By David Wooding, Sunday Political Editor
GRAMMAR schools could send talent scouts into poverty-stricken council estates to spot bright kids who could make it to the top.
Theresa May is considering a plan to force heads to seek out promising youngsters in the same way that football clubs scour the country for future players.
The PM has asked minister to study a report which calls for the first wave of new grammars to be set up in areas with the highest levels of deprivation – and the worst exam results.
And staff would be encouraged actively to send out talent-spotting teams to find youngsters with academic ability who are being let down by the system.
Children from low-income families – including those on free school meals – do better at grammar schools than in comprehensives, according to a study by the Centre for Social Justice
It shows the attainment gap between poor and middle-class kids is only four per cent in grammars compared with 25 per cent at comprehensives.
But youngsters from less well-off homes make up only three per cent of grammar school pupils, compared with 18 per cent of other state schools in areas which have selective education.
The report says: “It is high time that children from more deprived families were given the same educational opportunities as those from the wealthiest in society, and a well-designed selective system could do this.”
“Mrs May has put opening more grammar schools at the heart of her drive to extend opportunity to the poorest in society and build “a Britain that works for everyone.”
Teaching unions and some of her own MPs are opposing the plan which they claim will only benefit the better off.
But the report says new grammars should be under an obligation to work with local feeder primary schools to ensure working class youngsters get a fair crack.
“The same unapologetic quest for latent potential should be applied to the academic talent in our country, particularly those from disadvantage backgrounds, who have the odds heavily stacked against them.”
The think tank, set up by former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, found that a child living in a poor area is 27 times more likely to go to an inadequate school than youngsters in the most prosperous districts.
It concludes that new grammar schools in areas where attainment is “rock-bottom” would be a step forward in boosting social mobility.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said last night: “This report recognises the transformative impact grammar schools can have on the lives of disadvantaged young people.
“We want to harness that ability to create more good school places for every child, irrespective of their background, so they can fulfil their potential.
“We are already making progress towards this aim with almost 1.8 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 – but we know there is more to do.
“That’s precisely why we have set out plans to make more good school places available, including scrapping the ban on new grammar school places, and harnessing the resources and expertise of universities, independent and faith schools.”
This article originally appeared in The Sun.
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