« Cornerstone blog criticises Catholic Church on abortion | Main | Liam Fox backs principle of missile defence »


Agreed about the question on grammar schools.

It was very leading.

This is a fairly good poll for us. Labour are 4 weeks into their leadership campaign and there is still no notable bounce.

I do find that idea that Brown is strong, when he runs away like a coward when there are tough decisions to be taken, a little difficult to swallow. I would expect that rating to drop when he's actually in the job.

There was nothing unfair about the question.

What was ridiculous was giving prominence to a Mail survey with a sample size of merely 500, that stated on the one hand voters wanted a grammar school in every town and on the other that voters wanted no new grammar schools anywhere and restrictions on Foundation Schools (Lab policy).

The numbers in this poll are absolutely and completely overwhelming.

" "Only 36 per cent support “the opening of new grammar schools all over the country and the reintroduction of the 11-plus exam”, while 60 per cent agree that “instead of building new grammar schools for the most able, we should concentrate on improving education for all children by introducing setting and streaming in every secondary school”."

60 percent in favour of Cameron's policy
36 percent in favour of Mr. Brady's policy

As I have repeatedly argued, parents do not want their children to have a single chance to move into the academic environment of a grammar school, at age 11. Streaming not by blunt groups but by each subject in each school, and powers to expel bullies, and traditional methods and subjects, give children the chance to move up at 12, 13, 14, 15 etc.

If social entrepreneurs could choose to open exclusionary grammar schools then most children would lose that chance. I presume you support their right to open such schools all over the country?

60% say no. 36% say yes. You do not win elections going with the 36% over the 60%. This is a proper poll with a full sample.

I do hope that those Tory activists and elected officials with doubts about Cameron's policy (stated in full when he took office let's not forget, nothing new) will take a long and hard look at that 60-36 differential and understand that our focus should be on reforming Labour's dog's breakfast of an educational system and stopping the signing of the Euro constitution.

You really are missing the point Tory T. There is a big difference between giving the freedom for some new grammar schools to open and opening grammar schools "all over the country". If you cannot see that difference then there is not even a starting point for discussion.

I do not want a Conservative government to begin a nationwide grammar schools building programme but I do want my party to allow parents and social entrepreneurs the freedom to set up selective schools if they so wish.

Editor: You say the Tory lead is down 1% on last month. That is true but we are down 5% on two months ago.

that stated on the one hand voters wanted a grammar school in every town and on the other that voters wanted no new grammar schools

Let's put it to referendum together with questions on Top-Up Fees for Schools, and banning catchment areas, and racial quotas.

It is time there was a referenum on Education so we don't need to use opinion polls but can have a public debate outside the General Election showbiz.

In fact if we don't move closer to plebiscitary democracy the place will simply fall apart as Abstentions approach 50% voters in national and not just local elections

One opinion Poll question I have not seen asked yet is whether a) Fee-Paying Schools should lose charitable status b) whether public schools should be abolished

I wonder why noone has ever undertaken such a poll ?

I suppose you could have headlined this thread as "Cameron keeps lead despite grammar school fiasco", but that would be too positive, wouldn't it?

Editor: You say the Tory lead is down 1% on last month. That is true but we are down 5% on two months ago.

Exactly. Brown is not yet leader and therefore not yet into his stride, but what has happened to all that euphoria about Brown's alleged unpopularity compared with Cameron? It's vanished like a morning mist.

Once Brown has taken over, installed his own team, and created a new PR machine - only then will we be able to judge whether there has been a 'Brown Bounce' or not.

Personally I think the question's a no-brainer.

Editor, two points.

a) I believe the most cursory read through the threads here over the last week suggests most commenters, at least, are arguing for a massive expansion of grammar schools everywhere and saying the only problem with them was that there weren't enough to go round

b) our policy is only to occasionally build new ones where they already exist, which isn't over a lot of the country, and then only when there is rapid demographic change. In other words to preserve the status quo.

In contrast, please correct me if I am wrong, you are advocating allowing anybody who wants to to set up a grammar school anywhere with an 11 plus exam, and children failing at 11 not to be admitted into that school.

