Expansion of grammar schools is ‘easy win’ for Redbridge Council

Ilford County High School. Pic: Google Streetview

Ilford County High School. Pic: Google Streetview - Credit: Archant

The leader of Redbridge council has dismissed concerns over the future of the borough’s grammar schools if a Labour government is elected next month.

Nationally, the party has claimed grammar schools do not raise standards or aid social mobility, with shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan saying earlier this year Labour’s policy in government would continue to be to prevent the expansion of “divisive selection”, allowing local parents to determine the future of existing grammars.

Speaking at last night’s (Wednesday) local forum in Parkside Community Centre, Goodmayes, Cllr Jas Athwal said: “Everybody in the borough needs a choice.

“We can’t ourselves change the law around grammar schools. That has to be done nationally.”

The council is currently expanding Ilford County High School for boys, in Barkingside, and Woodford County High School for girls, in Woodford Green, by 420 places each as part of its school expansion programme, aiming to provide 6,600 new places. At the moment each school takes 60 pupils each year.


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“We’ve taken the pragmatic view that we have got 120 places that get taken every year,” said Cllr Athwal.

“This is really an easy win for the council because we have people wanting to send their children to these schools. Not expanding the grammar schools would be wrong.”

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He said in 2013, 1,017 youngsters took the 11+ exam, and a similar number in 2014, competing for the 120 places at the two grammars.

Asked how many children at the schools came from other boroughs, Cllr Athwal said: “All our other schools take children from neighbouring boroughs – it’s not just our grammar schools. We need to take a holistic approach.”

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