Press Release – June 5th 2017

Education campaign group issues plea to voters in RBWM

Maidenhead-based campaign group Excellent Education for Everyone is urging residents not to vote Conservative or for any other candidate or party in favour of selective education, in the forthcoming General Election.
The campaign group was specifically set up to oppose a grammar school coming into the Borough, supports the existing, highly successful comprehensive system, and will resist unproven claims for the success of selection.
The move follows a review of the education policies laid out in the manifestos of the main parties standing in the Maidenhead and Windsor constituencies.

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Challenging the Grammar School Heads Association

Letter and Pen (wide)

Reports that the Secretary of State and Department of Education officials recently met with members of the Grammar School Heads Association gave us the first indications of the governments next moves in its plans for the expansion of selective education. Minutes from these meetings, outlined in the heads association spring newsletter, included a statement: ‘People who are philosophically opposed to selection, keep saying it damages the education of other pupils but present little or no evidence to support this claim’. Groups opposed to selection from around the country, including Excellent Education for Everyone, have now signed a letter from the national Comprehensive Future group providing exactly the evidence that they claim we have not presented and challenging the Grammar School Heads Association to provide evidence that selection does no harm to those not selected.

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Dodgy statistics – it’s all the Department for Education has

Dfe University attendance statistic for "white working class boys" by school type

On November 10th, the Department For Education published a series of tweets aimed at promoting the idea that grammar schools are good. One of these tweets contained a seriously skewed statistic which the DfE clearly thought was going to show that grammar schools delivered better outcomes for white working class children than comprehensives schools did…and then the twitterverse took them to task and instead showed how it actually showed the opposite.

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The Thinning – an 11+ Dystopia

thethinning

Out in YouTube land there’s a independent film about to go on release. It’s the story of a dystopian future where the population is tested for intelligence and only the brightest are allowed to survive. You can watch the trailer here.

Whilst the film explores an extreme approach to “thinning” the population, its not so very different to the selective education systems that we have in the United Kingdom. Every year in areas that have selective education, children are put through the awful process of testing to see if they are “worthy enough” to be allowed a decent education. So much of their lives will be determined by the outcome of this test that perhaps the extreme version portrayed in “The Thinning” isn’t such a huge step beyond what we do now.

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Why don’t Grammar supporters want to talk about Secondary Moderns?

Don't mention Secondary Moderns

Watching the recent flurry of TV debates on the question of whether to bring back grammar schools, you could be forgiven for thinking that the secondary modern school had no place in the debate. In every TV piece that I have seen the grammar proponents talk about Grammar schools educating the “most able” whilst the Comprehensive schools would be dedicated to the remaining pupils. Either they don’t understand what a Comprehensive school is or they are frightened to use the term Secondary Modern.

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BBC Radio 4 “More or Less” look at grammar schools

The Radio 4 More or Less statistical analysis programme looked at the evidence on the effect of Grammar schools today. You can find the original programme at More or Less: Behind the Stats but we’ve trimmed the content down to only include the relevant part of the programme for you.

Survey of Key Stage 2 Level 5 Children – what about everyone else?

Survey

We became aware today that RBWM have now decided to seek the views of parents whose children achieved level 5 and above at KS2 in 2014 and 2015 regarding why they chose not to send their children to a grammar school. The announcement of this came in a press release posted on their web site dated 21/03/2016.

We are disappointed that £220,000 of taxpayers money has already been earmarked for a satellite to Buckinghamshire’s Sir William Borlase Grammar School in Maidenhead and it is clear from this survey that RBWM do not have any clear evidence of demand.

We are also disappointed that the survey is only of those parents whose children achieved level 5 and therefore, by its nature, excludes the vast majority of school children in Maidenhead, much as the grammar school itself will.

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To have and to have not

Why?

In a recent BBC Radio 4 World at One interview, Councillor Bicknell told us that opposition to a grammar school in Maidenhead is about the “haves and have nots ; it’s the old jealousy argument. Other people say that a grammar school provides more choice in education. Councillor Burbage says that some children leave Maidenhead and travel to Buckinghamshire or Reading grammar schools , so we already have selective education in Maidenhead anyway. These seem to be the 3 principle arguments why we are being told that we should return to a system of selective education that was seen to have failed 30 years ago, and which the vast majority of the other countries in the world do not use.

Our opposition to the return of grammar schools starts with one very simple fact: 11 is much too young to subject children to an exam which is likely to have a significant impact on them, which is likely to last for the rest of their lives. From that simple statement run many streams.

We do not argue that children should never be assessed as to what education is suitable for them. We do not argue that students should not be streamed according to their present rate of progress at secondary school. We do not argue that children who work harder or have greater academic ability should have the opportunity to progress faster in academic terms than those who don’t. We argue that all children should have the opportunity to progress at the best speed that they can at all times in their school career and dividing them into separate schools at the age of 11, will not do that. There is not the slightest implication of jealousy in that argument, which applies equally to children of all backgrounds; so much for the ‘haves and have nots’.

We’ve already looked at the issue of choice in our article “What about parental choice?” and put that issue to bed. It simply doesn’t hold water as a valid argument.

So, what about the issue of de facto selection already existing in RBWM? The number of children who cross out of this local authority boundary to Buckinghamshire grammar schools amount to perhaps 7 children per age group per RBWM comprehensive school. If a new 1000 student grammar school was built, the whole top academic class will be shorn from each comprehensive in Maidenhead. This is a wholly different matter to 7 being shorn from the age group; the effect on our existing schools will be catastrophic. We’re not pretending that the existing situation is ideal but we cannot overturn Buckinghamshire’s policy of selective education; that’s a matter for the people of Buckinghamshire. We would love all of the children of Maidenhead to want to attend our great local comprehensives and RBWM should be doing everything that they can to promote and improve our local schools rather than funding a Buckinghamshire school to undermine our own schools.