Theresa May’s government will publish plans that could, within weeks, end the ban on building new grammar schools after a proposed policy change was inadvertently leaked.
A short note, written by Department for Education (DfE) permanent secretary Jonathan Slater, was captured by a photographer as a civil servant walked along Downing Street.
The note referred to a consultation document that states the government “will open new grammars, albeit that they would have to follow various conditions”.
Details of the radical expansion policy are set to be published before the Conservative conference in early October. They are likely to trigger an ideological battle in parliament, where selective education has become a divisive and symbolic issue, with passionate proponents and opponents.
The revelation has already led to an angry response from those who oppose more grammar schools including campaigners, teaching unions, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and members of the House of Lords – with accusations that the prime minister is simply “pandering” to her backbenchers.
The department’s senior official has made clear that Justine Greening, the education secretary, believes that ending the moratorium on new grammar schools should be considered as one option in the forthcoming publication. - The Guardian
The revelation follows comments from the outgoing chief inspector of schools claiming the notion poorer children will benefit from proposed new grammar schools is “tosh” and “nonsense”.
Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw said a return to selective grammar school methods for children would be a “profoundly retrograde step” that would lower education standards and fail those from less advantaged backgrounds.
Sir Michael said: “The notion that the poor stand to benefit from the return of grammar schools strikes me as quite palpable tosh and nonsense – and is very clearly refuted by the London experience.”
“If grammar schools are the great answer, why aren't there more of them in London?
“If they are such a good thing for poor children, then why are poor children here in the capital doing so much better than their counterparts in those parts of the country that operate selection?"
He added: “I appreciate that many grammar schools do a fine job in equipping their students with an excellent education.
“But we all know that their record of admitting children from non-middle-class backgrounds is pretty woeful.”
Supporters of grammar schools argue the selection process can be beneficial to children from less affluent backgrounds by offering top quality education on the basis of merit rather than fees. - Independent