New grammar schools an ‘unnecessary distraction’, MPs warn
There is still not a strong enough argument for opening new grammar schools, the chair of the Commons Education Select Committee has said.
Neil Carmichael, Conservative chair of the select committee, has called on the government to demonstrate how expanding selection would help the poorest children.
Speaking as a new report from the committee was released, Mr Carmichael said: “The government has yet to prove the case for opening a new wave of grammar schools.
“If the government wants to push ahead with new grammar schools it must demonstrate how this aids social mobility and improves educational outcomes for all, most especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
‘We need to help all young people’
The new report calls for:
- New grammar schools to be judged by how they help to close the attainment gap within the wider school system, not just for individual pupils;
- The government to consider the consequences for school funding, the supply of teachers and the overall health of schools in England;
- Ministers to explain how the new grammars will close the attainment gap for all pupils, in all schools, not just those who pass the admissions test;
- Caution when making comparisons between high- and mixed-ability pupils at selective and non-selective schools;
- Selection tests not to be the only basis for grammar school admissions, as the government has yet to show how an admissions system could be designed in a manner which would be immune to gaming or the ability to pay.
Mr Carmichael added: “The focus on opening new grammar schools is, in my view, an unnecessary distraction from the need to ensure all our young people are equipped with the skills to compete in the modern workplace. A broadly skilled workforce is crucial to the future success of the UK economy.
“If the government is committed to increased specialisation in our education system then they should spell out how this meets the aims of the industrial strategy and the goal of an economy that works for all.”
The report follows an ‘evidence check’ hearing with academics and policy experts, who expressed scepticism about the power of grammar schools in improving attainment.
The Education Select Committee also heard from schools minister Nick Gibb and Dr Tim Leunig, chief scientific adviser at the Department for Education.