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.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


A Kenders Girl's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 20:17

And what are the statistics from other surrounding comprehensives on the percentage of FSM students they take? You're being blind to other statistics by assuming that the reason for the low FSM intake is due to the fact that "rich children are clever" - the local comprehensives tend to have an intake local to them and many of them are situated in areas with high levels of council housing, whereas Kendrick has no catchment area. In addition, FSM is not the be all and end all measure of wealth; I have a few friends on FSM (and also EMA) but I also have friends who, whilst they are not on free school meals, undoubtedly have a very low household income. In addition, not everybody eligible for FSM chooses to accept it. My argument is that Kendrick provides opportunities for children from low-income backgrounds which the local comprehensives can't provide, for one reason or another. Of course, there are children at comprehensive schools who flourish and get excellent grades, but there are many, many more who get these exceptional grades at grammar schools. This surely proves that intelligent children flourish in a grammar school atmosphere. As Katie mentioned earlier, many children feel at comprehensives that they have to dumb themselves down to be socially accepted, which I feel I may have had to do had I attended a comprehensive school; whereas, at Kendrick, our idea of fun is decorating cookies with Wilfred Owen quotes.

Judith's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:00

Is that a joke? Reading School is a BOYS school.

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

Your clearly very undeducated about the school and its surrounding area.
Firstly Reading School is a BOY'S SCHOOL!
Secondly Kendrick school is about 200 yards down the road and admits a 99.9% female gender. I'm definitely saying they should, but if Reading and Kendrick were to combine it would mean there would be a 50/50 ratio of boys to girls. Therefore I think you either need to get off this site or if you decide to stay come up with a point that's worth reading rather than frankly, a deeply flawed argument in all respects. Reading admits on intelligence and there is absolutely no gender bias so take your crap ideas that Reading School is a sexist institution somewhere else please.

RK's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:09

i'm defintiely not saying*

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 16:54

pretty sure it was a joke mate ;)

MA's picture
Sat, 28/05/2011 - 10:39

Eurgh, obviously i'm not trying to make that assumption. It's a sarcastic argument, insinuating that the statistics Francis Gilbert is using are irrelevent, to this argument. Also, evidently you are uneducated because Kendrick does not take ANY boys, actually making it a 100% female intake. Please could you also refrain from swearing at me, despite my obvious sarcasm, I have shown respect and civility in my post and I would expect the same from individuals who are apparently my "elder and better".

Chris's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 15:10

Where has this ridiculous idea of contamination come from? I cannot believe that an well-educated journalist is able to spout such utter delusional rubbish.
I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that these schools are special because they only accept the “elite”, and that accepting someone on any other reason- social background, where they live or anything else would completely undermine that which sets these excellent schools apart.
No-where has anyone said or implied that poor children are thick. Given that i’ve spent the last 6 years of my life with “intelligent people”, I can assure you that not everyone is posh, or upper class, or exceptionally well off.
Having said that, I am baffled by this recurring statistic about FSM, its either just plain wrong or theres some other reason behind it; either way its irrelevant. It’s irrelevant because there are plenty of people who qualified for EMA- educational maintenance allowance for 16 year olds with low family incomes.
As a journalist, I think you should do better than to publish misleading and harmful insinuations based on flaky evidence, it’s quite unprofessional.
At the end of the day, my concern is not about making sure that the poor, lower class, riff raff don’t get into the school; its about preserving the school’s tradition and values, nothing more.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 15:31

The statistic on Free Schools Meals is published by the Department for Education, which is based on data submitted by the school itself; are you saying the government and the school itself are both flaky and unreliable? It's a very reliable statistic and highlights the central problem with a school system like ours which tends to segregate off children according to wealth. Less than 1 in a hundred pupils at the grammars is on Free School Meals; that's shocking given the average in Berkshire is that there are 20 pupils in every hundred on FSM. The grammars are clearly there to serve wealthier pupils. So it's not an irrelevant statistic at all. The John Madejski Academy admits 40% of pupils on FSM; it's clearly got a much higher proportion of children from poorer homes in it.

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 15:38

I was not questioning it's reliability. All I could find on the internet was this:
Which is from 2007 and says that the percentage of pupils on FSM at the JMA, is that the school you mean?, was 29%. I was only wondering if it was possible for me to look at the up to date data myself?

