Plans for new Hastings free school approved

Schools approved today include the 1,500-place non-selective Barton Court Academy Trust Free School in Canterbury, proposed by Barton Court Grammar School, which the government states is an example of an existing high-performing school raising attainment more widely.

Commenting on the latest announcement, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT, the largest teachers' union, said: "At a time when the majority of schools are struggling to survive the decision to pour tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money into free schools, for some to be sponsored by grammar schools is indefensible".

Education secretary Justine Greening said: "We need schools that can bring out the best in every single child no matter where they're growing up, how much their parents earn, or however different their talents are".

The Department for Education will hold a "technical consultation" on the issues faced by working families in the education system, including how they are to be defined.

The DfE dismissed questions about whether any of the new free schools could become academically selective in the future as "speculation".

In non-selective state schools only one in three pupils (32%) comes from a well-off household.

Twenty councils have also been granted permission to open new special schools.

But more than half of places (53%) are taken by children whose families are on above-average incomes.

'Instead, they live in our suburbs and our coastal areas, mostly outside Greater London, in many towns in the North of England.

The "ordinary" families are usually missed out of poverty measures, but are clearly not wealthy enough to pass as the "privileged few" - which is Ms Greening claims to have made them the focus of her new education reforms.

Speaking about her upbringing last night, Miss Greening said: 'Ordinary working families are the backbone of our country.

'But we also shouldn't lose sight of the fact that many young people from an ordinary working-class background already attend our existing grammar schools. Instead the benchmark would be access for those from homes with modest incomes, rather than only those entitled to free school meals or the pupil premium.

Stone Lodge Academy - a new secondary school for 11-19 year-olds in Dartford, proposed by Endeavour Multi Academy Trust.

"This will be a new model of grammars - truly open to all. And it will reflect the choices of parents and communities".

The consultation says that while there has been much attention and support for the very poorest families, there is "very limited understanding" of the experiences of children in families of "modest incomes".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Grammar schools do not improve social mobility and therefore they are not good for our education system".

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "The Government are fiddling the figures, pure and simple to make their case for a discredited grammar schools plan".

  • Leroy Wright