England’s excellence gaps revisited

. This is a revised and updated version of How should England close its excellence gaps? (January 2018) . . This is a significant turning point in the evolution of national education policy. Former Secretary of State Greening published her social mobility plan Unlocking Talent: Fulfilling Potential (December 2017), immediately following the wholesale resignation of … Continue reading England’s excellence gaps revisited

How should England close its excellence gaps?

. First edition: January 2018  . This is an important turning point in the evolution of national education policy. Departing Secretary of State Greening has only just published her social mobility plan Unlocking Talent: Fulfilling Potential (December 2017) It was preceded by the wholesale resignation of the Social Mobility Commission’s Board, protesting at lack of political … Continue reading How should England close its excellence gaps?

The ‘ordinary working families’ fallacy

. Summary This post explores the emerging definition of learners from ‘ordinary working families’ and the evidence published to date about their educational performance and how well they are served in the education system. It examines how learners from ordinary working families (hereafter referred to as ‘OWF learners’) fit within the broader visions for social … Continue reading The ‘ordinary working families’ fallacy

Investigating grammar streams

.  This post investigates the practice of introducing selective grammar streams into comprehensive schools. It: Reviews recent advocacy for this practice. Distinguishes grammar streams from other, related approaches to within-school selection. Urges revision of the official distinction between ability and aptitude, based on the erroneous position taken by the School Adjudicator. Places grammar streams in … Continue reading Investigating grammar streams

Rounding-up: Killer stats and 10-point plan

. This post compiles some of the most recent and telling statistics about the state of high attainment in England. It includes a brief summary of the policy position as it stands ahead of the government’s response to the selection green paper. Finally it outlines a ten point improvement plan which does not involve building … Continue reading Rounding-up: Killer stats and 10-point plan

Making sense of centres of excellence

. This post probes the ‘centres of excellence’ proposal in the selection green paper. ‘Schools that work for everyone’ (September 2016) includes within its chapter on selection three proposals for ‘existing selective schools to do more to support children at non-selective schools’ This context is critical for understanding much of the confusion over centres of … Continue reading Making sense of centres of excellence

Do grammar schools close attainment gaps?

.  This experimental post revisits the question whether all grammar schools are effective in closing attainment gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers. Ministers have asserted as much in recent speeches, but they are relying on a single piece of research, now more than a decade old. The Education Policy Institute has countered with qualified … Continue reading Do grammar schools close attainment gaps?

How best to educate ‘poor, bright kids’?

. I included in my last post, on the selection green paper, a set of seven draft principles to inform national policy on educating high-attaining learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. I wanted to lay out a framework that would challenge the thinking of proponents and opponents of selective education alike, to show how it might be possible … Continue reading How best to educate ‘poor, bright kids’?

The Politics of Selection: Grammar Schools and Disadvantage

Reblogging this post published in November 2014 on my Gifted Phoenix Blog.

Gifted Phoenix

This post considers how England’s selective schools are addressing socio-economic disadvantage.

Another irrelevant Norwegian vista by Gifted Phoenix Another irrelevant Norwegian vista by Gifted Phoenix

It is intended as an evidence base against which to judge various political statements about the potential value of selective education as an engine of social mobility.

It does not deal with recent research reports about the historical record of grammar schools in this respect. These show that – contrary to received wisdom – selective education has had a very limited impact on social mobility.

Politicians of all parties would do well to acknowledge this, rather than attempting (as some do) to perpetuate the myth in defiance of the evidence.

This post concentrates instead on the current record of these schools, recent efforts to strengthen their capacity to support the Government’s gap closing strategy and prospects for the future.

It encourages advocates of increased selection to consider the wider question of how…

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Which grammar schools want more pupil premium students?

. I wanted to find out how many of our 163 grammar schools give priority to disadvantaged pupils in their admissions arrangements for academic year 2016/17, and by what means. This analysis was prompted by a comment made by Secretary of State Nicky Morgan during the Commons debate on her statement of 19 October 2015. The … Continue reading Which grammar schools want more pupil premium students?

If not grammar schools, what?

. This week’s media debate about the value of grammar schools as instruments of social mobility has been profoundly depressing. For the record, all the research evidence shows that the historical impact of selective education on social mobility has been negligible. The proportion of disadvantaged learners currently admitted to grammar schools remains desperately low: As … Continue reading If not grammar schools, what?