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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Greg T's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:48

There is a catchment area! It is just bigger than other schools.

Reading resident's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:07

i think by talking about your dad in that way you have profed your wealthy. And im not just older than you, i also life nearby- i deserve an opinion over any of you posh twats from sonning and london

Dan W's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:53

Your view is quite frankly a disgrace to the public of Reading! That you could be so narrow minded, prejudiced and ignorant baffles me! You have no idea whether this person is wealthy or not, nor do you have the means to find out, how can you judge them like that and still have an ounce of self worth? I'm afraid that anybody who discards the right to the opinions of others inherently loses that right themselves.

Mike L's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:20

Maybe you do deserve a grammar school education; firstly it would teach you to spell ('i also life nearby'), secondly you might learn how to make a coherent argument without relying on unsubstantiated claims ('sonning and london') and outright insults ('posh twats').

James Butnorth's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:38

Mate, you are an utter moron. 'Posh twats from sonning and london'? Really? You are an ill advised fool.

You don't know what you are chatting's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 20:57

I come from Whitley! and i go to reading school

Ash Ketchum's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:45

I never could've become a Pokemon Master if I hadn't gone to Reading School!

Jamie's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:21

And you got in because you tried hard, you wanted to be the very best, like no-one ever was.

whataloadofrubbish's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:46

And to reading resident, if you are so unhappy at your kids having to go to a school further away than Reading School is to you, the answer is simple, MOVE HOUSES. There are some lovely cheap houses near Maiden Erleigh and that would solve you transport costs :)

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

I'd like to point out, the only reason why Reading School or Kendrick provides an outstanding education is because those who are in the school are INTELLIGENT and are picked through the 11+ system.

It is the STUDENTS that make a school what it is. Not the school itself.

When will you realise this?

Indeed, good students attract good teachers; many of the teachers at Reading School (where I study) in fact claim the reason to which they teach and are at the school is because of the thriving intellectually stimulating atmosphere that the pupils at Reading School can provide...

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

I attend Reading school with one of my brothers. Another one goes to Maiden Earley. I live several miles away and have a 40 minute journey in. I don't think that whether you can afford to live near a school should determine whether you get in- it seems much fairer to decide it on intelligence. I wasn't tutored for the exam at all and neither were lots of people in my year. The school provides education at a level appropriate for us. If it admitted anyone, good teachers would leave and the quality of teaching would drop, affecting chances for everyone, including my younger brother. I'm really grateful for what the school has done for me and I think to dismantle one of the best schools in the country would be foolish and short sighted.

Douchebag.'s picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:49

My name used to be Gary :(

areallyarrogantposhreadingschoolboy's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:55

let's be honest, the only reason all these parents are complaining is the fact that their own children didn't get into the schools. if your daughter/son went to either reading/kendrick, i highly doubt you'd be complaining at all.
next thing you know people will be complaining that oxbridge should be non-selective.
as a student of reading school, I can tell you that majority of my class aren't even amazingly intelligent, we just work very hard.
those who work hard, deserve better opportunities, so stop complaining and get a grip.

studentatRS's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:55

To all the parents complaining, sorry your kids didnt get in. That doesnt mean the system's wrong, it just means your children wont perform well enough in a grammar school. If anything, selectivity offers more oppurtunities to the poorer members of society. If they are intelligent. Im from a poor background and got in on intelligence, as did the majority of my friends. Without this, i would be in a school like prospect, with little hope for the future. So how can anyone argue we are all rich and arrogant? If anything, Ive experienced more of the social issues in Reading than kids who go to normal schools. So please grow up, just accept that reading schhol is and always will be selective, and thats what makes it unique, its fo those who truely wamt to work. That should not be taken away....

You don't know what you are chatting's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 20:59

Well said dude! Absolutely right

Matt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:56

One final comment. ..
I went to a state primary school which I was not challenged or pushed to my potential. (Please bear in mind my primary school was surround by a council estate wit probably half the pupils with free school meals.)

