miercuri, 7 septembrie 2016

New grammar schools are needed to stop rich families dominating best state schools through 'selection by house price', says Theresa May

Britain's education system already has “selection by house price”, Theresa May said on Wednesday night as she defended her plans to lift the ban on new grammar schools. 
The Prime Minister said she wanted to create a “21st century education system” with an “element of selection” as she spoke on the plans for the first time since The Telegraph disclosed she backed new selective schools. 
In the first major policy announcement of her premiership, she told the backbench 1922 committee of Conservative MPs that her plan would stop the best state schools becoming the preserve of wealthy families who are buying homes in the catchment area. 
According to sources at the meeting, she answered critics by saying: “We have already got selection haven’t we – it’s called 'selection by house price’.”
.Mrs May’s commitment to creating new grammar schools and expanding existing selective schools was confirmed on Tuesday in a leaked document. She is now expected to announce plans to end the ban on new grammar schools, which was introduced by Tony Blair in 1998. 
She will publish a green paper and give a major speech after telling MPs last night that she wants a new generation of grammar schools to be “inclusive and not exclusive”. 
Mrs May said she wanted an education system that “catered for the different needs of all children” and indicated that grammar schools have a role to play. She suggested that some of the Government’s 500 new free schools, announced by David Cameron shortly before he stepped down, could be grammars. “She said she didn’t want a situation where parents wanted a selective school only to be told they couldn’t have one,” a source at the meeting said. 
Mrs May pointed out that, under David Cameron, 1.4 million children were now in good or outstanding schools. But she said “there are still far too many who are missing out on quality education – it is all about access to opportunity”. 
Her comments were met with cheers by Conservative MPs who were buoyed by a strong performance earlier against Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, at Prime Minister’s Questions.

On Wednesday, ministers suggested that in future entry exams for grammar schools will be “tutor-proofed” to ensure that children from all backgrounds can get in. 
Lord Nash, an education minister, said that the Government is working with the Grammar Schools Association to ensure that tests are “less susceptible to coaching”. He said that 66 grammar schools already now prioritise free school meal applications. 
The Telegraph understands that ministers are making the 11-plus similar to IQ-tests, with a strong-emphasis on reasoning. 
Lord Nash said there is “no proof” to support claims by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the outgoing head of Ofsted, that poor children will not benefit from a return of grammar schools. “I’m a great fan of Sir Michael,” he said. “He is absolutely right to pinpoint the great transformation of London schools. There is no clear evidence to support his views but we are keeping an open view. 
“We are aware of the strength of grammar schools. We would like to see more free school meals pupils going to grammar schools.”
       Sir Michael Wilshaw claimed that poor children will not benefit from a return of grammar schools.
He said he is committed to allowing existing grammar schools to expand. “We are particularly interested in encouraging grammar schools to sponsor their feeder primary schools. We feel in this way we can ensure more pupils from less advantaged backgrounds will be able to achieve going to grammar schools.” 
A report this week found that living near a good state school helped to increase house prices by up to 74 per cent compared to other properties nearby. 
Research from Lloyds Bank showed many parents are willing to pay an average of £53,000 extra to secure homes close to schools with the best academic outcomes. Average house prices have now reached £366,744 in the catchment areas surrounding England’s top 30 state schools, compared to a general average of £313,318 elsewhere.
Mrs May’s plans were originally due to be unveiled at next month’s Conservative party conference but have been brought forward after they were leaked this week. 
A Whitehall document photographed in the hands of a civil servant in Downing Street said the Government “will open new grammars” and expand existing selective schools. 
The paper acknowledged that new laws will be required to open grammar schools and warned that the House of Lords may attempt to defeat the plans. 
The document, signed by Jonathan Slater, the permanent secretary of the education department, states: “The co doc (consultation document) says we will open new grammars, albeit that they would have to follow various conditions.”

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