England’s first new grammar school could and should be opened in Milton Keynes, according to the city’s Conservatives.
Edith Bald, leader of the Conservative group at MK Council, made the call following an announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May that new grammars could be opened across the country.
Mrs Bald believes that grammar schools will allow some children from disadvantaged backgrounds to access the same level of education as children from richer families.
She said: “As a Yorkshire girl from a modest background, whose life was propelled forward via the catalyst of a grammar school, I am delighted to see the government’s new stance.
“There is no doubt Theresa May has, with a cool determination, forced equal opportunity and access to an excellent range of education choices, regardless of background , on to lips of everyone in the UK.”
Today there are 164 grammar schools across England, which choose children who pass a one-off exam when they are 11 years old called the 11-plus.
When too many children pass the exam other criteria are used, such as whether a child already has siblings at a school, their parents’ religion, or how close they live to the school.
One criticism which has been made of grammar schools is that these schools cream off the best pupils, whilst the rest are given a second class education.
It is also claimed that better-off parents pay to have their children privately tutored so that they can pass the exam, getting them a better education at the taxpayers’ expense.
Mrs Bald said: “In Milton Keynes, parents already make the choice of a grammar school education.
“Every day 1,500 students travel to grammar schools in Buckinghamshire. Demand is growing but places are very limited.
“Without tutoring a child is unlikely to get a place and with travel costs at around £1,000 per child per year it means that children from poorer backgrounds are punished. That is not equal opportunity.
“If we scrap the ban and accept the government’s wider school reforms we could have the UK’s first new grammar school here in MK .”
She added: “Teresa May’s proposed reforms are not about a return to the old grammar-secondary modern model, far from it. ‘New’ grammars are about inclusivity and promoting higher standards across all school types.
“By partnering with a non-0selective school in a lower income area, a new MK grammar school could accelerate the MK Futures 2050 learning objective, recently agreed by all councillors, of providing a world class education for all local young people.”