May vows to open 'first new grammars in 50 years'

More selective education will help 'ordinary, working-class people', the prime minister says

Richard Vaughan

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Theresa May has vowed to open the first new grammar schools in 50 years during her speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

The prime minister committed her party to establishing new selective schools, despite the Department for Education still consulting on the idea.

Speaking at her party’s conference in Birmingham today, Ms May described it as a "scandal" that only the wealthy could afford to get the best education for their children.

The Tory leader said that her party’s reforms would mean there would be "not just a school place for every child but a good school place for every child".

She added: "It’s why we are saying to the great private schools that – in return for their charitable tax status – we want them to do more to take on children without the means to pay, or set up and sponsor good state schools.

"It is why we want more good faith schools for parents and pupils who want them.

"And it is why we have said – where there is demand from parents, where they will definitely take pupils from all backgrounds, where they will play a part in improving the quality of all schools in their area – we will lift the ban on establishing new grammar schools, too."

'Centre ground'

The controversial reforms would be needed for the country to prosper following the Brexit vote, Ms May added, in a speech that she claimed would ensure the Conservatives were "rooted in the centre ground".

She listed proposals that she said would "not be driven not by the interests of the rich and powerful, but by the interests of ordinary, working-class people".

"Investing in things that will make our economy grow," she said. "Hundreds of great new schools. Universities and fee-paying schools helping state schools to improve.  

"And yes – where parents want them and where they’ll improve standards for children of whatever background – the first new grammar schools to open in England for 50 years."

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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