Second new DfE minister has shown support for grammar school expansion

10th January 2018 at 18:20
Nadhim Zahawi
Nadhim Zahawi's comments from 2016 will fuel speculation about a new push to encourage more academic selection

A second new DfE minister wrote about his support for the expansion of academic selection before his appointment to the department, it has emerged.

It follows the news that new education secretary Damian Hinds outlined his support for the creation of a nationwide network of “elite” grammar schools in 2014 – two years before Theresa May brought the issue back into mainstream political debate.

Nadhim Zahawi, who became a junior education minister yesterday, wrote in September 2016 that he “firmly believed” in the government’s plans to “increase the role of selection into our state education system”.

The appointment of another grammar school supporter to the Department for Education will add to speculation that the removal of Justine Greening could herald a renewed government push to expand grammar schools.

Mr Zahawi’s article for Conservative Home came after Ms May outlined plans to overturn the law that bans the creation of new grammar schools, and provide £200 million for existing selective schools to expand.

The government abandoned plans to change the law after it lost its Commons majority, but it could still encourage existing grammar schools to expand or create new annexes.

In his article, Mr Zahawi supported the expansion of existing grammars, and the creation of satellite sites and new selective schools.

After outlining his support for the academy and free school programme, he said: “I firmly believe the new government is on the right track to add another route, and increase the role of selection into our state education system.”

He added: “Allowing existing selective schools to expand and create new sites, or allowing non-selective schools to become selective in some circumstances only provides new potential routes to success for children rather than taking anything away.”

His article went to label the opposition of “politicians and some media commentators” to grammar school supporters as “unpleasant”, saying grammar schools could help “more kids from every background getting a chance to do these jobs in politics and the media”.

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