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Justine Greening Says Grammar Schools Must Be Open To Children From 'Ordinary Working Families'

But Jeremy Corbyn called the plans 'divisive'.

13/04/2017 10:15

Education secretary Justine Greening wants new grammar schools to work for everyone, including children from “ordinary working families”. 

In a speech to be given on Thursday, Greening is expected to say that Theresa May’s controversial new schools will be “truly open to all”. 

The Tory MP’s comments come after government analysis showed struggling, working class families, who are missed by other deprivation measures, find it difficult to access outstanding schools. 

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Education secretary Justine Greening will say she wants new grammar schools to be 'truly open to all'

The consultation found there is “very limited understanding” of children from these “modest income” families compared to those from the wealthiest 10%, the Press Association reported

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the move, tweeting: “If the Tories wanted to help all children, they’d scrap their divisive grammar school plans & properly fund schools.”

In her speech at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Greening is expected to tell the audience that the government believes ordinary working families “shouldn’t have to make do”. 

“We believe they deserve better than that,” she will say. “Because ordinary working families are the backbone of our economy, of our country.

“There’s an old adage – what gets measured gets done. And this Government is focussed on getting things done.

“So yesterday, my department launched a technical consultation to help us understand how the children of ordinary working people are faring in our education system.”

Greening will say she wants to “knit together” the different parts of the education system in a bid to raise attainment.  

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Theresa May's grammar proposal for a new system of grammar schools has caused controversy 

The education secretary is expected to say: “We believe that universities, independent schools, and faith schools have a role in creating better options for parents.

“And I believe that selection - in new, 21st century state grammar schools – will add to the options available to young people – to truly help make the most of their talents.

“And grammars should not just be for one better off group in society to attend. We want to see more children from disadvantaged families get into grammars – that’s vital.

“I welcome that many grammar schools are now changing their admissions code to give a priority of places to these children – I want all of them to follow this example.

“We certainly will not lose sight of the fact that we want grammars to achieve more for disadvantaged children.” 

Greening is set to continue: “But we also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that many young people from an ordinary working class background already attend our existing grammar schools. 

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised Greening's announcement 

“And so, the new schools that we will create will support young people from every background, not the privileged few. Young people on free school meals – and those eligible for pupil premium.

“Young people from ordinary working families that are struggling to get by. I want these new schools to work for everyone.

“This will be a new model of grammars, truly open to all – we will insist on that. And it will reflect the choices of local parents and communities.”

According to the Department for Education, grammar school students are as likely to be from ordinary working families as children in non-selective schools. 

However, only 21% of pupils from ordinary working families are in an outstanding school, compared to a quarter of children from families with an above median income.

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