North West London
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Review of the Year
There had been broad support for the principle of introducing a fairer funding system, but against a background of deepening concerns over overall budget shortages, the proposals had a muted reception. In terms of Ms Greening’s policy priorities, social mobility was a theme to which she repeatedly returned. She spoke of “unlocking the talents” of all young people and extending opportunities to all communities across the country. The education secretary, the first Conservative to have attended comprehensive school and hold the office, had warned that too often there was a waste of the ability of young people from poorer backgrounds. She argued for stronger and more co-ordinated links between education and businesses and local organisations that could help to improve the horizons for young people who might not feel that they were competing on a level playing field. It tapped into a growing concern about a new geography of disadvantage, with worries about underachieving schools in the north of England and a sense that the ladder of opportunity was not evenly extended. There were concerns about schools in isolated coastal towns slipping behind and white working- class communities missing out on the pathway to university. “Where you start too often decides where you finish,” Ms Greening told a conference in December. But the push for social mobility was clouded by the mass resignation in the same month of the board of the government’s own Social Mobility Commission, with complaints about a lack of substantive progress. There were also reports of differences of opinion within government. There
Former Education Secretary Justine Greening MP
were questions about when and how the university tuition fee review, promised by the prime minister, would be established. There was also speculation about the extent of Ms Greening’s enthusiasm for the promise to expand academic selection in more grammar schools. When it came to the cabinet reshuffle in January, Ms Greening was replaced by Damian Hinds, who writes the foreword for this publication. There were suggestions that Greening had turned down the offer of an alternative post in government, but either way she was heading for the backbenches.
6 | REVIEW OF THE YEAR
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