Saturday, 10 September 2016

So what happens to the rest if all Brent secondary schools select the most 'academically able'?

Theresa May wants all secondary schools to be able to select. Here in Brent with no local authority secondary schools, that could mean multi-academy chains, stand alone academies and free schools fighting to select the most 'academically able' leaving those deemed 'not academic' along with special needs children and those in the first stages of learning English where exactly?

The NUT has been quick off the mark with this EduFacts special on Grammar Schools:
  • Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed support for more places to be made available in academically selective state schools.1Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening has said that she is ‘open minded’ about a return to a grammar school system.2
  • The creation of more grammar schools would have to lead to the creation of more secondary modern schools, or the de facto conversion of comprehensive schools in areas where new grammar schools were built or where existing grammar schools opened on new sites. Comprehensive schools in areas where existing grammar schools are expanding have already expressed concerns about the impact that this will have on the “intake profiles and therefore the ethos” of their schools.3
  • 23% of the public want existing grammar schools to be scrapped and a further 17% want existing grammar schools to be allowed to remain, but do not want grammar school expansion or the creation of new grammar schools. As only 38% of people support more grammar school places via new schools or the expansion of existing school a higher proportion of the public oppose the creation of more grammar school places than those who support a growth in selective state education.4
  • Those in favour of grammar schools argue that selective state education allows academic pupils from more disadvantaged backgrounds to secure better academic success and helps to close the attainment gap between richer and less well-off pupils. However, the evidence shows that this is not the case.
  • Less than 3% of all pupils going to grammar schools are entitled to free school meals (FSM), against an average of 18% in other schools in the areas where they are located. For example, in 2016 Kent County Council reported that 2.8% of pupils attending grammar schools were eligible for FSM, compared to 13.4% in non-selective Kent secondary schools.5
  • Socio-economically disadvantaged students, who are eligible for FSM or who live in poor neighbourhoods, are much less likely to enrol in a grammar school even if they score highly on key stage two (KS2) tests.6 For example, among Kent children who achieved Level 5+ in Reading, Writing and Maths at Key Stage 2 in 2015, 51.4% claiming FSM were attending a grammar school compared to 72.7% of non-claiming children.7
  • Nationally, over four times as many children are admitted to grammar schools from outside the state sector – largely fee-paying preparatory schools which account for 6% of pupils aged 10 – than children entitled to FSM.8
  • Pupils, irrespective of their background, have a lower chance of attending a grammar school if they attend primary schools with greater proportions of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, with special educational needs or with English as an additional language. Nationally, almost a quarter of state school pupils receive private or home tuition, rising to 40% in London.9 Children from more affluent homes that can afford the fees of up to £50 an hour for private tutoring will be at a significant advantage when sitting the 11+ grammar school entrance test. Local campaigners in Buckinghamshire found that, although over £1 million had been spent on developing a test that would minimise the impact of additional coaching, the new test made no difference to the large gap between the pass rates of pupils from poor and wealthy areas, with the worst results seen among FSM pupils.10
  • It has been suggested that new grammar schools would be located in low and middle income areas, thus boosting the chances of academic children living in those areas.11 However, the location of a grammar school in a more disadvantaged area does not mean that children living in close proximity to the school will have the chance to attend. Stand-alone grammar schools often draw large numbers of their pupils from outside their local authority. In 2013, for example, two-thirds of pupils at grammar schools in Stoke-on-Trent and Kingston-upon-Thames lived in a different authority area.12 In Buckinghamshire more children living outside the county pass the 11+ than local children, with children travelling distances of up to 13km to attend the county’s grammar schools.13
  • Giving a grammar school in a low and middle income area a small catchment area would not solve this problem. Proximity to a desirable school has an impact on house prices, with a premium of up to 12% on the cost of property within the catchment area of the highest performing schools.14
  • Selective education systems are also linked with greater inequality in social outcomes later in life.15 Grammar schools do not raise educational standards for the majority of children. Although pupils who pass the 11+ and are admitted to grammar schools generally achieve well, this is at the expense of the majority of children who do not get a grammar school place. The evidence shows that the attainment of pupils at secondary moderns is lower than that of comprehensive schools. 16
1 Tim Ross Grammar School supporters optimistic’ 18-year ban will be lifted by Theresa May's new government The Telegraph 16 July 2016. Accessed on 16 August 2016 here.
2 BBC News Justine Greening 'open minded' about new grammar schools in England  17 July 2016 accessed on 16 August 2016 here.
3 Rednock School letter to Stroud High School 29 January 2015 here and Archway School letter to Marling School 26 February 2015 here.
4 YouGov poll published 15 August 2016. Accessed here.
5 Kent County Council Grammar Schools and Social Mobility Commission (June 2016) p. 10 here.
6The Sutton Trust Poor Grammar: Entry to Grammar Schools for Disadvantaged Pupils in England (November 2013) p. 5 here.
7 Kent County Council Grammar Schools and Social Mobility Commission (June 2016) p. 10
8 The Sutton Trust Poor Grammar p. 5
9 The Sutton Trust Poor Grammar p. 5
10 John Dickens Questions over £1m ‘tutor-proof’ 11-plus tests Schools Week 27 November 2015. Accessed on 16 August 2016 here..
11Richard Vaughn Exclusive: new grammar schools plan 'unlikely' to go nationwide The TES 13 August 2016. Accessed on 16 August 2016 here.
12 The Sutton Trust Poor Grammar p. 5
13 David King Critics hit out at number of non-Bucks children passing 11-plus and ‘huge’ distances pupils travel to grammars The Bucks Herald 18 December 2015. Accessed on 16 August 2016 here.
14 Steven Gibbons Valuing Schools Through House Prices Centre Piece (Autumn 2012) p. 2 here.
15 OECD Equations and Inequalities – Making Mathematics Accessible to All (2016) p. 90 here.
16 Freddie Whittaker Fact-check: Do the arguments for new grammar schools stack up? Schools Week 25 July 2016. Accessed on 16 August 2016 here.

