Scottish Education Workers’ Network
What We Stand For
1. Worker and student rights and self-organisation
Central to our world-view as education workers and radical unionists are respect, comradeship, internationalism, equality, creativity, experimentation, joy, useful work, grass-roots organisation, democratic decision-making, and the care and sharing of resources.
Right now, both adults and young people are hindered by the range of strategies and behaviors that the capitalist system teaches us and reinforces at every turn. Through dialogue, non-authoritarian structures, vision, and solidarity we can gain awareness of, and break down, these patterns.
We represent an alternative model of organising in keeping with our principles. Therefore, we will function within our TUC unions as IWW dual carders and will work with other radicals to form radical caucuses within these unions. The Network also encourages the participation of those with connections to the education sector but who are not currently permanently employed within it, or not currently members of any union.
2. Opposition to casualisation/precarious work
We believe that all education workers should have full employee status and rights regardless of the number of hours they work, the length of time they have been employed, the type of work they do, or other factors. This should include workers who provide cover in the case of sickness, parental and other forms of leave.
3. A vision for education
We are committed to teaching and learning that is transformative and that enables people to challenge governments and change society. While recognising the current need for qualifications, we are opposed to the skills agenda or education based on the needs of industry.
4. Full funding
We are committed to all types of education– including pre-school, and further, higher and adult education– being free to students and fully funded and well resourced by the state through progressive taxation. Adequate financing of living expenses should be provided to all students over 16. Education resources, such as books and computers, should be free to students, through direct free provision at schools and through grants to cover their costs in other types of education. We believe that people should be able to (re)enter education at any point in their lives and that this will require generous financial support.
5. Industrial (sector-wide) organising
We are committed to educating, agitating, and organising industrially, throughout the education sector. We stand for breaking down the division between mental and manual labour, and between gendered, religious, and ethnic divisions at the workplace, including discrimination in pay and promotion based on factors such as gender, race, and disability.
All workers in the education sector have a right to good wages, limited hours, and full benefits; and to be involved in making workplace policy decisions. The Scottish and UK governments should abide by these rights by providing full funding for their implementation, and should limit their policy directives to those that ensuring that schools are accessible to all.
6. Actions and campaigns
Austerity budgets are wreaking havoc in the education sector everywhere around the world. We oppose all job cuts and department closures and every cutback in pay, pensions, and benefits as well as current excessive workloads. We know that only massive and coordinated ‘fight back’ determination and tactics on a global basis will stop this assault on education workers and the entire working class.
These actions need to be organised in conjunction with community organisations, including those of students and other workers. Only the joint activity of a radicalised union movement and a community of activists can defeat austerity and set the stage for a movement that can push forward to a new society. We therefore argue that workers and students should totally break from the Labour Party, and other mainstream parties, since they are all tied to capitalist interests, and have no intention of funding an educational system that will truly educate our class.
7. International contacts
The problems we face as education workers and students in the UK, and our potential for making changes to our situation, are not unique. We can learn a lot from workers and students outside our European networks, and can strengthen each other’s organising efforts by sharing information, ideas, and tactics. and by planning actions with common leaflets and slogans.
8. Equality and diversity
We are committed to values of equality and diversity and respect for all learners. This should include fully resourced mainstream education of disabled students, bilingual education of students from ethnic minority communities in mainstream schools and opportunities to learn respectfully about different cultures, histories, geographies and religions, without any being prioritised. We also recognise the importance of minority group school students, including disabled students, being able to meet up with other students from their minority group on a regular basis and for this to be fully funded.
9. Countering bullying, harassment, and discrimination
We are committed to actively campaigning against bullying, harrassment and discrimination of both staff and students, particularly on grounds of gender, race, LGBT status and disability. We also recognise that many of the factors that lead to bullying, harassment and discrimination are basic to capitalism and patriarchy. While campaigning at institutional level is important, we also need to overthrow the structures that give rise to these issues.
10. Research, scholarship and knowledge creation
We recognise the right of all education workers to engage in scholarship and knowledge creation, and the right of researchers to have the freedom to choose the subject of this research and the methods involved. We uphold the value of knowledge creation regardless of whether or not this knowledge has obvious immediate applications. We support increased funding for research from the state, and oppose military funding of research.
We also support all workers who come into conflict with unethical funders who put pressure on them to falsify their results, for instance to show that a particular product is effective or safe.
11. Scottish Education Workers Network meetings
Our concerns cover the full- range of job categories in the education sector– inside and outside the classrooms, offices, and dining areas, and from early childhood care and education to further education for adults. We believe that relating to each other across job classifications, and maintaining ongoing discussion of theories and methods of teaching and learning, are as important to our collective development as organising practices and membership numbers.
We aim to bring public attention to issues of critical importance to education workers and students. This involves publicising our efforts at our workplaces and in the streets, and communicating via the internet, position papers, leaflets, and newsletters.
These issues include a comprehensive curriculum (which interpersonal relations and sex education should be an integral part of); academic freedom in teaching and research; maintaining low student-teacher ratios at every level; and paying early years teachers a salary comparable to that received by teachers in the primary grades. We believe in an education system where the needs, interests, and skills of workers and students are shared in a cooperative, compassionate, safe, and healthy environment.