The government is facing a backlash after giving its green paper the title “schools that work for everyone” – despite the document focusing mostly on high-ability pupils, and completely omitting any mention of special schools.
The consultation reveals proposals to allow existing grammar schools to expand and for new selective schools to open.
It also contains policies aimed at limiting the impact this will have on non-selective schools, for example requiring selective schools to share teachers with others in their area.
But many in the education community have hit out at what they say is a clear focus on higher attaining pupils.
Schools Week searched the consultation document for the terms special education needs, special schools and SEND – but these terms were not included in the publication.
Jarlath O’Brien, headteacher at Carwarden House Community School, a special academy in Surrey, reacting on Twitter said it was “sad, infuriating, but entirely predictable”.
He added: “The PM said she was fighting for the most vulnerable. I’m struggling to believe it on the basis this evidence.”
Two Conservative MPs asked for reassurances from education secretary Justine Greening in the House of Commons today that the plans would not negatively affect pupils that don’t go to grammar schools – suggesting they are not convinced the document does enough to calm fears.
Former shadow education secretary Tristam Hunt also queried why the document does not include any focus on early years.
In response to concerns, Greening said the government wants to use grammar schools to “raise standards in every part of the schools system”.
Greening later added in a press statement: “The proposals I have published today build on the government’s successful reforms to our education system. We want to make more good school places available in more areas, ensuring we give every child an excellent education and the opportunity to fulfil their potential. I would urge everyone to look at the detail in the consultation document and join that debate.”