Friends of Grammar Schools was set up in order to support the work of our existing grammar schools, and to make the case for selective education. State grammar schools are some of England’s most poorly funded schools yet produce our best results.
When people criticise grammar schools or selective education, their objections are often based on the system as it was in the 1960’s, when secondary modern schools provided a limited and often second rate education for those who did not attend grammar schools. Today the average secondary modern outperforms a quarter of all-ability comprehensive schools. Top secondary moderns like Wellington School in Timperley achieve results which put them ahead of most all-ability comprehensives. (76% of pupils achieved 5A* – C GCSEs in 2008)
Friends of Grammar Schools aims to make the case for selective education using the most up to date data available. It is not just grammar schools which top the league tables but selective authorities, which means that the combination of grammars and non-selective schools has resulted in higher standards across the LEA – for all children, not just those in grammar schools. In Trafford, Sutton or Redbridge around 7 out of 10 children leave school with 5 good GCSEs but in comprehensive Milton Keynes, Southampton or Bristol only 5 out of 10 achieve the same result.
Some comprehensive schools provide a good education, based on firm discipline and high aspirations and usually rely on extensive setting and streaming to achieve respectable academic results. House prices around those schools are typically around 12% higher in the area around the school. In some areas parents are paying an extra £20,000 to live nearby, so if your parents are rich enough to buy a house in the catchment area you will have the opportunity to go to a good school. This selection by bank balance means that children from poorer families are much less likely to find their way into a good state school. Some local authorities have addressed this by using a lottery system to allocate places. While this is fairer, it is likely to lead to even more middle class families trying to buy their way out of the state system.
Most people now accept that the comprehensive experiment has failed many children, particularly those living in inner cities and will acknowledge that social mobility has deteriorated since the abolition of most of our grammar schools, there is, however, a reluctance to look with an open mind at the lessons which could be learned from selection.
A selective system, which chooses pupils by academic ability and allocates places accordingly, will do a much better job of giving children from poorer families equal access to an academic education. Studies have shown that children learn far better when they are taught alongside children of similar ability. If it is politically acceptable to stream pupils within schools, then why not between schools?
Friends of Grammar Schools in making the case for selection, seeks to inform the debate over education provision. Selective authorities are at the top of the examination league tables because what they are doing works well for all pupils. Although many politicians refuse to consider the benefits of selection, by putting the facts in front of the public, we hope that the debate over grammar schools and selection will be one which has relevance for today’s parents and children, many of whom are being let down by the state education system.
This website is intended to be the principal resource for the media and interested members of the public who want to find the facts about grammar schools and selective education.