CHIEF Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw has criticised Tory PM Theresa May’s ‘obsessive’ plan to approve a new wave of selective grammar schools calling it ‘socially divisive’.
Wilshaw says the move will lower standards for the majority of pupils and would only work ‘for the few’. May has repeatedly insisted she wants to create a country that ‘works for everyone, not just the privileged few’.
But the education chief urged her to instead create specialist vocational schools led by employers and based on the models employed by the likes of Germany, Switzerland and Norway. ‘If you’re going to make a success of Brexit, this is number one,’ he told The Observer.
Wilshaw, who retires at the end of December after completing his five-year term, said: ‘I came into teaching and I came into this job to raise standards for all children, not just for the few.
‘And by their very nature grammar schools are for the few – otherwise why have them?’ He added that he is not ‘sitting on the fence on this one’ but will speak out in the strongest way against such a policy shift.
He warned: ‘It will actually lower standards for the great majority of children. That is my view. And it is socially divisive as well.’ He added: ‘If you’re taking away the best kids from the comprehensive system, you’re creating, by another name, secondary moderns. You can call it what you like. People will know that the brightest children, the most academic children, are not going there.’
He also said grammars would inevitably make it more difficult to attract the brightest teachers to non-selective schools. Speaking up for comprehensives, he said: ‘If you had asked me 20 years ago whether comprehensives were working I would have said no.
‘Ask me now and I would say in many parts of the country they are working extremely well. The latest research shows that the best comprehensives are doing better than grammar schools for the most able children.’