The Government has announced the first tranche of a £200 million pot of money to expand the number of places at grammar schools which already exist. It is one of several pots of money available to schools – including money to help pupils with special educational needs, and a programme to increase school places at good primary and secondary schools across the country.
Because Birmingham already has grammar schools, we have schools who can bid for money to extend the number of grammar school places in the city. Our grammar schools are very popular and hugely oversubscribed (at the most popular, only one in ten of the children who apply to the school will get a place). The extra places created could be on site, or new satellite sites could be established – meaning potentially a grammar school in a part of the city where there currently isn’t one.
It’s also pretty obvious that if more children win places at our grammar schools, the amount of money our other schools have will go further as it will have to cover the needs of fewer pupils. So everyone wins. And our grammar schools also run excellent schemes to help more disadvantaged pupils win places at their schools.
The criteria for applying for this money was announced in the middle of May and applications must be made by the middle of July. At Full Council therefore I proposed a short motion suggesting the Council should support any Birmingham grammar school which wishes to apply.
More money helping more Birmingham children win places at popular excellent Birmingham schools. And it doesn’t preclude us asking for more money for other areas of education or bidding into the other pots of money which the government has announced. So who could disagree with that?
Answer – Birmingham’s Labour Councillors. Rather predictably, but very disappointingly, they failed to support the Conservative motion. You can watch Tuesday’s debate on: civico.net/birmingham (It’s the City Council meeting held on June 12th 2018).