IMO, that does mean "all over the country" and it also means a sheep/goats decision at 11. It is this that is rejected by 60% of voters.

Perhaps the 1997 promise of a grammar school in every town goes further, in that that supposes the govt would build them and therefore there would be more of them, and I agree you can make the case that that is a more perfect analogy with the question being asked.

Either way, it is Cameron's policy and not the grammars policy the public likes by almost two to one.

60 to 36. I honestly hope we take a hard and unflinching look at those numbers and what they imply.

This will be my last post on this today! I think the numbers are very clear.

In contrast, please correct me if I am wrong, you are advocating allowing anybody who wants to to set up a grammar school anywhere with an 11 plus exam, and children failing at 11 not to be admitted into that school.

I don't believe that any poster has suggested the return of the 11+

Nor have the press commentators. Simon Heffer in particular was careful to rule it out.

We may expect these straw men from the Socialists. It's disappointing when so-called Tories deploy the same.

"This is a fairly good poll for us. Labour are 4 weeks into their leadership campaign and there is still no notable bounce."

It doesn't even make you the largest party in the HOC.

I wonder if Gordy will go to the country in autumn, as some are predicting.....

I'm sorry you still haven't addressed my central point, Tory T. The Populus question - like David Cameron's MoS article - does not fairly represent the fundamental objection to the Tory policy that it is a denial of the principles of localism and choice.

CDM: "I suppose you could have headlined this thread as "Cameron keeps lead despite grammar school fiasco", but that would be too positive, wouldn't it?"

Come off it, CDM! On Sunday I chose "Conservative lead up to 5% according to ICM" whereas The Sunday Telegraph - whose poll it was - chose a "Cameron much weaker than Brown, says voters" headline. Was that being too positive?

Both of my headlines were fair, I think.

Good point Comstock.

I suspect Brown has a number of cards up his sleeve he intends to play, and that could well be one of them.

And he won't be playing to Old Etonian rules.

Parents and entrepeneurs already can open such schools editor - they just can't expect the taxpayer to fund them.

Yes, Edward; that was what I meant. Thanks.

OK, let this be the last post, then!

Ed, I believe that is not, for most of your commenters on this website, the core principle at all – for them it has been academic selection between, not within schools. But take localism. We are, indeed, a localist party and Cameron’s policy offers far greater freedoms for local community groups to set up schools with a range of specialisms. However, there is still national policy and localism isn’t absolute. Both you and I support faith schools, I am sure. But we would not allow a local Muslim school to determine that girls need not be taught maths and English. Localism doesn’t mean that no decisions are reserved to national policy. Cameron has made it clear that traditional teaching methods like synthetic phonics will be compulsory, because they work. Equally, it does not go against localism to say that the core principle of equal opportunity of access is decided nationally. Academic selection then begins in every subject in every school (a far cry from the very blunt type of streams and sets we get today). Localism is served in many ways but not by buckling on core national policy like the core curriculum, teaching methods and access.

Editor, it's almost impossible to sound too positive (although when you start sounding like Hazel Blears, you've got a problem).

Agreed re Hazel Blears, CDM!

Labour's recovery polls increases the liklihood of an autumn poll hugely. Brown willl probably benefit from a Premiership honeymoon poll bounce and gain the lead from Cameron. That would be an ideal opportunity to have a "cut and run" election spun as "seeking his own mandate", i.e. an end to Blairism.

Former Labour voters, who abstained in 2001 and 2005 (disgusted by Blair and Blairism) could return to the fold. Traditional Conservatives, appalled by Cameronism could abstain or vote for UKIP or the BNP.

An autumn poll could theefore lead to an increased Labour majority. That would be a high price for so-called Tory "modernisation" that is really a return to Heathism.

As I've said again and again I would ideally agree with that as a goal in a state system which had a significantly more open supply side. If you've got that, though, I just don't see that this issue is nearly such a big deal. Plus, whilst I think an estabished "choice" system would be ideal for selection, is it not at least a respectable argument to say that permitting selection whilst you open up the supply side, whilst it is inevitably imperfect, will prevent us achieving the benefits we want to see from opening up the supply side?

for them it has been academic selection between, not within schools

The point for most traditionalists is that they want to see the state sector creating schools that can compete with the very best the independent sector has to offer, not only in academic performance but in matters of manners, dress, 'elan' and so forth.

