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

Francis Gilbert's picture
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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An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 10:34

Janet I do not understand why you feel everybody needs to have the same education. Parents do not want a system that is "well-able to cope" with their child's needs, they want will be best for their child's needs. Grammar schools are part of a system that allows them to have that choice, a parent can decide what kind of education would be best for their child.

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:57

If the teachers are so weak, why do you want less intelligent students at the school? Lower-achieving schools receive more funding from the government than higher-achieving schools, giving them the opportunity to increase their achievement. Trying to help comprehensives to achieve more highly is clearly a better and more positive way of addressing the problem of social separation. Besides, it's not about the quality of the teaching, it's about the learning environment, and being around other students who actually want to learn.

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 10:56

Most parents don't want to choose a secondary modern school which is the inevitable consequence of a selective system. This is one reason why the 11 plus was abolished in most parts of the country. The then Tory ministers were lobbied very hard on the issue by middle class parents who were fed up with their children being branded failures at 11.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 12:36

At no time have I said that all children should have the same education. "Well-able to cope" means the best, most appropriate education for each child's needs. The fully-comprehensive schools in Finland develop individual programmes of study for children depending on their abilities and aptitudes. That is not "the same education" for all.

Parents don't "choose" grammar schools - grammar schools choose the child. Parents don't decide that their child will receive that kind of education - the school does. The consequence of this is that many children are branded as "failures" and made to feel inferior to those who have "passed". As Fiona points out below, that was why most of the country's local authorities abandoned the 11+ - because parents realised that if their child "failed" then that stigma stuck.

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 12:40

Is anybody here suggesting re-rolling the grammar school system out across the whole country? No, the issue here is two outstanding schools are under threat. There is no acceptable reason to stop these schools selecting their pupils. Parents in the Reading area appreciate they have a choice about what kind of education their children will receive. This entire issue has arisen because of the changes to the Maiden Erlegh catchment area mean some people will not be able to go to their local school.

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 12:57

You've confused me, the 11+ is not compulsory in Reading. You take a day off school to travel to either Reading or Kendrick and take the test. So yes you do choose whether or not you want to be considered for grammar school.

ex reading school boy's picture
Fri, 27/05/2011 - 08:15

This is the old problem of social failure because we refuse to teach our children about failure and not winning. "All children should be given the same grades and all children should win all competitions" When they then enter later life and apply for a job that only has one winner they then complain again? It is time that competition be brought into life much earlier so that parents can help their children understand that there are winners and losers in life. If you want to win sometimes you just have to try harder and keep on trying.
Reading school has a competition for places to attend, then competition for places in setting and this leads to better opportunities even inside the school.
Both my sons go to reading school, so did I and so did my father!!
By the way, Reading school was set up by an order of French monks for the improvement of education in England and so was not just for Reading!!

Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 12:49

It doesn't really matter whether selection is in one borough, one county or one country. The divisive effect is the same.

Fiona Lane's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 09:37

Here are the figures. Over the last 5 years, 8 local schools (within approximately 1 mile from the grammars) sent 37 children; there are no private schools in this area. From the borough of Reading, a further 241 were sent. The rest, 729, came from outside the borough, ranging from Bath, London and even Kuwait. 54 feeder schools are private and they sent 277 children. These schools do not serve the local community as they been founded to do and the figures show there is little social equality.
At the same time children form the borough of Reading are being denied school places in the neighbouring borough of Wokingham in "outstanding" schools, despite being a few minutes walk away.
Reading parents have campaigned that as school places are funded nationally, neighbouring boroughs' residents cannot argue that as they don't pay council tax in the borough they should be excluded. This has fallen on deaf ears, even though if this argument held any weight, Reading residents could argue that those outside the borough should not use their hospital, roads, buses etc!
Reading residents are left with no school places while watching the majority of children attending its "outstanding" grammars coming from the borough of Wokingham (354) , using the schools as their own but denying Reading children the same advantages.

