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Four out of five heads and teachers oppose grammar schools

Over 2,500 teachers, school leaders and heads respond to a poll by NAHT, ASCL, and Teach First for The Fair Education Alliance

Posted by Stephanie Broad | September 16, 2016 | People, policy, politics

Less than 48 hours after the government formally launched the Prime Minister’s new policy on grammar schools, a survey of teachers and school leaders has rejected the plans. 

The Fair Education Alliance is publishing the results of a joint survey of over 2,500 head teachers and teachers by The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and Teach First. Over 80% of respondents oppose the creation of new grammar schools. The survey also found that 80% of teachers and head teachers who were asked do not believe that a test taken at 11 years old can reliably measure long term academic potential. Each organisation has stressed the desire to see an ambitious programme of social mobility that stretches every child, rather than selecting only a lucky few.

With the strength of feelings clear, the Fair Education Alliance has launched a public petition on the issue at 

Key findings:

  • 82% of respondents oppose the opening of new grammars
  • 80% of respondents do not believe that a test administered at age 11 can reliably measure long-term academic potential
  • 79% of respondents believe that there is no evidence for increasing selection in education
  • 81% of respondents believe that there is no evidence for opening grammar schools
  • 85% of respondents do not believe a test at age 11 can be insulated from non-academic factors such as parental engagement or income 

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, said: “Increasing the number of grammar schools will lower standards and restrict opportunity. We cannot afford such an elitist policy in the twenty-first century - as many students as possible need a high quality academic education. This is a terrible distraction from the issues that matter most.”

Malcolm Trobe, Interim General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We don’t need more selection in the education system. What schools desperately need is enough teachers and enough funding, both of which are in critically short supply. The government should focus on these issues rather than obsessing about an education policy plucked from the 1950s. Our job is to work together to ensure the education system supports all young people to achieve.” 

Brett Wigdortz, CEO and Founder of Teach First, said: “We are united in our desire to improve social mobility, but it’s clear we must use proven policies to achieve this. We know great comprehensive schools and academies are delivering a stretching and ambitious education. We must aim to replicate this for every child, not selecting only a few to be supported to succeed, whilst leaving the majority behind.” 

The three organisations who jointly conducted the survey are part of the Fair Education Alliance (FEA), a coalition working together to ensure that every child gets a world class education, irrespective of their socio-economic background and oppose new grammars. The FEA argues that investing in the quality of early years, investing in teaching and leadership in schools and guaranteeing high quality and impartial careers advice to disadvantaged children are more effective ways to improve social mobility.    

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