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Some "choice" is no choice at all

May 6, 2017 5:58 PM

schoolThe Conservative Party would like you to believe that their proposal to
relax the laws prohibiting the opening of new grammar schools is about equality of opportunity and about choice. Where is the choice for the parents of the child who fails the 11 Plus examination? Have you ever heard of a family opting for a Secondary Modern School and a Secondary Modern education?

The equality of opportunity argument is just as illusory. All the educational research shows that those from more disadvantaged backgrounds make up a small percentage of the overall intake of the existing grammar schools. To pretend that all children start off with an equal chance of gaining a grammar school place is therefore a fallacy. When the children who are deemed more academically able at the age of 11 are skimmed off, what impact does that have on the confidence and self-esteem and the education of the children who are literally and metaphorically left behind? Is the testimony of generations of people scarred by their failure to pass an exam at the age of 11, not sufficiently strong enough evidence for us to see this as a retrograde step?

How would this policy promote social cohesion? Children would be taken out of their communities to be educated elsewhere, whilst their peers are left to attend schools which have the potential to very quickly become sink schools. Which type of school are the best teachers likely to opt fo open bookr? In the quest to secure places at the local grammar school, which parents are more likely to be able to afford the extra tuition and the crammer sessions - so much for equality of opportunity. As our education system becomes increasingly commercialised with the advent of multi-academy trusts, which model is likely to attract investment?

By 2019 Nottinghamshire schools are set to see an eye-watering reduction of £39 million pounds. Education funding through the Conservatives is being diverted into its pet Free School project, with the Department for Education sanctioning spends on property at up to twice the market value - as reported by the Public Accounts Committee. (This at a time when public services continue to cut in the name of austerity). Some of these properties, as in the case of the former police station in Hackney, aren't even fit for purpose!

We must not allow our children's education to be sacrificed on the altar of Tory free-market ideology. It is simply too important for our children's futures and for ours.