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:06

I don't know if you're talking about Kendrick or Reading School, but as far as Reading School is concerned, there IS a catchment area and I live on the edge of it, a mere 15-minute train ride from where I live. Boarding, of course, is a whole other matter, and if we have the facilities to accommodate boarders, surely it would be ridiculous to say that these boarders must come from homes so close as to make boarding pointless. Of course, you have the right to voice your views that I do not deserve an education of the quality I have received, but trying to limit the education of others is going a bit far, don't you think?
Your argument is rather confusing. On the one hand, you state that people who live in Reading should have access to Wokingham schools, and on the other you say that people outside Reading should not be allowed to go to school in Reading. It sounds like something of a case of you wanting whatever benefits you. Such self-interest is, I feel, rather pointless on a page which is supposed to be debating what is the best course of action for everyone concerning Reading School and Kendrick.

Lisa.'s picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:21

Hate to burst your bubble but I highly doubt people would come from Bath to go to school in Reading. But assuming they did, surely this just proves that grammar schools are even fairer than comprehensive schools? The catchment is evidently not limiting the intake and anyone who wishes can take the entrance exam. In my local area there are three main schools, one of which has much better results than the others. The houses in that school's catchment area are almost 20% more expensive. The urge to get a place means families are moving into the catchment area. So it seems, only the richer families in the area are able to get in. Those outside the catchment do not even get a shot. When seen like this, how can anyone in their right mind think that the selective process is unfair?

SB's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 10:21

Fiona, Janet, Francis... and all the others spouting this left wing bias here. These schools allow bright kids to flourish - for the benefit of us all! Can you not see how pathetic you all sound to anyone coming across this site? You quote misleading stats of your own choice and try to use intelligent rhetoric, and yet it just comes across as sour grapes. If you stopped to think for just one moment, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Don't respond for my benefit, as I can assure you I won't be reading any more of this spiteful rubbish!!

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 10:35

Is it not just the case this organisation has jumped on a bandwagon, when the real issue at stake in Reading is the change to the Maiden Erlegh catchment area?

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 10:51

The "misleading stats" about selection and its consequences come from evidence supplied by the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD), a much respected international organisation which has been collecting and analysing education data for at least a decade. If you have any statistics from an organisation of similar standard which refutes their evidence-based conclusion then I should be pleased to read it. And if you believe these stats to be "spiteful rubbish" then you can email your views to Andreas Schleicher, Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division, OECD at:


I agree that schools which allow students to flourish (whatever their aptitude) benefit society. However, recent evidence shows that comprehensive school pupils are not disadvantaged when judged by standard of degrees. Indeed, a study by the Sutton Trust concluded that comprehensive pupils were likely to achieve higher degrees than independent and grammar school students with similar A-levels and GCSE results.

Again, if you can find reputable statistics which refute these claims please supply them. You will then be able to provide the evidence and you will not have to resort to name-calling.




Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 10:54

Interesting that no-one supporting the continuation of selection in Reading wants to be identified.

Fiona Lane's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 12:29

I am not ashamed, nor am I spiteful. Check the statistics yourself. If you had read my earlier comments properly, you would see that I am not biased in a left-wing manner and nor do I think, if selection is properly managed, is it a bad thing. In theory it should provide the best education for all children. Unfortunately, when it is mismanged it leads to a two-tier system and while parents may want to choose a grammar for their children, very few actively seek out a secondary modern.
You miss the point, though. This system is not working for Reading residents.
If parents want the privilege of selection then they must accept two-way traffic and accept that other boroughs will have to educate those who live in Reading who are misplaced by very high criteria. Those statistics are fact, and so is the position in Reading Borough; there are not enough secondary school places.

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 12:46

Your link to TES proves nothing... It's hardly a report at all. There is a contradictory report right next to it. Also how does it relate to ending selection in Reading? Is that not just supposedly a general report for all grammar and independent schools in the country?

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:08

I don't know where that claim has come from, but I support a continuation of excellent education for excellent students, and I am happy to be identified.