As always Michael Rosen is well worth reading on the subject HERE and the Local Schools Network has published a well argued piece by Janet Downs HERE.

My Green Left colleague Mike Shaughnessy has written about the issue on the London Green Left blog LINK,

A petition against the expansion of Grammar schoolc can be found HERE

Twitter has been busy since the announcement and it is clear the Prime Minister has a battle on her hands



Anonymous said...

All of this furore over Grammar Schools from people often not educated in comprehensives (& mostly private school or grammar schools) is based on a rosetinted view of the comprehensive ideology. It is noteworthy that these anti-grammar politicians are the same ones who do all they can not to send their children to the local comp. (what was Barry Gardiners excuse again...) The reality is that leading comprehensives are disproportionately in affluent areas and selection already occurs by the wealth of the parents. A recent study found that parents pay on average 53K extra to live in favoured catchment zones. Yes there are undoubtedly 'good' schools but there is a bell curve which means people often in the most deprived areas are stuck with the poor ones. That a concern is held other schools will 'get worse' is irrelevant because as detailed above in places like Brent, schools run autonomous of local authority control. Perhaps schools getting 'worse' is just a reflection of how much better Grammar Schools may do. Meanwhile, over in Barnet, Grammar Schools and Comprehensive schools co-exist, each are said to be doing great & the world hasnt caved in.

The Green Party is against free schools, academys and Grammars & may have lovely education policies but the power to implement it is not forcoming. In the here & now children who can't afford the private sector deserve other options. If The Green Party seeks to allign itself with Labour & of the old sort, it might like to consider why for half of Labours existance (when it really was a workers party) Grammars were party policy. It is noteworthy that the majority of people from the most deprived areas support Grammars yet the majority of Labour & The Green Party are made up of people from more affluent backgrounds who are against.

I agree with Paul Embery, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union:
"The Left needs to decide whether it prefers selection by wealth and sharpness of elbow over selection by ability. It's as simple as that."

Scott B.

Martin Francis said...

Scott, I went to a secondary modern school which I left shortly before my 16th birthday. Grammar school places were severely restricted where I lived (they were not uniformly distributed across the country). I had to catch up on my education through night classes, TUC courses and self-study.

Despite personal background this I want to construct a case on the evidence rather than individual experience.

The evidence, for example, of the very low percentage of children in grammar schools who are entitled to free school meals is telling.

Some of the sources cited above recognise the issues around selection by house purchase. There is also selection by the parents'ability to pay for tutoring to pass the 11+ or its equivalent. Those with the ability to pay to get ahead will always find a way around the system.

Schooling 'getting worse' is not the situation in Brent where standards are higher than in many fairly affluent rural areas. The improvement has not been the result of selection (although there are concerns about hidden selection) but of systematic improvement owing more to the London Challenge strategy than government policy.

Because secondary schools in Brent are academies or free schools (some governed by an academy chain), they will make their own decisions about selection. The history in Brent is that competition between the secondary schools has resulted in changes such as seeking academy status, starting a primary school on site (not very successfully)etc and I expect selection to be an arena of competition between the schools. The question remains about what happens to those not selected.

Academies are already reluctant to take SEN children in many cases and there appears to be some 'post-admission' selection where children are moved on during Year 7 when they don't 'fit' into the school ethos. Selection at 11 makes no provision for differing rates of development (children for whom things clicked later in life were known as 'late developers'. 11+ plus pass scores were different for boys and girls - as otherwise grammars would have had a disproportionate number of girls who were ahead of boys at 11.

EAL children still learning English at a deeper level, although superficially fluent, would also be disadvantaged in some selection methods.

Another consideration is the impact on primary schools. With the curriculum already narrowed by Key Stage 2 SATS and the widely reported stress this means for both teachers and children a further pressure (training to pass selection tests) could be disastrous. Reducing Year 6 to training for tests. Imagine the situation if all the secondary schools selected by a different method - IQ test, Verbal Reasoning, non Verbal Reasoning etc.

The impact of 11+ failure on children's self-confidence in future life is a key issue. Schools are finding this is beginning to be an issue with the Key stage 2 SATs.