In most cases this can only be achieved by academic selection.

The question is not whether the Conservative Party pledges itself to build large numbers of such schools. Clearly that's an impossibility.

No; the question is whether the Conservative Party remains true to its intellectual traditions and to the principles of its grassroots or whether it insolently and dictatorially turns on its own people and prostitutes its traditions.

In Grammargate we have seen the apotheosis of all that many of us warned about within the Cameroon tendency.

The way things are going we'd be doing well if we have a 3% lead in three months' time, after Brown has played one or two of his aces.

Tory T @ 08:45 -

"What was ridiculous was giving prominence to a Mail survey with a sample size of merely 500, that stated on the one hand voters wanted a grammar school in every town and on the other that voters wanted no new grammar schools anywhere and restrictions on Foundation Schools (Lab policy)."

In broad non-technical terms the results from a random sample of 500 are 71% as good as the results from a random sample of 1000, which would be more usual for opinion polls. Small differences found with a small sample size may not be statistically significant, and may disappear if a larger sample is examined.

But in the Mail survey about 331 respondents out of the 502 said they agreed that there should be a grammar school in every town, and to reconcile that result with this Populus poll one have to assume that if the Mail had done a more thorough job and gone on to ask a further 502 people then they would have found only 30 additional respondents who supported that policy.

The chances of that happening must be extremely low, so clearly the massive difference between the two polls is very unlikely to be down to sample size and much more likely to reflect the difference between the questions asked in each.

The last question in the Mail poll was not about grammar schools or restrictions on Foundation schools or any other specific policy, it was simply:

"Which political party do you think has the best policies on education?"

and the results were:

Conservatives 19%
Labour 30%
Another party 15%
None of them 13%
Refused 2%
Don't know 21%

At the time of the poll the first two were both publicly opposed to any new grammar schools, and respondents who knew that could hardly have chosen between them on that issue when there was no difference between them.

Whether the 30% who said they favoured Labour policies had much idea what they were (apart from making sure that schools received the proper funding that was denied to them by the last Tory government) is another matter.

In short, Tory T, a load of codswallop!

It is generally agreed that grammar schools are good - whilst the 11-plus exam was not totally fair. To link these two things in one question is a mischievous obfuscation of a serious debate. I doubt if even Graham Brady would want a return of the 11-plus.

I agree with Tim. It shouldn't be about the centre forcing grammar schools on every town, but nor should it be about the centre forcing grammar schools *off* every town. The decision should be a local one. I think the centre should be neutral on the issue, and learn to keep it's nose out for once...

Anyway, I am concerned we're still talking about this. There are strong feelings I know, but we have to move on...so this is the last I'll be saying on grammargate. Probably. :P

Interesting question about whether Brown might go to the country this year - I think that if he gets a lead of 3% or 4% in the polls, he might well do.

EML:The way things are going we'd be doing well if we have a 3% lead in three months' time, after Brown has played one or two of his aces.

Brown doesn't have an ace, but he does have a handful of knaves.

It was always recognised that the 11-plus was imperfect, which is why there was the second chance of the 13-plus. And it's been pointed out on an earlier thread that the 11-plus was fairer when primary schools set out to prepare all their pupils of all social classes to take it, and few of them received extra tuition outside the school, and it has become much less fair as competent and affluent middle class parents have learned how to play the system to the advantage of their children.

It has also been pointed out earlier that the funding of the secondary moderns was inadequate and unfair, and rather than receiving the higher funding per pupil which was arguably necessary, they actually received less per pupil.

It would have been possible to rectify both those defects, by constantly refining the methods of selection and ensuring that more resources were available for the education of those children who were more difficult to educate, while helping the more able to go ahead at their own speed and partly under their own steam.

Instead it was decided to give up on academic selection and level down the brightest - the unspoken ideological justification being that the brightest were disproportionately from better off families, and deserved to be levelled down.

A really excellent and useful debate if you don't mind me saying so.

