Head teacher hits out at plan to scrap grammar school system

THE head teacher of a Calderdale grammar school has hit back at research that says selective education should be phased out.

A new report for the Department for Children, Schools and Families says schools should not be allowed to choose pupils based on academic ability because the system promotes social segregation.

Instead they should be forced to admit a wider mix of pupils.

But Graham Maslen, head teacher of North Halifax Grammar School, said there was no evidence parents wanted to get rid of grammars.

"You can have social segregation by postcode. If you have a community comprehensive in a leafy suburb, that is another kind of social segregation," he said.

"For grammar schools it does not matter where people live. If they sit the exam and do well, they get in."

He said travelling costs were the biggest burden on parents and that was a matter for Calderdale Council.

The council's home-to-school transport policy states that travel to a selective school will not be paid for if there is a suitable school nearer the child's home.

The research – the biggest study of secondary school admissions since 2001 – was carried out by Professor John Coldron of the National Centre for Social Research.

He carried out research into Calderdale's admissions arrangements in 2005.

Mr Maslen said that this research showed that parents supported grammars and wanted full access to them.

The latest study says: "There are strong arguments to suggest that selection by aptitude is likely to be socially selective by default.

"A high relative attainment in any of the subjects will involve the expense of resources, time and money for travelling, equipment and training.

"More affluent families have more of these resources."

But Mr Maslen said: "We try and make the selective tests as open as possible. There is nothing that students who follow the national curriculum should not have come across."

He admitted some parents paid for extra tuition but said it was not something the school could control. Since 1998 parents have been able to hold a ballot if they want to get rid of a grammar.

Helen Gaunt, head of Calderdale's other grammar school, Crossley Heath, refused to comment on the report.


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