Education & Family

Justine Greening 'open minded' about new grammar schools in England

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New Education Secretary Justine Greening has said she is prepared to be "open minded" about allowing new grammar schools in England.

Senior Conservative Graham Brady has called for an end to the "silly" ban.

Ms Greening told the BBC the issue was "an important debate", but she would not "make some big sweeping policy pronouncement" at this stage.

Grammar schools are state secondaries that select their pupils by means of an examination at age 11.

There are currently about 163 in England - out of some 3,000 state secondaries - and a further 69 in Northern Ireland.

But under a law created by Labour's Tony Blair in 1998, no new grammar schools are allowed to open in England.

'Quite dramatically'

Ms Greening told the Andrew Marr Show the education system had changed "dramatically" from being a "binary" choice between grammar and secondary modern schools.

Grammar schools: What are they and why are they controversial?

She said: "The setting in which schools find themselves has actually changed quite dramatically, it's gone from really being a binary world in many respects to being an education world where there are many different schools now that have many different offers.

"So I think we need to be prepared to be open-minded."

Mr Brady, the chairman of the influential backbench Tory 1922 Committee, has urged the government to repeal the ban in the Daily Telegraph.

Asked if she was "completely closed-minded" to the idea, Ms Greening added: "I think that the education debate on grammar schools has been going for a very long time, but I also recognise that the landscape in which it takes place has changed fundamentally.

"I think we need to be able to move this debate on and look at things as they are today, and maybe step away from a more old-fashioned debate around grammar schools and work out where they fit in today's landscape."

Prime Minister Theresa May, is herself a former grammar-school pupil, and is thought to be a supporter of new selective state schools.

Mrs May's new chief of staff Nick Timothy has also backed new selective schools in the past.

Labour has opposed the creation of more grammar schools, arguing that they increase inequality.

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