There is a growing movement of people calling for education to be reimagined. Many believe our education system is outdated, in breach of children’s human rights and unfit for a 21st century workplace and society. You can get involved by supporting these important campaigns:
The Flourish Movement is a growing network of parents, teachers, academics and early years experts who are concerned about child wellbeing.
They launched in 2013 (originally as the Save Childhood Movement) and have founded National Children’s Day UK which is all about the importance of a healthy childhood, and how we need to protect the rights and freedoms of children in order to ensure that they can grow into happy, healthy adults.
One of their initiatives is the Too Much Too Soon campaign whereby they are lobbying the Government to delay the start of formal school and calling for a fundamental reassessment of national policies on early education.
Not Fine in School is a parent/carer-led organisation set up in response to the growing number of children and young people who struggle with school attendance.
As well as providing support for family members, and advice for young people and schools, Not Fine in School works to raise awareness of the issues, and campaigns for change.
They are calling for a change in law so that parents are not threatened with fines and prosecution when their children struggle to attend school.
The key issues are explored in this Channel 4 news story:
Square Peg is the sister organisation to Not Fine in School and was launched to effect national change for those with school attendance difficulties (also known as school refusal).
It aims to connect professionals, practitioners and policymakers to make a positive difference.
They are concerned that within current data collection systems there is no means of evidencing the scale of school attendance difficulties. Pupil absence may be authorised or unauthorised under a number of different school registration codes.
This does not recognise the current challenges in the system, and unauthorised absence subjects families to fines and prosecutions. Square Peg believes it is unacceptable that parents can be prosecuted if their child is too anxious to go to school.
You can support Square Peg by signing their petition to create a new legal attendance/absence code that will measure the scale of school refusal, ensure a consistent school response and alleviate parents from the threat of prosecution.
The Campaign for Flexible School Admissions for Summer Born Children (or “Summer Born Campaign”) has been launched by parents, carers and professionals who believe that a summer born child should be allowed to start primary school in Reception class, aged five instead of aged four.
They say that parents of four-year-old children who have not reached emotional, social or academic maturity and readiness for school are being forced to enrol their child a whole year earlier or have their child’s education entitlement reduced by one year with obligatory entrance into Year 1.
The Summer Born Campaign argues that this is not in the best interests of the child and the current system needs to change. They are calling on the Government to provide greater clarity in its legislation as this area of school admissions is currently a postcode lottery for many parents.
They are asking for an amendment to the School Admissions Code that ensures fair and equal access to Reception class for summer born children starting school at compulsory school age, without penalty.
To support their work, you can follow the Summer Born Campaign on Facebook.
The group quickly grew and today has over 45,000 members across the globe.
The KEYU movement says that children need characteristics such as resilience, perseverance, creative thinking, the ability to solve problems, think outside the box, independence, skills in risk taking and making connections.
They believe that the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum delivers this well but are concerned that this approach ends when children leave Reception.
For many children, it is ending even earlier during their Reception year following proposals in OFSTED’s 2017 “Bold Beginnings” report, which aim to get children as young as four “curriculum ready”.
KEYU are asking us to stand together to make a change for the future. Please sign their petition to a) stop the Government pushing Key Stage 1 into Reception, and b) extend the principals of the Early Years curriculum.
They believe that primary school is a time for self-discovery, confidence building and nourishing potential. They say that children in England are being let down by a system that cares more about measurement than their education:
“Our system is obsessed with league tables, turning children into data points and denying them a broad, stimulating education at key stages in their development. It puts an unnecessary burden on children, parents and teachers alike.”
Teachers and parents can demonstrate their opposition to a system saturated with high-pressure testing by signing and displaying the More Than a Score Pledge, and supporting their campaigns and petitions.
Find out more about the Pledge in this short film:
The More Than a Score website also provides a useful toolkit for parents which includes advice, ideas and resources to get your voices heard.
Upstart is a movement to introduce a kindergarten stage for children aged three to seven in Scotland, which would focus on play and self-directed education. They also campaign against the literacy and numeracy tests that Scottish five year olds sit in their Primary 1 year. They state:
“The western countries with the best records in education don’t start formal schooling till children are seven. Instead they have a kindergarten stage based on well-established principles of child development.
Research shows no long-term educational benefit to pressurising children in the three Rs at the age of five, but there may be long-term ill-effects in terms of mental health and well-being. As long as the P1 tests are there, it will be impossible for schools to provide the type of early years education that international research shows works best for the under-sevens.”
Rescue Our Schools was initially set up by a group of parents who wanted to speak out against the implications of worrying proposals for education in a Government White Paper published in 2016. They are campaigning for an education system which is fit for purpose in the 21st century.
You can support their work by signing up to their manifesto, which includes six requests:
Let Our Kids Be Kids was launched in 2016 by a group of primary school parents who were concerned about endless testing, teachers not being trusted to teach, an “Ofsted-driven, dull, dry curriculum” aimed solely at passing SAT tests.
They work alongside other groups such as More Than a Score and Rescue our Schools to support teachers and schools who want to see an end to high stakes primary testing. They believe this is a step towards returning to a curriculum of joy and wonder. They say:
“We want our kids to be kids… not robots in exam factory testing machines!”.
They run awareness raising campaigns and lobby government for change. You can support Let Our Kids Be Kids by following them on Facebook.
Supported by a growing number of MPs, the Ban The Booths campaign calls for:
Isolation booths are used in some primary and secondary schools in an attempt to manage disruptive behaviour. The use of these booths is currently unregulated and unreported. Ban The Booths says:
“The use of isolation booths are a breach of the UN charter on the rights of the child, disproportionate and unnecessary.
Booths are not used in custodial settings yet some schools have large isolation suites where children might be held for long periods.
Recent ‘Freedom of Information’ requests by the BBC show that in 500 schools using isolation booths 200 children had spent more than 5 consecutive days in isolation in the past year.”
You can support the Ban The Booths campaign by signing up to their website.
Founded in 2019, Teach the Future is a youth-led campaign to urgently re-purpose the entire education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis. They are calling for:
You can get involved by writing to your MP, subscribing to their mailing list, and if you are under 22 you can join their team of volunteers. Follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/_TeachtheFuture
The Black Curriculum was founded in 2019 by young people to address the lack of Black British history in the UK Curriculum.
They believe that by delivering arts focused Black history programmes, providing teacher training and campaigning through mobilising young people, they can facilitate social change.
You can help by writing to the Secretary of State to request a meeting to discuss embedding Black history in the National Curriculum. Find out how to do this at www.theblackcurriculum.com/action
No More Exclusions works to bring about an end to the persistent race-disparities in school exclusions. The movement consists of grassroots community activists, organisations and individuals, including teachers, trade unionists, social workers, lawyers, youth workers, faith leaders, local councillors, journalists, academics, researchers, SEND specialists, mental health practitioners, parent advocates, parents, and young people.
They are united to take radical and structural actions that will create a new inclusive model of education based on their values of inclusion, social justice, race equality and quality education for all.
To get involved please contact them via Twitter @NExclusions