National Grammar Schools Association
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A world-renowned brand: why grammar schools must be supported

12 September 2008

In 2006, pupils in England's 164 grammar schools produced more than half the total number of A grade A-levels in 'harder' subjects such as chemistry, physics and foreign languages produced by pupils in up to 2,000 comprehensive schools.  Grammar schools only exist in about a third of the country. Why are bright youngsters in the two thirds of the country that is totally comprehensive failing to reach their potential?  Is it because grammar schools have a special ethos that encourages high achievement?    

Value for money
Average funding per pupil in grammar schools is around £4,000 a year.  In comprehensive schools, it may be anything between £6,000 and £9,000 a year.  This latter amount is roughly the same as the fees charged by many independent schools. Yet the results achieved by many highly-funded state schools are a national disgrace.  

On average, the National Grammar Schools' Association receives around 10 enquiries each week from parents who are anxious to get a place for their child in a grammar school. Some of these enquiries come from expatriates who live in places such as Eastern Europe, Japan and New Zealand.  Others come from parents living in areas in the UK where there are no grammar schools within reach, such as Sussex, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield. Around half the enquiries are from ethnic minority families who especially value a good education as the best way of making one's way in the world. Why should any Conservative not want to help aspiring people like this?

Opinion polls
- Following remarks on Radio 4 by shadow minister for schools Nick Gibb, who claimed there was little demand for grammar schools, the National Grammar Schools Association commissioned ICM to measure public opinion.  ICM interviewed a random sample of 1006 adults aged 18+, by telephone between and 13 and 14th March 2006.  A majority of more than 2 to 1 opposed moves by politicians to undermine or abolish England's remaining 164 grammar schools. 61% of those questioned oppose attacks on grammar schools by politicians and only 27% support them. 12% didn't know. ICM also asked respondents whether or not they would support the introduction of new grammar schools, especially in urban areas where none currently exist. A remarkable 70% of those questioned would support the setting up of new grammar schools and only 21% opposed the idea. 9% didn't know.
- In December 2006, the Centre for Policy Studies published the results of its own opinion poll done by ICM (see Three Cheers for Selection: How grammar schools help the poor by Lord (Norman) Blackwell, CPS, 2006). This found that 76% of those questioned believe that more academic children maximise their potential through streaming or by attending selective schools and 73% believe this applies to less academic children too.
- In October 2007, Reader's Digest published the results of its own poll done by YouGov. In this case, YouGov polled 565 parents from all walks of life who had 11- to 18-year-olds in state education:  'After twenty years for the comprehensive system to prove itself, fully 59 per cent of parents believe that all children should have the chance to go to a grammar school if they pass the exam...almost double the 30% who are against selective education.'  Twenty years ago, Reader’s Digest found that 61% of parents believed that schools catered well for all abilities – today that figure has dropped to 41%.'
- Responses to a 2002 Household Survey done by Northern Ireland's Department for Education for Martin McGuinness (then education minister) elicited an amazing 200,551 responses: 64% of the public opposed the abolition of academic selection and grammar schools.
- In June 2008, YouGov polled 876 adults in Northern Ireland for the Conservative Party. Overall, 58% disagreed with plans by Sinn Fein imposed plans to scrap the 11-plus after this year and only 36% agreed. 80% of Unionist voters, 36% of SDLP voters, 34% of Sinn Fein followers and 75% of Alliance supporters oppose scrapping the 11-plus. (Belfast Telegraph, 23 June 2008).    

12 September 2008.