New grammars would harm British schools, says Ofsted chief

The Guardian reports that British schools deserve to score only 6.5 out of 10 compared with education systems in other countries and would be further set back if new grammar schools were allowed, the chief inspector of schools has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, said the UK education system was getting better since it had been in “special measures, in intensive care, in the 70s, 80s and much of the 90s”, but an expansion of grammar schools planned by Theresa May would stall progress.

Wilshaw has spoken out several times against new grammars since the policy was announced by the prime minister. May wants schools to be able to select on academic achievement if they meet conditions about helping children from poorer backgrounds.

The Ofsted chief told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “If you have grammar schools, you take away the most able children from the all-ability comprehensive set-up. And I speak as an ex-head of a successful inner-city comprehensive school, an academy, in Hackney. I needed those top 20% to lift everyone up.”

He said the UK system had a long way to go before it could match the achievements of South Korea, Shanghai, and some European countries. “It’s six and a half out of 10,” Wilshaw said. “Mediocre, but getting better.”

More: New grammars would harm British schools, says Ofsted chief

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  1. Nairb1

    Let’s hear it for South Korea Sir Michael ….
    ‘The system’s rigid and hierarchical structure has been criticized for stifling creativity and innovation;described as intensely and “brutally” competitive. The system is often blamed for the high suicide rate in South Korea, particularly the growing rates among those aged 10–19. Various media outlets attribute the nation’s high suicide rate on the nationwide anxiety around the country’s college entrance exams. The country has also produced an oversupply of overqualified university graduates in South Korea; in the first quarter of 2013 alone, nearly 3.3 million South Korean university graduates were jobless, leading many graduates overqualified for jobs requiring less education. The social stigma associated with vocational careers and not having a university degree continues to be an issue in the country. Further criticism has been stemmed for causing labor shortages in vocational occupations where many vacant vocational jobs remain unfilled.’
    Wikipedia 2016

  2. Leave aside Wilshaw’s dodgy comments about the ‘UK system’ (which isn’t the same throughout the four countries) based on just one set of international tests (PISA) when others (TIMSS, PIRLS) show 10 and 14 year-olds in England doing relatively well), he’s absolutely correct about the effects of grammars on other schools.

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