Four out of five teachers are opposed to grammar school plans, poll shows

14th September 2016 at 00:02
grammar schools, theresa may, prime minister, education, justine greening
Ministers are 'obsessing about education policy plucked from the 1950s', unions warn

The overwhelming majority of teachers and heads are against the government’s plans to expand selection and create new grammar schools, a new poll has shown.

According to the survey, 82 per cent of respondents were opposed to the creation of new grammar schools, while 81 per cent did not believe there was any evidence to support opening more of the schools.

A further 79 per cent did not believe there was evidence to suggest that academic selection should be expanded in schools.

The poll comes just two days after the government revealed its plans to drastically expand selective education, and follows a similar poll by TES, which showed that more than half of teachers would refuse to teach in a grammar school.

Education secretary Justine Greening announced the government’s plans in a Green Paper on Monday, which would potentially see thousands more 10 and 11-year -olds sitting an entrance exam each year.

But the survey of 2,500 teachers and heads, conducted by NAHT, ASCL, and Teach First on behalf of The Fair Education Alliance, showed that 80 per cent of respondents do not believe that a test administered at age 11 can “reliably measure long-term academic potential”.

Furthermore, 85 per cent said they did not believe that any 11-plus entrance exam could be “insulated from non-academic factors, such as parental engagement or income”.

Elitist policy

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, warned the policy was “a terrible distraction from the issues that matter most”.

“Increasing the number of grammar schools will lower standards and restrict opportunity,” Mr Hobby added. “We cannot afford such an elitist policy in the 21st century - as many students as possible need a high quality academic education.”

In setting out her aims for the policy last week, prime minister Theresa May said the reforms would not bring about a return to the “binary” education system of the 1950s.

But Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the ASCL, disagreed, adding that the education system “did not need more selection”.

“What schools desperately need is enough teachers and enough funding, both of which are in critically short supply,” he said. “The government should focus on these issues rather than obsessing about an education policy plucked from the 1950s.”

Brett Wigdortz, CEO and founder of Teach First, added: “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.”

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