools, the most
vulnerable children in our society go hungry.

While there have been a host of innovative approaches to keep people learning when
education institutions are closed, not everyone has access to a laptop or a good internet
connection. This means many have simply been unable to access this vital provision.

Although we’re unsure what the impact of the coronavirus crisis will be on educational
attainment, it is likely it will be felt most sharply by those who are already disadvantaged
by the education system. Those who rely on services beyond their education institution,
or have a difficult home life, will face severe challenges that will likely widen further the
attainment gap they already face. This is a stark reminder of the need to provide public
services to support the most vulnerable in our society.

No matter what happens over the coming months, it’s clear that we cannot simply return
to the status quo.

The reframing of our education staff as key workers, the challenges faced by our
education institutions, the importance of support for vulnerable learners, and the deep
inequality of opportunity revealed by the crisis are clear indication that the system needs
radical change.

We need to rebuild our education system in a way that works for – and really values –
everyone.

Early Years, Education & Skills


The challenges

Transforming our education system requires us to think imaginatively about the purpose
of our education system, and how we can ensure it delivers on that purpose.

But we must also address the problems that we will inherit from a Conservative
government. A decade of austerity has devastated nurseries, schools, colleges,
universities, and the services the most vulnerable rely on.

Since taking office in 2010, the Conservatives have chronically underfunded our
education system, making it harder for people across the country to reach their full
potential.

Between 2010 and 2018 school funding fell by 8% in real terms, rising to 16% in colleges.
The extra money promised by the Conservatives in the last General Election would not
even reverse their own cuts to schools or colleges.

These cuts have had a devastating impact on education institutions across the country,
creating a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. In schools, teacher recruitment
targets have been missed in six successive years, while teachers continue to leave the
profession in record numbers.

Teacher numbers in secondary schools are falling as the number of pupils is set to rise
in the years ahead. This will impact every school in the country, but the impact will be
greatest in the most disadvantaged areas, where schools are less likely to be able to
recruit the teachers they need.

But it is arguably the services relied on by the most vulnerable which have been hit the
hardest. Sure Start spending has fallen by around two-thirds, with over 1,000 centres lost.

A decade of austerity has made it harder to support the most vulnerable in our society.
Pupil Premium funding has fallen in real terms, funding for children’s services has
been slashed, support for children and young people with special educational needs
and disabilities (SEND) has been cut and maintenance support in further and higher
education has been lost. Many of these issues will be exacerbated by the current crisis.

The public health measures implemented in the government’s response to coronavirus


left 99% of children – and 95% of those classed as vulnerable – no longer attending
schools or early year’s education.

Everyone is affected by missing education, but that impact is not felt equally. Learners
from the poorest backgrounds, without access to laptops or good internet, will find it far
harder to access education.

Labour would never support policies that put the health of children, their families and
education staff at risk. But with children and young people already falling behind every
year over the summer break, months of schools and college closures, combined with
changes to the assessment system, could have serious consequences. It’s more important
than ever that we find innovative ways to support children and young people access
education.

Early Years, Education & Skills


The way forward

Labour have always believed that our education system is a vital public service, central
to building and maintaining a healthy, informed and just society. Those who work within
it make an invaluable contribution and the impact of coronavirus has only made this
clearer, with the government recognising teachers and education staff as key workers.

The government must always remember the contribution they have made, and move
forward with a new understanding of education as a public service that provides vital
support to families and communities far beyond the classroom.

The deep inequalities within our society and within our education system must be
addressed. The specific challenges faced by vulnerable learners within and beyond
education, and the pervasive impact of poverty on educational outcomes, must be
acknowledged and eradicated.

If coronavirus has highlighted these issues, then it is our responsibility to ensure there is
no return to business as usual. As we look to the months and years ahead, there is an
opportunity to work towards a new system that supports all those who need it, particularly
the most disadvantaged.

With politicians and the public understanding more than ever the essential role of
education, we should return to the first principles of the system. Recognising that
education is a vital public service that should be available to all is the first step, but we
must then ask what that system is for.

The answer to this question should be the backbone of our programme moving
forward. From a new future for assessment and curriculum, to a genuine vision for further
education.

The coronavirus crisis has shown the challenges facing our economy, and it is a reminder
that many people are in deeply insecure jobs with unacceptable working conditions.
We must look seriously at the ways education can transform the lives of working people,
particularly through lifelong learning and part-time higher education. After a decade
of decline, we must rebuild this vital part of the system if we are to give everyone the
opportunity to reach their full potential.

Teachers and other staff have been recognised as key workers, but we must now ask
the question of what we can do to recognise their contribution.

Early Years, Education & Skills


Questions:
1. What lessons should be learned from, and changes made to, our education system
after the crisis?

2. How can we ensure that our education institutions are rooted in and accountable to
their local communities?

3. What other services, beyond education itself, are needed to ensure that vulnerable
learners get the support they need?

4. How can our education system support those who are particularly affected by
economic disruption, including that caused by coronavirus, and the insecurity and
inequality it has revealed?

5. What can we do to provide greater support to those who work in our education
system?

Early Years, Education & Skills