Research by Education Datalab highlights ‘slightly higher’ outcomes for grammar school pupils, but pointed out that these need to be balanced against ‘worse outcomes’ for the majority in selective areas who don’t get into grammar schools. The research was carried out due to the fact selection may be back in the news if a pro-grammar leadership candidate takes Theresa May’s job. Datatalab said, “Educational outcomes for pupils attending non-selective schools in areas served by grammar schools tend to be lower than for similar pupils living in non-grammar areas. Although the percentage of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades including GCSE English and maths was the same, the former group tend to do worse on higher-level outcomes. For instance, they were half as likely to achieve five A*-A grades at GCSE or attend a top third university.”
There are 10 candidates for the Conservative Party leadership election and their views on selective education vary. Dominic Raab would almost certainly support more grammar schools, having made selection a cornerstone of his ‘meritocrats manifesto’ policy document in 2014. Boris Johnson has also expressed clear support for grammar schools, although he’s also claimed he didn’t want a “return to a sheep and goats style system.” Sajid Javid attended a comprehensive school but has expressed support for selection saying, “more grammar schools will undoubtedly help.” Michael Gove is known to dislike selection, as is Andrea Leadsham who said she did not support academic selection, preferring greater streaming within schools. The views of Stewart, Hancock, Hunt, Harper and McVey are not clear.
We urge all Labour Party members to get involved with the National Policy Forum consultation that runs until June 30th. We submitted a contribution to the forum looking for suggestions on Local accountability within the National Education Service, with our recent study of who ‘polices’ the 11-plus revealing the chaos of entry to grammar school. We need simple, fair, school admissions with no ‘ability tests. Our forum submission has already had some interesting and supportive comments. Please have your say – particularly if you’re a Labour Party member.
There has been some recent press about two Lincolnshire grammar schools offering primary school outreach days with cookery lessons for girls and woodwork for boys. Clearly this reinforces the reputation that grammar school education is stuck in the 1950s! The DfE and GSHA Memorandum of Understanding encourages these taster days to encourage poorer pupils to apply to selective schools, but there are no checks on the kind of sessions offered. Aside from the awful sexism here, it does seem pointless and a little cruel to offer these sessions to encourage pupils to admire a selective school, when that school will go on to deny most local pupils entry.
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