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Conservative Party Conference on Education Policy


Earlier this October Theresa May's Conservative Party Conference speech advanced the case for selective education in children that reach secondary school. She claimed that equal opportunity was more important that equality of outcome. That working class children would gain the benefits of their affluent counter parts and that grammar schools would improve the education system and opportunities for young hard working people.

Theresa May's policy, if you'll pardon the phrase is a no-brainier. At least it ought to be. Capitalizing on the demands of the electorate and seizing the center ground of politics, it's no wonder Theresa May comes as the most popular political leader of my life time. She plans to disavow of David Cameron's ill advised ban on grammar schools and open up a new wave of schools based on selective education.

We already have schools tailored for existing talents in music or sport. So why not schools for children with intellectual gifts? After all Labour's "champion" of social justice Jeremy Corbyn benefited from grammar school education. So why after absorbing all the benefits does Labour seek to pull the ladder up behind them? The policy does not disadvantage the poor or working class. It suggests that quotas will be in place to ensure places for low income families and new grammar schools will be obligated to sponsor primary feeder schools in deprived areas or they will create free schools to go along with grammars.

Further remarks have been suggested by the Conservative's front bench to support new faith schools, quotas on independent schools to accept disadvantaged students, lecturers from private schools being moved to public schools, new requirements on a private school's obtaining charitable status and universities seeking to raise tuition fees must sponsor an institution which is currently performing below the national average.

Grammars schools in Barnet haven't derailed the performance of state schools by "removing all the cleaver kids" as is too often an unchallenged claim by opponents. As state schools in Barnet continue to be ranked highly by school inspectors like Ofsted. Instead what we've seen in areas where grammar schools have been removed is a decline in standards. Once upon a time, some fifty or so years ago Britain hard the largest population of working class university attendees in Europe. Not so anymore. Today in northern areas we see little prospect of that legacy reviving itself with out new grammars.

Surely though the most obvious argument for new grammar schools is that it extends the liberal-pluralist position of choice, freedom, competition and liberty. From a young age children foster talents and interests and parents should retain the right not to be blockaded by other people's feelings in the pursuit of their children's aspiration. As though there's something wrong with wanting something for yourself? Theresa May's policy on education and her pledge to respect the vote on the European Union, means she has never stood higher in my eyes. If she's successful, she'll have been one of the truly great prime ministers. 

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