Posted by: secretperson | November 5, 2008

Balls Attacks Grammar Schools

Ed Balls will give more money to failing secondary schools in areas with an 11-plus test. Schools are already assessed for more help based on their GCSE results, but now extra money will be made available for grammar school areas, because those who fail the 11-plus feel upset, or something.

Balls said:

Non-selective pupils frequently have a perception of having ‘failed’ the 11-plus, and it is especially important therefore to provide excellent role models and to raise aspirations

OK, I will declare an interest here, I went to a grammar school. There wasn’t a standard 11-plus everyone had to take, but to get into my school I had to pass a test. Ed Balls didn’t have to suffer the shame of failing any test, as his school only tested the size of his parents wallet. Fair enough, I have nothing against private schools, but if people start attacking grammars as elitist…

And these pupils aren’t ‘non-selective’ they have been selected to go to a secondary modern.

Now some believe this is part of a stealth attack on grammar schools. It would be electorally unpopular to scrap them so they are being ‘merged’ with other schools, reducing the number of places available. If only Cameron had come out for grammar schools, this is the second post in a row where it would make perfect sense for the Tories to be on the other side, yet they are not (still, anyone but Gordon).

The stupid thing is that no evidence is provided. Are secondary moderns really struggling compared to comprehensives in other areas? Why should schools in areas where the best pupils are creamed off by an academic test get more than schools in areas where the best pupils are creamed off by parents income, either directly or through house prices in catchment areas?

If you simply target the struggling schools by results, you will find those who need help and money more, without the need for theories about hurt feelings.

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