03:32PM, Friday 05 August 2016
If our MP and prime minister, Theresa May, wants to demonstrate her determination that everybody should have the opportunity to improve their lives and their families’ lives, she could do no better than to advise the councillors in her constituency that they should abandon the prospect of a satellite grammar school to Sir William Borlase's Grammar School being built in the Royal Borough.
Grammar Schools may improve opportunities for a small number of children, especially those who have parents able to coach them to pass the 11-plus exam. However, for the vast majority of children (80 per cent), it will mean condemning them to secondary modern education, which was abandoned in Maidenhead about 50 years ago.
It is barbaric to ask children at the age of 10 or 11 to take an exam that will be likely to have a significant impact on the rest of their lives.
The average academic performance of children in Bucks, where selective education is used, is worse than in the RBWM. Many children who do not pass the 11-plus attend comprehensives in the RBWM over more local secondary moderns.
The number of free school meals for children attending grammar schools in Buckinghamshire is very small (three per cent), and at Sir William Borlase's School it amounts to two children compared to the Maidenhead average of 14 per cent. This is not a model for social mobility, it is a model for dividing society.
Our comprehensive schools in RBWM have, on the whole, performed increasingly well over the 50 years since they were established, and should be given the opportunity to continue that improvement without being damaged by the introduction of a grammar school which will effectively downgrade the expectations of the school and reduce opportunities for children from less privileged backgrounds.
As an ex-student of Furze Platt I feel the comprehensive system served me well and left me prepared for higher education.
On behalf of Excellent Education for Everyone
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