A new wave of grammar schools could be introduced by the government, which claims they’ll improve social mobility and opportunities.
There are currently 163 grammar schools in the country accommodating 164,000 pupils – a mix of independent and state schools. In Leeds there are only state grammar schools.
Conservative Councillor, Gerald Wilkinson, said: “I went to a grammar school and it helped me out a lot. I am in favour of more. Leeds needs more grammar schools, this will help out a lot of pupils.”
But research from the house of commons suggest that grammar schools have fewer pupils from ethnic groups attending – groups who often attain lower marks at secondary school level. These include black African, black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani children.
Findings also suggest that grammar schools are more socially selective than any other schools.
The eleven plus test can alone feature exam questions from all, or a few of the following: maths, verbal reasoning, english, non-verbal reasoning and creative writing.
There are two ways to measure social mobility, the first is by the ‘income deprivation affecting children index’, this measures children from low income households. The other way is by measuring the number of students claiming free school meals.
Dr Richard Badger, an education expert and senior lecturer at Leeds University, said: “There is current evidence on grammar schools right now that prove they only lead to a very small improvement in education. The process of selection is not a good idea as well, instead there needs to be a comprehensive selection.”
“This is a very bad idea. The system needs to be improved now, the process of selection can not be left to a small group of people,” Dr Badger said.
Labour Councillor Sharon Hamilton, the support executive member for housing management, said: “I disagree with this idea, it will disenfranchise most students”
Grammar schools fell out of favour in the 1960s after the introduction of secondary modern, then comprehensive schools by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.
Theresa May has opted to bring back grammar schools, although the previous prime minister David Cameron was against the idea.
She has said that they will ‘improve social mobility’ and ‘the process of selection’, despite many Councillors and ministers disagreeing with the idea on both sides of the chamber.
“At this present time it is not a good idea as currently more alternative schools are need to be built. This current government are not allowing councils to do it. We need more schools now but not grammar schools.” Councillor Hamilton said.
“We do not need more selection in the educations system. What schools desperately need is enough teachers and funding. Both of which are in critically short demand,” Malcolm Trobe, ASCL interim general secretary, told the Yorkshire post.