Education: A Vision for True Innovation

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'Another School Is Possible', or so believes Milwaukee-based teacher Bob Peterson from the Rethinking Schools collective who led both a seminar and workshop at October's European Social Forum on this theme. This has already spawned some promising initiatives.

Hackney NUT president Jane Basset spoke on behalf of the Anti-Sats Alliance to a 250-strong conference in Genoa, Italy, on 27 November. Left educationalists are meeting in Paris on 11 December to consider the feasibility of a European day of action on education in 2005.

A further publication from the Anti-Sats Alliance early in 2005 will carry the ideological arguments to Blair on just what liberating places schools could be if his government had the bottle to dismantle the Thatcherite inheritance - the National Curriculum with SATs tests, Ofsted, performance-related pay, privatised building projects and wholesale asset-stripping by city academies.

The arguments are not obvious, however. Labour minister Charles Clarke published a 'Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners' last July. It contains a streak of idealistic vision which at times echoes the traditional demands of the progressive movement - a curriculum based on how children actually learn, an emphasis on creativity and teamwork, autonomy for teachers to design learning experiences.

The paradox for us is that this demand is coming from a British government, desperate for the kinds of innovation that will increase profitability in a hyper-competitive world. It is not couched in terms of an intrinsic human right. In any case, we also know the same capitalists demand few skills for their mass of McJobs.

As we go to press the most exciting development looks to be a conference at the beginning of March in London on this same theme of 'Another School Is Possible'. Activists in all sectors from nursery through to university are hoping to paint a picture of just what an alternative to the market-led mess we now have could look like. If you want to be involved or get more info contact: secretary@ealing.nut.org.uk.