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« Another YouGov survey boosts David Cameron | Main | Dennis Skinner: Cameron is more like Mandelson than Blair »


Selsdon Man

What has happened to school choice and vouchers then? Surely the market should determine education provision.

Why only create more grammar schools in the inner cities? Surely it should be a nationwide initiative.

This is a centralist rather than a localist approach.

Teacher's Pet

Does Cameron agree or disagree?

Hardly an A Level question.

Selsdon Man

Mr Cameron's speeches suggest that he favours independent state schools and parental choice.


Well DD did not seem to have an idea in his head until he hired Nick Woods. At least he's now realised the importance of PR.

And Nick can write much more lucidly than DD can talk.


That's right: does DC agree with creating more grammar schools? Or does he prefer Blair's pretence of reform? Does he fear to support selection? To be fair, I guess he will support this one. But let's wait and see.


"Mr Cameron's speeches suggest that he favours independent state schools and parental choice."

Is this another one of those policies where Cameron is heading in a 'direction' but won't tell us where he stands?


Ah, BNC Man, like the DT editorial yesterday, you want to credit Nick Wood? And will you be fair, and give the credit for DC to Gove?

James Maskell

Wont creating grammar schools in inner city areas just leave those worse off in a worse position as they would be missing out...its unlikely they will qualify for it through the 11+. Im a big supporter of the 11+ but wont it just make it a worse situation for the academically weaker in this case?


Without selection by ability there is no grammar school.

It is the English Middle Class that is viscerally opposed to academic selection believing it is their inalienable right to buy every accessory in life to compensate for personal inadequacy. Ironically, and unsuccessfully, Blair has done more to undo the Comprehensive Kolkhoz than any Conservative Government


James Maskell: "Im a big supporter of the 11+ but wont it just make it a worse situation for the academically weaker in this case?"

That's great, James. You support the 11+, but you think it will make things worse 'in this case'? In what case do you then support it? Either I have got something very wrong, or we see a wonderful illustration of the Cameronian principle, viz:

1. The proposition is a good idea, I support it.
2. The proposition might make things worse, so I don't think I do support it after all.

The point about selection is that it allows the academically stronger to be put into a more challenging situation, and the academically weaker to be given an education more appropriate to them. In other words, not everyone has to jump through the same hoops. How can you support this but worry that it makes things worse for the academically weaker? That claim, James, is the Labour/BBC/Guardian consensus. The rest of us think that academically weaker pupils are better off getting education tailored to them.


Or maybe, James, you meant: I support it, but when Davis says it (ie 'in this case') I don't support it.

I should have defined that Cameronian method more clearly:

1. Support the Conservative principle (eg 11+, grammar schools).

2. Realise that the left don't like it and say, 'it's an aspiration but maybe not possible in this case, or not yet'

Perhaps Cameron will say that we will share the fruits of the grammar schools with all pupils alike? Grammar schools for the many, not the few? Hey, I'm getting good at this. I could be on his team.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Davis is talking about inner cities, but he did not dare to venture any closer to Manchester than resolutely leafy Altrincham.

On this issue, I think James Maskell's post above is correct. This announcement is a "scratching the surface" proposal that will do little for inner-city education beyond reinforcing existing inequalities. It is a soundbite for a leadership campaign, not a serious policy proposal.

Creating one grammar school per big city does not give anyone bar a small minority a "choice". As I see it there are two ways forward:

1. A genuine reintroduction of the grammar system. This way, every child has a chance of attending a grammar school.

2. Independence and support for every school. Okay, the government's White Paper made a few promising noises in this direction, but does anyone think they'll actually manage to carry it off? It will take a Conservative government to see that schools have the independence they need to grow and improve.

My instinct is to prefer the latter - it is less centralist, more liberal, and probably more palatable with parents and the electorate.

Davis is searching for a soundbite here. It's not even the beginnings of a genuine policy on education, inner-city or not.

Cllr Iain Lindley

That's great, James. You support the 11+, but you think it will make things worse 'in this case'? In what case do you then support it?


I can't speak for what James thinks, but you cannot provide "choice" by scattering the odd grammar school about. That is the one thing that does create sink schools, and an (academically) "privileged few".

As I outlined above, you either wholeheartedly support the 11+ (that is, everyone takes it, and every child has a genuine case of reaching a grammar - not the case under the Davis proposal) or you look for an alternative approach.

Jack Stone

I am afriad talk of tax cuts and new grammer schools makes it seem that the Davis camp are looking in the manifesto`s of the nineteen eighties for inspiration rather coming up with anything new and exciting.
There campaign seems to be return to the past rather than forward to the future.
The policies and solutions of the nineteen eighties worked back then but the country as differant problems that require differant solutions now.
I support David Cameron because I think he does realises that the party needs to put the past behind it and start putting forward new policies that will appeal to this century`s Britain not the last.
Your are not going to win the next election with retred policy`s from the past however attractive that may sound to some!


Sorry Councillor, but I can't agree. We can't move forward only by grand schemes. Actually, grand schemes in education are usually awful, however good the intention, however bright the theory. The way forward is to start doing it - creating more grammar schools.

In the private school system, we have schools that cater for all kinds of different pupils. They are not just for the brightest. No-one has had to impose a scheme. We just let them get on with it.

You're a bit unfair on DD - if he says anything, he is attacked for saying too much and too little. It's as if the only correct thing is to do what DC does: mouth a few appeal-to-everyone pretty phrases. You can't get away with that in the House, which is why he flopped there. You can, of course, on TV, which is why he appealed.

Anyway, I've been getting a bit over-enthusiastic and even antogonistic, for which I apologise, so I'll shut up and catch the last bit of the nice weather.


"but he did not dare to venture any closer to Manchester than resolutely leafy Altrincham."

Why should he ? Manchester has a fantastic Grammar School in the inner city - one of the country's foremost academic institutions - a Beacon School

Cllr Iain Lindley

Let me give you a practical example of what I mean. Here in Salford (an inner-city authority and City under any definition) there are 14 High Schools spread across the City.

Let's assume that there are 200 pupils per year cohort, per school (some have slightly more, I think the average is less but once you've factored in children schooling outside the City and children at special schools we are in the right area). That's 2800 pupils.

Our allocated shiny new grammar school also has 200 places available for the first year group. Only 1 in every 14 children can attend - that's not choice, is it?

What does this school do for academic achievement? Not a lot. Given we are dealing with the top 1/14 of the school population, the majority of them would probably have succeeded in their state schools anyway. A good proportion - probably a disproportionate proportion - would be have gone to the "good" schools anyway, and a smaller chunk would otherwise have been educated outside the borough or privately had this grammar school not existed.

The number of children who would benefit from such a school is small - and what happens to the 13 in every 14 children remaining in the other schools, stripped of their best pupils? Davis has said nothing about them!

The only way to make the grammar system work is to have a genuine grammar school system - that is, 6 or 7 of those 14 schools to have grammar status, and a solid proposal for what happens at the non-grammar schools to be in place.

The other alternative is to give genuine independence to all of the Salford schools, free them from LEA control and let them thrive.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Rick, I assume you are being sarcastic, MGS and MHSfG are private schools.


Councillor I definately think you make a very good point about Grammer Schools, however as buxtehude says you are a bit harsh on Davis. At least he is talking about Grammer schools, which have been neglected for a long time as policy by politicians. Clearly the idea about 20 Grammer schools has alot of problems with it, but I would like to hear what Cameron has to say on the issue, if anything at all.


"Rick, I assume you are being sarcastic, MGS and MHSfG are private schools."

Sarcasm ? Why no ! MGS was a Direct-Grant Grammar School until Shirley Williams got to it and the Tories were too fearful to restore the Direct Grant.

That is why it is pointless believing these "promises" - in 18 years in Government when the Tories had written off Labour they never restored the Direct Grant and let superb academic institutions remain private and suffer budgetary problems as they now do.


"very good point about Grammer Schools, "

Clearly essential in view of modern-day spelling !


"the majority of them would probably have succeeded in their state schools anyway. "

Fascinating how self-assured the author is..........."Sink or Swim" only applies to the top of the ability range I see


Councillor, you make the case well, but the case you are making is the anti-grammar school case made by the left. OK, you want a proper grammar school system, which is not of the left obviously, but the argument against the DD proposal IS the comprehensive one, ie (a) the few who go to grammar schools would have done well anyway, and (b) the rest suffer by their absence. That is exactly the socialist case.

I agree with you that a proper full-scale re-institution of the grammar school system would be better, but not that DD's plan is therefore wrong. It is NOT true that the few who would get to the grammar would have done well anyway: the 11+ is essentially an IQ test which allows clever but possibly poorly-performing kids through. Also, there is no evidence that leaving the brightest kids in inappropriate schools makes those schools better. The mixed-ability argument has failed to convince.


" the 11+ is essentially an IQ test which allows clever but possibly poorly-performing kids through"

The 11+ was buttressed by the Thorn Scheme of continuous assessment

James Maskell

Looks like Ive attracted some attention. My point is quite simple. First and foremost I support the 11+. I went to Grammar school along with a sister and brother while my twin brother (honest!) went to a Secondary Modern in Canterbury, since he wasnt bright enough for Grammar School. Dane Court in Broadstairs provided me with a very good education and in fact showed a lot of tolerance for me, when they had no need to. Without it I wouldnt have decided to go into Politics. When the local MP Ladyman came in recently and criticised my old shool for basically existing, I spoke out publically against him and in fact said that he didnt represent his community at all. So before anyone questions my belief in the Grammar School system maybe they'd like to bear that story in mind... Ive never even been close to supporting the Conmprehensive system. Its a silly idea which would ruin the chances of everyone bar the average...

Rant over. Looking at the point though of this it would indeed provide a great education for the best but the bottom line is that the weakest need to benefit from that system. Im more interested in those who cant go to Grammar School. They will miss out. My fear is that what will happen is a similar problem to down here in Thanet. Grammar Schools are the cream of Thanet with other strong Secondary Moderns high up as well. The Ramsgate School was left to its own devices and became this country's worst school 3 years running. It was a truly dreadful school and had an atrocious reputation. Its now a City Academy...

My concern is that with a new Grammar School in inner cities, the most weak pupils will be left without a very good education. The best teachers will be encouraged to join the Grammar schools and the weakest pupils will miss out. What should go alongside Grammar Schools is an increased effort to make sure those who miss out on the best schools still get a good and rounded education from somewhere.

And since you brought it up buxtehude, my comment had absolutely nothing to do with Cameron. I have never supported him in a round. I find him too much about style and not substance and I have said that from the very beginning. I have criticised his decision not to come clean (excuse the pun) and I have criticised him for not having much in the way of actual policy and experience.

Id like to hear a little more about what DD would do for non-grammar schools, but from what Ive seen of it, I quite like his idea.

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