12 of the 16 grammars ‘chosen’ for growth not inspected for 8 years or more

Janet Downs's picture


Twelve of the sixteen outstanding grammar schools ‘chosen’ for expansion haven’t been inspected for eight years or more.  Five* were last inspected in 2008.  And five** haven’t had a full inspection since 2007.

Old judgements not fit for purpose

Inspection reports from many years ago are not fit for purpose.  Schools minister Nick Gibb doesn’t agree.  He’s refused to lift the exemption from further inspections granted to outstanding schools.  

Despite having outdated inspection ratings, education secretary Damian Hinds boasted that ‘thousands of new places [will be] created in outstanding schools’ when he named the sixteen grammar schools awarded a chunk of the £50m selective schools expansion fund.

Extra selective places won’t be available for all children

But these thousands of extra places won’t be available for all children.  They will only be available to those who pass the 11+. 

Hinds says the schools were chosen because they put in plans to increase the number of pupil premium children attending their schools.  This could be done by, say, reducing the 11+ pass rate for disadvantaged children or providing outreach to primary schools.

Average proportion of FSM pupils in the sixteen schools is 1.9%

The average proportion of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) in the chosen schools is just 1.9%.  Increasing the proportion from such a low base is unlikely to match the proportion of FSM children locally.  In any case, grammar schools only accept pupils who score highly in selection tests.  Even if the pass rate is lowered for FSM pupils, they won’t be reduced so low that ‘not bright’ children would get a place.

Children who don’t pass the selection test, whether disadvantaged or not, will NOT gain a place in a selective school.

Grammars expanded before selective schools growth fund introduced

The education secretary implies grammar schools had been unable to grow before the selective schools expansion scheme was introduced.  This is not true.  In Kent, for example, the number of grammar school places has already increased.     In Lincolnshire, Bourne Grammar increased its pupil admission number as soon as it became an academy.    It has received over £1m for new buildings and developmental work – none of it from the £50m selective schools expansion fund.

Hinds says that ‘one of the stand-out features of this country’s education system is its diversity’ and selective schools are an important part’.  But a diverse system which includes schools able to choose which pupils attend is a discriminatory one.  Schools funded by the state should be open to all.



*John Hampden Grammar (Bucks), Kendrick School (Reading), Queen Mary’s Grammar (boys, Walsall), St Michael’s Catholic Grammar (Barnet), Rochester Grammar

**Chelmsford County High, Colyton Grammar (Devon), Lawrence Sheriff (Rugby), Queen Mary’s High (girls, Walsall), Sir Thomas Rich’s (Gloucestershire),

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John Mountford's picture
Sun, 09/12/2018 - 18:12

On this occasion, Janet, I am a little confused at what it is exactly you are saying. You write, "Even if the pass rate is lowered for FSM pupils, they won’t be reduced so low that ‘not bright’ children would get a place." I'm not sure if you agree with lowering the pass rate so as to allow not so bright children a place. If this is the case, then I have to disgaree. It isn't that I support the existence of grammar schools, it is just that, while they exist it doesn't make sense to cook the books in this way just to try and make the policy more morally acceptable.It is my view that if the decision is taken to rank children according to their cognitive ability, those below a certain threshohld would very likely struggle if they were admitted. It is a view I express entirely for the good of any child placed in this position for the sake of making what I see as a flawed system appear more palitable. 

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 10/12/2018 - 10:09

John - The 11+ is meant to sort the allegedly 'bright' from the allegedly 'not bright'.  Any reduction in pass rate could capture pupils at the bottom end of 'bright'.  These could struggle.

But this already happens with the 11+, a test which can be passed following preparation and tutoring.  Many of those tutored would likely have passed anyway, but some would not.   

All borderline pupils selected for grammar schools suffer if they struggle.    It could be argued that any selection, sorting, streaming, whatever, has a negative effect on those in the bottom sets in comprehensive schools.


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