The Times looked at Boris Johnson’s plans to increase school funding and found that grammar schools will be among the big winners. The study found that more than 90% of schools receiving a boost of more than £100 a year per pupil are in Conservative seats in areas such as Essex, the southwest, Kent and the shires. Schools in the north of England are set to lose out, and the cash has been criticised as an “election bribe” by some opposition MPs.
These are politically uncertain times but Comprehensive Future is determined to keep lobbying to point out the problems with selection. We’ll be attending the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences later this month, with a great line-up of speakers making a case for comprehensive education. The events our both outside the main conference zones, so any supporters are welcome. Check out the details here.
Schools rated outstanding will no longer be exempt from inspections by Ofsted, and this news will have a significant impact on grammar schools as 80% of selective schools have the top rating. More than three in five (63 per cent) of “outstanding” grammar schools have not been inspected for six or more years, compared to just over a third (36 per cent) of “outstanding” non-selective schools. It is clearly high time that selective schools receive proper scrutiny, rather than being rated by a review many years ago. Grammar school Ofsted ratings are particularly controversial given the fact schools with low proportions of deprived pupils are more likely to be given the top rating.
The EDSK think tank has criticised academy trusts, claiming academies are more likely to fail to meet their responsibilities for running a fair admissions system, often by not accepting vulnerable pupils or by circumventing the schools admissions code. Their report proposes a hybrid school system with academies and local authority schools operating side by side with reforms to both school structures. We called for a review of school admissions earlier in the year, and agree with the think tank that no school schould be its own admission authority. We would welcome steps to return the control of school admissions to local authorities or another independent democratic body.
Comprehensive Future met Ian Widdows, the founder of the NASM, and learned about some of the challenges faced by community schools in selective areas. These schools are often considered to be just the same as comprehensive schools, but we know this is not the case, and the fact they are little talked about makes it harder for people in selective areas to speak out about selection. We are grateful to Ian for raising the profile of secondary modern schools.
The 11-plus test takes place in the first few weeks of September in most selective areas. It’s clear that this must give an advantage to children who spend the summer holiday practising test papers, while those who have no parental help are or paid tuition are less likely to succeed. James Coombs describes the secrecy around 11-plus scoring in this article. To see how the children feel about this awful test watch this short clip from the BBC. It’s heartbreaking to think some children believe they will not be achieve success if they fail this short, flawed, test.
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