Angela Rayner was critical at the Government’s plans to invest £500million in new grammar schools as part of Philip Hammond’s upcoming UK Budget.
The Chancellor is expected to announce he will spend £320million on expanding the Government’s free school programme, creating 70,000 places in 140 schools, which will be able to offer selective education after legislation is passed.
Ms Rayner, Labour’s education spokeswoman, insisted the funds were not being invested where the were most needed.
John Humphrys slapped down Angela Rayner for suggesting new schools are a 'vanity project'
New schools are a vanity project, are they?
“I think it’s disgusting.”
Her comments caused a backlash from the programme’s veteran host Humphrys, who launched a furious tirade in Ms Rayner’s direction.
“New schools are a vanity project, are they?” he quizzed.
The Labour MP hit back suggesting she meant to focus her comments on new grammar schools.
The host interjected: “Ok, but they’ll be new schools. We are talking about giving the opportunity, if they want free schools in their area.
“We are talking about giving them the opportunity to make them selective and that is a vanity project, even if there will be more school places?”
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Ms Rayner replied: “Let’s be clear, grammar schools are a vanity project. It’s not about giving places to local children that need those schools.
“It is about sucking money out of the current state public sector, which has already seen a £3billion cut and actually putting it into a system that has absolutely no evidence to suggest it will help our children.”
Theresa May has campaigned grammar schools as part of her vision of making Britain a “great meritocracy” where every child can get a good school to fulfil their potential, regardless of background.
Of the new schools announced in Mr Hammond’s Budget, 30 would open by September 2020 and the rest afterwards. If the Government changes the law to permit new grammars it means the new free schools could pick their pupils by academic ability if they choose to do so.
In a further boost for access to selective education, the Chancellor will say that free transport to school, for children whose families are poor enough that they get free meals at school or their parents claim the maximum Working Tax Credit, will be extended to pupils at selective schools.
Prime Minister Theresa May Fri, December 9, 2016
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Prime Minister Theresa May is joined by children nominated by UK charities and a local school choir to switch on the Downing Street Christmas tree lights. December 8 2016.
The aim is to ensure the poorer bright children are not barred from top quality schooling by the cost of transport.
Mrs May commented: “For too many children, a good school place remains out of reach with their options determined by where they live or how much money their parents have.
“Over the last six years we have overseen a revolution in our schools system and we have raised standards and opportunity, but there is much more to do.
“As part of our commitment to creating a school system that works for everyone, today we are confirmed new investment to give parents a greater choice of a good school place for their child, and we will set out the next stage of our ambitions in the coming months.”