Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Thought of an idea for improving the NHS and the economy:

  1. Link the Health Secretary's salary to NHS performance, and
  2. Link all the cabinet's salaries to the country's economic performance.
I believe we'd see immediate funding for the NHS as well as a 2nd referendum on Brexit, with all cabinet ministers exhorting us to remain in the EU.

One thing is certain; we'd have a lot less unproven ideology and a lot more evidence-based government.

Farage, of course, would still be calling the for an ideological destruction of the UK, but you'd expect that from a bloke who only attended one of 40 odd EU fishing meetings and yet moans about the lot of our fishermen who, incidentally, seem to be their own worst enemy.

An academic study has come to the conclusion that grammar schools perform better than non-selective schools precisely because they're selective. Oooh - now that's a surprise. I'd have thought it was obvious in the name, selective school. So, grammars are a bit like university - selective; a bit like jobs - selective; in fact, like most areas of life where ability gives you an advantage - except, perhaps, politics.

Pupils' ability, according to the study, is a predictor of success. Of course, the corollary of that is that pupils' inability is a predictor of failure. Taking a maritime metaphor, does teaching take into account the slowest ship in the convoy? The answer is no; the curriculum is followed according to a timetable, because there are only so many days in a school year.

Given the study concludes that grammar schools perform no better than non-selective state schools, once their pupils' higher ability and wealth is taken into account, my question is how does one negate the effect of higher ability in order to reach that conclusion? It doesn't make logical sense when you're testing for ability in the first place - you can't arbitrarily knock a grade off someone with higher ability and reach any meaningful conclusion; nor can you arbitrarily add a grade to a pupil lacking in ability. You simply can't measure ability by fudging what you're measuring in the first place, which is ability. It's like saying once you take into account the higher value of gold against silver, they're both worth the same.

The DfE says that research has shown that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds make better progress across core subjects in selective schools, and attain better results. So how does that square with the study?

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