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Tuesday, 07 June 2016 12:32

Grammar Schools and Social Mobility: Part 2

A BBC news item last evening (Monday), reporting on the recommendations of the Grammar Schools and Social Mobility Committee of KCC (see previous article), contained the startling opinion that, in order to meet the objectives of the Committee, another 700 grammar school places would need to be created.

Although not mentioned, this would be spread across the five years of compulsory secondary education and so, capping the secondary transfer rate at the current 29%, including all three routes to selection, the Committee is looking at just 120 more places for high performing children on Free School Meals in Kent’s 32 grammar schools each year, fewer than 4 children per average grammar school with an intake of 150 students  

In fact, there is no suggestion or intimation whatever in the Committee’s recommendations that a single new place should be created, which would of course increase the current 29% of the school population attending grammar school, an idea for which there appears no political will.

The Committee main thrusts are as follows:……

1) By improving opportunities and awareness for high-achieving pupils on Pupil Premium through a variety of strategies, outlined in the Report and as reported in my previous article, to narrow the current gap between 57% of these pupils attending grammar school, as compared with 79% of non-disadvantaged pupils.

2)To produce a fairer playing field by reducing the effects of coaching, started with the new Kent Test, by supporting Pupil Premium children to perform to their full potential in the Test, and through intervention in the Headteacher Assessment process. This would improve the balance between the two groups of children without increasing the number of places. 

3)To free up more places in Kent grammar schools, by proposing to the super selective grammar schools and others in North West Kent, that they seek to offer more opportunities to local children, as exemplified by the Judd School’s recent decision to give priority to Kent children, rather than chase high fliers from outside the county. Whilst the two Wilmington grammar schools have also moved to offer priority to Kent children, the two Dartford Grammars have moved in the opposite direction, depriving local grammar qualified children of places, with a total of 320 NW Kent grammar school places going to out of county children, and reducing opportunities for those living in Kent.

I cannot see all the sixteen proposed strategies to achieve their aims coming into play quickly, for KCC does not have direct powers and so must seek to influence all the relevant schools. Realistically, I would therefore like to see the Council setting an ambitious target on the way to meeting equality of opportunity, to measure progress.  

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 June 2016 16:46

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