UK’s May Proposes More Grammar Schools, Meritocracy

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said that the nation’s education system has “selection by house price,” adding that she intends to lift the ban on new grammar schools among a number of policy measures meant to broaden access to high-quality education.

May said that she plans to create a “21st century education system” that contains an “element of selection” during her speech concerning the plans.

During her first major policy announcement of her premiership, she had discussed her plan with the backbench 1922 committee of Conservative MPs.  She said she would like to put a stop to the best state schools catering to the wealthy families who were purchasing nearby homes.

Sources at the meeting say she answered critics by saying, “We have already got selection haven’t we – it’s called ‘selection by house price’.”

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon added that the government’s plan was to offer a number of high-quality schools throughout the country, rather than to return to the use of “sink schools” for those children who miss out on selection at age 11, writes Jessica Elgot for The Guardian.

“We need to widen choice,” Sir Michael told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“In my constituency I have two excellent academies, I’ve got one of the new free schools and my constituents also now have access to grammar schools, and that’s the kind of choice I want to see in every part of the country.”

Soon to be announced proposals are expected to offer parents and children across the country access to a choice of good schools, rather than attending a “sink school” for children who do not pass the 11-plus.

“Not every child is suited to a purely academic grammar school education and it’s really important that there are proper alternatives that are equally outstanding in the quality of education they deliver.”

The rumor that May is backing the creation of new grammar schools was confirmed earlier in the week through a leaked document, writes Laura Mowat for Express.  She is expected to formally announce plans to end the ban on new grammar schools, which had been introduced by Tony Blair in 1998.

May said that she would like the new schools to be inclusive rather than exclusive.  She would like the education system to cater to the needs of all students, and said that grammar schools have a role to play in that.  She went on to say that some of the new free schools that had been recently introduced by David Cameron’s government could become grammar schools.

A source for The Telegraph said that May said she would like to avoid a situation where a parent is looking to enroll their child in a selective school, but is told they cannot.

May added that although 1.4 million children were now in good or excellent schools as a result of David Cameron’s work, there are still too many children in the country who need access to high quality schools.

Meanwhile, ministers have suggested that future entry exams for grammar schools would be created to ensure that children from all backgrounds had equal opportunity of getting in by making the tests “less susceptible to coaching.”  In addition, there are currently 66 grammar schools that prioritize free school meal applications.