Thursday, 15 September 2016

"Here at the DfE we're working on tests for children to get into the grammar school..."

'Here at the DfE we're working on the test that children will do to get into the 'New' grammar schools. We have been told that a) a single one-off test is not a good way of getting disadvantaged children into high attainment schools because better off parents find a way of 'gaming' the test. b) creating selective schools will depress standards in nearby non-selective schools.

So, the ideas we're working on are:
1) secret tests, where no one - apart from us - knows that the child is being tested. We just creep up on them, and administer a test. We're told there might be ethical problems with that.
2) Secret grammar schools. No one knows that we have created a selective school. Pupils are just directed towards them, and so the non-selective schools don't know that their intake has been 'top-sliced'.
3) We open digital files on all children and teachers at primary schools have to enter the children's weekly test data on files that we hold at the DfE. Part of the information here is parental income. We draw up a definition of disadvantage in relation to this, and monitor the data coming in. If the data is sufficiently promising over 5 or so years of primary school and there is the right 'disadvantage profile' we approach the child's parents and suggest there is a place for them at the 'New' local grammar. The formal approach should also include warnings about how that child's chances of achieving anything will be severely limited by going to a non-selective school. This last might be tricky in that the staff at that non-selective school might object.

Anyway, that's what we're working on at the moment. Thank you.'