I have serious doubts as whether Theresa May will be able to implement her policy of introducing new grammar schools.
She has a paper-thin majority in the Commons, and has ruled out going to the country to increase the number of her MPs.
Large sections of the Tory party itself are opposed to selection in education, including out-going education secretary Nicky Morgan.
Some of the possible conditions attached to new grammars to make them palatable – like taking on or setting up non-selective schools – are very similar to existing or planned requirements.
The Lords probably wouldn’t let the measures pass, or might gut them . By the time May’s government was able to push them through her priorities might have changed somewhat (Brexit?).
Finally, and most significantly, grammar school finances are currently in an extremely parlous state, because of year-on-year funding cuts and because a substantial tranche of education funding comes attached to Pupil Premium-eligible students. Addressing the crisis in grammar school funding would require shifting money from poorer students to those selected by grammars – who are wealthier on average and so don’t attract Pupil Premium funding. Comprehensive schools won’t want to switch to being grammars if they know their finances will be in danger as a result, and surely May can’t risk doing a Sheriff of Nottingham with poor kid’s cash to persuade them to make the change.
In the end grammar schools would be an expensive project for May’s government and couldn’t fail to be seen an attempt to turn the clock back to less enlightened times. Less retro, more retrograde.
And the idea that grammars are socially progressive is undercut by the graph above, which shows very clearly the correlation between selection, smaller percentages of disadvantaged students and higher academic outcomes.