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.
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:
The Tories continued obsession with grammar schools will do nothing for the vast majority of children. It is absurd for ministers to push ahead with plans to expand them when the evidence is clear they do nothing to improve social mobility. https://t.co/jLLB4yFJdc
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) May 11, 2018
Tracy Brabin, shadow minister for early years education, said:
160 selective grammar schools are getting a funding increase, whilst most schools in the rest of the country face cuts. Selection only widens the social mobility gap. Give ALL schools the funding they need to give EVERY child a brilliant education. https://t.co/8hzIdCCc9b
— Tracy Brabin MP (@TracyBrabin) May 11, 2018
And the National Association of Head Teachers said it was a “misguided policy”:
— NAHT (@NAHTnews) May 11, 2018
Others, meanwhile, called it “appalling”, and “insulting and ludicrous”:
Appalling, simply appalling.
This would be fine… IF state schools weren't losing staff and class sizes weren't growing.
This Government gives MORE to those who have it and less to those who need it.https://t.co/aigrQEg8mO
— Denis Skinner (@BolsoverBeast) May 11, 2018
The Tories are ploughing £50 million in to Grammar schools while teachers are having to use their wages to buy exercise books and pencils, and parents are are having to fund vital equipment, all because of their massive cuts to the schools budget. Insulting and ludicrous.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) May 11, 2018
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:
Department for Education: Hey, Prime Minister, great news, we found £50 million for education! Shall we send it to struggling state schools, or to SEND?
May: No, give it to the Grammar Schools.
DfE: But…but…they don't need….
May: GRAMMAR SCHOOLS!
— fiona (@willwritefortea) May 11, 2018
Cut £millions from State schools~deprive kids o
of meals, books & even teachers
Give £50 million to grammar schools#ToriesThemOrUs
— LobbyComm (@LobbyComm) May 11, 2018
This week the Guardian reported on children of people applying for refuge in the UK being denied free school meals due to NRPF and schools taking money from teaching budgets to cover it.
Today we have a £50m grammar schools fund created.
— Gareth Morgan (@MogsyMorg) May 11, 2018
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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