Politics

Liz Truss embraces plan to offer star pupils automatic Oxbridge interviews

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The Foreign Secretary said the policy was inspired by her own experience at a comprehensive in Roundhay, Leeds.

Although she won a place at Oxford to read philosophy, politics and economics, she said the school failed to encourage high-flying pupils to apply to the nation’s top universities.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, she said: “What I found at my school was that you had to put yourself forward.

There were supportive teachers but there were also other teachers who said Oxford is full of toffs.”

Other proposals include replacing failing schools with new selective grammars and independent-style “free schools”, which can be set up by parents, universities, businesses and charities.

Ms Truss also plans to shift funding away from degree courses regarded as low quality if she becomes Prime Minister.

She is promising a greater focus on literacy and numeracy, to ensure 90 percent of primary school children leave with the expected standard.

Childcare ratios will be bought into line with Scotland, increasing the number of children over the age of two that can be looked after by an adult. And there will be greater flexibility in how they can use existing tax-free childcare allowances.

Ms Truss received a boost when she was endorsed by former Tory leadership rival Tom Tugendhat on Friday, and he joined her at a campaign rally at Biggin Hill Airport yesterday.

His support is crucial as he is a leading figure in the moderate “one nation” wing of the Conservatives, while she has been seen as appealing to those on the right of the party.

She is set to receive more big-name endorsements, with reports Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Brandon Lewis, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, are both planning to add their support to that of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

But although Ms Truss is regarded as the favourite in the contest, she insisted she was “fighting for every vote”. On a visit to Bromley, south-east London yesterday, she said: “This is a very, very close race.”

And regarding Boris Johnson’s wedding party, she added: “I think he’s entitled to enjoy his wedding day, and I wish the best to him and Carrie and all the family.”

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