Tory MP Graham Brady's amendment
calling for independent schools to be allowed to convert to academy status and retain the right to select their pupils by academic ability, is being debated in the House of Commons today.
I am grateful to Margaret Tulloch, secretary of Comprehensive Future
, for pulling together some of the things that prominent members of the Coalition have said in Parliament in the past on this issue:
" .. we would not reintroduce the 11 plus and selection… I probably share the Hon Lady’s view (Sarah Teather) that the binary division that took place at 11 with the 11 plus was socially divisive. It is uncomfortable for me to see children who have been friends at primary school being forced to attend separate campuses, with one turning right at the end of the road and the other turning left. That is why the Conservative party has taken the position that it will not bring back selection when it returns to office. Nor did it do so when we were last in office."
Nick Gibb 24 May 2006 column 1537
"I shall start by saying what the Bill is not about. It is not about a "full-scale assault" on comprehensive education-a ludicrous claim by the shadow Secretary of State in The Guardian on Saturday. We believe in comprehensive education and are committed to it, and the Bill will strengthen it. Nor is it about scrapping the admissions code, another spurious claim about the Government's education policies by the shadow Secretary of State. We are committed to fair admissions through the code, and all academies will be bound by it through the model funding agreement."
Nick Gibb Winding up the debate on Academies Act 26 July 2010 column 820
"We must break free from the belief that academic selection is any longer the way to transform the life chances of bright poor kids. This is a widespread belief but we just have to recognise that there is overwhelming evidence that such academic selection entrenches advantage, it does not spread it."
David Willetts MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills speaking to the CBI 16 May 2007
"First, we want to ensure that pupils and parents can choose schools, so that schools are not choosing parents and pupils to select their way to better performance. We want to ensure that the consumer rather than the producer is in the driving seat…"
David Laws, then Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, House of Commons Debate on the Education & Skills Bill 2008 13 May 2008
It would appear that Mr Brady is part of a dwindling band in his own party who still believes that selection is compatible with a fair and equitable education system.