Every now and then a TV presenter tires of being fobbed-off with the party line and gives a slippery politician a grilling worthy of David Frost.

BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt had his moment this morning when he tired of Education Secretary Justine Greening’s rhetoric over grammar schools.

Greening was touring the TV studios in a bid to convince the public that the return of selective schooling was going to be good for “ordinary working families”.

The minister had forced the soundbite down the throats of viewers at a rate of once a minute in her opening answers and it proved too much for Stayt, who told her:

“Anyone watching this morning will have noticed, I’ve not done a counter, but you’ve used the phrase ordinary working families pretty much every answer. The fact is that most people watching this programme, who are from ordinary working families, whatever they may be. We can assume that’s pretty much everyone who works and they’ve got kids – most of their kids don’t go to grammar schools and won’t go to grammar schools. 

“The vast majority do not. You seem to be spending an awful lot of time on this grammar school thing. Are you really convinced it in, number one? And number two, while you’re talking about grammar schools most headteachers say they’re struggling to make ends meet, parents have got letters from the school saying ‘can we have a fiver, can we have 20 quid to help us get by’. You seem to be stuck in a dogma about grammar schools when the rest of the education system is flailing around trying to make ends meet.”

Having asked about the state of comprehensive schools, the presenter had to stop Greening as she set off on another pre-prepared answer about grammar schools.

“I want you to talk about most people’s children and where they go to school,” he said. “And it’s not grammar schools. Why aren’t you putting more money into a system that’s failing?”

Greening admitted he was “absolutely right” and confirmed just 163 of 7,000 secondary schools in England are grammars. But she claimed the Government was putting “record funding” into state schools and that the school budget will rise in the next few years.

That’s completely contrary to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) analysis of spending plans that says Greening is overseeing the biggest cuts to school spending since Thatcher was in power.

And Stayt was in no mood to let her get away with it. He added:

“Let’s lay this record investment in schools thing to rest completely. Because you know full well, the IFS, who have looked into this, have said that spending per pupil is likely to fall by 8% in real terms between 2014-15 and 2019-20.

“Whatever you say about the amount of cash going in, the reality for the schools…and surely, you’re the Education Secretary, that’s the only thing you care about isn’t it? The reality of what a school is like inside, it’s getting worse. Do you not know it’s getting worse? Are you not hearing the messages from teachers and headteachers who say they haven’t got enough money? And you’re prepared to sit there and an overall sum which is bigger when the reality is that they say they haven’t got enough money.”

You can watch Stayt put the record straight for yourself below. The good stuff starts at 5 minutes:

  1. Ian Stevenson says:

    Whoever wrote Stayt’s questions, has done a better job than whoever wrote the questions to the former ambassador the other morning.

  2. Stayt should be awarded for actually holding a Minister to account. For viewers, this must’ve been a sight for sore eyes, he clearly done his research

  3. Greening is way out of her depth. What a state of affairs when the country has cerebrally challenged, ideologically driven idiots like her in government.

  4. Did you notice her wording; she talked about there being 163 grammar schools, and then sounded dismissive when talking about the ‘remainder of schools’. I’d like to ask her, since when are the vast majority, the remainder? Her attitude to mainstream schooling is obvious in this selection of words.

  5. This is absolutely ridiculous. I think they said that the ‘new’ grammar schools were going to target the top (however you define that I don’t know) 10% of students. That means, in some areas of the country….coastal regions, for example, the schools will either be very small or students will have to travel long distances to get to them. Either way, they will be very expensive to run, quite apart from the ludicrous assertion that parents will have more ‘choice’. It’s very clear that 90% of them won’t have any choice at all. So we’ll all be contributing taxes to a system that privileges 10% of pupils. Generally, too, that 10% achieve well in our comprehensives. If you look at data, it’s the middle attaining students whose results often drift.

  6. stewart gordon says:

    Great questioning by Charlie but I bet he’s out of a job tomorrow! Anyone else notice Big Ben never moved during the 9 minute interview. Is it a fake back drop?

  7. Nigel Foster says:

    I live in Sherborne, Dorset. Our local comprehensive, the Gryphon, sends more students to Oxbridge than the much vaunted private schools of Sherborne Boys and Sherborne Girls. In Dorset as a whole the state schools perform better than the private ones. Other than snobbery and class politics why on earth would anyone want to bring back a socially divisive system? Surely to god we should be putting the money into comprehensives while properly taxing the private schools who do little or nothing to deserve their charitable status.

  8. She commented also about the previous govts debt they had to clear.Was that the Tories under Cameron she was refering to?

