`

Why have Grammar Schools been handed £50m and what are they going to do with the cash?

editorial image

Grammar schools are to be handed tens of millions of pounds to allow them to expand, the government has said.

Under controversial new plans, £50 million is to be pumped into creating more places at selective state schools - a move that ministers said will give parents more choice.

‘Ring and bring’ crack cocaine and heroin dealers jailed
But school leaders criticised the decision, saying they were “disappointed” that the Government was spending “scarce funding” on expanding grammars.

Grammars that want to take on more pupils will have to submit plans setting out what action they will take to boost the numbers of disadvantaged pupils they admit - similar to the access agreements signed by universities that want to charge £9,250 tuition fees.

Suspected arson at Wakefield’s Lupset Health Centre
Schools - which select pupils based on academic ability - will also have to show proof of a need for extra places in their area.

There are 163 grammar schools in England and, if all were given an equal share of the £50 million pot (which will be available in the 2018/19 academic year), they would receive just over £300,000 each.

As well as individual agreements, there will be a memorandum of understanding with the Grammar School Heads’ Association (GSHA), which represents the majority of selective school leaders, which will set out the types of action schools will need to take in order to expand.

21-year-old who lost control of car in Wakefield was being followed by police, inquest told
It is understood that there will be sanctions if grammar schools do not meet the terms of their action plans.

Here, we look at the background to grammars and why they have proved controversial.

What is a grammar school?

Unlike non-selective comprehensives, grammars are state-funded secondary schools that admit pupils based on their academic ability.

Students are offered places after sitting exams which test skills such verbal reasoning and maths.

There are 163 grammar schools in England, many of which set their own admissions criteria and the type of entrance tests they use.

When were they introduced?

Grammar schools date back to as early as the 16th century, but the modern concept was created by the 1944 Education Act.

They were one of three types of school forming the Tripartite System, the others being the secondary technical school and the secondary modern.

Grammars were intended to teach the most academically able 25% of students as selected by the 11-plus exam.

The Tripartite System was largely abolished in England and Wales between 1965 and 1976, with many grammar schools converting to comprehensives or independent schools.

Only a handful of local authorities in England kept a largely selective schools system, while in other places, a few grammar schools survived in an otherwise fully comprehensive system.

What do critics say?

Critics claim the system effectively results in a divide between children from wealthier backgrounds destined for university and good jobs, and children from working-class backgrounds destined for less lucrative roles.

Those against grammar schools argue that they have an adverse effect on late developers who are denied the chance to reach their full potential because of failing in an exam at the age of 11.

What do supporters say?

Supporters argue that selective schools produce some of the best performances in exams of any schools.

They also argue that grammar schools provide a chance for bright students from poorer backgrounds to get a higher standard of education without having to pay school fees.