Plans To Increase Grammar Schools Cause Controversy

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The Law Of... funding schools fairly

As part of its reforms to education, the government announced in the Autumn Statement that it is setting aside £240million for the expansion of grammar schools.

Plans To Increase Grammar Schools Cause Controversy

Samantha Hale, Associate Solicitor for Simpson Millar's Education and Community Care team, comments on how this could affect other schools that are in desperate need of extra funding.

Plans to introduce more grammar schools in the UK were initiated by Theresa May, who claimed that having more selective schools would improve prospects for poorer students. She also stated that under the current system well-off families had the ability to be more selective about which schools their children attended, giving them an advantage over other students.

Whilst discussing the Autumn Statement, Phillip Hammond justified the decision to invest millions more into new grammar schools by telling MPs that "education reforms have raised standards and expanded opportunity with 1.4million more children now in 'good' or 'outstanding' schools."

"And the new capital funding I have provided today will help to continue that trend."

The Education Sector Is Reaching Breaking Point

The announcement sent shockwaves across the education sector and members of the government, with many now questioning why the government is allocating funds to a policy that wasn't part of their manifesto.

Expressing his outrage at the plans, John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor, said: "How can a Government seriously talk about supporting a 21st century economy when they are planning to pour tens of millions into the failed 20th century policy of grammar schools?"

The shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, added that "the education sector is reaching breaking point, and the Chancellor's only announcement today was to give more money to a handful of schools."

"School budgets are being cut, school class sizes are soaring, teachers are leaving the profession in droves and hundreds of nurseries are facing closure. This budget demonstrated what this Government is all about – a country for the few at the expense of many."

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), voiced his disappointment at the announcement and outlined how many school budgets already stretched to their limits.

"Freezing budgets at a time of rising costs is no protection at all. The Government has the levers to address rising costs, but has again failed to pull them…Social mobility has rightly become a focus for the Government. And yet, without investment in what works – quality early years education, high quality teachers and the right funding delivered directly to schools – it is hard to see how the rhetoric can match the reality."

"Capital investment in grammar schools is the wrong priority, and a distraction from the most important issues in education."

Samantha comments:

"It's really sad to hear that at a time when schools are facing a funding and staffing crisis, the government has failed to address these issues and instead focused their efforts elsewhere."

"Whilst investing in new schools might have some benefits, such as reducing class sizes, existing schools are crying out for more funding in order to be able to support the development of their students."

"There's also the bigger issue of what will happen to the support available for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities if schools aren't given adequate funding. Schools are already finding it challenging to cater to the needs of all of their students and unfortunately there's a real chance that the most vulnerable children's education will be put at risk."


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