About 250 teachers from across the education sector, representing 110 schools and colleges, met in London on Saturday of last week to discuss radical alternatives to the present education system.
The Rethinking Education in the Era of Globalisation conference ranged from discussing the government’s recent abandonment of the Tomlinson reforms to celebrating multiculturalism and immigration in the classroom.
It was a great to see primary school teachers talking to university lecturers about the state of education today.
A grassroots network has been created across the education sector by teachers and tutors who feel that things must change.
There was an overwhelming feeling that we must make the syllabus we teach more relevant and responsive to the world in which we live.
We can’t continue to dish up to our young people a curriculum that leaves them ill prepared and unable to make informed decisions about the world.
There was a great atmosphere and a general feeling that the conference was a real breath of fresh air.
Among the speakers was Maud Blair, an expert on how to tackle the underachievement of black children in education. The discussions on challenging the institutional racism that holds black children back were a million miles away from the prescriptions offered by CRE chairman Trevor Phillips.
Mary Compton, president of the NUT teachers’ union, brilliantly tied together the attacks on comprehensive education here with worldwide trends towards privatisation in schools and education geared to the needs of big business.
The conference finished with the setting up of a Rethinking Education committee. It also called for teachers in schools and colleges across Britain to organise Make Poverty History events in June, where schools and colleges suspend the curriculum for a week or a day to give over time to discuss the issues raised by the campaign across all subjects.
There was also a call to take part in a Europe-wide day of action over education in May. There was a strong feeling to make the defence of comprehensive education an issue in the general election campaign.