Plans by the Conservatives to reintroduce grammar schools are being opposed by Lib Dems in Tower Hamlets. Elaine Bagshaw, Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse, is arguing that they are socially divisive and could lead to children not being able to go to their local school. “The Conservatives want to select children on the basis of their academic abilities at the age of 11,” said Elaine Bagshaw.
“The flip side of identifying some children as a success at a young age means the rest are labelled as failures. They are then sent to schools that will be regarded as the place where the failures go. In this day and age, this is completely unacceptable. We have fantastic schools in our local area that provide a brilliant education without using selection. George Green’s School; Langdon Park and Wapping High School are all fantastic examples of how you can change people’s lives without using selection.
“The reality behind grammar schools is that they predominantly benefit the children of wealthier households. Often however it is the children from lower income families that need the extra resources to boost their life chances. “The education system needs to breed in them self-confidence and ambition. If they are dumped in schools for those marked out as failures at such an early age, their chances of gaining the education and skills they need to make the most of the life chances that come their way are reduced.
“In the Coalition Government, Liberal Democrats introduced the Pupil Premium. This boosted the amount of money a school received for pupils from poorer backgrounds. There was a clear attainment gap between children from low income households and those from well-off homes. The extra money we provided was used to help close that gap. “Now, the Conservatives’ plans for grammar schools - a better education for the few who largely already have good life chances - goes directly against what we did in Government when we set out to raise the standards for all.
“Liberal Democrats will fight any attempt to change existing schools in Tower Hamlets to grammar schools and we will fight plans to introduce new schools here that are selective.” Elaine Bagshaw has welcomed the announcement by Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron MP that the Liberal Democrats will fight the plans for grammar schools in Parliament. As the plans were not included in the Conservatives’ manifesto, they could be rejected completely by the House of Lords where the Conservatives have no majority.
“The Liberal Democrats are the party of education,” said Tim Farron. That means we believe in an excellent education for all, so any plans to bring in more divisive grammar schools will be utterly opposed by us. “The government cannot and will not win on this.”