Theresa May is so ashamed of one of her flagship policies – on grammar schools – that she hasn’t mentioned them by name in the manifesto. But while it is clear that she is still committed to funding selective education, May must realise how unpopular they are. Because the word “grammar” does not appear in the manifesto [pdf] once.
You’re so vain
Theresa May likes grammar schools. She likes them so much that when she first launched her policy she mentioned them 16 times in her speech. It’s therefore strange that they do not appear in the manifesto.
But a lot’s changed this then. Jeremy Corbyn branded them May’s “vanity project”. And the National Association of Headteachers condemned the policy. Meanwhile schools have been hitting the headlines with real-terms cuts meaning teacher redundancies, cutting of essential services and headteachers at outstanding schools having to write begging letters to parents.
And in March 2017, Education Secretary Justine Greening was booed when she outlined the party’s grammar school plans at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference. Malcolm Trobe, interim General Secretary of ASCL, stated:
People who work in grammars do a very good job, but there is no evidence that increasing the amount of selection will increase social mobility or the overall education standards across the country. Therefore we believe that increasing the number of selective schools should not happen. Do not increase selection because the evidence base is that it will not have the desired effect.
It’s all in the fine print
But nothing’s changed. May is still planning to re-introduce grammar schools. She’s just hiding it a bit. The manifesto [pdf] states:
We will lift the ban on the establishment of selective schools, subject to conditions, such as allowing pupils to join at other ages as well as eleven.
Pouring money into new selective schools will do nothing to alleviate the crisis facing education. Our schools are suffering under the Tories. And a return to grammar schools is not the answer.
But if there’s any doubt over which party would best serve schools, just listen to the headteachers who run them. They gave Corbyn a standing ovation.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
-Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
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