Gareth Johnson is the MP for Dartford
I am delighted that Kent County Council has voted to allow the first expansion of a Grammar School in this country for around fifty years. It makes complete sense to allow good schools to expand whether this is on a "satellite campus" as in this case or on an existing site.
Common sense suggests that children will learn more when placed with children of a similar academic ability. Indeed streaming in schools in now common place. I cannot understand why it is perfectly acceptable to some to stream within a school yet not between schools.Clearly, Grammar Schools are not for every child, some children flourish in the academic surroundings that they offer whereas other children are more suited to a vocational setting. It is this diversity that Grammar Schools help to provide. They prevent us from having a ‘one size fits all’ education system.
It is also the case that Grammar Schools allow for greater levels of social mobility. I found that my working class background was very typical in the Grammar School I attended and the excellent education it provided helped many of my classmates to achieve success.
It is wrong to suggest that only comprehensive schools give equal opportunities for children.
In some exclusively comprehensive areas the catchment area around good non-selective schools can experience higher house prices than for the areas around less well performing comprehensive schools. This situation leads to poorer families being unable to send their children to the best performing schools in the area.
Another myth is that the non selective schools in selective school areas inevitably suffer. In my constituency we have four Grammar Schools yet the most over-subscribed school is actually one of the non-selective Secondary Schools.
Grammar Schools are popular, they provide excellent education, they offer social mobility and they enable many children to maximise their own potential. We need to allow them to flourish.