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Antonia Ryan: "Think of ALL the children."

toni_ryan_conf.pngResponding to Theresa May's push to reintroduce selective education in the UK, Labour Central Bedfordshire Councillor Antonia Ryan (Houghton Regis Parkside) commented:-


"The Labour group strongly opposes Theresa May’s divisive plans to bring back grammar schools.

The plans to expand grammar schools have been estimated to cost £50 million a year. It is surprising to hear that May’s party are happy to spend this amount after they have ruthlessly cut funding to schools year on year, leaving them in hardship. This is on top of the growing crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, which has left schools overstretched and under-resourced, with the record GCSE results under Labour now shown to be declining. This malevolent initiative is setting education policy back decades and leaving children written off at age 11 by academic selection.

The Sutton Trust has found that just 3% of pupils from the 163 grammar schools in England are on free school meals, while in their locality the average is 18%. Pupils are five times more likely to have previously been privately educated than to be from a deprived area. There is also strong evidence to suggest that grammar schools have a direct link to decreasing social mobility, and evidence from Kent has found that children from poorer backgrounds do worse than in areas that have a comprehensive system."

Ofsted head condemns Tory grammar school plan

"This policy has not just come under fire from the opposition, but May has come under the spotlight from her own party too. Not surprising, as even the Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw notes, “We will fail as a nation if only the top 15-20% of children achieve well in school, a prospect made more likely by the expansion of grammar schools.”

Central Bedfordshire Council have already come under fire from Ofsted when gaps were shown between affluent and deprived areas: 55% of children on free school meals will not achieve the minimum standards expected in reading, writing and mathematics, compared to 81% of pupils from more affluent areas.

The Government should be concentrating on making all our schools excellent, so that every child has an equal opportunity to attain the best education, not just the select few. Only by providing a good education to all are we able to eradicate some of these inequalities.

So my leaving remarks would be: Mrs May, think of the children… All of the children."

In a letter to the Times, Education and Skills Executive Member Cllr Steven Dixon said that the authority has "no plans to create selective schools" in Central Bedfordshire.

South West Bedfordshire Constituency Labour Party welcomes Cllr Dixon's remarks, and will continue to press for first-rate education for all children both here in Central Bedfordshire and across the country."

(Editors' note: an earlier version of this article gave this statement in response to Central Beds Council plans to reintroduce grammar schools. CBC have stated in a letter to the Times that they have no such plans. We are happy to set the record straight.)

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