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Pull funding from grammar schools which do not boost social mobility - Labour MP Lucy Powell

Pull funding from grammar schools which do not boost social mobility - Labour MP Lucy Powell
2 min read

Grammar schools should lose funding if they fail to boost the number of pupils from low-income families, the former Shadow Education Secretary has warned.


Lucy Powell said selective schools were at risk of damaging social mobility if the number of children from poorer backgrounds continues to flat line.

Writing for PoliticsHome, the Labour MP pointed to figures which showed the proportion of children in that category to be up just 0.1% in the last year.

She said just 2.7% of pupils in grammar schools are from low-income families compared with 13.6% of pupils across all state-funded secondary schools.

Ms Powell said social mobility should be “at the heart” of education and urged Theresa May to stay true to her pledge to close the social gap in grammar schools.

“That means existing grammar schools must do more rather than damaging wider social mobility,” she said.

“Unless they reform admissions urgently and show a substantial boost in the numbers of low income children attending these schools within the next few years, the state should stop funding these schools."

The Manchester Central MP – who was Labour’s education spokesperson until 2016 – said that in two-thirds of grammar schools all the children on free school meals would fit in one classroom

“This is not good enough,” she said. “The debate before the election on grammar schools showed that they are still the preserve of the elite.

“Far from boosting social mobility across an education system, they entrench advantage.

“Ministers said that they would require existing grammars to reform but now they are backpedalling on this commitment." 

She added: “Theresa May is reportedly looking to build consensus in Parliament. If she looked hard enough she would find social mobility could be such an issue. A cross-government plan to boost social mobility would be welcome and could start with boosting life chances in the early years, ensuring excellent teachers in every school, and giving people security in their homes so they can focus on education and work."

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