THERESA MAY and Jeremy Corbyn do not have much in common. Yet both are offering education policies focused on improving the chances of children from poor families. Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party manifesto includes a promise to abolish tuition fees, levied by most universities at £9,000 ($11,600) a year. Mrs May plans to introduce new grammar schools, which are allowed to select pupils at 11 on the basis of scholarly talent.
Both policies will win votes: polls suggest that people quite like grammar schools and greatly dislike tuition fees. That is partly because both ideas hark back to a post-war golden age of social mobility, in which bright, poor children could take the 11-plus entrance exam to win entry to a good school, before proceeding to a free university and, later, a career in business, government or science.
Yet, in truth, the post-war years of upward mobility had more to do with the changing structure of the labour…Continue reading