Toby Young has called for UTCs and studio schools to operate selection tests, writing about this idea in a report for the Centre for Policy Studies. He said, “The “poor performance” of UTCs and studio schools is “largely due to the fact that they cannot select pupils but must take all-comers.”
Toby Young’s words reveal a school system so obsessed with its varied structures and performance measures that “all-comers” with their average results are unwelcome in our schools. Thankfully plenty of people are prepared to fight these awful ideas!
BBC research on the extent of grammar school expansion has revealed that there are 11,000 more grammar school pupils in England now than in 2010. The study showed that by 2021, the number of extra places created will be equivalent to 24 new grammar schools. This expansion is pressing ahead without the DfE checking the impact on other schools.
The government’s selective education expansion plan claims grammar schools will admit more disadvantaged pupils. So we submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to grammar schools asking how many pupils were admitted through admission policies aimed at poorer pupils. We were expecting the numbers to be low, but the replies shocked even us! We found that 22 grammar schools with priority admissions for poorer pupils admitted no disadvantaged pupils through the criteria. Most schools admitted just 1 or 2 pupils and the policies were rarely boosting the numbers admitted. These policies are being used to justify expansion and suggest selection will improve social mobility, but it’s simply not true. The vast majority of pupils passing the 11-plus test are from middle class families and many will have benefitted from test tuition. Priority admission policies do not work because low numbers of disadvantaged pupils pass the 11-plus test.
Our chair, Melissa Benn, set out her vision for a future without selection and a host of ideas for education policy in a recent article in the Guardian. This piece is full of good ideas about rethinking schools policy.
We are busy planning fringe events at the party conferences and will bring you full details soon – please save the dates and join us if you can. We will be at the Lib Dem conference in Brighton on September 17th, the Labour party conference in Liverpool on September 24th, and at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham on October 1st. All the events are at 6.30pm and no pass is needed to attend as they’re not in the official conference zones. Hope to see you there!
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