The Labour Party’s National Policy Forum is accepting submissions until July 8th, and we urge supporters to get involved and propose that Labour phase out 11-plus testing and grammar schools. You can create an account to submit and comment on policy as either a Labour member or a guest. You’ll find the ‘Public Services That Work From the Start’ commission, which features education, HERE.
Comprehensive Future’s submission is below. You might want to adapt some of these points, or you can simply make a short submission to ask the Labour Party to phase out academic selection. You can also vote for Comprehensive Future’s submission by clicking the ‘vote’ button you’ll find HERE.
Comprehensive Future believes the Labour Party should create a fully comprehensive school system
There are 163 grammar schools in England, with around 19% of England’s secondary school pupils affected by academic selection, attending either a selective school or a de facto secondary modern.
Labour has clear policy in place to suggest it wants no new grammar schools, but it has not yet developed policy to phase out grammar schools where they still exist.
A Private Members Bill was recently introduced by Baroness Blower, to show how ending selection might be accomplished. We feel this could be a straightforward process involving consultation with affected schools and Local Authorities’ cooperation.
Here are some of the reasons it’s important to end the 11-plus.
Grammar schools give benefits to wealthier families, and disadvantages to poorer families. Just 5% of pupils attending grammar school recieve free school meals, while the average in non-selective schools in selective areas is 23%. Grammar schools admit high proportions of pupils from more advantaged families, with 11% of grammar school pupils attending a fee-paying primary school before attending a selective school.
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.
There is a great deal of peer-reviewed research showing the problems with selection and benefits of comprehensive education.
We hope Labour will take the opportunity to form policy to end the 11-plus, working to improve education outcomes in the areas of the country that still use this outdated test.