Following reports last month that the ban on grammar schools may be lifted, Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that the expansion for grammar schools will go ahead. New measures will also make it easier for new faith schools to open, and universities who wish to charge higher fees will be asked to support new schools through sponsorship.
According to May, who attended a grammar school herself, the 1998 ban had ‘held many pupils back’.
In the past, selective schools have been criticised for encouraging an elite and many are concerned that the green paper, entitled ‘schools that work for everyone,’ focuses too much on more able students – there are no references to students who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in the paper.
May has argued that schools are already selective in their admissions and under the new proposals, grammar schools will need to offer a quota of places to children from low-income families. The Department for Education said the proposals would ‘prioritise the admission of disadvantaged pupils.’
The green paper guidelines have, however, hit heavy criticism from educational professionals.
According to recent research by The Fair Education Alliance, 80% of teachers ‘did not believe that the 11-plus test, taken to get into selective schools, could reliably measure long term academic potential.’
General Secretary of The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Malcolm Trobe stated, ‘what schools desperately need is enough teachers and enough funding, both of which are in critically short supply,’ not more selection.
May, on the other hand, wants to take a new outlook on the standard of education that grammar schools can provide and wants to focus on the new grammars of the future. She said: “People get lost in the argument about whether the grammars schools of the 1950s and 60s improved social mobility or not.”
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