Roll up, roll up for some creative thinking...
Harold Wilson’s government began the phasing out of grammar schools in 1964 in an act of what Tony Blair described as “academic vandalism” and Margaret Thatcher abolished more than any other prime minister while David Cameron was lukewarm towards them and Theresa May wants to bring them back. Sometimes it's hard to know which way is up!
The dilemmas we face with parents on the hunt for school places are very often about finding creative solutions to sometimes what can at first glance seem like very tricky scenarios. As we've listened to the constant debate on this hot topic, and had a fair few of our own around the supper table, we couldn't help throwing out one that seemed to stick...
Top 20 per cent by school - too hair-raising, too simple?
First up. The postcode lottery, access to tutoring, opt-in testing, and prep schools are just some of the things that make the grammar schools inaccessible to many even before the eleven plus test. See our thoughts on barriers to entry around the test here
If grammar schools are to be retained and even expanded, what if we returned to universal testing of all eligible pupils in the Local Authority area and awarded grammar school places by primary school?
Imagine. Every child takes the test, in primary school and during the school day. The top twenty per cent of pupils from each primary school are then offered a place in a grammar school. Putting aside any reservations about the selective system, and on the basis of there being some selection within an area's state schools, it just might be more balanced than the current system. Whilst excellent primaries would still attract more reception applications than their struggling neighbours, there just might be less of a fear of missing out - when not everyone can re-locate adjacent to an 'Outstanding' school or indeed access tutoring - and just possibly a fairer social mix.
Too stomach-churning? Perhaps Justine Greening could give it some thought.