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David Davis: "The Coalition's education policies will actually make social mobility even worse."

by Paul Goodman

Davis is an ill wind that blows little good, at least as far as the Government's concerned.  He played a big part in getting the Commons to give a view on votes for prisoners, which showed that he's still a player.  With the troublesome AV referendum, difficult local elections and the tricky business of sustaining the Coalition all still ahead, Downing Street should be watching his pronoucements carefully.

In a piece for Politics Home published earlier this afternoon (which like its other comment pieces isn't behind a paywall), he repeats some of his previous criticisms of the Government's social mobility policy, but comes out against the workings of Michael Gove's Free School policy for the first time.  Essentially, his argument is as follows -

  • Free Schools will help to raise school standards.
  • However, "the mechanism for creating new schools is designed to reinforce the advantage of the “sharp-elbowed” middle classes, not to reduce it".
  • "Even the pupil premium will not help much".
  • "So many of our children from poorer areas will continue to get second class schooling."
  • "The new, astonishingly expensive tuition fees are going to make that situation even worse."

Ominously for the Government, Davis also refers in passing to "the deeply un-conservative (and, incidentally, illiberal) ideas of state-school quotas for universities", which Conservative backbenchers criticised in the Commons last week.

Davis's solutions?  Twofold - to "allow private companies to set up schools without the need for some parental or charitable cloak" and "ideally, and even more controversially, [to] allow academic selection. Watch this space, I'd say.


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