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Maidenhead education campaigner attacks 'barbaric' 11-plus at Labour Party Conference

‘Barbaric’ 11-plus exams and selective education should be banned, according to a Maidenhead education campaigner.

Jo Smith, of Belmont Crescent, used a speech at the Labour Party Conference, in Brighton, to launch a broadside against the government, which had been considering the creation of a new generation of grammar schools up until the last election.

Speaking on Tuesday, September 26, as a delegate of the Maidenhead Labour Party, she also had a message for her own party as it sought define it’s education policy – ‘don’t fudge it’.

“For me, it [the speech] was about making people realise that although proposals to introduce grammar schools have fallen through we still have three local authorities where they have the 11-plus,” she said.

“That’s why the anti-selection lobby is still going on about it.”

The mum-of-two stayed in a youth hostel during the conference, which is the first one she has attended in 26 years as a member of the Labour Party.

She also called for all schools to operate a ‘fair and transparent admissions criteria’.

Asked what she hoped Maidenhead MP and Prime Minister Theresa May would think of her speech, she added: “I would want Theresa May to take the message that this is a barbaric thing that we do to 10 and 11-year-olds.

“The person who spoke before me had done it and failed it and has to remind himself every day that he isn’t a failure.

“This is something we’re still doing, but it’s not tutor proof and it still discriminates – it’s a failed system.”

Mrs Smith, who works for the National Education Union, also spoke separately on the issue of social housing.

Pre-empting Mrs May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference yesterday [Wednesday] which promised a ‘new generation of council housing’ she also called for social housing to be built in Maidenhead.

She said: “Our view is that more social housing needs to be built.

“We’re spending millions on housing benefit and we think there’s a more effective use for that money if it’s invested in proper housing stock.”

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