ResPublica report says grammar schools can boost the performance of ‘poor but bright pupils’

Graham Brady MP welcomed the report by ResPublica which said that grammar schools could boost the performance of poor  pupils by ten percentage points compared to non-selective schools.

In the report,  commissioned by Knowsley Council, ResPublica also points to research that found grammar schools, which Theresa May’s government has said it will bring back, are more likely to enable children receiving free school meals to achieve as much as those from middle class backgrounds.

Graham Brady said: ‘This is very powerful evidence that grammar schools can transform lives and opportunities. We know from history that academic selection, when it is open to everyone, without fees, can be a great motor of social mobility. The government’s new green paper will give hope to people in less affluent areas across the country and should be welcomed by everyone.’

A link to the report can be found here:

Friends of Grammar Schools 2016

Prime Minister Theresa May met with representatives from grammar schools across the country at an annual event to celebrate selective education. She spoke to  staff and pupils from grammar schools about the opportunities they offer and discussed her plans for the future.

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Sunday Telegraph Article: We Conservatives have always been at our best when opening up the world of privilege; Graham Brady MP


BYLINE: Graham Brady


LENGTH: 606 words
Conservative governments are at their best when they spread power, wealth and responsibility to the people. Extending the franchise to the working man in the 19th century; giving votes to women in the 20th; the homeowning democracy championed by Macmillan and then Thatcher.

All of these helped to shatter the image of the Tories as a party of rank and privilege. Perhaps the greatest blow of all those struck to create an open, meritocratic society was by Rab Butler in his 1944 Education Act.

Contrary to popular belief, the ’44 Act didn’t establish grammar schools, it simply abolished the fees that they charged, opening in one fell swoop an opportunity previously denied to the poorest children.

Back in those days when the Labour Party could plausibly claim to be the defender of the working classes, it gave its whole-hearted support. Labour’s only objection was that Butler had failed to open up free places at the great public schools too.

The following decades saw an explosion of social mobility. Grammar schools from Barnsley, to Stockport, to Llanelli sent cohorts of bright young men and women to challenge the old order in fusty universities, and on to the media, Whitehall or City boardrooms.

Since then, Labour has fallen into a mire of egalitarianism – it doesn’t matter how bad your local school is, if it’s your local school, it is your duty to send your children there. A kind of “take it or leave it” socialism that has driven a wedge between Labour and its traditional supporters.

Conservatives should be better: we should be more in tune with the people. Opinion polls suggest not only that 75 per cent of the public wants more grammar schools but also, that there is a majority among the supporters of each of the main political parties.

In my part of Greater Manchester, we still have a wholly selective system and all the schools are so good that at last year’s general election, only the Green candidate wanted to scrap them.

If the problem of selection in the 1960s was good grammar schools and lousy secondary moderns, surely we in Trafford did the intelligent thing by keeping the good stuff and improving the rest? The fact that a modern, selective system can work so well – teaching every child to his or her ability and at a pace that suits – doesn’t of course mean that we should force this system on people who don’t want it.

Nor should we be so arrogant as to keep a piece of dogma that says nobody is allowed to have a new grammar school, however much they want it. Wherever grammar schools exist, they are popular.

There is a clamour for places from parents who know that their children will benefit. On her first day in Downing Street, Theresa May signalled her determination to build a country that works for all. Of course that means a continuing drive to improve all our schools, but it also means that the kind of opportunities that grammar schools can give should no longer be restricted to those who can afford to go private.

It is unacceptable in modern Britain that the 7 per cent who go to feepaying schools should maintain such a grip on public life and the professions.

The Prime Minister’s level playing field promises people more choice and with a guarantee of better chances for families with lower incomes.

There couldn’t be a clearer contrast between a Conservative Party that trusts people to make decisions for themselves and their families and a Labour Party that thinks we should put up with what we are given.

Graham Brady is the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs

ComRes Poll Shows Support for Grammars

On 13th March 2015 ComRes published a poll investigating public support for an array of policies. Among the policies polled was whether people would, in principle, support or oppose increasing the number of grammar schools.

Supporters of new grammar schools are in the majority across all age ranges, social classes, and political parties. The poll supports previous results and shows that there is continuing widespread support for grammar schools across the country.

The policy attracted a net ‘support’ rate of 53%, with a net ‘oppose’ rate of 25%. 22% didn’t know where they stood. Conservative voters have a net support/oppose rate of 69% to 17% (14% don’t know), while Labour voters support the policy by 42% to 34% (24% don’t know).

Raw data figures are available here, courtesy of ComRes.

