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Exclusive: Only one in four expanding grammars makes poor pupil pledge

Campaigners ‘aghast’ more expansion cash is available despite ‘no proof’ first wave will deliver on poorer pupil numbers

gramma school expansion

Campaigners ‘aghast’ more expansion cash is available despite ‘no proof’ first wave will deliver on poorer pupil numbers

Only a quarter of grammar schools that won government funding to expand say they will increase their proportion of disadvantaged pupils above the national average next year.

A condition of receiving the cash was that they showed “deliverable and achievable plans” on how they would increase number of their pupils who are eligible for the pupil premium. 

But Department for Education documents show that only four of the 16 schools that won funding in the first round of the selective schools expansion fund predict that their number of disadvantaged pupils will be above the national average of 13.6 per cent.

A further four say the rate will be lower, while the remaining half do not give a figure.

The anti-selection campaign group Comprehensive Futures said it was “scandalous” that the schools had not revealed their forecasts.

Chair Nuala Burgess said she was “absolutely aghast” that the second round of bids for more grammar school expansion money had been opened today despite there being no proof that the first set of schools would deliver.

Grammar schools expansion

She said: “I could promise you a Ferrari tomorrow – no problem! The schools make these promises and some of them are just patronising.”

She added: “This funding is being rushed through at a time when every non-selective school is desperately short of funds.

"The number of disadvantaged pupils in grammar schools is tiny – even if the funding is successful and raises numbers by 100 per cent in every grammar school in England, the actual number of disadvantaged children accessing grammar schools will still be pitifully small.”

A DfE spokesman said: “Applicants weren’t compelled to provide predicted rates [of pupil premium pupils]. They were compelled to provide deliverable but achievable plans – which they all have.

“The bar was very high for applications but didn’t include setting out predictions as to how many pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds would be admitted in future years.”

Jim Skinner, chair of the Grammar School Heads’ Association, said: “Selective schools are taking a wide range of actions to increase the proportion of disadvantaged pupils gaining entry to well above the national rate of 4 per cent of disadvantaged pupils who achieved the higher standard in the 2018 key stage 2 national curriculum assessments.”

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