6th Dec, 2016

Coventry council to oppose Theresa May's grammar school plans

Les Reid 4th Oct, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

PLANS to re-introduce grammar schools are a ‘damaging throwback from the past’ and will be opposed by Coventry City Council, says its education chief.

Education cabinet member Kevin Maton expressed his concerns as Prime Minister Theresa May said lifting the ban on grammar schools would help all children including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Grammar schools were traditionally designed for higher attaining pupils aged 11 after passing an 11+ exam.

Coun Maton’s intervention also follows years of Coventry’s ‘council-maintained’ secondary schools and some primary schools becoming independent academies since the Tories came to power in government in 2010.

The council seeks to work in partnership with schools, including supporting struggling schools with intervention from better performing schools.

Coun Maton said: “I am clear that this council wants to improve the quality of education within every school in Coventry and we’re making good progress on this.

“The re-introduction of selective education and grammar schools risks damaging this and further disadvantaging some of our children.

“We don’t want to see this happen and will oppose the imposition of this unnecessary throwback from the past: a two-tier system that is unfit to meet the needs of 2!st Century Coventry.

“What we do want is to continue to encourage opportunities for every child, regardless of their ability. A comprehensive education based on a broad curriculum is the best way to do this and to help our young people progress in a world where employers are looking for an expansive range of flexible skills.

“In the comprehensive system, our students can choose a pathway that suits them and their learning needs best.

“And we’ll continue to expand and improve the opportunities available being developed through the highly successful and innovative partnership model we have with our schools. Grammar schools and the associated 11+ selection could undermine the success of this collaborative approach.

“The school our children attend must not be determined by the money available to spend on a tutor to prepare for these entrance tests. Parents and children should be able to choose the best school to meet their needs.”

Mrs May says lifting the ban is not about reintroducing them to every town and city.

“It’s about ensuring we have good school places for every child”, not “going back to the system of binary education from the 1950s”, she added.

“We’ll be saying to grammar schools and people who want to set up a new selective school, actually if you’re doing that we will want you to show that you are genuinely reaching out across society in giving those opportunities to young people.”

There are 163 grammar schools out of 3,000 state secondaries in England.

The percentage of Coventry pupils attending an Ofsted-rated good or outstanding primary school rose to 92 per cent this year.

But year 6 Key Stage 2 results for reading, writing and maths are below the national average.

Two thirds of pupils achieving the expected standard for mathematics. Reading results were lower at 59 per cent.