The father of the 11-plus: The sorry tale of Cyril Burt

Cyril Burt’s idea that intelligence is fixed, unchangeable and set at 10 years old, was discredited in the 1970s. Yet 163 grammar schools still promote this idea through their continued use of the 11-plus test. John Edmond’s excellent article details the arrogant man whose fake research inspired the creation of selective education.

Learn more about CF’s Chair

Dr.Nuala Burgess, was featured in the TES recently, and she spoke about her passion for social justice and her life-changing experience of comprehensive education. We’re very lucky to have her leading CF.


The selective schools that stop being selective when it suits them

The process of entry to grammar school is already secretive and arbitrary, and our investigation into grammar school appeal panels shows grammar schools admit hundreds of pupils who do not pass the 11-plus. In many cases schools find themselves with empty desks and lower standards to fill places for financial reasons. One Kent selective school admitted 78 pupils who had failed to pass the test. It takes confidence for any parent to face a panel and claim a child is grammar school material, and it seems likely that the 750+ pupils accessing selective schools this way are the children of well-educated middle-class parents. The TESTelegraph and Mail covered the story and full details are on our website.

Another £50 million for grammar schools

The deadline has now passed for applications to the 2019 Selective School Expansion Fund. Two schools are bidding to open a ‘satellite’ grammar school near Herne Bay in Kent, and the Independent featured the problems with the proposed new school. Comprehensive Future’s data scientist, James Coombs analysed schools data to show Kent’s “plan” for 25% selective places is long since abandoned, with local places now up to 40%.

More ‘satellite’ grammar schools

Another Kent council is hatching plans to bypass the law and build a ‘satellite’ school. Medway council plan to lobby MPs and the DfE for a legally dubious new grammar school.  Labour councillors called for a review of local secondary education but their points were dismissed. Councils seem to set themselves up as education experts, refusing to ever look at any evidence about selection’s problems. The Medway 11-plus is one of the most problematic in the county, it has a bias towards girls, the council regularly miscalculate the % they select, and the appeals and review processes cause problems. None of which seems to bother the council who run the test, they just want a new grammar school.

Some interesting education events

There are two forthcoming events about the idea of ‘ability’ in literature, one at Conway Hall, London on 12th May and one at Morley College in London on 5th July. Another interesting event explores inequalities caused by private education, this event is hosted by the Fabian Society and the SEA and takes place in the Houses of Parliament on June 12th. An event at York University on 15th May involves Dr David Jesson of the Department of Education in a Research on Social Justice and Education Seminar. This explores ‘Government’s claim to improve social mobility by expanding grammar schools through admitting more ‘disadvantaged’ pupils’

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