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Grammar school head hits back at ‘middle class’ jibe
6:00am Wednesday 18th December 2013 in News
A GRAMMAR school boss hit back at claims his type of school was “stuffed full” of middle class children and that they do nothing to increase social mobility.
Michael Skelly, headteacher at Westcliff High School for Boys, replied to comments by Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of education watchdog Ofsted.
He criticised selective education in England and said it was a “nonsense”
that only 3 per cent of grammar pupils received free school meals.
However, Mr Skelly said grammar schools were about abilty, not people’s backgrounds.
He said: “Grammar school education really isn’tamatter of class.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re middle class – if you’ve got the ability you can access a place in a grammar school.
“Young people put themselves forward for the test and, based on their results, they have the chance to get a place. Grammar school education is just a type of education; it’s suitable for some and not so suitable for others.”
Mr Skelly said the focus should be on finding out why the figures for pupils on free school meals were so low.
He said: “Firstly, there are only a small number of grammar schools in the UK, so it’s difficult to represent the entire population.
Secondly, is it the case that more children on free school meals are not taking the test and not passing it? The matter should be focused on why this is happening.
“We encourage and promote grammar school education to everyone and would welcome more children taking the test and coming to our school.”
Sir Michael’s criticism came after last month’s start of a yearlong study to examine why only a third of Southend’s grammar school places are taken by its pupils.
Nine cross-party councillors are conducting the study to find out why fewer borough pupils are gaining entry into the schools, after only one in ten passed this year’s 11-plus. There are four grammar schools in Southend, including Westcliff High School for Girls, Southend High for Girls and Southend High for Boys.
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