Comprehensive Future has discovered that one in five of England’s grammar schools, thirty-five selective schools, are preparing bids for the government’s £50 million Selective School Expansion Fund. If all the applications are approved it will mean the schools taking an additional 1089 pupils annually, amounting to 5445 pupils over five years – an expansion equivalent to seven new selective schools. Further expansions are likely over the next three years.
Melissa Benn, chair of Comprehensive Future said, “Parliament has declared that there should be no more selective schools and it is clear that if the issue were put to a vote in Parliament again, this would remain the case. Yet the government is set on expanding our remaining 163 grammars, directing much-needed money, at a time of funding crisis in education, to their plan.’
If these, and further expansions, go ahead, we will see significant changes to our education landscape. Expanding selective school places imbalances local school communities and causes serious problems for nearby secondary schools. They not only lose per-pupil funding but find the balance of pupils at their schools changing so creating de facto secondary moderns.”
Headteacher Liam Collins, from Uplands Community College, an East Sussex secondary school, said “ I am dismayed to find that a nearby Kent grammar school is seeking to offer additional ‘out of area placements’ taking pupils from my local area. This move is both unnecessary and damaging when we know that comprehensive schools are successful in helping students achieve high outcomes and move onto some of the best universities.’
Collins adds, ‘Comprehensives benefit everyone in their community, while grammar schools are almost 100% socially engineered from the 11-plus test, where parents pay huge tutor fees to help their children gain access to these selective schools.”
Melissa Benn said, “Most parents do not want a return to a grammar and secondary modern divide. Yet this government is seeking to expand selection through the back door, creating thousands of new selective places while avoiding any real scrutiny. The government should fund good schools that work for everyone, not schools that divide and create further problems for the majority of pupils.”
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