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Education Bill Requires Opposition Support

by SajiniW on 15th March, 2006 at 6:38 pm    

This evening sees our MPs debating proposals to give schools more freedoms over admissions and budgets. The proposed plan is backed by the Tories but opposed by a significant majority comprising of old-school Labour backbenchers.

Despite concerns that the plans would allow academic selection by the “back door”, be it through family connection, religious affiliation or financial manoevuring (e.g. buying a house close to a popular school), the bill has been amended since it only takes 35 Labour rebels for Mr Blair to rely on opposition support to win the vote.

Under the plans, private companies, faith groups (pertinent to this PP story, hotly-debated a few weeks back) and parents will be given freedom to set up and run “trust” schools within the state system. Parents are to be given more autonomy, although the existing ban on selection by academic ability remains in place.

Whilst I agree the abolishment of Grant-Maintained status by the current government was a bad thing - the one sticking point of the proposed reform for me is the ban on academically-mediated selection. Many are of the opinion that comprehensive schools are a failure (cue City Academies and other glossy moves to introduce sneaky selection by ‘aptitude’ for sport/music; a measure which more affluent families can use to their advantage) - countless studies have proved that pupils perform best in similar ability groups - see City Technology Colleges and Grammar schools for the answer.

Given that grammar schools offer greater academic opportunity to pupils from all backgrounds, I don’t see why selection aged 11 is such a bad thing, given the private sector does it all the time. Performance at 11 should not be a predictor for future academic success since some children develop at a later age, something Warwick University and other Russell Group members should really take into account. Concern about children being labelled ‘failures’ at such an early age is ridiculous given that abstract thinking and other skills needed to do exceptionally well in exams don’t develop ’til the teenage years in most cases.

EDIT = Government wins with strong Tory support. First victory for Ruth Kelly since the List 99 sex offender fiasco. More commentary here.

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  1. Sunny — on 16th March, 2006 at 12:12 am  

    Tony Blair won!

    crap. More faith schools, thats all we need.

  2. Don — on 16th March, 2006 at 12:25 am  

    You read my mind.

  3. Sunny — on 16th March, 2006 at 1:21 am  

    doh! I didn’t even see your edit Sajini.

    don - you know it’s not often we agree these days ;)

  4. Aakash — on 16th March, 2006 at 4:32 am  

    You guys should’ve kicked out the socialist Blair in the last election…

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