Under the new plans, it suggests repealing the 1998 law that stopped the creation of new grammar schools in England. The proposals would see the existing one-hundred and sixty three grammar schools still active in England allowed to expand, new ones created, and existing non-selective schools able to change their status.
Whilst the purported benefits of grammar schools are a better education for those children of a higher level of academic performance, as well as the prospect of engaged students who are there to learn for teachers, there are many reasons to think any further pursuit of the expansion of the grammar system might be problematic. First, grammar schools select their pupils at age eleven with testing, an age at which it is hard to gauge the future academic prowess and interests of a student. To this end, an emphasis is put on academia, and so success is measured by academic success and a path to university, which is not necessarily a measure of success for everyone; those who wish to diversify into the arts or trade industries may see a fruitful apprenticeship or conservatoire as the pinnacle of their careers. This academic orientation puts emphasis on the core subjects, and away from the arts and humanities, areas that students - intelligent students to that end - may want to pursue further down in their education.
|Justine "PR Machine" Greening, left.|
As well as all these concerns, Greening faces difficulty in getting any policy through a Commons vote; it has been reported that at least a dozen Conservative MPs are disgruntled with the plans and likely to rebel. Equally, both previous Tory Education Secretaries - Nicky Morgan and Michael Gove, the man that spine forgot - have shown hesitancy to endorse the policy.
The grammar schools policy is just another in the latest barrage of policy changes coming from the DfE. Last December the Trash reported on the move to renegotiate the current funding formula that would take money away from inner city schools like Hampstead. The new funding formula, which is to be introduced in 2018-19, will address "unfair" regional differences in funding, with 10,000 schools being granted budget increases of up to 3% in the first year and 5% in the second. However, similar numbers of schools will have their budgets cut significantly. For a large secondary school in London, a 1.5% cut could be equivalent to a £150,000 budget reduction.
Whether it be less funding, the expansion of grammar schools or any other change to the education system, it is hard to deny that it is becoming increasingly difficult for state school education as we know it to thrive.