by David Herdson
"But there’s a more philosophical reason as to why the plan is un-Conservative: it is a big-state solution that would greatly diminish competition and undo many of the market-based reforms of the Gove era. As mentioned earlier, grammars need secondary moderns and both need to fit within a system which is either administered for each locality or which is allowed to develop organically but which once established becomes incredibly difficult to overturn. For example, if in one town with five secondaries, all of which can select, one school is seen as clearly superior, that school becomes the only de-facto grammar even if the others can nominally select on the same basis – and once it is established as such, it has a tremendous structural advantage to keep it in that position.
That kind of predict-and-provide is the opposite of what Gove did in hugely reducing the powers of LEAs to set local admissions, education policies, terms and conditions of employment and so on. But if local authorities can determine whether selection is allowed within their boundaries then it follows that they also need much greater power to impose other decisions on local schools.
Councillors and civil servants will love that; parents, teachers and heads are likely to be less enamoured with the prospect of being taken over from the LEAs from whose clutches they’ve only recently escaped (the public routinely expresses net support for grammar schools but I’m quite sure that their support would diminish rapidly if they thought their children would end up at secondary moderns). Furthermore, given that most authorities that are likely to take up the policy will be Conservative, all those battles are likely to be fought on the Tories’ own doorsteps.
Having launched the policy, it would be embarrassing to now scrap it. I’d be much less surprised however if it disappeared into a parliamentary black hole after the gesture to re-introduce is made."
This policy is entirely about keeping the Tory backbenches happy and keeping the Tory grassroots in love with May.