S's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:13

Firstly, you are missing a very basic and obvious point; Reading School does not currently have the facilites to provide FSM to its pupils. You are also advocating the idea that grammar schools are inherently unfair because they accept people from posh backgrounds? Wrong.Grammar schools may only be seen as unfair when you trace success back child's upbringing, which means you would be blaming middle class families for venerating education and caring about the intellectual development of their children. Thirdly, you speak about John Madejski as if it is a somehow inadequate accademic institution based on its FSM allowance. How can you justify this when pupil satisfaciton at JM Accadamy is exceptionally high, while the sporting facilities and encouragement from staff is also to a high standard?
Finally, you are completely ignoring the wide range of social backgrounds accepted into Reading School and Kendrick, and you use crass terms like "social apartheid". This fails to acknowledge the fundamental concept of fairness in all grammar schools - the most intellectually able candidates - and i emphasise "INTELLECTUALLY ABLE" (NOT WEALTHY) - are accepted.

Cameron's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:45

Your response to Chris's post begins with an irrelevant response - the use of the work 'flaky' was referring to the coverage, if you will, of the statistic. By this I mean the fact that the statistic does not reveal the whole picture as Reading School does not have a canteen. You took it to refer to the source of the data - I feel this was a deliberate misinterpretation in order to fall back on the reliability of the sources as you are aware that the coverage (as I have named it) is flaky.
It is unsurprising that you ignore the allegation of publishing misleading and harmful insinuations as there is no reliable source or evidence for you to fall back on. If you were sure of yourself you would have reinforced your argument with concrete evidence. Perhaps statistics on the EMA?
You then go on to repeat statistics found in your article.
Your assumption "The grammars are clearly there to serve wealthier pupils." is based on one statistic that has poor (so-called) coverage.
I have been following this story with interest, having recently left Reading School, and the statistics I see you quoting are everywhere. You haven't, however, managed to glean that the schools are both now Academies. What's more you claim that from looking at their websites you can see they are "essentially state-funded "public schools"" - what exactly do you mean by that? It also seems to have escaped your attention that prior to becoming an Academy, Reading School received little funding for any kind of development and another result, I believe, is that students at the school have not had the same gifted and talented opportunities as those in comprehensives. State-funded, I agree, public school? Not at all.
It is my assertion that your article is full of bias, lacking accuracy with weak facts to try to gain some kind of credibility.
Chris refers to you as a "well-educated journalist", he was half right.

yetanotherreadingschoolboy's picture
Fri, 27/05/2011 - 07:32

that's because it's in whitely..... And it was set up to be a school for the poor

Houmous man's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 15:59

Your argument about the lack of FSM has one major flaw. There is no way for the teachers marking the tests to tell if the person who took the test is poor or not. There is nothing stopping kids from poorer backgrounds getting into Reading School, and it seems to me it would be far more sensible to be encourage less well-off kids to try for Reading School than to take away what makes it so great and removing the ability of future students to benefit from its teaching ability. As a classics student living in the middle of Reading, were it not for Reading School and its facilities I wouldn't be able to study Classics, which is my great love, and, after my experiences at primary school, where I was bullied for my intelligence, I doubt I would be as happy as I am now.

My parents are both governors at local schools, one of which is a primary, and the other another local comprehensive, and they also are of the opinion that Reading School is beneficial to the community. And before you say that they have bias, one of my brothers failed to get in to Reading School, and they still hold to their beliefs.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 16:44

There may be many reasons why socio-economically disadvantaged parents don't put their children forward to take the 11+. The OECD* said that UK parents from all backgrounds considered academic achievement to be important, but socio-economically disadvantaged parents were more likely than advantaged parents to cite finances as an important determining factor when choosing a school. For example, a parent whose child gains a place at a school which is further away than the nearest school may find that the local authority will not pay for transport. Socio-economically disadvantaged parents may worry about the extra costs which a grammar school education might entail (even though these may prove unfounded - for instance, uniforms are now supposed to be inexpensive and easily available from a number of outlets).

It should also be remembered that the schools in question take in students from a very wide catchment area as has been pointed out in a post above. This would suggest fewer spaces for local children.

The bullying at your primary school should have been dealt with. There are many reasons for bullying - intelligence being one. Children are bullied because of race, size, sexual orientation and so on. Schools must deal with it and all schools should have a bullying policy. The answer, however, is not by putting all children of a particular type in schools which only deal with that one type. This would be impossible to do.

