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UK Government to lift ban on new grammar schools

On 8 September 2016, UK Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening told the House of Commons of the government’s plans to remove a ban on establishing selective grammar schools. Since then, five English councils have revealed proposals for new or extended grammar institutions. The government’s announcement has drawn criticism from education experts and politicians, but is there a case for new secondary level schools to be opened?

Every English school can convert

Greening has since released a green paper to launch the parliamentary process of removing the ban on new grammar schools. If implemented, every English school will have the right to make the conversion. So far, councils in Windsor and Maidenhead, Central Bedfordshire, Essex, Kent and Northamptonshire have shared expansion proposals.

Addressing the plans, Greening spoke of fostering “inclusive grammar schools” and that “selection can play a role”, while promising there would be no scenario where children are separated “into winners and losers”.

Following Greening’s comments, UK Prime Minister Theresa May added her own, saying: “This is about being unapologetic for our belief in social mobility and making this country a true meritocracy – a country that works for everyone.”

Justifying her plans, May said new grammar schools would have to meet quotas for accepting students from underprivileged backgrounds. Alternatively, there would be the option to run a non-selective school alongside.

More places needed at secondary level

May’s plans come several months after the Local Government Association (LGA) warned councils would eventually be unable to provide a secondary education place for every child if expansion efforts were not undertaken.

In February 2016, the LGA revealed councils should plan for a 20% rise in secondary level students by 2024. A total of 2.740 million places were needed in 2015, but official estimates suggest 3.287 million will be required in 2024.

Adding to the figures, Councillor Roy Perry, Chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “If academies are not willing to expand, then powers to create new schools should be returned to local authorities”.

If May’s plans go ahead, councils will be given the power to increase secondary level places. Local authorities must now maintain steady finances and budget for an increase in pupils. Dukes Bailiffs can help by providing ethical debt recovery expertise. Speak to our Contact Centre Manager for more information.

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