Defeat ‘garbage’ grammar policy – fill in consultation

Janet Downs's picture
 28

‘How to win the argument against grammar schools’.  Sam Freedman, former advisor to Michael Gove, gave an impassioned response at the ResearchEd conference:

‘For God’s sake do apply for the consultation… I know people think that the government never reads them but if 97 per cent of people who write in are against it, it will be hard for them to hide it.’

I’ve taken Sam’s advice to defeat what he called ‘this pile of garbage’.  I've completed the consultation survey.  It took about 20 to 30 minutes.  But be warned: the questions, particularly those about selective schools, assume support for the proposals.  For example, Question 19 asks:

How should we best support existing grammars to expand?

This assumes expansion is a good thing.  I took the opportunity to say the selective system doesn’t work for all children.  Rather than expanding selection, a system which works for all children would have no selection at 11.

Question 20 asked, ‘What can we do to support the creation of either wholly or partially new selective schools’.  I wrote that the creation of new wholly or partially selective schools was divisive and undesirable.

Question 21 said, ‘How can we support existing non-selective schools to become selective?’  Of all the daft questions in the Consultation, this is perhaps the daftest.  The Government has given no thought to the possible consequences of allowing all schools to become selective.  What if a majority of comprehensives or schools still designated as ‘modern’ wish to introduce selection?  Where would pupils not selected be educated?  If ‘selective’ is seen as the most desirable, what does it say about non-selective schools especially those near to a selective one?

So don’t delay.  Here is the survey.   You can also sign petition against more grammars here and Parliamentary petition here.

The consultation document, misleadingly called 'Schools that work for everyone', is here.   

Schools Week article here.   YouTube recording of the ResearchEd session here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share on Twitter

Comments

David Libbert's picture
Sat, 17/09/2016 - 22:22

Thanks Janet for great round up of actions to take and advice on the DfE "consultation".


Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 18/09/2016 - 07:57

David - what made me cross about the 'consultation' was the way the questions were framed.  They assumed the proposals were good ones and just asked how they could be improved, put in place and policed.  There were no questions asking opinions about the proposals only seeking comments on how to mitigate the negative effects of the proposals.  This is obviously deliberate so the DfE can say their 'consultation' produced no negative feedback only 'positive' comments about how best to make the proposals work.  In gauging actual opinion, it's about as useless as a poll with leading questions.  But that doesn't mean people shouldn't complete it.  On the contrary, they can turn the questions on their head to express reasons why the proposals will NOT work for every child.


David Libbert's picture
Sun, 18/09/2016 - 18:52

This does seem classically sneaky on their part. But your raising awareness of this and encouragement for the many of us against this bonkers anti-evidence policy to respond to this consultation despite the biased question phrasing, is very welcome and sensible and I have shared it via Twitter.


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 10:05

Thanks, David.  The more people complete the consultation, the better.   As you say, it helps to know in advance that the questions are skewed in favour of producing 'positive' answers and could deter those who oppose the policies because there's no question which asks for opinions about the actual proposals.


Leah K Stewart's picture
Sun, 18/09/2016 - 13:49

Thanks Janet. I've contrinuted to the survey and petitions. This was inteesting! Never completed a survey like this before. In the section on local authority in the survey I've said 'Lincolnshire' and expanded on that in the bit about 'your interest in the school system' by saying: 

"British Citizen, graduated from a Redbrick University in England in 2010. As a student I was a child in the 'just about managing' group you are focusing on now. I've named my local authority as Lincolnshire because this is where I completed primary school and lived for the whole of secondary school. Afterwards my family had to move away from the area to Scotland for my dad to get work, so I no longer live in Lincolnshire or, at the time of writing, in England. I'll leave you to decide if this submission is still worth consideration."

Hopefully that's clear and hopefully my contribution will still be read by someone. 


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 10:06

Thanks, Leah.  Please share the consultation with as many people as possible and warn them in advance about the biased questions which assume respondents are in favour.  Instead, the should use the questions to show opposition.


Leah K Stewart's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 10:57

I've shared via twitter which is my most active public platform. Was thinking about publishing my answers, to show others how I navigated away from the way the questions led. Do people generally share their own responses to these things? Curious. 


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 11:13

There's nothing to stop you publishing your answers as far as I'm aware although it's not usual.  I shared a couple of mine above. But there were a lot of questions.  You might want to just share a few.