Surely the main question is whether DC can reconnect with the Party and bring back conservatives who don't support him. It could be argued he has gone from being a breath of fresh air to stale Heathite halitosis in three weeks. He will have to move quickly to avoid being framed by this debate.

Can he do humble?

You're right, Dennis.

AND there were never enough Grammar places, so there was huge dissatisfaction for parents whose kids went to secondary mods when they were quite clever enough to benefit from Grammar School education. For Grammar schools to work properly today, nearly 50% of places would need to be Grammar places.

Here's a poll I'd like to see one of the newspapers commission. Ask the British people: What would you prefer to see the Conservatives talking about?

(a) Europe (saving the pound), crime (more "bobbies on the beat") and immigration (protecting our borders); or

(b) arcane internal arguments about minor details of education policy of interest solely to party activists with no real relevance to the wider world.

I do wonder what the outcome of that poll might be.

I'm actually quite happy with this poll given the circumstances.
There can be now getting away from the fact that we've had a torrid few weeks. DC has not handled this issue well, and has angered many of his natural supporters both in parliament and outside.
I suspect that he and his staff will learn from this and never make the same mistakes again.
I think William Norton (above) is right, Browns campaign has been a damp squib with no substantive policy ideas/changes. Is this really the best he can do?

I can't wait to ask people whether they would like to "save the pound", and I stood for UKIP at the last election.

Give me a break about "bobbies on the beat" as well if you don't mind. They haven't been bobbies since the Scarman Report, more "Robocops on a sickie". Keep them off my street please. They would just annoy.

By the way, if you have got any spare Poles you don't want, hand them over. I only employ two.

All of those things, Oliver. But maybe above all the public would like to see intelligent, honest and civilised debate. Not slanging matches, in which eg
one protagonist dismisses those who disagree with him as "delusional".

I agree entirely with TomTom @ 09.00:

"It is time there was a referenum on Education so we don't need to use opinion polls but can have a public debate outside the General Election showbiz".

I think the general feeling is that Cameron's opponents have in fact been suggesting that grammar schools open all over the country. And if is suggested that parents and voluntary groups would be allowed to open grammar schools, presumably they would be allowed to do so 'all over the country'. The question is fair, and even if that option as an answer is not considered *representative* (whatever that means, since there is no unified movement against party policy, just a large number of disparate grumblers), the second option most definitely is *representative* of Cameron's position.

He has stated again and again that “instead of building new grammar schools for the most able, we should concentrate on improving education for all children by introducing setting and streaming in every secondary school.” It is clear to me that in this statement there is an absolute rejection of building new grammar schools - no ifs, no buts. The words 'instead of building new grammar schools' could not be clearer. If people disagreed with this, then they could have gone for the other option, or the 'don't know' option.

The fact is that 60% of the public support David Cameron here. He has shown once again his remarkable ability of being in touch with the concerns of ordinary voters. Unfortunately 52% of Tory voters have been reading the Mail and the Telegraph too faithfully. There is a simple choice - find new solutions for current problems; or return to a policy of segregation. The party is holding Cameron back, and its a crying shame.

No it isn't.

to be fair editor, the question was leading, but probably less leading than the yougov one - the real question to ask everyone is "would you support grammar schools being built in every town (or whatever), even if your children didnt get in and went to the secondary moderns insted. that would produce the only correct result.

What you mean by "return to a policy of segregation", Henry C?

We already have more than one "policy of segregation".

Without two such policies all children of all ages who could travel to and from a given school each day would have to be accepted by that school, and then they could all be put into mixed-age classes, ages 0 to 18 all being taught together.

Presumably you accept the concept of local catchment areas, geographical segregation, and evidently you also favour segregation by chronological age,
but by chronological age alone without any reference to intellectual age.

An equally valid form of segregation would be for a secondary school to admit
all children at an intellectual age of 11, rather than a chronological age of 11 - given that about one in twenty 11-year-olds still has an intellectual age of 8 or younger (ie IQ 75 or below) and about one in twenty already has an intellectual age of 14 or older (ie IQ of 125 or above).

The party is holding Cameron back, and its a crying shame."

No it isn't. Cameron has based his strategy on distancing himself from the views and values of Conservatives, and he will succeed or fail on the basis of that strategy.

