Lincolnshire Talks: Should the government create more grammar schools?

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The national news agenda has been largely dominated this week by Prime Minister Theresa May’s controversial plans for a new wave of grammar schools.

The prime minister said she wanted “an element of selection” in the education system, but that new grammar schools would not be forced on areas that did not want them.

Conditions are also set to be placed on schools wishing to convert to grammar status, requiring them to take a proportion of pupils from low income households.

Education Secretary Justine Greening told Parliament on Thursday that the government believes in so-called “selective grammar schools” but did not believe in a return to a “winners and losers” style split caused by 11-plus tests.

Lincolnshire is one of just a few local authorities in the country which currently has grammar schools.

The Labour Party has said that the proposals would “entrench inequality”.

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin. Photo: Parliament TV

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin. Photo: Parliament TV

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin spoke out against the proposals in Parliament.

He said: “Does the current Secretary of State really want to increase the number of children taking the 11-plus and to bring back secondary moderns and grammar schools, with the negative impact on achievement predicted by Her Majesty’s chief inspector and the negative impact on social mobility predicted by the government’s social mobility adviser?”

Councillor Patricia Bradwell. Photo: Stuart Wilde

Councillor Patricia Bradwell. Photo: Stuart Wilde

One person who is keen on the idea of an expansion is Patricia Bradwell, executive councillor for Children’s Services at Lincolnshire County Council, who welcomed Theresa May’s comments on grammar schools.

Councillor Bradwell said: “Parents and children should have choice when it comes to choosing which schools their child attends and that means a variety of selective and comprehensive options.

“It is important that children are able to attend a school which delivers a curriculum which both excites them and which plays to their strengths. This needs to be recognised through the Ofsted’s inspection regime.

“However as a county with grammar schools, we would ask that the government focus on a fair funding formula for schools as a priority, so pupils with the same needs are funded in the same way across the country.”

Lincolnshire NUT Divisional Secretary Ken Rustidge said that he was concerned about how the proposals would impact on non-grammar schools in the county.

“The problem with grammar schools is how they affect our other schools in Lincolnshire, in that they can cream the most able students.

“Bourne Grammar School is going to expand to 1700 pupils and the grammar school in Spalding has pupils which travel from as far away as March in Cambridgeshire.

“We support our members in all our schools as they do an absolutely fantastic job and we must make sure that our children are not labelled as failures from an early age.”

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