The Telegraph is reporting the head of a group of five grammars as saying that grammar schools should give priority to pupils from poor families to stop them being “distorted” in favour of the middle-classes…
Deprived children are being deterred from applying for places at academically selective schools because an escalating “coaching culture” gives those from wealthier families an unfair advantage, it was claimed.
John Claughton, head of the Schools of King Edward VI, a charitable foundation which operates five state grammars in Birmingham, said families were spending up to £10,000 a year for regular academic coaching for their children.
One of the main dangers of the approach is its “contribution to the domination of grammar schools by the middle-classes”, he said.
He added that grammar schools should now consider “giving preference” during the selection process to pupils from poor families to address the disparity…
The foundation will begin a drive from 2015 to ensure that at least one-in-five places at the schools are awarded to pupils from poor families – those eligible for free meals.
The move would run counter to remaining grammar schools nationally where deprived children take up just a fraction of places.
Research earlier this month from the Sutton Trust found that less than three per cent of pupils admitted across England are eligible for free meals even though 18 per cent of children in communities surrounding grammars fall into this category…
Mr Claughton, who is also Chief Master of King Edward’s School, told how he recently asked his 11-year-old pupils if they had been coached prior to joining, saying that 74 per cent agreed.
“This money is not invested by parents so that their sons can get into this independent, selective school,” he said. “It is because coaching is perceived as the Royal Road to get into the grammar schools of Birmingham.”
He said grammar school admissions should be overhauled, with entrance exam questions more closely linked to the normal primary school curriculum and sample papers widely available online to give poor pupils a better chance of winning places.
“It is even possible for grammar schools to question and change the ways in which they select pupils, giving preference in that process to pupils who are eligible for free school meals,” he said.
See John Claughton’s article: ‘Access to coaching for the 11-plus favours the rich’
Have grammar schools effectively become subsidised private schools where the ‘fees’ are homes in the right areas and coaching prior to winning a place? Please let us know in the comments or on twitter…