Theresa May’s policy bringing back grammar schools has divided the nation, and the buzzword across the country has become meritocracy. How can we ensure that the most academically gifted go to schools that suit them best, and at the same time not discriminate against those who are less academically gifted by channelling their talents into where they can be best used?
To the political establishment there seems to be only two options; to carry on with Cameron's free school and academy reforms, or to carry through with Theresa May’s plans to introduce a new generation of Grammar schools across the country.
After Mrs May’s insistence that “there will be no return to secondary moderns” it looks as if the road forks out only two ways, now, with May tugging at the reigns of her disobedient party to get it going down her chosen route.
The prevailing issues surrounding the disagreement it seems, are those of social mobility, school choice and having healthy competition between schools. Given these, perhaps they should consider a third way, a way that the Adam Smith Institute has advocated in the past. That is, to allow profit making free schools to exist. These schools could spur the creation of school chains that compete on quality and standards, ensuring that quality of schooling is maintained. But parents still need to ensure that their desire for school choice is respected. Especially as it is essential that the future of a child is not determined by where he/she should happen to live. To address this, a digital voucher like bursary should be given by the government so that they can send their children to one of these new free schools if they wish.
Though this may be considered somewhat radical, and entail far more than simply the aforementioned, it would be an excellent and indeed highly interesting concept for MPs to consider. Not least because it would be refreshing to consider something new in education policy for a change, rather than trying to dredge up the Grammar school system from the past.
The 2013 Paper published by the Adam Smith Institute in partnership with the Centre for Market Reform of Education School Vouchers for England can be found here.