My parents realised I wasn’t being pushed as much I should be, but they could not afford to send me to a private school.
However, Reading School has given me fantastic opportunities, being around others who think alike and are on the same intellectual level.

If you are against the school, you are depriving many hard working and intelligent children coming from modest backgrounds of an education which they really do deserve.

Tim's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:58

I think they should make the Football League fairer. I live right near the madejski but they wont let me join the team because I "don't have the right skills". Let's hold a ballot to put an end to this prejudice!

You don't know what you are chatting's picture
Fri, 27/05/2011 - 11:55

Yh I live outside Old Trafford but Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't pick me. It is an outrage; I am sure Ollusu Muntagi will agree with me. I say local people for football teams!

Reading School Boy.'s picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 13:59

'I’ve sent this email to the headteachers of both schools. Let’s see if they reply!'
Reading probably wont reply, as we have a principal. if you consulted your Precious Wikipedia a little closer, then maybe youd realise.

'How do you explain the fact that less than 1% of pupils at Reading school are on Free School Meals when the average FSM for Berkshire is 20%, and some schools such as the Academy in Reading have 40% FSM?'
I dare you to call up Mr Weeds (Principal) and arrange a meeting to discuss Refectory arrangements and plans. Thatl be a fun outing for you.

And whilst youre there, you can have a free school meal at the cantine. Oh wait, we dont have one. Just go to either of these schools for goodness sake. You obviously hold some strong views, and anyone from either school will tell you the same... We are clever. We were clever in year 6 too. Its all well and good saying ' let everyone in' or whatever, but as you said earlier, the comp 'down the road' does that. Our school boasts some very successful people. And of course some people would make it big out of comps, but the dynamic of Reading, (and i'm sure if true of kendrick) is such that we do well.

What is the point of this whole debate? It definitely serves as a quality banter source. But really, the people whos kids couldnt get in will get irate and say ITS NOT FAIR, and the people whos kids did get in will say: I like the system, my children are doing well.

And anyway, most people get free school meals as they just steal food from M and S...

Kendrick girl's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:06

We shouldn't become non selective because that would ruin the good results, they are only good because it is selective and has some of the smartest people around...you want your child to go there, buy some practice papers, learn the techniques needed to answer the questions and then you should have what you need to get in. If not then you are too stupid to go there...but believe me when I say some of the teachers at kendrick and reading boys are the same standard as those in state schools, they are made to look better by the pupils willingness to learn and do put in the extra effort at home to learn or revise to earn the good results

Laura's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:12

I second this. Many of the teachers at Kendrick (and I assume other grammar schools) actually offer far less hands on help, prefering instead to let the pupil reach the answer by themselves.

I think most would agree that this approach would not suit the vast majority of students, but it does those at grammar schools.

whataloadofrubbish's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:06

I want to play in the Champions League final on Saturday, shall I ring up Fergie and tell him he is no longer allowed to select the team and that everyone should have a fair chance of playing?

I back myself to stop messi...

Tim's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:08

Way to copy and rewrite my comment.

Reading resident's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:10

Im not gonna coment on this anymore- this is my last comment, obviously you all think your too good for us the locals to acknowledge our views even if we've been lifing in the aria for years. The school admits clever people, i get that, but this website alone has proved these clever people obviously let it go to their heads. I can tell by the fancy words you use that most of you must have pretty expensive backgrounds so dont try to trick me, i aint no mugg. Honestly I think they should boot the whole lot of you out of the school and have you shipped to bloody thailand to be put in a curry cause your no help to the local community or reading as a whole- yiou just pruvide a class of snobby arragant yungsters who no-ones wants.

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

Yes. I bought my vocabulary.

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

yes because using 'fancy words' IS directly related to wealth isn't it...

Laura's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:17

Also, so many girls from my school have run Maths, Latin and Science classes at Katesgrove, a local struggling primary school. I and many others of my friends have all volunteered at various places over the years. One of my friends has been consistently volunteering at RDA for a very long time.

My family income is low enough for me to receive a grant at Uni.

So I really don't think you have any right to call us selfish, snobby or posh.

