A 27-year-old information technology teacher has become the unlikely champion of grammar schools, after he launched an impassioned defence of selective education at the National Union of Teachers annual conference.
Aleksandar Lukic, who said he would like to see a “grammar school in every town” across the country, was the only delegate to speak against a motion which condemned the expansion of selective education.
He said that he was speaking on behalf of a “significant number” of teachers who believe in selective education.
Lukic, who was educated at Heckmondwike Grammar School in Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, where he now teaches, acknowledged: “Obviously I know this is a settled position in the NUT and I know I’m not going to be changing anything”.
He told delegates: “That there is contemporary evidence backing up the effectiveness of selective education for driving social mobility and I am not sure that we should be denying families the choice”.
Citing research by the Sutton Trust, he said: “Research has also shown that when you compare the 163 grammars with the 163 top achieving comprehensives, the grammar schools take more disadvantaged children.
"The comprehensives are more socially selective and we’ve effectively replaced selection by ability with selection by wealth.”
Lukic, who is half-Serbian and stood as the Ukip candidate in the last general election for Batley and Spen Valley against the late Jo Cox, said he knows of “a number” of NUT members who support the expansion of selective education.
At their annual conference in Cardiff, the NUT voted to build a coalition of partners to oppose the Prime Minister’s proposed expansion of grammar schools. The motion also called for legal action against the Education Secretary over the plans.
Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT said that a handful of schools have already set up “grammar streams”, whereby a cohort of students at non-selective schools are chosen on the basis of an entrance exam and then educated separately from their peers.
He said that this was contrary to the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act which prohibits “the establishment of new selective schools and prevents existing non-selective schools from becoming selective”.
Mr Courtney said: "The Conservatives did not include this in their 2015 manifesto. If the Government has legislated not to have new grammar schools, there shouldn't be ways of sneaking around it. That's what we think schools are doing at the moment.
"The Government is looking at other ways of selective schooling - having off-shoots, and having selective schools within a multi-academy trust and that they will say that's like a stream in a secondary school. We think that would be illegal and open to legal challenge."