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No new grammar schools or removal of the faith schools 'cap'

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NAHT has campaigned vigorously against the extension of grammar schools, the lifting of the 50 per cent cap on faith schools, and against compelling independent schools and universities to establish or support schools.

The Department for Education's formal response contains some welcome news:

  • There will be no new grammar schools - legislation preventing the creation of new grammar (selective) schools will remain in place. 

Instead, government intends to establish a £50m fund for the extension of existing grammar schools. Given the current school funding crisis, NAHT has made clear its opposition to this additional funding for just 163 schools that cater only for pupils with high prior attainment.  

  • The 50 per cent admissions cap on faith-based admissions to new academies and faith schools will remain in place

It will, however, be possible to establish new voluntary-aided maintained schools with a religious character – marking a major shift in policy as the opening of non-academy schools has been effectively prevented since the 2010 Academies Act.  Dioceses (or others) wishing to open a new VA school will be required to contribute 10 per cent of the capital costs relating to their schools (as is usual). In common with existing VA schools, these new schools will be able to select up to 100 per cent of pupils on the basis of their faith if they are oversubscribed.  

  • Independent schools and universities will not be compelled to sponsor an academy or free school. 

Instead, those that have the scale and capacity will be 'encouraged' to do so, or encouraged to provide support for state schools in the areas of teaching, curriculum, leadership, or other 'partnership activities.

The government's full consultation response can be found here.