National Grammar Schools Association
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NGSA News Release on the Tomlinson Report

9th June 2004

There is much to commend in the Tomlinson Report. There is a clear recognition that the unacademic should be distinguished at an early age and that the most able need to be stretched more.

But because they are based on the principle of ‘all must have prizes’, adoption of the Tomlinson proposals will make it impossible for grammar (and independent) schools clearly to demonstrate the outstanding achievements of their pupils. For this reason, if no other, the Tomlinson proposals should be firmly rejected.

The overall impression created by the Report is that the current national criteria, assessment and qualifications are hopelessly inadequate for their purposes. Unfortunately, its suggestions for improvement are vague on the critical issues. In particular, there is no clear recognition of the different versions of equality in education. There is a grave danger that the Tomlinson proposals will further the egalitarian cause at the expense of academic standards. The NGSA’s full comments conveyed during the consultation process are to be found at

Concerning the future of secondary schools it is necessary to point out that the Tomlinson Report reveals a new crisis in education, which has been caused largely by comprehensivisation and grade inflation. The fact that the secondary modern schools today have increased their GCSE success rate since 1967 at nearly seven times that of the comprehensives, and thereby reached a level of success nearly twice that of the whole maintained system in 1967 cannot be ignored. Similarly, it is necessary to bear in mind that, because ca. 50% of 15 year-old pupils now attain 5+ GCSE grades A*-C, this criterion is clearly invalid for comparing the performances of grammar-type pupils. Using the more valid criterion, 5+ GCSE grades A*-A, government figures have shown that LEAs deemed wholly selective have a success rate of 15.1% compared with that of 8.6% for LEAs deemed wholly comprehensive!

It must be clearly recognised that comprehensives were introduced on philosophical grounds and not in order to raise academic standards. If a sufficient number of parents wish their children to be educated in a school containing a representative cross-section of social classes and academic abilities they have a legal right under the Human Rights Act 1998 to be provided with such a type of school. But those who would force all parents into the comprehensive system in order to achieve ‘compulsory social mixing’ would be guilty of a form of fascism, which is totally unacceptable in a free society.

NGSA Full Response to the Tomlinson Report