You are obviously deeply grateful to your school and want to protect it. However, there is no need why the school should not continue to offer Classics if it wanted to if the school were comprehensive. There is sufficient room outside the national curriculum for such subjects if there is a demand. And children of all backgrounds would benefit from excellent teaching.

*OECD UK through the prism of PISA page 12

Rachel's picture
Sat, 28/05/2011 - 14:22

Then the answer should be to encourage parents of intelligent children from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply for schools like Kendrick and Reading, rather than to stop them from existing and deprive everyone of the opportunity. Whoever says that Kendrick and Reading do nothing to encourage this is ignoring all the outreach work pupils do in local, less well off primary schools to support the students there. I'll admit, more could be done, by the local primaries as well as by the grammar schools, to encourage intelligent students from less financially well off backgrounds to apply for grammar schools as well as to ensure the provision of extension activites for the more academic children in primary school in order to make the system fairer, but it isn't the grammar schools that create the socio-economic divide in education. People don't get into Kendrick and Reading because they come from a socio-economic background, they get in because they take and pass the test. Surely, then, the question should not be why the schools accept so few pupils from a less well off social background but why so few pupils from a less well off social background take and pass the test. This issue needs to be adressed by improving primary schools, not by blaming it on the grammar schools who do not cause the problem and can do relatively little about it.
While the argument has been made over and over again that these schools should not be necessary and that intelligent students can thrive in whatever educational environment they are in, the state of comprehensive education in Reading just doesn't support this. It is a sad fact that there is bullying and that it is not always dealt with, but it's the truth. It's very simple to say that bullying should be dealt with in all schools and that all schools should have a bullying policy, but the truth is that on many occasions it slips through the cracks. The answer in the long run may not be to separate, but if your child was being bullied for their intelligence in a school that simply could not or did not deal with the problem, the safety and happiness of the child would be more important than any political point. The same can be said of high achievers in comprehensive schools. While there should be provision for the more able, the reality is that this is lacking, and has been criticised in the Ofsted reports on local schools. Until adequate provision is made for the academic in local comprehensive schools, it is unfair in the extreme to deprive them of the only place that is currently set up to allow them to reach their full potential.
In an ideal world, where every school catered adequately for those who were the most academic and interested in learning as well as those who were interested in and good at other things, Kendrick and Reading wouldn't be necessary, but in Reading at the moment, this is not the case.

rg4mum's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 16:46

Houmous Man - When I took the grammar school exam in 1983 children from poorer backgrounds did get into grammar school as there was more of a level playing field in those days. Everyone in my class took the exam in the classroom at school and had an equal chance of passing and the more academically able students who passed gained a place. I grew up in a deprived area where opportunities for jobs in the local area upon leaving school were limited, unemployment was extremely high and social mobility limited if you stayed in the area. Unfortunately, nowadays it seems that only the children of parents who can afford to coach and pay for a private tutor to help them pass the 11+ exam have the best chance of getting a place. If you live in a deprived area of Reading then the less-well off kids who do not have access to coaching from their parents or a private tutor have little or no chance of passing the exam even if they are bright especially if their parents aren't well educated themselves (this is why so few children at the grammar schools have FSM). I know from personal experience just going on my son's school that ALL parents of children in the last 3 years who gained a place at the grammar schools in Reading were either coached by their parents for the exams or had private tuition. You are sadly mistaken if you believe that all children who gain a place at grammar schools do so without any help and just turn up on the day for the exam. The 11+ tuition industry is worth millions and is booming - business has never been so good! There are 11+ websites dedicated to offering the best help and advice on how to pass, there are Bond/NFER practice exam papers you can buy, 11+ course books in maths, english, verbal & non-verbal reasoning, Tuition companies offering courses starting in Year 3 and Year 4 (with homework set for 45 mins to 1 hr each day). So it seems that you can 'buy' your way to gaining a place if you start tutoring early enough and are willing to pay several thousands of pounds over 2/3 years prior to taking the exam (one website claims to have an 89% pass rate if 11+ tuition is started in Year 3). How can this be fair? This sadly appears to be stopping bright children from poorer backgrounds accessing the same education which a grammar school education was meant to provide. I have no gripe to bear over the principle of grammar schools as long as the system is fair and I do not currently believe it is.

Chris's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:15

I'm afraid my experiences contradict your own. I personally was accepted into the school with no private tuition, only a pack of NFER practice papers.

