Feeding the future of success

Feeding the future of success

A grammar school in Gloucestershire has struck upon a potential – and exciting – solution to help boost the attainment of poorer children.

The incredibly popular Crypt School in Gloucester, which receives three applications for everyone place, is bidding to open a feeder primary school.

Using Free School powers, it is applying for funding to open the primary in Podsmead, one of the most deprived electoral wards in England.

It would not be a selective school but the idea would be that many of its pupils would ultimately secure a place at the grammar school.

I wait with interest to see how Crypt will go about getting children from the primary to feed into the grammar if they are successful.

It might be possible to take a broader approach on entry – for example, combining the 11 plus test score with school performance and SATs results over a longer period.

There will also be an advantage in making sure the primary school covers the entrance requirements for the grammar school. This would be a great benefit to these children whose parents might not be in the same position as others to pay for tutors.

And even if every pupil does not go on to attend Crypt, all the children would have benefitted from the ethos of achievement and ambition set by the grammar school.

This proposal could be a way of paving a brighter future for children from deprived areas.

I am passionate that primary education is the key to unlocking a child’s potential. Get the fundamentals right at an early age and you will see children flourish at secondary school – get it wrong and they will flounder.

I’m also a firm believer that grammar schools can make a huge difference to social mobility.

One day I would like to see the law banning new grammar schools abolished so we can build one in every major town – targeting deprived areas first.

But with the law, as it stands, those who have the vision to help the most academically bright have their hands tied. So we need to think outside of the box and look at other ways we can help those children.

And for those that argue the current system is fairer, let’s not forget there are far more ‘requires improvement’ and ‘special measure’ schools in deprived areas than in expensive leafy suburbs. Good schools push up property prices and we get selection via the back door.

We need to bring good and outstanding schools into the deprived areas so children are not missing out on reaching their full potential – if we can achieve that at primary level, even better.

So I take my hat off to Crypt School and I wish them every success with their endeavours.

It would be wonderful to see other grammar schools follow suit and open up feeder primary schools in the deprived areas nearest to them.