At a time when state schools budgets are being pared to the bone, the government have announced £50m to fund additional grammar school places and Theresa May has confirmed that she doesn’t care about evidence when it contradicts her dogmatic ideology. On the plus side, this saves me listing the vast number of studies showing grammar schools make no net improvement to learning outcomes and result in socially sterile mono-cultures.
A key requirement of this funding is it is for schools which have, “ambitious and realistic plans for increasing access for disadvantaged pupils”.
Kendrick Girls School has started consultation to add a further 32 places to its current 96 through this funding. The school is situated in Reading local authority, one of the most polarised in the country. 31.8% of the LA’s non-selective school children are on Pupil Premium (PP) whilst Kendrick admit just 2.1%. They have a massive way to go in order to qualify for this funding. (DfE data)
The school give no indication of how they will achieve this other than vague statements about “working with local primary schools” (which clearly isn’t working) and “raising aspirations” (which clearly isn’t working) and future planned “targeted activities” (which could hardly be more vague.) Where is the ambition? Where is the realism?
The reason Kendrick don’t admit more disadvantaged is abundantly obvious from their admissions policy. This pays lip service to inclusivity whilst making practically no difference (analysis). If Kendrick are serious about increasing access for disadvantaged pupils the only way this can be achieved is by setting aside these new places for girls on Pupil Premium and ranking their test results as a separate group. Kendrick categorically rule out changing their admissions policy. Ergo, they have no intention to increase access for disadvantaged children.
This is a state funded school and should not be the preserve of those who can afford the levels of tutoring needed to be admitted. If you feel the same way please sign my petition asking them to set aside all of these new places to disadvantaged girls. This would be a fitting tribute to Tudor philanthropist, John Kendrick who left his fortune to educate the poor, and gave his name to the school.
Consultation finishes 5 July. I’d like to stimulate some open debate on this and will pass on all comments to the school.