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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 October 2005, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Davis wants more grammar schools
David Cameron and David Davis
The battle for the Tory leadership will be over within weeks
Tory leadership hopeful David Davis has pledged to "revolutionise" inner city education by creating 20 new grammar schools if he becomes prime minister.

Putting education at the forefront of his campaign, he said the disappearance of grammar schools was preventing poorer children from succeeding.

Mr Davis said he wanted to create equality in education.

Leadership rival David Cameron called Mr Davis's speech a "useful contribution" to the education debate.

Power

In his speech to Conservative party members at Altrincham Boys' Grammar School, Cheshire, on Saturday, Mr Davis said: "I want to create an opportunity society.

"To make that a reality we need people who start near the bottom of the pile to be able to make it to the top.

"Good schools are absolutely crucial in that process."

In a possible reference to Eton-educated Mr Cameron, Mr Davis - himself the product of a south London grammar school - said: "Poor children need to be able to receive the best academic education, the sort that better-off parents have the power to demand for their children."

Mr Davis said that, as a first step during his first year as leader, he would create 20 new grammar schools in the cities, with the possibility of more to follow.

Diversity

"This will revolutionise education in our inner cities," he said.

"Instead of rigging university admission systems or bussing children around the cities, we will create equality of opportunity through the simple step of giving poor children the same choice that well-off children have always had."

The new grammar schools would be selected from those in the current city academy programme.

But Mr Cameron later said it was preferable to have a "greater choice" for parents.

He said: "Schools should have the freedom to decide their own culture and ethos, determine their approach to discipline, own their land and buildings and decide their own admissions policy.

"Rather than just a binary choice between grammar schools for some and secondary modern for others, it is far better to have wider diversity in schools and greater choice for parents."




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