Plan to reintroduce grammar schools is pilloried by shadow education secretary

Angela Rayner: You'd be wise to believe her, rather than the Tories, on the benefits of reviving grammar schools [Image: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian].
Angela Rayner: You’d be wise to believe her, rather than the Tories, on the benefits of reviving grammar schools [Image: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian].

Reintroducing ‘selective’ education will kill social mobility, not nurture it – and Angela Rayner knows that very well.

Labour’s education spokeswoman has poured scorn on Tory claims that bringing back grammar schools with help all school pupils make the most of their talents.

She has pointed out that the most important selection criterion for the old grammars was the parental bank balance: “Children on free school meals or from poorer neighbourhoods are less likely to attend grammar school than better off classmates,” she tweeted.

“According to HoC library, 2% of children at grammar schools eligible for free school meals they are not from poorest backgrounds,” she added.

And she pointed out: “Just 0.3% of grammar school pupils with two A-levels are from skilled working class. A measly three children out of every thousand.”

Ms Rayner stated: “Grammar schools sow division, leave too many young children feeling second best, and put a cap on aspiration, ambition and opportunity.

“Memo to Tories: concentrate on providing the best possible school for every child. Stop obsessing about grammars. Education not ideology,” she concluded.

She added that the same people who are now applauding the plan to bring back grammar schools “scoffed” at her, early last month, for suggesting the Tories wanted to restore selection at Key Stage 2.

Here’s the relevant passage from Hansard.

Of course, with a majority in the House of Commons, there’s very little anybody can do to stop the Conservatives from restoring grammar schools and pupil selection to ensure that the richest kids get the best education.

They’ll do it if they think they can drag public opinion along with them – and that’s why the Torygraph has started trailing the idea in the summer, perhaps half a year before any such plan is enacted.

So just keep an eye on the propaganda that will be released on this subject – and let’s keep remind people of the facts.

Theresa May is planning to launch a new generation of grammar schools by scrapping the ban on them imposed almost 20 years ago, The Telegraph has learnt.

In a move that will be cheered by Tory grassroots, the Prime Minister intends to pave the way for a new wave of selective schools.

Mrs May is understood to see the reintroduction of grammar schools – banned by Tony Blair in 1998 – as a key part of her social cohesion agenda.

The historic shift in education policy is expected to be announced by the end of the year, possibly as early as the Conservatives’ annual party conference in October.

A government source said allowing new grammar schools was about “social mobility and making sure that people have the opportunity to capitalise on all of their talents”.

Campaigners hope the government will both allow new grammar schools to be created from scratch and let existing academies and free schools introduce selection.

Source: Theresa May to end ban on new grammar schools

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6 Thoughts to “Plan to reintroduce grammar schools is pilloried by shadow education secretary”

  1. Christine Cullen

    The Tories are keeping the plebs where they want them; I live in the London Borough of Sutton which held on to it’s grammar schools and runs a system of grammars and other schools which they laughingly call comprehensives. Of course they are not comprehensives because the bright kids and the moneyed kids are already creamed off into the grammars. On top of that, Sutton’s shortage of school places is partly exacerbated by the attraction of pupils from outside the borough to try and enter these schools at the expense of Sutton children. Many Sutton secondary age pupils travel to Surrey and Kingston schools.
    Even the long standing LibDem council has not dared to touch the system in case they lose votes to the affluent of the borough. Money talks in Tory world.

  2. Selection: seems to be a shadowy presence in all ‘new’ schools, free, MATs you name it. I read (in the Guardian?) that one parent of a child with some minor support needs was recommended to go elsewhere when their primary school became ‘academy’. On checking the figures elsewhere he discovered that there was a pattern of ‘encouraging’ the parents of any less-than-perfect pupils to go elsewhere….so as not to damage those all-important success stats, I guess.

  3. hayfords

    Says it all. ‘Shadow Education Secretary’ and never to be the actual one. Can be safely disregarded.

    1. Mike Sivier

      You might be right. After the 2020 GE, who knows what job Prime Minister Corbyn will give an intelligent MP like Ms Rayner?

  4. NMac

    Another nasty little trick played on students from poorer families who passed for Grammar School was to insist on the school uniform, but make it too expensive for them to be able to afford. It ensured that the bank balance was the determining factor. My eldest daughter passed the 11+, but she was excluded because they only took the top 100 and she was 120th. However, she went to a Comprehensive School and from there, with the help of the Sutton Trust on to Bristol University (riddled with the class divide) and University of Bath, where she gained a BSc and a PhD respectively. Grammar Schools are definitely divisive and unfair, but then that’s everything the Tory Party stands for.

  5. Catherine Cooper

    I passed my 11 plus and went to Hornchurch Grammar School in 1954. My parents were poor, yet my four brothers and sisters and myself, all went to Grammar schools. I even had free school meals, after my father died. My husband passed the 11 plus and went to a technical school, in 1948. His family were poor! He was the only child out of six brothers and sisters to pass the 11 plus. The ability to pass the 11plus exam was not based on how much money your parents had!
    We both had to leave school at 16 to earn money for our families, that’s what stopped our “social mobility ” .
    We don’t need more selection, to change social mobility, we need the abolition of all private schools! We need Acadamies and Free Schools brought back under local authorities and we need all schools to have good Heads and well qualified staff. We need different kinds of secondary schools to provide technical and academic subjects. Mostly, we need all education to be free. No university fees!

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