The sad story of Sumanto

If spinach be the food of love, read on

This morning we travel to Indonesia, courtesy of Papua New Guinea's Weekend Courier newspaper.

I think this might be my favourite story so far. I'm going to list the reasons why. I do like a list.

a) The protagonist is an ex-cannibal.

b) He's looking for love.

c) It contains the quote: I love meat... all types of meat as long as it's cooked. But I don't eat people any more. (Mostly spinach.)

I can see why some might not take to the plight of Sumanto. (He once dug up a corpse. And ate it.) But in the spirit of Second Chances, and New Beginnings, and generally supporting lonely, strange people the world over (one of the manifesto commitments of this blog - watch this space for further manifesto commitments as and when they occur to me), I'd like to suggest a general surge of goodwill in his direction. I also really like the idea of an ex-cannibal lonely hearts column. Surely My Single Friend could easily diversify into My Ex-Cannibal Neighbour?

Anyway, good luck to you, Sumanto. I hope you find love, and I hope that said love likes spinach (the greatest euphemism for flesh I've ever heard).

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Children from "just managing" families most excluded from grammar schools

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said grammar schools "offer nothing to most kids".

Children from "just about managing" families are unlikely to benefit from an expansion of grammar schools because they don't get accepted in the first place, research from the Sutton Trust has found.

The educational charity also found that disadvantaged white British pupils were the least likely among a range of ethnic groups to get access to elite state school education. 

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: “The Tories are failing our children. They should be delivering a country that works for everyone but all they have to offer is a plan to build an education system that only helps a handful of already privileged children.

"The evidence is clear - grammar schools reinforce advantage and offer nothing to most kids."

Theresa May launched her premiership with both a pledge to make Britain work for the "just managing" families (consequently termed Jams), and a promise to consider expanding grammar schools. 

The Sutton Trust researchers used the Income Deprivation Affecting Children index to compare access rates to those defined "just about managing" by the Resolution Foundation. 

They found that even non-disadvantaged pupils living in deprived neighbourhoods are barely more likely to attend grammar schools than those in the poorest. The report stated: "This is a strong indication that the ‘just managing’ families are not being catered for by the current grammar school system."

The Sutton Trust also found different ethnic groups benefited differently from grammar schools.

Disadvantaged Black pupils made up just 0.8 per cent of pupils in 2016, while disadvantaged white British pupils made up roughly 0.7 per cent, although disadvantaged white non-British children fared slightly better. Among disadvantaged groups, Asian pupils made up a substantial proportion of grammar school pupils. 

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: “Today’s research raises concerns about the government’s plans to use new grammars as a vehicle for social mobility. We need to get existing grammars moving in the right direction before we consider expanding their number.”

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.