I am an advocate from the early years/childcare sector.
More than three years ago the government approved a group of leading employers to develop standards for entry onto apprenticeships in the early years sector. I was on the group.
The government imposed a requirement that qualified workers at level 3 must hold GCSE grades A-C in Maths and English.
Anyone over 21 had to retake their GCSEs in Maths and English to be allowed on an apprenticeship if they did not have A grades. The government deemed the previous GCSE’s to be substandard.
They abolished equivalents of long standing and which were accepted for a long time by universities. Yet their approved group challenged this decision.
Representatives met with the government to draw attention to the adverse impacts. Nurseries would close down, there would be job losses, and trainees would be denied access to training.
The government said in response to this that they knew these adverse impacts would happen. When we asked why they were doing this the response was to “get rid of the dross out of the sector”.
When asked who and what the dross was the reply was, “Working class girls coming out of schools without any qualifications.”
They informed us that they would hold out for about three years to enforce the imposition, to “get rid of the dross”.
The government did indeed drag out the process for three years. The group was also subjected to threats, bullying and intimidation from government.
They were told that if they did not do as government wanted then they would be disbanded and replaced.
They carried through their threat this February.
But in March the government relaxed the requirements for entry onto an apprenticeship.
Calling working class girls “dross” and keeping them out of training and work is a very serious matter.
Chrissy Meleady MBE
Exclusion shame for London Pride
London Pride has revealed the list of groups with “permission” to march in the parade. They include Barclays, Starbucks and Nando’s but no bisexual groups.
Organisers say no groups had applied, but activists claim applications closed early.
The organisers also said there were more than
50 groups “on the waiting list” for a space.
It’s a disgrace that corporations get space at the expense of LGBT+ activists. Pride should be a protest—no group should have to apply for a bloc.
Instead it’s a chance for businesses to make profit and for tax dodgers to pink wash themselves.
Bethan Turner, Manchester
Win over soft racists
On the Saturday following the bomb I volunteered to help on a Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) campaign stall on Market Street, in the centre of Manchester.
We used a petition that called for unity and “Don’t let the racists divide us”.
The petition was well received by many people who signed the petition and many donated money to SUTR.
But I believe we need a two-pronged strategy to try to combat racism.
We need to give confidence to those anti-racists that already exist.
We do this through street stalls, trade union affiliations, meetings and Love Music Hate Racism, and many other activities.
But we also need to try and win away from the hardcore racists those that we once called, ‘soft racists’.
We should distinguish between those that cannot be won away from racist ideas and those that can.
We believe that the ruling ideas in society are the ideas of the ruling class.
At the moment the ruling class are fanning the flames of racism. So it is natural that many people will hold racist ideas.
But we have to believe that people can change, or else give up the fight for a more just and equal future.
The question is, how do we deal with this?
I think we have to try and find a common point of agreement, then attempt to win them away from racism and towards class unity.
We need to win “soft” racists away from racism by “patiently explaining”.
Chris Ayton, Manchester
The business interests behind NHS cuts plans
The Tories claim their NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) for the NHS are all about improving health care. But there’s clearly a nasty ideology behind their plan for cuts.
Author and health campaigner Stewart Player recently pointed out that the bosses’ World Economic Forum (WEF) decided health care systems should try to be more productive with less resources.
In 2012 a WEF report said healthcare systems had to transform how they provided care, with big cuts for hospitals.
Simon Stevens, now chief executive of NHS England, was on the board for that report. The STPs follow many of its recommendations. These aren’t about improving healthcare—they’re about making it more profitable.
Martin Bell, Alnwick
Thanks for speaking out
Thank you for being among the few to say that while the Manchester bombing was dreadful, it is being used to justify further horror and control.
We don’t need armed police all over the country nor extra powers for surveillance.
Name and address provided
Establishment defend wars
You don’t have to be a Jeremy Corbyn fan to agree that Britain’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria has created the terrorist threat.
The establishment fears that people might start to question what the point of those wars were.
Were they for “democracy”or just to establish any old dictatorship that suited Western interests?
Nick Vinehill, Norfolk
We can win independence
I think SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon lost some support when she said there won’t be a second Scottish independence referendum until after Brexit.
It’s time to unite for independence. The SNP won’t get us there—but the people will!
Stephen Bebbington, Glasgow
Unison should rerun election
It’s a shame there won’t be a rerun after officials interfered in the Unison union’s general secretary election (Socialist Worker, 31 May).
It gives the bureaucrats a free run to do the same in any future election.
Frank Homeward, on Facebook
Climate is all our concern
One thing which everyone has in common and so is in the national interest (Socialist Worker, 31 May) is the environment.
Capitalism has no qualms about trashing it, it’s in the national interest to stop it.
@PicnicJon, on Twitter