Vote for us and we’ll promise more funding for public services, more investment in infrastructure and a more golden future than our opponents. That’s the game of Top Trumps being played as parties scramble to attract votes.
Voters can’t join in this bidding wargame – it’s part of electioneering. But we can join in a new game invented by Schools Week: False Education Facts Bingo.
Schools Week has printed a bingo card with six misleading facts about education in England likely to be repeated constantly during the election campaign. Your task is to call them out if they’re used by campaigners in your area.
‘1.9 million more children in good/outstanding schools since 2010’ (misleading)
‘£14 million funding boost for schools’ (somewhere between meaningless and misleading: IFS)
‘The UK is the third highest spend on education in the OECD’ (not just state funding - it includes spending on private education and tertiary education)
‘Over 100 free schools have closed’ (wrong)*
‘Secondaries will get less than £5k per pupil’
‘91% of schools face cuts’ (statistics watchdog had ‘issues’ with these claims)
There are other misleading claims which could be made, of course, and not just about education. Cash bombing the NHS, for example, isn’t as generous as it appears. But playing Schools Week Bingo will help readers debunk at least some false claims.
On 5 November, the UK Statistics Authority wrote to the leaders of all parties to remind them about their ‘duty to use statistics accurately and fairly’ in the election campaign. This warning was missed by education secretary Gavin Williamson. Writing in The Times on the same day, Williamson repeated two of the misleading Tory claims listed above.
Schools Week has asked readers to send them any misleading school facts seen during the election period so they can be exposed. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org .
*See Warwick Mansell (£) or up-to-date analysis of free school closures. He found 66 free schools were listed as 'closed' on the DfE's Get Information About Schools website. This figure didn't include closed UTCs or studio schools. Some of the 'closed' schools would have been transferred to new trusts and continued operating under new management.