An open letter to Robin Walker MP: please reconsider your stance on selective grammar schools.

Dear Mr. Walker,

I am extremely disappointed that you have publicly stated your intentions to not vote against the government’s proposal to expand selection and thereby increase the opportunity for even more grammar schools. Please do not hide behind the argument that your priority is “fairer funding.” This is a case that has been convincingly argued and now needs to be put into practice. The sadness is that, once again, fairer educational funding has been put back for at least another year; a crippling decision for many of the Worcestershire schools. The irony that the government can find £50 million a year for selective grammar school education in times of austerity has not been missed by those of us in state education trying to juggle deficit budgets and the increasing government and public expectations. It is my belief that this proposal is a “smoke-screen” to mask the short comings recent educational policy has caused, leaving those leading schools bewildered as to what could be next. For example, currently:

  • Final year GCSE students are about to take a variety of exams not yet written, with no grade boundaries and no exam board advice. In the crucial English and Maths examinations, levels will now replace grades. Yet, the teachers – and crucially – the students, do not know what a Level 4 or 5 criteria is. The exam boards are in utter chaos and sadly our students are being used as “guinea pigs” with exams that are not fit for purpose.
  • The proposal to allow universities to set up new free schools in return for newly increased student fees is tantamount to blackmail and is creating a system that will surely fail. Once again, this allows universities to prioritise profit over potential. It is hard to comprehend how a university will be able to successfully run or take over a school in a deprived area, not their forte.

In the last ten years, head teachers have been guided towards Finland’s education system which is rightly being lauded as one of the best in Europe. I would point out that this system does not start any child before seven and no selective or independent schools are allowed until students are eighteen. Furthermore, when ministers were concerned about a recent dip in education, their action was to increase the arts and music. Perhaps this flourishing educational system could be a model for your current government to give consideration to?

Please support your excellent Worcester city schools and reconsider your decision to side with the government by not rebelling against this proposal. The Worcester city state schools have – once again – achieved way above the national average for GCSE results in 2016; a remarkable achievement considering the longstanding educational predicament that we have faced. Selective grammar education, as proven by the Sutton Trust’s 2013 extended research project, entrench privilege and disadvantage. They will not achieve the meritocracy that you and your government wish to create. This is a proposal that – yet again – undermines and devalues all those who work successfully within the fantastic state school system.

Yours sincerely,

Neil S Morris

Head teacher at Christopher Whitehead Language College

If you would like to petition for Mr. Walker to reconsider his decision on grammar school education, please sign the petition at the following link: https://www.change.org/p/robin-walker-mp-robin-walker-mp-reconsider-your-decision-to-vote-for-selective-grammar-schools?recruiter=601786091&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink

 

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