Absolutely agree Denis. What supporters of comprehensive education always conveniently forget is that we already have segregation by postcode for the vast majority of pupils excepting of course Brightons attempt to answer this problem by a lottery.

Sean I rarely disagree with you and I don't want to start a ding-dong (because I can't stay), but it's a bit much for you (and those who go on, and on, and on about a policy of reintroducing the 11plus), to say that Cameron distances himself from Conservatives. What many of you don't like is that the liberal wing of the party is in the ascendent and the social Conservatives are on the back foot. This is the first time in my adult lifetime that this has been the case. The fact that I canvass more happily than I've done for 20 years doesn't make Cameron un-Conservative. No leader owns the brand but nor does any group of activists, no matter how eloquent. There's an interesting discussion for us that we never, ever have (beyond -- and this doesn't apply to Sean -- shouting 'you're not a *real* Conservative' at one another) - never mind 'what is Conservative', what about 'who has the right to define it'. I can't prove it (as have not thought deeply enough about it) but I don't see you can get to anything other than one of two answers to that question: either, as per monotheism, someone defines a sacred text from which we can never deviate (which is what the neoThatcherites attempt to do, ascribing policy and motive to the great lady of which there was no sign in office), or we can use a data-driven bootstrap approach, and say 'it is where the bulk of the non-socialist defining population want to vote' in which case it is Cameron. A bit recursive as one has to define non-socialist, which is why I said 'bootstrap'. Anyway must go.

So Brown is ahead when it comes to being a strong leader. With the media especially the pro-labour BBC focusing on the non-leadership and the pygmies fighting over the non-job of deputy leader I,m not surprised.
I was hoping you Tim and Juile Kirkbride were going to get stuck into the pro-labour numpties on the Daily Politics today especially Jenny Scott, you need to stop being kind to these people, they, along with the Labour party are what Mrs. Thatcher termed "the enemy within"
As for the strong,Brown, the same Brown who went into hiding after scuttling away in a blacked out RUV (not very green) when him and his party got smashed in Scotland.
The trustworthy Brown who destroyed the best pensions system in Europe, the same Brown who by stealth means we are all paying an 10p in the £ increase in our taxes and that because he,s never raised the tax threshold the low paid are worse off now than 1997, whilst Brown and Blairs cronies like the Mittals pay nothing.
Brown, trustworthy and strong, I don,t think so, he along with Blair are up to their necks in corruption, scandal, lying and incompetence. Remember the budget fanfares and later the dodgy stuff revealed to be hidden in the Red Book. Like the last one with the 10% tax abolished.
The cash for honours, now expanded to include perjury is the bear trap waiting for Blair and does anybody seriously believe that Brown ( I didn,t know anything) is in the clear.
Finally, I would hope that you people living in England, when it comes to general election time, aren,t so defeatist as to vote into power a Scottish Governor General, because he will be in control of your education, health etc. but not in his own country Scotland and you silly English will be paying the extra subsidies.

The problem is this assumption that grammar schools would cream off the best while allowing everyone else to fester in secondary moderns. However, the fact is that not everybody is suited towards an academic education which is why secondary moderns should be geared towards providing vocational education for those who don't have a more academic mindset. What is so reprehensible about that? In Germany such a system seems to do well.

"those who go on, and on, and on about a policy of reintroducing the 11plus" - who may they be? It's about the principle of a school being allowed to select its pupils by academic ability and/or aptitude, not the precise mechanism used.

Can we select our pupils by the number of years since they were born? Oh yes, we all take that for granted and don't give it a second thought. Can we select by geographical area? Yes, that's fine. Can we select them by their parents' religion? Jolly good idea, we're with you all the way on that one. Select by sporting ability? Yep, that's OK. So can we select our pupils by their race? Well, that might be a good idea - actually we're still thinking about that one.

What about academic ability? Can we select our pupils by their academic ability, or aptitude? God no, what's the matter with you? That would be SO wrong ...

In fairness, Graeme, I think it would be true to say that *both* the economic liberals and the social conservatives are on the back foot, within the Conservative Party (not that the two groups are always mutually exclusive).

