The Tories are threatening to take education back 60 years – to the bad old days when your future was decided by the arbitrary 11-plus test.
Their plan to bring back grammar schools is a poor attempt to duck their record – which has seen classes grow to the largest in Europe, teachers flocking to leave the profession as pay and conditions stagnate, and a raft of corruption scandals at unaccountable Tory academies that have failed to deliver the promised improvements in standards.
It is investment in our children and schools that will fix the classroom crisis – not a return to selective education . Labour is completely opposed to bringing back selection.
The Sutton Trust’s research showed only three per cent of children on free school meals were represented at grammar schools, compared with 18% of children in their catchment areas.
It has been suggested that new grammar schools would be located in lower-income areas to raise expectations.
But the evidence shows this doesn’t work. In 2013, two-thirds of pupils at grammar schools in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and Kingston upon Thames in south-west London lived in a different local authority area.
Theresa May is choosing to ignore the evidence. Grammar schools depress overall educational achievement and siphon off a few better off children at the expense of the rest.
Theresa May has no mandate to make these changes. Therefore, if these divisive plans go ahead, I will make it a top priority to reverse them when Labour is back in power.
The next Labour government I lead as Prime Minister will deliver something very different – a National Education Service that invests in all our children, fixes the classroom crisis, and makes education at all levels accessible to people at all ages, not separated by wealth.