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Positive Behaviour and Education Services Supporting Children, Young People and Families

 

Government Set to Re-Introduce Grammar Schools Friday, 16 September 2016

 

The government has recently announced that it is set to re-introduce grammar schools.  Although the new grammar school system is unlikely to resemble that of the 1950’s, could it still have the flaws of the current system? A controversial and at times emotive issue the re-introduction of Grammar schools is set to be a topic of discussion that will dominate the education agenda for some time.  Is it possible to be true to the ideals of inclusion and equality of access if selection is expanded?

It is argued that grammar schools help brighter children from lower income homes.  but at present as little as 3% of grammar school pupils come from families that have a household income of less than £16,000 a year. The selection process in the past has seen Grammar schools accepting pupils subject to them passing the 11 plus exam. The purpose of the exam is to see if applicants are able enough to learn with students of a similar standard.  Those who pass the exam go on to attend a grammar school, whilst those who fail will attend a local secondary school.  Grammar schools often have higher exam results but it is questionable if this is because they are only dealing with those pupils who are most able.

Theresa May says the ban on new selective schools held back many pupils. She stated that if schools already select on the basis of disciplines like sport or music then why not on more academic criteria. Opposition has come from a variety of sources including Sir Michael Wilshaw Ofsted Chief inspector who described the return as “Tosh” and “nonsense”.  He made particular reference to the success of London comprehensive school and the progress of pupils from lower income families. Those who oppose say Grammar schools by definition select those doing well academically and it is the Governments role to improve the state education system so pupils of all abilities make progress and achieve their outcomes. 

Education secretary Justine Greening has launched the government’s consultation on its new proposal stating the government wanted to “turbo charge” the education and prospects of the disadvantaged.  A selective school must meet certain requirements which are designed to boost social mobility.

Here are the key points:

Conditions
Any new or expanding selective school would have to meet certain conditions. These include taking a proportion of pupils from lower income households; establishing a new non-selective secondary school; setting up a primary feeder in an area with a higher density of lower income households; or partnering with a nearby comprehensive or multi-academy trust (MAT).
Sanctions
Where selective schools do not meet expectations of providing “good or outstanding non-selective education” alongside their own provision, the government will hit them with sanctions, namely: removing access to any additional funding for new pupils or programmes; removing the right to select by ability (either temporarily or permanently); or barring selective schools from expanding further.
Selection within trusts
The government will encourage MATs to select within their own trusts, by setting up a “single centre” for their most able students. The centre could be “virtual or have a physical location” and would provide their high achieving students with a more challenging curriculum.
Outreach work
Selective schools will have to take part in a range of outreach work to encourage local primary schools to “raise aspirations, improve educational practice, and promote wider access”. Grammar schools will also be asked to work with primary schools to identify individual pupils who might benefit most from “targeted activity”.
Change in legislation
In a bid to improve fairer access to grammars, the government is proposing creating legislation that will require selective schools to prioritise children in receipt of the pupil premium and those from “lower income households”.
New disadvantage funding
The government is asking for advice on how it can “identify the group of people who are ‘just about managing’” and how it can measure the attainment and progress of children from these families in the school system. Prime minister Theresa May last week said the focus on free school meals children “skewed” policy. The government is now looking at how best to identify those pupils from families earning just above the £16,190 FSM threshold.
New national funding formula
The green paper states the government is still committed to a new national funding formula. It states that any new formula will “reward those schools that support schools with a higher proportion of lower attaining pupils and those from less wealthy households”.

At Jogo Behaviour Support we would be really interested on your opinions on this matter. We certainly think it’s going to be a heated debate when Theresa May’s proposal goes before the House of Commons!
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