Grammar system under fire
education with the selective system when others have not. It’s a system we support because we believe that it achieves the best educational outcomes for our young people.”
Whilst the report recognises that Bucks has some of the best GCSE results in the country, it argues this is to be expected, given it is one of the socio-economically advantaged counties in England. It also argues that ‘as one of England’s wealthiest counties, Buckinghamshire’s annual GCSE figures feel far less spectacular when viewed through the lens of social justice’.
The report states: “The reputation for excellence enjoyed by Buckinghamshire’s grammars is questionable also because it comes at such a cost to other schools, whose pupils have been ‘cream skimmed’.”
Speaking to the re- port’s author one parent, Debbie, complained about the pressure that parents are put under to get their children into grammar schools.
She said: “You feel as a parent under a lot of pressure and there’s a fear that if your child doesn’t pass the 11+ they’ll end up (pause)... well, you know, at one of the secondary moderns.”
She also highlighted the impact of selection on children, describing an incident in the playground where the 20 or so who passed their 11+ formed a clique, isolating themselves from friends who did not make the cut.
Debbie was also shocked to overhear a parent at an open day for a secondary modern school tell her young son: “Take a good look - this is where you’ll be going if you don’t pass”.
The report also explores the attainment gap, highlighting that since the introduction of tutor-proof tests, the number of grammar school places taken up by privately educated children has gone up every year.
Figures show 60% of privately educated children passed the 11+ compared to just 22% from state-funded primaries.
This, coupled with the cost of tutoring has isolated disadvantaged children from the top schools, argues the study.
The author adds that figures from 2015 show that the number of disadvantaged children in Bucks grammars ranged from 10 out of 1,212 to just one in a school of 1,065.
Competition is further heightened by what the report suggests is a growing number of pupils from neighbouring counties such as Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire who take the 11+ to go to schools in Bucks.
The report argues that this will artificially inflate the pass mark for local children.
Cllr Mohamed said the report was one sided and repeated his support for selective statefunded education, saying that if the rules on creating new grammar schools were changed, the county council would be happy to work with any of Buckinghamshire’s secondary schools to support more grammar schools.
He said: “The Comprehensive Futures report was written with a particular narrative in mind that is one sided, the figures for Buckinghamshire speak for themselves.”
He added: “We continue to work hard to push this figure up to ensure that all children and young people in the county have access to the best education possible.”