Latest Educational News

Elite public schools drop common entrance exams

by TES, October 8, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Westminster and St Paul's say the aim is to reduce sustained pressure upon pupils, parents and teachers

Two elite public schools are dropping the 13-plus common entrance exam in a bid to reduce pressure on pupils, parents and teachers.

St Paul’s School and Westminster School, which are both located in London, said the decision will give preparatory schools more flexibility in determining their own curriculum and allow them more room to incorporate independent study into the school day.

Dropping the 13-plus in favour of "pre-tests" taken in Year 6 will also reduce "the sustained pressure upon pupils, parents and teachers between National Curriculum Year 5 and Year 8," they said in a joint press release.

“Not having to take the [common entrance] examination will relieve stress and create more time for the school,” said Professor Mark Bailey, High Master of St Paul’s School.

'Super-selective' grammar school must change rules

by TES, September 4, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

A ”super-selective” grammar school has been ordered to change its admission policy after it was found to be in breach of admissions laws.

The Rochester Grammar School, a “popular and oversubscribed” girls’ school in Medway, Kent, was found to give priority to pupils with siblings in other secondary schools within its multi-academy trust, including a selective school for boys.

In a report published today, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) says it considered the views of the local authority as well as those of a legal adviser for the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, which runs the grammar, and those of “an objector,” among other documents, in reaching its decision that the school breached the admissions code.

The report quotes claims by the objector that the school was "super-selective" and that it favoured pupils from primary feeder schools within its multi-academy trust, although schools adjudicator David Lennard Jones did not uphold this claim.

Grammar schools: Thousands of new places created

by BBC, August 1, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

There are 11,000 more grammar school pupils in England now than in 2010, BBC analysis of official data shows.

And by 2021, the data suggests, the number of extra places created will be equivalent to 24 new grammar schools compared to eight years ago.

The analysis shows a rise in numbers even before the distribution of a new £50m growth fund, announced in May.

The government says schools will be eligible for funding only if they improve access for poorer pupils.

Grammar schools are state-funded secondary schools which allocate places to pupils on the basis of their performance in an extra academic test at the end of primary school.

Grammar schools: Thousands of new places created

by BBC, August 1, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

There are 11,000 more grammar school pupils in England now than in 2010, BBC analysis of official data shows.

And by 2021, the data suggests, the number of extra places created will be equivalent to 24 new grammar schools compared to eight years ago.

The analysis shows a rise in numbers even before the distribution of a new £50m growth fund, announced in May.

The government says schools will be eligible for funding only if they improve access for poorer pupils.

Grammar schools are state-funded secondary schools which allocate places to pupils on the basis of their performance in an extra academic test at the end of primary school.

Prime Minister Theresa May had to drop controversial plans to overturn the ban on new schools after the last election, but the expansion of existing grammar schools has been encouraged.

As a working-class student who tried and failed to navigate the grammar school system, let me tell you exactly how elitist it is

by The Independent, August 1, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

As I shuffled down the corridor of my local grammar school to sit my 11-plus, all I could think about was how I was missing my auntie’s wedding day to take the test. I stared down at the countless symbols and numbers on the exam paper that was supposed to determine my future and knew, as a working-class student without an inherent talent in maths, or money from my parents for extra tutoring, that the odds were stacked against me.

Figures for pupils like me facing the 11-plus are bleak, as 70 per cent of children in England who are tutored secure a place in a grammar school, compared with just 14 per cent of those who had no extra help. Furthermore, 12 per cent of grammar students were privately educated in the last year of primary school.

Despite all this, I wish that I could tell my 11-year-old self that failing that entry test would not be a reflection on my later achievements – and that this archaic, elitist system of selective education does not have to seal your fate.

One in five grammar schools prepare expansion bids in wake of £50m funding, analysis finds

by The Independent, July 6, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

More than a fifth of existing grammar schools are preparing bids to expand in the wake of £50m funding.

At least 35 selective schools - of which there are 163 in England - are considering a share of the expansion funding announced by the government to help create thousands of new places.

Analysis from campaign group Comprehensive Future calculates that an additional thousand pupils could attend grammar schools a year - if all proposals for expansion are approved.

Fly-on-the-wall grammar to sponsor secondary modern

by TES, June 19, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

A London secondary modern school which featured in a recent BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary is to be absorbed into a multi-academy trust by a “forward-thinking” grammar school.

Erith School will be sponsored by nearby Townley Grammar School – both based in Bexley, South London – and renamed "King Henry School".

Townley Grammar's head, Desmond Deehan, first mentioned the plans when the schools were featured in a three-part BBC Two documentary, Grammar Schools: who will get in?, which concluded last week.

Today he confirmed the "ambitious" plan was going ahead with Erith School, which is currently rated by Ofsted as "requires improvement". As part of the process, Townley Grammar has established a multi-academy trust (MAT), the Odyssey Trust for Education, bringing Erith School into it. The Trust will be effective from the 1 September 2018.

Expanding grammars 'unlikely' to benefit pupils

by TES, May 23, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

The government's plans to expand grammar schools are "unlikely to bring benefits for young people", a major piece of research suggests.

Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education found that grammar school pupils do no better academically than similar pupils who attend non-selective schools.

And attending a grammar school has no positive impact on a teenager's self-esteem, their aspirations for the future or their English vocabulary, the study shows.

Earlier this month, education secretary Damian Hinds announced a new Selective School Expansion Fund worth £50 million a year to allow existing grammar schools to expand, either by providing more places or by building new annexes. Critics say the plans are a sop to middle-class parents.

Grammar school pupils 'gain no social or emotional advantages' by age 14

by The Guardian, May 23, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Grammar school pupils gain no social or emotional advantages by age 14 over children who do not attend a selective school, a study suggests.

The research by University College London (UCL) is the latest to call into question the government’s plans to expand selective state education, which have been fiercely opposed by educationalists and policymakers.

Recent studies have suggested that grammar schools only outperform their non-grammar peers academically because they select well, rather than because they add value, and do not increase social mobility.

Researchers from UCL’s Institute of Education took a novel approach, examining a range of social and emotional outcomes important to parents and children when choosing a school. They concluded that attending a selective state school had no positive impact upon teenagers’ attitudes towards school, self-esteem, aspirations or their English vocabulary.

Grammar school expansion money ‘won’t improve outcomes’

by Schools Week, May 23, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

The expansion of grammar schools is “unlikely to bring benefits for young people” as selective schools do not offer better social, emotional or educational outcomes than non-selective establishments.

Instead of encouraging existing grammar schools to expand, the government should focus its funding on improving education “for all young people”, according to a new study.

Earlier this month, the government launched renewed calls for grammar schools to take advantage of a £200 million expansion fund, set up in 2016 to cover capital costs for new classrooms. In exchange, they must widen access to disadvantaged pupils.

However, analysis of pupils’ attainment, engagement and wellbeing at school and their future aspirations by the UCL Institute of Education found that attending a grammar school had “no positive impact” on pupils’ self-esteem, attitude to school, future aspirations or vocabulary at age 14.

Grammar schools could get cash for lowering 11-plus pass mark, and 4 other things we learned from Nick Gibb at education committee

by Schools Week, May 22, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

MPs have grilled the schools minister Nick Gibb for almost two hours over the government’s grammar school expansion plans, academy trust accountability and teacher pay.

Here are the five most important things we learned.

1. Selective schools could lower 11-plus pass mark to get expansion cash
Grammar schools hoping to get their hands on a share of the £200 million expansion could widen access by reducing the test scores needed to win entry, Gibb said today.

The minister set out some of the proposals selective schools could include in their “fair access and partnership plans”, which they must complete in order to bid for the cash.

Grammar schools and faith schools get green light to expand

by BBC, May 11, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Grammar schools in England are being given the chance to create thousands of new places in a trimmed-down selective school expansion programme.

The expanded wholly selective schools will have to set out plans to admit disadvantaged pupils, perhaps by lowering the entrance requirements.

It comes after Theresa May's scheme for a new wave of grammars was abandoned due to lack of Parliamentary support.

Plans for new faith schools have also been announced.

But instead of making it easier for religious groups to open free schools, ministers will invite councils to open faith schools jointly with religious groups, as they have done in the past.

As with other faith schools in the state sector, they will be allowed to recruit 100% of pupils from particular faith groups.

Grammar school success 'down to privilege' - study

by BBC, March 27, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Grammar schools perform no better than non-selective state schools, once their pupils' higher ability and wealth is taken into account, a study suggests.

Academics at Durham University found the "apparent success" of these wholly selective schools was down to their brighter and more advantaged pupils.

They say increasing the number of schools that select pupils by ability would be dangerous for equality.

The government said it was working to widen access to grammar schools.

Grammar schools have a reputation for high academic achievement and dominate the top of the school league tables.

Parent fights to prove 11-plus doesn’t add up

by The Guardian, January 23, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

This Thursday an indignant parent, James Coombs, will stand in front of a tribunal to argue that the controversial 11-plus test needs greater scrutiny and that families should be shown their children’s raw scores. Why shouldn’t this important test, which changes the course of children’s lives, be open to evaluation like GCSEs and other life‑changing exams, he asks.


“It’s an existential problem to the grammar system. If you demonstrate that you cannot administrate a selective system in a fair way, then what you’re doing is illegal,” he says.

Coombs, representing himself, will be up against a barrister for the Information Commissioner’s Office, defending its decision last year [pdf] to uphold the wish of the test-provider, CEM, to withhold the scores, requested by Coombs under Freedom of Information.

CEM, the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, part of Durham University, argued that disclosing the information could prejudice its commercial interests. It said it had created a tutor-proof test – and that if the raw scores were released, 11-plus tutors would be able to teach to the test. But CEM has since admitted that its 11-plus test is not tutor-proof at all.

Exclusive: Grammars view Damian Hinds' appointment as boost for expansion plans

by TES, January 10, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

New education secretary was a pupil at a Catholic boys' grammar school
Grammar school heads believe the appointment of an ex-grammar school pupil as education secretary is likely to put their expansion plans back on the agenda.