Graham Brady MP Makes the 21st Century Case for Selection

On 16th March Civitas, the institute for the study of civil society, published a book titled ‘The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools: A Debate’, edited by Anastasia de Waal, Deputy Director of Civitas and Director of the Family & Education section, with a foreword by David Davis MP.

The book provides in-depth arguments from 24 leading thinkers from the UK covering the history, current arguments, and future options for education. With a healthy balance from both pro-selection and pro-comprehensive writers, the book is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the argument over selection in education. The Friends of Grammar Schools believe the book provides powerful arguments in favour of selection while rebuffing some of the most common myths and counter-arguments put forward by proponents of a comprehensive system.

We are making available the chapter written by Graham Brady MP, titled “The Twenty-First Century Case for Selection”, which provides robust figures and in-depth arguments to demonstrate that grammars provide better and more equitable education not only for those who attend grammars, but also for those who attend secondary moderns in selective local authority areas. It goes on to detail how selective education could be incorporated into current education policy. To open a copy of his chapter please click here.

On seeing the book, Graham Brady MP said: “Civitas has done a great job bringing together such a wide range of politicians and commenters interested in selective education, and I am proud to be among them. This new book proves that this important debate will never go away, opinion polls show consistent support for more grammar schools from supporters of all parties and I hope the arguments made by advocates of selection in this publication will help to bring policy makers into line with the public. We know that grammar schools provide the best academic education and I have shown too that selective areas as a whole tend to out-perform comprehensive ones. With the expansion of Academies and Free Schools now is the time to give real choice by allowing new selective schools.”

The full book is available for £18 from the Civitas shop.

The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools: A Debate
The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools: A Debate


The House magazine debate: Grammar Time?

The House magazine (No. 1505, Vol. 37), which is produced by DODS published a debate between Kevin Brannan MP and Graham Brady MP under the title ‘Grammar Time?’ on 16th January 2015.

The debate focused on whether or not the UK should reintroduce grammar schools.

A PDF version of the debate is available courtesy of DODS. Please click the following link to view: Grammar Time?

Westminster Hall Debate on Grammar School Funding

On 13th January 2015 a debate took place in Westminster Hall on grammar school funding.

Philip Hollobone MP chaired the debate, which was well attended and saw contributions from numerous MPs from both sides of the aisle.

Should you wish to read through the debate it is available on Hansard.


Henry Hill: Grammar Schools Cannot Be Championed In Isolation

The below post was originally posted on Conservative Home, dated 19/12/14. You can read it on their site by clicking here. We are re-posting this as it presents an interesting and important side to the debate on grammar schools, and the role of grammars within the wider education system.


At the end of his article a week ago today on the notion of ‘Meritocracy Schools’, Paul Goodman wrote of “a topic which tends to exercise the centre-right less, but should preoccupy it more: namely, providing better education and training for students who are not academically strong.”

In my view, those who wish to see grammar schools return must become the fiercest advocates for the restoration of British vocational education – for they will never see the former without the latter.

It was the failure of the ‘Tripartite System’ to live up to its name and furnish technical schools that first fatally undercut public support for grammars, by leaving those children who didn’t get in with no alternative and equivalent route to success.

Whilst countries such as Germany – with British assistance, no less – developed world-beating, industry-focused vocational learning systems, at home we slipped into a “best and the rest” model which ill-served an awful lot of children and quite naturally bred resentment.

This problem persists to this day. In a recent series of hearings by the Education Select Committee on the state of apprenticeships and traineeships for young people, the most consistent message from witnesses was the need to tackle the widespread public perception that vocational learning was somehow “second rate”.

This perception has had an awful lot of government reinforcement in recent decades. Comprehensive schools cleave to the academic model, and often lost those things like carpentry and metalworking classes which once gave the practically-minded the opportunity to hone their own talents. Attempts to improve the status of polytechnics led to them being “upgraded” into second-rate universities, rather than cherished in their own right.

To cap it all, Tony Blair set out to get 50 per cent of all school-leavers into university, turning three years of expensive academic education into the default position for many school-leavers who might have profited from more practical alternatives – or even from going straight into a job, many of which were lifted beyond their reach by the grade inflation unleashed by each fresh flood of graduates.

All of this is profoundly unhelpful to champions of grammar schools. So long as the academic curriculum is the be-all and end-all of a child’s perceived accomplishments, nothing which so clearly divides pupils by ability is going to win widespread acceptance from those whose own children fall on the wrong side of the line. John Prescott’s charge that grammar schools brand children “failures” will continue to stick.

