Morning Call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers

1. He who wields the banana can wear the crown (Times)

Charges of dithering will not stick, says David Aaronovitch. David Miliband's critics dislike his politics, not his refusal to challenge Gordon Brown.

2. Universities face meltdown -- and all of Britain will suffer (Guardian)

Michael Arthur and Wendy Piatt implore ministers to think again about Budget cuts that threaten to wreck a sector vital to our national prosperity.

3. Gordon Brown may have a team around him, but where are the policies? (Telegraph)

Aspiration versus austerity is the latest gambit, but what does it mean, asks Mary Riddell, and why have core Labour voters become such an unloved caste?

4. Mr Cameron's responsibility is to give us some detail (Independent)

The Tory leader's social plans are welcome, says the Indie's leading article, but not fully explained. He must convince the public that greater social cohesion can coexist with a smaller role for the state by outlining how he would do it.

5. Little by little, the blue seeps through Cameron's silky skin (Guardian)

Polly Toynbee is less convinced. Scratch the surface of the Tory leader's dreamy vision of good parenting, she says, and his true colours become that bit clearer.

6. Is Mr Cameron's naughty step a step too far? (Times)

Rachel Sylvester takes up the same theme, arguing that the Tory leader's traditional family policies will please his party, but risk harming his image as a force for change.

7. Bankruptcy could be good for America (Financial Times)

If the US keeps running huge deficits, sooner or later the country will start flirting with bankruptcy, says Gideon Rachman. This might be better sooner rather than later.

8. The Royal Institution must be saved (Telegraph)

Colin Blakemore looks back at the history of the Royal Institution, arguing that it would be a tragedy to lose this melting pot of science.

9. The Irish Family Robinson (Times)

Peace in Northern Ireland has been stuck on the question of devolved responsibilty for policing, says the leading article. The resignation of Peter Robinson makes progress more difficult still.

10. Greece looks set to go the way of Argentina (Financial Times)

Desmond Lachman discusses the currency crisis in Greece, and the lessons that Athens can learn from Buenos Aires.

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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.