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When the Coalition Government’s 2010 Education Bill was published, a group of long-established organisations campaigning for state education came together to oppose its principles and proposals.

What they had in common was a commitment to a comprehensive, state-funded, democratically-accountable education system and a clear realisation that this was under threat.

In August 2011, they jointly published the Canterbury House Statement which opposed privatisation of the school system. They agreed to convene a conference that November under the title “Caught in the Act - a conference to get to grips with Michael Gove’s new Education Act” which set out to identify the nature of the threat in detail. The conference was highly successful and gave the group the basis for a way forward.

By the summer of 2012, it was clear that it would become necessary not only to devise a critique of the Coalition’s plans, but to propose workable alternatives.

The rapid pace of change was causing an already weakened education system to fragment further in terms of access to schooling, the curriculum and the relationships of communities with their schools.

The theme of the November 2012 conference was therefore set as “Picking up the Pieces” and speakers were chosen to highlight the incoherence of the Coalition Government’s plans, the financial implications and - a key new element - how to undo the damage through legislation.

The group started on a major piece of work which became known as “A Better Future for Our Schools” and consulted extensively to establish a statement of what a good school system needed to provide and how it related to wider society. The first version of this was presented at a meeting at the House of Commons in June 2013.  It was very well received and widely supported, including by virtually all the trade unions with an involvement in public education.

From this point onwards, there was a clear consensus not only on the issues to be tackled by a reforming government but what needed to be put in place.

Having taken soundings almost continually for over a year, the group was well aware by this time that the General Election campaign would be hard-fought. At this stage, education did not seem to be considered a key issue by any of the main political parties, except in the sense that Conservative Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, had made it one.

Despite the merits of its full programme, the group recognised that education would have to compete to be heard in the public debate, and convened two further conferences in 2014 to hone its Priorities for Education to a concise document making just seven points.

2011 - Caught in the Act.pdf 2012 - Picking up the Pieces.pdf 2013 - 1 A Better Future.pdf 2014 - 2 Reclaiming Education conference - Flyer No 4.pdf 2014 - 1 Priorities for Education.pdf 2014 - 2 Reclaiming Education conference - Flyer No 4.pdf