Sir Keir Starmer has named his former leadership rival Rebecca Long-Bailey as shadow education secretary. Long-Bailey was educated at a Catholic comprehensive school, and has been vocal about a preference for a fully comprehensive education system. She told Schools Week, ‘I don’t believe in academic selection. Labour must stand for a truly comprehensive, inclusive education system that doesn’t close children’s aspirations down before they even leave school and which supports the development of all children equally.’ We hope that Labour will adopt a clearer policy position on selection under their new leadership. Read more about Rebecca Long-Bailey HERE.
The Coronavirus pandemic means we face an unprecedented situation with schools closed, exams cancelled, and league tables abandoned. Niamh Sweeney, in the Guardian, advocates learning from the crisis and rethinking education in the future. Many commentators have argued that we should not be reliant on SATs tests, GCSE at 16, and school rankings, and the forced withdrawal of exams may well start a debate about long term change. As it stands, the 11-plus test, scheduled for September of the new year school year, could be the only public exam to take place in 2020. Grammar schools are already accepting applications for the entrance test, while no doubt many parents will be veering homeschooling towards 11-plus practice and online test tuition. Read Niamh Sweeney’s article in full HERE.
The government is considering allowing admission appeals to be heard by telephone or video call, as appeal panels can not meet physically during the coronavirus outbreak. Guidance issued by Dominic Herrington, the national schools commissioner, said the DfE was, “working urgently on emergency regulations and guidance to establish alternative arrangements which are suitable but also flexible. We are looking at flexibility for admissions authorities to hold panels via telephone or video conference or in writing and at extending the normal timescales.” There are many more secondary school appeals in selective areas than non-selective, with around 2,000 grammar school appeals in Kent last year. In their eagernessto win a selective place some parents even hire professional school appeal advisors to help with grammar school appeals. The pandemic creates an impossible situation for government and schools, and appeals clearly can not continue as normal, but it does seem likely that motivated and wealthy parents will benefit from greater flexibility around appeal rules. Read more about the school appeal changes HERE.
Our patron, writer and broadcaster, Michael Rosen was hospitalised last week due to Coronavirus. We understand that he is now out of intensive care and showing signs of improvement. We all wish Michael well for a speedy recovery, and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. We hope all our readers and supporters stay safe and well during this challenging health crisis.
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