Jamie's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 21:45

Not sure how we're refusing to be identified, most of us seem to be posting under our real names, on occasion full names, and I would love the opportunity to be involved in a televised debate on the matter against a similarly able proponent of the motion.

Sam Wild's picture
Fri, 27/05/2011 - 15:12

"recent evidence shows that comprehensive school pupils are not disadvantaged when judged by standard of degrees. Indeed, a study by the Sutton Trust concluded that comprehensive pupils were likely to achieve higher degrees than independent and grammar school students"

Then why are you so desperate to ruin 2 grammar schools when your kids could obviously do so much better elsewhere...

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 13:31

The TES report refers to the Sutton Trust report, full details here:


The contradictory report does not differential between comprehensive and grammar school pupils. It refers to state school pupils. Even so, this contradictory report gave at least three examples of research which showed that state school pupils outperformed pupils from independent schools at university and one which showed there was no discernible difference. The original contradictory report contained a breakdown of figures which still showed that comprehensive pupils had a slight advantage. Unfortunately this is no longer there but if I discover it I will provide a link.

"An idea says" asks what is the relevance of this research to the question of ending selection in Reading. The answer is this: a central plank of the argument of supporters of grammar schools is that it provides a "superior" education. But this "superior" education doesn't result in pupils getting higher degrees than those from "inferior" schools. Grammar schools depend on selection which, as discussed above, does not increase the average educational performance of a country but DOES result in social segregation.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 13:33

Sorry, second sentence of my post should have read, "The contradictory report does not differentiate between comprehensive and grammar school pupils"

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 13:39

Again you are missing the point. You are trying to argue about Grammar schools at a national level. I am supporting the two fine establishments that exist in Reading, that do a great job. I take it you have detailed statistics to show the social segregation that is rife in Reading. Or as Francis so eloquently put it on the radio, "social apartheid".

Also the Sutton Trust identified Reading School as one of of only 20 state schools among the 100 schools in the UK responsible for a third of admissions to Oxford and Cambridge Universities over the five preceding years (source: wikipedia) So your argument that grammar schools do not provide pupils with a better education and therefore do not get a better degree really does not hold in this case.

Chirs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 13:52

I currently attend Reading School, and any such proposal I, and i'm sure the majority of my peers, would find to be nothing short of an outrage.

From reading through these comments, it seems to me that the most recurring argument is one of social equality and community. This is totally incongruent to the facts. Reading School accepts pupils based on their intelligence, and not their financial or social backgrounds. You can take it from my experience, the overwhelming majority of people who attend my school have got there because they are intelligent and thoughtful human beings.

After all, you don't get exam results as consistently good as ours just through the right teaching or the right tuition.

Now please, rather than behaving in a bitter and childish manner, accept the fact that there are always going to be those who get a better education than others, and be glad that it goes to those who deserve it for their own merits, i.e. their intelligence.

Now, onto practicalities, I could write a long argument about how the tradition, community outreach and educational excellence that is offered by Reading School, but, I will not. I instead would like to say that the post made by H is an exceptional vision of the benefits these schools have to offer

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:05

No civilised society should accept the fact that there are people who "get a better education than others". This implies that some people (the less intelligent, perhaps, or the undeserving poor) deserve only a lesser standard of education.

In saying "you don't get exam results as consistently good as ours just through the right teaching or the right tuition" you are actually agreeing with the argument that the school's results are based on the intelligence of the pupils selected to go there.

I see no reason why I should "be glad" that the best education goes to those who "deserve it" ie only those who are intelligent. In fact, I find the argument chilling.

Bob Marsh's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 22:13

If "No civilised society should accept the fact that there are people who get a better education than others” then why are you campaigning to dumb down one of the best schools in the country rather than improve the other schools? You are going the completely wrong way with your argument.

Bossman's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 22:14

No civilised society should allow for those who have the capabilities to do well academically to not be given the best opportunity to do so. If someone is good at rugby then they play for they may get picked to play for their county team. Your argument says that this should not be the case and that instead they should allow anyone into the squad, rather than selecting by ability.

