Values for Schools
We are campaigning for these priorities:
- Invest in mothers not state nurseries. The early years of a child's life are critical to their future well-being. But many women who would like to stay at home with their children are being forced out into the workplace by government policies. Placing their child in a nursery is not the preferred option and also denies the fundamental needs of the young child. Labour and Conservative policy is to shift resources just to the minority of women who prefer to work through placing their children in nurseries. Our approach is different. The CPA will act on research that shows 60-70 per cent of women reduce their hours of employment or leave the workplace completely when their children are young. Our tax allowances and child grants will work with the grain of the natural maternal instincts of most women, recognise the sacrifices made in child-rearing and give real choice to women as well as men.
- Scale back Testing and the National Curriculum. Unnecessary tests have undermined teaching. They are the equivalent of getting children to jump through hoops. The CPA will stem "teaching to the tests" by cutting back on them and will give greater freedom to schools to choose what subjects are offered on the timetable. Testing will be replaced by records of student achievement.
- So, Year 6 SAT testing in primaries will be replaced by peer-moderated teacher assessment, supervised by senior teaching staff with external assessors sitting in. Guidelines will be established and then by ‘moderating’ schools across a borough, we will ensure a standardisation of assessment is reached within each LEA. These will then be rolled out across the regions and then the nation.
- We want the Government to recognise the importance and relevance of religious education by including it as a core subject in the English Baccalaureate.
- The CPA will replace Ofsted inspections by peer moderated assessments, using the model used by Universities and Primary Care Trusts in the health service. This is because Ofsted ‘snapshots’ of a school's performance often lack depth and focus. We favour a mixture of localization and external moderation, as such assessors know all the right questions to ask and ‘tricks’ that could be used in their answering. We will ensure good practice is fed back and implemented.
- Methods known to improve reading at primary level, such as systematic synthetic phonics, will carry our support. Giving greater freedom to schools will be mirrored in other ways, such as capital investment to allow new kitchens, with school meals made to nutrition standards set by the Soil Association.
- Revitalise the Christian contribution to all schools. Under the 1944 Education Act, every school may benefit from Christian worship and values. The CPA will ensure every LEA has the resources and expertise to uphold the law in creative and attractive ways that help meet the spiritual needs of children. This will relate to collective worship, Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education, relationships and Religious Education.
- Empower young people to resist social pressure. Only the CPA will ensure that Christian ethics in relationships are taught as normative for all school-children, regardless of the character of the school. The ambivalence of the secular parties over sexual morality is badly failing generations of children, when they most need guarding against me-first, consumerist choices.
- Schools will be expected to approach the issue of increased under-age pregnancies and STDs by teaching the stability offered by marriage and by encouraging sexual abstinence. Pupils will be taught the skills and confidence to make right choices, especially when faced by the challenges of alcohol and substance abuse. Parental responsibility must not be undermined, so aiding and abetting illegal sexual activity among under-16s will be penalised.
- Christian schools for deprived communities. The CPA opposes Coalition plans for state-funded 'independents', especially as new Swedish-style academies set up by Christian groups will be subject to government interference over admissions. We instead favour new cross-denominational schools with a Christian ethos and mission to serve deprived districts, accountable to the community through the local education authority. We will ensure they have admissions policies which are open to more non-church going families who subscribe to the Christian ethos of the school.
- The CPA will resist all attempts to interfere with the right of denominational schools to decide their own admissions policies. Working with the diocescan educational boards, we will renew Christian teacher training colleges as places where the highest standards of teaching are developed and the idea of Christian vocation restored.
- In the current economic climate, the nation cannot afford to abolish fees for students, as building a fairer society requires investment at earlier stages of a child's life. However, the vital role of universities in the sphere of education has to be protected from an emerging funding crisis. The Christian Peoples Alliance will therefore endow universities to ensure they remain world competitive and also establish a new, Christian university based on models successful in Europe.
- These goals will be achieved by allocating the anticipated windfall when terrestrial television broadcasting is ended in favour of digital broadcasting and then selling off the spectrum. We also favour a campaign of corporate giving.