Gordon has hailed the launch of Labour’s plans for a new National Education Service, covering from early years to lifelong learning, as a “game changer that will help transform life chances for families and people across Blackpool and Lancashire”.

Speaking after Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner launched the party’s NES Charter with 10 key principles and a three month consultation, Gordon, who as Shadow Skills and Higher Education Minister, has been part of the team nationally drawing up the proposals, said: “This is the start of a hugely exciting and positive process which I am proud to be part of- an initiative which in its scope and vision is similar to that with which a Labour Government launched its all-encompassing “cradle to grave” NHS in 1948.

“It will be especially relevant to us in Blackpool, where eight years of Tory and Tory-led Governments have seen funding for our Sure Starts and Children’s Centres cut by them, while parents struggle still to access affordable childcare. We have huge retention and recruitment crises for teachers and funding services in our schools and Tory Government policies have, tripled tuition fees for students going on to higher education as well as scrapping grants for those at colleges.

“Tory Governments have also decimated the budget in England for adult education, which is hampering older learners across Lancashire, including those who need to retrain and reskill themselves. Blackpool with some of the worst unemployment and underemployed/ low skills in the UK, desperately needs the ‘New Deal’ which our National Education Service will bring.

“We will be consulting widely over the next three months across the country on the 10 core principles that will underpin Labour’s NES – which will be, as the NHS became, a central driver for fairness and equality. The NES will work closely with Labour’s plans for health, sustainability and industrial policies. We will build opportunities, second chances and bridges for people at every stage of their lives – in contrast to the silos, indifferences and endless barriers, austerity and cuts which people have experienced under the Tories since 2010. 

“I am particularly proud to be taking forward our plans for skills, Apprenticeships, lifelong learning and for students at our excellent local colleges and universities across Lancashire. We will build on our 2017 manifesto pledges on tuition fees, restoring maintenance grants and educational maintenance grants to expand social mobility and equal chances for everyone.

“I am especially glad, as a former Open University tutor for nearly 20 years, that on top of moving towards learning being free at the point of use, we will be using the NES to bring forward strategies to cover both the very specific and more general skills for learners young and older. These will address our real economic needs locally over the next 10 -15 years, not the stop gap, shoestring actions of May’s Tory ministers. 

“We want to see a Commission to align Further and Higher Education skills as part of our NES – and ambitious plans to reverse the decline in adult learning as a central part of that project. We will be consulting widely on the ten principles of the NES, locally and nationally, which I will be closely involved with.

“As well as our own party members, that process will include students , families , the trade unions and third sector, local employers and councils , colleges , universities and skills providers. All of them have a stake in our getting things right for a future Labour Government to implement the NES vision.”

Draft Charter

1. Education has intrinsic value in giving all people access to the common body of knowledge we share, and practical value in allowing all to participate fully in our society. These principles shall guide the National Education Service.

2. The National Education Service shall provide education that is free at the point of use, available universally and throughout life.

3. The National Education Service provides education for the public good and all providers within the National Education Service shall be bound by the principles of this charter.

4. High quality education is essential to a strong and inclusive society and economy, so the National Education Service shall work alongside the health, sustainability, and industrial policies set by democratically elected government.

5. Every child, and adult, matters, so the National Education Service will be committed to tackling all barriers to learning, and providing high-quality education for all.

6. All areas of skill and learning deserve respect; the National Education Service will provide all forms of education, integrating academic, technical and other forms of learning within and outside of educational institutions, and treating all with equal respect.

7.Educational excellence is best achieved through collaboration and the National Education Service will be structured to encourage and enhance cooperation across boundaries and sectors.

8. The National Education Service shall be accountable to the public, communities, and parents and children that it serves. Schools, colleges, and other public institutions within the National Education Service should be rooted in their communities, with parents and communities empowered, via appropriate democratic means, to influence change where it is needed and ensure that the education system meets their needs. The appropriate democratic authority will set, monitor and allocate resources, ensuring that they meet the rights, roles, and responsibilities of individuals and institutions.

9. The National Education Service aspires to the highest standards of excellence and professionalism. Educators and all other staff will be valued as highly-skilled professionals, and appropriate accountability will be balanced against giving genuine freedom of judgement and innovation.

10. The National Education Service shall draw on evidence and international best practice, and provide appropriate professional development and training. The National Education Service must have the utmost regard to the well-being of learners and educators, and its policies and practices, particularly regarding workload, assessment, and inspection, will support the emotional, social and physical well-being of students and staff.

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