Britain is still in the growth slow lane

Only Cyprus, Greece and Portugal have grown at a slower rate than the UK.

Growth figures for most major European economies have been published today, so how do they compare with the UK's? Both France and Germany grew at a similar rate to Britain in the third quarter of this year, expanding by 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively, a point you can expect George Osborne to make repeatedly over the coming weeks.

But if we look at growth over the last 12 months (see the final column on the Eurostat chart), the comparison isn't such a happy one. While Germany has grown by 2.6 per cent and France has grown by 1.6 per cent, Britain has grown by just 0.5 per cent (-0.5 per cent in Q4 2010, 0.4 per cent in Q1, 0.1 per cent in Q2 and 0.5 per cent in Q3), a slower rate of growth than ever EU country expect Cyprus, Greece and Portugal. It's a reminder that, contrary to Osborne, the economy was flatlining even before the current crisis began. In fact, the current crisis won't begin to have a significant effect on growth until the fourth quarter, when growth is likely to be flat or worse.

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The uncomfortable truth is that Osborne's Britain has one of the lowest rates of growth in Europe and one of the highest rates of inflation. This is not a recovery worthy of the name.

Postscript: What about the US, you ask? Will Straw crunched the numbers on The Staggers earlier this month and showed that the American economy has grown by 1.6 per cent over the last year, more than three times the speed of the UK.

George Eaton is political 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.