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Jeremy Corbyn vows to reverse Theresa May's plans for grammar schools

Published 10/09/2016

Jeremy Corbyn (left) and Owen Smith clashed during the televised Labour leadership contest.
Jeremy Corbyn (left) and Owen Smith clashed during the televised Labour leadership contest.

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to make reversing Theresa May's plans for new grammar schools his top priority if he becomes prime minister.

The Labour leader said the plans were "divisive" and Mrs May had "no mandate" to push through her plans for a new generation of selective schools in England.

Instead he promised a National Education Service that would result in a "system for all, not just a select few".

Writing in The Sunday Mirror he said: " The Tories are threatening to take education back 60 years - to the bad old days when your future was decided by the arbitrary 11-plus test.

"Their plan to bring back grammar schools is a poor attempt to duck their record - which has seen classes grow to the largest in Europe, teachers flocking to leave the profession as pay and conditions stagnate, and a raft of corruption scandals at unaccountable Tory academies that have failed to deliver the promised improvements in standards.

"It is investment in our children and schools that will fix the classroom crisis - not a return to selective education."

He said Mrs May was ignoring evidence that showed grammar schools did not improve the chances of poorer children.

"Grammar schools depress overall educational achievement and siphon off a few better off children at the expense of the rest," he said.

"Theresa May has no mandate to make these changes. Therefore, if these divisive plans go ahead, I will make it a top priority to reverse them when Labour is back in power."

His comments came as leadership rival Owen Smith accused Mr Corbyn of a "dereliction of duty" for failing to challenge the Prime Minister over her plans for Brexit.

The Labour leadership contender said his rival repeatedly failed to "put the ball in the back of the net" in the Commons at Prime Minister's Questions.

On the two sessions he has had against Theresa May he had not raised the "seismic" issue of the EU - despite the divisions within the Tory ranks over Brexit.

Mr Smith accused Mr Corbyn of being "comfortable" leading Labour in opposition but claimed he did not believe he could ever be prime minister.

Attacking the leader's performance in the Commons, Mr Smith referred to Mr Corbyn's failure to mention Iain Duncan Smith's resignation and his reluctance to challenge the Prime Minister over Brexit.

"The trouble with Jeremy is he doesn't put the ball in the back of the net," Mr Smith said.

"We walk out of the European Union, Jeremy has done two PMQs since then, he hasn't raised it. He hasn't raised the fact that we are leaving the European Union.

"Now, whatever his views about the European Union, that can't be right. Whatever his views, whether he is sanguine about us leaving, whether he is content we are leaving, it cannot be right that the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, when we have such a seismic event as Britain stepping back from the continent we are part of, fails to ask a single question when he has the opportunity.

"It is dereliction of duty."

Mr Smith added: "Jeremy just can't do it. I have looked him in the eye, he doesn't think he is going to be a Labour prime minister, he doesn't think it.

"But I'm going to be."

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