Only 38% agreed the Government should encourage more schools to select by academic ability and build more grammar schools, the latest Times
Survey by YouGov
20% said existing grammar schools should remain but no more should be built while a further 26% said existing grammars should become comprehensive. 17% weren’t sure.
Support for increasing selection and more grammar schools was greatest among the over 60s (51%). However, support fell with every successive generation. Only 29% of 18-24 year-olds, many of whom will vote for the first time next year, support more selection.
29% of this age group would allow existing grammars to stay open but would not support the setting up of any more.
45% of those polled would support building new grammars in areas where they already exist if population growth meant there weren’t enough places for local children who passed the 11+. 36% of 18-24 year-olds agreed with this but slightly more, 38%, opposed.
The setting up of new ‘satellites’ linked to existing grammars but in a different location was supported by 47%. 24% opposed and 29% weren’t sure.
Although only 38% supported the building of new grammar schools, 54% said they would support a new grammar in response to a ‘demonstrated local demand’. This figure was used by The Times
to justify its headline
'Parents say yes to more grammar schools'.
The article (second paragraph) made it clear this would be in response to local demand but the first paragraph said:
‘A new generation of grammar schools across Britain would be backed by more than half of voters, a poll for The Times
But if The Times
had used the figure of just 38% being in favour of the Government encouraging more selection and grammars then this paragraph would have to be rewritten as:
‘A new generation of grammar schools across Britain would be backed by fewer than 40% of voters...’
What the poll didn’t ask, of course, was how many would be in favour of a different kind of education for average/below-average ability children: first tier for the above average and second tier for the majority. But second tier, or secondary moderns, for the 75% doesn’t quite have the same electoral appeal
If you pick the 54% figure and ignore the lower 38%, calling for a return of selection at 11+ might be seen as a vote winner. But it flies in the face of evidence. The OECD* found school systems which don’t segregate children by ability tend to do better in PISA tests. Research
published in March showed that while selection might help those selected, it also increased the effect on socio-economic background. And the earlier selection began, the greater was the difference between schools.
But that wouldn’t matter, grammar school supporters might say, if it gives the brightest children a chance to fly. But when grammar pupils reach university, research
found they are likely to be outperformed by their equally-qualified peers from comprehensives.
If instead of asking about grammar schools, the poll had asked if pollsters were in favour of sorting 11 year-olds into bright and middling/dim, then there might not have been much support. But that’s what selection at 11 means.
*OECD Education at a Glance 2011
5 December 12.12 Professor Chris Husbands outlines the case against selection at 11 here
5 December 12.17 Five reasons why a return to grammar schools is a bad idea here
is the 'demand' for a change of law to allow expansion of grammars. The reason given? It increased social mobility for the bright working class. But it didn't. And it will increase chances for the 'less privileged', the site says. But the existence of a grammar school in Skegness, one of the top three deprived seaside
towns, hasn't helped the 'less privileged' there. Only 4.6% of pupils at Skegness Grammar School in 2013 were eligible for free school meals (FSM). But at Skegness Academy, 28.6% were FSM. The Lincolnshire average for secondary pupils is 17.8%.