‘Grammar Schools : Who will get in?’
A new 3 part documentary series exploring selection begins on BBC 2 on 29th May at 9pm. It looks at the stress of pupils trying to pass the 11-plus and the different school experiences offered by a grammar school and secondary modern. We hope this series highlights the reality of life in a selective area and makes people think. If you missed the first episode it can be viewed in BBC iPlayer here, and our chair Melissa Benn wrote a review for the Guardian which can be read here.
Grammar school’s using building condition fund to expand
Our research has shown that grammar schools are disproportionately benefiting from Condition Improvement Funding to build classroom expansions. This fund is predominately designed to repair classroom buildings, but funding is occasionally awarded to expand school buildings. In the last two years more than half the secondary school projects involving new teaching buildings were awarded to selective schools, despite the fact there are only 163 grammar schools compared to more than 3,200 non-selective schools.
We are awaiting a Freedom of Information request to find out how much cash grammars were given, but it does appear that many selective schools were expanding using this funding stream before Damian Hinds awarded them £50 million. Read more about this here.
In an evidence session, Nick Gibb spoke to the Education Select Committee about the £50 million fund to expand grammar schools. He was given a hard time by a few of the MPs who asked why selective schools were being singled out for special treatment. Gibb claimed that the grammar schools who were applying for funds would try to increase their proportion of disadvantaged pupils, using methods such as lowering 11-plus scores. It seems highly unlikely these plans will admit many more children from poorer backgrounds, and the vast majority of disadvantaged children attend secondary modern schools which do not have any funding privileges!
We are thrilled that Michael Rosen has become our new patron. He’s such a passionate advocate for comprehensive education, and we feel sure that he will help us further our cause and help people understand the damage caused by an 11-plus test divide. He recorded an interview which explained why he believes selection is a bad idea, watch it here.
New research shows that grammar school pupils gain no social or emotional advantages
Recent studies have suggested that grammar schools only outperform non-selective schools academically because they select well, rather than because they add value, and they do not increase social mobility. Researchers from UCL’s Institute of Education examined a range of social and emotional outcomes important to parents and children when choosing a school, they concluded that attending a selective school had no positive impact upon teenagers’ attitudes towards school, self-esteemor aspirations. This research dispels the myths that grammar schools increase the confidence and ambition of their pupils.
We made a video that explains how the government’s £50 million selective school expansion fund might be used to create new satellite schools miles from the original building. Watch the video below.
Crowdfunder gets off to a good start
Our fundraiser has reached more than 30% of its target, and we’re very grateful to everyone who’s donated so far. Please consider donating if you can, we’re raising money to fight ‘annexe’ grammar schools and to campaign to change political will and end selection. Learn more here.