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THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Review of the Year
Mr Hinds is also responsible for higher education, and he will be increasingly focused on the review into overhauling the university tuition fee system. This will report back in 2019, and there will be intense political interest in the outcome.
At the same time, he has struck a teacher-friendly note, recognising their annoyance at excessive paperwork and promising to put a freeze on any new announcements that would cause further changes to the exam system.
Green light for more grammar school places
Grammar schools might be relatively small in number, but they have always played a big symbolic role in arguments over the direction of England’s school system. Going into the general election in June 2017, the Conservatives were committed to ending the ban on creating new grammar schools and promised to build a new generation of selective schools, adding to the existing 163. But the outcome of the election, with no parliamentary majority for Theresa May’s government, meant that the opening of new grammars was put to one side. The parliamentary arithmetic meant that changing the law would not be possible. While Justine Greening, the education secretary, accepted that the ban on new selective schools would stay, there was less certainty about would happen to the rest of the grammar school plan. As well as building new schools, there were proposals to allow existing grammars to expand or to set up branches on other sites. There had already been a contentious test case, in which the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge had been able to open an “annexe” in another town ten miles away. Other grammar schools wanted funding to increase their intake on their existing sites. Even though there is a ban on new grammars, many current
The equivalent of seven new grammar schools will be created over the next five years
grammars have been growing in size in recent years. The decision on extra support for grammars seemed to have been put on hold during the autumn, with Ms Greening focusing on social mobility as the biggest challenge for England’s school system. The expansion of selective places remained official policy, but there seemed to be no imminent sign of it being implemented. But her successor Damian Hinds, in an announcement in May, decided to press ahead with the expansion of selective places. He confirmed that there would be £50 million per year that existing grammar schools could use to build capacity for extra places.
8 | REVIEW OF THE YEAR
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