Britain will not “turn the clock back” and return to a “simplistic winners and losers school system”, the Education Secretary has said as she ruled out a return to the 11 plus.
Justine Greening said that the Government will take a “pragmatic look” at he role of selection and grammar schools in education as she accused Labour critics of putting dogma and ideology before pupils and opportunity.
It came as Theresa May said Britain’s education system already has selection by house price as she defended her plans to lift the ban on new grammar schools.
Ms Greening told MPs in the Commons: “To complain about one aspect of our schools system and say we shouldn’t have a debate is untenable. We do believe that selection can play a role.
“We need to look at how grammars can work effectively with those that don’t get to them.”
Asked by a Conservative MP for an assurance that there will be no return to the 11-plus, Mrs Greening said that there will be “no return to he past”. She also appeared to rule out a return to secondary moderns.
On Wednesday night the Prime Minister said she wanted to create a 21st century education system with an element of selection as she spoke on the plans for the first time since The Telegraph disclosed she backed new selective schools.
This morning a senior Cabinet minister insisted Mrs May’s plans for a new generation of grammars will not mean a return to “sink schools” for children who miss out on selection at the age of 11.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the Government’s aim was to provide a choice of high-quality schools in every part of the country.
“We need to widen choice,” Sir Michael told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“In my constituency I have two excellent academies, I’ve got one of the new free schools and my constituents also now have access to grammar schools, and that’s the kind of choice I want to see in every part of the country.”
Proposals to be announced “very shortly” would offer parents and children across England “a proper choice of good schools” and not “a choice between passing the 11-plus and failing it and having to go off to a sink school of the kind that’s let our children down so badly”, he said.
Mrs May will publish a green paper today and give a major speech after telling MPs last night that she wants a new generation of grammar schools to be inclusive and not exclusive.
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