Education and Adoption Bill

Written evidence submitted by Kent Schools Hope (EAB 20)

I am a parent in Kent organising a new group to try to give concerned parents a democratic say on the secondary education system used in our region. Kent offers selective education but many people in Kent prefer comprehensive education. My group is concerned that the grammar school ballot is not workable in practice (see recommendation 30 Select Committee Secondary Education Fifth Report of Session 2004–05 ) so we are campaigning for legislation changes to offer an effective way for the people of Kent to have a say on our school system.

Our concerns with the Education and Adoption Bill 2015-16 lie in the fact that Kent offers a selective school system, while the majority of the country has comprehensive education and no new selective schools.

We are glad to see that the government is addressing the problem of coasting schools, however in a selective county like Kent we feel that consideration should be given to the differences between pupil intake and achievements in secondary moderns and grammar schools.

We believe parents should have say on their children’s education and fair treatment in all counties, and our concerns with this bill are:

1) The 'coasting' definition does not take into account the different achievements of pupils in selective schools and secondary moderns in an area like Kent. There will be higher exam marks in a grammar school yet those pupils might not be achieving full potential. In a school of high achievers the 'coasting' definition should be adapted to also cover these schools. If the government feels academies are the best way to improve schools then underachieving grammar schools should also become academies.

2) Legislation to effect change within selective schools (the grammar school ballot, School Standards and Framework Act 1998) does not apply to academies. If grammar schools convert to academies yet retain selective status, how will parents have a say on the education method in that school? We are also concerned about the wider impact of trying to effect change in a selective county such as Kent. We would ask for some consideration to be given to the impact this bill has on the grammar school ballot, and campaigns for comprehensive education in selective school areas.

Evidence relating to point 1:

· http://schoolsweek.co.uk/one-in-five-secondary-moderns-could-fit-the-definition/

Analysis by Education Datalab has found that nearly one in five secondary schools (18 per cent) in local authorities that also have grammar schools would be defined as "coasting" if data from 2012-14 were used.

The percentage of these schools – secondary moderns – is higher than the 13 per cent of all secondary schools likely to be judged as coasting.

None of the 122 grammar schools in selective areas would be classed as coasting under the new definition.

Evidence relating to point 2:

· The Education (Grammar School Ballots) Regulations 1998

· Grammar school ballots discussed in the Select Committee on Education and Skills report of July 2004

· Recommendation 30 Select Committee Secondary Education Fifth Report of Session 2004–05

July 2015

Prepared 9th July 2015