Comment on grammar school plans. Vote in our poll on selection and social mobility. Take part in our survey

31 Oct

22 September 2016

The General Secretary’s article on selection in SecEd.

19 September 2016

Take part in our new survey on grammar schools   (Poll results)

9 September 2016

Voice has commented on the Government’s forthcoming education green paper, which includes proposals for new grammar schools.

Have your say below and vote in our poll :  

Poll:  “Is academic selection at 11 an appropriate ‘engine’ to promote social mobility?”

Poll results (9 September – 22 December 2016):

  • No (67%, 31 Votes)
  • Yes (33%, 15 Votes)


Further information

Green Paper consultation published Monday 12 September 2016Secretary of State’s statement.

The Prime Minister’s proposals Her speech (9 September 2016).

Theresa May’s 2001 speech on education policy (for comparison).


Your views

Let us know your views below. They will help to inform Voice’s response to the Government’s consultation.



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9 Responses to “Comment on grammar school plans. Vote in our poll on selection and social mobility. Take part in our survey”

  1. Maria Morgan 10. Sep, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    I can’t believe a Government policy can be based on “I had a super time at my school, let’s make them all like that”. But this is what has happened here.

  2. R PICKERING 14. Sep, 2016 at 7:44 am #

    PLEASE UNLESS really positive action is taken, in a very carefully thought out manner – and SOON – to help the ‘not good enough parents’ to improve their parenting skills (and from when their children are very young) the number of children taken into care (with the so often tragic results) will continue to rise. At present HOWEVER could these poor children possibly EVER benefit if there were more grammar schools?!!

  3. Patrick Timms 01. Nov, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    I think the point is that those with the most talent are best nurtured among their peers – that is not “elitism”, but a mere acceptance of reality and of our knowledge of pedagogy. That also applies to those with the least talent and, of course, all those in between. After all, there is a reason why we group children by ability when determining what “set” they should be in per subject, even at a comprehensive school – how is this any different? It has certainly been shown to work – I may well have done much better in my own MFL studies at school had I NOT found myself in a mixed-ability set!

    I think that sometimes, in our struggle to accommodate the most disadvantaged, we forget about the least. Some people think that’s quite fair because the least disadvantaged people – in some senses, but not necessarily in others – should be among the best able to cope with it, but in fact this is a fallacy. Some studies have shown a correlation between… well, whatever you call it, intelligence, talent, potential… and a predilection for e.g. depression or other forms of mental illness. Here is an article discussing some such studies (from both points of view):

    But I would nevertheless agree that having entirely separate schools might send the wrong message. I think we should operate a similar system to the Dutch. They have three main “pathways” for secondary education:

    * VMBO (focused on vocational/practical skills)
    * HAVO (middle tier, mixed focus on both vocational and academic skills)
    * VWO (highly academic pathway including study of the Classics)

    But the key thing is, while there are some schools in the Netherlands that only offer one pathway and specialise in that, actually the majority of them integrate all three, so you’ve got a wide range of kids interacting with each other socially, but not academically (or indeed vocationally), or at least not most of the time. The real benefit there is that you’re not isolating those with more potential into an environment that hides those with less from their view (which, some people might say, could “create a Tory”), and nor are you preventing those who seemed at first to have less potential from aspiring towards the achievements of their schoolmates (which, as the Dutch have found, can sometimes make enough of a difference to change pathway).

    The most amazing thing about it, though – and perhaps this is just because it’s Holland! – is that the kids actually DON’T judge each other, by and large, on which pathway they are in. It’s not seen as a “label” per se, but just another personal quality. Perhaps it’s a bit like pets – well, not that children are pets! – in that, if you rear different species together from birth, they’re much more likely to accept each other’s differences throughout their lives.

    Perhaps a similar approach could work over here too?

    • Kay-Lesley Hallam Black 01. Dec, 2016 at 11:31 am #

      I agree absolutely Patrick with your most pertinent points! Theresa May has correctly identified an issue i.e. some of our 11-18 Comprehensive schools provide such a mediocre educational experience that those parents who are financially able to do so go to extraordinary lengths to buy into a better education for their children via purchasing a ( generally a more expensive) house within the catchment area of a ‘good’ school . However her strategy for remedying this inequality is DEEPLY flawed. Reintroducing the selection of 25% of pupils at 11+ to ‘superior’ academically high flying schools whilst 75% of pupils remain in what are perceived as less than satisfactory ‘bog standard comps’ is an iniquity earnestly to be avoided! However the success of the one size fits all 11-18 school is predicated on good leadership, the insistence on provision of a disciplined learning environment and the social mix of the catchment area which creates a critical mass of pupils who want to learn. Where these ingredients are lacking a different type of provision is essential . I would like our Prime minister to look at the systems in existence in Holland and also to consider a return to the 3 tier system:
      i.e.1. assessment at 5 + and early intervention for the disadvantaged / children with special needs .
      2. First schools from 5 to 8 ( with provision for an extra year to 9+ for puplis with remaining literacy / numeracy difficulties )
      3. Middle schools for 8 to 14 yrs – beginning a secondary curriculum at 9+ for high flyers
      4. Senior High schools from 14 to 18/19 with a specific focus emulating the pathways in Dutch schools
      Self selection would operate at 14 via attainment aptitude and choice of the preferred pathway .
      I think we should be urging TM to consider all her options . the

      • Patrick Timms 01. Dec, 2016 at 11:43 am #

        Absolutely – we must avoid any semblance of “either/or” thinking here.

        I like your principle of self-selection – a number of things can go wrong in education when we don’t ask the kids!

        Just one thing to note on the assessment at age 5… this is the end of the formative years and could be a good time to assess, but children who have been victims of neglect may perform less well here. There may be cognitive pathway damage or very early signs of Global Delay. That being said, as long as assessors are well-trained, it could also be an additional opportunity to spot this early on and identify families in need of additional support… :)

  4. Katie Cooper 02. Nov, 2016 at 8:41 am #

    Addressing deficits in children’s language and numeracy skills in early years would, in my opinion, have a greater impact on later educational achievement than yet another government led re-organisation of schools.

    Our local authority has grammar schools. In spite of the ‘top slice’ being creamed off, our non-selective schools do a great job and regularly have pupils who secure Oxbridge and Russell group university places. Perhaps our non-selective schools could do an even better job if they had the ‘top slice’ of pupils too!

  5. Richard Fraser 13. Dec, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Voice’s response to DfE’s consultation

  6. Richard Fraser 22. Dec, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Poll results:

    Poll: “Is academic selection at 11 an appropriate ‘engine’ to promote social mobility?”

    Poll results (9 September – 22 December 2016):

    No (67%, 31 Votes)
    Yes (33%, 15 Votes)

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