Leah K Stewart's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 11:17

Cool, thanks for the insight. Yes - I was just thinking of the relevant ones that I felt I could contribute to based on my experience so, selective schools and universities. Perhaps also just giving an example of how I navigated the areas I have little experience too because, if I wasn't so determined to understand all this, those questions and uncertainty on how to reply may well have put me off from contributing altogether. If I do anything will let you know :)


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 11:38

Leah - that's exactly what I thought when confronted my the 'consultation'.  It appeared to me to be constructed in such a way as to put off respondents who weren't in favour of the proposals.  Like you, it was determination (bloody cussedness) that kept me going through the whole thing.  The entire tone seemed to be, 'We've got these wonderful proposals and we want your help to implement them'.    There were no actual questions (as I keep repeating) about whether the proposals would really result in 'schools that work for everyone'.    

On a separate note, the 'schools that work for everyone' don't appear to include primary (except as feeder schools for grammars), special needs or early years.  Rather a large omission.


Helen Farrell's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 11:55

This is what I'm intending to reply: Qu 20 - There should be a ballot in the same way that abolishing a grammar school should have a ballot. It's inequitable that abolishing a selective system needs a parental majority but abolishing a comprehensive would not. Only 26 per cent of people of parental age support new grammars according to YouGov - selective education should not be enforced against the will of the majority.
I am also going to write that this is a policy which will disincentivize schools from being Good or Outstanding. These schools will find it hard to become selective since existing parents will not want their chance of getting in dependent on the small chance of passing the test and will be likely to fight proposals for it to become a grammar. Those schools which will find it easier to opt for selection will be those currently not doing well. A system which rewards failing schools and punishes the good by turning them into secondary moderns is hardly a recipe for success.
There is a fundamental flaw in this process in that no school will be able to protect itself from becoming a secondary modern since this will depend on other schools in the area. So what is the incentive for anyone to take on a Headship when no matter how successful they make the school it can be turned into a secondary modern by the actions of other schools? We have already seen Heads of Academy chains are saying that they will have to become selective not because they think it is in the best interests of the children but to stop other schools doing the same. How is this sensible? I thought the whole thrust of Conservative education policy was to encourage autonomy for Heads and Schools. How can a school work effectively if its leaders have no power over such a fundamental change as becoming a secondary modern?

I'm not an education professional but a parent and I'm a bit worried because I haven't seen anyone else on social media intending to use these arguments so I'm a bit worries that they're wrong in some way. Haven't submitted yet so can someone tell me before I waste my response? Thank you


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 12:45

Heln - you are not wasting your time.  The more people who complete the questionnaire, the better.  You are absolutely right that the comprehensive system could be destroyed simply by one school in a comprehensive area deciding to become selective.  This will happen irrespective of the wishes of parents.  At the same time, as you rightly point out, academy chains may be forced unwillingly to change one or more of their academies into selective ones to avoid losing high ability pupils to a nearby school which decides to select.

Grammars which are academies can already expand without permission - all they have to do is increase their Pupil Admission Number PAN).  This can also adversely affect neighbouring comprehensive areas if the grammar is near a county border.  Bourne Grammar School, for example, near the Lincolnshire border, has already increased its PAN since becoming an academy.  It now sucks in more high-achieving pupils from a wider area which includes comprehensive Rutland and comprehensive Peterborough.  Removing high ability pupils from other schools means results at these schools are bound to fall (with consequent punishment of heads if the fall results in below average performance) and creams off the very students who could act as role models for the rest.  


Leah K Stewart's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 12:57

Hi Helen, I like these points! Logical, clear, thoughtful, honest. Every argument has holes when we look hard enough but, going on faith those in government really do want to hear what we think, I hope a genuine response like this will be picked up. Thinking further; even if the objections you raise can be overcome with knowledge that neither your or I posses, what you say is important as it serves as a good guide to future communications from government on the topic.  Your point on 'not seeing these arguments elsewhere made me smile' - that shows you're thinking independently and that in my book is a good thing worth encouraging! Last week I was interviewed for a politics podcast on education and was explicitly told by the interviewer that he'd never heard the points I was making before. Like you, I had a moment of 'am I wrong?' but then, to counter that, I recalled the number of times in the last year those I respect so much in education have said "we need 'different' now". Your input is fresh, your thinking original. Thumbs up from me. Keep going :) 


Helen Farrell's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 14:19

Leah, Thank you for your really kind and encouraging remarks. I think because people have been concentrating on the ethics of selection they maybe haven't focussed on the practical implications of the proposals? I know other people will be making all the points about social inequality, London v Kent etc so it seemed better to try something new.


