Why my son will go to grammar school, by Harriet Harman

DONALD MACINTYRE

Political Editor

Labour was bracing itself for fresh embarrassment over its education policy after the disclosure last night that Harriet Harman, shadow Health Secretary, is to send her son Joe to a grant-maintained grammar school in Kent.

Ms Harman's son - whose elder brother Harry,13, goes to the Oratory, the grant-maintained Roman Catholic comprehensive attended by Tony Blair's son Euan - has secured a place in the highly competitive examination for the selective St Olave's School, a boys' grammar in Bromley. Ms Harman is married to Jack Dromey, a Transport and General Workers' Union official. Labour Party policy is opposed to the principle of selection in schools.

Ms Harman's son was one of the top 90 in the examination, out of 700 applicants. The 11-year-old is at present at a local state primary school, Dulwich Hamlets, in south London, acknowledged as a feeder school for St Olave's, a state school which has opted out of local authority control by becoming grant-maintained. The school is selective as well as grant- maintained, which makes the decision particularly sensitive.

Ms Harman said last night: "This is a state school that other children in my son's class will be going to. That he has got in has got absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am an MP. Any child in Southwark can apply, many go and admission is open to every child in Southwark irrespective of money or who their parents are."

Ms Harman said that there had never been the same pattern in London of sending children to very local schools that there had been in other parts of the country. Many of her own constituents in the London borough of Southwark went to schools in Lewisham and many in Lambeth went to schools in Southwark.

She added: "There has always been a lot of travelling in London. It has also been common for a long time for parents in inner London to send their children to schools in outer London boroughs."

Ms Harman said the fact that she had not decided to send her second son to the same school as his brother in no way reflected on the Oratory, which was a "brilliant" school. "Sometimes a school is perfect for one child and another school is perfect for another. There is nothing unusual in a parent sending one child to one school and another to a different school."

David Blunkett, shadow Education Secretary, told the party conference in October that a Labour government would create no more selective schools. "Read my lips. No selection, either by examination or by interview under a Labour government," he said. But the party's education policy document makes it clear that the party will leave it open to local councils to preserve existing grammar schools.

St Olave's has a 175-pupil sixth form, with 96 per cent going on to higher education. It is a 400-year-old school which was founded by Southwark pensioners, originally in the London borough.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam