Green Party Conference, Education Policy and PEN

With thanks to Hazel Clawley for this post.

At its Autumn Conference 2010, the Green Party of England and Wales voted to include in its main policy document, Policies for a Sustainable Society, two new sections proposed by four Trustees of PEN, who are also Green Party members.

The first concerned pilot projects on year-round opening of schools. This is an obvious topic for Greens to investigate, since it involves the fullest use of the valuable community resources represented by well-equipped school buildings. But conference was also interested in research from the USA which shows that year-round opening, with more frequent, shorter breaks for both students and staff, tends to benefit “at risk” children disproportionately (see for details).

The second addition to policy was about learning from alternative approaches. The Green Party’s current policy is for small, local community schools which, it is assumed, would cater for all children’s needs, and would result in “social cohesion”. The PEN-inspired addition means that a Green government (and Green local councillors, of which there are an increasing number) would support and fund alternative approaches to learning (such as the South Downs Learning Centre and Citischool Milton Keynes) and make sure that lessons learned from such projects would feed into mainstream community schools, so that all children benefit from what has been proved to work for the few.

These are not the first or only ideas from the PEN stable to be adopted by the Green Party. The policy paper agreed in Autumn 2009 included sections on flexi-schooling, mini-schools (school-within-schools), child-centred learning, replacing the National Curriculum with a set of learning entitlements, democratic organisation of schools, and recognition of multiple intelligences and learning styles.

HC. September 2010

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