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NES frequently asked questions

Here you’ll find FAQs about the National Education Service campaign.


1.  What is the National Education Service?

A National Education Service is a framework for a future education settlement which shifts away from the market driven education we have now into a life-long approach from government and institutions which allows people to continue to learn throughout their lives, with a varied provision in terms of curricula, levels and modes of learning, and which is properly funded and accessible to all. It’s nothing less than a rejection of the high-stakes approach the market in education today encourages. Think of the NHS but for education.

2. What’s so wrong with the current system?

The current system is not built for the world we live in today. The market dogma which centres on individual risk, high-stakes metrics, and rigid structures, doesn’t account for the need for students to keep learning throughout their lives.

If you believe education is about tackling some of the great social issues of our time then it’s clear we need something new. With a 26% black attainment gap, a mental health crisis in our institutions, and a scarcity of well paid jobs; we need something radical to tackle the barriers both within and outside the walls of our institutions.

3. What are the policy proposals?

The NES will promote a model which is accessible which means scrapping both the financial and social barriers which prevent students from achieving their potential. It will be funded which means ensuring an equity of provision across modes of studies and students should be able to study for free. Finally, it will be lifelong, this means qualifications should be flexible, students should be able to retrain, and local and digital education should be encouraged to allow flexibility.

4. What is the campaign?

Working with students and students’ unions across the country, there are three phases to the NES campaign:

•    NUS will build a new vision for a NES within six months
•    NUS will win the public argument for a NES within three years
•    NUS will win a NES within ten years

How can I take part?

Over the next six months we’re building the case for the NES. Initially we just need to know you share our vision and you’re interested in helping us build our campaign by signing up. We need you if you are a social media expert, policy wonk, local campaigner, or just want to share our vision of what education can be like.

Who can take part?

This is a campaign which is for every part of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Think of the NHS, we have a single vision but need to build policy proposals, campaigns, and local organising, our differing provision. Across the UK there are different relationships and devolved powers so our campaign will be about building on what knowledge and relationships exist locally to achieve distinct policy outcomes that contribute to our overall vision.

Is this party political?

No. It’s important to be absolutely clear that this is not a reconfiguration of exiting policy proposals. It’s not about supporting a political party, it is a genuinely new approach to education which will not be built by politicians but built by the people who these issues affect every day; students. No party owns our vision or terminology and we’ll be working every day to get into our vision from everyone in society and from every government across the UK, not just Westminster.

I still have questions

You can get in touch with us on the campaign at nes@nus.org.uk.