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Islington councillor: Grammar schools will ‘divide us even more’

PUBLISHED: 16:00 14 September 2016 | UPDATED: 13:46 15 September 2016

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington executive member for children and young people

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington executive member for children and young people

Archant

Islington Council’s education boss says Whitehall plans to bring back grammar schools “would be a disaster” for the borough.

Cllr Joe Caluori (Mildmay, Lab) said reintroducing grammar schools “would be a backwards step” in the fight to improve education in Britain.

And he urged the government to look at investing in existing comprehensives.

“Research has shown that areas with grammar schools don’t perform better,” he said.

“Grammar schools don’t improve social mobility, they worsen it. Islington is quite a divided borough between rich and poor, and introducing selective schooling would just compound that.”

Plans were announced by the Prime Minister last week to lift the ban on the creation and expansion of grammar schools.

The ban was introduced by Tony Blair’s New Labour government in 1998 and, despite calls from some Conservative ministers, has been in place ever since.

But in a landmark speech, Prime Minister Theresa May said it is the existing school system, not selective schooling, that is unfair.

“For too long we have tolerated a system that contains an arbitrary rule preventing selective schools from being established,” she said, “sacrificing children’s potential because of dogma and ideology.

“The truth is that we already have selection in our school system – and it’s selection by house price, selection by wealth. That is simply unfair.”

The plans announced by Mrs May would mean each school would have to take a proportion of students from poorer backgrounds.

There are currently no grammar or selective schools in Islington. But the borough has seen an improvement in schooling over the past five years, and Cllr Caluori believes the government should follow the example set by London.

“You just need to look at the improvements in schooling in London recently to see what should be done. The government needs to learn from that,” he said.

“But the idea of consigning youngsters down one route at the age of 10 or 11 seriously limits opportunities, and that’s not fair.”

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