Saturday, December 4

Theresa May could Revival Grammar School


 

 

Theresa May has told Conservative backbenchers she supports lifting the ban on grammar schools so every child can have access to opportunity.

Two MPs who attended a meeting of the 1922 Committee on Wednesday night confirmed to Sky News that the Prime Minister argued for an overhaul of England’s school system.

She told the gathering of backbench MPs that the best state schools have become the preserve of Britain’s elite, effectively shutting out the majority of children from the best education.

The sources confirmed she said, to cheers in the room: “We already have selection, haven’t we? It’s called selection by house price.”

It is thought many of the free schools announced by her predecessor David Cameron could become grammar schools under the changes.

The Government’s support for grammar schools was confirmed when a photographer snapped a Department for Education official carrying a briefing paper which outlined that a consultation document would recommend the change.

New grammars were banned by Tony Blair’s government in 1998, amid concerns selective schools and the 11-plus exam favoured children who had attended private prep schools.

In the two decades since the ban, successive Conservative leaders have been nervous about opening the debate, despite the popularity of grammar schools among grassroots Tories.

But there is still concern among legislators and advisors – as well as deep opposition from the Labour and Liberal Democrat benches.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said Mrs May’s policy could be summed up as “shambolic”.

She added: “The Prime Minister talks about social inclusion while at the same time advocating social segregation through grammar school selection.

“No child’s life chances should be defined by a test they sit at the age of 11.”

Alan Milburn, chairman of the Government’s Social Mobility Commission, is quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying the move would be a “disaster”.

The former Labour cabinet minister argued that poorer children fall below the national average in exam performance in areas where there are more selective schools.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem education spokesperson John Pugh said: “There is no such thing as inclusive grammar schools. By their very nature they exclude children who don’t pass a test aged 11.

“We want every child to succeed, not just the few.”

Mrs May has said improving life chances for the struggling majority is one of the priorities for her government.

Both the Prime Minister and her chief of staff Nick Timothy attended grammar schools.

A consultation document on the proposal is expected to be launched next week, with a green paper to follow.

When the photograph of the briefing paper emerged, a Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that we need to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

“We are looking at a range of options to allow more children to access a school that lets them rise as far as their talents will take them.

“Policies on education will be set out in due course.”