Our schools are in crisis, but the Tories have found £200m to fund grammar schools

A run down temporary classroom and a pile of £50 notes
Fréa Lockley

Schools across the UK are cash-strapped, and ongoing education cuts have left many teachers feeling broken. But on 11 May, education secretary Damian Hinds announced a £200m fund to expand grammar schools in the UK.

“Insulting and ludicrous”

The Times Educational Supplement (TES) reported:

A new Selective School Expansion Fund will be allocated £50 million for 2018-19, with details of the remaining £150 million to be announced later.

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However, several academic studies have shown that selective education offers little benefit to pupils. And the final twist of the knife is that schools are at breaking point as a result of the crisis caused by consistent Conservative education cuts. These schools already need to find an extra £3bn of savings by 2019/20. And according to the School Cuts website, primary schools face an average cut of £45,400, which rises to £185,200 for secondary schools.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner made her thoughts clear:

Tracy Brabin, shadow minister for early years education, said:

And the National Association of Head Teachers said it was a “misguided policy”:

Others, meanwhile, called it “appalling”, and “insulting and ludicrous”:

Political football

Grammar schools have been a ‘political football’ for years. Labour started phasing them out in 1965. In 1998, under Tony Blair, Labour banned creating any new grammar schools. Then, in 2016, May used her first major domestic speech as prime minister to announce a move to end this ban. This formed a key part of the Conservative manifesto in 2017. But it was dropped when the Conservatives failed to secure an overall majority.

However, additional funding “for the expansion of existing grammar schools” was included in the 2016 autumn budget. This was the same year that reports of a funding analysis from the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that schools “face 8% budget cuts and about 60% of secondary schools already have deficits”.

Many have now taken to Twitter to share their confusion:

This latest move sums up everything that’s wrong with this Tory government. Millions battle daily with the impact of austerity, stagnant wages, and cuts to benefits, because apparently there is ‘no money’. But when they want to, it seems the Tories can find yet another ‘magic money tree’. And this one is nothing short of ludicrous.

All schools need proper funding, and they need it now.

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Featured images via Given Up – Geograph and Images Money – Flickr

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