Tushar's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 09:11

The quality of someone's eduation should be based on their ability to learn; NOT their inability. I will agree with my schoolmate here: there are good teachers and bad teachers - wasting the good ones on those who will spurn the opportunity because of work ethic/intelligence/behaviour is the true argument that is chilling. This country believes in a meritocratic society: selective schools are the best way to achieve this.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 13:56

I know it's stating the bleeding obvious but the schools under discussion are highly selective. The reason they "do a great job" and have such a high number of pupils going to Oxbridge is that the pupils are selected for their high academic ability. It would be surprising if they did not send pupils off to these establishments. If these high-flying pupils were at other schools those pupils would still achieve the same high results.

You are correct in asserting that I know nothing about Reading except that a group of parents are sufficiently concerned about selection to mount a campaign against it. And these parents are angry because their children appear to be being discriminated against. Perhaps that is what is mean by socially divisive in this case - a school takes high ability pupils from a very wide area (including outside the catchment area) and thereby squeezes out local children.

Jamie's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:31

Janet, as a pupil and nearby resident I can assure you that it is wrong to assert that this campaign against selection has arisen out of principle. It was organised because one of the 'outstanding' comprehensives in the changed its catchment area, meaning certain pupils would be forced to apply to schools that are worse, as deemed by Ofsted.

The problem lies not in the selective schools but in the fact that there is a lack of excellent comprehensives in the area. It is ludicrous to blanket everybody with the same education as there will always be those who flourish and those who struggle. Putting these two very different types of academic minds together is only detrimental to both parties. As Bossman previously notes, you would not allow everyone into a county sports team; sooner or late people have to accept that everyone has different skills and weaknesses and that academia is no exception to this rule. Thought should be put into improving comprehensive schools rather than stifling those selective schools that are already helping thousands of children who need to be pushed further with regards to education.

There is however an argument to be made on socio-economic grounds, and perhaps Reading and Kendrick should look to selecting a certain percentage from the state sector so as not to give advantage to those who have had access to a better education through money.

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:25

These pupils would not necessarily achieve such high results in other schools. The great thing about Reading School is the general work ethic and willingness to learn amongst the students, which is brought about by the fact that these students are intelligent, they know they're intelligent (because they've passed an exam) and they want to do as well as they possibly can with their intelligence. It is this ethic that helps the school achieve such great results. Sure, if Reading School students went to comprehensives, they'd still get pretty good results, but 'pretty good' isn't going to get you a place at Oxbridge, unfortunately. Furthermore, they definitely wouldn't enjoy the atmosphere of a school less academically-focussed.

yetanotherreadingschoolboy's picture
Fri, 27/05/2011 - 06:53

maybe they should do the poll in the reading area then, not the wokingham area, since that's the area that we all seem to be concerned with?

Also, being a reading school student, in the same year as Luke Barret (same house in fact) I can assure you that I am only aware of about 10% of the year coming from outside the Reading Borough. Myself living out by Newbury. A couple in Ascot. But primarily they come from the Caversham, Reading and Wokingham area, which I believe comes under the Reading Borough. ( I may be wrong about Wokingham but as Luke said earlier it is only a 15 minute train journey)

Patrice's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:04

I completely agree with Chris. It sounds as if most people on this thread are bitter and prehaps jelous of their peers who did a ton of revision WHEN THEY WERE IN YEAR 5 and were totally capable too and got in. Also 11 year olds aren't made to feel like a failure. You are clearly jelous and bitter well if you gad Done more work YOU WOULD HAVE GOT IN!

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:12

I know I make the occasional type but, really, there are just too many in this post. Spelling errors, lack of punctuation, not pitching your argument to your audience - oh, dear. Patrice - do you really think that most of the adults who post here are jealous and bitter because we didn't get in. We're a little too old.

If you are genuinely supportive of your school and want to demonstrate your intelligence then I would suggest that you read the posts, weigh up the evidence and make an informed decision. That is what you will be expected to do at university.

