The Government 'does not have a clue' what is going on in schools
The largest teacher's union in the UK argues that rather than becoming consumed in a debate about educationally and socially divisive structural change, the Prime Minister should focus on tackling the deep educational inequalities which are the legacy of her predecessor.
Although the Government has yet to announce plans for new grammars, Education Secretary Justine Greening all but confirmed the ban would be lifted this morning, telling MPs that her party "do believe selection can play a role" and that government should not "deprive parents of choice" for their children.
Last night Theresa May indicated that selective state education did have a role, but told Tory MPs it must be "inclusive not exclusive".
The General Secretary of the NASUWT criticised the Government’s social mobility czar Alan Milburn and the Prime Minister for saying they wanted “an element of selection” in the school system.
Chris Keates said selection is already “deeply rooted” and “the warnings on the adverse impact on social mobility are too late”.
She said: “The Prime Minister says that she wants an ‘element of selection in the school system’. Alan Milburn, the Government’s social mobility zsar, says that this risks ‘recreating an us and them’ in the education system. Mr Milburn goes on to warn of a ‘social mobility disaster.’ It is clear from these statements that neither of them have a clue what is already happening in schools now.
“The education policies of the previous Coalition Government, continued by this one, premised on extensive and excessive autonomy for schools and the obsessive pursuit of deregulation, have rapidly increased covert selection, often targeted at pupils from materially deprived backgrounds.
“Sending out strong advance signals to prospective families that if their child obtains a place at the school they will be expected to make significant financial contributions to school funds, requirements to purchase uniforms from expensive sole suppliers and charging for educational activities are all strategies of covert selection.
Ms Keates argued that instead of “becoming consumed in debate”, the Government should focus on tackling the educational inequalities in the UK.
“The values and ethos of a public education service, which should secure and deliver the entitlement of all children and young people to access high quality education, have been seriously compromised.
“Structural change in education is the hallmark of the last six years of Government, despite the fact that there is no evidence that it raises standards.
“Rather than becoming consumed in a debate about even more educationally and socially divisive changes to the structure of our school system, the Prime Minister should focus on tackling the deep educational inequalities which are the legacy of her predecessor.”