Britain’s social mobility czar has cast doubt on Liz Truss’ plans to revive grammar schools in England, arguing they mainly benefit children whose families can afford to train them for entrance exams.

Catherine Birbalsingh, the school’s headteacher, who was appointed by Truss last year to chair the government’s social mobility commission, said selective schools had few disadvantaged or working-class pupils because places were hard to come by.

“The problem with grammar schools these days is that because there’s such an industry in preparing kids for grammar school, if you don’t have the resources or the means to prepare your child for entry, you can be left out,” Birbalsingh said in an interview. to LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

“You look at gymnasiums and think, how many children are there from poor families, how many children are there from the working class? Nowadays, there are not so many of them.

“It is not wrong to assume that in [past] grammar schools will advance some working-class children. I’m not sure they do that often these days.”

Keith Malthouse, the education minister, said this week that Truss wanted to “address the strong desire of quite a few parents to mirror the benefits that many have gained from grammar schools in the wider education system. And so we’re definitely going to look into it and see where we go.”

Birbalsingh said she looked forward to hearing how Malthouse planned to solve the selection problem, which she suggested “didn’t exist” in 1975. The creation of new grammar schools has been banned in England since 1998, but the Trust is said to be keen to overturn the ban.

Anti-selective campaigners say the tests favor those who have been privately educated or attend independent schools, leaving few places for children from poor families.

“The problem with exams is that they never test raw ability. They often check the preparation for them, which is right and proper,” said Birbalsingh. “But if you haven’t had that training, how are you going to compete with those who have? This is the problem of gymnasiums.”

Birbalsingh is the founder of Michaela’s Community School in Wembley, north-west London, known for its strict discipline and high academic standards, which has led to her being called “Britain’s strictest headteacher”.

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