The prime minister’s new grammar schools must be judged by the impact they have on the education system as a whole, rather than by the difference they make to individual pupils’ lives, MPs are expected to say this week.
The Commons Education Select Committee is expected to argue that grammar schools are likely to be dominated by pupils from wealthy families, who can afford tutoring for the entrance tests.
According to the Sunday Times, a report delivered by the committee will point out that it is very unlikely that a tutor-proof test will be found, which would ensure that pupils from all backgrounds stand an equal chance of being admitted to the new schools.
Plans for a national admissions test have been reported. But the committee’s report is expected to say: “The government is yet to demonstrate how an admissions system could be designed in a manner that would be immune to gaming, or being reduced to the ability to pay… The creation of new grammar schools would have effects throughout the education system. The government must consider carefully the consequences for school funding, the supply of teachers and the overall health of schools in England.”
MPs are expected to point out that existing grammar schools do not achieve the aims set out by ministers for the new grammars.
They will call on ministers to explain how the new grammars will close the attainment gap for all pupils, in all schools, not only those who pass the admissions test. In particular, they will want to see plans to help bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds who do not attend grammar schools.
The new grammar schools, which are expected to open from 2020 onwards, will admit only the brightest 10 per cent of children. Existing grammars, meanwhile, typically admit the top 25 per cent.