mistemina's picture
Successive Bucks politicians have deluded themselves in the belief that selection is a vote loser. So Selection remained a matter politicians competing for the longest barge poles.
David Williams (Wycombe Labour Candidate 2015) repeatedly and bravely declared himself strongly Anti-Selection, in High Wycombe (S Bucks). Greens too opposed Selection.
Mr Williams increased the vote for labour by 5.20% and Greens 6.00%.

LEE www.facebook.com/LocalEqualExcellent, LSN and CF must receive mentions in dispatches. All have significant rolls in raising awareness on the dangers of Selection to our children's future.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


mistemina's picture
Fri, 08/05/2015 - 18:32


Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 09/05/2015 - 08:52

It will be interesting to discover how the new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, will handle the grammar school issue. The proposed 'satellite' grammar in Kent is still on her desk. On the one hand, allowing the satellite to be set up would satisfy the grammar lobby and UKIP voters. But on the other hand, the recent petition to allow new grammars doesn't seem to have received much support if the number of comments is anything to go by. There were just 16 - 7 were from me arguing against.

Gove, in one of his sensible decisions, blocked the proposed expansion.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 10/05/2015 - 09:33

My guess is that the government will now give the green light to new grammar schools and for-profit Academy Chains and Free Schools. The reason - he has a tiny majority and a pack of slavering ultra reactionary free-marketeers at his back ready to make big trouble unless he keeps tossing them ideologically spiced human sacrifices at regular intervals. Other such gestures will include repeal of the Human Rights Act and the legalisation of fox hunting.

pseudocampaigner's picture
Sat, 09/05/2015 - 16:00

Thatcher and Gove were against grammar schools for market-driven reasons, not as reported on LSN, because parents would object to selection - we are force-fed 'parental choice'. Morgan may well find it is too late to undue the damage bestowed upon grammar schools from top slicing LA budgets for the academies programme. This isn't the way to reform education; too many innocent children and their parents and teachers have suffered.

Here's the rub, the reason for continued selection despite the 'efforts' of pressure groups. Everyone has a different idea of how to end selection but for ideological reasons none of them join up: the AAA won't tackle grammar school academies because it wants to protect all state maintained schools, selective and non selective; Bucks LEE craves recognition from London-centric pressure groups that only support the supported, that they are the heroes in trying to end selection with Wycombe Labour, while in other parts of the country Labour remains silent to the plight of parents in deprived areas where there are high levels of child poverty.

We parents don't have books to sell and we don't want your pithy rewards or recognition. We are not regarded by the left or the right to be articulate enough to be of any real value and we have wasted many of our children's years supporting your campaigns.

The unsung heroes are not Bucks LEE or the Labour Party, they are our children and their friends, who year on year are made to feel like failures by an education system that is supposed to support them.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 10/05/2015 - 09:56

pseudocampaigner - I can understand why you are so bitter but not why you are directing your anger against some of those that consistently make evidence-based arguments against grammar school selection. Faced with a new government that will treat evidence with even more disdain than before, educational campaigners need to support their partners and friends more than ever.

I fully agree with you about the plight of parents in poor areas, however I am not going to apologise for having written a book about it, nor for promoting my book on this website and elsewhere.

Part 2 of 'Learning Matters' has the title, 'The Consequences of Bad Education'. Part 4 considers the vital role admissions systems in precisely the sorts of areas that you refer to, and does it on the basis of an evidence-based case study. Part 5 sets out why, on the basis of evidence, it is the qualitative nature of learning that matters rather than the crude exam results focussed performance data needed to feed a marketised system.

Now more than ever, those of us of like mind need to be seeking allies and building arguments rather than thrashing about in despair. LSN is a powerful forum for debating the arguments and giving a platform for the dissemination of the evidence.

pseudocampaigner's picture
Sun, 10/05/2015 - 19:50

Roger Titcombe - I am not bitter, just frustrated that there is no collective vision for education. Parents who are not academics, journalists or teachers are very much at the bottom of the pile in their own localities and on national forums/pressure groups. It is only when a group comes along with support of their CLP that they are taken seriously. What about those of us who have been disaffected on every level for just speaking out about selective education? Poverty isn't just about money, it's about poverty of information, not having local support, being judged as an 11+ failure dependency class, and not being supported to contribute directly and collectively to a book or to a paper.

mistemina's picture
Sun, 10/05/2015 - 09:11

Pseudo, True words 'they are our children........made to feel like failures by an education system that is supposed to support them.''
I will add to this the Bucks Secondary Modern School. They have to take all these demotivated children, their demotivated parents, virtually all the SEN, the poor and the traditional underachieving cohort. With no meaningful extra funding.