I find it intriguing you say its worth millions? Surely £10 for some practice papers hardly accounts for this. I very much doubt that 100,000 students, per year, take an 11+ in this way.

Perhaps there are those that spend more... but if you are honestly prepared to spend money over 3 years coaching your child to do well, then you are most likely well-off enough to have a private education anyway.

"You are sadly mistaken if you believe that all children who gain a place at grammar schools do so without any help and just turn up on the day for the exam." This may be true, but i think you are equally misguided if you believe that you can buy your way to intelligence. The 11+ at my school was not particularly difficult- it was on a par with the KS2 SATS. Even if you are not taking an 11+, then your child ought to be able to do this sort of thing.

I should mention though, that aside from the English and Maths exams in my 11+, there was a Non-verbal reasoning paper. This is basically a test of your logic, and your ability to think in a progressive and linear way. And, I will try and be as plain as possible here, you cannot buy a brain- either your brain will grasp these concepts easily, or it wont.

Moving on, I would like to use some "data" of my own. 6 people from my primary school tried the 11+ for Reading School. 2 of us passed, co-incidently the two of us who passed were the only two who did not have any tuition. What does that say about your idea that money buys intelligence?

rg4mum's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:56

I suggest Chris that you take a look at the following article in the Guardian - Oct 2009 which highlights the lengths parents will go to in order to tutor their children with experts estimating that the "11-plus private tutoring industry is worth hundreds of millions of pounds" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/oct/11/grammar-schools-tuition-...).

The article states that "According to research by the Sutton Trust, 43% of young people in London have received private tuition in some form during their school years, up from 36% in 2005. Meanwhile, there has been a jump from 18% to 22% across the country. James Turner, director of policy at the trust, described the shift as an "arms race in social mobility", with each set of parents trying to do a little better than their peers. But he warned that the trend was deepening the divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots".

"In financial terms, private tuition makes sense on a number of levels," said Turner. "Parents may be weighing up thousands of pounds in private school fees against hundreds in tuition. And if you compare that to moving into a house in the catchment area of a good comprehensive, that is more expensive as well."

"Tuition was an obvious way for parents to buy an advantage for their children, added Turner. And that is exactly what they are doing".

Bossman's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 22:26

Yes, but we are not talking about London. We are talking about READING.

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 17:24

Sadly, you have followed the approach adopted by many on this page of choosing to believe statistics which refer to the whole country instead of testimony and real-life instances. For example, I passed the Reading School exam with no tuition, just practice papers, while my brother, obviously of the same social background as me, received some tuition, and did not pass the exam. Maybe you will reply to this with another post full of statistics about the whole country, but I hope not.

Besides, statistics can be skewed any way you want. Watch this: 'According to research by the Sutton Trust, 43% of young people in London have received private tuition in some form during their school years, up from 36% in 2005.' This clearly shows that more and more people are becoming socially able to afford private tuition to go to grammar schools, and therefore grammar schools are becoming more and more accessible. That was fun, let's try another one: 'In the most extreme cases, 20 children or more are battling for each place'. Wow. This clearly shows how many people are now applying to grammar schools. Obviously, therefore, grammar schools are becoming so much more accessible to people from all backgrounds than ever before.

rg4mum's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 07:07

If you had taken the time to read the article fully you would have discovered that it says it is happening all over the country where there are the 164 grammar schools. I know from personal experience many parents who are tutoring their children in order to pass the exam and the statistics in the article certainly seem to back this up.

C's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 16:56

I would be interested in what you would suggest as the way Reading School and Kendrick School should select their pupils if they are no longer allowed to use the 11+ test. Are you implying that students should receive a quality of education based on the merits of their post code? I fail to see how that is any fairer than receiving an education off the merits of their intelligence.

I would also like to suggest although I have no hard evidence for this that since Reading School likely costs the tax payer a similar amount per student as the other comp schools that its existence does not take anything from the educations of other students. Unless you would suggest that simply taking away the smartest children from the class will decrease the grades achieved by the entire class in which case you have admitted to the very reason why 11+ tests and selective grammar schools should continue to exist.

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:30

I would like to add that Reading School receives less money from the government as it was completely barred from getting funding for capital projects under the last government.

Dan's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:01

Ok before I start I would like to make it clear, I am a student at Reading School and I can structure a reasonable arguement (before Janet complains at my choice of rhetoric and lexis), there's not much point in me doing English A-Level if I couldn't. However in this present arguement I am just going to get straight to the point so don't complain about the irrelevant lack of structure.

