Student unions

Proposer
Autumn-Leah
State

Accepted

Vote Score

3

Age

803 days


@Autumn-Leah edited education.md - about 2 years ago

All state secondary schools will have an elected students council, and student president. The student president, who will need to be at key stage 4, will represent students on the board of governors.

Any and all anti-student-union regulations will be repealed. The formation of student unions from secondary school upwards will be subsequently encouraged and participants will be immune from school sanctions unless another offence has been commited against the school rules and/or policy other than the temporary truancy of strike action or the disrespect to staff created passively through civil disobedience. Student unions will not need staff or board of governors approval to form, function, or disband.

Continuing Education

Allowing individuals to be able to gain skills and knowledge, and validate them at a reasonable cost is an important part of our plans for life long education. This will allow for workers to develop skills later in life, and give a boost in the general skill level of the work force, while also allowing people to move into new and emerging industries, while leaving areas of employment with a less stable future.

andrewdwilliams

@andrewdwilliams - about 2 years ago

Surely 'strike action' taken unilaterally by a bunch of secondary school students could easily be manipulated as a way to skive off school? It sounds just like something I would have done a couple years ago, I can tell you that.

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

And why should that mean that they shouldn't be allowed to? The same query could be levelled at uni students, or college students. When it comes down to it, if you want to skive, you're going to skive, and if you're not allowed to skive, you'll be messing about in class, regardless, disruption will happen, so I figure it's better to increase their freedoms and take the risk of disruption or skiving when the risk is already being taken by having them there in the first place minus the freedoms.

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

If you can think of a reasonable preventative measure to stop this within the union (since letting school admin do it means you're neutering their ability to take action) that would apply to secondary school students then I'm all ears. I'd like to edit the policy to fit your complaint but nothing is coming to mind.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 2 years ago

Could you help me understand this by explaining a little more about current rules around student unions at the moment, in the context of this proposal, and how this proposal would change that?

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - about 2 years ago

In my view: the rule(s) is(are) fine, but the enforcement is not.

Schools will find any excuse to sanction you. Students will find any excuse to avoid being sanctioned. Countless arguments have stemmed from it, and in my view it would be better to explain what ought to happen to the schools/students who engage in it.

It's incredibly unclear to parents/school admin as it stands. It could do with improving.

Another thing is that; enforcement of the rules (should somebody break them) is seldom restorative. How is fining some parents going to help anyone to attend class?

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

@phillipjohn There currently is no legislation regarding student unions below university level.

I'm not a legal professional but if I go down the rabbit hole, my interpretation of this law is that it deals with uni student unions only and that it makes no statements regarding unions at any other level. This legislation gives the governing body (the university) direct control over the students union, which, if the goal of a union is to change the practices of the institution they are in (like every trade union ever), means that the unions power is only as much as they are given, meaning it's a glorified school council, albeit slightly harder to disband given the NUS.

This proposal would remove governing body control over the unions and their actions (provided their actions fit in with other legislation of course, such as laws against defamation and slander, they can't go round saying that the head of the school is a murderer without consequences or anything) and promote union formation in institutions that don't have them, and would thus constitute a grander push towards the reformation of institutions towards the rights and needs of the students, rather than simply letting them be screwed over by people who are fine in their jobs whether the students are happy and able to learn or not, provided they put on a nice one-day show for Ofsted or whatever other government body is doing it now.

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

@Xyleneb This is likely entirely my fault but I'm lost in regards to your comment, how does that relate to the policy proposal?

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 2 years ago

Thanks! That's really useful. Any chance we could tweak this bit?:

and participants will be immune from school sanctions unless another offence has been commited against the school rules and/or policy other than the temporary truancy of strike action or the disrespect to staff created passively through civil disobedience.

I'm worried it sounds like students will get away with murder :) Perhaps something like this instead?:

Student union action will be protected, ensuring students aren't unfairly penalised or sanctioned for engaging in protest activity.

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - about 2 years ago

This is likely entirely my fault but I'm lost in regards to your comment, how does that relate to the policy proposal?

Take this for example: "participants will be immune from school sanctions unless another offence has been commited against the school rules.."

Now how long do you believe it will take before the school claims "your trouserlegs are 1 inch too short/long"? They will find any excuse to treat you poorly. What happens to the students or to the schools who do these sorts of things in bad faith?

