Comprehensive Future challenge Grammar School Heads Association

The Grammar School Heads Association has been publicly challenged to provide evidence that grammar schools do no damage to neighbouring schools.

Comprehensive Future, along with representatives of groups from six selective areas, have written to the Grammar School Heads Association saying:

For educationalists and academics alike, the accepted wisdom of the past forty years has been that any small advantages conferred by grammar schools to the minority of pupils who gain places are more than outweighed by the wider detriment suffered by the majority of children. The onus is surely therefore on those advocating an expansion of grammar schools to present new evidence demonstrating beyond doubt that this wisdom is wrong. Until you do this, it is difficult to conclude anything other than that you are pursuing a policy rooted in narrow ideology alone.

Their comments came after heads held a number of meetings with the Secretary of State and Department of Education officials to discuss expanding selective education. Minutes from the controversial meetings, outlined in the heads association spring newsletter, included a statement: ‘People who are philosophically opposed to selection, keep saying it damages the education of other pupils but present little or no evidence to support this claim.

Comprehensive Future and its supporters point to widespread evidence proving a net negative impact for pupils in grammar school areas. The letter lists fourteen reports that prove any small advantage conferred on a minority of pupils attending grammar schools were outweighed by the wider detriment suffered by the majority of children.

The evidence clearly illustrates four key facts. Disadvantaged children achieve worse results in grammar school areas; grammar schools have a detrimental impact on nearby schools; grammar school entrance exams discriminate against children from certain backgrounds, including high ability children – and attempts at creating so-called ‘tutor proof’ tests have failed; selection exacerbates social and racial divisions.

Rebecca Hickman, Vice Chair of Comprehensive Future, said: “Whenever evidence is published showing the negative impact of selection, grammar schools heads look determinedly in the other direction. Numerous reports from academics, think tanks and others, based on official data, show how the majority of children lose out in a selective system. It is shameful that government ministers and their cheerleaders are so fixated on grammar school folklore, that they are prepared to entirely neglect the interests of these children.”

The full letter to the Grammar School Heads Association is available here.

Notes for Editors

Representatives of the following local groups in grammar school areas signed the letter:

Local Equal Excellent (Buckinghamshire)

Kent Education Network

Transform Reading and Kendrick

Excellent Education for Everyone (Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead)

Equal Excellent Lincs

Trafford Residents for an Inclusive Education Service

About Comprehensive Future

Comprehensive Future is a non-party organisation committed to phasing out all selective tests as a way of determining entry to secondary schools. The organisation, established in 2003, supports the establishment of a high quality, inclusive comprehensive system.