Access to grammar schools shows they can't be part of a fair school system

Fiona Millar's picture
There is some damning data here in a parliamentary answer to Labour MP Bill Esterson which shows how many pupils in Year 7 last year were in grammar schools and how many of those were eligible for FSM, had statements of SEN, were looked after or came from a black ethnic group.

Judging by these figures, anybody still clinging to the notion that selective schools provide ladders up for poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged children will have their work cut out defending their position.

While around 4 per cent of the Year 7 population was in a grammar school in 2010, only 0.6 per cent of pupils eligible for Free School Meals  and with statements of SEN were admitted, 0.4 per cent of looked after 11 year olds were and 2.3 % of pupils from a black ethnic group. The entire grammar school sector appears to have admitted only 70 pupils with statements last year,

The fact that the proportion of pupils in any of these groups is running so far behind the  national figure show clearly that selective tests at 11, accompanied by a booming and expensive private tuition industry, are discriminatory and should fall foul of any equality legislation.

The Tories like to proclaim  their commitment to opening up access to all schools, especially those that are oversubscribed and perform well in league tables, to children from poorer backgrounds. Hard to see how they can deliver on that while maintaining their commitment to the existing use of the 11 plus in over a quarter of all education authorities.
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Neal Skipper's picture
Sun, 15/05/2011 - 18:29

Just to agree with Georgina’s description of the selection system in Bucks. I think also quite a few parents coach their children themselves rather than pay a tutor, but this is very time consuming. As far as the 11+ exam entry goes this is an opt-out area, so the default is that children take the exam.
The Council here has noted that among other things such as levels of deprivation, 11+ pass/fail rates are also correlated with the “acceptability” of local upper (secondary modern) or comprehensive schools. So even in affluent areas the 11+ pass rate can drop close to zero if there is a good non-grammar alternative. To me this suggests that many parents would actually prefer not to go down the “grammar route” if they can avoid it.
The National Grammar Schools Association take on “How can I prepare my child for the selection test?” is as follows (from “The only requirements for selection to a grammar school are for a child to have reasonably high academic ability and to have set down solid foundations in the 3Rs in a good primary school. Booklets of sample '11-plus' papers can be purchased at large bookshops such as W.H. Smith for about £5.00. Where competition for places in grammar schools is very fierce, some parents hire private tutors to coach their child before for his or her 11-plus. But that should not be necessary if the two requirements mentioned above can be met”.

Tushar's picture
Sun, 29/05/2011 - 19:18

I don't understand why those eligible for FSM is an indication of failure. There are many factors that could skew these results:

Firstly, and I do not wish to say this, but you lefties quite clearly can't recognise this: clever parents have clever children. Clever parents are rich. Therefore, the clever children will not be eligible for school meals.

Secondly, the working-class students are not pushed by their parents to work hard. A clever child born into a poor family will invariably achieve less in life than a clever child born into a rich family. There may be exceptions to this - strike that, there WILL be exceptions to this - but this rule is reflected by your statistics.

Also, the working-class students are affected most by the stereotypes surrounding grammar schools: a bunch of geeks who tuck their shirt in and wear silly uniform. The clever students do not like to accept that they are clever, because their cleverness sticks out like a sore thumb in the economic environment they are born into.

In short, your statistics mean NOTHING. They are simply a manifestation of the broken society that we live in; they have NOTHING to do with the grammar schools.

Harry Gosling's picture
Tue, 07/06/2011 - 19:28

I really do not understand what FSM has to do with grammar schools.

Furthermore, do you not think that private schools are a greater form of social segregation by class, wealth and background? Grmmar schools should be encouraged because they infact 'bridge the gap' between normal comprehensives and private institutions of education. Why not allow the children with the highest aptitude for learning to recieve an education that will allow them to comprete with other pupils from private schools. if you haven't yet realised, without grammar schools, almost all oxbridge undergraduates and graduates would have private school education at their roots.Admittedly, grammar schools does not solve the problem of what is essentially a quite unfair education system. However, they must be allowed to run so that children with the most capacity for learning, are able to compete with others that recieve an excellent education, simply because of their priveleged background.

shimmery slippers's picture
Tue, 21/06/2011 - 19:37

I often read comments which highlight the inequality and injustice of our education system. These comments seem to regard grammar schools as a mere vehicle with which to exacerbate this inequality, perceiving them to discriminate based on social class and ethnicity. However, I feel forced to highlight an alternative, and less Marxist, view.

Let us all be truly honest, children are not all academically equal, similarly not all children are equally adept at music, sport or art, but few seem to resent specialised schools which cater to these children's' strengths. I believe grammar schools serve a pivotal function in society. They identify the most academically gifted children and place them in a learning environment where they are free to excel at their own pace. We would never demand a child who perhaps is not as academic to simply speed up and keep up with the brighter members of his class, therefore why should we demand that those who are more academic to slow down. By creating these environments in which the academic elite may thrive they can truly realise their potential.

In my opinion, and I absolutely understand many will not agree with me, grammar schools are not the problem. Surely, rather than bemoaning the injustice of these institutions, we should focus on improving the standards delivered by other schools?

stephen's picture
Tue, 02/08/2011 - 08:49

yeah it was Partially right with the grammar schools she said .. thank you..

Fiona Millar's picture
Tue, 29/05/2012 - 13:02

It is very unlikely that any LA that is adjacent to another with grammar schools will have fully comprehensive schools. Selective schools cream off pupils from a considerable distance and affect many other schools out of their geographic local authority areas.

mistemina's picture
Fri, 13/06/2014 - 15:26

I urge caution on statements and figures from Grammars.We are learning in Bucks to be circumspect about this. Please see ,
Some friends have waited for over 6 months for the raw data on this.
''85 per cent of 18-to-24 year-olds wanting more grammar schools'' Yes, they want their children to go to a Grammar School, raw basic instinct, these will be people with young children, or about to have them (generalisation). However, I guarantee they would change their minds if they understood that 80% of their children will end up with in secondary modern school in a Selection Area.

mistemina's picture
Fri, 13/06/2014 - 15:45

Shimmery, sorry to be the first to disagree.
Re your statement ''We would never demand a child who perhaps is not as academic to simply speed up and keep up with the brighter members of his class''. Yet this is exactly what we do within selection by applying tutoring, which is for the rich mostly. Inequality in an egalitarian system.
Then there is the fact that each children develops at their own pace, so why label 80% of our children as Failures at age 10? What inhumane dogma dictates we must crush our 10 year olds so?
Lastly, improving the standards of Secondary Moderns in a Select System (where children labeled failures are sent) takes top teachers, top MONEY-lots of money, top motivated parents, top Governors,. Guess which schools in a Selection System hoovers up all these top resources?


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