"Calm down, dear"

Letter sent to Bucks Free Press in response to printed letter calling for our spokesperson to "Calm down, dear"

Dear Editor

 Last week a letter from Mr. Duggan suggested that I should "Calm down, dear and grow up" because I criticised Cllr Zahir Mohammed's support of a grammar school's extension into the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.  Cllr Mohammed is the Cabinet member on BCC responsible for education.   Mr. Duggan also suggested "there are more important things in life than having a pop at the Tories".

 There are in fact few things more important in my life than my sons' education - and I suspect that this is true for thousands of parents in Bucks.   I believe it is important - very important - that all the children in Bucks have an excellent education; unfortunately thousands of children in Bucks go to schools which are underperforming.   

 Selective education is fine for the minority of children in Bucks who pass the 11+ and go to a grammar school.  All our grammar schools are assessed as excellent. 

 However, selective education is damaging for the majority of children in Bucks who do not pass the 11+ and go to other schools.   Most of these children will go to a school which is not even rated as good, let alone excellent.   This is what selective education does - it divides children at the age of 10 into those who will go to an excellent school and those who will probably not. 

 Children who pass the 11+ are disproportionately well-off, live in prosperous areas, are white and go to private schools.    This bias in the 11+ is getting worse.

 Bucks, in common with all other selective local authorities, have the worst record in the country for helping disadvantaged children do well at school.  The gap between the performance of disadvantaged children and others in Bucks is also getting worse. 

 These aren't words out of "Labour's red book" as Mr. Duggan suggests (whatever Labour's red book is).   These are facts backed up by statistics from the Department of Education and by research. 

This is why I would not wish selective education onto parents in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and believe that extending a "Bucks grammar school annex” into the RBWM should not go ahead.

 On top of that, Cllr Mohammed now proposes to move £10 million of funding away from schools in Bucks with a high proportion of disadvantaged children to schools with very few disadvantaged children.  He has provided no explanation for his proposals nor has he carried out an equality impact (which is required by law).   The whole process is a shambles.

 So Wycombe Labour will continue to scrutinise the educational policies and performance of the Tories in Bucks and will continue to fight for an end to selective education.   It really is important Mr. Duggan.

 Yours faithfully

 Rachel Knight

Education spokesperson for Wycombe Labour

 

P.S.  I am no longer a Councillor; I stood down at the last district election.

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