What I said was not a criticism of Cameron though. I think it is a fairly neutral statement to say that he sees electoral advantage in distancing himself from the views and values of the average Conservative voter. Their concerns are not (in the main) his concerns. That strategy may or may not prove to be successful, but I don't think there's much doubt that it is the strategy that is being pursued.

Look at this way. How many people who voted Conservative in 2005 would be pleased to have a Tory PM who was the "heir to Blair?" They may be resigned to it, but happy?

In Germany such a system seems to do well.

but Germany is not a class-based society.

The problem is that Britain is a Non-Technical Country. Even in the 19th Century the great names like Brunel had French origins, the great train builders of Manchester were German; and the engineers like Henry Royce and JOseph Whitworth started out having to pay for apprenticeships - Royce by getting an aunt to pay for him his father having died when he was a child.

Men like Royce even when he had founded Rolls-Royce - WALKED - when they moved their factory from Manchester to Derby........he walked from Peterborough to Leeds as an apprentice.

The culture is against people like this and in favour of the lawyers, financiers, and journalists - those who traditionally went to public school, university and professions.

They look down on those who work with hands or use numbers. The English elites are number-shy, word-rich and that is why Advertising and PR are so concentrated here.

No public school has a reputation for technical excellence - and Britain lacks the kind of Berufscschule Germany has


Juergen Klinsmann for example is a fully-trained baker having done his apprenticeship even while playing soccer for SV Stuttgarter Kickers

Ironically one of the problems in gErman apprenticeships now is the increasingly poor quality of school-leavers in terms of numeracy and German language skills. There are complaints that German schools have become much lower quality than in the past and German firms have huge shortages of engineers c. 30.000

The fact is that 60% of the public support David Cameron here.

Really ? Gordon Brown must be in panic.

Or do you mean a Populus Poll for The Times (?) got the answer the question-framers wanted ?

Let's have a Referendum......but if you pay the cost I will get you a poll result that shows how much people love the EU and want deeper integration......I can produce the question that gets the result

By a policy of segregation, I mean a policy whereby at the arbitrary age of 11 (as whether one likes it or not, this is the age at which grammar schools select their pupils), the nation’s children are divided between the clever and the not clever enough, the able and the ordinary, those who have a hope and those who have none.

What is the reasoning behind separating these children? Why do we have to ensure that they do not encounter each other in day-to-day life? Its certainly nothing to do with teaching to their needs – this is already provided for by the Willetts policy of streaming and setting in every subject. The clever pupils will have teaching designed to push them forward, while teachers will be able to look after the less clever in ways which will not hinder the chances of others.

This surely is the original reasoning behind grammar schools – to teach pupils to the correct level according to their ability. We should aim to make this the case in every school, while avoiding a situation where all the best teachers go straight to grammar schools, leaving the less able pupils with a poorer quality of teaching. There is no reason why teaching by ability cannot be done on one campus, in one school, so that those who are taught separately may mix with others in the canteen or on the sports fields.

I would have thought that our experience of the last 40 years would have provided enough evidence Henry why the Comprehensive experiment largely doesn't work
Remember the policy that we want to embark on still does rely on some selection. 10% of pupils can be selected by 'aptitude' in sport, music languages or even race but not by acedemic ability. It simply doesn't make sense.
I notice that you don't answer my earlier point that we already have segregation by postcode which exists all over the country currently.
A couple of other points. Not all secondary moderns were bad. Some did very well teaching children of similar acedemic ability together others were successful at teaching more practical subjects that were not available at Grammar schools. My father became quite a successful engineer as a result of his experience at one.
That is not to say that all secondary moderns were a success, far from it. Most did not have 6th forms and many suffered from the same poverty of aspiration that affects many of our comprehensive schools today.
To simply go back to where we we were in the late 1960's with a rigid 11 plus does not seem sensible either but to refuse to countenance a system that helped so many children succeed seems very odd for a forward thinking Conservative party.

There is no reason why teaching by ability cannot be done on one campus, in one school

Which inner city school, do you teach in ? You sound a very inspired teacher able to cope with the demands of multilingualism, special needs, and to cater for the very brightest child and the slowest.

