MP backs grammars in selection debate
Ashford MP backs grammar schools after criticism from senior Tory
ANTI-GRAMMAR school campaigners renewed their calls for Kent’s education system to be reformed, after the Conservative party distanced itself from school selection.
Shadow education secretary David Willetts yesterday (Wednesday) announced his opposition to the 11-plus exam, arguing that it failed children from poor backgrounds, although he stopped short of saying existing grammar schools should be scrapped.
But Ashford MP Damian Green, himself once shadow education secretary for the Tories, pledged his continued support for grammar schools in the town.
He said: “I have always supported Ashford’s grammar schools, which do a good job for their pupils and the wider community, and work well with the high schools.”
Martin Frey from the campaign group Stop The 11 Plus (STEP), said: “We welcome this recognition of reality, although it’s not much more than the Conservative party has said before.
“This should now be an opportunity for Kent County Council to review its position on selection and recognise how little social mobility there is in Kent.
“As all main political parties now agree selection is not the way forward, Kent has a chance to get a proper education system, attuned to the 21st century.”
The Conservatives may be in opposition nationally, but they are firmly in charge of KCC, which is responsible for education in the county.
As the Kentish Express went to press, KCC had not responded to Mr Willetts’ comments, but Mr Green, now shadow minister for immigration, confirmed his stance on the issue.
He said: “Mr Willetts has made it clear that in Kent, where people support the current system, grammar schools will be kept under a Tory government.”
David Willetts MP
Damian Green MP