Major lectured over new grammar schools

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The Independent Online
A leading Conservative education adviser has attacked the Prime Minister's plans for a grammar school in every town as "ill-conceived," saying they will condemn the majority of children to being taught in secondary moderns.

Demitri Coryton, chairman of the Conservative Education Association, told a conference that comprehensive schools had proved they could deliver high standards. He also attacked the Government's slogan on education, "Choice and Diversity," saying the two were not necessarily compatible.

The speech to a Church of England head teachers' conference is bound to anger right-wing Conservatives whose case for more selection and opting out has been fought successfully.

Mr Coryton attacked the notion that opting out, selection and a range of independently-run specialist schools would broaden parents' range of choices. Giving choice to one group of parents could be at the expense of others, he said.

Bringing back grammar schools would not give parents greater choice of schools but would give schools the right to choose pupils, he said.

John Major had been badly advised and was out of step with the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, Gillian Shephard. "Those who argue that the Government needs to put clear blue water between it and Labour by following so called "radical" policies may well find that it is deep blue water in which they sink," he said.

"The Prime Minister should forget his ill-conceived plan to bring back a selective system. There is little parental support for it and no research evidence to justify the upheaval that such a policy would entail," he told the conference.

Mrs Shephard was potentially the most successful Education secretary in half a century, he added, and Mr Major should "let her get on with the job".