The Department for Education is currently surveying the public to seek views on the ‘Schools that Work for Everyone’ green paper. This paper includes a proposal to overturn current law and allow new grammar schools. The government will allow comprehensive schools to become selective, and they will allow new grammar schools to be created based on public demand. The consultation on this plan is unusual in that it does not allow any comments on the merit of the proposal. The consultation questions seek comments only on how the plan will be implemented.
This is not a true consultation at all. It is particularly worrying that the consultation document mentions evidence that grammar schools impact negatively on surrounding schools. It points out, ‘studies suggest that there may be an association with poorer educational consequences for those pupils not attending selective schools in areas where selection is allowed.’ Yet no plan is mentioned to counter this ‘secondary modern’ effect.
This is a significant change to education in our country and the public deserve a right to have a say. For the first time in more than fifty years tax payers will will pay for schools that the majority of our own children will be barred from attending. We all want good schools, but most of us want good schools to be available for all the children in our community. It is of particular concern that new grammar schools will be less likely to serve children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), dyslexic children, and some ethnic groups who are underrepresented in current selective schools. The problem with allowing new grammar schools to be created ‘based on parental demand’ is that parents will lobby for them but these parents will not consider the evidence that their children are likely to do just as well in a good mixed ability school, they will ignore the expert view of teachers, and they will not consider the impact on neighbouring schools.
Please respond to the consultation and state the problems with the current plan. If you agree that the consultation is flawed then please also consider writing to your MP to say so. The WriteToThem website makes it easy to find and contact your MP online.
Suggested text for your letter here:
Dear X MP,
The government propose a change to current law to allow new grammar schools to be created and I do not support this plan. I would like to have my say on the ‘Schools That Work for Everyone’ green paper but the consultation the Department for Education is running does not allow me to express my views. The questions in this consultation all assume that the survey respondents support the plan for new grammar schools.
The questions are as follows:
How should we support existing grammar schools to expand?
What can we do to support the creation of new grammar schools?
How can we support existing non-selective schools to become selective?
There are further questions in the same style, all of which assume support for the plan from all who complete the survey. There is no way to use this consultation to state my view that expanding grammar schools is a bad idea
This is not a true consultation at all. I do not want the law to change, I believe good mixed ability schools allow children to reach their potential and there is no need for an education divide at age 11. The expansion of grammar schools was not in the Conservative party manifesto so the public has had no democratic way to react to this major change to education policy. The Department for Education’s consultation should be changed as a matter of urgency, it should offer questions that seek the public’s views on whether a return to selective education is desirable. In its present format the consultation is flawed and offers leading questions.
Please adapt this as much as possible, and add your own views on why you don’t support a plan for new grammar schools. It takes only a few minutes to contact your MP using WriteToThem.
Here are the selective school consultation questions in full. As you can see none of these questions offer any opportunity to state that new grammar schools are neither needed nor desired.