Tory MP warns Theresa May: Change in grammar schools policy 'lacks legitimacy'

Posted On: 
8th August 2016

A Conservative backbencher has warned Theresa May that new grammar schools “lack political legitimacy” and will struggle to win the support of a majority of the parliamentary party. 

New grammar schools were banned under Tony Blair in 1997
PA Images

Downing Street said today that Mrs May was “open-minded” about lifting the ban on new selective state schools, after the Sunday Telegraph reported that she was reconsidering the policy.

But the proposal has attracted fierce criticism from opposition parties and some Conservative MPs.

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Neil Carmichael, the Conservative chairman of the Education Committee, said grammar schools “may help some people but they also leave more people behind”.

His parliamentary colleague Mark Pritchard added today that the Commons could block the policy.  

“It wasn’t in the party manifesto, it therefore lacks political legitimacy and I doubt it would have the support of the parliamentary party,” he told the BBC’s World at One.

The Wrekin MP added that he believed existing grammar schools should be allowed to expand, but he opposed “another major restructuring” of the education system.

Mrs May’s spokeswoman today refused to be drawn about the Prime Minister’s plans, but left the door open for a rethink.

“We need to build a country that works for everyone and not just a privileged few,” the spokeswoman said.

“That means every child being able to rise as far as their talents will take them.

“We should be open-minded about looking at what works in our education system, how do we deliver the best education system for our children.”