Life Lessons, published today by the Fabian Society in partnership with the University and College Union, examines how Labour should deliver on its promise to create a free, universal ‘cradle to grave’ education system.
People will always remember Labour’s 2017 election campaign for the party’s promise to scrap undergraduate tuition fees. But Labour’s pledge of free higher education was just the standout feature of a broader vision for an integrated nationwide system of education for all, free at the point of need – the National Education Service. Now, with Labour drawing closer to power, it is time for the left to turn stirring words into a practical blueprint.
The report features an introduction from shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner MP and contributions from experts in further and higher education, including shadow minister Gordon Marsden MP, former education and employment secretary Lord Blunkett and leading figures from the NUS, UCU, Open University the Learning and Work Institute.
Between them the report contributors argue for a National Education Service that is:
- Accountable – democratically accountable and open at every level
- Devolved – with local decision-making which delivers coherent, integrated local provision, albeit within a national framework
- Empowering – ensuring that learners, employees and institutions are all enabled and respected
- Genuinely lifelong – with opportunities for retraining and chances to re-engage at every stage, and parity for part-time and digital distance learning
- Coordinated – flexible pathways for learners between providers and strong partnerships involving providers, employers, unions and technology platforms
- Outcome-focused – designed to meet social and economic needs, with far more adults receiving productivity-enhancing education but also recognising that learning brings wider benefits
The report also suggests that the ultimate price-tag for the new service may be more than Labour pledged in its 2017 manifesto.
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Towards a National Education Service
24 January 2018
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