Sir Edward fears course cuts at county grammars

Edward Leigh EMN-141010-122653001
Edward Leigh EMN-141010-122653001

Changes to how schools are funded are unfairly hitting the county’s grammar schools, says MP Edward Leigh.

Sir Edward organised a debate in parliament this week attacking a disparity in funding between poor performing comprehensives and better-performing grammars.

The Gainsborough MP described the two grammar schools in his constituency- Caistor Grammar and Queen Elizabeth’s High School- as “centres of excellence.”

“The phasing out of grammar schools in the most of the country was one of the greatest policy disasters of the post-war era. By the 1960s, grammar schools were so successful that we achieved an unqualified and unprecedented level of social mobility - it was greater than anything this country has achieved in its long era, before or since.”

“Many of the nation’s poorest, most deprived people were given their first great chance to move up. Those schools were so successful that the independent sector feared it would fade and decline into irrelevance, barring off Eton or Harrow. Across the country, we need to nurture those centres of excellence and learn lessons from them that we can apply across the state sector as beacons.”

The MP said he called the debate not to praise grammars but to ensure “they are not buried by stealth.”

Sir Edward cited research from Queen Elizabeth head David Allsopp which showed in 2013 his school received funding of £4,474 per pupil, compared with £6,481 for a similar sized Lincolnshire comprehensive. The MP had also received a “heartfelt plea” from Caistor Grammar’s head Roger Hale, who had told the MP his school’s funding has “sharply reduced.”

MPs blamed much funding disparity on grammars having larger sixth forms.

“We are sleepwalking towards a future in which some of the country’s best performing schools - centres of excellence - will no longer be able to offer a broad and balanced curriculum to their students. Our nation’s brightest will have access to fewer opportunities and resources than their peers. Is it fair that bright students whose parents cannot afford to pay are disadvantaged?” Sir Edward asked.