Monday, 20 December 2010

Report from the Coordination meeting of a National Assembly of Education

Re-posted from the blog of the education activist network.

This report has been collectively written by Jamie Woodcock, Manchester occupier and Andrew Sanchez, LSE occupier. Please re-post

On Tuesday 14th December, around 70 students from a variety of institutions attended a meeting at the LSE to coordinate a national assembly of education. Present at the meeting were groups of students from the following institutions: UCL, LSE, Sheffield, Manchester, Kings College London, SOAS, Oxford, Cambridge, Camden La Swap 6th Form College, London University of the Arts, Middlesex, Kent, Queen Mary’s, Essex, Sussex, Warwick, Brighton, London Met, Birkbeck, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, NUS LGBT Campaign, and UEL.

This process was initiated by motions passed by the following occupations calling for a general assembly of education early in the New Year; Kings College London, LSE, Sheffield, Manchester, UWE and UEL. Tuesday’s meeting followed a previous planning meeting attended by 80 students and supporters with students present from further universities, including Hull, Westminster FE College and others. In total, delegates from 13 universities were present.

The meeting started with an open session led by the floor on what a national assembly for education could be like, with students giving examples of successful student assemblies in Cambridge, Manchester and Sheffield. People also discussed how the need for such a national body arises out of the democratic deficit in society.

The second half of the meeting debated and voted on proposals. This was carried out in a serious and democratic manner; the following five proposals were voted upon and subsequently passed by a large majority of those present:

1. That the assembly should focus primarily on the direct tactical questions facing the movement in the new term, and propose actions which the movement can unite behind.

2. Whilst aimed predominately at students, the assembly should be open to attendance and participation for all supporters of the movement.

3. Voting at the assembly should be open to all those present. The meeting rejected a delegate-based voting model

4. That the meeting supports the calls for a national demonstration on Saturday 29th January, as the movement needs a national demonstration in January that all can attend[1].

5. That the assembly should take place on the day after, Sunday 30th so as to maximise the ability of those from outside London able to attend.

Other suggestions for items of discussion at the assembly were alternative visions of education, dealing with legal issues, and how to conduct successful occupations. It was felt by the co-chairs of the meeting that there was consensus that, although not the primary focus of the assembly, space could be found at the assembly for these issues and others.

A motion proposed by LSE students came up with a formula that different sections of the movement (school, FE, HE etc) should have the space to meet and formulate their own suggestions. These can then be supported by the whole assembly in a plenary. In this way we maximise the solidarity of our movement whist maintaining space for independent action. Although not directly voted on, this proposal was seen as a sensible way to proceed in this matter.

It is now the aim to hold an open organising meeting very early in the New Year to plan the conference along these lines voted in this meeting.

[1] this was decided in order to work in solidarity with UCU’s proposed demonstration on that day

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