New study shows school choice doesn’t make parents happier

A study by the Social Market Foundation suggests that a greater choice of schools doesn’t necessarily make parents happier. In Scotland children are assigned to local schools and families are more likely to be satisfied by the outcome. Parents in England were more likely to express frustration and disempowerment, with several calling the current school choice policies an “illusion”, in surveys and interviews conducted for the research published in the Journal of Social Policy.  READ MORE HERE

Grammar schools are expanding by taking pupils who fail the 11-plus

The Guardian’s Fran Abrams wrote an in-depth article about the expansion of grammar schools. It found that while grammars had expanded the number of pupils sitting the 11-plus did not keep pace. This suggests that selective schools might need to accept pupils through appeals, many without an 11-plus pass. The article also interviewed a secondary modern head, who pointed out the difficulties faced by schools in selective areas. “Ofsted tends to judge grammar schools as “outstanding”, he says, but actually their high attainment scores are driven by their intakes rather than by their excellence.” READ MORE

A call for a review of school admissions

Mike Ion, education director of Avanti Schools Trust, writote for Schools Week arguing persuasively that Katharine Birbalsingh the new chair of the social mobility commission, should look at overt and covert selective admissions.He said, “England, remains almost unique among OECD countries in the degree to which the allocation of a secondary school place determines a child’s future life chances. ”  READ MORE HERE

Why do politicians avoid ending the 11-plus?

Fiona Millar interviewed Sir Tim Brighouse for the Guardian. His new book describes a landscape where education policy is made based on the whims of ever-changing education secretaries with a desire for quick wins. “Ideas get abandoned or shoved into a “too difficult box”…Dealing with the archaic system of grammar schools and the 11-plus test is just one example of this.” It’s an excellent piece with lots of insights relevant to our campaign. READ MORE

Grammar school results confuse the press

The Times and Sunday Times has released what they describe as, “the definitive ranking of schools in the UK for 2022.” The Times Parent Power league tables, based on raw GCSE results, unsurprisingly show the country’s ‘best’ schools for 2022 are all selective grammar schools. Sadly this terrible piece of journalism is reproduced in local newspapers across the country, who unthinkingly tell parents the ‘best’ local schools are grammar schools.

Perhaps the Times’ education editors could look at Gorard & Siddiqui (2018) Grammar schools in England: New analysis of social segregation and academic outcomes? This paper says, “Grammar schools use examinations to select children aged 10 or 11 who are predicted to do well in subsequent examinations at age 16. They select well, as evidenced by the high raw-score outcomes of these pupils five years later. This seems to confuse some commentators, members of the public and even policy-makers who assume that these good results are largely due to what happens in the school rather than the nature of the children selected. This is not a correct interpretation, as has long been pointed out in the sociology of education (Heyns 1974).”

The Times is certainly confused.

Grammar school disadvantaged pupil percentages are about to go up (but it doesn’t mean grammar school ‘fair access’ plans are working!)

The NFER reports that, ‘recent and anticipated changes to free school meal (FSM) eligibility will make it ‘almost impossible’ to track the attainment of disadvantaged pupils relative to their non-disadvantaged peers over the next decade.’ The changes mean that more pupils are classed as FSM, and with slightly higher attainment. This means that the proportion of FSM pupils accessing grammar schools is bound to rise, and it will not be viable to look at comparisons from previous years. Many grammars are implementing priority policies for Pupil Premium pupils, and it will be difficult to assess how effective the policies are. READ MORE HERE


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