Peter Hoskin

The Tories take the fight to Labour over social justice

The Tories take the fight to Labour over social justice
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Statistics about educational inequality in this country always tend to shock and dismay in equal measure.  And this latest piece of research from Michael Gove's office is no exception:

"New analysis by the Conservatives shows that just 45 pupils on Free School Meals (FSM) make it to Oxford or Cambridge each year. One top London private school gets an average of 82 Oxbridge admissions a year – almost double the number of FSM admissions. One leading independent girls’ school produces the same number of Oxbridge entrants as the entire FSM cohort.  Just 1 per cent of FSM pupils go on to a Russell Group university."

Just to be clear, the overall Oxbridge intake is about 6,000 students a year.  So 45 pupils on FSM represents 0.75 percent of that.  These are numbers which, pretty much by themselves, make the case for radical schools reform.

There's plenty more like that in a document the Tories have released today called Labour's Two Nations, attacking the government's record on social justice, poverty, inequality and the like.  This is fertile ground for the Opposition.  As Cameron's recent appearances have demonstrated, he tends to be at his most effective when he takes a stand on these issues.  And, in Gove's schools agenda and IDS's work on welfare, they've got the benefit of some strong policy responses.  The campaign is finally getting into gear.

And, just like that, the Tory campaign stalls again.  As James points out, the report they've produced contains a statistical howler by way of a missing decimal point (see page 12 of the pdf). A shame, as it undermines what might otherwise have been an effective attack document.