Gram­mar sys­tem un­der fire

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

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.”

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