‘… the Schools that Work for Everyone consultation [aims] to seek the widest possible range of views on how the Government can build upon these successes and awaits the outcome of the current consultation.’
Education Secretary Justine Greening, House of Commons, 22 November 2016
Greening wasn’t actually referring to grammar schools but ‘good and outstanding’ ones. These, of course, include not just grammars but comprehensives. But the consultation doesn’t ask about comps, just grammars. And as we have discovered, the results of the consultation can be manipulated by allowing multiple, fictitious responses.
Later she said:
‘…we published the “Schools that work for everyone” consultation, which asks important open questions about how we can use the educational expertise that exists in our country’s independent schools, faith schools, universities and selective schools. We cannot afford to leave a single stone unturned as we drive up opportunity.’
Every ‘single stone’ doesn’t include the giant rock of good and outstanding comprehensive schools, apparently. And Greening obviously doesn’t understand the word ‘open’. The consultation questions are loaded and imply agreement with the proposals.
‘…consulting on how we respond to that demand from parents and pupils is exactly what we should be doing. We cannot simply say that those parents and students are wrong.’
But the consultation’s set up to allow multiple responses which are likely to skew the outcome.
Summing up the debate, the education secretary… Sorry, the education secretary didn’t do the summing up. That was left to her junior minister, Nick Gibb. He said:
‘…we are consulting on a range of measures to increase the number of good school places and serve communities that have yet to benefit fully from our education reforms.’
‘Good school places’ refers just to grammar schools and not the number of such places which exist in good and outstanding comprehensive schools. The ‘range of measures’ excludes non-selective schools. And we know the consultation can be manipulated…
Nick Gibb apparently thinks that grammars are the only centres of excellence in the state system. On November 8*, the Guardian quoted the schools minister saying the Government 'wanted to introduce “the DNA” of grammar schools into non-grammars, so that they would benefit from their expertise.'
What does this fatuous remark actually mean? What is grammar school DNA? Genetic modification, perhaps, to exclude the faulty 75%? Gibb’s statement is worthy of inclusion in Private Eye’s occasional column listing the daftest uses of ‘DNA’ (as in company blurbs which claim something is in their DNA).
A ‘high quality education’ is present in 78% of secondary schools which are good or better. But Gibb focusses on just a small sub set: grammar schools. And it is to 163 grammar schools that extra money will be thrown – no such money for the thousands of cash-strapped primary or non-selective secondary schools.
And this Government claims their proposals will produce Schools that Work for Everyone.
*The original article contained a link to Nick Gibb's tweet of 8 November 2016. This has now disappeared from his twitter feed. However, the Guardian quoted the remark so I have replaced the original tweet with a link to the Guardian.