David Davis calls for the ban on new grammar schools to be lifted


As reported in the Daily Express:
Tories demand return of grammar school system to increase social mobility

Former shadow home secretary David Davis and Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 committee of backbenchers, are calling on David Cameron to lift the ban on the creation of new grammar schools, claiming three-quarters of voters would support the move.

They are backing a campaign to be launched next month by Tory pressure group Conservative Voice for the measure to be included in the party manifesto.

In a move that could signal a change in Tory education policy, Home Secretary Theresa May last week welcomed the prospect of the first new grammar school in a generation being opened in her constituency of Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The state-funded school would be a second campus of an existing grammar, thus skirting the ban on new ones.

Mr Davis last night welcomed the move, which he said improved the chances of the ban being overturned. He told the Sunday Express: “The only rapid way of increasing social mobility in Britain is a sharp increase in the number of grammar schools and if this is a step towards that then it will be a remarkably good move.”

Mr Brady, who resigned from the Conservative frontbench in 2007 in a row over grammar schools, described the party’s attitude towards selective education as absurd. “Opinion polls suggest that around 75 per cent of the British public would like to see more grammar schools,” he said.

“The mystery is why the main political parties have set themselves against doing something that is proven to be so popular.”

Mr Brady, who says he owes his career to his grammar school education, said Mrs May’s stance signalled a softening of Government policy.

“It does just open a little chink of light on the subject but at the same time it highlights how absurd the policy is.

“We celebrate the success of grammar schools where they exist but when parents want one set up in an area where there aren’t any already they are not allowed.

“It is a profoundly old-fashioned way of doing politics, especially when we are supposedly committed to parental choice.”

Former Education Secretary Michael Gove vetoed plans for a grammar school “annexe” in Sevenoaks, Kent, last year, saying it would effectively create a new selective school but Mrs May’s willingness to consider a new campus sends a powerful message to MPs and potential supporters as she positions herself as a future candidate for the party leadership.

Selection remains divisive with the public but is popular among Tory right-wingers.

One of Ukip’s few prominent education policies is to allow existing schools to apply to become grammar schools.

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