Ofsted chief calls claim that grammar schools help those less advantaged ‘nonsense’

The BBC is reporting that the outgoing chief inspector of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has called the claim that grammar schools help poorer students as “nonsense” and “tosh”. 

The idea that poor children will benefit from a return of grammar schools is “tosh” and “nonsense”, says the outgoing chief inspector of Ofsted. Sir Michael Wilshaw said a return to selection at 11 years old would be a “profoundly retrograde step” that would lead to sliding standards.

Supporters of grammar schools say that children from poor backgrounds are helped to make the most of their potential because entry to such schools is on the basis of raw ability. But many argue that, in fact, the vast majority of those doing well in entrance tests are children whose parents have paid for them to be privately tutored outside school.

In a speech to London Councils’ education conference, Sir Michael praised the success of schools in the capital saying they had undergone an “amazing transformation” and lead the way in “narrowing the attainment gap between rich and poor”. “It has maintained its status as the top performing region across all key stages when it comes to the performance of children eligible for free school meals,” he said.

“If grammar schools are the great answer, why aren’t there more in London?”

More at: Ofsted chief calls claim that grammar schools help those less advantaged ‘nonsense’

Do you think grammar schools are the answer to helping talented students who come from less advantaged families? Let us know in the comments below or via Twitter. ~ Meena

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  1. Nairb1

    Good for you Sir Michael. Now let’s see if Mrs. May’s claim that her governments policies will be based on evidence or is just hot air.

  2. @gov2 Yes – he’s right about grammars.  In his interview in the Saturday Times he said if there’d been a grammar near Mossbourne then the school’s results would have suffered.  Unfortunately, he then spoiled it by saying Gove’s reforms were bearing fruit.  I don’t think he meant the toxic variety.

  3. Nairb1

    Interesting memo from DfE photographed and leaked today. Suggests that the decision to approve new grammars has been made and the government is simply seeking a way to pretend that this is in the interests of all pupils and families.

  4. Nairb1 Will be interesting to see the details.  At the same time, the new Northern Ireland Education Secretary has overturned a ban on NI primary schools preparing pupils for 11+.  Grammars are essential for social mobility, he says (but what happens to the majority who aren’t selected – aren’t they worthy of going up in the world?).

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