Our school selects individuals on academic ability and not on any other factor. The comment suggesting only rich people can go to our school is short sighted and plain wrong. There are people at the school from low income backgrounds, on government support, from every race and religion you care to name, and with a variety of every other social factors! Admittedly intelligence is affected by both nurture and genetics so richer children are possibly more likely to suceed with better opportunities. The only way you can definitively say a school is for richer students is if it is a fee paying school!

By admitting the most gifted students the school is able to teach at a high level and students are able to flourish with other high level students. Without this fundamental principle the school would not succeed. If all the kids that didn't pass the entrance exam got in then the overall intelligence would decrease and so the results would follow. Parents want their child to go to our school as its better and more intelligent and they think their child will do well, but you cannot instantly make a child more intelligent! If anything they will struggle with the high work pace or, if large numbers of less intelligent students, bring the whole class down. As a result it wont be as good as school so they wouldn't want their child going there anyway!
Another point I've seen made across the web is that our school is "unsustainable". By that they mean our school costs to much to run for the benefit of a select group of students. Well the truth is, our school's success means we get far less funding than an average state comprehensive and suffer as a result!

Schools like ours are needed to take the top students and push them to excel and succeed, in a way not possible in an ordinary state school. These students would not achieve as much at an ordinary state school FACT. They will not be pushed and forced to work to their potential. The teachers and resources may be of an entirely equal level but students will get lazy and not perform to their full potential.
Without schools like ours, the countries brightest minds cannot be used to full potential to help Britain flourish and advance on a scale not seen since the glories of the industrial revolution.

All I ask for you reading this is that you consider the benefit our school has to both its students and the country, and that you support the selective system and its inherent benefits. Thank you

S'Mon's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:13

>>By that they mean our school costs to much to run for the benefit of a select group of students. Well the truth is, our school’s success means we get far less funding than an average state comprehensive and suffer as a result.

I would not have achieved as high a grades as I have if it were not for being surrounded by other bright individuals. It has allowed the learning to be at a faster pace than at a comprehensive etc. It is a mix of good teaching and the students. If you take away either you will lose the individual attainment.

If the school was to become a comprehensive it would not benefit your / other parents' children or provide any better education or facilities than their current state school.

Nigel Ford's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 18:51

@Dan - but students do manage to get top grades at comprehensive schools, my eldest two maximised their potential and my daughter's fiancee, who was also comprehensive educated, managed 3 grade A A'levels (there were no A*s back in 2002) and was offered a place at Cambridge. They didn't need a grammar school to "push them" to their limits.

If you don't think you could achieve top grades without being in a hothouse environment, then on that basis comprehensive educated students who achieve A* A'levels should be awarded places at Oxbridge before grammar and private school students. Because, as I'm sure you'll agree, on your logic their achievement has been greater.

Furthermore a university education will expect a more self reliant and self motivated/disciplined attitude compared to your grammar school teaching and it sounds as if that less didactic approach won't play to your strengths.

Ollie's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 19:06

You misunderstand what we mean by the phrase 'push to their limits'. The school does a lot more than just teach a high standard of GCSE and A level. Within yr 9 a majority if the GCSE syllabi has been taught and through yr 11 the A level foundation has been taught. By the time it comes to A levels, the school teaches above and beyond the level required for an A* so that students will have a much easier time through their university years; this is not achievable in most comprehensive schools due to the fact classes are held back by less able students.

Dan's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 19:22

You will find universities actually are prejudiced. They are more likely to give an offer to a person from a comprehensive to a person from a private or grammar school as you say!
I am also not denying that a person at a comprehensive can get good grades if they work for it, our school just nurtures all pupils to fulfill their potential and help produce the fine minds are country needs. It is no coincidence that our school has had prime ministers, high military officers, mps, famous doctors, lawyers, engineers etc etc people have achieved great things with the knowledge gained at our school.

Nigel Ford's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 19:50

With regard to A'levels I think you'll find that those comprehensive pupils who can't cut the mustard have left or are doing vocational courses so are unlikely hold back the more able students.

There was a report by the Sutton Trust which showed that ex comprehensive school educated pupils with the same grade A'levels as grammar/private school students left university with better grade degrees.

Nigel Ford's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 20:00

Who were the PMs from your school?

