Is there a lie at the heart of ‘top-achieving’ grammar schools?

Parents and teachers have criticised the school for behaving like ‘an exam factory’ [Image: David Jones/PA].

Is this how grammar schools achieve their elite status?

Around 16 pupils at St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington have been slung out on their ear because they didn’t make the grade in AS and equivalent internal exams before entering their final A-level year – the top grade, that is.

This brings a new dimension to the “social mobility” argument about grammar schools: In this situation, the pupil’s background doesn’t matter at all – their only purpose is to present an impression that the school offers the highest-quality education and creates the best-qualified alumni, even when it doesn’t.

Doesn’t that make this organisation a fraud?

And what about the students who have been penalised? Their entire careers are in jeopardy because of this late-stage betrayal by the school they thought they could trust to guide them onto the next level of their lives.

Regardless of their background, their progress into the higher echelons of UK society has ground to an unceremonious halt.

Is it really because they aren’t good enough? Or is it because their teachers can’t be bothered to do the extra work?

It’s easier to just dump the chumps, after all – right?

Then the school maintains an unfairly-earned high status for which the staff haven’t had to work.

Is that what is happening here?

If so, Theresa May should kiss her plan for more grammar schools goodbye – forever.

One of the country’s leading grammar schools has been accused of acting unlawfully by throwing out sixth-form students who failed to get top grades in AS and equivalent internal exams ahead of their final A-level year.

About 16 pupils at St Olave’s grammar school in Orpington, in the London borough of Bromley, were told their places for year 13 – the last year of school – had been withdrawn after they failed to get the required three Bs. One father accused the school of dumping his son like “old garbage”.

Parents and teachers have criticised the school for behaving like “an exam factory”, focusing purely on results and school league table success at the expense of students’ education and welfare.

Days before the start of a new term, those students who have lost their places are reluctantly looking at alternative schools or colleges at which they can complete their A-levels in order to go on to university or pursue a career. All are devastated at losing their friendship group, and many are struggling to find schools that offer the same examining board.

Education experts say a number of other schools – including other high-achieving grammars – are employing similar tactics to ensure the best possible results, but it is thought to be the first time the issue been challenged in court.

Source: Grammar school ‘unlawfully threw out’ students who failed to get top grades | Education | The Guardian

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No Comments

  1. NMac August 30, 2017 at 7:51 am - Reply

    Any success these schools have is at the expense of the majority of students. They are divisive, elitist and their intention is to keep the majority of working class children from getting into higher education, thus enabling the Tories to keep power and wealth in theirs and their chums hands.

  2. Jules August 30, 2017 at 9:00 am - Reply

    St Olaves has been expelling Y12 students since 2012.

    Four School Governors opposed this policy – proposing fairer alternatives – but were themselves “expelled” by the Headmaster.

    You might well ask how a Headmaster has the ability to pick and choose “his” Governors – but that is another story.

    Non-Grammar schools have been known to massage their league table status.
    The Headmaster’s extreme example should be challenged for the damage it does to young individuals – not recruited to oppose selective education.

    • Mike Sivier August 31, 2017 at 12:08 am - Reply

      Is there documentary evidence to support your comment? This is interesting.

      • Jules September 1, 2017 at 9:42 am - Reply

        Yes there is plenty of evidence of all sorts of questionable practice – as well as ignoring Regulations

        I’ve since learnt that the first grade exclusions were in Sep. 2011.

        In 2015, at least 4 Governors were “re-organised” out – 2 despite procedural irregularities and 1 contrary to Regulations.
        All had opposed the excesses of the new grade/exclusion policies.

        Evidence around the Head “choosing” the Governors is slightly circumstancial.
        (“The fox went into the hen-house, but few people actually saw the fox eat the chickens “)
        One (scared?) person has details.
        But there is hard evidence of the Head attempting to “choose” the Chair of Governors.

  3. Barry Davies August 30, 2017 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Todays grammar schools are not the grammar schools us old wrinkles remember which were certainly a means of upward social mobility, you got your place because you deserved it not because of your parents having money or because your school had a dodgy record on fiddling to pointless league tables.

    The whole idea of the league tables is flawed because by definition one school will be at the top one at the bottom, but does this actually reflect how good the school is or is there in reality little to choose between the top and the bottom?

    The schools need to be supervised by educational authorities certainly, but not with the current system which leads to stupidity like that at St Olafs, surely expelling pupils for failing to achieve the grade is a poor reflection on the teaching standards rather than the pupil?

  4. Laura Sutherland August 30, 2017 at 11:23 am - Reply

    This has been going on for many years, one of my neighbours sent his son to a local well renowned private (fee paying) school from the age of 4/5 years old. At the age of 10/11 his son was denied a place going forward as he didn’t perform well enough in the exam transitional exam to move up to the senior school (bearing in mind the school had been teaching him for the whole of his school life!) His parents were shell shocked and attributed the failure to his being dyslexic. This isn’t a new tactic, schools are now businesses, this is also the reason for the ridiculous Uni courses that are on offer.

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