Radical proposals for Education in Liverpool

Our young people are over examined and under educated. Lib Dems in Liverpool will do what they can to change this national and local problem after May’s local elections.

This is the first of a series of discussion documents which the Liverpool Lib Dems are issuing to enable our manifesto proposals for this year’s set of local elections to be discussed. Any thoughts of things that are talked about below or should talked about below should be sent to our education Spokesperson, Cllr Liz Makinson.

Liverpool Liberal Democrats are in the process of developing our new manifesto. We are circulating this draft proposal for education in our city to key stakeholders, in order to ensure that our plans will ensure the best educational experience for children and young people across the city. I would like to meet with young people, teachers and teacher unions, parents, guardians and healthcare professionals and welcome feedback and suggestions. I can be contacted on Liz.makinson@liverlibdems.org.uk or 07939 119402.

Our Overriding Principle

Educational success is best achieved by ensuring that schools are happy environments where young people are enthused by the learning experience and their personal development and happiness comes before all other considerations.

Our Overriding Policy

To bring in a series of practical measures to ensure that combating the mental health crisis for our young people is at the forefront of all decisions and policies.

Background

For too long, our schools have followed a model of top down decision making, with student voice and teacher expertise being paid lip service to.  A slavish adherence to the assessment model has taken away the joy of learning and has impacted on both results and, more importantly the mental health of our city’s children. There have always been many stresses to face, particularly around adolescence and today the pressures of social media and the digital age can add to them.  School should not be further adding to our young people’s stress and unfortunately it is in many cases.

Schools have always had the pressure of public exams and part of the preparation for life is learning how to cope with them.  However, if constant assessment and internal target setting is added to that, along with countless learning walks and teacher observations the outcome for children can be toxic, creating an atmosphere charged with stress rather than delight in learning and discovery.

Last year there was a 20% increase in referrals for young people to mental health services.  This is the tip of an evergrowing iceberg as many children do not seek help and suffer alone. Liverpool CAMHS which promotes wellbeing in young people listed school pressures as significant in young people’s mental health struggles.

It is time that we put young people’s health and well-being at the forefront of everything we do.

Our proposals

  1. To change the emphasis in our city’s schools from a target driven assessment model to a greater focus on the personal development of the student and the happiness of the school environment. The countries with the highest academic standards have the greatest emphasis on the well-being of the students.
  2. A city wide INSET day for all school staff, teaching and non-teaching, with input from health professionals on promoting good mental health and developing a happy environment in our schools. Each school should then appoint a mental health champion.
  3. Move away from constant assessment in our city’s schools to focus on enjoyment and learning.  All students should have an entitlement to experience the rich culture and heritage of our city on school visits.
  4. Life Skills to be given greater curriculum time and status within schools. All students deserve to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to make good decisions and create a positive future.
  5. Children should not be penalised for attending medical appointments or for genuine illness. Losing the right to a trip out or other school celebration because of illness sends the wrong message to children struggling with physical and mental ill health.
  6. Creation of new council apprenticeships, for example horticulture and parks management. The council can lead by example in the creation of good quality apprenticeships.
  7. Every school will have links with local institutions and businesses. This will aid in developing career pathways and raising aspiration. Every Liverpool student will have the opportunity to experience an industry visit.
  8. A constant climate of competition within schools should be replaced by a more cooperative model with the emphasis on celebrating success for all students. Improvement should emerge organically as a result of excellent learning and teaching, not via rigid adherence to management led models of learning. Teacher autonomy and expertise should be recognised and subject specialism and enthusiasm be at the heart of learning.
  9. Ensure that the curriculum is broad and ensures that students can achieve their ambitions, for example language provision within our schools has been restricted and we need to listen to young people and ensure their aspirations can be met. This may come from schools sharing expertise and classes.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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