Grammar school plans 'morally wrong' - Lord Blunkett

13th October 2016 at 17:10
Theresa May's education proposals attacked in House of Lords debate

Plans for a new wave of grammar schools have been branded "morally wrong" by Labour former education secretary Lord Blunkett.

The peer, who when in office introduced a block on any further extension of academic selection, has urged a government rethink, with the focus "on raising standards for all and not the privileged few".

Lord Blunkett made his criticism during today's House of Lords debate on prime minister Theresa May's proposed reforms to allow new selective schools.

He said: "What we are presented with in this consultation paper is a diversion away from raising standards and once again on to structures."

Of the plan, Lord Blunkett added: "It's morally wrong, it's philosophically wrong, it's practically impossible to implement.

"I do pray that the government will think again and place emphasis on raising standards for all and not the privileged few."

'It's a failed policy'

Opening the debate, Labour peer Baroness Andrews had said: "This is a controversial policy. It's a failed policy. It's a policy which has been abandoned by all political parties as not fit for purpose over half a century ago.

"Grammar schools, whatever else they do, are not intended to work for everyone. By their commission and design they select and groom a small minority of academically inclined children, but other children pay a high price for this."

The idea that grammar schools promote social mobility is "risible", she added.

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Humphreys said: "It is self-evident that selective schools give a minority of pupils a first-class education and the majority of pupils a second-class education."

Conservative peer Lord Cormack spoke of his own time as a grammar school pupil, and as a former teacher at a grammar school, saying that he found himself supporting the government's policy.

However, he felt that the age of 13 was a more appropriate entry point than 11.

Making her maiden speech, Conservative peer Baroness Vere – former executive director of the Girls' Schools Association – made the case for independent schools, arguing that most were not selective in admissions.

Pupils were streamed and set by ability and encouraged to reach their full potential, she said. "Independent schools are getting it right for children of all abilities and not just the most able," she added.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook


Related Content

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today