Teachers like you Henry Cook are what this country needs

"What is the reasoning behind separating these children? Why do we have to ensure that they do not encounter each other in day-to-day life?"

Speaking from past experience, so I don't get beaten up in the changing rooms. Had I gone to a grammar rather than a comprehensive I would probably have enjoyed school a bit more, although fortunately the comp I went to was located in an area that ensured a predominantly civilised intake.

"The party is holding Cameron back"

No it isn't. I'm sure many would be behind him to give him a push, if he did the right thing and defected to Labour.

Surely his aims are so similar to new Labour's now that he should really join them and fight for internal reform within the ruling party?

The idea being touted by some Roons that Grammargate (which blew up when Cameron wasn't even in the country) was all part of his master plan is utterly risible.

As is the idea - also touted by the Usual Suspects - that all publicity is good publicity.

You could get enormous publicity by committing a murder or adopting the Nazi swastika as your logo, but good?

Total desperation.

There isn't going to be an Autumn General Election.

Rather Labour will get back much of the support it lost to the Liberal Democrats since 1997 over the next 2 years and virtually in 2 years time there will be a General Election - Gordon Brown will claim a great victory with an increased majority and more votes than in 2005, David Cameron will point out the Conservatives have improved their position by a greater margin tham at any General Election since 1997 and the Liberal Democrats will have another leadership election.

It's still mid-term and there is going to be a lot of continuity in support because Gordon Brown is already more associated with party policy than anyone else becoming leader of a major party possibly ever.

But the debate did become distorted along the lines of people arguing over whether grammar schools were so good that we should have more everywhere. There was no real chance grammars were going to close or the odd new one be stopped by the Conservatives. All that was being said was that we should learn from the best and improve most schools. It was even strongly hinted that such supply side improvements would form the base to look at vouchers in the future. Good Conservative stuff that was sidetracked by a silly season reaction made worse by some bungled PR. I am glad that DC is sticking to the facts and the most recent polls on education do indicate the obvious, which is that most parents do not want to go back to 11-plus etc and support the basis of what Willetts said,


A shortage of specialist science and maths teachers has led to an increase in mixed ability teaching in comprehensive schools.

Staff who oppose selection are also thought to be behind the trend.

Across all secondary subjects, just 43 per cent of lessons are taught in sets, according to the latest inspection figures.

But the decline appears to be steepest in maths and science - the subjects where ability grouping is considered most crucial.

With as many as half of physics teachers lacking degrees in the subject, a lack of qualified specialists is feared to be fuelling the trend.

Critics warned that schools could be putting under-qualified teachers in front of mixed groups rather than the brightest pupils to disguise their poor grasp of the subject matter.

The news came as a report from the Campaign for Science and Engineering claimed ministers were counting business studies and textiles teachers when they claimed there had been an increase in the numbers training to teach the sciences.

The increase in mixed ability teaching, which was uncovered in a Commons written answer, is highly embarrassing for Labour. The party came to power in 1997 pledging a return to setting.

Tony Blair formally abandoned Labour's commitment to mixed ability teaching in the party's 1997 manifesto.

Daily Mail 6 June 2007

Since there is a shortage of specialist Physics, Chemistry, History, teachers etc.....I presume there will be new pay scales to recruit matching their salaries to other professions like lawyers and accountants in say London.

The huge boost in teachers' salaries should work wonders for Cameron's policies especially making them competitive in London so Mathematicians go into teaching rather than The City

I wonder what the reaction would be if somebody proposed setting up a local school which would only accept 11-year-olds with an IQ in the range 80 - 100, and which would only employ teachers who specialised in getting the best out that slice of the IQ range - which is actually about 40% of the total distribution.

(25% between 90 and 100, and about 15% between 80 and 90).

I mean the reaction both from politicians, and from parents.

Of course one would have to be careful and polite about how such a school was described - "Anytown School for Slightly Slower Children" probably wouldn't go down well - but maybe given a free choice the parents of young Johnny would prefer to use their vouchers at a school which existed so that children like him, academically a bit below the average, could get the best preparation for adult life - and a much better preparation than they would get in a non-selective school.

Especially if the value of the voucher was increased for disadvantaged children.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker