School leaders reject grammar school plans

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has confirmed that school leaders in England are opposed to government plans to extend selection and open new grammar schools.

In September NAHT members voted overwhelmingly against extending selection, with 80 per cent opposing plans to open new grammar schools.

The NAHT has set out its position in written evidence to the government, which was submitted to the government consultation on extending selection.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, says that ’the evidence does not support the expansion of grammar schools’, arguing that they ‘do not contribute to social mobility’ and ‘will distract attention from the things that really matter’.

Hobby has described the grammar school plans as a ‘divisive and risky reform’ and believes the government’s focus should be on ‘getting great teachers for the pupils who need them most’.

He explained: “We know that grammar schools do not increase social mobility. They often provide a good quality education for those lucky enough to attend them, but they take fewer children on free school meals than schools with mixed abilities - 12.6 per cent of pupils at the highest performing non-selective schools claim free school meals; at grammar schools this is just 2.4 per cent. For too many of the poorest pupils, grammars have failed to deliver.

“In September our members voted overwhelmingly against plans to expand selection in schools, with nearly eight in ten opposing the plans to open more grammar schools. School leaders know that selective school systems, using flawed and inaccurate tests, do not create schools that work for everyone. It is too late to address educational and social disadvantage at 11 and it is impossible to fairly determine academic ability with a single pass or fail test.

“Yes, we must do more for social mobility. The priority is good quality education in the early years; strong and broad foundations at primary that build a love of learning and - desperately needed now - appropriately qualified subject teachers at secondary. All of these goals rest on effective recruitment and sufficient funding.”

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