Meanwhile in Northern Ireland the Education Minister, John O’Dowd, ploughs ahead with the Sinn Fein agenda to remove grammar school choice from parents and pupils. This campaign is carried out in the name of equality; equality of outcome or results, not equality of opportunity. Mr O’Dowd is currently presiding over a Department of Education riven with expensive failures but suggests that his strategy has the welfare of all children in mind. Nonsense.
The Academies Bill has been passed into legislation in Westminster this week. Already it has begun to unravel. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jul/29/michael-gove-academy-schools
The Conservative Party (which abandoned support for grammar schools and academic selection in 2007) has now come clean with an unequivocal quote from schools minister Nick Gibb MP,
”We are committed to comprehensive education and this bill will strengthen comprehensive education,”
Nick Gibb MP
he said. “Nor is this bill about scrapping the admissions code. All academies will be bound by the admissions code through the model funding agreement.”
Nick Gibb, said the bill would “grant greater autonomy to individual schools, give more freedom to teachers and inject a new level of dynamism into a programme that has been proven to raise standards for all children.”
Unfortunately for Msrs Cameron, Gove and Gibb the evidence for this claim is lacking.
Perhaps the Conservative Party in general and their “Friends of Grammar Schools” rebel Graham Brady in particular should examine the Northern Ireland experience closely.
When the Education Minister, Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane attempted to end academic selection by withdrawing the official 11-plus parents demonstrated their objections and encouraged the development of a commercial replacement.
The number of pupils entered for the replacement 11-plus test was almost equivalent to the previous 11-plus. Parents were willing to fund the tests themselves. Unfortunately for some parents some grammar school heads have choosen to abandon the principle of academic selection and therefore the basis of grammar schools. Therein lies the dangers inherent in the English Academies Bill. Giving increased powers, without commensurate accountability, to headteachers, could result in disaster. Parents should not be surprised by the behaviour of politicians but should ask themselves about the decision making abilities and incentives behind the decisions of some grammar school heads to sign up for Academy status.
Caitriona Ruane learned a hard lesson. Time for David Cameron, Michael Gove and Nick Gibb to learn theirs too.
July 17, 2010
Tracey Crouch MP, Member of Parliament for Chatham & Aylesford, who once worked for grammar school advocate and supporter Michael Howard, http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/newsarchive.aspx?articleid=15410 recently attracted attention in the KentOnLine paper when her question to the Education Minister, Nick Gibb during a debate on July 12th, 2010 was highlighted.
The Minister of State, Department for Education (Mr Nick Gibb): Ninety-five expressions of interest in academy status have been received from schools in Kent, and nine expressions of interest have been received from schools in Medway.
Tracey Crouch: I thank the Minister for his reply, and I am sure that he will be reassured to hear that many of the head teachers I have spoken to are genuinely very enthusiastic about the programme. The Minister will be aware that many of the schools in Kent and Medway that have expressed an interest are grammar schools. Can he assure the House that if they were to become academies they would retain their selective status?
Mr Gibb was attempting to give reassurance to those concerned that grammar schools which had applied to become Academies would no longer be permitted to use academic selection to determine admission. This issue had been previously raised by the National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA) after careful scrutiny of the current legal position. Over ninety grammar school heads have made initial applications to become Academies without properly consulting and gaining the consent of the governors and parents of their schools. Once an Academy changes can be made without consultation with parents.
However Tracey Crouch, the former Aviva PR girl, seems to have neglected to mention, some might suggest purged, an important detail out of her profile as an M.P. http://www.traceycrouch.org/about-candidate and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracey_Crouch
Tracey Crouch attended Folkestone Grammar School. The question must be put – When Tracey Crouch spoke with the heads and was told of their intention to apply for Academy status was she unaware of the implications for the future of grammar schools? It seems that a grammar school education is now an inconvenient fact in David Cameron’s PR wonk ridden government.
June 25, 2010
The National Grammar Schools, http://www.ngsa.org.uk have issued an urgent warning about the government’s attempt rush to schools into applying for academy status.
The Press Association picked up on the detail and now the mainstream media have joined in.
Parents should contact the NGSA or the Board of Governors of their grammar school rather than depend upon headteachers who may have conflicted interests.
In a candid interview with Amanda Patell for the Daily Mail the Conservative Party leader David Cameron admitted that he had made mistakes on his handling of the grammar school issue. It is convenient that his mea culpa came to public attention 24 hours before parents go out to vote since the detail on how Mr Cameron intends to repair his errors was not made clear. So Amanda Patell started her interview by asking David Cameron directly why should Conservatives like her and millions of readers place their cross against the Conservative party on the ballot paper today?’
“The answers come thick and fast. He starts by outlining his belief in educational reform, so that children in this country can have a fair chance to ‘go from the bottom to the top’.
Why, then, I challenge him, has he been so dismissive about grammar schools, which were once the most effective way for a bright child from a poor background to rise to the very top?
Cameron is unexpectedly contrite. ‘I will accept that I got it wrong in the row on grammar schools. They are excellent schools, all 164 of them, and under the Conservative Party they will prosper and flourish.
‘I do accept that in the language I used I didn’t show enough sensitivity to people who’d been to grammar schools, who liked grammar schools, who thought they were great agents of social mobility.
‘I was trying to make sure we got on to the next target, which is: how do we have good schools right across the country”
To read more on Cameron’s interview with Amanda Patell visit : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1272513/GENERAL-ELECTION-2010-How-David-Cameron-finally-won-over.html#ixzz0n7uo5GfK
February 10, 2010
It will come as an unwelcome surprise to Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron to learn of the results of an ICM poll on grammar schools.
The Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1249765/85-young-people-want-grammar-schools-created.html focussed on the fact that “85% of young people want more grammar schools created”
November 27, 2008
The Conservative Party reveal more of their antipathy towards grammar schools on this ConservativeHome blog site. Note particularly the personal attack tactics employed by the Conservative pseudo-MP for Tottenham Justin Hinchcliffe
Sir Reg Empey should take note during the courtship lest he have to admit that the UUP are anti-grammar now too.
A prominent Northern Ireland QC has sent an Open Letter to Conservative |Party leader David Cameron on behalf of the National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA)
Read the letter here.
The letter was sent prior to the Conservative Party Confernce in Birmingham. It is remarkable that so little has been reported from Northern Ireland MLAs and MPs given that many attended the Conservative Conference and hosted fringe meetings.
Has the cat got their collective tongue or are deals underway to guarantee the destruction of Northern Ireland’s academic selection system and with it grammar schools via the Tories and their Unionist friends?
Parents must decide if the failed position of political and church leaders will be allowed to destroy their child’s right to a suitable education.