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Uncertainty over what a Labour government would do to Kent and Medway's grammar schools

By Paul Francis

The fate of Kent’s grammar schools under a future Labour government remains unclear after Angela Rayner, the party’s shadow education secretary, failed to mention them in her keynote conference speech.

The party’s views on the country’s remaining grammars and whether they would survive under a Labour government were expected to feature in the address.

Ms Rayner herself had indicated she would be saying something on the party’s views on selection and the 11-plus.

Kent is one of the few counties where grammar schools remain
Kent is one of the few counties where grammar schools remain

At a conference fringe meeting two days ago, she had said the party would move to help parents who didn’t want their children to go into a selective school system but had “no choice in the matter” because of “how the system works”.

“We want to change that,” she told the event organised by the National Education Union.

“We want to make a system that works for everybody, and hopefully my speech on Tuesday, we will set out much more of that.”

But in the event there was no mention of them at all, leaving some supporters and activists bemused.

Before her speech, delegates who had taken and failed the 11-plus urged the party to commit to ending selection.

Ms Rayner announced the creation of a “cradle to grave” National Education System and a pledge to reverse cuts to Sure Start centres run by councils.

She quipped that since the election, the Conservatives had abandoned more education pledges than they had implemented.

But she did not mention the climbdown by PM Theresa May to end the ban on new grammar schools opening.

That was abandoned after the election and the government’s acceptance that the idea of more grammars would not command the support of enough MPs.

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