What Do You Think – New Grammar Schools?

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Theresa May’s government is seeking views on further changes to schools, which includes the creation of new grammar schools. Your views on the Green Paper are being sought.
Click here to see details of the consultation process.

Speaking in Parliament, Justine Greening said that the government wanted to build on the progress made over the last 6 years, which has led to 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.

The proposals to be consulted on include:

  • Allowing new selective schools to open, existing ones to expand, or non-selective schools to convert where there is demand; in addition, these schools must meet certain conditions such as guaranteeing places for children from disadvantaged backgrounds or helping to establish non-selective free schools
  • Stronger, more demanding requirements for independent schools to retain the benefits associated with charitable status; this could include offering bursaries to those less able to afford them or sponsoring schools in the state sector
  • Requiring universities to open or sponsor schools in exchange for the right to raise their tuition fees
  • Lifting the cap on new faith free schools which requires them to limit the number of pupils admitted on the basis of faith to 50% and replacing it with new measures to ensure all new faith free schools are truly inclusive

The proposals are controversial to many observers.

Ms May said she would “relax” the ban introduced under Labour in 1998 against opening grammar schools, describing it as “completely illogical” to make it illegal to open new good schools.

In announcing the Green Paper, Education Secretary Justine Greening said: ‘This government is making the case for social reform to build a true meritocracy in Britain, and education lies at the heart of that ambition. The proposals I have published today build on the government’s successful reforms to our education system. We want to make more good school places available in more areas, ensuring we give every child an excellent education and the opportunity to fulfill their potential.’

Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice: the union for education professionals, said: ‘There is a danger that these proposals will distract from the real issues – teacher shortages; funding; the pay, conditions and availability of support staff; the curriculum; and wider economic and social challenges. I am concerned that the debate so far has been about school structures, based on politicians’ personal preferences, background and anecdotes rather than hard evidence. We do not want to see a two tier system that gives advantage to some pupils while disadvantaging the rest.’

While Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, speaking at the London Councils’ Education Summit, said; ‘The success of the capital’s schools ‘makes a mockery’ of claims that increasing the number of grammar schools would be key to improving attainment for disadvantaged children.’

A recent poll by YouGov suggests that social mobility concerns about grammar schools are not widespread in England, with just one in five believing grammars are bad for social mobility and two thirds of those interviewed saying they would send their children to a grammar school. Click here for poll.

The final word goes to Justine Greening,’ I would urge everyone to look at the detail in the consultation document and join that debate.’


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