Newspaper headlines: Grammar schools 'dash' and hospitals 'on brink'

Plans by local councils for a new wave of grammar schools in England and warnings that hospitals are close to breaking point are in the Sunday papers.

The Sunday Times says Kent county council is planning to open not only a girls' grammar school, for which it already has permission, but also a boys' grammar school in the same building in Sevenoaks.

Thurrock, Windsor and Maidenhead, Central Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire are also said to be preparing to open new grammar schools.

And a grammar school in Sutton is seeking to open a satellite school in Croydon, says the Sunday Times.

The paper reports that Education Secretary Justine Greening will unveil a Green Paper on Monday outlining plans to allow new grammar schools to be opened.

It says Prime Minister Theresa May faces huge opposition to the plans not only from Labour and the Liberal Democrats but also senior Tories including former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

"May, however, received a fillip this weekend when a long-standing Lib Dem peer, Baroness Nicholson, announced she was joining the Conservatives in part because of the grammar school policy," says the Sunday Times.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May wants a new wave of grammar schools... but could it split the party?

The Sunday Telegraph says the plans split the cabinet, with senior ministers warning the policy could backfire dramatically.

The paper reports: "Mrs May's plan delighted traditionalist Tories and won vocal support from senior figures yesterday.

"Her supporters accused fellow Tories of an 'arrogant' approach that would deny working class pupils an academically rigorous state education.

"Mrs May faces growing dissent from others within her party, including senior MPs, Nicky Morgan, the former education secretary, and even some of her own serving ministers."

The Observer foresees a boost for fee-paying schools because well-off parents whose children fail their 11-plus will send them to such schools instead.

Independent Schools Association chief executive Neil Roskilly says parents are already using private schools as "insurance" in case their children fail to be selected in areas where there are already grammars.

"Roskilly said he believed that this behaviour could be reproduced across England and represented a dangerous flight of the middle classes from the state sector," says the Observer.

The Mail on Sunday says Mrs May has been criticised by former Eton College head Tony Little who accused her of turning attacks on private schools into "an Olympic sport".

The Sunday Express reports that the National Grammar Schools Association wants a quarter of all state secondary schools to become grammars.


'Nasty, stressful intrusion'

The Sunday Times comments that Mrs May's proposed reforms are worthy of a fair hearing - but does not think they will get it.

"What she will get, instead, is the condescension of the privileged and the contempt of the left-wing ideologues," it says.

In the Sunday Telegraph, senior political correspondent Tim Ross says the question of grammar schools is capable of splitting the Tory party with a violence that few subjects can match.

"It ignites deep passions, pitches 'modernisers' against 'traditionalists' and divides the working class allies of Mrs May from the privately educated members of Mr Cameron's inner circle," he writes.

"Having only recently settled its battles over Europe, the party stands on the brink of a war over the question of whether grammars help the poor - or simply make life easier for those who already hold the upper hand.

"How did Mrs May's fledgling administration end up in such a conflict, and what prospects are there for peace?"

The Observer believes that introducing selection comes at great expense to the children who fail the 11-plus, by creaming off able children from affluent backgrounds from all-ability schools.

"So far, May's rhetoric has been carefully pitched around standing up for ordinary, working class people against the interests of the wealthiest and the most powerful," it says.

"Yet so far the substance of her domestic policy - watering down plans to combat childhood obesity and expanding selective education - will achieve the opposite, even if that is not her intention.

"It suggests it is she, not her opponents, who stands guilty of allowing dogma and ideology to get in the way of addressing social inequity."

Image copyright PA
Image caption A hoped-for birthday present for one young girl after taking her 11-plus

Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle says the 11-plus was "a nasty, stressful intrusion into the life of a 10-year-old" for his daughter Emmeline.

And who better to describe the experience than Emmeline herself?

"I was very pleased when I opened the test paper. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. I had some trouble towards the end, running out of time - especially on the maths. But overall it was much better than I expected," she writes.

"But thinking about the test all summer was horrible. Really nerve-racking. I am so relieved and happy it's all over. No more tests for now! And it's my birthday in a couple of weeks. I want lots of presents, including a live otter."

Matt's cartoon in the Telegraph has pupils sitting a grammar school entrance exam, being asked: "If a triangle has one side of 3cm and another of 4cm, how many private tutors did your parents hire?"


Eye-catching headlines

Twenty years on a cruise ship leaves him with no stress - or friends on land: Mario Salcedo has run his business and travelled the world on cruise ships for the past 20 years but lost all his land friends Sunday Times

The wind without the willows... Wild Wood under threat: A bitter dispute has broken out over the future appearance of the trees and meadows of Winter Hill on the banks of the Thames at Cookham Dean - the bucolic setting that was the inspiration for Wild Wood, home of Mole, Rat and Badger in Kenneth Grahame's much-loved 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows - following revelations that owner the National Trust is to chop down many of the trees lining its slopes Sunday Telegraph

Pixies lead battle to break the stranglehold on rock fans of the ticket tout "scoundrels": One of the world's most influential rock bands, Pixies, have denounced "rogues and scoundrels" selling gig tickets at huge markups, as the UK music industry prepares to fight back against touts Observer

A wonky cucumber? No, it's a snozzcumber: A giant, misshapen version of a normal cucumber, a real-life version Roald Dahl's fictional snozzcumber loved by the Big Friendly Giant, is to be sold in supermarkets in the hope it will encourage otherwise reluctant children to eat their greens Mail on Sunday


Health of the NHS

The Observer has an opinion piece by Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, the organisation that represents hospitals in England.

He says it is now time for national health chiefs and political leaders to acknowledge publicly that the NHS can no longer deliver what is being asked of it for the funding available.

The paper makes this its front-page lead, saying NHS Providers warned that years of underfunding have left the service facing "impossible" demands.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Hospital bosses warn that the NHS is increasingly failing to do the job it wants to do

"In an unprecedentedly bleak assessment of the NHS's own health, NHS Providers tells ministers that widespread breaches of performance targets, chronic understaffing and huge overspends by hospitals mean that it is heading back to the visible decline it last experienced in the 1990s," says the Observer.

The paper says Mr Hopson writes that this means the NHS is increasingly failing to do the job it wants to do and the public needs it to do, through no fault of its own.

The Observer continues: "His intervention comes days before the influential Commons Health Select Committee decides whether to launch a special inquiry into the state of the NHS in England.

"After months dominated by the Brexit debate, the state of the NHS is now emerging as the key domestic challenge facing Theresa May's government."


Feline fine

The Sunday Times reports that researchers have found that electronic boundary systems used to control the roaming of cats do not make them suffer - and may benefit them.

These systems usually use detector wires buried in the ground or strung along fences. When a cat approaches, its collar first beeps and then delivers a small shock.

The researchers said most cats learned to respond to the beep and were seldom shocked.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Researchers have declared electronic boundary systems safe for cats

The paper reports: "Pet cats can be vilified for fouling neighbours' gardens, killing birds and getting lost - but now an electronic cage that can prevent them from straying beyond their owners' gardens has won the approval of scientists.

"Cat containment systems are controversial among the owners of Britain's 8.1 million cats because they use a collar that delivers a pulse of static electricity when the animals approach preset boundaries.

"Claims that such systems make pets anxious and scared mean few owners use them."

Experts said the systems may even save cats from being run over.

The Sunday Times quotes Naima Kasbaoui, of Lincoln University, as saying: "We found no evidence of long-term welfare problems in cats living with these fences compared to cats able to roam freely."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPolitical commentator Jo Phillips and Nigel Nelson, political editor of the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, join the BBC News Channel to review Sunday's front pages.