Councillor Craghill spoke at the meeting saying:
York Green Party welcomes the implication that Councillor Rawlings has at least some reservations about his Government’s plans to bring back Grammar schools and selection, but having said that his amendment doesn’t really wash. It is still clearly an attempt to remove criticism of this very divisive Government policy and also in a way to say – well, we know York can be very proud of its generally high quality education system so we will question our own party on the need to have new grammar schools or selection introduced in York, but we don’t mind if it’s foisted on the rest of the country. Apart from anything else, this could be rather a difficult argument to put forward in response to the consultation.
I think this is rather a good motion – it is very clear that York council will respond to the consultation by ‘opposing new proposals to open new grammar schools or allow existing non-selective schools to introduce selection.’ I think that’s what we want to say and it certainly shouldn’t be watered down in any way.
The amendment also seeks to delete some of the key points in the motion highlighting research into the impact of grammar schools which shows that they have no positive impact on social mobility or indeed closing the inequality gap in our society. In fact as the motion illustrates Grammar schools tend to increase inequality and a have a very negative effect on the overall educational experience of those who are not lucky enough to be the ones selected at a particular point in their young lives.
The worst thing about grammar schools is of course not the schools themselves, but the impact they have on the rest of the education system, reinforcing social deprivation and undermining the potential of many children through branding them failures at an early age.
It’s interesting that Councillor Rawlings has not sought to delete the statement that ‘the education system needs to provide excellent schools for all our young people’ a sentiment the Green Party would certainly support. If he truly believes that then he should be prepared to very clearly oppose this divisive policy proposal. The grammar schools proposal is indeed yet another distraction – the same as academies, which this does take the spot-light off a little, doesn’t it – a distraction from addressing the real issues in education such as properly resourcing schools, allowing teachers to teach and fully supporting our young people to learn life-skills for a very challenging future. ‘