At the meeting of Wiltshire Council on Tuesday 18th October councillors are being asked to reject increasing the number of grammar schools in the county.
A motion, being proposed by Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Hubbard (Melksham South), asks the council to reject the proposal by the Conservative Government to allow academy schools to introduce selection based on ability as this would limit the life chances of many young people in the county, and potentially saddle the local authority with considerable additional transport costs.
Cllr Hubbard commented: “The very concept of testing young people for a couple of hours at the age of 11, and then telling up to 80% of them that they are failures simply sickens me.
“We need to encourage, nurture and grow our young people – helping them discover their individual talents and abilities as they develop – not cast them as failures before they have barely started in life.
“Within the comprehensive system we have a system of streaming, which means that learners are placed with those at a similar academic level at each stage of their progression, ensuring they are educationally challenged to individually excel without being stigmatised as ‘not being good enough’ to attend a particular establishment.
“We need to have an educational system that gives every child in Wiltshire a fair chance in life, not just those lucky enough to pass an exam at the age of 11.”
Cllr Hubbard was supported by the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Wiltshire Council Cllr Glenis Ansell who commented, “I fully support this motion and sincerely hope that the council will do so also when they meet.
“I hope that Wiltshire has the courage to follow the example of other local authorities, such as Oxford, Warwickshire and Milton Keynes, who have said ‘No’ to more grammar schools in their communities.
Our aim is to give every child a fair chance to have the best possible start in life.
Notes for Editors:
Cllr Hubbard’s motion to council:
A Fair Chance for Every Child in Wiltshire
The Conservative Government in Westminster have issued a Green Paper suggesting that every school could convert to a Grammar School, reintroducing selective education for children across the county of Wiltshire.
Sir Michael Wilshaw*, the head of Ofsted, has described the expansion of Grammar Schools as a “retrograde step” and this view has been echoed by educationalists from across the country.
Currently in Wiltshire there are 2 Grammar Schools, both in Salisbury where there are 5 other state schools offering secondary education. No other community in Wiltshire enjoys having so many comprehensive schools in such a small geographical area
- Should one, or more, of Wiltshire’s market town schools, which is served by just one secondary school, convert to a grammar school then this would leave many children without a local school to attend
- Even Free School founder and right ring columnist Toby Young has publicly stated that introducing new grammar schools with do nothing to help boost social mobility**
- That should rural comprehensive schools in Wiltshire be converted to grammar schools it would disadvantage Wiltshire’s children, with many being forced to travel significant additional distance to schools each day
- That there is a considerable risk to the county’s budget, should the council have to fund passenger transport for young people to schools other than those local to them as a result of not passing the 11 plus
- That dividing young people at the age of 11, based on their individual performance during a 145-minute*** one-off exam, is a retrograde step which will end up in the majority of young people be left feeling they are failures
- That former Prime Minister David Cameron was correct to say “I think it is delusional to think that a policy of expanding a number of grammar schools is either a good idea, a sellable idea or even the right idea.”****
Council calls for:
- A statement to be issued by Wiltshire Council stating: “This Council does not support the further expansion of grammar schools in Wiltshire”
- The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services to lobby all parliamentarians in Wiltshire to do all in their power to prevent existing comprehensive schools being converted to grammar schools
- The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services to write to the Secretary of State stating that Wiltshire Council does not believe that the conversion of comprehensive schools to grammar schools in rural communities is in the best interests of all young people
* speaking on LBC radio - http://www.lbc.co.uk/hot-topics/schools/ofsted-chief-no-new-grammar-schools/
*** Source of details of 11 plus exams in Wiltshire - http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/schools/regions/wiltshire-11-plus