A HEATED debate led to Oxfordshire County Council voting to reject steps to reintroduce grammar schools in the county.

Labour councillor Gill Sanders brought the motion to council on Tuesday, September 13, in which she urged fellow councillors to oppose the “extremely retrograde step” of lifting the ban on grammar schools.

The debate came shortly after Prime Minister Teresa May announced her intention to lift the ban on new grammars imposed by Tony Blair 18 years ago.

Former Lord Mayor of Oxford, Mrs Sanders, said the motion was prompted by recent comments made in the Oxford Mail by cabinet member for education, Melinda Tilley.

Mrs Tilley, who supports the Prime Minister’s decision, said she wanted to see an “education revolution” and was ready to take on headteachers, politicians and teaching unions.

Mrs Sanders said: “The whole idea is abhorrent. To increase the number of selective grammar schools means a reintroduction of secondary moderns.

“I took the 11 plus. My parents didn’t put pressure on me but a lot of parents of other children did. When some failed they were devastated.

“I remember the day of the results. Those of us who passed were called to the front and those who failed had to applaud us. Even at 10 I thought that was dreadful.”

Mrs Tilley said: “This motion is much too premature. We need a proper debate in this chamber when we know what the proposals are.

“I don’t see why it has to be done as it was 50 years ago, for crying out loud.

“We could make it more lucrative for schools to seek out children from poorer backgrounds by giving them a bigger premium. I have been accused of being entrenched in my view but I would suggest the opposition is more entrenched.”

Councillors clashed on the pros and cons of the grammar system for an hour, but eventually 37 voted in favour of opposing a shift to the grammar system, with 14 against. Nine abstained.