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Morgan blasts school 'soft bigotry'

Published 01/07/2015

Nicky Morgan will insist it is unacceptable for disadvantaged students to be pushed towards
Nicky Morgan will insist it is unacceptable for disadvantaged students to be pushed towards "easier" subjects

Nicky Morgan is to hit out at "soft bigotry" in schools which she says is holding back pupils from poorer families.

The Education Secretary will insist it is unacceptable for disadvantaged students to be pushed towards "easier" subjects.

Arguing that the coalition made significant progress in spreading opportunity through policies such as the pupil premium, she will reiterate that in future everyone will take GCSEs in the core English baccalaureate subjects.

In a speech to a Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation summit in London, Mrs Morgan is to say it is not enough to "close the gap" between poorer and wealthier students.

"Pupils that lag behind their peers should be encouraged to reach their full potential and to go further than simply 'catching up'," she will say.

"If we would want our own children to study the core academic subjects, we should extend that opportunity to every child.

"The soft bigotry of low expectation has no place in today's schooling. That is why I intend that every secondary school starter in September will study the EBacc subjects at GCSE.

"The days of ushering children from poorer homes towards so-called 'easier topics', that made their lives harder in the long run, are over.

"Because it shouldn't just be the children of highly literate families that get an A* in English, or those who can afford evening tuition that become excellent mathematicians.

"Allowing every child to study the EBacc will raise academic standards for all.

"It will put an end to the quiet discrimination that once operated in too many schools, when disadvantaged pupils faced unfair barriers to achievement."

The EBacc subjects are English, maths, sciences, history or georgraphy, and a language.

Mrs Morgan will say the Pupil Premium - which allocates extra funding to schools attended by disadvantaged students - was designed to make their "journey to academic excellence easier".

But she is to admit there are "important challenges" around how it is being used by head teachers.

More work is needed on ways of gathering information on effectiveness and spreading best practice.

"Applying the premium in a scatter-gun fashion, with the assumption that it will find its way to those who need it, is not transformative enough," Mrs Morgan will say.

"The needs of an inner-city pupil will differ greatly from a young person at a coastal school.

"Careful application of the funding will see it reaching the most disadvantaged children."

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