In a previous post on this blog, I argued that what matters in education is the contract between parents and the State for those families that take up the offer of free schooling. This makes the present debate about selective education very important. I have yet to hear either a Minister or indeed any Tory MP talk about anything other than grammar schools. What is the likely effect of creating more grammar schools for the system as a whole?
Here are some questions to ask supporters of more grammar schools
Which other school systems across the world select at age 11 and are any in the top 10 PISA rankings?
What percentage of pupils should go to grammar schools in any area and is this fixed by pupil numbers or pupil places? This matters in a period of rapidly rising pupil numbers such as we will see over the next decade.
There are a higher proportion of single sex schools amongst grammar schools than secondary schools as a whole. This may be because otherwise girls might take a large proportion of the places available. How would you address this issue?
Until recently, grammar schools received more funding than secondary moderns in many authorities. Age weighted pupil funding and Pupil Premium altered that. Will new grammar schools be funded in the same way as existing schools?
What appends to schools that currently select by aptitude?
Who pays the transport costs in rural areas for pupils going to grammar schools?
With the county council elections along with some other urban areas in 2017 should parental appetite for grammar schools be tested at the ballot box?
Where do UTCs and Studio Schools fit into the new scheme of schools? Isn’t it better to provide specialisms from 14 onwards rather than at age 11?
What responsibility does the government have to all pupils it educates?
How does the government intend to ensure disadvantaged pupils, late developers and pupils with SEN will be able to gain a place at the new selective schools?
Who will bear the cost of setting up any new system?
What will be the effect on teacher supply if some teachers are excluded from teaching a section of the school population?
Why wait until 11 to select, why not do so at the primary school level based on potential?
It goes without saying that this muddled approach to our school system serves nobody very well. What is must not do is put off potential teachers wondering whether to sign-up for a teacher preparation courses starting next year. Indications are that my post of 25th August worrying about 2016 recruitment may have been close to the mark in some subjects and I don’t want 2017 to be even worse.
The government must declare how far we have a national system and how far local areas can still decide their own style of education. Our economy in the 21st century needs an education system fit for purpose note one just for vote winning.