Announcing plans to lift Tony Blair’s 1998 ban on selection, the Prime Minister argued it was not a proposal “to go back to a binary model of grammars and secondary models” but “to look to the future”.
In her first major policy speech since taking office, Mrs May said the reforms were aimed at providing “a good school place for every child and one that caters for their individual needs”.
:: May’s Grammar School Backing A Party Pleaser
However, the PM faces a tough task taking the plans through Parliament with Labour vowing to oppose the “regressive policy every step of the way”.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also said the return to grammars was an “out-of-date, ineffective approach” which would be defeated in the House of Lords, where the Government does not have a majority.
There is also concern within the Tory ranks.
Conservative former education secretary Nicky Morgan said she opposed extending selection.
In a Facebook post she wrote: “I believe that an increase in pupil segregation on the basis of academic selection would be at best a distraction from crucial reforms to raise standards and narrow the attainment gap and at worse risk actively undermining six years of progressive education reform.”
In announcing her plans, Mrs May outlined a number of steps aimed at ensuring that the new and expanded grammars took pupils from poorer backgrounds, including quotas.
Removing the bar on selection in state schools, which was kept in place by her predecessor David Cameron, Mrs May argued it was “completely illogical to make it illegal to open good new schools”.
In a move to allay concerns that better-off parents would secure places for their children by paying for tutoring, she said new-style smart tests would assess the “true potential” of each pupil.
Schools would also be encouraged to take students at 14 and 16 as well as 11, to avoid the risk of youngsters being written off as non-academic at the start of their secondary careers.
The PM also said independent schools, which had “become more and more divorced from normal life”, would face a tougher test of public benefit in order to maintain their charitable status.
Universities would also be forced to support attainment in the state education system, by sponsoring a state school or setting up a new free school.
In another move set to spark controversy, Mrs May confirmed she will lift restrictions requiring oversubscribed faith schools to make 50% of places available to children from other religious communities.
Mrs May claimed the raft of reforms would “set Britain on the path to being the great meritocracy of the world”.
However, chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has accused the PM of “putting the clock back” and warned a return to grammars would threaten the progress made in the state system.
All of the proposals unveiled in Mrs May’s speech will go out for consultation.
News Source SkyNews