As it backs the first one to open in 50 years, should the government shift its focus onto grammar schools?

More than half of England wish to open new grammar schools (Source: Getty)

Phillip Bosworth, the honourable treasurer of the National Grammar Schools Association, says Yes

David Cameron said the new Kent grammar school does not change policy. Well, England thinks it should do – as our polls from 2010, 2013 and 2015 clearly demonstrate.

More than half of England not only wish to preserve the existing 164 schools, but wish to open new grammar schools.

Their huge popularity shows parents know that grammar schools are good schools, and excellent for upward social mobility – as does the Prime Minister, by approving 450 new places.

If he truly wishes to be in touch with the will of the people and maximise support for his party, he should grasp the nettle while he has a majority, and immediately repeal the clause in the 1998 Education Act enacted by Labour which proscribes selection.

The government could then stop discriminating against parental choice by approving new grammar schools in the 75 per cent of England where there are none and no possibility of extensions, and gain a huge vote from England’s aspirational parents.

Philip Booth, professor of finance, public policy and ethics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and editorial and programme director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, says No

There is no doubt that grammar schools were of huge benefit to many in previous generations, and that more specialisation in schooling could be enormously beneficial again.

Students would be able to attend schools more suited to their needs, and it would also open the door to many more people to join the teaching profession who have a skillset not suited to the comprehensive system.

But the government should leave this matter to schools and parents. They should remove regulations on free schools to allow them much more freedom in relation to admissions policies, and open up the system to profit-making firms.

Then we will get the type of specialisation that parents want, rather than the re-creation of a rigid grammar school system imposed by a secretary of state.

It would be typical of this government, though, to create by regulation what is prohibited by a different set of regulations.

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