This week I have undertaken the government consultation, ‘Schools That Work for Everyone’. Now, if you know even a smidgen about the Green Paper, then you know that the title is deeply ironic. Grammar Schools in particular don’t work for everyone – that is kind of the point. My particular concern is that if we let the government usher in a new dawn of grammar schools and increased selection, including faith schools, then we will do tremendous damage to our school system.
You may think that the government aren’t going to listen; that it is a sham consultation or worse. I can’t put my hand on heart and so that isn’t true, I simply don’t know, but we should still exercise our democratic right to state our views. I’m not going to lie: it is long and laborious and the questions are heavily biased and exasperating for the most part. Still, you may want to provide a sequence of short answers for many questions.
You can undertake the consultation here and I urge you to do so: https://consult.education.gov.uk/school-frameworks/schools-that-work-for-everyone/.
Some Evidence on Grammar Schools
Now, the point of this short blog is provide you with evidence on grammar schools, should you so need it. It might save you a few minutes and make it as little easier to finish the consultation. So here goes:
- Remember the good old days, when grammar schools were the basions of social mobility? Well…they weren’t. The Gurney-Dixon Report in 1954 showed only a tiny fraction of working class children actually went on to university: http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/gurneydixon/gurneydixon.html
- It got better right? No. In 1963, the Robbins Report showed that only 0.3% of working class children went to grammar schools went on to attain two A levels or more: http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/robbins/robbins1963.html.
- It is different now though, isn’t it? No. The Sutton Trust have showed that of the 162 existing grammar schools, only 3% of students are FSM: http://www.suttontrust.com/researcharchive/poor-grammar-entry-grammar-schools-disadvantaged-pupils-england/.
- But it works over there [insert international success story] doesn’t it? The OECD average for selection is 14: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/Vol4Ch2.pdf. The OECD is regularly critical of early selection – see this 2012 report ‘PISA 2012 Results: What Makes Schools Successful?’: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-volume-IV.pdf. A clear quote form the report includes: “In addition, students are more dependent upon their parents and their parents’ resources when they are younger. In systems that stratify students early, parents with more advantaged socio-economic status may be in a better position to promote their children’s chances than disadvantaged parents”.
- The latest OECD PISA report is critical of selection by ability aged 11 and their results in focus states the following: “The later students are first selected into different schools or education programmes and the less prevalent the incidence of grade repetition, the more equitable the school system, or the weaker the association between students’ socio-economic status and their performance in science.” (page 5, PISA Results in Focus 2015’: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisa-2015-results-in-focus.pdf). We know we compare unfavourably on social segregation with other countries: http://ftp.iza.org/dp1959.pdf.
- What about our great existing grammar schools – we can expand them, right? Here I defer to the comprehensive analysis of Edudatalab: ‘Provisional KS4 data 2016: Grammar schools reporting fantastic Progress 8 scores? Not so fast…’ https://educationdatalab.org.uk/2016/10/provisional-ks4-data-2016-grammar-schools-reporting-fantastic-progress-8-scores-not-so-fast/. ‘Grammar schools: four key research points’ http://educationdatalab.org.uk/2016/09/grammar-schools-four-key-research-points/.
- Try this bumper Edudatalab briefing paper here: http://educationdatalab.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Grammar-schools-research-briefing-September-2016.pdf.
- ‘Progress 8 is too favourable to grammar schools and understates secondary modern achievement’ http://educationdatalab.org.uk/2016/09/progress-8-is-too-favourable-to-grammar-schools-and-understates-secondary-modern-achievement/.
- ‘Apples to Apples: Are Grammar Schools really as effective as they seem?’ https://educationdatalab.org.uk/2016/11/apples-to-apples-are-grammar-schools-really-as-effective-as-they-seem/.
- It won’t have any unintended consequences will it? Well, how about an uneven supply of teachers in a recruitment crisis: http://educationdatalab.org.uk/2016/06/inequalities-in-access-to-teachers-in-selective-schooling-areas/.
- It isn’t just Edudatalab either – educational organisations from across the span of politics have put forth sound arguments against expanding grammar schools. Policy Exchange, the progeny of Michael Gove, released this article – 5 reasons why a return to grammar schools is a bad idea: https://policyexchange.org.uk/5-reasons-why-a-return-to-grammar-schools-is-a-bad-idea/. The Institute of Education have responded with a sound critique here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/news-events/pdf/schools-that-work-for-everyone-response. The Education Policy Institute have written ‘Grammar Schools: 8 Conclusions from The Data’ http://epi.org.uk/analysis/grammar-schools-8-conclusions-data/. Their eight conclusions? They’re damning – unsurprisingly.
- Sam Freedman, from Teach First, writes sagely in The Guardian about how grammar schools are “socially divisive” and “deeply ineffective”: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/09/grammar-schools-education-selection-divisive-ineffective.
- This Teach First short statement is a withering indictment of the policy: https://www.teachfirst.org.uk/press/teach-first-statement-grammar-schools.
Do remember to spend the time to give your views of the Green Paper and kick this grammar school policy into the deep, green grass!