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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Education in the media: Friday 6 July 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Grammar schools, Literacy

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at an incredibly misleading report on bids for the Selective School Expansion fund and news stories on how we are encouraging children to become lifelong readers.

Grammar School Expansions

Today, Friday 6 July, campaign group Comprehensive Future released a report that claims that up to 5,000 new places could be created at grammar schools based on applications to the selective school expansion fund (SSEF). Comprehensive Future has said that there are currently 35 bids for funding, and if all are accepted, it will represent a 23% increase in selective school places in these schools.

This is utter conjecture and not based on official figures; the bidding round is still open, and will remain open until 2 August and we will not know how many additional places will be proposed or how much funding will be bid for, until it closes. Comprehensive Future has no way of accurately determining how many places grammar schools may expand by as a result of the SSEF.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

The bidding round for the Selective School Expansion Fund is still open and any analysis of bids before it closes is complete speculation and not based on official figures. We will not know how many additional places will be proposed or how much funding will be bid for until the bidding round closes in August.

We want good schools to expand, to increase further the number of good school places. As we have been clear, all applications to the fund must demonstrate how they will increase access for disadvantaged pupils and work with local schools to improve outcomes for all pupils and give more families access to a good school place.


On Friday 6 July, the Press Association published comments by author Philip Pullman who has said that assessments are a barrier to children enjoying learning.

Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, education standards are rising in our schools, with 1.9 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. We trust schools not to put undue pressure on pupils when administering these assessments, and certainly not at the expense of their wellbeing or enjoyment of learning.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We want to unlock the world of reading for pupils so that every child can not only read and write to a high standard, but can also develop a love for reading that will last until adulthood.

That is why improving literacy is at the heart of this government’s drive to improve standards in our schools and assessments do play an important role in making sure children are taught well. And the results speak for themselves – young readers in England are now ranked amongst the best in the world and there are now 154,000 more six-year-olds on track to become fluent readers than in 2012.

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