St Helens schools chief: Grammar plan a distraction

Coun Andy Bowden, cabinet member for education, believes the reintroduction of grammar schools is wrong
Coun Andy Bowden, cabinet member for education, believes the reintroduction of grammar schools is wrong

St Helens’ education cabinet chief has hit out at Tory plans to bring back the grammar school system.

Prime Minister Theresa May says she wants to create a “21st century education system” with an “element of selection”.

Labour accused her of advocating “social segregation” in schools, while the Government’s social mobility tsar, Alan Milburn, warned that a return to grammars could be “a social mobility disaster”.

And Coun Andy Bowden, cabinet member for education on St Helens Council, said the plans would be disastrous for the town’s youngsters.

“After the prospect of forced acadamisation and free schools, talk of bringing back grammar schools is yet another distraction from the work our schools are doing,” he told the St Helens Reporter.

“For every success story there are a dozen others of opportunities denied and young people written off from the age of 11.

“Instead of spending so much time on the government’s obsession with structure, our schools should be left to rightly focus on the quality of teaching and learning.

“That is what makes the difference for our young people.”

Coun Bowden also warned that Mrs May’s plans to loosen regulations around single faith schools could also cause problems for young people.

Yesterday, the Reporter told how an award-winning surgeon believes his schooling at Cowley Boys in St Helens was key to his rise to the top of the medical profession.