News round-up: 11-plus inequality, pro-selection appointments at the DfE, new campaign for more grammar schools

11-plus inequality will be worse due to the pandemic

Melissa Benn wrote in the Guardian about the problems faced by poorer families if the 11-plus goes ahead as usual in September.  Melissa spoke to an 11-plus tuition business, a charity that helps Kent disadvantaged pupils, a teacher, and a low-income parent. Her research made it clear that wealthy families are highly likely to gain advantage in the 11-plus this year. This test is always unfair, but the disruption to children’s education caused by closed schools makes it more unfair than ever. The lockdown means  many children will fall behind at school, while wealthy families are hiring online tutors to teach 11-plus test skills. There is clearly no easy answer to this problem, especially while we have a government committed to maintaining selective admissions. Read Melissa’s excellent article HERE.

Wage inequality is the price society pays for grammar schools

Torsten Bell wrote for the Observer about research showing earnings are more unequal for people educated in selective authorities. Bell, the Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation, said, “The grammars debate is usually about who gets in and the impact on social mobility. The evidence falls heavily on the “grammar schools are a disaster for social mobility” side of the argument. Only 2.5% of grammar school pupils are on free school meals v 13.2% in all state schools. And still the idea comes back.” Read the article in full HERE.

DfE appoints pro-selection director

Nick Timothy, former chief of staff  to Theresa May, has been appointed as a non-executive director at the Department for Education. The former head of the New Schools Network has been described as a ‘grammar school super fan’ and once told the Telegraph that the law preventing new grammar schools was “limiting the number of good schools.” He is widely assumed to have been behind May’s failed bid to create new selective schools.

Gavin Williamson has also recently appointed a pro-selection advocate as an advisor. Ian Mansfield will advise Gavin Williamson on post-18 education and skills, but in 2019 he wrote the widely criticised HEPI paper suggesting grammar schools boosted university chances for poorer pupils. HEPI has since published a paper critical of Mansfield’s research methods and findings. 

Conservative Friends of  Grammar Schools

A new pro-selection campaign group has launched on Twitter, the Conservative Friends of Grammar Schools bills itself as a grassroots campaign, ‘fighting to bring back grammar schools under a Conservative Government.’ The timing of the launch was criticised by one school leader in Schools Week. Jonny Utley of the Education Alliance said, “Today I let myself be triggered by the launch of a new group promoting the expansion of grammar schools. Politics aside, whoever thinks a national crisis is the right time to propose widespread system reform – when schools are collectively doing some of the most important work they’ve ever done – really is deluded.” We have pointed out to the group that their slogan ‘bring back grammar schools’ makes no sense – grammar schools are already here and selection damages children’s opportunities in a quarter of local authorities.

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2020-04-27T12:44:40+00:00