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Less choice as schools choose

The distinction between aptitude and ability necessarily concerns the Philip Hunter, the official adjudicator (Platform, 19). But what is the point of allowing state-funded schools to select some of their pupils at all? At least grammar schools had a rationale. They were specialist schools, specialising in the most academically able. Most became comprehensive because parents preferred to choose equal opportunity for their children rather than to be chosen (or not) for a privileged education on the basis of tests which unfairly wrote too many off.

Formal banding schemes aimed to ensure balanced intakes to give all children a chance to achieve their potential whatever their school. They also constrained parental choice. But partial selection by some schools tilts the level playing field, still leaves schools, not parents, choosing and adds unnecessary complexity and anxiety to secondary transfer.

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