Leading Article: Losing Focus
The Times leading article cites Sutton Trust research ‘Poor Grammar’.
When Theresa May stood in front of 10 Downing Street on the first day of her premiership, she reminded the nation of the burning injustice that poorer children get a poorer education and end up in lower-paid jobs. Mrs May is right to fight such injustice, but it is misguided to claim that the creation of more grammar schools would be a useful weapon in that battle. Instead, the government should press on with the reforms to GCSEs and A levels instigated by the former education secretary Michael Gove, continue with academisation and widen access to technical training.
When the prime minister was educated, most children were still educated at age 11 to determine whether they would study for O levels and A levels or end up at less ambitious “secondary modern” schools. Mrs May herself exemplifies the great benefits of a grammar schools education for those lucky enough to receive one.
The most important measure of our education system should be that a good one is available to all. Evidence collected by the Sutton Trust, a charity that works to improve social mobility through education, suggests that it is not. Less than 3 per cent of grammar school entrants are entitled to free school meals, a marker of social disadvantage, compared with 18 per cent of English children overall. The difference is stark, too, among the brightest 11-year-olds: only 40 per cent of the poorest make it to grammar school, compared with 66 per cent of their equally brainy but better-off classmates.
Read the full article here. (£)