The Prime Minister has made clear that the Government is dedicated to making Britain a true meritocracy and that education lies at the heart of that mission. The Government has recently published a consultation that asks for views on a range of proposals aimed at creating an education system that extends opportunity for everyone, not just the privileged few.
Since 2010, the Government's reforms have had a transformational effect on education in this country. There are now 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools. I welcome that the Government is continuing in its ambitious reform so that every child has the best possible start in life. Childcare for working parents of three and four year olds will be doubled to 30 hours a week, and the amount spent on school places is already double that spent by Labour. The stark reality, however, is that demand for school places only continues to grow, and too many children in this country still do not have access to a good school.
The proposals that have been put forward aim to address this by expanding the number of good school places available to families, not just those who can afford to move into the catchment area of the best state schools. The consultation is seeking views on creating a more diverse school system, including the role that selection can play in opening up excellent places to more children, particularly the disadvantaged.
As it stands there are currently only 163 grammar schools in England educating around 5% of pupils but 99% of them are rated good or outstanding by OFSTED. No one will be obliged to send their children there and even after expansion they will still probably look after a small minority of all schoolchildren but it does seem odd to me that we should not explore extending the very successful opportunity offered by grammar schools to more of our children who could benefit from them.
The Government's consultation is asking for views from teachers, children and parents. If you would like to make your views known, you can do so online before 12 December. Visit https://consult.education.gov.uk/school-frameworks/schools-that-work-for-everyone.
I am clear, as is the Government, that relaxing restrictions on selective education can and should be to the betterment, not at the expense, of other local schools. There will be no return to secondary moderns. Changes will happen where there is local demand, and the Government will consider measures to maintain school diversity, so every child can have the opportunity to succeed.