Labour criticises ‘flimsy evidence’ behind grammar school plans

Backbench Labour MPs have criticised the government’s plans to open new grammar schools, claiming they are based on ‘flimsy evidence’ in a debate in the House of Commons.

Lisa Nandy led the backbench debate, saying: "The idea that in 2016 in Britain that we are better off as a country, or that any child is better off by being segregated and branded a failure at the age of 11 seems to me to be a particularly backwards looking approach.

"This government appears to be set on a path that will pit children against one another, and make losers of all of us."

Nandy went on to say that the proposals put forward in the Schools that work for everyone green paper were based on ‘precisely no evidence’.

She was supported by former Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell, who said she ‘can’t quite believe’ that the government is ’seriously contemplating a return to selection at 11’.

She added: "What a damning verdict of our country if we went back to an era where we told four in every five children at the age of 11 that there was a cap on their potential and it was only the grammar school kids who could get far."

Schools Minister Nick Gibb looked to defend the plans, saying that the reason for the consultation was to ‘find a solution’ to the criticisms and ensure that grammar schools helped to raise academic standards in non-selective schools around them.

However, he faced further criticism from those within his own party, as Neil Carmichael, Conservative MP and chair of the Education Select Committee, described the current discussion around grammar as a ‘distraction’ and stressed that the government should focus on ‘what matters’ in education.