Former Conservative minister says grammar schools won’t raise standards

Former Conservative Universities Minister Lord Willetts has questioned possible plans to life the ban on opening new grammar schools, claiming the evidence shows they will not raise standards.

Although an official announcement is yet to be made, it is thought Prime Minister Theresa May is considering opening new grammar schools and the rumours have been given more validity after a leaked memo written by Department for Education (DfE) permanent secretary Jonathan Slater seemed to confirm grammars were on the DfE’s agenda.

Speaking to the Today programme, Willets, who is now the chair of think tank the Resolution Foundation, suggested that the best school systems around the world do not use a selective system and that a return to a grammar system would not successfully raise standards for all children.

He said: “If you look overall, not just in Britain but around the world, at those school systems we admire that have got high performance and high standards, from Shanghai to Finland, by and large they don’t put their effort into trying to pick which kids they educate; they put their effort into raising standards for all the kids.”

He added: “When it comes to the best education policies we should look at the evidence and we’ve got some very good evidence close to home: look at the transformation of schools in London. Those are really tough areas in London where they’re actually achieving higher educational standards than in Kent and without selection.”

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