Sharp elbows at the ready

I was interested to read a recent Kent Online article (“Campaigning group signals a comprehensive future for Kent schools”,  Sep 2).  It tells the story of the Comprehensive Future lobbying group, led by Fiona Millar, who have set out plans whereby Grammar schools could be phased out “within ten years at virtually no cost”.

Ms Millar’s group has published a report – ‘Ending Rejection At Eleven+’ which sets out how this change might occur.   It proposes to scrap the idea of a democratic ballot amongst parents – you might recall the only time a ballot has been called in Kent was a decade ago, and failed as those behind it were unable to find enough supporters to sign up.  Instead, the Government would simply agree a date by which the selective system would be scrapped.

I recall some years ago one of the campaigners against the eleven plus being interviewed at her home in Kent.  As she argued vociferously that young people should not be selected by academic ability, just in camera shot was her framed degree certificate on the wall.  At more or less the same time, the then Labour Education Minister was robustly decrying the Grammar system on Question Time, when David Dimbleby calmly asked whether he himself has benefitted from a Grammar school education – which he admitted he had.

With this “pull the ladder up behind you” mentality in mind, I searched Fiona Millar with Google.  Her Wikipedia entry describes her as a “British journalist and high profile education campaigner” who was born in 1958 in Camden, London.  A former adviser to Cherie Blair, her partner, and the father of her two sons and daughter is Alistair Campbell.  She is also quoted as being “…not keen on sharp-elbowed middle class parents getting into some of the better state schools.”

She was born in 1958 in Camden.    And her education? Oh yes – “She attended Camden School for Girls, followed by a selective grammar school on Sandall Road in Camden Town.” She then studied Economics and Economic History at UCL.

Now, deep breath and sharp elbows at the ready…

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