Return to grammar school selection would be disaster, says Ofsted chief

The Guardian is reporting that Sir Michael Wilshaw has said a return to grammar school selection in England would be an economic disaster and leave young people without the skills the country needs.

Speaking to a conference of Catholic school leaders in London, Wilshaw said selecting pupils by academic ability and giving a grammar school education to the top 20% – as happened in most parts of England until the 1970s – would be “economic suicide”.

He said: “What we need – because the economy is now so different from when I started teaching – is for more young people to do better than ever before.” He pointed out that Britain’s main economic rivals did not rely on selective education systems.

“I’m a big supporter of comprehensive education. It can work, one size does not have to fit all – if schools have great leadership it can work,” Wilshaw said in response to a question at the Catholic Association of Teachers Schools and Colleges annual conference…

Wilshaw claimed the autonomy granted to schools with academy status – allowing them more control over their own affairs – put them on a par with the freedoms enjoyed by private schools. “What’s the difference between being an independent school and being an academy? Not much,” he told the conference.

He said local politicians needed to do more to improve schools in their area in order to match the rapid improvement in results seen in London, and he intended to single out one city in a forthcoming speech…

More at: Return to grammar school selection would be disaster, says Ofsted chief


Sir Michael makes clear where he stands on the issue of selection – your thoughts and reactions?

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Categories: Academies, Leadership, Policy and Secondary.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Oh dear; Sir Michael must looking to retire early with a large pay-off by being pushed out for disagreeing with DfE policy

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove What I find amazing is SMW’s refusal to admit his leadership of Ofsted has contributed to dire shortage of leaders in schls

  3. Agreed with him about selection but why does he persist in promoting the misleading mantra that academies have freedoms which non-academies apparently don’t have?  Has he not read the Academy Commission 2013 report: non-academies can do most things academies can do.
    In his Annual Report he said structure didn’t matter – ‘a school is a school’.  Seems he hasn’t read his own report either.

  4. John1906

    Why does it matter what opinion Sir Michael has on anything? He is the Chief HMI and as such represents Ofsted inspectorate. His individual views are irrelevant. Is he speaking for Ofsted.

  5. TW

    So credulous.  Is it really beyond him to understand academisation is essentially about selection and profit.  How difficult can it be?

  6. wasateacher

    LiterateCynic SchoolsImprove The issue of grammar schools is completely irrelevant to the position in international tables.  Selection failed so many children, both those who just failed the 11+ and those who just passed.  That together with the unfair financing did the country no good at all.  If you want to quote the OECD tables, then perhaps you should be criticising the testing and accountability regime which is unfit for purpose and tends to influence what schools focus on.

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