You haven't really addressed the question of how this will be enforced. Which is important because enforcement is where all of the aggrievances set in. Address the enforcement and you've got something that'll be worthwhile.

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

@phillipjohn All that does is make it more vague, in reality, it'd have to be the policy I wrote out for it to be effective. Just because it doesn't sound nice, it doesn't mean that students get to do whatever they like.

My specific issues with you being vague:

Student union action will be protected

This tells nobody what out policy is. As someone who reads a lot about politics, and has read a hell of a lot of political party manifestos, people making vague positive statements like "we will fight to make sure everyone gets paid what they deserve" or somesuch meaningless shit, really pisses me off. Not an issue with your proposal individually, just an ongoing issue with political manifestos.

, ensuring students aren't unfairly penalised or sanctioned

Who decides what fair and unfair is? With this section alone you open a whole philosophical can of metaphorical worms that could really screw students over.

for engaging in protest activity

Who decides what "protest activity" is and what "engaging" in it means? If I go to a class and don't do my work because I can't be bothered or I just don't want to, would that come under the establishments definition of "protest activity"? Who knows? Because once you give the people in power the ability to fuck with definitions that affect you personally, 99% of the time you get screwed when offering any kind of resistance unless you literally get the whole school/workplace/whatever. 1 scab in the whole place and they regain their ability to mess with you. That's not an exaggeration, since they can mess with you via the scab now since there's likely people in your strike who personally know and like the scab.

activity

I know you didn't mean it like this but screw it, since I'm picking apart your wording lets beat the horse corpse. Activity sounds more like a paper mache club than a student union strike. It would also screw with students because if the schools decide to define "strike activity" as a strike that the school allows, the union now has no power unless they do it anyway, at which point they have less support because the view would be spread amongst students that it has to be school sanctioned.

Any legislation in this area needs to be unambiguous and unambiguously pro student. If they are subjected to a system of governance mandated by the government, then they must have the tools they need to defend their rights and enforce the manifestation of their needs, but this does not mean that they get to run rampant with their wants

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

@Xyleneb Given the comment I just responded to, irony noted. What would you suggest I change it too? Obviously violence is out of the question but what if someone blocked the school entrance and you needed to shove them out of the way. That could be considered it. We need a way around this issue because as I stated in my last comment

Any legislation in this area needs to be unambiguous and unambiguously pro student.

but I can't think of a way to word it at the moment. All I know is how not to word it.

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

@Xyleneb Either way, thanks for the clarification.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 2 years ago

It's important to remember that a manifesto isn't the acts of Parliament it wants to create. Things like the specifics of what constitutes protest activity are the very things that will take up multiple paragraphs in an act - we can't do that here, it's just not feasible.

The manifesto is to state our aims, and our vision of what we want, not the detail of how we'll get it. For example;

Who decides what fair and unfair is?

The government that implements this manifesto will decide. They will go through the process of working with a bunch of legal experts to draft a bill that meats the aims of the manifesto. That may well happen after some sort of consultation with universities, students and others on what they think is unfair as well as what constitutes protest activity.

Any legislation in this area needs to be unambiguous and unambiguously pro student.

Any legislation on any area needs to be reasonable and measured, not biased to any one particular party. It would otherwise be unfair, and that'd open it up to legal challenges.

Because once you give the people in power the ability to fuck with definitions that affect you personally,

The definitions have to be contained within the acts of Parliament, so they have to be written by those in power - that's farely fundamental to how legislation works, and has to work.

The aim here is fine, but the wording needs to be more measured. Happy to work with you on that and turn my vote into a yes.

Vote: ❎

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - about 2 years ago

The aim here is fine, but the wording needs to be more measured. Happy to work with you on that and turn my vote into a yes.

Well, the problem is that unions are a mechanism in which to hold schools and businesses to account. Those schools and businesses already have their own, separate mechanisms to hold their employees, or students, or "internal customers" to account. It'll prove difficult to balance the wording here in view of that.

It's important to remember that a manifesto isn't the acts of Parliament it wants to create. Things like the specifics of what constitutes protest activity are the very things that will take up multiple paragraphs in an act - we can't do that here, it's just not feasible.

If you do not detail what constitutes protest activity, then you leave the door open for you to backtrack or demasculate the policy once you get into office. It means that when voting day looms, I look at your party and see a bunch of fluff that is non-committal.

