Williamson’s ‘incredible’ Tory education story debunked

Janet Downs's picture


The Conservatives have ‘an incredible story to tell…’ said education secretary Gavin Williamson at the party conference, Schools Week reports.

Here is is the history behind the incredible story:

For working parents with 3 and 4-year-olds … thirty hours a week of free childcare…

This isn't all year round.  It provides 38 weeks of free childcare leaving parents to pay for the rest.  It doesn’t cover meals (they’re ‘extras’).  In February, Nursery World reported concerns ‘about the impact of the 30 hours on the availability of places for working parents, and a growing outcomes gap for disadvantaged children not eligible for the extended entitlement.’

Better schools … with 85 per cent of children … taught in good or outstanding schools… That’s up from 66 per cent under Labour …’

The proportion has slightly fallen from 87%.  And the biggest leap, eight percentage points from 69% to 77%, happened between August 2012 and August 2014 when post-2010 reforms had had little time to take effect.

‘…more 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds … are going to university.

The Guardian confirms this: one-fifth of 18-year-olds entering higher education come from parts of the UK which have ‘the lowest rate of participation’ in HE.  This is up one percentage point from last year, the paper said.

But does living in an area with a low rate of HE participation mean that every 18-year-old in that area is disadvantaged?   For example, South Holland, Lincolnshire, is in the bottom quintile for higher education participation.  But deprivation is below average (2015 data).    It does not follow, then, that 18-year-olds living in an area with low HE participation rates are all disadvantaged.

‘…we’re investing an extra £14 billion over three years…

Cold water has been thrown at this claim.

The education secretary’s incredible story isn’t quite so incredible when subjected to analysis.


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