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Education

RIGHT TO FREE EDUCATION

We believe that all people have a basic right to free, high-quality education from infancy through to old age. We want free creche, play group and nursery provision for all children, and full-time school-based nursery provision from the age of three.

Because of the stress caused by serious under-funding and wider social problems, teachers including head teachers, especially in England and Wales, are leaving their jobs and our schools in droves.

School services and facilities are still being privatised. The Government is also seeking to destroy the comprehensive school system - a system which has been consistently undermined by both Tory and Labour Governments through public spending cuts and ideological opposition.

School selection by so-called 'ability' must end. The Socialist Labour Party is committed to retaining comprehensive education, and opposed to Government policy which will provide a good education for those who can pay, a second-rate education for those who cannot - and a third-rate system for the vast majority of children.

Our education system must be funded according to need, which means radical changes in the way resources are distributed. We are committed to abolishing all private and faith schools and colleges. The considerable resources they enjoy should be used for the benefit of entire communities.

All privatised education services and their assets must be returned to local public control. Proper administration of nurseries, schools, colleges or universities is utterly incompatible with privatisation in any form, including competitive tendering.

A FAIR SYSTEM

The Socialist Labour Party is committed to the full restoration of trade union rights for all education workers, whose pay and conditions must be determined through proper negotiating structures.

We believe that class sizes must be sharply reduced and more teachers employed, thus ensuring educational standards for our children that will benefit the nation as a whole.

We are also committed to promoting full democratic participation by students as well as teachers and governors in decision-making structures. School communities should be more involved in the appointment of head teachers, and accountability should be shared by teachers, parents, students and pupils.

In order to meet the needs of all working class children, girls and boys, students from ethnic minorities and students with disabilities, the school curriculum must be relevant to them. We want assessment methods that promote and encourage students' further development, with learning methods based on co-operation, not competition.

EDUCATION AT ALL LEVELS

In higher education, student grants must be restored and the student loan system - which has kept so many young people from education - must be abolished. The Socialist Labour Party believes that grants in line with minimum wage levels should be available for all full-time students. All benefits (including housing and unemployment) that have been withdrawn from students since 1979 should be restored.

Education should be available to us all at whatever age. All adults should have the right to planned study leave during their working lives - and effective campaigning by the Labour movement to reduce the working week can turn such an opportunity into reality for millions.

There have been positive moves in Scotland on education, particularly insofar as student grants are concerned. However, even this type of measure is only palliative.

What is needed throughout England, Scotland and Wales is a system which provides free education at colleges and universities, the payment of all grants by central government and an undertaking to pay students an income equal to the national minimum wage.

The cost of providing Britain with an education system capable of meeting the needs of children and young adults in the 21st Century requires an immediate increase of £15 billion per year in education expenditure. This cost can easily be met out of the £50 billion profits of the industries and services privatised over the past 26 years.