Eton has the most famous alumni in politics, sport, military, medicine etc. Like your school it's pretty old. Eton also had Prince Harry who passed just 2 A'levels - Art (B) and Geography (D).

If you look at the Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary in the Conservative led Coalition, they all attended comprehenive schools, and we're talking Conservative, not Lib Dem MPs here.

Dan's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 20:11

Wikipedia has a pretty broad list of famous people but its in no way complete. I can't remember the PM off hand but there have also been Admirals of the fleet, Lord Mayor of London, founders of oxford colleges, Archbishops (including William Laud).
These specific titles have no significance in this argument though. The point I was merely trying to make was the country needs great minds in all walks of life. Our country used to be one of the most powerful nations in the world! We need to excel in science, get out of debt, solve climate problems, cure disease and much more and to do it we need intelligent thinkers!

Another boy from the school's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 20:22

Henry Addington is one of the PMs from Reading School, we've also had William Laud who was the Archbishop of Canterbury and Ross Brawn (team principal and co-owner of Mercedes F1 Team)

Harry's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:31

Yes, but many many primeministers went to eton

TRYING TO HELP's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:09

OFSTED WEBSITE: Kendrick Girls' Grammar School is oversubscribed, recruiting students from a wide geographical area in and around Reading. It is a small secondary school with 699 students, of which 221 are in the sixth form. The number of students from ethnic minority backgrounds is slightly above the national average. The number of students whose first language is not English is also above the national average but all students are fluent in English. The number of students with learning disabilities and difficulties is well below the national average as is the number of students entitled to free school meals. The school has specialist school status in science and mathematics.


TRYING TO HELP's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:13

Also through Google I could find no data linking Kendrick School or Reading Boys to 0.4% FSM or any exact data on FSM. A link would be needed for me to trust this informnation as reliable.
I would also advise others who are posting on this thread to post references as while opinions are fine, facts need back-up. Otherwise you could have made them up.

Andrew's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:16

"Have a look at the school’s websites and you’ll see that they are essentially state-funded “public schools"

I fail to see how a website is a fair assesment. If anything, the website is made by the school to make itself sound good for possible future parents. Or if you are commenting on the photos, what would you expect from a school founded in 1125 and the current site designed by the most celebrated architect in british history? It is obviously going to look impressive and imposing due to its age and period of design!
Or finally, if you are commenting on all the specialisms and awards listed, they are either a) purely merits for high achievement and b) specialisms are adopted by these schools to gain much needed funding. any school can apply for them and it is just a case of putting ticks in boxes which would be no more difficult for any other state school.

TRYING TO HELP's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:18

TRYING TO HELP's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:21

Arguments in support
Individual successes

In 2006, according to the National Grammar Schools Association, pupils in England's 164 grammar schools produced more than half the total number of A grade A-levels in 'harder' A-level subjects than those produced by pupils in up to 2,000 comprehensive schools. Selective state schools produce some of the best performance in examinations based upon league tables.

Undermining privilege

In support of grammars it is argued that grammar schools provides an opportunity for students from low-income families to escape poverty and gain a high standard of education without recourse to the fee-paying sector. Oxbridge intake from state schools has decreased since grammars were largely abolished and studies have shown social mobility to have decrease.

More equitable

It has been argued that the grammar system helped bright working class students' social mobility. Chris Woodhead has stated "grammar schools have contributed more to social mobility than any other institution this country has known".Abolishing grammar schools may also be seen as attempting to impose a "one size fits all" education system on an area.

School environment

With increasing concern about levels of classroom discipline, it is argued that comprehensive schools can foster an environment that is not conducive to academic achievement. Bright children can suffer bullying for doing well at school, and have to justify their performance to their social group. The grammar school, by insulating the more able, would provide a safer environment to learn. The National Grammar Schools Association suggest that the ethos of a grammar school could foster a culture high of attainment.


TRYING TO HELP's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:23

Grammar schools offer the best academic education the state system can provide, as the 146 that survive prove every year.

Education is by its nature selective and elitist. Not every child can master advanced mathematics or a foreign language. A good educational system respects such realities.

Grammar schools used to be the greatest instrument for social mobility this country has seen. Since most were closed, the proportion of state-school educated undergraduates at Oxford has fallen by 7 per cent to 55 per cent.

Selection doesn't mean that children are irrevocably divided into academic sheep and non-academic goats at the age of eleven. Provision can be made for late developers to transfer to grammar schools. Independent schools accept new pupils at all ages.

