Bio

I was lucky to go through the education system long before the current obsession with test results and ended up studying classical guitar and lute at London College of Music back in the days when ‘early music’ was still being invented before moving to IT for a few decades.  Most recently have completed a BSc hons in Maths and Pedagogy with Statics so I can now combine creative, technical and analytical.

My recent studies have made me realise how much damage is being done to Education by the marketisation introduced in the 1988 Great Education Reform Bill.  Sociologist William Bruce Cameron (1963) summed it up with the wonderfully succinct chiasmus, “Not everything which can be counted counts and not everything which counts can be counted.”  We need to be nurturing imaginative, collaborative, divergent thinking non-conformists who can come up with creative solutions to the problems the future presents.

I’m currently researching the effectiveness of admissions policies aimed at attracting more disadvantaged children into grammar schools but in the longer term am seeking support to carry out more detailed research into the effects of tutoring on the 11+ test using a combination of multi-level regression models investigating demographic and geographic segmentation, parental surveys and controlled trials.  The catalyst for all this was my son ‘failing’ the 11+ then going on to outperform those who ‘passed’ by half a grade, although individual anecdotes should never inform objective analysis of a system (I leave that to Theresa May who is on record as not caring for evidence based policy making.)

I am passionate that openness and transparency are paramount to the well-being and health of society and that education policy should be based on rational and objective reasoning, a position which puts me at odds with authority.  Since 2014 I have been challenging Durham University’s claimed “tutor-proof” tests through the courts and I’m also investigating whether the government misused the 2016/17 Schools Condition Improvement Fund to expand selective education when they had no mandate to do so.

I originally created this website when certain selective schools were “consulting” on their admissions without actually notifying anyone.  That raised awareness as well as 600 signatures asking them to admit more local children.  The website has since morphed into a personal blog on education and mainly selection.  I have been collaborating with Comprehensive Futures for some time providing them with statistical information and analysis which is regularly quoted in the press.

I’ve been drawing cartoons since about 23 June 2016 which I’ve put on another blog Surviving #Brexshit and other cartoons.  “Warning!  I’ve got a pen and I’m not afraid to use it!!

Photo Jill Mead the Guardian

James Coombs, 2018