Money for education? Why not the NHS, or mental health?

Grammar schools have been invited to apply for a money from a government pot for expansion. This is for “good” or “outstanding” schools in areas where there is a shortfall in secondary places. The expansion proposals will be divided into either on-site expansion, or expansion to another site, with land to be acquired. This announcement of funding for grammar schools, provoked criticism from many campaigners, with many saying that it was a shady way to get around a ban on opening new grammar schools.

The deadline for submissions is tight, and given that plans include drawing up building plans for an annexe, even existing grammars are keen on applying. The logistics of working around split sides adds costs and means teachers moving between sites, which mean more co-ordination.

And what if this money was transferred to the NHS instead? The sum of the government’s fund adds up to fifty million pounds, which may be a small drop in the ocean, but it is money that could open a new ward, more beds, and relieve the pressure on existing wards.

The money could also been used to fund more trips, and prevent brain drain of existing students for whom the classroom only disseminates information to be memorised, and not internalised. According to a Piano Teacher in Crouch End, information that is presented as a to-do list is less effective than what it is made relevant through experience and meaning. Playing a piece of music has internal satisfaction, but when learning music involves going beyond the information to understand composer motivation, there is more relevance.

Existing grammar schools have not been keen to take it up, with only one or two keen to apply. Perhaps the fund could be diverted to other health means instead, such as improving mental health services, or the acquistion of buildings or rooms where volunteers could provide some form of care for the community. Certainly the fifty million would go a longer way!