TEACHING TO INSTILL KNOWLEDGE, NOT TOP LEAGUE TABLES
When Blair's New Labour party took power in 1997, he gave his top priority as
"Education, Education, Education". In fact Labour's true priority over the
next 13 years was "Legislation, Legislation, Legislation" - educational
standards declined and this has continued with the Coalition. This government
spins all the facts and figures. They talk "Delivery" and "Quality". They point to "More Teachers!" - but
many of the extra teachers are un-trained teaching "Assistants". They force schools to compete in "Performance League Tables" like the
X-Factor. This rubbishes some schools as "worst performers" - when their real problem is that they're in a poor catchment area.
This league-table mentality makes schools concentrate on "easy"
subjects, where they can get more passes (like replacing French and German, by easier-to-learn Spanish).
Put the Headteacher back in charge
For the past 30 years politicians have eroded the role of the headteacher, by allowing local council busybodies to constantly interfere in the way he/she runs the school. They now allow the CPS to use courts of law, to rule on matters (eg school uniform) which have NOTHING TO DO with the law; but are the business of the school alone. They keep forcing schools to TAKE BACK the very small minority of badly-behaved children, who ruin the education of the vast majority of normal children, by disrupting classes and intimidating teachers. We need to remember that teachers are in "loco parentis" - taking the place of the parents, during school hours. Local Council mandarins, depending on which political party is in control in the area - make politically-motivated absurd rules like not allowing any competition in sports (so there can be no winners or losers), and outlawing checking spelling, or using red pens to correct homework (as this supposedly hurts children's self-esteem).
Mainstream would put control of ALL school policy, back where it belongs: with the headteacher. Teachers would be expected to look for regular parent opinions and wishes, in regards to their children's education, at parent-teacher meetings. But teachers would NOT any more, be told what to do, or how to teach, by local authority political comissars. Under a MAINSTREAM government, there would be plenty of new jobs for trained and specialist teachers and lab assistants - but a lot LESS jobs for Local Education commitee admisistrators, managers and other pen-pushers,
FREE SCHOOL LUNCH IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
Many primary-school children bring a lunch which their parents make for them, or else go home for lunch. But there needs to be the option of a cooked lunch provided by the school. Under a MAINSTREAM government this would be FREE, but it would be nothing like the meals provided now in primary schools. This would be free, but it would be a low-cost, basic, one-course, take-it-or-leave-it nutritious meal. No choices allowed, Meat and Veg Monday to Thursday, Fish and Veg on Fridays. The fixed menu would be displayed one week in advance, so that children who are fussy eaters, or have special dietary needs - or those whose parents are vegetarians, and want their children to follow a vegetatrian diet - would be able to plan in advance, to give their children a lunch-box instead; (or tell them to eat just the vegetables, whatever.)
INFORMING PARENTS ON SCHOOL MEDICATION
We parents regularly have to sign forms for our children's school; authorising them to go on school trips and any emergency medical treatment that might be necessary. This school, quite rightly, informs the parents about any inspections or treatments done in the school. As parents, we've got the right to know these things. Quite rightly, the school would tell us if they had to give an elastoplast, or some Calpol, to one of our chidren. In one important area, more and more schools are taking it upon themselves to give medication to the pupils WITHOUT the parents' permission - even worse, without informing us at all! This is the area of contraceptive and abortive medicine - a lot more serious than Calpol (and in some cases, medication which may risk harming a child).
How can parents fulfill our responsibility to look after our children, if there are gaps in their medical history, which we don't know about? Mainstream would EMPOWER parents with the knowledge about any medical treatment that their children are receiving at school - or have received during the past five years; telling schools who administer any medication or medical treatment to pupils, to bring not only the family doctor, but the parents into the loop as well.
Restore the outstanding School repairs cuts
When the coalition came to power in 2010 they immediately CUT the funds for hundreds of planned school repair projects - some of them years overdue already, in rotting buildings with outdated heating and plumbing. (An urgent rebuild in our children's school in the Midlands was one of the first to be de-funded). MAINSTREAM would restore all these vital building funds immediately. But unlike the Con-Dem coalition we would NOT do it by taxing more, or borrowing the money. We would use the new "Charity begins at Home" ruling and divert the money from the Overseas Aid budget, into our own Schools budget. Repairing schools in Africa is very important. But repairing our own schools is more important. Our children are our future.
Teaching materials paid for by the SCHOOLS not by the parents
It's unfair that we parents have to pay for our children's set reading books, for nearly all stationery, and for musical instruments. MAINSTREAM wants these items to be paid for in future, out of the schools' budgets. This is the way things always used to work - let's get back to doing the job properly. The new rules would apply to: All set reading books, which would be bought by the school and remain school property; children who failed to return these books at the end of the year, would have to pay for them; very basic stationery items (rulers, protractors, compassess, A4 paper and notebooks, pens and pencils); and only the most commonly-taught musical instruments. Children who wanted to learn some obscure instrument like a Zither or a Balalaika, would still have to buy their own). These new funds would come from cutting Overseas Aid budgets using the Charity begins at Home rule.
CIVICS CLASSES TO TEACH CHILDREN THE LAW
If any of us breaks the law, it's never a defence to say that we didn't know, what we did was illegal. Ignorance of the Law is no excuse. Unfortunately, an increasing number of children don't appreciate what is legal and what's not legal. MAINSTREAM wants Civics classes to be started in schools, to teach about the laws which affect children most, and to teach that as children grow up, they have not only RIGHTS, but also RESPONSIBILTIES towards their fellow-citizens
BIG INVESTMENT IN LANGUAGE TEACHING
Our children are unfortunately, Europe's poorest performers
in foreign languages. As the countries of the EU move closer together, being able to speak the other main Euro-languages becomes ever more important.