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Friday, 7 December, 2001, 19:24 GMT
Grammar school 'cold war' over
classroom scene
Ministers are now promoting "diversity" in the system
BBC education correspondent Kim Catcheside analyses the government's announcement of funding to forge links and share expertise between England's grammar schools and comprehensives.

It is a testimony to the deep bitterness that still runs through the debate over selective schools in England that this minor announcement involving a tiny sum of money - half a million pounds - should be written up in such lurid terms in the newspapers.

"Labour ends its 30-year war against grammars" said the Times.

Hmm... up to a point, Lord Copper.

If Labour had been at war with the 160-odd remaining grammar schools in England, they would have abolished them long ago.

Parental ballots

The government sidestepped that confrontation when it decided to give some parents the power to ballot on the future of their local grammar schools.

So far not a single one has been voted out of existence.

If there has been a war it has been a cold war.

Only six months ago the then education secretary, David Blunkett, predicted that grammar schools would "wither on the vine" in a few years.

But that was light years ago, before the general election and the new Education Bill designed to create a new diversity in the secondary school system.

We are promised more specialist schools, more faith schools, and a confusing array of different models - beacon schools, city academies... I could go on.

Education ministers clearly feel that grammar schools have a place in a more diverse system.

Friday's announcement on partnerships between the selective and non-selective sectors marks the end of that uneasy cold war.

See also:

07 Dec 01 | Education
Grammar schools to share expertise
07 Dec 01 | Education
Team work pays off in Ripon
27 Jul 01 | Education
Objectors win 11-plus row
10 Mar 00 | Education
Parents vote to keep grammar school
13 Jul 00 | Education
Blunkett predicts demise of grammars
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