Theresa May’s Largest ‘School Reform’ in Recent History

May lifts ban on new grammar schools given they take in proportion of lower-income pupils

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Speaking at the conference today

As part of an education shake up, Theresa May is to bring forth a new wave of grammar schools, allow faith school pupil selection and announce more Catholic schools.

May has repealed a ban on new grammar schools, a ban first implemented back in 1998 by Tony Blair, saying “Frankly, it is completely illogical to make it illegal to open good new schools.”

It’s an especially controversial move given the nature of grammar schools whereby children must pass a test to be accepted, something many argue divides children into winners and losers by the mere age of 11.

Furthermore, grammar schools have a reputation for taking in more middle class children due to richer families being able to buy homes in the area, leaving poorer children at a disadvantage. To tackle the inequality, May is make grammar schools either

  • take a proportion of lower-income households pupils
  • establish a “high quality, non-selective free school” or
  • sponsor an underperforming school

West Midlands MP Criticises New Grammar Schools

She is also to allow grammar schools to take in pupils over the age of 11, at ages 14 and 16. This will face the issue of determining children’s ability by too young of an age.

Worryingly, Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, says:

“We’ve got to…get many more children to achieve well in our schools. My fear is that by dividing children at 11 and by creating grammars and secondary moderns…[we] won’t be able to achieve that ambition.”

In addition, May is promoting more faith schools and Catholic schools in a bid for a more ‘diverse school system.’ She is also extending their powers to select pupils.

Most shockingly, she wants to “relax the restrictions…that stop existing non-selective schools to become selective in the right circumstances and where there is demand.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said:

“The Tory government are bringing back selection to the UK education system…willfully ignoring the overwhelming evidence that selection at 11 leads to a more unequal country.”

 

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