Focusing on opening new grammar schools is ‘an unnecessary distraction’, says Neil Carmichael, MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, a cross-party group of MPs.
He was speaking as the Committee’s report summarising the evidence check on grammar schools was published. This followed an evidence session in November 2016 which covered issues such as admissions, testing, measurement of academic success and the impact on non-selective schools in selective areas.
The Government ‘must demonstrate that creating a wave of new grammar schools will help close the attainment gap between poorer children and their better-off peers’, the Committee says. Government attention should not just focus on disadvantaged children in selective schools but ‘within the wider school system’.
‘The Government has 'yet to prove the case’ for setting up new selective schools, Carmichael said. The Government’s attention should be on equipping all young people with skills needed for future employment. If it is dedicated to increasing specialisation in England’s schools then ministers should make it clear how this ‘meets the aims of the Industrial Strategy and the goal of an economy that works for all’.
The Committee also said the Government hasn’t demonstrated how admission tests for selective schools could be devised so they were ‘immune to gaming, or down to the ability to pay’.
The report follow the revelation that any new grammars would be for the top 10% of the ability range only and not the top 25% which is creamed off by existing grammars.
EXTRA 2.OOpm Sam Freedman, Executive Director at Teach First and former Gove adviser sums up the Committee's report brilliantly on Twitter: 'It's politely brutal.'