Local parents protest against the unfairness of grammar schools in Berkshire and might force them to become non-selective

Francis Gilbert's picture
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Berkshire parents are taking a stand against the chronic unfairness of the grammar school system. Local parents are forcing a ballot in the Reading area of Berkshire -- using legislation set up under the Labour government -- to see whether the local community actually wants grammar schools in their area. Since very few local children go to the schools, it appears that these schools will lose the ballot and be forced to lose their grammar school status. Last night it was confirmed that a group of parents in Berkshire had begun the process of forcing a vote on the future of the Reading School and the town’s other grammar, Kendrick School for girls

Today's Daily Mail presents these parents' arguments in a negative light, but even the Mail's biased reporting can't hide the fact that these parents have a very good point: the two grammar schools in their area, Reading School and Kendrick School, are both highly selective state schools which do not admit many children from the local area. Reading School, a state-boarding school and grammar school, is clearly full of children from more privileged backgrounds, with the latest data on it showing that it admits just 0.5% of pupils on Free School Meals (FSM), compared with the national average of 20% pupils on FSM. Kendrick School admits just 0.4% of pupils on FSM. Have a look at the school's websites and you'll see that they are essentially state-funded "public schools".

One way that the schools could take more control over their destinies would be to become Academies but this could mean that they'll only be able to select 10% of pupils who have a particular aptitude in a subject they specialise in; obviously, not enough selection for these highly selective schools.

Kendrick School clearly have the best "PR", publishing this leaflet urging parents to vote "No" in the vote: it has the highest Google rating on the subject. Meanwhile, the 11+ chatrooms are buzzing with chatter about the subject, which can be found here. I'm finding it difficult to find many details from the protesting parents, but will follow this up in due course.
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Comments

A Proud, But Rather Furious Kendrick Girl's picture
Sat, 08/02/2014 - 19:04

The risible attitudes from those 'kind' enough to put their anti-grammar school views across have me disgusted. Here you rally for the abolishment of grammar schools, when the answer to this conundrum of yours is simple.

You want your children in Kendrick or Reading just because they live in the area?

Tough.

The simple ingredients to get what you want is separate your children from their phones, iPads, TVs and the such like, and look around you. Yes, you want them to have fun. But think of it in the greater scheme of things. Is that one programme the be all and end all? No. You could make them spend that time filling their absorbent young minds with facts, or read books, or simply look at flags of the world.

You want them to be given an advantage because they live in the local area, but the whole point of RS and KS is that the contents of your mind matter, rather than the position of your home dwelling. FYI, Kendrick and Reading schools are now given the same entrance tests (resulting in complete gender equality).

Reading and Kendrick Schools produce fine specimens of young men and women ready to face the world, armed with a good education to prepare them for later life, be it Oxbridge, or any other good university, or indeed a university at all. We are equipped with the opportunities we need to lead our lives the way we please, and if you want your child to have this too, focus more on what they learn, not where in the region they are learning it.

Caversham mum's picture
Mon, 27/10/2014 - 16:38

Isn't the real issue that children from a far a field as Oxford, Slough and Guildford etc are considered part of the designationed area (assuming this means catchment area) - bizarre really when Reading children can't go to schools in those areas. Is it good for children to travel so far to school? I've even heard of children travelling from London to go to Kendrick.

Time both Reading and Kendrick changed thier catchment areas.

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