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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Breaking the consensus

Whatever one might think of the Welsh Tories' new policy announcement that they want to divide up children at the age of 14 into academic and vocational streams, they certainly made an impact. They might also have started a debate.

After all, no matter how this is characterised it is not a return to Grammar Schools and they have ruled out reintroducing the eleven plus.

How unfortunate therefore that today's Western Mail reveals that elements of the new policy have their origins in a party focus group session:

Results of the focus group have been leaked to WalesOnline and showed little support in Wales for the policy of “free schools” being pursued by the UK Government in England.

Asked what they thought about free schools, funded by the state but not under local authority control, only 28% supported them in Wales, with 41% saying they opposed them and the rest saying they either didn’t know or didn’t wish to comment.

In the UK as a whole there was a different picture, with 45% supporting free schools, 23% opposing them and the rest either saying they didn’t know or didn’t wish to comment.

By contrast, attitudes towards grammar schools were roughly similar in Wales and the UK as a whole. Asked “Do you think grammar schools should be reintroduced?”, 45% in Wales wanted them reintroduced and 17% did not. In the UK the respective figures were 43% and 20%.

The Tories might have had more credibility if they had been able to demonstrate a better considered policy-making process instead of reverting to spin doctors for their ideas.
So instead of the 11+, Tories would like to brand most children "Failures at 14". A political master-stroke!
I notice that ART Davies over the course of yesterday's media interviews modified his original selection criterion from "academic ability" to academic inclination. Still involves selection rather than election, though, and fourteen is still too young to make the decision.
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