At least 30 grammar schools are bidding for the new £50 million Selective School Expansion Fundbut we have discovered the government was secretly funding the expansion of grammar schools even before this fund was created.

It appears that a disproportionate amount of grammar school expansion projects have been paid for using the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) since 2016. This fund is mostly used to repair school buildings, but a small amount of the cash is reserved for school expansion projects. Our Freedom of Information request to the Department for Education shows that grammar schools have been claiming more than their fair share of CIF expansion funding.

The DfE awarded Grammar schools £52,616,530 from the CIF for expansions between 2016-18 and almost the same to non-selective schools, but there are only 163 selective schools compared to more than 3200 comprehensive secondary schools, so clearly a disproportionate amount of funding was given to selective schools.

Overall, selective schools appear to be 20 times more successful than comprehensives in their applications for this funding.  In 2016 three quarters of grants requested by grammars were approved, compared to just one third of comprehensives.

Schools Week reported on our FOI, and pointed out that Nick Gibb has stated that the Condition Improvement Fund can no longer be used for grammar school expansions. However, we feel strongly that, even though grammar expansion is now openly funded, it was completely undemocratic and secretive to use the Condition Improvement Fund to fund the expansion of selective schools between 2016 and 2018.

Grammar schools are the most damaging schools in any community of schools, we don’t know if these expansions had proper consultation, we don’t know why so many more grammar schools put in expansion bids to this fund. We are worried that there might have been some agenda to expand selection without proper debate and openness.

We know that Theresa May’s government supports expanding selection, she would have created new grammar schools by now if the election had played out as expected. The way this fund was used in the last two years suggests that selective schools are getting preferential treatment by the DfE, and perhaps it shows the extent of the government’s grammar school obsession.

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