Published:

62 comments

GIMSON Andrew Krieg

Corbyn did better. His ancient and inveterate prejudice against grammar schools happens to be shared by the Labour Party, the educational establishment and even by a considerable number of Conservatives.

So for once, the Labour leader could speak for the cautious majority which opposes change. He asked if the Prime Minister could quote any experts who are in favour of grammar schools. Naturally she could not.

He asked if existing grammar schools in places such as Kent and Buckinghamshire are going to be required to widen their admissions. Once again, the Prime Minister did not wish to get into that.

May offered no detail about grammar schools, for as with Brexit, the detail does not yet exist. She preferred to make general observations about the difference between Corbyn and herself: he believes in “equality of outcome” while she believes in “equality of opportunity”.

But that gave Corbyn the chance to declare that “equality of opportunity is not selective education”. By taking her stand on equality, she gave Corbyn the chance to be the better egalitarian.

May pointed out that at present, “there is selection but it is selection by house price”. Once again, she seemed to be opposing selection.

But education must be about selection. As Boris Johnson said in April 2009, when attacking the timidity of the Cameroons’ approach to education: “The answer, as everybody knows but dare not admit, is to allow state schools the freedom once again to select on the basis of academic merit. Everything else is just blah.”

May is less timid than David Cameron. She has made the bold decision to set up more grammar schools. But she has not yet articulated the bold arguments which are needed to defend this policy.

There was rejoicing in the press gallery that Corbyn had at last done a bit better, for it is tedious to have to report week after week that he was useless.

But the truth is that he only did better because May offered him an undefended target.

 

62 comments for: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: May offers Corbyn an undefended target

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.