The Moral Maze of the 11 Plus

According to the Sutton Trust, only 3% of entrants to grammar schools are entitled to free school meals when, in selective areas, the average proportion of pupil premium children is 18%.

Making the choice of secondary school is, quite rightly, seen as a key moment in our children’s academic path. For those of us who are making, or have made, that decision, it’s mostly about how far the crow flies from our house to educational nirvana. But for some, that preparation started many years before the Local Education Authority deadline.

The 11plus is an examination taken by some school pupils in their last year of primary school, to get into their preferred grammar school. Its very existence has long been a battleground for those who believe it is elitist and leads to a two tier (or three or four!) school system against those, who feel it is a way to ensure those who excel academically, can reach their potential, without having to pay for private education.

In these days of social media circus, nuclear polarisation posts, such as the one below, are jumped on and, before you know it, there is no debate, just extremities of a class-based argument – essentially it becomes another political football. As someone pointed out, grammar schools do not necessarily have much smaller class sizes or better facilities but who cares about this when points are there to be scored?

“The whole grammar school debate needs flipping.  The children who really need the smaller class sizes, extra curricular activities and better facilities are the bottom 20%, not the top.  The best idea is to invest in all schools and make sure everyone has the same opportunities.” [Censored Head FCCT]

Until we have that educational panacea, how can we ensure that every child who wants to, has a fair chance at taking the 11plus? Well, geography is one issue. We found it very interesting to see the geographical spread of grammar schools, as can be seen in this article. Sorry children of Norwich and Newcastle!

More importantly, in these times when social mobility is a key topic of discussion, how do we ensure every child has an equal opportunity, regardless of parental income? Given that only around 15% of children who take the test make it to grammar school, many parents see the need for tutoring to help prepare them for the test. This, of course, adds fuel to the critical voices that grammar schools are often the preserve of the middle class.

GBA believe that more could be done by the tutoring industry to enable more children to reach their potential. We commit to:

  • Charge no more than £10 per session for primary maths, English and 11plus group classes
  • Partner with a local school to enrol one pupil premium child, per primary age class, free of charge
  • Continue to allow parents in group classes the ability to have a payment holiday if their financial circumstances change.
  • Make available more free lessons and resources through our website and social media

We will continue to advocate that more can be by the tutoring industry to increase accessibility to extracurricular learning. There is still some way to go, and we hope to be part of a framework between tutoring companies, local authorities, state and grammar schools to make this happen.

More information on our current classes can be found on our website.

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