Comprehensives replaced selective schools because the secondary moderns, not the grammar schools, had failed. The answer is to provide better schools for the less academic.

Read more: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/6954,news-comment,news-politics,pros-and-c...

James's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:23

Rob Wilson MP summed it up when he described the campaign as "profoundly wrong and retrograde" and called on his constituents to fight to retain the schools.

TRYING TO HELP's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:24

The real problem lies in primary, not secondary, education: the fact that 44 per cent of children leave primary school either illiterate or innumerate.

Read more: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/6954,news-comment,news-politics,pros-and-c...

Houmous Man's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:24

I personally received no private tuition and neither did the other kid who got into Reading from my primary school. The argument you make about only rich kids getting into my school is ridiculous.

Ben's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:26

Grammar schools like Reading School and Kendrick are an important part of the education system. Whilst recognising that some students are more able than others, they provide a very high standard of education free of charge, as opposed to the private school system which caters only for those who can afford it. The idea that an intelligent child will perform well wherever s/he goes is incorrect. Anecdotally, I went to a comprehensive school for years 7-11 and did comparatively badly against the students at Reading School which I now attend, despite being no less intelligent. Obviously this is a difficult area to conduct scientific research in, as you would have to compare a child's performance at one school with the same child's performance at another, which is impossible. With regards to the author's comment that fewer people at the school come from lower income backgrounds, this is a case of taking correlation to imply causation, when in reality the school cannot possibly discriminate against students from poorer backgrounds as all students take same exam. What the author should really be drawing attention to is the fact that poverty is the biggest cause of inequality in our society, and that people from lower income backgrounds often perform less well in life than those from higher income backgrounds. This needs to be tackled at the root causes and not at the level of something which is caused by this inequality.
Grammar schools perform excellently academically not just because of the ability of their students, but also because of the ability and dedication of the teachers. If these schools are stripped of their selective nature, their performance will fall, and the teachers that make these schools great will leave and probably move to the private sector, leaving all state education worse off.
Instead of the government pouring money into the academies program which benefits more schools like Reading and Kendrick which are already exceptional, the money (£5 billion!) should be spent improving the comprehensive schools so that state education as a whole can provide a good education to everyone. The ultimate unfairness would be to deny able students a chance to excel because their local grammar school was turned into a comprehensive just like all the others in the area and as a result they were not given the support or the motivation to succeed.

km's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:28

While Kendrick supposedly has seperation based on the 'FSM' data that has not been backed up. It has more students from minority ethnic groups AND it has more pupils where English is not their first language. So it clearly isnt socially segregated.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:39

The FSM data can be accessed here on http://www.education.gov.uk/b0072409/, download the Excel Spreadsheet "Schools Spending all data" and look at FSM rates in Berkshire. Here it is (apologies that my the Academy is actually 39.2% FSM) but elsewhere I think I'm correct:

School FSM
Highdown School and Sixth Form Centre13.4
Reading Girls' School18.2
Reading School0.5
Prospect School23.5
Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School13.5
Kendrick School0.4
John Madejski Academy39.2

km's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 17:52

Thanks, it is muchly appricated
What dates where these applicaple for?

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 18:15

This is last year's figures, 2009-2010 so pretty recent. It's interesting to not how "skewed" the FSM figures are with some schools taking far more than the Reading average (which is 20% if you factor in the primary school figures) and the grammars taking virtually none. As I said before it's virtually "social apartheid".

An idea's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 20:33

I think you are using the term "social apartheid" in a vary blase manner. Considering you have never been to the schools and do not live in Reading, and are basing this statement on one set of figures, I feel it is inappropriate. Apartheid was a horrible period of history for South Africa and the entire world.
You have used the word to try and make an impact; firstly on the radio, which could have been said in the heat of the moment, but now you have re-posted it on the internet. I quoted you in a sarcastic manner earlier in the hope you would realise the impression you gave of the schools was untrue and unacceptable. You know as well as I do Reading is not in the midst of a social apartheid. Personally I feel you should retract the comparison you have made immediately.

Houmous Man's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 18:17

i hate to point it out, but only two school are actually above the average...only one school takes far more

Francis Gilbert's picture
Wed, 25/05/2011 - 18:23

Yes, you're quite right; I meant some schools take far more than the grammars (below or above the average) but it does indicate JM Academy is the one that takes double the Reading average.


Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.