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 Mrs May 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, told Sky News Mrs May was being “disingenuous” on the issue, because grammars “by their very nature are not inclusive, they are selective”.
She said: “It’s just completely false to suggest that’s the golden ticket out of poverty or deprivation and will give good education.
“We know that there are some really good comprehensive secondary schools with great leadership and we know that when our comprehensive schools work together we can raise standards across the board and that’s what we should be doing, not trying to bring in selection again.”
Former education secretary Ed Balls told Sky News the system was “archaic”, adding: “It is unfair, the evidence doesn’t back it up.”
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.”
News Source SkyNews