Release date: 09/09/2016

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, today unveiled plans to increase the number of grammar schools eighteen years after Labour imposed a ban on new ones in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.  

Lockers credit: Ingram Publishing

The proposals will form part of a government consultation paper, details of which will be released soon, but are expected to include:

  • Selecting children on the basis of ability at 14 and 16 as well as 11
  • Having an independent member/trustee of no or other faith on the board of faith schools
  • Requiring new or expanding grammar schools to take a proportion of pupils from lower income households
  • Requiring grammar schools to establish a new, high quality, non-selective free school
  • Requiring grammar schools to set up or sponsor a primary feeder school in an area with a high density of lower income households; or
  • Requiring grammar schools to sponsor a currently underperforming non-selective academy.
  • Changing admission rules for faith schools that are oversubscribed and want to expand to allow 100% selection on the basis of faith
  • An expectation that universities that want to charge higher fees set up a new school or sponsor an existing underperforming school.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: "Governors and trustees are rightly expected to take an evidence-based approach to their work. The Government appears not to have done this when making these proposals in the name of improving social mobility, given the evidence makes it clear that poorer children are further disadvantaged by selection.

“Schools are already managing a huge amount of change at the moment and governing boards tell us they need a period of consolidation. More reform could distract us all from the important task of improving teaching and learning for all pupils.”

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, delivered a speech to London councils this week criticising those who want to bring back grammar schools.  Wilshaw said: “The question I would put to those clamouring for a return to selection by ability at the age of 11 is this: If grammar schools are the great answer, why aren’t there more of them in London? If they are such a good thing for poor children, then why are poor children here in the capital doing so much better than their counterparts in those parts of the country that operate selection?”

Speaking today on BBC Radio 4, he added: "My fear is by moving to a grammar and secondary modern system - because, let's face it, that's what we'll have if you divide at 11 - we will put the clock back, and the progress we have made over the past 10 to 15 years will slow."

NGA will take part in the consultation process when it opens, and will be asking members for your opinion on this issue. If you’d like to share your views with us in the meantime, email [email protected]

More on this:

Sir Michael Wilshaw's speech at the London Councils education summit

BBC - Government faces a wide alliance of opponents

Schools Week – Grammar school green paper expected from May

TES - Green paper will propose more grammar schools and further selection by faith

Full Fact – Current grammar schools and social mobility: what’s the evidence?

Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring and Sutton Trust - Evidence on the effects of selective educational systems

Institute for Fiscal Studies - Entry into Grammar Schools in England

Education Data Lab - There is not yet a proven route to help disadvantaged pupils into grammar schools

LKMCo - Grammar Schools for the Bright but Poor: Why they wouldn’t help either

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