The Mail is reporting with concern that children from poor homes are being given places at top grammar schools despite scoring significantly lower marks than others taking the same entrance exam.
A group of schools have taken the controversial step of lowering the 11-plus qualifying score for children from disadvantaged backgrounds in a move denounced by critics as ‘social engineering’ that discriminates against the middle classes.
At one leading grammar, children whose family income means they can claim free school meals were admitted with a score of 26 marks below that of other candidates, and in another the gap was 24 marks.
The initiative is the latest attempt by the highly oversubscribed selective schools to counter criticism that they are dominated by children whose parents can afford to first send them to fee-paying prep schools, or pay for tutors to get them through the exams…
Both Rugby High School for Girls and Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby say they save up to ten places for disadvantaged children whose scores are up to ten marks below the qualifying score. Many of the other 157 grammars in England are expected to follow suit.
Government figures show that about 60 per cent of them are allowing, or considering allowing, poor children whose schools get extra payments worth £935 per child under the ‘pupil premium’ scheme some form of preferential treatment, although only a handful have altered their exam pass marks.
Defending the initiative, Denis Ramplin, a spokesman for the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI, which runs the Birmingham grammars, said that 100 pupils now had places who would not have done so a year ago.
Mr Ramplin said the schools were aiming to fill 20 per cent of their intake with children from disadvantaged homes, but added that other youngsters were not losing out because they had created extra places. He added: ‘People with disposable income are paying tutors £30 an hour in the hope that their children get into the schools. But the Government is telling us to be more diverse and socially mobile.’
…Robert McCartney, chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association, said: ‘The big danger is that it is social engineering.
‘If you were the parent of a child who has lost out to another child who has got fewer marks, you would feel aggrieved.’
What do you think about this initiative from the grammar schools involved?
With tutoring for the 11-plus rampant, presumably it is no different than universities looking at contextual information and making some lower offers to disadvantaged students?
Meaningful measure or, if you are against selection anyway, just rearranging the proverbial deckchairs?
Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link