‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation launched

The government has officially launched its ‘Schools that work for everyone’ consultation, which seeks views on new education policy that includes lifting the ban on opening new grammar schools.

Along with plans to allow existing selective schools to expand and new selective schools to open, the proposals also include: expecting independent schools to support existing state schools, open new state schools or offer funded places to children whose families can’t afford to pay fees; asking universities to commit to sponsoring or setting up new schools in exchange for the ability to charge higher fees; and allowing new faith free schools to select up to 100 per cent of pupils based on their faith.

Education Justine Greening made a statement on the consultation in the House of Common’s and faced criticism from Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, who said that the proposals promoted ‘segregation, segregation, segregation’ and quoted former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments that it would be ‘delusional’ to think that expanding grammars is a ‘good idea’.

Prominent Conservative MP and former Cabinet Minister Ken Clarke also voiced opposition in Commons. He said he ‘warmly welcomed’ the motives behind the proposals but stressed that the ‘devil lies in the detail’ and called on Greening to ensure this change won’t ‘damage the opportunities’ for pupils in other schools.

Following the official release of the consultation, Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “Sutton Trust research has shown that the existing grammar schools are highly socially selective, mainly because of extensive private tuition and prep schools for those who can afford them. Through outreach, test preparation for all and contextual admissions this could be changed. The government should ensure that existing grammar schools get it right before opening more. We also need to ensure that highly able young people in comprehensives get the support they need to succeed.

“It is vital too that the needs of all young people are addressed. So we need more focus on what research shows works in improving academic standards, addressing essential life skills and preparing young people for higher education and apprenticeships. But above all, rather than focus on structures we need to focus on teaching which all the evidence shows to be most important in raising standards.”

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