Our vision is of an open, participatory democracy in which civic society and government work together for the benefit of all the people. We believe that crucial to such a society, indeed a requisite for its realisation, maintenance and future development, is a well-founded, inclusive and equitable public education service that sets out to provide a high-quality education for all in which practical is valued as highly as academic learning, and the personal development and well-being of the individual as highly as economic and occupational needs. Underpinning such an education service are:
- integrity in all that it seeks to do and does;
- fairness in the ways in which it goes about its work;
- cooperation with all who can help in achieving desired ends, and openness in its accountability to the wider society.
Translating those principles into practice requires of all interested parties:
- a sense of working together in a worthwhile, shared endeavour;
- agreement about what the service is expected to achieve for the nation, for the wider society, for local communities and for individuals, allied with policies and actions likely to realise those expectations;
- clarity about each interested party’s expectations of the service, and of what is expected of them;
- agreement about, and acceptance of, their rights, responsibilities and obligations.
We are not, as a group, affiliated to any political party, but seek to realise our vision of a high quality equitable public education service, and urge government to pursue those policies and measures that we believe necessary to achieve this vision.
We seek to do that by using our collective experience, our research and its findings, and the outcomes of relevant work and research carried out by others, here and abroad, to influence education policy-making by informing government, and other interested parties, about how their policies are working out in practice, and advising them on what we believe needs to be addressed if good practice is to be more widely spread and impediments to progress removed.
- every child and adult has the right to the best education that can be provided, from cradle to grave;
- education should be free, universal and undertaken by institutions and agencies that are publicly accountable, democratically controlled and working in cooperation with each other;
- the process of education is a complex interaction between individuals learners, teachers and institutions. Education policy-making should respect this, in particular, by enhancing and valuing the professionalism of heads and teachers, ensuring that national requirements leave space for institutions to develop their own particular ethos and strengths and that learners can make their views known;
- the whole education service is an inter-related, coherent and life-long process consisting of pre-school, school, and the varied forms of adult and continuing education, including non-formal education at all stages but especially during adolescence and young adulthood;
- we should aim continually to improve the quality of education at all phases of life so as to help all citizens adapt to changing needs and circumstances, and achieve the higher educational standards that will be needed to take advantage of the possibilities, and cope with the challenges of the 21st century;
- education has a duty, and a key role to play, in tackling the roots and manifestations of inequality, prejudice and discrimination within its own practices and institutions, and in society at large;
- the education service must be funded, resourced and equipped to enable it to play its crucial part in combating social disadvantage and meeting the special needs of those with learning difficulties;
- for all involved to flourish, and for society to gain maximum benefit, the education service should be shaped by a public service culture, not by one of market forces and competition, driven by institutional self-interest, league tables, target-setting, performance indicators and an excessive testing of pupils;
- school admission policies and practice should outlaw overt and covert selection;
- the nature and aims of schooling and other phases of education are in need of examination and clarification in order to review and re-think purpose, curricula, assessment systems, inspection arrangements and devise new more appropriate pedagogies.