i News spoke to voters out in the streets of Knowsley and Maidenhead to get their thoughts on the parties’ education policies, and if they supported the Conservatives’ expansion of grammar schools.
If grammar schools are Theresa May’s answer on education, then Louise is not sure the Prime Minister has been asking the right question. The 35-year-old mother of three from Huyton in Knowsley on Merseyside will, by September, have three children in three different schools and is not completely happy with any of them.
“They should’ve just kept the old ones [schools] and put the money into doing them up,” she said of the upheaval in 2009, which saw all 11 secondaries in the borough demolished and replaced with seven “centres” like Huyton, costing over £150m.
Grammar schools have been touted as a potential solution to the educational woes of places like Knowsley, which is among the most disadvantaged boroughs in the UK, but nobody who i spoke to in Huyton town centre welcomed the idea. For Louise, it is “disgusting”. “What about all the other kids?” she asked. “No-one is better than everyone else.”
Maidenhead might be deep in Conservative country being Theresa May’s own constituency, but there is at least one person who is considering voting Labour, “despite Jeremy Corbyn” being its leader. Katy Yates, a mother of four, said she was considering going against the blue tide in her hometown because of a single issue – cuts to school budgets. Her children’s local primary school, Lowbrook Academy, has been forced to abandon plans to expand its building in a bid to provide more classrooms due to a £750,000 hole in its finances.
“The reason the school can’t expand is because it doesn’t have the money. But this isn’t just affecting our school, it is hitting all schools, so it will affect how I vote.”
Even the proudly Conservative Mantel Leitha, a mother of two, said she had doubts about more grammar schools. While her own children attend a grammar, she thinks selecting children at 11 is too early. She said. “I do think there should be equal education for all children,” adding “Every school should have the status of a grammar school, because everyone should have access to the right education.”
Will the education cuts swing votes so dramatically? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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