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Principal’s Question leads to jeers for Greening

Education Secretary Justine Greening came under attack following a question submitted from Newton Abbot College’s Principal, Paul Cornish, at the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in Birmingham on 10 March. 

Ms Greening was jeered at and heckled as she attempted to answer Mr Cornish’s question: asking why the Government plans to create more selective schools when this flies in the face of evidence on grammar schools’ impact on social mobility. 

Principal Paul Cornish

Principal Paul Cornish

The question, which received rapturous applause and support from fellow head teachers from across the country, was one that Mr Cornish was quick to clarify: “My question was about the contradiction between insisting that all education policy should be firmly based in evidence and claiming to be passionate about social mobility on the one hand; and expanding the grammar school programme on the other. All evidence and educational research shows very clearly that selective education does not improve social mobility.” 

Mr Cornish added his surprise that it was his question that received so much attention: “There was another question regarding funding and to be honest this is a more pressing and worrying issue for school leaders currently. Government cuts and increased costs are a worry for every school. The new Apprenticeship Levy, rising National Insurance costs, rising employers’ pension contributions, rising National Living Wage (none of which have been accompanied by extra funding for schools) and the removal of the Education Services Grant all point to tough times ahead. School leaders are facing very real and tough choices about what they can no longer financially provide for their students.”  He added, “At Newton Abbot College we will continue to provide the highest quality comprehensive and socially mobilising education for all students in order to increase their opportunities, maximise their outcomes and improve their life chances.” 

At Newton Abbot College we will continue to provide the highest quality comprehensive and socially mobilising education for all students in order to increase their opportunities, maximise their outcomes and improve their life chances.
Paul Cornish, Principal