Corbyn launches national campaign against grammar schools

Corbyn launches national campaign against grammar schools

The newly re-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will launch a national campaign against plans to open new grammar schools in England.

The Islington North MP, who won 61.8 per cent of the vote against his rival Owen Smith, used his victory speech today to announce the campaign, which his team hopes will act as a call to arms for members across the country.

He told a special event at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool that members were going “hit the streets” next Saturday for “a national campaign for inclusive education for all”.

“This time next week we’re all going to hit the streets, united as a party,” he said, adding that he wanted to expose the Conservatives’ “divisive and damaging agenda for this country”.

We’re all going to hit the streets, united as a party

A party source told Schools Week that the campaign, which will launch next Saturday to coincide with the beginning of the Conservative Party conference, would continue until the government abandons the policy.

Theresa May has already faced pressure, including from some within her own party, to abandon plans for the expansion of selection which were set out in a green paper earlier this month.

Grammar schools will be one of the major issues discussed at conference, which runs until Wednesday, and will feature in the keynote speeches of shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and Corbyn himself.

Angela Rayner MP

Angela Rayner MP

The party will call for action from every Constituency Labour Party to begin on October 1, in a campaign which will see rallies take place across the country along with the launch of petitions and a social media presence.

“We are taking the fight to the Tories on grammar schools,” Rayner told Schools Week.

“Half a million leaflets will be hitting the streets all over the country next Saturday as part of a national campaign day, which will include an on-line and off-line petition, social media campaign, video, mail shots, street stalls and a range of community events.

“We will not let Theresa May get away with segregating children by creating new grammar schools. Labour is united against her plans to provide a privileged education for the few, and a second-class education for the rest.

“Over the coming months we will work with all people of goodwill right across the country to stop this Tory segregation in its tracks.”

Since the policy was announced, the government has sought to defend its plans from a barrage of criticism from politicians of all colours, academics and the schools community, who have warned that the creation of new grammar schools could deepen existing social divides.

The findings of a recent report by the Education Policy Institute have only served to confirm the fears of many in the education sector after it revealed that high performance of pupils at grammar schools in comparison to those at non-selective schools, was driven by the “very high prior attainment and demographics of pupils” and not by the schools themselves.

But both Theresa May and Justine Greening, the education secretary, have claimed they do not want to see a return to the “binary system” of grammar schools and secondary moderns of the 1950s, and have unveiled plans to force selective schools to take more pupils from poorer backgrounds.