Mayor responds to Government's planned education reforms

Today the government published its package to transform education and opportunities for the most disadvantaged by announcing new specialist selective sixth-form free schools.

1 February 2022

Ahead of the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper, the government have today (Tuesday 1 February) announced a package of education reforms, including 'new elite sixth forms' instead of investment in existing further education providers. 

In response to the announcement, Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, said:

"I share the government’s ambition for our young people in West Yorkshire and across the country. However, today’s announcement around the creation of selective Sixth Form Colleges in regions in need of levelling up, is not the solution. Picking clever children to go to new selective schools risks destabilising existing Sixth Form Colleges, while undermining the staff within those schools.

"Selection is the antithesis of levelling up and I’d suggest the money would be best spent giving adequate resources and support to existing colleges. This intervention also misses the point that good quality early years is proven to close the social mobility gap and support inter regional levelling up. When the National Literacy Trust exposed the fact that 40% of primary schools have no dedicated library budget, we have a long way to go.  

"In West Yorkshire, we are working hard to support young adults to develop the skills they need to enter and stay in work, meeting their needs and those of the region’s businesses. We were the first region in the country to introduce a new partnership agreement with Further Education colleges. Partnerships that marry up skills needed in our region to the ambitions and goals of young people. It is a credit to our FE community that we can have this kind of relationship with them.

"We have recently launched something called the Future-Ready Skills Commission, bringing together leading figures from business, education, government, research bodies and the young people who represent the future of our workforce. We believe in giving young people a voice in making decisions about their education is key. 

"The government’s plans do not appear to consider the achievements to date, of further education colleges, instead, they are desperately scrabbling around to fix a problem that has been laid bare by the pandemic and risking an entire generation falling behind."

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