Education & Family

MPs set to hear grammar school plans

Justine Greening on Downing Street Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Education Secretary Justine Greening will lay out the government's plans to MPs

Plans to re-introduce grammar schools in England will be presented in the House of Commons later.

PM Theresa May has announced she wants schools to be given the right to apply to select pupils by ability, as well as allowing grammar schools to expand.

MPs will question Education Secretary Justine Greening about the plans with several high profile Tory backbenchers having already voiced their opposition.

Labour has said the plans will "entrench inequality".

The government says the use of quotas for places will ensure pupils from poorer families are not squeezed out by those from a middle-class background.

But teachers' leaders, opposition parties and some Conservative MPs argue that poorer children would still lose more overall.

'Dividing children'

In a major speech last week which marked the beginning of her so-called social reform agenda, the prime minister said: "The truth is that we already have selection in our school system - and it's selection by house price, selection by wealth. That is simply unfair.

"We are effectively saying to poorer and some of the most disadvantaged children in our country that they can't have the kind of education their richer counterparts can enjoy."

But Ofsted's chief inspector Michael Wilshaw said the changes would undo years of progress.

He and several teaching unions have said the plans represent social mobility for a few bright children at the expense of the majority who would be in schools that would suffer from the knock-on impact.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would block the proposals in the House of Lords.

"Fundamentally, it's the same as the old 11-plus system, in that it is dividing children on the basis of their perceived ability at the age of 11," he said.

"I don't think that's a good message for our children."

In summary: main proposals

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Existing grammar schools could expand and new ones could be opened
  • Existing grammar schools in England to be allowed to expand, backed by £50m of new funding
  • All state schools in England will be allowed to select pupils by academic ability "in the right circumstances" and where there is demand
  • All selective schools will have to meet access conditions, such as taking a share of pupils from low-income backgrounds, setting up a new non-selective secondary or primary school or backing an underperforming academy
  • New grammars will be able to take pupils at 14 and 16, as well as 11, or take on students from non-selective schools for certain subjects
  • Universities will be expected to sponsor a state school or set up a new free school as part of an overhaul of fair access requirements
  • Catholic schools which are oversubscribed and want to expand will be able to choose 100% of new pupils on faith grounds, not 50% as now
  • All independent schools will have to support state schools in some way, in return for maintaining their charitable status.
  • Fee-paying schools will have to sponsor or set up a new free school or subsidise places for pupils from more modest backgrounds

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