75% of Theresa May's £50m gift to grammar schools will go to Tory districts

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/13/reverse-robin-hood.html


10 out of 10 for services to ‘vocabulary and usage’ education. Here we have a perfect illustration of how to deploy hyperbole. Look and learn.

…dumping grounds for kids with special needs, kids from poor backgrounds, and kids who do not perform well on tests – and so anyone whose kid is entering the school system has to choose whether to send their kids to one of these chaotic, underfunded, schools where they will be the only kid who isn’t in crisis and hope that the teachers pay some attention to them anyway…

The sentiment - strongly criticising the Tory education policy and especially the latest lunacy ref grammar schools - has my full support, but really. There are nowhere near enough grammar schools to render every other school ‘dumping grounds’ where only one kid isn’t in crisis.

Meanwhile, in the US:

Amazing how these benefits/crackdowns only impact allies/those other guys. How the hell does anyone get away with this in a democracy?


Although I totally oppose the Tory’s grammar school policy one valid part of the reason that Tory areas get most of the gramar school money is that for a very long time education was a local council responsibility and Tory councils held on to grammar schools while those of a different political colour went fully comprehensive. So, many years on, when money is earmarked for grammars, guess who has more of them? So this is not direct deliberate favouring of Tory areas, rather it is (in part, but not wholly) a consequence of the last few governments’ wrong-headed education policies.


“How the hell does anyone get away with this in a democracy?”

It is called Gerrymandering.

Thanks Cory for the beautiful illustration of the teachings of the book Handbook for dictators (highly recommended, in particular for non-dictators).



That would be slightly more credible if May had announced 50M GBP for secondary education in general, rather than grammar schools in particular. Or, even better, if she’d said something along the lines of “You know what? Grammar schools are doing fine. Therefore today we are announcing 50M GBP of additional funding for deprived and underperforming schools.”


Uh, what democracy?


It is a politically stupid move for a party in trouble. The Lib-Dems have already announced that Education will be a top priority, and even if the LDs have no chance of taking government this gives the Tories a second front while Labour continues to attack them on everything else.

I would say it’s a politically sensible move for a party whose only realistic threat is from their own disintegration.

It nicely says to traditional Tory voters that the Tory party is still the place for them and they don’t need to run off to UKIP or whatever new party Aaron Banks gets round to funding.

Everyone who hates this policy already hates the Tories so no loss there.


It is claimed to be a “representative democracy”; though it appears to have always been a “representation of democracy.” :wink:

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Extra money for the grammars in safe seat districts won’t affect the vote in those districts, and Tories outside of those districts won’t much care about the funding in any district but theirs, Tories being Tories and all.

That’s where I disagree. I think they do care. It gives them that nice warm feeling that the right sort of people are in charge and doing the right thing and if they’re not in a Tory seat, it gives them the hope that if only they could get a Tory elected, everything would be wonderful.

As for safe Tory seats, they may be safe for the MP but are they safe for the party?

I would say none of them are that safe in an environment where any given Tory MP might decide he or she is better off standing as an independent or switching to the Right-wing Raving Nutters Party Mk3.

I fully agree that extra funds for secondary education in general being announced would have been much better.
Or, better still, funding targetted at deprived and underperforming schools.
I am not in favour of the UK’s schools policy (let alone grammar schools) at all, and have not been ever since the Labout govt introduced what was in effect privatisation of parts of it.

But, to your point, the Maybot not announcing those things does not make less credible the fact that Tory local councils were more likely to retain grammars and that thus, when more money IS (very wrongly, we both agree) announced specifically for grammars, it will inevitably go to Tory voting/governed/represented areas, because that is predominantly where grammar schools exist.

It might have been better if Cory had not flagged/criticised the geographical destination of the money as the key point, but simply stuck to his criticism (albeit hyperbolic) of grammar schools per se and the Tory government’s (actually pretty much just May’s) obsession with a divisive secondary education policy.

But are the two not (as you point out) inextricably linked?

Tory councils tend to be the ones that still have grammar schools. If the funding is available for all schools, the chance of it going to non-Tory areas is higher than if it goes to grammar schools only.

So if you want to provide funds for Tory areas in preference to non-Tory ones, decide that funds will only go to grammar schools.

Which is what they have done.


This is getting too hard. They are linked, but cause and effect are being confused.
The Maybot did not want to just provide ‘funds for Tory areas’, she has a personal bee in her bonnet about grammar schools (about which many in her governent disagree with her and her previously announced plans for them were quietly dropped).
She wanted to send money to specifically to grammar schools, and specifically to expand their coverage (previous plans included allowing grammars to set up “annexes” which was a subterfuge for brand new grammars within a local area, that just happen to be run by the same people, but are still brand new grammar schools).

This is not “we have some funds, let’s decide where to send them; we want to send them to Tory areas, how do we do that; oh, we send them to grammar schools; this will achieve the aim of sending money to Tory areas” which is sort of what you imply.

It is “I am prime minister and I love grammar schools despite all the arguments against and I am going to give them more money so they can expand” (and if she didn’t do it, this money would not necessarily go to other schools elsewhere) and it so happens that most grammars are in Tory areas.

It may not be incidental that voters in Tory areas that still have grammars (many do not) might think this a good reason to vote Tory, but just as many Tories and Tory governed areas are against grammars altogether, so if it IS intended as a vote getter, there are likely many other ways the money could have been more effectively spent to achieve that.

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I wonder how much of this is because she went to a grammar school which became a comprehensive while she was there.

I knew she went to a grammar school but not that it went comprehensive while she was there. Perhaps it does explain her surprising adherence to an outdated educational model (surprising given how many other Tory MPs have moved on from that battle - including some recent Tory Education Ministers).
Given how many other fronts she is fighting her own party on, it is also surprising she keeps returning to this one. But I expect that every time she does it she gets personal approval from Darth Dacre at the Daily Fail, which is always good for Tory business (I can ony speculate that the Mail does give her many ‘likes’ when she goes on a grammar detour as I refuse to read it or visit its site).

Just to be clear- I think you’re right that it’s the “help grammar schools” bit that she’s after but it’s not wrong to say that it also just happens to help out her party areas more than the opposition.

Sort of an added bonus.

I have the horrible feeling that it may actually be a matter she has strong personal views on.

It certainly is - there is no ‘may’ about it - it is pure ‘May’, with much evidence to confirm it.

The election pledge she had to drop was “We will lift the ban on the establishment of selective schools” which was only in the manifesto as a result of her and a couple of close (non-elected) advisors writing it without consulting more widely with the party. Dropped partly due to the loss of a parliamentary majority, and in connection with that, the knowledge that enough Tory MPs opposed it that she could not risk forcing a vote, even given DUP support. The previously legislated ban on any more new grammars is why she tries to shove more money to existing ones and why there was the previous subterfuge of allowing existing ones to have ‘annexes’.

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ironically Margaret Thatcher, as Education Secretary, permitted most grammars to switch to comprehensives under her watch even though she officially opposed the conversion.

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