Rochford & Southend East's delegate to the Labour Party conference, Ashley Dalton, addressed the conference hall on Tuesday 27th September as part of the education debate, on the subject of grammar schools.
"Conference, there are 12 secondary schools in Southend. Four of them, a third, are grammar schools. So popular and successful are our grammar schools that the majority of children that attend those grammar schools come from outside the borough, some children travel 30 miles to attend those schools. Grammar schools and the wondering about whether or not your kids are going to go to one dominate the education culture in Southend on Sea. In the 10 years that I have been a school governor in Southend I have seen absolutely no evidence that children do exceptionally well at our grammar schools only that our grammar schools will only accept children that will do exceptionally well.
"Conference, every child, regardless of their academic ability, their postcode, or their parents' wealth deserves to go to an outstanding school but more grammar schools does equate to more outstanding schools; all grammar schools deliver is more failing comprehensives.
"Theresa May thinks that grammar schools deliver excellent exam results and on the surface of it, they do! But when every comprehensive in town has all the academically exceptional children in its catchment area siphoned off and sent to school elsewhere you don't need an A* in Maths to work out that that is going to skew the exam result statistics for grammars and comprehensives alike. Theresa May claims that excellent grammar school exam results is causality when in reality, conference, it is nothing more than correlation, and you would think a grammar school girl would know the difference.
"The Tories have the audacity to suggest that their support for new grammar schools is about parent choice and ending the practice of the wealthy enough moving specifically to get into an outstanding school. But conference, no child in Southend gets to choose a grammar school; the grammar schools choos the children. No child in Southend moves because they need more grammar school places; they move because there is a shameful lack of outstanding comprehensives.
"Conference, they believe that grammar schools are exceptional, but show me a comprehensive school that welcomes all of the students from its community and supports every single one of them to reach in their own full potential and that conference is what I call an outstanding school."