Theresa May’s plans to change the law to allow the creation of completely new selective schools were scuppered after she lost her Commons majority last year.

However, the current legal framework allows existing grammar schools to expand or open new schools as "annexes". But the Department for Education under Justine Greening did not make this a priority after the election.

Now, the appointment of Damian Hinds, who was educated at a Catholic boys' grammar school, as her successor has been interpreted as opening the door to stronger DfE support for grammars to expand.

Jim Skinner, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads' Association, told Tes: “I believe there are a number of schools that are looking at annex development and it may well be that he is more sympathetic to that type of expansion. I would hope he would be more sympathetic.”

And asked whether Mr Hinds’ appointment would make it more likely that grammar schools considering expansion would put their plans into action, he said: “It could well do.”

Second new DfE minister has shown support for grammar school expansion

by TES, January 10, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Nadhim Zahawi's comments from 2016 will fuel speculation about a new push to encourage more academic selection
A second new DfE minister wrote about his support for the expansion of academic selection before his appointment to the department, it has emerged.

It follows the news that new education secretary Damian Hinds outlined his support for the creation of a nationwide network of “elite” grammar schools in 2014 – two years before Theresa May brought the issue back into mainstream political debate.

Nadhim Zahawi, who became a junior education minister yesterday, wrote in September 2016 that he “firmly believed” in the government’s plans to “increase the role of selection into our state education system”.

The appointment of another grammar school supporter to the Department for Education will add to speculation that the removal of Justine Greening could herald a renewed government push to expand grammar schools.

Is parent power driving grammar school expansion?

by BBC, January 2, 2018

Classified as 11 Plus.

Like many mothers, Ruth Cornish started thinking about choosing secondary schools when her children were eight or nine years old.

She wanted an academically selective school for Henry and Florence.

The family live in Gloucestershire, a county with some of the oldest grammar schools in England.

"I do think it's harder for children to get good results, to get to university, get a good job. So anything we can do to help them seems to me a no-brainer."

She's delighted that since 2010, every grammar school in Gloucestershire has added extra places, even though there hasn't been an increase in 11-year-olds.

"I think it's a consumer society - parental demand is there and children want to go."

There had been growing pressure for more places, with fears that competition was becoming fierce, with children travelling from outside the county to get in after passing the grammar school entrance test.

Ruth told me: "You research your chances and realise you're competing with Swindon, Wiltshire and Bristol."

Grammar schools to make 'formal' commitment to admitting poorer pupils

by TES, November 30, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

The announcement by schools minister Nick Gibb comes after government plans to open a new wave of grammar schools were dropped
Grammar school headteachers will make a formal commitment to trying to increase the number of disadvantaged children they admit, schools minister Nick Gibb has suggested.

In a response to the Commons Education Select Committee's report on grammar schools, he said selective school heads will commit to improving their admissions of poorer pupils in a "formal agreement".

One of the recommendations from the committee of MPs in February was to ensure that tests were not the only basis on which admissions to grammar schools were decided.

In the government's response, Mr Gibb wrote: "The Grammar School Heads' Association (GSHA) has been clear that their members are committed to improving admission rates for disadvantaged pupils, and it is important this commitment is now delivered by selective schools.

"I welcome the fact that the GSHA will codify this commitment in a formal agreement with the Department for Education."

Earlier this year, Tes exclusively revealed that more than a third of the existing grammar schools in England were set to change their admissions procedures next year to take more children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

St Olave's A-level row head suspended

by BBC, October 19, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

The grammar school head teacher at the centre of a row about pupils not being able to stay on to take A-levels has been suspended.
Aydin Onac has been suspended as head of St Olave's school in Orpington.
Parents had threatened legal action after pupils had to leave the school before the final upper sixth year.
It raised questions about schools improving their league table positions by only letting the most able pupils stay on take A-levels.
After a high-profile protest, the school reversed its decision and allowed pupils to return.
But the school's governors have now decided that he should be suspended.
Legal threats
The governors say that the local authority is carrying out its own investigation into the A-level controversy.
Parents of pupils from St Olave's, in the London borough of Bromley, had begun legal proceedings that claimed that removing pupils between Year 12 and 13 - the lower and upper sixth - would have been a form of unlawful exclusion.

Exclusive: Funding formula 'privileges' grammar schools

by TES, October 13, 2017

Classified as 11 Plus.

Formula branded 'fundamentally unfair' after Tes investigation shows latest changes particularly benefit grammar schools
The government's latest changes to the national funding formula for schools have hugely benefited grammars, a Tes investigation reveals.

Grammar schools are now 24 times more likely than primaries, comprehensives and secondary moderns to have their budgets boosted by at least 10 per cent by 2019-20, the analysis shows.

Under earlier plans, no school would have seen its funding grow by more than 6 per cent over two years. But the final version of the formula, published last month, will hand double-digit percentage increases to 313 schools, of which 51 are grammar schools.

Grammar schools account for 16 per cent of the schools that will do best out of the new funding arrangements, taking 26 per cent of the extra funding permitted because of the lifting of the 6 per cent "cap".


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