For this reason, the many Conservatives – myself included – who count themselves friends of grammar schools should treat the drive for a world-class vocational alternative not as a worthy but separate battle but as critical to our own cause.

Obviously such a course of action has plenty of sound justifications in its own right: it would equip the UK with a skilled future workforce in the way mass university education was meant to; and be a boon to the tens of thousands of gifted, practically-minded children failed by the comprehensive system but ill-suited to grammar schools.

But from the point of view of grammar school campaigners, such a renaissance in technical education would provide the necessary political environment for specialist academic schools to flourish again, with academic excellence a path but not the path to a rewarding career and personal success.

A zealous Tory crusade on the subject might also leave a lasting impression on those parents who, rightly or wrongly, fear that we seek simply to re-establish elite schools for our children at the expense of their own.

So when we celebrate those selective schools opening satellite campuses which amount to the first new grammar schools in decades – and we absolutely should – let’s also make time to shout about University Technical Colleges. Let’s try to hold the Government to account for its record on apprenticeships, as well as on the EBacc.

Damian Green MP: Why it’s time to create new grammar schools

The below post was originally posted on Conservative Home, dated 9/12/14. You can read it on their site by clicking here.

Damian Green is a former Immigration and Policing Minister, and is MP for Ashford.

As a committed moderniser, I am perhaps counter-intuitively delighted that the grammar school debate has been revived by Conservative Voice, and will happily support their campaign to allow new grammar schools to be created. I see this is not as a move to “bring back” the old system in which there were only two types of school, and you were sent on one path at the age of 11. Rather, this is the logical next step in the increased variety of secondary schooling which is now on offer because of Michael Gove’s reforms.

Indeed, I see the creation of new grammar schools as squarely in line with the thinking that lay behind a previous generation of reform, when the last Labour Government allowed specialist schools to develop. This gave rise to the slightly perverse situation whereby the state would offer a school which could stretch you to the limit if you were good at sport, languages, or science…but forbade by law a school stretching you to the limit if you were just generally good at school.

Of course, this perversity was a result of our perennial agonising about class. A great sin in education was allowing the middle class to gain an advantage for their children, since this was unfair. I rather agree with the thinking behind this, but it seems to me that rather than preventing the creation of excellent academic schools, our modern response should be to continue the improvement in primary schools so that all children can have the chance to show their full academic potential. Let’s level up, not down. Let’s allow a variety of schools in any one area, so that parents can choose what they want for their children.

The opponents of grammar schools argue that they were always, and are still, only meritocratic on the surface, as statistically they gave places to only a small proportion of those on free school meals. The modern figures, at a time when we have very few grammar schools which are heavily concentrated in certain areas of the country, are as a result not representative. They mostly reflect the social composition of those areas (notably Kent and Buckinghamshire) in which the grammar schools have survived. And the older figures reflect a society which was more stratified, and in which indeed some working class parents refused to send their children to the local grammar school even if they had qualified, on the ground that they would not fit in. Thankfully, we have moved on from that.

The ideal set-up for new grammar schools (and let’s maybe create a different name for academically focussed schools) would be for them to be established to attract pupils from a wider area than before, whether across a city or rural area. This would prevent the creation of sink schools in an individual area, because the grammar school would be attracting its pupils from a number of different catchment areas. So there would not be a binary divide in a local area, but a widening of the choice available across, for example, a whole city. Comprehensives would survive in this system, catering for parents who preferred their children to attend this type of school.

The biggest boon of new grammar schools would be a widening of the pool of those going on to the top universities. Creating opportunity for those from non-privileged backgrounds is the essence of good conservatism. It is morally right that individuals should be judged on merit, and economically necessary if we are to succeed as a country. My least favourite political cliché is the “public school and Oxbridge” criticism from the left. Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities make great efforts to find the brightest students from anywhere. It is not their fault if we have over decades reduced the chances of clever children from poor backgrounds being able to demonstrate their ability by the time they reach 18. When we had grammar schools all over the country, “Oxbridge” was much less a domain of the privately educated than it later became.

Precisely because we now have Univesity Technical Colleges, and other schools which will bring out different talents in children, so that we can genuinely promise them a chance in life whether or not they have an academic bent, it is right to create specialist academic schools. It is often observed that we have some of the best schools in the world, but that the vast majority of the British population cannot afford to send their children to them. One solution would be to destroy what makes those schools great. That would be educational vandalism. A better response is to widen opportunity for a specialist academic education to the many, not the few.

By Damian Green MP.