The Prime Minister is promising that parents can have more grammar schools without the need to return to the old-style 11-plus.
In a speech setting out the election battlelines, John Major made clear that the Conservatives intend to taunt Labour on its commitment to comprehensive schools.
Party members at the Conservative Central Council meeting at Harrogate were told the Government " had been clawing back from the worst aspects of the comprehensive system".
He said: "I believe choice and selection does have a place in education. And so do you. Not the old 11-plus - that's gone - but more selection in schools. And if parents want them, that could mean more schools like the old grammar schools."
In addition, he underlined the Government's determination to increase the amount of money that goes directly to schools. Schools are to be given more control of their own affairs, he said, and teachers and governors are to be given more of the education budget.
In her speech to the Harrogate conference, the Education and Employment Secretary Gillian Shephard said the Government would be setting out the options in a White Paper in June. The intention was, she said, to provide greater self-government for schools, greater freedom for grant-maintained schools and a greater degree of selection.