National Grammar Schools Association
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Attempt to destroy remaining grammar schools is defeated

29th May 2006

As the Education and Inspections Bill was passing through Parliament on 24 May 2006, a group of MPs led by David Chaytor proposed an amendment to the Bill. If it had been accepted, this amendment would have outlawed academic selection from 2010 (apart from 'fair banding' arrangements) thereby destroying all the remaining 164 grammar schools in England and the 69 in Northern Ireland.

Fortunately, Mr Chaytor's amendment was defeated 415 votes to 115. But the amendment was not defeated because 415 MPs want to retain grammar schools. It was defeated because the Conservative leadership had threatened to withdraw their support for the Bill, if it would lead to the destruction of the remaining grammar schools. (Official Conservative policy at present is to support existing grammar schools but not the introduction of any new ones.) Without the support of Conservative MPs, the whole of the Education and Inspections Bill would have fallen and, because it was largely Tony Blair's Bill, perhaps his premiership as well.

Those who supported Mr Chaytor's attempt to abolish grammar schools included Diane Abbott, Dr Vincent Cable, Sir Menzies Campbell, Jeremy Corbyn, Frank Dobson, Don Foster, Ian Gibson, John Grogan, Glenda Jackson, Charles Kennedy, Susan Kramer, Greg Mulholland, Mark Oaten, Lembit Opik, Clare Short, Matthew Taylor, Phil Willis and Dennis Skinner.

Among those who opposed Mr Chaytor's amendment – and therefore helped to preserve our grammar schools on this occasion – were: Hilary Armstrong, Ed Balls, Margaret Beckett, Hilary Benn, Hazel Blears, David Blunkett (who hates grammar schools), Chris Byant, Richard Caborn, Yvette Cooper, Alistair Darling, Angela Eagle, Maria Eagle, Jeff Ennis, David Miliband (who has publicly attacked grammar schools on numerous occasions), Ed Miliband and Joan Ruddock. Although, they have worked in a senior capacity to abolish Northern Ireland's grammar schools in accordance with current government policy, on this occasion the following MPs voted against Mr Chaytor's amendment and therefore supported grammar schools: Barry Gardiner, Peter Hain, Ruth Kelly, Jane Kennedy, Angela Smith and Jacqui Smith.

Political expediency, it seems, and their own survival in Parliament is more important to many MPs than the survival of 233 of the most popular and effective schools in the UK.

The full list of MPS and which way they voted is available at: