Disadvantaged pupils, those eligible for the pupil premium, will be able to ‘benefit from world class education’ because the government’s giving money to selective schools to expand, the Department for Education said.
This implies that world class education, whatever that vague description means, is only found in grammar schools.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said:
‘Selective schools are some of the highest performing schools in the country and so it’s right that more pupils should have the opportunity to benefit from the world class education they provide. ‘
It doesn’t appear to have dawned on the minister that schools which choose pupils on their likelihood of passing exams are going to perform more highly in league tables than schools which don’t.
Even judged on Progress 8, grammar schools have an advantage. Pupils are more likely to take eight or more exams that qualify for P8 than schools which cater for all pupils. And non-selective schools in selective areas are likely to be the most disadvantaged by the P8 measure because they have a lower proportion of pupils likely to attain GCSE grade 5* or take eight qualifying subjects.
98% of grammars are good or outstanding, said the DfE. That’s true, which raises the question about how far Ofsted has been influenced by exam results.
Many of these selective schools haven’t been inspected for nine years or more. Eleven of the successful in the first round of the Selective Schools Expansion Fund haven’t been visited by Ofsted since 2008. Six were last inspected as long ago as 2007.
It appears, then, the education system in England is overseen by a department who thinks an allegedly world-class education can only be found in England’s selective schools. Yet thousands of non-selective schools in England are good or better.
We keep being told, ad nauseam, that the proportion of pupils in good or better schools has increased since 2010. But the DfE’s insinuation that only grammars offer world-class schooling suggests there are differences within Ofsted grades: all outstanding schools are equal, but some are more equal than others.
*Although grade 4 in reformed GCSEs is classed as a ‘standard’ pass, it’s grade 5 which is used for accountability purposes. It surely won’t be long before politicians and pundits start criticising schools for not getting enough strong passes and saying anything less than a 5 is a fail. Grammar schools, unsurprisingly given their intake, will have more pupils gaining a grade 5 than all-ability comprehensives and significantly more than creamed secondary moderns.
CORRECTION 22 February 2019 08.14: The headline has been changed from 'World class school places only found in grammars, minister implies'. The original heading was ambiguous and could have given the impression I was agreeing with the minister. Article typo also corrected.