Greg T's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:18

Good sir, in what ways, may i ask, do you help the community?

Murph's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:19

No mate I live in Calcot and i go to reading school, I don't come from a rich background. Intelligence and vocabulary doesn't mean jack shit about your wealth. You don't know what your talking about, I'm sorry. Also if you say an opinion, you have to expect people to challenge it. That's the way it works.

Dan's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:21

Im sorry but have you read any of the comments above?
I fail to see how we are using fancy posh words, just because their polysylabic (ok thats a long word but theres no other word for it_ and how is that tricking you?
I feel all Reading school boys are very grateful for the opportuinities they are given which is why they are so keen to give back to the local community (again read the posts above) and back to the school community. Hence we are all so supportive of our school and so passionately defending it against this campaign.

P.S "shipped to bloody thailand to be put in a curry" Could you have written a more childish unneccessary comment?

Jamie's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:34

"can tell by the fancy words you use that most of you must have pretty expensive backgrounds" Well, no, that is, again, a product of our education and an indicator of our intelligence. Doubtless if your children were of the caliber required to pass the entrance exam they would also display a good vocabulary and the ability to spell. You have, by your actions here, appeared to be nothing more than a bigoted idiot wounded by his childrens' inability to get into Reading School.

the student's opinion's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:48

1. Learn to spell.

2. Let it go to our heads that we're better than you... it's not gotten to our head, it's simple fact. Try comparing your qualifications to that of the graduates from our school and I can assure you that you will be trumped in every possible way. So yes we think we're better than you... why? Because, quite frankly... we are.

3. You honestly think everyone in our school is rich (by the way... expensive background... grammatically incorrect... just saying)? We do have people who come from cases of disadvantaged backgrounds- it's just they don't make such a big fuss about it because they're decent people. They realise that moaning about having no money doesn't mean that they will get money. They are labouring their way to make a name and fortune for themselves.

I can understand Francis Gilbert's point about our school having a much smaller percentage of people who claim free food etc, but that's not because we are all swimming in money, it's because we had a flawed system, whereby you would have to openly say you're claiming benefits. Our students have a sense of pride, and it is due to this, many do not want to embarrass themselves. I can agree that this is wrong as it denies several students and their families' certain rights, however our school has changed this system, whereby it is now a biometric system, so students can pay without having to prove they are allowed these benefits. Thus, maybe in the future the number will rise?

4. That attitude of yours suggests that you are an utter dickhead who spent his life in misery cause he hasn't been able to achieve anything; instead, I'm guessing you were rejected right from the beginning: you were denied from your preferred primary school, after which you were denied from your preferred secondary school (Reading School perhaps... you seem very emotional about it). After this, you repeatedly tried, however, no matter what you did, you were rejected. Then came college but because you were clearly a dumb shit, you could not achieve the desired grades, so now you spend your life claiming benefits from the government and complaining how the system needs to be changed.

You're right though... it does need to be changed. Changed to get rid of idiotic approaches such as yours. You really think that without students from grammar schools around the country, idiots claiming benefits like you would survive? We will go into the real world with the desired qualifications because we toil for them. We will get the good jobs because we get the right qualifications. We will pay majority of taxes in the future, thus we will probably end up paying for people like you... ironic isn't it?

You think we do nothing for community, but if you'd known your facts, you would have realised what all we achieve in society. We send people to pick up the litter in town, which you probably dropped. We send 6th formers into schools to help with extra curricular which schools would otherwise be unable to provide. We do charity work on a regular basis. We help the local hospices and hospital, by providing money from many events to pay for new medical technology.

Want more examples?

You what?'s picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:25

That was rather rude. If only you could undertsna that we need grammar schools; whether they are in Reading or not makes no difference!

S's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 18:56

is this/are you a joke?

Luke Barratt's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 20:26

'no help to the community'? I think it's not going too far to say that every single one of the people who went to Reading School or Kendrick will end up being more of a help to the community than you'll ever be.

