Greening: excellence in 'particular subjects' may be enough to get pupils into grammars

The education secretary wants to 'modernise' the 11-plus entrance exam and also reveals that teacher training is a key priority

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Pupils could gain access to grammar schools if they show proficiency in particular subjects, Justine Greening has said.

Any new or existing grammar schools would unlikely to be able to select their pupils by just using a simple 11-plus exam as it operates today, the education secretary added.

Ms Greening was speaking to journalists having given a speech to teachers in Newcastle for the Schools NorthEast Summit this morning.

Responding to a question about the government’s proposals to expand the number of selective schools in England, the Cabinet member said they were looking at how they could “modernise” the entrance exam

“It’s not about a return to the 11-plus at all. What we’re talking about is how you could have entry into the selective system and grammars not just at 11, how it might just be for particular subjects, if children are particularly good at those. So this is about fixing some of those issues.”

Earlier, Ms Greening told delegates that teacher training was among her main priorities in her in-tray. She said had always regarded teaching as a “profession”, but there needed to be a clearer sense of “what good looks like” in terms of the training of teachers.

“[We need to look at] the balance between teacher education and practitioner experience in the classroom,” Ms Greening said. “We have a generation of teachers who are coming through who really understand how to do school improvement but we also need to look at the breadth of classroom experience our teachers are getting.”

The MP for Putney, who described herself as a “details person”, also stated that she has told the Department for Education to focus more on the delivery of policies rather than rolling out new ones.

“I think everyone is happy at producing policy but I think we need to get stronger on delivery. It is a massive part of what we do, and I think it matters just as much as policy,” she said.

“I know from my time in business that there is no point having a great plan if you don’t know how to execute it. For me a focus on delivery is going to be absolutely critical to what I challenge my department to do.”

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