Leah K Stewart's picture
Tue, 20/09/2016 - 10:01

Helen, yeay. I'm excited to see what will happen as these 'on the ground' perspectives are more assertively put forwards. All the best! L 


Helen Farrell's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 11:59

This is what I'm intending to reply: Qu 20 - There should be a ballot in the same way that abolishing a grammar school should have a ballot. It's inequitable that abolishing a selective system needs a parental majority but abolishing a comprehensive would not. Only 26 per cent of people of parental age support new grammars according to YouGov - selective education should not be enforced against the will of the majority.
I am also going to write that this is a policy which will disincentivize schools from being Good or Outstanding. These schools will find it hard to become selective since existing parents will not want their chance of getting in dependent on the small chance of passing the test and will be likely to fight proposals for it to become a grammar. Those schools which will find it easier to opt for selection will be those currently not doing well. A system which rewards failing schools and punishes the good by turning them into secondary moderns is hardly a recipe for success.
There is a fundamental flaw in this process in that no school will be able to protect itself from becoming a secondary modern since this will depend on other schools in the area. So what is the incentive for anyone to take on a Headship when no matter how successful they make the school it can be turned into a secondary modern by the actions of other schools? We have already seen Heads of Academy chains are saying that they will have to become selective not because they think it is in the best interests of the children but to stop other schools doing the same. How is this sensible? I thought the whole thrust of Conservative education policy was to encourage autonomy for Heads and Schools. How can a school work effectively if its leaders have no power over such a fundamental change as becoming a secondary modern?

I'm not an education professional but a parent and I'm a bit worried because I haven't seen anyone else on social media intending to use these arguments so I'm a bit worries that they're wrong in some way. Haven't submitted yet so can someone tell me before I waste my response? Thank you


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 19/09/2016 - 12:46

Helen - your comment's appeared twice.  This is possibly a computer glitch.  I'm reluctant to remove it in case my actions remove both comments.  


agov's picture
Tue, 20/09/2016 - 09:48

I may have an explanation of how these double postings occur. As I understand it the system works by (a) giving notice that an email has been sent and that the post will appear when the link in the email is clicked; (e) having clicked on that email link the system then opens a new tab displaying the relevant thread including the new post; but in between (a) and (e) there are two other possible steps i.e (b) open a new tab to access the email as webmail leaving open the one with the message about the email or (c) using the already open tab (the one displaying the message about an email having been sent) to access the webmail. I think the problem happens when (c) is used. There is a further point that I have not explored i.e. (d) this possible explanation may or may not be dependent upon having or not having open another LSN tab e.g. displaying 'All articles' page. Possibly the software supplier could take a look?


agov's picture
Tue, 20/09/2016 - 09:53

Duh. Except that (e) opens a new tab showing 'All articles'! Didn't it previously open the actual thread? Did the supplier change something?


Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 20/09/2016 - 10:56

Thanks, agov.  I'll let the other administrators know as it's beyond my expertise.  However, I used the double-posting of your 'Duh' comment to test if I could delete one witout deleting all similar comments.  As you see, it only deleted one of them.  Phew.  At least I know I can safely delete a double-posted comment in the future.


agov's picture
Wed, 21/09/2016 - 08:31

But I made a further (i.e. third) post that possibly explained the double posting of the second (i.e. the 'Duh' one)but it has also disappeared. In that missing post I said the double posting (of the 'Duh' one) may have occurred because I had two tabs open for the same thread i.e. one with the email message for my first post and the one with the email message for the second. In fact the second email (i.e. the one for the 'Duh') appeared not to have been actually sent until I closed the first tab - as soon as I did that the email arrived; I clicked on the link; the double posting appeared. Potentially it may be that in deleting the double occurrence of the second post you also deleted the third post.


Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 21/09/2016 - 08:48

agov - Oh dear.  I don't remember seening a third comment.  Was it actually posted?  I think I'd better revert to my previous position of not deleting double-posted comments in case doing so deletes something else.   I've referred the problem on.  In the meantime, I think I'll just leave things as they are.


agov's picture
Thu, 22/09/2016 - 09:45

Hi Janet, it was posted yes. I'm guessing you deleted the second version within the double posting? I expect it would have been ok if there hadn't been a reply (i.e. my 3rd post). If you have a choice, you could try deleting the first version within the double posting - in fact either would likely be fine if they don't have children i.e. been replied to.


Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 22/09/2016 - 10:40

agov - thanks.  The trouble is that deletion is irreversible.  If I tried deleting the first version it might (I say might) delete the lot.


agov's picture
Fri, 23/09/2016 - 12:47

It might. Let's do a test. Hopefully this will double post, so try deleting the first version.


agov's picture
Fri, 23/09/2016 - 12:48

So that theory seems to be wrong! How annoying.


agov's picture
Fri, 23/09/2016 - 12:49

The suppliers haven't done something, have they?


Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 24/09/2016 - 08:21

agov - I know the glitch was being worked on.  Perhaps the problem has been solved.  Let's hope so.  Thanks for your help.


Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.