County says no to new grammar schools

Shire Hall, Warwick. NNL-161201-211317009
Shire Hall, Warwick. NNL-161201-211317009

New grammar schools have been officially opposed by county councillors after they debated the idea in a meeting last week.

Warwickshire County Council voted to pass the Labour-led motion by 28 votes to 25. The majority of opponents to the motion came from the Conservatives, who were more supportive of the Government’s plan to create new grammar schools.

After the meeting, Cllr Matt Western (Lab, Leamington Willes) said: “Warwickshire is proud of its existing good schools and we argue that any additional grammar schools would be to the detriment of the current schools network.

“This is not just our view but one endorsed by both the former Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan and more importantly by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former Head of OFSTED.

“Even David Cameron was against their re-introduction. Virtually all education professionals oppose the expansion of grammar schools stating that, far from increasing social mobility, they undermine the quality of existing secondary schools and improving life chances across the board.”

Cllr Western also met up with the Shadow Minister for Education Angela Rayner at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool this week. She will now be sent a dossier about Warwickshire’s schools.

He added: “The shadow minister was delighted to hear that Warwickshire County Council has formally voted against grammar schools.

“We will work with Angela Rayner to oppose this policy. Warwickshire has a proud record that we do not want to see destroyed.”

Leader of the council Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con, Stour and the Vale) said: “The Labour motion to Council last week deliberately sought to talk down Warwickshire’s grammar schools whereas the Conservative motion talked up all of our excellent secondary schools.

The Conservative Government is building a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

“A fundamental part of that is having schools that give every child the best start in life, regardless of their background and as a council we will continue to do all we can to improve the life chances for every child in Warwickshire.

“It is clear that there is a demand within Warwickshire for selective school places with our grammar schools remaining extremely popular with families.

“We are yet to learn the finer details of the Government’s proposals on selective education but my great hope is that at their heart will be the wish to see more children from disadvantaged backgrounds given the opportunity to access a grammar school education, more choice for parents and standards raised even further in all schools.”

The MP for Warwick and Leamington Chris White said: “We are home to a number of outstanding schools and I will continue to work with them as they provide a high quality education for our young people.”