You may find the Bucks LEE members are not affiliated to any party. They are volunteers with sufficient and deserved recognition in Bucks and national academia.

AAA? Please explain what this is please.

pseudocampaigner's picture
Sun, 10/05/2015 - 19:26

John Bajina - you do not need to affirm my words are true. You clearly want to take the lead in determining which areas of the country children suffer the most under selection. Bucks is not unique in having non selective schools; there are many across the country that are now academies in competition with grammar schools, for funding and for pupils.

Please rest assured that neither my children nor their friends have been part of "the traditional underachieving cohort" or low ability group that this forum continually refers to. The 11+ affirms social class, not ability (evidence shows poverty assigns cognitive ability in the preschool years).

Regarding the Labour Party's silence on selection, they couldn't support early years hoping that it will ameliorate the effects of the 11+ for reasons already stated.

Labour has failed because it has not stood up for anyone other than the soundbite of 'hard working families'. For example, it did not appear concerned with outlying areas of child poverty that are riven by selection, thus for everyday people who do not have the time to study macro economics there has been nothing much to set them apart from the Tories. Better the devil one knows.

Please explain the end game of campaigning. Is it to reboot the same old ideological arguments over school structures that obfuscate the 11+, that, as you rightly say, demotivates children and their parents, or is it to sincerely end selection? If it is the latter, there needs to be a national vision for education that is open to all interested parties not just by invitation only to the New Visions for Education Group: http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2015/05/whats-next-for-education-b...

John Mountford's picture
Sun, 10/05/2015 - 21:50

Preudo, I've just posted a comment on the thread, 'What next for education'. In the absence of a national debate about the vision for education it is unsurprising that there is no national vision, as you rightly point out.

I think I will not be alone on this site in stating unequivocally that selection at 11, or any other age, has to be stopped, and with some urgency. This would be to bring to an end a system that never worked, not even for all who might have been "successful" in being selected and because there are better, proven ways of helping children of all abilities and different potentials to have the opportunity to flourish.

pseudocampaigner's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 06:49

John Mountford- I don't understand why there could not have been a national and inclusive debate about a vision for education prior to the elections. It seems very late in the day to be challenging competitive market forces that have become our education system.

Selective education is supported by the left and the right, the faithful and secular in our county who deliberately sealed off any chance of a local debate about education. They claimed there is no difference between streaming and selection. Local Labour fought the academies program but the time was never right to talk about ending rejection at 11+.

It seems there is no place for my vision of education for my own children which was to support them to understand that by helping others in this world we tend to make it a better place. I still try to do this but the pressure of exams and floor targets is all consuming.

Children and parents in our area have been let down by all sides. The system is such that nobody speaks out because there is no support (non selective schools are part of the selective education system so they won't help us). Apparently, my own children have done well under this system so I have no cause for complaint.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 10:00

pseudocampaigner - you're right, there has been no national debate on what education is actually for. Politicians talk glibly about 'standards', 'improvement', 'aspiration', 'results' etc but their policies actually diminish education not enhance it. Changing school structure (eg from LA maintained schools to academies) does nothing to improve children's education. And it costs millions which could be better spent on education not on legal and administrative formalities.