If our manifesto ends up longer than anybody elses, the way I see it, in a way it'll be us doing our job properly.

My issue with this submission concerns enforcement. If you don't detail the enforcement then the rules will be toothless. Rules which cannot be enforced are a waste of parchment. My concern about this not only includes this submission, but my own 'Cash for Access' policy (which passed the vote) and floppy's submission on political canvassing (to name three). I'm asking myself: what's the point having it on the books if I can't enforce it? Yes, it's an ideological boon to us but other than that it's a waste of paper.

openpolitics-bot

@openpolitics-bot - about 2 years ago

removed response posted as a bug

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

Because @Xyleneb said what I was just about to before I refreshed the page, I'm just going to point out a few things. Apologies for potentially hurting your feelings in advance, I have no energy to expend on those who trust governments to do their jobs properly and not be power hungry egotistical idiots when all available evidence is to the contrary.

@philipjohn

The government that implements this manifesto will decide.

Letting the political and philosophical equivalent of toddlers decide what fair and unfair punishment is is exactly why Snowden is still chilling (possibly quite literally) in Russia, Assange is still stuck an embassy surrounded by police, and Guantanamo even existed in the first place. If you want to turn our manifesto into fluff and leave the important philosophical, political, and practical decisions to a hypothetical bunch of old, rich, "daddy-didn't-give-me-a-pony-so-I-cried" morons in a future parliament then you have way more trust in government than I do and I hope room 101 treats you well.

That may well happen after some sort of consultation with universities, students and others on what they think is unfair as well as what constitutes protest activity.

Yeah, I know, government is always great at representing the opinions of the populous and consulting them! ...oh...ignore that, that example of lopsided consultation hasn't got anything to do with the current point about how governments don't do consultations properly.

Any legislation on any area needs to be reasonable and measured, not biased to any one particular party. It would otherwise be unfair, and that'd open it up to legal challenges.

You don't need to and shouldn't be unbiased here. Schools already have accountability mechanisms for the student, they're called school rules and laws. Students have nothing. The entire purpose of this policy is to equalise the power imbalance so the teachers and admin can't just get away with doing whatever they like. Do you even understand the purpose of a trade union? It's fixing the power imbalance between employer and employee. The entire party platform is built on accountability, openness and non discrimination.

Given all of the above, you can keep your downvote if you like, but you've lost all respect of mine.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 2 years ago

Letting the political and philosophical equivalent of toddlers decide

I'm really confused by this. Any government that is going to implement the words you and I write into this manifesto will surely believe in this manifesto, no? Otherwise, who are we writing this for? For ourselves, for a laugh?

It may be that you're disillusioned and I'm guessing that's why you're here. But if this manifesto gets to the point where a government is implementing it, I'm not sure tarring that government with the same brush as current or previous governments makes much sense - to me, that's suggesting that any future government that gets elected standing on the OpenPolitics Manifesto is already untrustworthy. If that's so, let's just stop now and not waste any more time.

Yeah, I know, government is always great at representing the opinions of the populous and consulting them!

Yep, governments are and have not been good at actually consulting. One of the many reasons we write this manifesto. Do you think that if some people stood on this manifesto and made it into government they would just turn around and do the same thing as current and previous governments? If so, why are you writing this for them if you know they are going to just ignore it anyway?

The entire purpose of this policy is to equalise the power imbalance so the teachers and admin can't just get away with doing whatever they like.

Great! Then let's make sure the policy is equal. Let's make sure it addresses the current deficiencies without giving too much power to either interest group. Otherwise, we're just going to be instantly alienating the interest group we're biased against, and inviting upon any government implementing this the kind of legal changes that'll end up forcing a change in the law we might not like.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 2 years ago

If our manifesto ends up longer than anybody elses, the way I see it, in a way it'll be us doing our job properly.

Nobody will read it ;)

Autumn-Leah

@Autumn-Leah - about 2 years ago

Respect somewhat restored @philipjohn

Moving on from that, how are we going to change the policy so that teachers can't just say "lol ur skirt's too high stop the strike ya prole"? @Xyleneb

@philipjohn What objection do you have other than it might be worded in such a manner that "it sounds like students will get away with murder" which isn't really a problem of the policy, just with your interpretation of the policy? Because your version of the same policy is just fluff that's put at the mercy of some future hypothetical people and explains nothing about what we'd actually do, if I saw that on election day, I'd vote PPUK instead. What changes would you make to the existing policy I wrote to make it fairer on the teachers and admin? Aside from scrapping it all together.

