National Grammar Schools Association
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19 April 2011.


Well-qualified applicants from grammar schools for highly prized university courses are likely to suffer from the same discrimination as applicants from independent schools, according to the National Grammar Schools Association. 

Ministerial plans to compel university admissions officers to favour applicants with lower A-level grades from under-performing schools above those with better grades from high-performing schools will be counter-productive and eventually damage the country and its economy. 

‘Instead of expecting universities to remedy the failures of state schools for the purposes of social engineering by attempting to control their admissions,   the government should be improving standards and choice in state schools’, said Robert McCartney QC, the NGSA’s chairman.

Grammar schools are the only type of school in the state system that perform anywhere near as well as independent schools.  Yet, for political reasons,  places in grammar schools are severely restricted  in areas of the country where they currently exist, despite massive demand from parents.  Four fifths of the country, moreover, has no grammar schools at all and ministers firmly refuse to allow that choice. 

‘Every year’, said Mr McCartney,  ‘thousands of children voluntarily enter for the 11-plus exam in the hope of being offered a place in a grammar school.’   ‘But because politicians restrict the number of places, many hundreds of youngsters who achieve the required pass-mark  are denied a place.  This is the cruellest possible outcome.’

‘Everyone wants to see greater social mobility’,  added Mr McCartney.  ‘But the best way to achieve that is to allow more places in high-achieving grammar schools and allow new grammar schools to open wherever there is parental demand.’

An ICM opinion poll in February 2010, commissioned by the NGSA, found that, overall, 76% of those questioned would support the introduction of new grammar schools, especially in areas where none currently exist.   Only 17% opposed the idea and 6% didn’t know.  Support for grammar schools is strong across all age and income groups with a remarkable 85% of 18 to 24 year-olds (many first time voters) wanting more grammar schools.   

Further information or comment from Robert McCartney, Tel. 02890 424006 or 07703 888847.