In our fifth piece on the new Labour leader’s views, we take a look at his opinions on schools and education:
- He wants to abolish the remaining grammar schools. As he explained in Parliament, he thinks children should have their access to selective education removed because their opportunities cause a ‘serious problem’ for inner city comprehensives. He had the good fortune to attend one of the best grammar schools in the country. Famously, he divorced his second wife for refusing to send their son to a failing school and opting for a grammar school instead.)
- He would put all schools back under council control. As confirmed today by Lucy Powell, the new shadow education secretary, Corbyn’s Labour Party want to remove the new-found independence of the thousands of academies and hundreds of free schools established in recent years. In short – they don’t trust teachers to run schools, or parents to hold them accountable, and want to go back to the bad old days of town hall officialdom controlling education.
- Corbyn’s Britain would involve a massive, bureaucratic ‘National Education Service’. Modelled on the NHS – despite its huge administrative burdens and numerous issues – the NES would involve centralised control of all education, including removing the autonomy of universities. No costings have been given, but the idea this could entirely be funded by a 2 per cent increase in Corporation Tax appears fantastical. If you needed a measure of how bad an idea the NES is, even the NUT fears that it would get “locked up in bureaucracy”.
- He would return to a student grant system – despite recent success in university access. The tuition fee system is not perfect – the ConservativeHome manifesto proposed a more viable alternative – but the access disaster the left predicted has not come to pass. In fact, more students are going to university than ever before, more disadvantaged students are going to university, and more disadvantaged students are getting into the best institutions. Corbyn’s blanket return to grants would be a rejection of that progress – and would cost untold billions.