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - about 2 years ago

Nobody will read it ;)

Each page may have over 250 policies on there, by the end of what I consider to be this experiment. But ad-hoc organising will form a somewhat rational structure. People will jump to the sections that most concern them. And unlike Hilary Clinton's 58 policies on Healthcare, e.g. "we will try to be kind to the elderly" (that failed to get her elected...) ours will be a hell of a lot more precise and committal. Hopefully a lot more populist as well. I know you don't rate populism, but I do. Real populism though, not that phony populism that merely eats bacon sandwiches (or attempts to).

@Autumn-Leah edited education.md - about 2 years ago

All state secondary schools will have an elected students council, and student president. The student president, who will need to be at key stage 4, will represent students on the board of governors.

Student Unions

Any and all anti-student-union regulations will be repealed. The formation of student unions from secondary school upwards will be subsequently encouraged and participants will be immune from any and all educational establishment sanctions unless another offence has been commited against the educational establishment rules and/or policy; other than the temporary truancy of strike action or the disrespect to staff created passively through civil disobedience.

A caveat to this immunity is that said offence must have physically harmed another in a malicious or reckless manner, or physically damaged the educational establishment's building(s), or taken action otherwise illegal in areas other than educational establishments, under the relevant case law and legistlation, with the burden of proof resting on the school and/or alleged victim in non-legal or regulatory proceedings, and the burden of proof applying as per other legistlation in legal proceedings.

An exception and legal defense for the student in this matter will be if a member of the educational establishment acts in such a way that inhibits or prohibits the strike action or civil disobedience intentionally. Though requests to cease such inhibition and/or prohibition must be taken immediately and the member must be given reasonable time, taking disability, physiology, and age, into account, to cease such activity, before any action is taken which will be or is being or has been justified by this exception and legal defense. In the case of requiring this exception, similar laws regarding proportionate force in self defence law will apply in this case (For example: If a member of staff is standing a doorway which a strike group is attempting to move through, and the member is able to at the time and did at the time comprehend this, and does not, after requests, cease to obstruct their path, force may only be taken proportionate to the amount required to move them from that position to a position that does not obstruct the doorway, and the staff member has every right to appeal the proportionate nature of this force in a court of law).

Student unions will not need staff or board of governors approval to form, function, or disband.

Continuing Education

Allowing individuals to be able to gain skills and knowledge, and validate them at a reasonable cost is an important part of our plans for life long education. This will allow for workers to develop skills later in life, and give a boost in the general skill level of the work force, while also allowing people to move into new and emerging industries, while leaving areas of employment with a less stable future.

[^teachers-and-terrorism]: Teachers forced to act as 'front-line storm troopers' to spy on pupils under guidelines aimed at combating terrorism

We will include fiscal education into the national curriculum. This will include personal finances, understanding and paying taxes, understanding loans and debt, and relating fiscal choices to the state of the greater economy.

We will include fiscal education into the national curriculum. This will include personal finances, understanding and paying taxes, understanding loans and debt, and relating fiscal choices to the state of the greater economy.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 2 years ago

Very thorough 🙂

Vote: ✅

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 2 years ago

This has technically passed now, but let's give @andrewdwilliams some time to take a look at the update.

Xyleneb

@Xyleneb - about 2 years ago

The point on proportionate self-defence gets a little too deep into it. There's a spelling error around 43.4, ctrl + f "legistlation".

Very thorough

Every so often, you get a submission that is not just an old idea repeated (like most of mine) but one that took original thought and hand-chiselled grammar to put that thought into words.

These are the policies to be proud of.

It's redundant now but I thought I ought to: ✅

Floppy

@Floppy - about 2 years ago

I love that I can disappear for a few days, come back to a huge thread with contentious aspects and worried that I have to make peace between everyone, and then find at the bottom that the consensus process has worked, and everyone is happy. Makes me smile. Thanks everyone for working together through the controversial stuff :)

That said, I find the way it's currently written quite hard to read, so I might submit a simplifying edit when I'm less tired just to make it easier ;)

Anyway, it's passed