Let's Talk Merton is our monthly informal political discussion, which takes place on the 2nd Monday of the month.
In October, the theme was grammar schools. See below for the full review of the meeting.
Grammar schools - the Let's Talk Merton view
Prompted by Theresa May’s plan to allow new grammar schools, we enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion about the education system. There was acknowledgment that grammar schools can be beneficial for selected students and are popular with many parents. However, there was real concern about the impact of branding 11 year olds as successes or failures, and the detrimental impact on educational standards and social mobility for those who do not go to grammar schools. Agreeing with Theresa May’s concern that too many schools are already selective based on house price and wealth, the group called on the Government to ensure that all schools are good or outstanding.
The group encouraged a more holistic approach to education, from early years to adult learning, requiring a balanced valuation of academic, creative and vocational education that reflects the actual needs of the current and future economy and human well-being. Key proposals included greater flexibility within schools (e.g. enabling summer-born children to defer school entry, allowing students to sit exams sooner or later, and mobility within streaming); more support and development of teachers; smaller class sizes; continued use of the Pupil Premium to support poorer children; improved career guidance and alignment with business; investment in re-skilling adults; and effective local authority coordination and oversight.