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Damian Hinds called for new nationwide network of 'elite' grammar schools

New education secretary supported the move before it became a flagship policy for Theresa May
New education secretary Damian Hinds called for a grammar school in every county or major conurbation before his appointment to the DfE

.There has been speculation that the promotion of a former grammar school pupil – Mr Hinds went to St Ambrose College, a Catholic boy’s grammar school – would encourage more existing grammar schools to expand.

Writing in 2014, in a chapter of a book Access all Areas, Mr Hinds said: “There is no appetite in the country for a wholesale return to academic selection at 11, for good reasons, but why not have at least one unashamedly academically elite state school in each county or major conurbation?”

By law, no new grammar schools can currently be created, but existing selective state schools can expand, including setting up annexes if they meet certain criteria.

Mr Hinds' comments were written while David Cameron was prime minister, before Theresa May's move to Downing Street put the issue of grammar schools back on the agenda.

The creation of new selective schools was a flagship policy of Mrs May, but last year’s election result prevented her changing the law to allow this to happen.

Justine Greening was publicly supportive of the prime minister’s grammar schools policy, but was known to be privately unenthusiastic.

This has been cited as one of the reasons for Ms May’s decision to move her from the Department for Education.