School reform

Bad grammar

It is almost mandatory, if you want to discuss grammar schools, to swap personal histories. Here’s mine: I am the beneficiary of three generations of social mobility, three generations of academic selection. My grandfather won a free scholarship to a public school (Christ’s Hospital) and left school at 16: his family needed him to work. But his education allowed him to become achartered surveyor. Both of my parents enjoyed free, selective education in schools that now charge about £16,000 a year. My brothers and I won scholarships to private secondaries. The alternative comprehensives were poor quality and a bit scary — my parents were faced with terrible state-school options. Then

Barometer | 28 April 2016

Getting a head Barack Obama dismissed Boris Johnson’s accusations that he shown disdain for Sir Winston Churchill by removing a bust from the Oval Office. What’s the going rate on eBay for such a bust? One-sixth scale resin bust of Winston Churchill (removable head) £12.50 Sir Winston Churchill bronze/brass bust £44 English-made marble bust of Sir Winston Churchill £70 Signed classic Winston Churchill bust by Oscar Nemon £80 Tallent Winston Churchill Terracotta Bust Cigar Lighter (used) £165 The academy difference Education Secretary Nicky Morgan partially retreated on plans to turn all schools into academies, free from council control. How do academies perform against maintained schools at GCSE? Sponsored academies Capped point

She could be a contender

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth discuss whether Nicky Morgan could be the next Tory leader” startat=38] Listen [/audioplayer]Nicky Morgan has been Education Secretary for 15 months now. Yet her office looks like she has just moved in. She has some family photos on the desk, a small collection of drinks bottles by the window and a rugby ball in her in-tray. But, unlike other cabinet ministers, she has made no attempt to make her office look like her study. This is not someone who sees their office as a home away from home. When Morgan was made Michael Gove’s successor last year, it seemed an unusual appointment. She’d

How to build a school

King’s College London Mathematics School is precisely one year old. And on 13 August it woke up to AS-level results that make it one of the ten best state schools in the country. 97 per cent of students got an A in mathematics. 90 per cent of grades in maths and further maths were As. Students’ grades were, on average, two grades higher, across all their subjects, than would be expected from their GCSE results. As a governor, I bask in reflected glory. Ours is a ‘free school’ sponsored by King’s, and it teaches talented, committed 16- to 18-year-olds. We select for potential, using our own test. But we also

Barometer | 2 July 2015

Bank job Should we buy shares in companies which print banknotes in expectation of one getting to print millions of drachma notes? — In May, according to the ECB, there were a total of 17.6bn euro notes in circulation. Given that Greece accounts for approximately 2.5% of the GDP of the eurozone, 441m of these were Greek, and might need replacing with drachma notes in the event the country leaves the euro. — However, there is already a good business in printing replacement euro notes. In May, 2.76bn notes were taken out of circulation and 2.88bn new ones were put into circulation. — Therefore, if Greece were to leave the

Cameron’s great secret: he’s not a very good politician

This was a vital election. A Tory failure would have been an act of political treason. Five years ago, the UK was grovelling with the PIGS in the fiscal sty. Our public finances were in a deplorable state, the financial system was in crisis and growth had disappeared over the economic horizon. No one has paid enough tribute to Messrs Cameron and Osborne for the sang-froid they displayed in the face of such adversity, and for their success. Not only that: we have two long-term structural problems in this country, both of which Lady Thatcher sidestepped, both of which David Cameron tackled. The first is welfare. In its corrosion of

The teachers who (quietly) miss Michael Gove

‘Michael Gove,’ the joke goes, ‘you either loathe him or hate him.’ According to one poll (by Ipsos Mori) the former education secretary is by far the most unpopular politician in Parliament, with a net likeability rating of minus 32. A video of him falling over has been watched 487,000 times on YouTube, you can buy crocheted pin cushions of his head for £25 and teaching groups loudly accuse him of ‘doing to children what Thatcher did to the miners’. So why does my mother love him? It’s pretty simple. She’s been a primary school teacher for more than 20 years, and she says her pupils are producing better work than

Come on, Tristram Hunt, if you think you’re hard enough

For a brief moment earlier this week, I thought education might become an issue in the general election campaign. The Commons Education Select Committee’s lukewarm report on the government’s academy and free school programmes was leaked to the Guardian on Monday and the accompanying story claimed that Labour hoped to open a ‘second front’ following the ‘success’ of its attacks over the NHS. ‘It is undeniable that the last Labour government dramatically improved school standards in secondary education,’ said Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary. ‘But the progress that we made… is being undone by a government that is obsessed with market ideology in education.’ Now, I would welcome this,