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:22

Have to agree with Janet. Sort of undermines my argument about Reading School allowing the best and the bright to flourish if you make posts like that...

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:40

Misspelling the word 'typo' really is irony in the extreme. And while I'm sure you wouldn't claim not to be failed Reading School/Kendrick applicants if you were, your statement 'we're a little too old' displays a sad ignorance of the schools you're trying to destroy. Kendrick School is 134 years old, while Reading School is 886 years old.

Patrice's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:07

Chris aren't you in school?

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:11


I believe this is a useful link as it demonstrates by and large the people of Reading do not have a problem with the Grammar system. The entire debate has arisen because a small number of people, only 10 are needed to get the ball rolling, are unhappy that catchments have changed. This means instead of being in a catchment for a "outstanding" school they are not.

Ollie's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:36

It is common misconception that just because a student is gifted and has a good work ethic, they will do well no matter where their education takes place. The truth is that in a majority of comprehensive schools, the more intelligent pupils are not pushed and are often left to their own devices while help is given to those who are less academically gifted. The Reading school environment is one where all students are pushed to a higher level of learning which they can achieve. In a comprehensive school this cannot be done as only a few pupils are capable of this kind of learning. The students also benefit from being amongst students of similar ability. It does more than merely get good quantifiable results, i.e. a levels, but also gives the students a strong basis for further education.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 15:36

Like Chris, your support for your school is admirable. However, I don't expect you to be familiar with evidence about selection, homogeneous classes/schools and so on - you're too young to spend time leafing through research tomes. However, you will see from my other posts that I refer to the OECD - a much-respected international organisation which has been researching global education for over a decade. It has much to say about the efficacy of different systems of education. They found, for instance, that the top-performing European country is Finland where there is a fully-comprehensive system.

If you wish to argue a point then you must provide evidence and not make sweeping generalisations such as "in the majority of comprehensive schools the more intelligent pupils are not pushed". This is true in a minority of schools, even some grammar schools don't push their pupils sufficiently but allow them to coast.


You also say that the kind of education you receive gives you a strong basis for further education. That is as it should be, and this would be the case if the school were fully comprehensive. See my other posts about research into how comprehensive school pupils can achieve equal, or better, results at university than pupils of comparable ability from independent or grammar schools. A bright boy like you would do just as well if your school were comprehensive.

Bossman's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 22:21

Let me get this right. Because you have read some sources on the internet, however respected they may be, you know more about the school that we go to and the comparative education we get with our peers from other schools? You say not to make generalisations but instead of looking at the schools in question you quote about grammar schools in general? Spend six years at Reading School and then you can say you know as much about it. Otherwise you are just spouting opinions based on second hand information.

Katie's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:21

Like several of the commenters, I go to one of the grammar schools mentioned (Kendrick). I haven't got any evidence or facts or quotes copied from various websites but I do have personal experience.

At primary school I was an intelligent student who enjoyed learning and didn't mind working hard. However this did mean I was made quite unhappy at my primary school, from where the majority of pupils went on to the local comprehensive. I wasn't bullied as such but felt completely ostracised from the rest of my peers, mainly due to being labelled a 'nerd' as I would finish work quickly and sit bored for the rest of the lesson. Teachers originally set me extra work to do by myself but were too busy trying to control the rest of the class, who had little interest in learning, to be of much help themselves. By year 6 I knew I wanted more than anything to get into Kendrick and be among people of a similar work ethic where I wouldn't feel as left out. I actively decided that if I didn't get in then I would 'dumb myself down' a little at secondary school to have more chance of fitting in.

I'm not saying Kendrick is perfect but it is a place where people of similar ability can learn much more comfortably, not hindered by students who really don't want to be stuck in school and so amuse themselves by disrupting those who actually want to learn. Which, speaking from experience, seemed to be the vast majority of my primary year.

Chris's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:43

Have to agree with An Idea, and, I am not currently in school as I am ons tudy leave for my AS levels.

