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Grammar Schools

Volume 593: debated on Monday 2 March 2015

The law prohibits the establishment of new grammar schools, but we fully support the right of all good schools to expand, and that applies to grammar schools too. What is most important is that all children have access to a good local school, and we are committed to delivering that through our academies and free schools programmes.

Does the Minister have much sympathy with the argument that academically selective schools in the state sector can enhance social mobility?

I know that the hon. Gentleman’s party says that it has a clear policy on grammar schools—that is a relief, because at least it has a clear policy on something. Does he agree with his party’s leader, who said that the party was not going to publish its manifesto until as late as practically possible? May I suggest 8 May?

Why is the Secretary of State pursuing a policy that is attacking grammar schools with large sixth forms, which are being underfunded for their A-level provision?

I am well aware of that issue, which has been raised in a Westminster Hall debate in recent weeks. We fully support sixth forms and want to see them continue, but the hon. Lady will be aware of the economic condition in which her party left this country.

How can the Secretary of State be so sure that expanding grammar schools will enhance opportunities for our most deprived young people and not just perpetuate and reinforce existing social privileges?

The hon. Lady might have misheard my answer to a previous question. This Government are in favour of expanding all good schools. I think that she will want to recognise that we have 1 million more children in good or outstanding schools as a result of this Government’s education policies.

13. May I welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement on extending grammar school provision in Kent? Does she agree that grammar schools are an important part of the diversity in our education system that gives parents the best possible choice of the kind of school that suits their children? (907796)

I agree with my hon. Friend that parents being able to make the right choice for their child is exactly what we want to see, because they know their child best. I should make it clear that the Department is currently considering the proposals that have been put to us by a school in Kent, and I expect to reach a decision in due course.