Announcing the extra cash today, schools minister Nick Gibb will say grammars are now ‘returning to their original social mobility agenda’ after decades of being colonised by the middle classes. The Daily Mail reports.
It will mean many more bright children from hard-up families will get the chance of a grammar school education, as head teachers ‘level the playing field’ for pupils from all backgrounds.
Schools can only bid for the money if they set out how they will recruit disadvantaged children – through measures such as quotas, or changing the catchment area. It comes after a similar scheme created 2,700 new places last year.
Mr Gibb said: ‘We do think that the children getting into grammar schools should more closely reflect the population that they are serving. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are just as capable of getting into grammar school.”
Critics such as campaign group Comprehensive Future have complained that middle class children have a huge advantage because their parents can afford to tutor them for the 11-plus entrance exam.
Mr Gibb said part of the problem has been a shortage of places – driving intense competition from applicants. ‘As the population increased, the number of places wasn’t increasing with it in those areas that have selective schools,’ he said.
Mr Gibb said the Government is now trying to address this problem by allowing grammars to expand ‘where there is a demonstrable need for more school places’.
‘If they’re not able to do that, they can end up being more socially exclusive than if you allow those schools to expand,’ he added.
Grammar schools are popular with parents, with around 15 pupils choosing a selective school as their first preference for every ten places offered.
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