Selective education guide – The Wirral

BACKGROUND

There are six grammar schools in The Wirral which educate a high proportion of higher attaining students from the area.

Check out our map of selective schools in England to find out more about these schools. The map gives the percentage of disadvantaged pupils, the percentage of pupils attending a grammar school who are likely to have come from a fee-paying ‘prep’ school, and the relative selectivity of every grammar school in The Wirral. View the map HERE.

THE PROBLEMS

In every area where academic selection still exists there are some common problems. For example,

  • Grammar schools admit fewer disadvantaged pupils than non-selective schools. Grammar schools are also more likely to admit pupils from more advantaged families.

 

  • A significant number of pupils previously educated in fee-paying ‘prep’ schools take up grammar school places.

 

  • Tuition for the 11-plus ‘buys advantage’. Better-off families can afford private coaching while poorer families may feel compelled to pay for tuition they can ill afford.

 

  • Sitting the 11-plus is stressful and can damage a child’s confidence.

 

  • The 11-plus has been proven to lack accuracy because it takes place while children are still developing academically.

 

  • Research shows the proportion of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) attending grammar schools is small. For many children with additional learning needs such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorders, the 11-plus test is inaccessible. The same children often perform very well academically outside a test situation.

 

  • Grammar schools change the pupil profile of other schools in the area. If a large number of higher attaining pupils attend grammar schools then surrounding schools find themselves with a pupil population which is skewed, with a disproportionate amount of moderate and lower attaining pupils and pupils with additional learning needs This impacts on subject choice (fewer subjects available than at a grammar school) and teacher recruitment. Non-selective schools in areas with grammar schools cannot be ‘true’ comprehensives and tend to underperform compared to comprehensive schools.

 

  • GCSE results in areas with grammar schools are on a par with, or worse, than areas that have only comprehensive schools. Research has shown that children who attend selective schools would achieve broadly the same results if they attended a non-selective school.

The percentage of pupils attending grammar schools in The Wirral

A very high proportion of pupils in The Wirral attend selective schools, with 31% of local pupils attending grammar schools. This means there will be a significant impact on surrounding schools.

The Department for Education classifies The Wirral as a ‘highly selective area.’ Although the DfE acknowledges that selective areas such as The Wirral are offering a different type of education than other areas of England, the impact of a local authority educating its pupils in an alternative education system is never scrutinised. The lack of checks and reporting requirements means the full impact of a selective school system cannot be fully understood. There are many aspects of selection which remain shrouded in secrecy.

A social divide in The Wirral’s secondary schools

In common with all grammar schools, disadvantaged pupils are underrepresented in Wirral grammar schools. As a result, non-selective schools educate a far greater proportion of pupils on free school meals. 

Many academics argue that a selective education system risks creating the kind of divisions which go beyond the schools themselves and can affect the wider community more generally.

The 11-plus damages children’s confidence

Many children feel demotivated by a ‘fail’ in the 11-plus. We believe all children should start secondary school feeling positive about their academic ability. As is proven by the successful schools in most areas of the country, there is simply no need to divide children with an old fashioned and discredited test.

11-plus tests in The Wirral

The majority of Wirral grammar schools use the council’s 11-plus test. Test companies will not share information on the accuracy of these tests at predicting academic achievement. A study has found that 22% of children who sit selective tests attained GCSE results could not be said to reflect their 11-plus result. For example, some who failed the 11-plus went on the do very well in their GCSEs while some who passed the test did not perform well in their GCSEs. A significant proportion of children are still developing academically at 10 years of age, the age of the majority of the children who sit the test.

Results are poor for disadvantaged pupils in The Wirral

In areas with a high proportion of selective schools, a ‘secondary modern’ effect is created. Non-selective schools in selective areas educate a disproportionate number of disadvantaged and moderate and lower attaining pupils. Performance therefore tends to be lower in these schools than for comprehensives in non-selective areas.

11-plus tuition businesses profit from anxious parents

Although some 11-plus test companies claim that their tests are ‘tutor proof’ most parents believe otherwise. Parents can spend thousands of pounds preparing children for 11-plus tests. Test tuition means the test isn’t a level playing field. Children from more comfortably off backgrounds are more likely to be have received coaching and are therefore more likely to pass the test and gain a grammar school place.

Wirral schools are not true comprehensive schools

31% of all The Wirral’s secondary school pupils attend a grammar school. This is a significant proportion of pupils which means the impact on the pupil population of surrounding schools is also significant.

Although the DfE acknowledges that selective areas such as The Wirral are offering a different type of education than most other areas of England, the impact of a local authority educating its pupils in an alternative education system is never scrutinised. The lack of checks and reporting requirements means the full impact of a selective school system cannot be fully understood. There are many aspects of selection which remain shrouded in secrecy.

More information

You can read more information about The Wirral’s grammar schools and the 11-plus, on the Wirral council website, or visit individual grammar school websites.

Want to end the 11-plus in The Wirral?

Join Comprehensive Future’s campaign to end the 11-plus.

JOIN COMPREHENSIVE FUTURE NOW

To learn about the data sources for our interactive map and selective education guides click here. If you spot any errors in the data for any area, please let us know.