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York Labour concerns over two-tier Tory education plans

York's Labour councillors have expressed serious concerns about the Government's policy announcement on new grammar schools.
Many have argued that the selective approach of grammar schools means that they traditionally fail to enrol proportional numbers of pupils from lower income families.
National statistics show that grammar schools elsewhere in the country, such as Kent, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire where most are located, have just 3% of pupils in receipt of free school meals (the indicator used by government to understand the numbers of pupils from less affluent backgrounds). This compares with the 14% of pupils nationally who receive free meals.
Grammar schools typically tend to cater for around 20% of children in the areas they serve which would mean that children and parents would face fierce competition for places with many facing disappointment.

Labour's education spokesperson, Coun. Stuart Barnes said the moves would lead to increased rather than reduced inequality.  He said:

"We don't believe it will increase social mobility, in fact quite the opposite.  The facts show existing grammar schools are selecting very low numbers of pupils from poorer families compared to other schools, and that can only entrench inequality.
“Pupils from lower income families often don’t have the same advantages as others in childhood, and are therefore less well prepared for entrance exams at age 11. To then compound the problem by segregating pupils based on ability at such a young age simply means that gaps in opportunity and attainment grow.”
Labour Councillors will discuss this policy when the group meets next week. Many Labour councillors have expressed serious concerns about the Government policy and the impact it could have on the education of children and young people in York. 

"We are seeing people across the board, from the Chief Inspector of Schools to the Conservative Chair of the Education Select Committee to academics, trade unions and charities all saying this won't improve attainment and is a distraction from the central challenges faced in education”, added Coun. Barnes.

"The idea of all schools becoming selective rips apart the comprehensive system of education as we know it and signals an extremely worrying direction for a Conservative Government that increasingly seems intent on  favouring the haves over the have nots.”

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