Demand for selective places is higher than the number of places available, a recently-released document from the Department for Education claims. The DfE compared the number of selective places available with the number of first preference choices made by parents when completing forms for entry to secondary schools.
But the DfE admits the data is flawed:
‘The inclusion of a school by an applicant as one of their preferences does not mean that they meet the admissions criteria for that school. This includes, but is not limited to, grammar schools.’
In other words, parents are naming a grammar school as their first choice even when their child is not eligible. This is because the child failed the selection test or didn’t take it.
This makes a nonsense of the claim that demand for selective places is higher than supply. The demand figure has been inflated by including inegligible pupils. The demand for selective places is lower than claimed.
The document says the number of places offered by grammar schools increased by 3.2% between 2014 and 2017. This undermines the rationale behind the Selective School Expansion Scheme which implied that grammars could not expand unless a special fund was allocated to them. When the expansion fund was announced, Grammar School Heads’ Association Chief Executive said:
‘We are very pleased that, like other good and outstanding schools, selective schools now have access to a fund to allow them to expand their premises.’
But it was wrong to suggest selective schools couldn’t get money for expansion as I pointed out here.