It has been a peculiar day education-wise. The announcement that Teresa May is considering the re-introduction of grammar schools did/does not surprise, and though this hasn’t come from her directly [reported instead through the Telegraph] it is perhaps inevitable considering her previous statements on encouraging social mobility and her own grammar school education. The trouble with this personal background is that, like Michael Gove, such singular educational and other experiences are used as prompts to define national policy. I don’t imagine there would be much discussion or consultation should she decide that is what is wanted.
The more peculiar aspect of this news story today was Sky interviewing Labour MP Lucy Powell to offer her/the Party’s view on this. Described correctly as the former Shadow Secretary of State for Education, this seemed an odd decision and, I suspect, purposely contrived. Where was Angela Rayner? This wasn’t mentioned, and the interview seemed a slight at best on the actual Shadow Secretary, and most likely a further press dig at Labour.
Lucy Powell spoke well and convincingly about the lack of evidence that grammar schools do actually in any way promote social mobility amongst those from working class/poor [free school meal] backgrounds. Indeed, she spoke far more meaningfully and persuasively than she ever seemed to when actually in the Shadow position, or as in a bland email response to a query from me. Peculiar.
Back to Teresa May: when becoming Prime Minister, her mission statement about being committed to social justice certainly rang hollow and risible on delivery, and this reported weary return to a ‘golden age’, grammar school panacea in support of such a blatant personal lie seems therefore both apt as well as miserably predictable. Nothing peculiar in this.