Those who think that the return of grammar schools would be the cure for all of our ills should think again and look carefully at the evidence. Numbers do not lie.
Back in the 1960s, when I attended a grammar school, less than 20 per cent of the school population went to such schools. O levels, the examinations we sat in those days were aimed at the top 20 per cent of pupils. This would suggest that no-one who attended a Grammar School should leave school with no qualifications, yet each year, nearly a classful of pupils did exactly that.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the government’s own statistics (The DfES quarterly Statistical Review) demonstrated the following truism. That as the proportion of pupils attending comprehensive schools rose nationally, the educational outcomes of pupils across the board improved. It is worth noting that this was at a time when we still had O levels and not much in the way of grade inflation.
In the 1990s, a government statistician investigated the examination outcomes in two very similar counties, Cheshire and Kent. These counties were almost identical in terms of the social and economic indicators of the day. Kent had Grammar schools and secondary moderns, Cheshire had comprehensive schools. The examination results in Cheshire were significantly better than those in Kent.
While there was little difference in the outcomes of the top 25 per cent of pupils; those with half a chance of gaining a grammar school place, the outcomes of the lowest 75 per cent were significantly better in Cheshire’s comprehensives than in Kent’s secondary moderns.
It is interesting to note that it was the Blair government that buried this report.
This difference still exists today. While Kent as a county is significantly better off socially and economically than the national average, the outcomes of its worst off pupils in its secondary modern schools are much worse than the national average. Kent should be ashamed.
What Doncaster parents need to be aware of is this. Out of every 100 children in Doncaster’s schools, only 20 would achieve a grammar school place if such schools still existed today.
The remaining 80, the significant majority of your youngsters, would be thrown on the scrapheap at the age of 11.
It is not children who should be consigned to the scrapheap, but outdated and outmoded ideas such as those being espoused by our government concerning the return of grammar schools.
Kevin Jones, (Teacher for 35 years, Headteacher for 16)
Church Rd, Barnby Dun