Newly re-elected Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, told the Labour Party conference this week that he wants an education version of the NHS, a 'National Education Service', but he didn't really say much about what that means. We did some digging...
The NHS provides free point of delivery health service to the whole population: the Labour List suggests that a new NES would do much the same, so anyone of any age would have free access to education, funded by a 2% corporation tax rise.. Presumably that would mean a return to student grants, so no more loans - great! Would the government repay loans to students who had taken them out since the last Labour government brought them in?
Cradle to grave in education can't mean the same as in health. Some of us never need the NHS; most of us only sporadically, but we'd all need the NES continuously, for around 18 years.
Schools, colleges and universities are all funded from different pots, in different ways - would they all be competing for the same money in an NES? Would we need local trusts or "education authorities"?
The NHS gets a lot of criticism from all sides; in schools it feels as if its the teachers. But we love our NHS: it's a source of national pride, as our schools once were (pre-Ofsted, PISA and Michael Gove) and our universities still are. If universities lost their autonomy in an NES, would they still be world class?
Anyway, you could probably go on all day making comparisons, but it's all pointless speculation at the moment: a sound bite instead of schools policy. In fact there's nothing in Corbyn's speech to interest schools really - the education references are mostly about how to prepare or protect the workforce and are aimed more at the traditional union audience that at anyone interested in schools.
So, end of blog. Sorry it wasn't very interesting.
PS You may remember that Schoolzone teachers made up their own manifesto, based on their reaction to the various parties' manifestos before the May 2015 election. (Only UKIP had this on theirs). Angela Raynor suggested, also at the conference, that Labour would oppose grammar school expansion - teachers agreed, both in 2015 (80% against grammar expansion) and in our recent study (63% against), but note that teachers appear to be softening in their resistance to selection.
But maybe no news is good news: Labour's lack of inspiration about schools policy may not be a vote winner, but leaving everything alone for a bit would really be welcomed by teachers.