Rise in grammar school pupils is selective education ‘by stealth’

Teachers’ union leaders say increasing number of selective places is not best way to raise standards

Education Editor

A group of leading state grammar schools is planning a major increase in pupil numbers – as selective education continues to expand despite the ban on new schools.

The five grammar schools run by the King Edward VI Foundation are seeking to enrol a further 130 pupils to the state schools from September, The Independent can disclose.

In addition, the foundation intends to increase the number of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds at the two independent schools it runs – by increasing the amount of money offered in scholarships and subsidised fees by £3m over the next seven years. At present, it funds 300 pupils at the two schools.

The plans will fuel concern among grammar school opponents about the expansion of selective education by stealth. Teachers’ union leaders say that increasing the number of selective school places is not the best way to raise standards because the 11-plus test comes too early to make a decision about their future.

But the foundation is taking on board criticism of grammar schools in a report by the Sutton Trust education charity last week – in which it was suggested they favoured children from more affluent backgrounds – by launching a drive to recruit gifted pupils in disadvantaged areas.

Research by the trust showed children from private prep schools were four times more likely to obtain places nationally than those on free school meals. This is despite the fact that only 6 per cent of that age group go to prep schools while 16 per cent qualify for free school meals.

The five King Edward VI state grammar schools operated by the foundation are all in Birmingham : Aston, Camp Hill school for Boys, Camp Hill School for Girls, Five Ways and Handsworth.

John Claughton, headmaster of the foundation, said: “This is a significant, if not historic, move by the Foundation.

“Our independent schools are two of the most socially and ethnically mixed independent schools in the country and we are deeply committed to accessibility.”

The expansion plan comes at a time when the number of grammar school pupils is growing, despite the fact that the number of grammars has remained at 164 for the past 20 years because of a ban on new schools.

The number of grammar school pupils went up by 32,000 during the lifetime of the Blair government. This trend has continued under the Coalition – particularly in Sevenoaks, Kent, where permission has been granted for a satellite of an existing grammar school to be opened.Grammar school campaigners have been predicting for some time now that their numbers would be expanding – particularly in Birmingham and Lincolnshire, where they are heavily oversubscribed.

John Collins, secretary to the governors of the foundation, said: “We are increasing admission to our five free grammar schools for 2014 under the existing selection criteria but we aim to implement changes that will make all of our schools more accessible from 2015.”

He added: “The Foundation wants to ensure that all parents and schools with naturally gifted and talented children are aware of the opportunities.

“In addition, those talented children from less privileged backgrounds need to have the same chances as other children: the lack of awareness and the opportunities they offer does not sit comfortably with our charitable purposes.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
Life and Style
tech
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Owner

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Development Manager

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'