Save Our Grammar Schools

Rob Wilson MP has released a press release today about a challenge ten people have made to change Reading’s two grammar schools to non selective.  Rob says

“I urge parents to sign up to vote in the ballot and ensure their voice is heard. We must not allow excellence and aspiration to be destroyed by the misconceived action of a small number of people. Anyone wishing to join my campaign to support our Grammar Schools should contact me at robwilsonmp@parliament.uk

 I agree and support Rob’s campaign.  My sons went from Katesgrove Primary to Reading School.  Discipline was good and they had an excellent education.  The grammar schools are for children who have academic ability from all walks of life regardless of the status or background of the parents.

I do not want to see the grammar schools destroyed and I hope you will support Rob’s campaign.

Update: my good friend Isobel Ballsdon has posted on this here

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7 Responses to Save Our Grammar Schools

  1. Steve says:

    Out of interest, how many children at the grammar schools actually come from Reading ?

  2. I don’t know the numbers and now I’m not a councillor I don’t have easy access to that information. However I think both grammar schools should reduce their designated areas to serve Greater Reading. I’m aware that Rob Wilson has had meetings with the schools to encourage them to do this and he has also raised the issue in the House.

  3. Sceptical Voter says:

    Wazir, I’m with you on the need for the two grammars to reduce their designated areas and think Rob Wilson is right to focus on positive steps to boost Reading’s secondary provision — for example with the new school in East Reading.

    But I can’t agree with your statement that the grammars serve academic children “from all walks of life regardless of the status or background of the parents”.
    This may once have been the situation but — sadly — this is increasingly not the case.

    This is a debate which has raged within your own party. In a thoughtful speech in May 2007, David Willetts (now Universities Minister) described the chances of a child from a poor background getting to one of the surviving grammar schools as “shockingly low” — and pointed out that just 2 per cent of children at grammars received free school meals. Intensive tutoring by middle class parents is one factor which he cites — but his speech is far more wide-ranging and thought-provoking than that and is worth re-visiting.

    I point this out, not for party political reasons, but to illustrate how complex the issues are.

    • From current parents of pupils at Reading’s Grammars the cultural mix is far greater these days than when my sons were at Reading, so I disagree, but thank you for your comment.

    • Jonathan says:

      Even if it isn’t perfect, surely it is better than having good education only available to children who’s parents can afford a house in the Maiden Erlegh catchment area?

  4. Sceptical Voter says:

    I suppose one way to find out would be to discover how many children who receive free school meals attend the two grammars in Reading.

  5. Sceptical Voter says:

    Jonathan — a very valid point. I completely agree that access to the best comprehensives shouldn’t be “bought”. Currently, neither grammars, nor the most sought-after comprehensives, serve the most disadvantaged pupils at all well. Personally, I favour an element of banding, to ensure that schools have pupils with a more even distribution of abilities. The irony is that the Maiden Erlegh catchment area is now more exclusive than ever, given that pupils from the most socially and culturally diverse area have been effectively excluded from the school.

    I forsee a completely futile debate over the merits of grammar schools, which will get us nowhere. Our focus should be on Reading’s under-performing non-selective schools; for too long, the education of the vast majority of the town’s children who don’t go to the grammars has been shamefully neglected. It is effectively a two-tier system — and this isn’t good enough.

    (Figures for Reading School show that 0.5% of pupils receive free school meals. For Kendrick, the figure is 0.4% — the figure nationally is 20%.)

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