There’s real fury about today’s grammar schools policy amongst the MPs who I have spoken to today. Roger Gale MP has just been on News 24 describing the policy as a move from Conservatism to socialism. A bit much, Mr Gale, but I have been interviewed for BBC1, Radio 4, Sky News and Channel 4 and journalists I’ve been speaking to, whilst doing those interviews, genuinely can’t understand what Cameron-Willetts are trying to do. And now The Spectator’s Matt d’Ancona has joined the chorus of concern.
Matthew is regarded as something of an enthusiast for Project Cameron. These concluding words from his editorial in this week’s Spectator can’t be easily dismissed therefore:
"Mr. Cameron is desperate to avoid the impression that the Tories are an elitist or ‘restorationist’ movement, bringing back old privileges and divisions. But the grammar schools were the enemy of such division. The best thing the Tory leader could do to head off the charge that his party is now in the grip of out-of-touch toffs is to promise to less wealthy pupils the advantages that he was lucky enough to enjoy at the most prestigious school in the world. His decision to do exactly the opposite is a bleak moment for his party and the country."
Lord Blackwell of the Centre for Policy Studies echoes d’Ancona’s warning about the privileged pulling up the ladder after them:
"A Conservative Party committed to social mobility should champion free, academic schools which give the poorest children the chance to get the best education the state can provide, giving them a ladder to climb out of deprivation and reach the top of their chosen career. This is what past generations had, and it is unforgivable that we should deny the current generation that same opportunity."
The attached pdf from the CPS (just released) sets out the case for the positive impact that grammar schools have on social mobility.
Related link: ConservativeHome’s earlier post on this subject.
5pm: Related link: Mark Field argues we should be building more grammar schools.