Grammar schools don’t boost social mobility

Dec 15, 2013 by

Grammar schools are “stuffed full” of middle-class children and do not improve social mobility, the chief inspector of schools in England says.

Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments came after plans to expand grammar school provision in Kent were rejected.

He also told the Observer he thought school summer holidays were too long.

And he expressed concern about teaching resources if there is a big influx of Romanian and Bulgarian children when working restrictions end in January.

Falling behind

Sir Michael told the newspaper: “Grammar schools are stuffed full of middle-class kids. A tiny percentage are on free school meals: 3%. That is a nonsense.

“Anyone who thinks grammar schools are going to increase social mobility needs to look at those figures. I don’t think they work.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw Sir Michael Wilshaw said parents should contact Ofsted when schools have serious failings

Results of the OECD’s global Pisa tests recently showed that the UK is falling behind global rivals, with British 15-year-olds ranked 26th in maths, 23rd for reading and in 21st place in science.

But Sir Michael did not think the selective system was the way to make up ground on other nations.

“Northern Ireland has a selective system and they did worse than us in the (international comparison) table,” said the Ofsted chief.

“The grammar schools might do well with 10% of the school population, but everyone else does really badly.

“What we have to do is make sure all schools do well in the areas in which they are located.”

Weald of Kent Grammar School and Invicta Grammar School both put in rival bids to run an annexe in Sevenoaks to address a shortage of selective places.

Both were rejected by the Department for Education on Friday because neither complied with the law, which allows expansion but not new schools.

In the wide-ranging interview, Sir Michael that he thought the six-week summer holiday was “too long” when asked if teachers have too many holidays.

And he said he had “concerns” about the potential influx of Romanian and Bulgarian children when people from the eastern European countries gain the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens on 1 January.

“If we get huge numbers of children from overseas and from eastern Europe coming in, we have to have enough teachers to teach them and resources available in schools,” he said.

Sir Michael also encouraged parents to contact Ofsted when schools have serious failings so standards can be improved.

via BBC News – Grammar schools don’t boost social mobility, Ofsted chief says.

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