An Open and Democratic National Education Service
Written by Ethan Waller, Youth Officer of the Southampton & Romsey Labour Party
with consultation from Education professionals.
1. How can we create a culture in which education is accepted and valued as a social good from
which we all benefit and to which we all contribute? Both myself and those working in the
profession believe that the media and politicians have a vital role to play in creating this culture. At
the moment they (mostly created by the media) have a very negative view about education
professionals and as one teacher told me this is especially bad when compared to countries such
as Finland. There is also a lack of accountability in the educational system with it being
fragmented into academies, free schools etc which have no local accountability. We need to also
look at what data is shared with the public as when seen out of context it can damage schools and
teachers. Local Communities should have a large involvement in this. THis is why the NES must
bring all schools together into one umbrella organisation.
1A. What policies should a National Education Service create to support this?
A NES should make sure that schools are open and accountable so we can encourage a culture
of collaborative thinking and working to increase the quality of education. The media also needs to
give a broader picture of education than just results and league tables as these alone do not help
anyone. Any structures need to be enforced by legislation
1B. What info and data should and shouldn’t be published by a government?
League tables should not be published as they do not show the whole story of what happens in a
school. Overall national pass/progress rates could continue to be published. A NES should also
look at publishing student wellbeing and engagement figures to show that their methods are
keeping more kids in lessons and that they deliver for them so they can have the best chances in
life. Reports should take into account the economic and social state of the local area as this may
affect the schools.
2. What can the following do to contribute toward making a National Education Service
accountable democratic and inclusive?
How are they relevant to doing so on an individual, local and national basis?
● Local Communities
● Early Years Providers
● FE Providers
● Adult Education providers
● Child services
Individual schools should operate using the following structure, Governing body with
representatives from teaching plus non-teaching staff, union reps and the Local Authority. Parent
Student and Teacher associations should also exist to allow the pupils and community to have a
say on a semi-formal basis. Communities and local business could fall under the latter.
Local level: Local authority control with maybe some input from local higher education
establishments and business so that the needs of local industry could be met. This would work
with a Local Board made up of Councillors, Teachers, Heads and other professionals to run Local
NES activities and feed into the national organisation.
National: Independent from the government (so that education is no longer subjected to political
ideology). A committee which consists of: Teacher representatives, LA representatives, Industry
representatives, Higher education representatives and representatives from the Education
committee in parliament.
2A. What should these groups expect from each other, as a part of an accountability system
based on inclusivity, dialogue and reciprocation and 2B, What evidence should institutions provide
to prove this is being met?
Groups should expect mutual respect from each other and a feeling of community, openness and
solidarity. They should also be willing to work with one another towards common goals and
objectives. The Schools and committees should always provide detailed minutes from meetings
with evidence based reports to justify their ideas/aims/goals/achievements.
3. What structures, channels and mechanisms would need to be in place at a local regional
and national level to support a high-quality accountable NES?
We believe that at each level (see the answer to question 2), representatives should be elected
regularly. Schools – the governing body should be subject to elections every 2 years, LA – based
on local election results, National – members of the board should be reviewed every 2 years. This
will allow a fresh stream of talent and make sure the bureaucracy is under the control of the
4. Should there be a single democratically accountable structure for the NES that deals with
each part of the system and its institutions at a local and national level?
The NES should have a democratic structure that deals with each part of the system to maximise
4 A. If so, what could this look like? what would it need to consider to ensure education
institutions retain appropriate levels of autonomy and independence?
One thing we must always follow is the principle that schools need to be able to adapt to the
needs of their community and therefore the curriculum needs to allow flexibility. This means a
basic core curriculum that is built from the grassroots to suit each local area. The NES on a
regional and national level would monitor this and approve it (Similar to how CLPs can set their
own rules if region accepts them and feel that they fit within the national rules)
4C.What impact could devolution have on a local accountability structure and What should be the
role of the following be in local democratic accountability?
● Local Authorities
● Combined Authorities
● Metro Mayors
● Local Enterprise Partnerships
● Regional School Commissioners
Devolution should mean that there is more local control which equals more local accountability.
But this will only work if all schools are under LA control and therefore organised into the Local
and National NES.
LAs should have overall control over their local schools with the democratic structures setting
policy and being the main source of key decision making. Regional School Commissioners should
be in place to support schools and work as an external input to keep an eye on standards of
teaching along with how the school is functioning (IE clear signs of democracy in decision