Updated: Friday, 20th September 2019 @ 3:51pm

Leading academic urges Theresa May to look to Trafford as row over grammar schools intensifies

Leading academic urges Theresa May to look to Trafford as row over grammar schools intensifies

| By Josh Steele

A leading academic has slammed Theresa May’s grammar school policy and suggested she should look to Trafford for a model schooling system.

Professor Mel Ainscow, co-director of the Centre for Equity in Education at the University of Manchester, has highlighted the borough's outstanding exam results, which make up some of the best in the country, and puts the success of the area down to the central role of local government.

In September, Mrs May announced that a 20-year ban on the creation of new grammar schools would be lifted, meaning that effectively any school in England could  apply to become a grammar.

Though Professor Ainscow notes the merits of certain grammar schools, he expressed concerns over the measures.

“Trafford has the greatest proportion of children in grammar schools, and has traditionally been one of the most successful local authorities in the country in terms of exam results and those results include good performances of the secondary modern schools,” he said.

“My argument would be that a feature of Trafford going back over ten years has been that the local authority has encouraged a great deal of collaboration between secondary modern and grammar schools.”

The professor has warned that by reverting to a grammar school system the government risks leaving a generation of children behind:

He added: “The problem in this country is we do pretty well for a large number of students, but traditionally we have left a large trail of children who don’t do well and get left behind.”

Between 2008 and 2011, Professor Ainscow was the Government’s chief advisor on the Greater Manchester Challenge, an initiative aimed at improving comprehensive schools across Manchester.

 He expressed his concern that the revival of grammar schools would undo the positive changes made during this period:

 “We had a comprehensive program that was working well in Greater Manchester.

 “We took the thinking of London and applied it to 1150 schools as part of the Greater Manchester project.

“Unfortunately the arrival of the coalition government brought an end to the scheme as City Academies were introduced, but the independent evaluation demonstrated that there had been remarkable progress over those three years.

“What it needed was taking forward to allow such a system to take root in the way it did in London.”