Grammar schools a ‘malevolent’ move

There has been strong local opposition to the PM’s announcement last week that the government seeks to promote new grammar schools.

The prospect of a new “annexe” grammar school serving Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard was raised in October last year, with enquiries made by Central Bedfordshire Council to the Department for Education.

Those plans were later dropped, but the Prime Minister’s announcement has triggered concerns that they could be reintroduced.

Tim Carroll, headteacher at Leighton Buzzard’s Vandyke School said he heard Mrs May’s comments with “near disbelief”. He said: “The challenges facing our schools currently are very real. They lie in funding, teacher recruitment and the ill-thought out imposition of curriculum and assessment change. None of these are addressed by turning back the clock and setting up more grammar schools.

“I do not believe for one moment that parents would welcome the introduction of grammar schools and their essential counterpart, secondary modern schools.

“I would be surprised also if sufficient MPs of her own party would support such a policy that would reduce social mobility and that flies in the face of the interests of most families and their children.”

The announcement was also condemned by Central Bedfordshire Council’s Labour group, who labelled it “a malevolent initiative”.

Cllr Antonia Ryan said: “The Labour group strongly oppose Theresa May’s divisive plans to bring back grammar schools. The plans to expand grammar schools have been estimated to cost £50 million a year. It is surprising to hear that May’s party are happy to spend this amount after they have ruthlessly cut funding to schools year on year.

“The Government should be concentrating on making all our schools excellent so that every child has an equal opportunity to the best education and not just the selected few.”

Reports in the national media in the last few days suggested CBC was one of five councils moving ahead with creating grammar school places. But a CBC spokesman told the Gazette on Monday it did not have current plans for grammar schools.