The Labour Party’s bid to block grammar school expansion through Parliament failed today when the new School Admissions Code became law and thereby took full effect in respect of admissions arrangements for the 2013/14 academic year and thereafter.
Labour’s blocking move began on 16th January when Stephen Twigg MP, Shadow Education Secretary, stated:
Labour is today announcing that we will be opposing the Tory-led Government’s plans to amend the School Admissions Code to allow the expansion of grammar schools. The Tory-led Government is expanding selection at 11 by the back door, by trying to sneak through changes to the Admissions Code without parliamentary debate. They are removing the rights of parents to appeal to the schools’ adjudicator on the expansion of grammar schools. Labour will oppose the changes to the School Admissions Code, and ask the Government to carry out an honest consultation with parents and teachers.
The Government needs to be clear what its position on grammar schools and the 11-plus is. Before the election, David Cameron promised no return to the 11-plus and no return to a grammar school system. But in Government, the Tories have given powers to grammar schools to expand, and parents are now powerless to stop this. I will be writing to all Liberal Democrat MPs to ask for their support in opposing this decision to sneakily expand the grammar school system.
In response to Stephen Twigg’s statement, a spokesman for the Department for Education said:
We are making it easier for all popular and successful state schools to expand to meet the demands of parents – grammar or not. It’s wrong that places have been rationed in good schools for so long. It is right that schools have the power to meet parental demand and decide the number of places they offer.
On 18th January, Stephen Twigg, Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman* and four other Labour MPs signed an Early Day Motion calling for Parliament to annul the new School Admissions Code. (No Liberal Democrat MP signed the Motion).
On 24th January 2012, a House of Lords committee met to consider whether the Early Day Motion should be granted a parliamentary debate. On the basis that “the special attention of the House need not be drawn to” the Early Day Motion, they concluded that no parliamentary debate should be held. Stephen Twigg’s bid to annul the School Admissions Code therefore failed.
*Harriet Harman’s son attended St Olaves, a grammar school in West Kent.