Tory plan for new grammar schools has been scrapped, Education Secretary confirms

There was no education bill in the Queen's Speech

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 27 June 2017 17:27
It will take more than a ‘pledge’ to overhaul a system that favours privilege
It will take more than a ‘pledge’ to overhaul a system that favours privilege

The Conservatives’ plan to lift the ban on building new grammar schools has been scrapped by the Government, the Education Secretary has confirmed.

There was speculation that the policy had been dropped or kicked into the long grass after Queen’s Speech last week did not include an Education Bill.

The Government has previously attempted to implement some of its policies during statutory instruments to avoid close-run votes in parliament.

​Justine Greening however today confirmed: “There was no education bill in the Queen’s Speech, and therefore the ban on opening new grammar schools will remain in place.”

Some Conservative MPs and most of the opposition parties are opposed to selective schools, meaning that the Tories’ minority government would struggle to pass legislation to introduce them.

Grammar schools were one of Theresa May’s earliest policy proposals, announced in September 2016 shortly after she became Prime Minister.

The ban on new grammar schools was put in place by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1997, with the 167 existing schools allowed to select by ability specifically enshrined in law.

The legislation however contains a loophole that allows new selective schools be opened if they are designated as an “annex” of an existing schools.

The Chancellor Philip Hammond allocated £320m in his Budget for new free schools, including selective schools.

The Tory manifesto said: “We will lift the ban on the establishment of selective schools, subject to conditions, such as allowing pupils to join at other ages as well as eleven.

It went on to claim: “Contrary to what some people allege, official research shows that slightly more children from ordinary, working class families attend selective schools as a percentage of the school intake compared to nonselective schools.

“While the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils stands at 25 per cent across the country, at selective schools it falls to almost zero.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner condemned the £500 million plan as a “vanity project” and said there was “no evidence it will help children move on from socially deprived background”.

The Department for Education has confirmed to The Independent that the policy had been dropped.

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