Boris Johnson provides backing to grammar schools

Boris Johnson has grow to be the newest senior Tory to assistance selective training, offering his backing to grammar schools in the course of his LBC Radio cellphone-in.

The London mayor, who is poised to return to Westminster following currently being selected as the Conservative celebration candidate at the up coming election for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, described the decision to scrap grammar colleges as “a real tragedy for this country”. “I believe they are a extremely essential component of the mix in our educational program. I believe that they perform extremely nicely in numerous areas and they ought to be supported,” he said.

His comments follow an intervention last week by the property secretary, Theresa May, who backed the probability of a new grammar school in her Maidenhead constituency in Berkshire, in spite of the fact that recent legislation bans the creation of selective schools.

Grammar colleges continue to be a contentious concern for the celebration, the place there is still widespread popular support for selective training amongst grassroots supporters and backbenchers, notably in the runup to the standard election. Ukip has stated it will enable present schools to apply to turn into grammar schools.

There are 164 grammars in England, with person schools scattered across the country and other folks in selective areas this kind of as Kent and Buckinghamshire, the place pupils are provided locations primarily based on their capabilities, which are assessed by an 11-plus examination. People who oppose grammar schools say they are socially divisive wealthier kids are much more probably to obtain a area simply because their mothers and fathers can shell out for tutoring and neighbouring colleges inevitably endure.

Johnson explained, however, that grammar schools have been “an critical portion of the educational combine … a wonderful mobiliser and liberator for numerous people”. He added: “I’m pro. I always have been,” but suggested there could be adjustments to boost on the old “brutal” 11-plus.

“Whether you deliver back the colleges referred to as grammar schools, with academic choice or brutal academic choice at 11, possibly you really do not. What I believe you could do is have a greater degree of academic competition, academic variety at numerous stages in a child’s improvement.

“There are approaches of doing that which wouldn’t be hurtful to people, which wouldn’t make them feel like failures, but which would spur competitors and get much better functionality out of our colleges. The principle of academic selection is, I’m afraid, not 1 that we ought to jettison. There are lots of fee-paying out colleges in this country that run completely ruthless policies of academic variety.”

It is not the 1st time Johnson has entered the grammar college debate. Last yr, even though delivering the Margaret Thatcher lecture to the Centre for Policy Research, he called for a new generation of grammar schools to help the brightest youngsters from poor residences.

In a move which some commentators explained could signal a alter of path in Tory schooling policy, the property secretary gave her assistance final week to a research hunting into opening a “satellite” state-funded grammar college in her constituency. It would be the first grammar to open in a generation and avoids breaching legislation outlawing new selective colleges by current as a 2nd “satellite” campus, connected to an existing grammar college in a neighbouring borough.

A statement on May’s site explained the residence secretary “welcomed proposals to think about establishing a ‘satellite’ grammar school website in Maidenhead”, in response to parental demand. “Grammar colleges appeal to significant help from Maidenhead households. If a great school wishes to increase in line with current legislation then this have to be critically deemed.”

Final 12 months the former training secretary, Michael Gove, ruled out a equivalent proposal in Sevenoaks, Kent, after taking legal guidance. The establishment of any new wholly or partially selective state-funded colleges is banned beneath the former Labour government’s College Specifications and Framework Act 1998, however current colleges are allowed to expand.

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