Plan for more grammar schools abandoned

Rikama Education 21st June 2017 News

The creation of a new wave of grammar schools in England is not included in the government’s plans for legislation.

The Queen’s Speech says the government will “look at all options” for new schools, but there are no signs of the legislation needed to remove the current ban on expanding selection.

The controversial plan to scrap free lunches for all infants is also absent.

This would remove the biggest source of extra funding promised for schools in the Conservative manifesto.

The government’s plans for the next two years no longer include their most high profile education reform – the expansion of selective education in England.

Budget shortages

The re-written plans now call for “every child to go to a good or outstanding school” – but it recognises that any proposals will depend upon being able to “command a majority”.

But the suggestion that “all options” remained open for new schools raised concerns from head teachers’ leader, Geoff Barton.

“We sincerely hope that this is not an attempt to revive its plans to expand the number of selective schools in England,” said the leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union.

Schools have been campaigning about budget shortages – with a letter being sent this week to two million families warning about funding cuts.

But the government’s biggest plan to find extra funding, announced in the Conservative manifesto, also seems to have been ditched.

The scrapping of free meals for all infants was meant to save about £650m, which would have been the majority of an extra £1bn per year to boost school budgets.

Jo Yurky, who ran a parents’ campaign over school cuts, said the lack of movement on funding had shown a “baffling disregard for the concerns of parents, teachers and school leaders”.

The government says it is pressing ahead with changes to how budgets are allocated to individual schools, through a new National Funding Formula.

The new formula is meant to resolve unfairness and anomalies in how funding is allocated.

There is also a commitment to improving vocational education and improving the level of skills in the workforce – training people for “high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future”.

The ambition is for vocational exams to be given as much status as their academic counterparts – and there are plans for so-called “T-levels” for technical qualifications.