A group of grammar schools have attempted to reduce the middle class bias of “good” grammar schools in the UK. The five state grammar schools, under the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI, have doubled their admission of disadvantaged pupils within a single year by lowering the 11-plus qualification score for children from poorer backgrounds.
In fact, 20 per cent of the highly sought after places in the grammar schools have been given to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds this September.
The lower qualifying score applies to pupils entitled to the “pupil premium”, i.e. children that have received a free school meal at some point within the last six years.
The foundation, speaking to the Independent, said: “We believe this is unprecedented in terms of selective schools nationally.”
“There has been genuine concern that the grammar schools have become increasingly populated by the middle class”.
“At present the proportion of pupils on free school meals in the selective academies is four per cent whereas the percentage of pupils in Birmingham on free school meals is 36 per cent,” it said.
There has long been growing concern that grammar schools have been dominated by the middle class. To address this problem the foundation set a lofty target of doubling their admissions of children entitled to the pupil premium from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.
Initially expecting the goal to take several years to reach, the Foundation almost reached the 20 per cent goal in the first year of its campaign.
Of the five schools within the Foundation, Aston now has 25 per cent of its new intake from those entitled to the pupil premium, Five Ways and Camp Hill Boys have both attained a 20 per cent intake, and Camp Hill Girls and Handsworth have reached 14 per cent.
The lowering of qualification scores is not the only way the Foundation is encouraging poorer students to seek places within their schools, they have also appointed a new Director of Outreach to contact junior and primary schools and provide them with familiarisation courses so that pupils can better prepare themselves for the 11-plus tests.
As a result of the new push for class equality, King Edward’s now has 193 of its 850 places occupied by poorer students, with the tuition fee either waived entirely or heavily subsidised. In King Edward VI High School for Girls, the figure is 121 out of 560.
A spokeswoman from the DfE commented on the matter: “Our plan for education is closing the gap between rich and poor pupils and allows thousands more pupils to go to good and outstanding schools.”
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