A number of local groups have launched campaigns to highlight the problems with grammar schools expanding through the £50 million Selective School Expansion Fund. Bucks campaign group Local Equal Excellent has launched a petition to oppose the expansion of John Hampden grammar school in High Wycombe, which it claims, has ‘a consistently poor record on improving access for disadvantaged’ and has not considered the impact of the expansion plans which will ‘reduce the academic and social diversity’ of nearby schools.
Jo Smith of Excellent Education for Everyone in Windsor and Maidenhead – the borough represented by the Prime Minister in Parliament – is campaigning to protect the area’s local comprehensive schools. According to Smith, “Despite the complete void of evidence that grammar schools drive social mobility, this government seems intent on throwing money at them. As grammar schools expand on either side of Maidenhead, there is a real risk that our fantastic comprehensive schools will effectively become secondary moderns.’
Smith adds, ‘It’s astonishing that the Prime Minister would pull the rug from beneath schools in her own constituency in this way. We hope she will see the light and join us in supporting fair funding for all schools, not just a select few.”
The TRAK group in Reading, is criticizing Kendrick school’s expansion, claiming that the school does not represent its community as it admits only 2% of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds while the proportion in Reading is 32%.
James Coombs of TRAK said: “Everyone knows children are tutored to get through the test. If Kendrick are serious about increasing access to disadvantaged girls they need to drastically change the way they choose who to admit. All the research shows grammar schools have no overall effect on outcomes but Theresa May insists on pushing ahead with this outdated policy any way she can.
“At a time when all Reading schools are desperately underfunded, this money shouldn’t just go to providing places for affluent girls from Slough, Newbury and Basingstoke etc. John Kendrick left his fortune to educate the poor, leading the establishment of the school which bears his name. The DfE need to be held to account to ensure this funding is for disadvantaged children and the school’s governing body need to be held to account to ensure they carry on John Kendrick’s legacy for helping the less well off.”
Melissa Benn, chair of Comprensive Futiure, said, “11-plus tests make most children feel like failures at 10 years old and expanding selection will clearly damage schools in surrounding areas. The government should listen to evidence and fund good schools that work for everyone not schools that create a divide and problems for the majority of pupils.”
Sign the TRAK petition here:
The LEE petition can be supported here:
LEE have also started a petition opposing the expansion of Wycombe High School https://www.change.org/p/damian-hinds-mp-parliament-uk-stop-wycombe-high-school-s-expansion-plans