‘Modest pilot’ for grammar schools, says influential Tory MP

Graham Brady, head of the influential 1922 committee of MPs, which Theresa May has been told she must now listen to, has said he believes the party will now look at a “modest” pilot of grammar schools.

Over-turning the ban on selective schools was a key pledge in the Conservative manifesto, however the party’s failure to secure a working majority means it will be difficult for all promises to be fulfilled.

In the Queen’s Speech, due as parliament returns, the government must lay out its plans for government.

The controversial nature of grammar schools, with several Conservative MPs having publicly stated they will vote against any laws trying to resurrect them, would be difficult for the party to pass.

Asked on BBC’s Sunday Politics about the speech, Brady admitted the policies included in it would need to be “slimmed down” as there was “no point in sailing ahead with items in the manifesto that we won’t get through parliament.”

Pressed on whether grammar schools would be dropped he said he would be “upset” if no “progress” was made on the policy but that a “rather modest sort of pilot” might be an alternative.

He said: “If we can’t get things through parliament, then we can’t do them.

“But I would certainly suggest that we could look, for instance, at a rather modest sort of pilot looking at opening some state grammar schools in urban areas, particularly those where education at the moment is not offering great opportunities to people from lower income backgrounds.”

Brady added that he believed the support would also have support from “friends on the Labour backbenches” who he said had quiet support for an approach targeting such areas.

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  1. As a parent of kids who are brilliant at mathematics, spatial thinking, technology and creativity, please please fight grammar streaming in schools as these really clever kids end up working in lower ability groups. This is extremely damaging to their education as each subject should be setted individually on merit, not combined averages. These children will be the future “brains” of our global economy. I repeat – all I ask is for each individual subject to be setted individually. The “products” of the grammar system may not be too bright after all!

  2. Chalkface

    a “rather modest sort of pilot” might be an alternative.

    It’s not going to happen Graham – let it go.

    Some other thoughts on the next year or so of schools policy (assuming that the Government survive). I think we can assume that the so called “fairer funding” is dead in the water. I also think that schools (and the public sector in general) may get a cash injection because one of the messages of the GE is surely that the public have had enough of austerity. One final thought – a pay rise for teachers above 1%?

  3. I suspected Brady’s support of May might be contingent on getting new grammars established somehow. But don’t be fooled. A ‘modest’ pilot is the same idea mooted before: a small number of selective schools in areas serving that vague group, ‘ordinary working class families’. According to the Tory definition, ‘ordinary working class families’ don’t include the poorest (ie those who are eligible for the pupil premium).

  4. Chalkface

    Disagree Janet – too much opposition from Tory backbenchers. Brady doesn’t call the shots – particularly in a H of C with no party with a majority.