@68ron is a teacher living and working on the south coast. He likes to think he can see educational issues from a number of different perspectives, teacher, parent, governor and (teaching) trade union officer. His 16th birthday present was a Labour Party membership card (when it still had Clause IV written on it). His greatest moment in teaching came while listening live on the ‘wireless’ to Mrs Thatcher’s defenestration while sitting in the smokers’ staff room during morning break.
If there is anything that crystallises my sense of despair with the national political situation it is the government’s latest attempt to expand academic selection.
In the first place it is a very bad idea. There is zero evidence that selection advances social mobility and substantial evidence it entrenches social immobility. If you want to be reminded of this see Chris Cook’s excellent analysis of selection that he wrote for the FT a few years ago. We’re supposed to be living in an era of evidence-based policy aren’t we?
Secondly, it reminds me of the failures of previous Labour governments to abolish selection when they had the chance to – a notable failure of Labour governments from 1997-2010. The irony is that when Margaret Thatcher was Education Secretary more selective schools were abolished than under Labour.
Another reason it fills me with despair is that the debate is still framed as if it is about the merits of grammar schools rather than the problems of secondary moderns and de facto secondary moderns. With selection more kids fail than pass – so why do we name the system after the destination of the minority of children? Why are others allowed to frame the debate in this way? Why are more people not challenging this?
Which leads me to my final point…Labour. I could weep. This debate should be led by us. It’s one we can win. We should be building alliances with others on this including Tory MPs. But we can not. How can we credibly build alliances with others when we can not even build alliances within our own party. We are too busy indulging in an internecine war to put the case for comprehensive education. Frankly as a party we should be ashamed.