Data proves rising demand for grammar schools

Data proves rising demand for grammar schools

Further evidence of the demand for grammar school places has been revealed in newly released government data.

It shows there are 11,000 more grammar school pupils in England now than there were in 2010.

And if the current rate of growth continues, the equivalent of 24 extra grammar schools will have been added by 2021 on top of the numbers eight years ago.

BBC analysis of the data indicates there was a rising trend in demand for places even before the government announced a £200 million expansion plan in May this year.

Under this scheme, schools bidding for funds will be eligible if they can improve access for disadvantaged pupils from poorer backgrounds whose families are on benefits or low earnings.

If a child has received free school meals in the past six years, the grammar school he or she goes to gets extra money called pupil premium funding.

Looking at the admission policies of all 163 grammar schools in England for the school year 2018-19, it seems that more schools are indeed giving priority to pupil premium children.

It’s clear that parental demand, from both advantaged and disadvantaged families, is driving the roll-out of provision.

After all, why would grammar schools open places if they weren’t needed?

At the same time, and despite the element of pupil premium funding, it’s a pity more grammar schools cannot open where the need is greatest geographically.

Many of the critics of grammar schools say they are serving middle-class children.

One reason is that we have been slow to put them where they are really needed – in working-class areas.

We need to improve the academic standards of those who are suited to this type of education.

This is best done in an environment that focuses on the grammar school approach and not a one-size-fits-all comprehensive.

The German system is a good example of going either towards the academic or vocational route and doing so at a sensible age, around 13 years old.

Germany only sends 20% of its students to university, unlike Britain which is now sending 42% in this direction.

This is a mistake and it is being encouraged by a one-size-fits-all approach lower down the age range in comprehensive schools.

I am encouraged by the new data on how demand from all kinds of families is fuelling grammar school places.

Any good school should be able to expand and grammars are no exception.