Top comprehensives are more elite than grammars

Nigel Ford's picture
 3
An article in the Daily Telegraph shows that the most exclusive comprehensives take in a smaller percentage of poor pupils than grammar schools with some admitting less than 10%.

Property prices as well as academic selection are determining entry to some secondary schools as certain wealthy parents move into areas where their children either take the 11+ (having been given the tuition opportunities to maximise their entry chances into these schools) for grammar school entry or they buy property in the catchment area of these high ranking comprehensives creating an apartheid not just within the state sector but the comprehensive system.

One answer to counter the distortions in the housing and state school market is to set up free schools at considerable taxpayers expense to increase choice although the pupil demographic profile could come under scrutiny as middle class parents move into the catchment area of these particular schools compounding the existing problems.

The other more altruistic solution is for middle class parents (like some on here) is not to move house or suddenly find God, but to support their local school and raise standards from within so that as the bar is raised other parents won't feel an obligation to move into affluent localities. This will have the benefit of giving more balanced intakes in schools.

Speaking personally, I'm sure my children's academic outcomes wouldn't have been improved by choosing a private school or an elite comprehensive school because I don't think the standard of teaching would have been any better than at the "below-average" comp they attended. But rather than leave their education as a matter entirely for the school I supplemented their teaching by taking a personal interest so the kids had maximised their potential when they took their GCSEs (and to a lesser extent A'levels).

I'm sure this is the route to go to help arrest the divergences in the comprehensive set-up.
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Alan's picture
Sat, 05/02/2011 - 22:03

"The other more altruistic solution is for middle class parents (like some on here) is not to move house or suddenly find God, but to support their local school and raise standards from within so that as the bar is raised other parents won’t feel an obligation to move into affluent localities. This will have the benefit of giving more balanced intakes in schools."

Well said!

Laura Brown's picture
Mon, 07/02/2011 - 09:29

Certainly in the case of the proposed free school, the Bolingbroke Academy in Wandsworth, they have an admissions policy based on 4 selected feeder primary schools, 2 of which (which will get at least two-thirds of the places) are already massively oversubscribed with parents vying for million pound houses in order to be within the catchment area. 1 of the others has a special bilingual french stream which has made it the new school of choice for the more affluent parent (you have to live within 300 metres to get into that!). This leaves one feeder primary with a more typical inner London demographic which might be expected to get 20% of the places... (and who knows how this might change over time...)

The feeder primary approach leaves the door open for property prices to determine entry to secondary school (although that impact might take a while to emerge fully as children go through primary school). I guess, especially in London where things are very densely populated and there are pockets of affluence close to pockets of deprivation, lottery systems (based on reasonably small areas such as a 2 mile radius) could be the best approach to ensure a balanced intake to all schools. Not sure if that would work in other parts of the country though...

harry grainger's picture
Mon, 07/02/2011 - 13:50

The only way to stop the nonsense around admissions (it only happens in cities) is to reintroduce a banding system as per the ILEA prior to its demise, and yes this does mean a significant role for the LEA and an end to a free for all dominated by money. As anyone who has ever taught in a large comprehensive knows it is the proportion of well motivated pupils that really counts, not the fact that the school recruits some pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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