North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has this morning said that Kent must continue to fight to defend the future of its grammar schools and of educational choice.
Speaking on Radio Kent the MP, himself a former grammar school pupil, said:
"Cameron`s policy not to introduce more grammar schools is not new. What is new is the astonishing suggestion, made by Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts, that because few grammar school children do not receive free school meals this means that children from poorer families do not benefit from grammar school education. The concept that only "middle class parents" are able to "play the system" to get their children into grammar schools is bizarre. There are still parents from all walks of life who regard the education of their children as of paramount importance and who are prepared to forego luxuries such as foreign holidays to pay for extra-curricular activities for their sons and daughters. Is that now a crime?
Kent has a strong tradition of defending its grammar schools and I trust that we shall continue to do so.
I also question Willett`s wisdom of nailing my party`s colours to the City Academy mast. The jury is still very much out on Blair`s creation and before we leap to endorse it and promise more it might be a good idea to ensure that this does not turn into yet another educational gimmick.
Finally, in this new spirit of egalitarianism, I trust that every member of the shadow cabinet that has endorsed Mr. Willett`s view will give a clear undertaking that they are not sending and will not send their own children or grandchildren to public schools which, because of New Labour`s abolition of the Assisted Places Scheme, children from the poorest families may no longer be educated!".