The head of the country’s largest multi-academy trust has said he is considering converting schools to grammars, in an exclusive conversation with the TES.
Julian Drinkall, chief of Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), has said converting schools to grammars would depend on the “markets” each schools served.
“I think that as we look at each of those schools in the particular markets and catchment areas in which they exist, there might be arguments for selection in certain places.”
Drinkall, who used to run an independent schools’ group, took over as the £240,000-year boss of AET this month.
In September, the government announced its controversial proposed expansion of academic selection in its Green Paper, Schools that Work for Everyone.
As well as proposing the creation of the first new grammar schools for decades, the Green Paper suggests converting schools to grammars that aren’t already selective.
Asked for his views on the policies, Mr Drinkall said: “I think there will be arguments where grammar schools in certain areas make sense and there will be a number of areas where it doesn’t make sense.”
“I think you do have to go piece by piece,” he added. “There is a need to innovate and experiment, so there should always be some new types of schools that are being tried.”
He is only the second multi-academy trust chief executive to indicate that they could introduce selection.
Sir Daniel Moynihan, boss of the Harris Federation, has said that if the government presses ahead with its plans, his trust could be forced to add grammars to its mix to prevent top pupils from being creamed off.
Mr Drinkall, who previously ran one of the country’s largest providers of private schools, the Alpha Plus Group, said that he has a “very eclectic view of education”.
He said he believed that there are “lots of quite specific and different educational models that need to be adopted at the same time”.
However, he added that selection was “not an immediate priority” for AET and said the MAT needed to “make sure the existing schools we’ve got are doing absolutely their best”.
He also said that “to put all one’s hopes behind one initiative on a national basis” was “not probably the right way to go”.