Leeds is home to more than 180,000 children and young people.
The Labour Council’s aim is to provide the best start in life for ALL those children:
– which is why the Council has prioritised spending on Children’s Centres and support for families;
– and why it has opposed the Tories’ plans to expand selective Grammar School education.
At the Council meeting on 9 November, the Labour administration in Leeds put forward a White paper – opposing the Tories’ policy on expanding Grammar Schools, and calling on the secretary of state and the City’s MPs to oppose the expansion of selective education and to demand investment in education that will benefit all children.
As Councillor Lisa Mulherin pointed out – children’s life chances in Britain are deeply unequal, a divide mirrored here in Leeds.
The attainment gap between children starts well pre-school. It already exists by the time children begin in primary school – and selective secondary education will not provide the opportunity for ALL our children which is needed to bridge that gap.
Grammar Schools do not increase social mobility.
As the Institute for Fiscal Studies has pointed out, attending Grammar Schools may benefit the few who get in – a group disproportionately drawn from those already socially advantaged
– 13% of Grammar School pupils are drawn from those who have attended Prep school, 4 times the number of those who qualify for free school meals.
– And the very test which segregates children at 11 is open to abuse by those with the cash to do so.
But as the IFS also pointed out, those who do not gain entry do WORSE than in areas where there are no Grammar Schools.
Leeds Labour Council prefers to invest cash and support for the services which benefit ALL our children.
In spite of draconian cuts to its core budget, Leeds Labour Council has maintained its investment in Children’s Centres – which tackle precisely that attainment gap which has opened up before children even reach the school system.
It has also maintained its commitment to school improvement services.
Councillor Mulherin called on the Tories to reverse their cuts to the Educational Services Grant – which councils use to support schools with vital services such as education welfare, school improvement, admissions, early years, exam validation, recruitment and transport.
As Councillor Dowson, seconding Councillor Lisa Mulherin’s White Paper, put it – the Tories education policies can be summed up as ‘Forward to the Past’.
Labour prefers an education system which looks to the future – of all our children.