The Good Schools Guide Blog
One criticism of grammar schools is that they take a disproportionate number of children from privileged backgrounds. A far smaller number of grammar school pupils receive the pupil premium than pupils in comprehensive schools.
Whatever the reasons for this, we now learn that grammar schools are expecting to ask parents for "donations" to enable them to maintain the breadth of the curriculum they offer.
Many grammar school parents - especially those in the prosperous Home Counties eg Bucks, Surrey, Kent which boast a number of such schools - already delighted that they are not paying for independent schooling but are getting the next best thing in terms of a free academic education in a selective setting - will have no objections to this, other, perhaps, than vaguely left-of -centre ideological ones.
But others will undoubtedly be deterred. Single parents, those on low incomes whose bright children would otherwise be dead certs for precious grammar school places will worry, understandably, that the £30 or £40 a month now being suggested will stretch the family budget too far - and then, what if it becomes £50 or £60 a month and simply cannot be managed?
Grammar schools will become de facto fee-paying schools, available only to the haves.
We learn today that working class people are still earning less than those from middle class backgrounds with the same qualifications: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38744122.
On her assumption of her current role, the Prime Minister said:
I want Britain to be the world’s great meritocracy – a country where everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and their hard work will allow.
I want us to be a country where everyone plays by the same rules; where ordinary, working class people have more control over their lives and the chance to share fairly in the prosperity of the nation.
And I want Britain to be a place where advantage is based on merit not privilege; where it’s your talent and hard work that matter, not where you were born, who your parents are or what your accent sounds like.
Whatever you feel about grammar schools, asking parents to pay for their children to attend, can only make such noble ideals increasingly remote.