  9. Most people where I live don’t have a high income, the local people have a high rate of unemployment. Parents on benefits are being benefit capped. They could never afford this, they often have to access food banks, let alone grammar schools! And heaven help them if they have more than 2 children, what if the third is the next flemming or hawking? that child won’t be supported. The Tories don’t care, they talk about the deficit of the last government? What the hell have they been doing for the last 7 years except cutting and cutting and cutting anything to keep the poorest down.

  10. Another clueless education Minister and Charlie was right. We NEED teachers not lessons on how to turn light switches off or not printing too many pages. Teachers are leaving the profession in their droves. My colleague left last week after only 1 yr and I’m out of the profession in September after only 7 having gone £40k in debt to become one.
    It costs 4x £10k to get a teaching qualification and adding the debt of around £40k again whilst studying who exactly is now going to choose to become a teacher to replace us?

    Delusional governmemt that just won’t listen to the people who know what’s happening. Schools are in crisis and in 2-3yrs it’s going to cost the Government £billions to recover it.

  11. It saddens me that our government is clearly not informed about the best practice for teaching and learning. The current research on growth mindset and its positive affect on students is completely at odds with the concept of prejudging children and sorting them into the top 10% of anything. I would like to see our ministers meeting and listening to the experts in the field not making random decisions without knowledge or research based foundations. Charlie is entirely correct to demand deeper answers.

  12. Weren’t Academies supposed to be the solution to failing schools? What happened to them? Are these new Grammar Schools to be the new Academies?

    Let me give you an alternative definition for the term “disadvantaged children” and that is those pupils who want to learn but who don’t get a decent education because of disruptive pupils in their classes, and weak leadership teams who introduce ineffective “consequence systems”.

    “Schools rated Good or Outstanding”, she refers to. I am so bored of hearing that useless phrase linked to some irrelevant statistic. Many of those schools are rated as such based on data. What parents don’t realise is how much poor behaviour there is in many “Good” schools nowadays. I taught for 17 years before leaving the profession in 2013. As a supply teacher I experienced some of the worst behaviour I have ever seen in some of these Academies rated ‘Good’. The League Tables mean nothing.

    Most people don’t realise just how poor the education system has become.

  13. Several people have mentioned bad behaviour. This is because a school has no effective sanction to apply. The size of schools is also a problem. With schools with over one thousand pupils it is impossible to know all the children and sometimes difficult to know all of the staff. I taught in two schools , one with 450 pupils the other with 1300 . The best outcomes were from the smaller school.

  14. Ronald Atkinson says:

    Can someone please explain why the Tory’s are still harping on about the deficit left by Labour when, as we all know, the deficit has trebled since 2010. Which proves that their draconian cuts are not working

  15. Labour didn’t cause the deficit, the Bankers did by their corrupt methods, the self same bankers who are now reaping the rewards of a Tory gov that turns a blind eye to many of their practises. The tories harp on about how great the education system is in Singapore or Finland why don’t they adopt the practices from there, no selection and teachers only teaching 10 – 12 hours a week. Instead they hide behind the ideology of the 19th century and the workhouse.

  16. Im head of an outstanding primary school with 50% of pupils classified as disadvantaged. 45% of pupils live in a SOA classified as being in the bottom most disadvantaged 10% of the country. Last year our disadvantaged pupils outperformed non disadvantaged nationally. The title of the school is irrelevant with 65% achieving age related expectations, compared to 60% of non disadvantaged nationally. The term disadvantaged is inappropriate – children are not cognitively disadvantaged – all children can learn – they don’t need a grammar school in which to do that learning – they need teachers determined to ensure children learn.

  17. Whoever thought it was a good idea to appoint an apparently dim person as Education Secretary needs looking at, lolol.

    Did she really say ‘more broadlier’?

  18. The Grammar school debate is a government distraction policy to take away attention from the disastrous state they have got the country in through the ideologically driven dismantling of our social and welfare infrastructure dressed as austerity, under investment and the momentous mistake in trying to appease the Eurosceptic extreme right wings by holding a referendum for party political purposes with no contingency plan of public information campaign to counter the little Britain pack of lies. Theresa May couldn’t really give a fiddlers fart about Grammar schools and has set up this totally incompetent Greening as a sacrificial goat who they will encourage to keep bleating in a state of blind panic to keep the attention from her own incapacity to think and act other than through a very narrow focus on one issue at a time, as her role as Home Secretary has shown us.

  19. Parveen Hafeez says:

    All lie’s from clueless Tories, you look at the existing school, two of my daughter’s are Mathematics graduates, they say it is all politics, children’s come at bottom of the list, they need to cut down on paper work and more emphasis on teaching.We should focus on all children’s not few and look after the teachers and pupils Education. Tories are out of touch with ordinary people.

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