Chiefs under fire over grammar cash ‘snub’
BIRMINGHAM’S Labour education bosses have been accused of turning their back on a windfall for grammar school education in the city.
The Government is encouraging councils to make bids to a £200 million grammar school fund.
Opposition Conservatives called on the council to encourage the expansion of Birmingham’s already successful grammar schools, and offer more places to children in the city. But ruling Labour councillors blocked the move, saying they want investment across all types of school, arguing grammar schools predominantly help middle class children.
Cabinet member for children’s services Kate Booth, a Quinton Labour councillor, said: “Grammar schools reduce social mobility, they create a bigger gap between the haves and the have nots.
“They give an advantage in life to children with pushy parents, middle class upbringings and those who have money to pay for extra coaching.”
The Conservatives urged the council to capitalise on the new Government funding for grammar school expansions. The fund would allow the likes of the King Edward VI schools, Bishop Vesey School and Sutton Coldfield Grammar Schools for Girls to open new campuses and increase their annual intake of pupils.
Grammar schools, who select high ability pupils, are among the highest rated in the country in exam passes.
Deirdre Alden, Conservative councillor for Edgbaston, said: “Birmingham’s grammar schools are amongst the best in the country, both in terms of educational attainment and the outreach work they do to promote social mobility.
“They have been used as an exemplar within the national funding announcement for their work in supporting access to disadvantaged pupils.
“However demand far outstrips supply and we know that parents are desperate for more places to be made available. Birmingham’s grammars should be given every opportunity to expand and allow more local children to benefit from their success.”
The Tories stressed that the Government money is only available for grammar schools and is not available for, nor would be taken from, other types of schools in the city.
But ruling Labour group coun- cillors accused the Conservatives of short-changing wider education in favour of its grammar school policy. John Clancy, Labour councillor for Quinton, and a former school teacher, said: “Grammar schools are not what the people of Birmingham want in this city. I spent most of my life teaching in comprehensive schools and most had 33 per cent of pupils on free school meals.
“Grammar schools are not going to give those people a ladder, it would pull the ladder up and set fire to it.”
He called for the grammar school funding to be redistributed to all schools.
> Birmingham has a number of successful grammar schools, despite Labour’s opposition to them