Conservative manifesto – childcare, FSM, free schools

Reaction to the Conservative manifesto.

Comment from Naomi Eisenstadt, expert in early years policy and Honorary Research Fellow at Oxford’s Families, Effective Learning & Literacy:

“The most important comment is that childcare and early years are completely absent from the section on education. It promises nothing more on workforce, quality or wages. The capital fund is welcome, but is basically part of what has already been announced to ensure they can deliver the 30 hours for working parents. This really is very poor.”
Comment from Professor Pam Sammons, University of Oxford:
“In addition to Naomi’s points it is worth noting that there is little evidence that free schools have raised standards or are of higher quality (see Ofsted reports). This is in line with past research findings of charter schools and free schools in Sweden. Structural solutions are less effective than focussing on school processes (leadership & teaching) and divert resources and attention away from improving all schools.

The claim that selective schools are more likely to serve poor pupils would need careful evidence checking. It is not born out by FSM figures (see research by Prof David Jesson & others).

Moreover the claim that the equity gap is eliminated in selective schools is tautological. If you only select high attaining students they remain likely to do well. Also FSM students who do get to grammar school are likely to be very different from FSM pupils in high disadvantage neighbourhood e.g. children of an educated single mum (perhaps widowed) who are poor but have other advantages in terms of home support.”

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