Published: 18:01, 27 July 2017
Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield has been challenged over her stance on resisting more grammar schools while sending her sons to one in Canterbury.
Daniel Hamilton, who has been tipped as a future Conservative challenger in the city, has written an open letter to the new Labour MP.
Ms Duffield told a Canterbury Christ Church University hustings in May that both her sons had gone to grammar school with one thriving and the other not.
But she has described grammar schools as “not the way forward” and denounced the Kent Test as a “horrible, divisive, stressful thing”.
Mr Hamilton, a former Simon Langton pupil now working as a consultant in London, wrote: “At the general election, you fought on a manifesto which pledged not to ‘waste money on inefficient…vanity projects’ such as grammar schools.
“Despite sending his own children to grammar schools your leader Jeremy Corbyn erroneously claims they ‘depress overall educational achievement and siphon off a few better-off children at the expense of the rest’.
“While local candidates often differ with the views of their leadership, at a hustings back in May, you personally described grammar schools as ‘unequal’ and ‘damaging’.
“You refused to support the expansion of local grammar schools – a move which will increase pressure for places at excellent schools such as Simon Langton Boys, which I and many others locally had the benefit of receiving an education from.”
Ms Duffield is Canterbury and Whitstable’s first Labour MP, ending sitting Conservative Sir Julian Brazier’s 30-year tenure.
One of Ms Duffield’s sons is still at a city grammar while the other has left, but she says her stance on grammar schools is consistent.
In her response to Mr Hamilton, she said: “I stood on the Labour manifesto of no new grammar schools. Parents want better funding for schools; parents also want good schools that allow all children to grow, develop and to rise to appropriate challenges in all spheres of learning.
“Parents do not, on the whole, support selection at the age of 11. As you will be aware, in some Kent grammar schools one in three children come directly from private primary schools.
"I believe that people will support Labour’s championing of a better education for all at the next election.”