HEY UKIP its education STUPID!!

UKIP and Grammar Schools

Nigel Farage in last weeks interview in the Guardian stated that UKIP has two polices, Leave the EU and Grammar Schools. Seemingly he forgot the Energy Policy and the newly minted Agriculture briefing ( It might be a bit generous to call it a policy). I would too!

Grammar Schools are UKIPs answer to their perception of falling educational standards in the UK. That it appeals to the Daily Mail reader who harks back to an era of corporal punishment and cross country runs in plimsols and pants is of no importance, obviously. 


UKIPs Favourite Arguments for Grammar schools 

PISA rankings – UKIP would say we are falling behind we need selective education. That the UK has fallen in the rankings is not in dispute, that the PISA system of testing ability is deeply flawed is also not in dispute. Even if you believe that the rankings are an accurate way of measuring outcomes, it is certainly not always a refection of excellence in education. Take South Korea, as an example 3/4 of all students attend Hagwons after school, private crammers where students spend up to 3 hours each evening (and where they are coached in how to do well in tests like the PISA). That it is industrial scale with huge profits is also not in dispute, you too can make $4 million a year tutoring students! Conversely take Finland and Norway both higher than us in the PISA rankings, neither country has selective education for those under 16 and in both students start formal education far later than we do. In fact in Finland ‘without selecting, tracking, or streaming students during their common basic education‘. Finally a question for UKIP if you believe selection is the answer, why does Northern Ireland , the last bastion of selection, come below England and Scotland? 

They help the poorest and the brightest – That Grammar schools failed the poorest in the 1950’s and 60’s is the subject of numerous reports, you can look to the crowther report which on the subject of Grammar Schools showed that only 10% from the poorest went to Grammar schools and this at a time when the working class was a far larger proportion of our population than it is today. A report from 1954 showed that Grammar schools of the time failed to improve the performance of the working class student with more than half failing to get more that 3 O’Levels and only 5% achieving 2 A’Levels.


Fast forward to 2014 and after numerous reports from the Sutton Trust, including this one that showed ‘middle class elites’ dominating grammar schools, Grammar schools are finally being forced to admit that their selection system benefits only those wealthy enough to afford tuition – now they propose quotas, UKIP hate the word quota. 

Nigel Farage sees “grammar schools as the only way to succeed for able students” – If you take Kent as an example, it being a county with a system of 11+, this is not the case. Of the top 10 schools in Kent for Value Added (improving the outcomes for students beyond what would be expected from their FFT score) only three are Grammars. Grammars are often seen as coasting and the results reflect their intake rather than the excellence of education that they provide. A few other facts, children from secondary schools achieve better outcomes than those from Grammars at university for those with the similar grades. This report also showed that SAT scores ( a test at 11) was no use as  a predictor for the degree achieved! 

Perhaps UKIPs real problem is that they distrust teachers, they see us as lefty marxists, indoctrinating our students with fake science like climate change or teaching them about non British cultures like Islam or worst of all teaching wooly subjects that ’embrace’ multiculturalism and our countries diversity (Citizenship)  

On reflection how can I take UKIP seriously on eduction when one vocal member Marty Caine said teachers should not hold any political views, in fact he went as far as to suggest perhaps we should not vote at all! Or how about when a UKIP Cllr tried to get  a teacher disciplined for expressing her dislike of UKIP on twitter. Harking back to a golden age of education that failed the majority, including the brightest from poor backgrounds, is hardly the way forward. 

If you want to find out more I would suggest the excellent web site run by Melissa Ben and Fiona Millar and this section of their web site on ending selection, the evidence.  




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