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We already have schools that work for everyone

Bethan Osborne

This week some families in the area are awaiting the results of the 11-plus tests which will determine whether their children gain a place at a grammar school in a neighbouring county. This letter is addressed to them.

For those whose children achieve the pass mark – well done for combining nature (the right genetic mix to enable your kids to solve reasoning problems) and nurture (support, aspiration and perhaps a bit of private tutoring) to produce an elite child.

For those who didn’t make the grade – do not despair. You are fortunate to live in a town where comprehensive schools still exist.

That means your child can go to an all ability school locally where the brighter students do just as well as their peers who have gone to grammars and the less bright at the age of ten do better than their contemporaries in the selective system.

Lots of them get to good universities, even Oxbridge, or are offered great apprenticeships and become successful, secure and happy adults.

So, while you might be sad you put your ten year old’s childhood on hold for a few months of intense studying and some of your friends are bragging about their successful Grammar boy or girl, consider your good fortune that Government education policy has not re-introduced selection into RBWM – yet.

Our senior schools haven’t been replaced by secondary moderns as they have over the county borders so you still have choice, with the ‘safety net’ of good local comprehensives.

In fact, think yourselves lucky that you live in Maidenhead and your child can get to go to a comprehensive with all its advantages of inclusive education and equality of opportunity and take a moment to tell your councillor and our MP how we already enjoy ‘Schools That Work for Everyone’.

Bethan Osborne

Gringer Hill


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  • LawrenceLinehan

    22:58, 16 November 2016

    If you want to see the effect of grammars on good local comprehensives read: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/nov/08/grammar-school-comprehensive-headteacher-higher-ability This is an article by a comprehensive school headmaster in a situation similar to schools in Maidenhead - amongst other things he says: ‘Based on Progress 8, the government’s new way to measure schools’ effectiveness, my comprehensive is in the top 1% of state-funded schools in the east Midlands, and the top 5% nationally. It’s also losing pupils at an alarming rate … There is no logic to it. Progress 8 compares how much progress children make between age 11 and 16 against how much they would be expected to make. The higher ability students in my own school got a Progress 8 score of 0.5 this summer, whereas their equivalents in our neighbouring grammar school had to make do with a mere 0.4. Our overall score of 0.41 matches theirs exactly, even though only 30% of our children are higher ability when they leave primary school, as opposed to 100% at the grammar school. In other words, our higher ability children get better grades … People who go there (the grammar school) tell me teaching methods are somewhat old fashioned. Great, say the parents, we like old fashioned. It goes with 16th-century high streets, thatched cottages and Poldark; a reassuring reminder that form is temporary but class is permanent.’ Don’t say you weren’t warned.



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