You don't know what you are chatting's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 20:55

We use clever words because we know them Reading Resident. And we are clever enough to spell 'arragant yungssters' right???? :L:LL:L

Kendrick Girl's picture
Sat, 28/05/2011 - 23:18

Oh Reading resident, I'm so glad you've decided not to comment any more. Frankly, reading your posts just tortures my brain. I know it's been said before, but can you PLEASE learn to spell, or at least use spell checker? Surely that's not asking too much...after all spell checker is inbuilt into the computer. Really don't need 'grammar school education' for that. Cheers.


A proud Kendrick girl.

Proving a point's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:26

I'm also loving how in the Reading Residents origional point were he says we think we're better than him he spelt area with an 'i'. I end my case.

Dr Akbarian's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:15

Why you select? You no selection bird?

Murph's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:15

Just to add to the chorus, I too attend Reading School. I went to a state primary school and would have gone to Hugh Faringdon comprehensive if I didn't get into our grammar school. All of my friends received no private tutoring (like me) and we all got in on our academic merit, not our incomes or wealth. This article seems to be 'reverse snobbery', assuming children who attend grammar schools are posh and snobbish.

Luke Mason's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:21

As it currently stands, we have around 120 places per year for students. Around 600 year 6's turn up on entrance test days to compete for these 120 places - fairly tough odds. If you were to make it non-selective, i'm sure that many more year 6's a would seek to gain a place here, as we do have a excellent record for results etc. My point would be that how, when 600 or more local boys (if you would use a catchment method) apply for the 120 places, would you allocate who got a place and who didn't. Demand for places will always exceed the number of places available and personally using academic tests seems to be a reasonable way to allocate them. The school has neither the space nor the resources to create more space to expand the number of students in each year, so at some point some selection criteria other than postcode must come into play - in my opinion academics seems to be more reasonable than any other method!

For the sake of it's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:21

*Well, wasn't, isn't, two, you're, I, school, arrogant, stakes.

Laura's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:21

Mmmmm. Steak.

Laura's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:22

Would make more sense if he hadn't deleted his comment.

Jamie's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:42

Yes, we can delete your comments and chose to do so to that one only, leaving all your other pointless comments intact, personal attacks, social and academic bigotry and all.

An idea's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 14:45

Well perhaps Francis shouldn't have started this all by comparing our school to the awful apartheid regime in South Africa on the Radio and then again on the internet. I still haven't seen an apology for that highly inappropriate comment. Perhaps this website will refrain from attacking individual schools in the future?

nAD's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:10

I agree. Personal attacks and bias are not warranted. Can you have an open discussion? Seemingly not.
This is content filtering; warping.

localschoolnetwork is a mess and a disgrace.
How can you be so adamant that you support local schools when you are only supporting 'the local schools that you prefer'

Devon Sanders's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:26

I just listened to Francis’ radio interview and I just don’t understand what everyone’s problem is with 0.4% of us getting FSM?! Just because why do not apply for Free School Meals DOES NOT mean that we’re all bangtidy and got money growing in our gardens, it means that our parents have enough money to pay for food for their children. Excuse me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it part of a parents duty to provide for food for their children? I understand the certain circumstances that parents find themselves in where they cannot pay for meals but honestly, why don’t you come down to the school and I will personally give you a tour myself. WE DO NOT HAVE A CANTEEN/CAFETERIA/WHATEVER! We have a small ‘tuck shop’ with prices that are sky high! So most people bring packed lunches, including myself because they are so much cheaper!

Fiona Millar's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:15

Clearly the issue here is that Reading School is not really a local school since it rejects local residents in favour of pupils from much further away. We do not filter comment by the way, but we do trash abusive, racist, or personal comments that have no part to play in a sensible debate.

Andy Smithers's picture
Thu, 26/05/2011 - 15:24


The only way you will get truly local schools is that if every school had an admission policy of straight line from the door. Any other method will result in children from further away getting in.
Following your logic it would follow that any school that does not have a straight line from the door admissions policy is not a local school ?
What would your preferred admissions policy be that would guarantee a local school which complies to your logic ?


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