Now Janet, I see the point you have made about a civilised society not wanting to accept inequality, however, I don't feel its particularly relevant to my point. We don't live in a communistical society, and although I believe that a two tier education system is wrong, I do not think that the amount of grammar schools that are currently around do that.

I do believe in equal opportunity, however, I still think that it is vital for those who have the greatest capability to succeed to be recognised.

As for me agreeing with you, I have to say that this argument is narrow minded. Yes, the school's success comes from the pupils. But, it is only through the great teaching, and suitable environment that the school provides can this be done. It is, so to speak, the perfect combination of nature and nurture.

As for the final point you raise... again, you have misunderstood me. I am arguing that it is right for "elite education" to go to the people who are most intelligent rather than have been able to buy their way in, or live in the right catchment area. So please, keep it that way so as not to undermine the brilliance and antiquity of Reading School

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 15:18

Your support for your school is admirable. You say that you believe that a two-tier education system is wrong. I'm afraid that is what selection implies. You are too young to remember when most of the country had grammar schools and their counterparts - the secondary moderns. It was lobbying by thousands of parents (mostly middle-class) which caused the majority of local authorities to abandon the 11+ and introduce comprehensive education. The latter system was seen as being fairer for all.

You are correct about great teaching - but that can be found in comprehensive schools. Remember, most of the country runs the comprehensive system although I recognise that some so-called comprehensive schools are skewed towards the academically able (and therefore not truly comprehensive).

You say an "elite" education should be available for the most intelligent not those who can purchase it. This presupposes that a purchased (independent) education is better in England than one provided by the state. Evidence from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in its December 2010 report said that when socio-economic differences were taken into account, UK state schools outperformed independent schools. Secondly, high-ability school-age pupils can get that "elite" education in comprehensive schools. If it were not so, then comprehensive school pupils would not do as well as pupils from other schools at university yet evidence shows they they can. Indeed, some research (see other posts) have found that comprehensive school pupils outperform pupils of comparable ability from grammar or independent schools.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:50

There's still no one that's explained to me why these grammar schools take fewer than 1% of pupils on Free Schools Meals (FSM), when a school down the road admits 40% FSM? The implication of some of these posts is that rich children are clever and poor people are thick and don't work hard enough, and, following on from this implication, children from wealthy backgrounds should be separated from their poorer peers because it might impede their academic progress. It is the "contamination" theory of education -- the idea that wealthier children might become 'contaminated' by stupidity if they come into contact with children from different backgrounds -- a pernicious and wholly false view of how children learn.

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:53

Can we have a link or the source of these statistics?

Ollie's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 14:55

I'm pretty sure you were the one that just implied that with those statistics.

Tom F's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 03:25

It's definitely a problem but surely it makes more sense to tackle the problem where it lies - to equalise at primary schools, providing the schooling to help less privileged kids ot make the most of their potential, rather than removing grammar schools, which help kids, privileged or not, reach their potential?

Consider this: Reading Schools helps say, 9 rich kids and 2 poor kids to get into Oxford (apologies for the painful oversimplification). If it were not selective, it would be just the same as Highdown - in almost every sense. Thus it would help perhaps 4 rich kids and 1 poor kid to get into Oxford. The current system is certainly not ideal, but abolishing grammars is not the solution.

Take another analogy - there are not very few black kids at Oxford because Oxford is racist, but because secondary education is substandard. Similarly, Reading School is not anti-poor, but primary education is substandard. That is the problem which msut be dealt with.

MA's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:47

Can someone please explain to me why Reading school takes over 99.9% male gender when a school down the road takes only 48%! To me this implies gender inequality, showing a clear bias towards the male gender. The school are obviously suggesting that women are not as hardworking as their male counterparts

whataloadofrubbish's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:00


There are people who 'qualify' for free school meals, but won't apply as there is not cafeteria at the school and so they wont show up with that statistic. Use a statistic like EMA and then share what you find.

Is that a good enough answer?


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