Grammars don't shut out the poor;Letter

11th June 1999 at 01:00
I read with disappointment, but not surprise, your heavily-biased article on grammar schools (TES, May 28).

To suggest that grammar schools "shut out" poor pupils is misleading and inaccurate. Your "handle with care" proviso on school meals data as a measure for assessing social disadvantage is consigned to the leader article, while the main article makes no mention of the Greenwich Judgment as a major factor influencing school intakes in the 1990s.

Yet again, The TES wears its anti-grammar-school heart on its sleeve. On this one issue the paper seems incapable of providing the kind of considered commentary which could help shape rational debate.

My own girls' grammar school has pupils reflecting the whole range of social background and ethnicity.

The parents, whatever their degree of wealth or poverty, appreciate the choice and opportunity provided for their daughters by the school.

While The TES and other opponents of grammar schools would welcome their demise, for many families it would mean that selection by merit and potential would be lost and only two forms of selection would remain: by chequebook and postcode.

Both of these forms of selection would truly shut out poor children from educational opportunities currently provided by the remaining 166 grammar schools.

I find it extraordinary that The TES sees this as "a blow for social equality".

Diana Woods, Headteacher, Queen Mary's high school, Upper Forster Street, Walsall

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