New budget on the right track to helping bright working class children

New budget on the right track to helping bright working class children

The current ‘one-size fits all’ education system has failed generations of bright working-class children, so yesterday’s budget, although not going far enough, signals a change for the better.

We need to make pathways for academically bright children from poorer working-class backgrounds to succeed, just like their forbears. (Read my thoughts here

The allocation of £320 million for free schools and grammars is an excellent start but more needs to be done.

To make the most of that investment, and if Theresa May is sincere in wanting to boost social mobility; those funds will need to be directed in areas of social deprivation where no grammar schools currently exist.

I was invited to speak on Radio Kent to give my views on this announcement, in which I explained that selective free schools will open up more opportunity currently denied to children – and even to children who already live in areas with grammar schools.

Free transport to grammar schools for children sends the right message that the government wants grammar schools to do more to help poorer brighter children attend their establishments.

I’m hoping it will encourage selective grammars to look at their criteria again and make priority provision for children on free school meals – if they don’t already do so.

Children in this group will still have to pass the exam but should be bumped up the list. If this can also apply to children who are also outside schools’ normal catchment, the free transport will really help parents who would otherwise never be able to afford to get them to school each day.

Another budget announcement I particularly welcome is the boost given to technical studies.

This is something I have long called for, particularly treating technical studies and qualifications in the same high esteem as academic qualifications.

The increase in training hours for technical students and T-levels are encouraging steps forward. Not only do we need to make pathways for academically bright working-class children, but also those young people who shine technically too.

Finally, I am saddened by a number of politicians who would deny the same opportunity they have enjoyed to young children today.

One of Labour’s greatest prime ministers, Harold Wilson, came from humble origins in Huddersfield and his meteoric rise began through attending a grammar school with a resulting place at Oxford where he obtained a first-class honours degree.

Similarly, Gordon Brown was also a beneficiary of a grammar school education.

Current leaders, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, also went to grammar schools.

Recently radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer called out the hypocrisy of Education Select Committee Chairman and Conservative MP Neil Carmichael, who opposes new grammar schools while sending his three children to one.

It is hard to understand their absolute loathing for the academic education that they, or their children, benefitted from.

Let’s stop making it one rule for the elite and another for the rest of us and open up more of these potentially life-changing opportunities to all our children.