Parents and children are being let down. The tragedy is they won't know this until it's too late.

mistemina's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 11:11

pseudocampaigner – For me the end game is clear, it is the total destruction of the 11+ Selection System in the UK. There are many new reasons which reason (for me anyway) and there are the now proven sustainable old ones:
Our education system must promote Social Mobility. Selection fails to do this.
Must help reduce the educational, material and social Gap. Selection fails to do this.
The 11+ does demotivates and is destructive.
Places huge structural, financial and work load on schools that get the 11+ failures (deliberate use of emotive language to cause effect)
There absolutely needs to be a National Vision for Education on this, along with other injustices and inequalities in our system.
Rebooting the ideological arguments. I see nothing wrong with doing this. It was true in the '60s, and remains true now.
I will go further, this National Vision for Education, this needs to be open to all interested parties and all interested parties need to be seen to speak with one voice (without destroying the rich diversity that currently exists in the progressive thinkers on education). This will be more effective and encourage cross fertilisation.
PS. I am not a Londoner, but it will not too much to guesswork to work out where i live.

pseudocampaigner's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 15:25

John Bajina - I agree the 11+ system needs to end. There are plenty of parents in our area who don't want to put their children through this cruel system who are obliged to do so because they think grammar schools will lift them out of poverty. Those who pay for prep schools will always support grammars and tend to work in the service sector, faith-based and otherwise.

-Social mobility through education is largely a myth. The continuation of selective education relies upon economic inequality and child poverty. If child poverty was eliminated and all local schools were good schools there would be no justification for selection

-In order for a child to succeed in a grammar school other children must be rejected. This sends out the wrong message to children and their parents and damages social cohesion

- Neuroscience shows that the brain changes in adolescence, that ability and aptitude cannot be determined at 11 years old

- The annual spend on setting and marking the 11+ diverts funding from where it is most needed

- Neighbouring schools cannot speak out about selection because they are part of the selective system and as such cannot be classified as comprehensive

Fine on rebooting arguments so long as the end game is non selective admissions.

I agree, a National Vison for Education should be open to all. And where parents want to speak out or contribute to a book or paper they should be supported to do so. Their stories should be valued.

pseudocampaigner's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 11:27

Janet - I agree, targets and changes to school structures now mean education is a zero-sum game. It's already too late in many respects for young people in our area who drop out of school prior to taking GCSEs due to stress. I expect some schools that jumped on the academies bandwagon didn't do an analysis of the economic interplay between markets and academic selection in grammar schools. It seems many were conned by Gove, and not just parents.

John Mountford's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 15:55

Pseudo, I would be very interested in helping those parents who feel strongly about education but may believe their voice would go unheeded. There might be some who would like some assistance to get started. Their stories are so important and should be heard. Maybe there is some way of making it easier for them to get their message across on this site. However, it would be better if there was a way of getting the media to pick up on how the system affects them and their children- real human interest stuff. I picked up a news item on the radio earlier about the impact of SATs on 11 year olds. It seems some are taking up smoking to help cope with the pressure they feel!!??!!

I have been in touch with Leah Stewart and others about how to rise awareness with the general public about what is happening to our young people in a system that seems to have been shaped without regard to their needs and interests. If some students came forward with their experiences to add to this archive it could be a very powerful way of jolting politicians out of their apparent comfort zone over how the reforms of education feel like from the inside.

Any support out there for something like this, or better ideas still to intensify the campaign to rescue education from the GERM and introduce the education debate to ordinary people who may want a more powerful reason to get involved?? What better reason than the well being of young people?

pseudocampaigner's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 17:45

John - let me have a think about how to approach this. I'll speak to some parents and get back to you.

I think the Children's Commisioner did some work with young people around school admissions and exclusions so she may be worth a call.

I expect those schools that have been downgraded by Ofsted may be approachable to shed some light on how target-driven stress is affecting children and young people. Academics and GPs have already raised concerns about neglecting children's health to schooling so smoking at 11 comes as no surprise ( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/english-schoo... )l Locally, young smokers tend to be a couple of years older but it's still very bad; the LA are trying to address it.

Leah Stewart is doing good work. Let's see if we can get some students to come forward with stories. I know local teachers who feel terrible about what is happening to education, across a range of schools. Perhaps parents, pupils and unions can join forces. Non professional parents don't have a union which makes it difficult for them to make sense of changes. Children's organisations might also help.

No, there is no better reason that to protect the wellbeing of young people and all those who support them. Thank you for your support.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 18:13

psuedocampaigner, John and others: 10 teacher unions have written an open letter to the Government asking for education spending to be protected.

The NUT has called on parents to support its Manifesto for Education. This is something that could unite the largest teaching union with concerned parents.

pseudocampaigner's picture
Mon, 11/05/2015 - 19:00

Thanks Janet, I'm reading them now.

Add new comment

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