Justine Greening denies grammar school policy ignores poorest pupils
Our Chief Executive, Lee Elliot Major, is quoted in the Guardian’s coverage of Justine Greening’s speech on grammar schools.
The education secretary, Justine Greening, has denied that the government is ignoring the poorest families in Theresa May’s drive for a new wave of grammar schools, after setting out a focus on “ordinary working families” that excludes children on free school meals.
Greening will argue that many children from her newly defined grouping of ordinary working families are already attending the few remaining grammar schools in England, and that many more would benefit from expansion of the programme.
Greening defended the government’s plans against accusations that the poorest pupils would lose out from the new focus on ordinary working families.
Lee Elliot Major, chief executive of the Sutton Trust, said it was clear that grammar schools were not serving the poorest third of poor children. “A child from a private prep school would be 10 times as likely as a child on free school meals to get into a grammar, so they are disproportionally serving those from the richest backgrounds at the top and not those from the poorest,” he said.
Asked if grammar schools had changed in recent years to draw in more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, Major said: “I don’t think there’s much evidence of that, I have to say. If you look at today’s grammars, they are highly socially selective, and we would welcome the government’s focus on social mobility, but if they want grammars to be the engines of social mobility that is far from the case right now.”
Major said there was an “incredible amount of private tutoring” to get children into grammars, and that schools should consider accepting lower grades from pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds or even offering private tutoring.