Grammar schools: a toxic policy or will they benefit pupils?

Chelmsford County High School for Girls

A toxic policy or one that will benefit pupils?

A headteacher from Cambridgeshire has described the government's plan to open more grammar schools as a toxic policy that won't help pupils from poorer backgrounds. Robert Campbell the Executive Principal of Impington Village College says instead, there needs to be more investment to provide greater schools for all.

The Education Secretary has indicated she will press ahead with the controversial plans in the face of stiff opposition.

Grammar schools have the ability, perhaps because they are grammar schools and they’re highly selective, they’re also seemingly able to select a higher quality of teacher so they can have better teachers. Well that can’t be right and fair for the system. I think it’s toxic because it will have such a negative influence around its locality.

Robert Campbell, Executive Principal, Impington Village College

The National Association of Head Teachers has condemned the government’s plans for more grammar schools saying instead the focus needs to be on getting the best teachers for the pupils who need them most.> At Chelmsford County High School for Girls, the head teacher understands the concerns but says there are huge benefits for those who make it through the selection process.>

Nicole Chapman Head Teacher, Chelmsford County High School

If you’re an able child who has a thirst for learning then the grammar school environment is the best possible environment for you in terms of being with like minded children also being in an environment where it’s cool to be interested in learning.

Nicole Chapman Head Teacher, Chelmsford County High School

Essex is one of the few counties that still has a high number of schools selecting pupils based on their ability. Many were phased out across the country in the 1960s. Critics point to the low number of children from deprived backgrounds getting a place. At Chelmsford County High School for Girls, only 3% of pupils are eligible for free schools meals.. They say they’re working hard in the community to address that issue. They’re currently looking at reserving places each year for disadvantaged pupils. A consultation on expanding selective education closed before Christmas and the responses are being analysed by officials.

Here is a report by Victoria Lampard: