Kirsty Williams: Under no circumstances will Wales see an expansion of grammar schools

Kirsty Williams 2There’s a lot of talk of the return of grammar schools in England.

In Wales, however, there is no chance of any expansion. Liberal Democrat Education Secretary Kirsty Williams had this to say on the matter:

Wales’ Education Secretary Kirsty Williams ruled out a return to grammars in Wales and said: “It seems that some terrible ideas just won’t go away.

“The Tories in England and Wales seem determined to bang this tired old drum. For them, this is all about dogma and doctrine, rather than looking at what actually works for our young people.

“The facts show that grammar schools do nothing to improve social mobility. The Sutton Trust found that less than 3% of grammar school pupils were on free school lunches, compared with 20% across the country.

“ The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe in opportunity for all, which is why under no circumstances will Wales be seeing an expansion of grammar schools.

“As Education Secretary, I will be guided by evidence so that we have a schools system that is modern, innovative and rooted in optimism about the potential of all our children.”

Yesterday, Kirsty made her first major speech as Education Secretary on Higher Education. She said she was setting up a group to look at the implications of Brexit for higher education in Wales. She also called on universities to do more to close the gap between campus and community.

She warned: “At a UK-level, the pro-EU campaign of universities was too easily dismissed as one of self-interest, almost exclusively focused on income.
“This is not to exempt politicians and government from criticism, far from it. But it is certainly incumbent on universities to reflect on the distance between campus and community exposed by the referendum.”
Ms Williams has also announced she is establishing a Welsh Higher Education Brexit Working Group, to advise on the “impact and possibilities” arising from the UK’s departure from the European Union.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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4 Comments

  • Peter Watson 9th Sep '16 - 12:08pm

    I welcome and applaud the clear, unambiguous statements on grammar schools from Tim Farron (https://www.libdemvoice.org/tim-farron-on-grammar-schools-51542.html) and Kirsty Williams.
    An excellent editorial in the Guardian summarises my own position:

    The unfortunate truth is that the English schooling system has become a messy laboratory of competing styles and structures. The wise but unexciting way to proceed is rigorous evaluation of evidence to see what is working in the interests of social mobility and rising standards. Then best practice may be replicated and failure addressed. The evidence is already clear on one point: grammar schools are not the answer, even if the demand for them expresses good questions.

    (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/08/the-guardian-view-on-grammar-schools-the-wrong-answer-but-the-right-question)

  • Nigel Jones 10th Sep '16 - 1:10pm

    Kirsty rightly accuses the Tories of dogma and doctrine. Theresa May accuses her opponents of ideology and says we should instead consider what works for children. This shows how out of touch Theresa May must be on this subject; she only sees the tiny number who might benefit from grammar schools and only hears those aspirational parents who do not realise that the majority will not benefit. She also seems to be completely unaware that many comprehensive schools cater well for the very talented. So much for her promise to govern for everybody; she has u-turned on that and is deceiving herself and parents that her ideas will change the education system for the better.

  • The only Lib Dem in power and only two comments. It’s disappointing how little attention is given to the Welsh Lib Dems.

  • A politician standing up for facts based policy. How refreshing.

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