Anoosh Chakelian quotes CEO Lee Elliot Major on academic selection at 16.
Four years ago, LAE was the focus of a local scandal, when some students who didn’t meet its standards were ejected after year 12, and ended up at Playfair’s school. This story was echoed recently at St Olave’s grammar school, which was culling pupils midway through sixth form if they weren’t on track for As and A*s.
Although I can’t get retention figures, LAE’s most recent Ofsted finds “the proportion of students who stay on their two-year programmes is very high”, but the teachers do sit down with every student at the end of year 12 and review how they’re doing.
“Obviously if they haven’t got a good mark in their end of year result, it’s not always a good basis to take on to A-Level,” says Harrison. A “handful” of pupils leave, she admits, “and some make the decision that they want to go somewhere else”.
This practice is uncomfortable for advocates of the comprehensive system, and it remains unclear how selection at 16 will affect social mobility. “It’s one of those frontiers of social mobility that hasn’t really been thought through,” says Lee Elliot Major, the chief executive of social mobility charity the Sutton Trust. “It’s the missing bit – and the most interesting bit.”