Boris ‘could back plan to build a new generation of selective grammar schools’ as Tory backbenchers plot to overturn 24-year-old ban
- Boris Johnson under pressure from Tory MPs to lift ban on new grammar schools
- PM could reportedly support a backbench bid to overturn the 24-year-old ban
- Senior MP Sir Graham Brady will attempt to amend Government legislation
Senior Conservative backbencher Sir Graham Brady is ready to table an amendment to the forthcoming Schools Bill when it reaches the House of Commons.
This would lift the ban on new grammar schools being created that was brought in by ex-Labour prime minister Tony Blair in 1998.
According to The Times, Mr Johnson could support the backbench campaign to lift the ban, or even table plans of his own on allowing new grammar schools.
The Prime Minister’s senior aide David Canzini is said to view the issue as a new dividing line with Labour.
A Conservative source also told the newspaper that Mr Johnson would not be able to withstand a Tory rebellion in the Commons, if he tried to block the backbench move.
Labour claimed that Downing Street considering lifting the ban on new grammar schools showed the Tories were ‘out of ideas’ after 12 years in power.
They also criticised the move for being focussed on saving the PM’s future, after his battering by Tory rebels in a recent no confidence vote.
There are currently 163 grammar schools in England, with a total of around 176,000 pupils.
Boris Johnson could reportedly support a backbench campaign to lift the ban, or even table plans of his own on allowing new grammar schools
Senior Conservative backbencher Sir Graham Brady is ready to table an amendment to the forthcoming Schools Bill when it reaches the House of Commons
There are currently 163 grammar schools in England, with a total of around 176,000 pupils
The New Labour government banned the creation of new selective schools, but Mr Blair steered away from shutting down those that already existed.
Mr Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, had previously planned to overturn the ban on new grammar schools but shelved her ambition when she lost her Commons majority after the 2017 general election.
Sir Graham, the chair of the Tories’ powerful 1922 Committee, is a long-time supporter of grammar schools and a former student at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys.
He said: ‘After 12 years of Conservative-led government it is really very odd that we still have a statutory ban on any new selective schools.
‘At the very least lifting that ban would provide freedom and flexibility for people where there is demand.’
Support for overturning the 1998 ban has also been found among ‘Red Wall’ Tory MPs elected at the 2019 general election.
Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis suggested the move could help Mr Johnson with his ‘levelling up’ agenda.
He said: ‘By lifting Labour’s ban, we can spread opportunity fairly across the country and turbocharge social mobility in places like Teesside and Ashfield which we are determined to level up.’
Polling by YouGov in March revealed that 29 per cent believed the Government should build more grammar schools
Polling by YouGov in March revealed that 29 per cent believed the Government should build more grammar schools.
This compared to 21 per cent who thought the Government should retain the existing laws, by allowing existing grammar schools to continue buyt not allowing new ones to be built.
A similar number, 23 per cent, believed ministers should stop schools selecting by academic ability and force existing grammar schools to be opened to children of all abilities.
The survey found that 27 per cent were not sure of their view on grammar schools.
Labour’s shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, said that grammar schools ‘aren’t popular among parents’, ‘don’t improve outcomes across the education’, and ‘ingrain expectations of failure’.
She added: ‘Twelve years of Tory rule and clearer than ever they are out of ideas. This isn’t about our children’s future — it’s about the PM’s future.’
A government spokeswoman said there were ‘no current plans to open new grammar schools’ but said that existing grammars were ‘a valuable part of the school system’.
‘Through our new Schools Bill, we are considering options on how we can spread their DNA through the wider education system,’ they added.