David Williams QC calls for end of 11+

David Williams QC, Parliamentary candidate for Wycombe, says 11+ grossly unfair to children of Pakistani background and less well off.

He said “Bucks has the worse attainment gap in the country. Poorer pupils in Bucks do worse compared to their peer group at GCSEs than anywhere else in the country.


Ethnic minority groups in Bucks massively underachieve compared to their peer group.


There is no dispute about these statements – Government Ministers say the same and it is supported by research commissioned by Bucks County Council.


One of the root causes of this disgraceful attainment gap is selective education.


Local authorities which have comprehensive education, like those in London, have managed to narrow the gap in attainment between rich and poor. Bucks, and other local authorities which have selective education, have seen the gap between rich and poor widen. The attainment gap in authorities with selective education is 25% worse
than in non-selective systems and Bucks is worst of all.

Selective education provides an excellent education for the 25% who pass the 11+. However, it has a knock-on and damaging effect for many of the 75% who do not.

The 11+ exam has always discriminated against some ethnic minorities, particularly children of Pakistani background.
However, the new 11+ has made it worse. Only 13% of children from a Pakistani background got into a grammar school in High Wycombe this year – half what you would expect if they passed the exam in the same proportion as their British white
peers.

Last year 17% of children from a Pakistani background got into a grammar school.

This compares with 70% of children from private schools passing the new 11+.

The development of the new 11+ has cost £77,000 of money from local school budgets. It discriminates even more against the poor and those from ethnic minorities.

There is no test which can select 10 year olds on the basis of their ability rather than the income and background of their family.

If we truly want to maximise the potential of all our children, if we want opportunity to be in the hands of the many and not just the few and if we want to act fairly to all our children and provide real equality of opportunity, then the 11+ has to go.

This does not mean Grammar schools closing but will simply mean a change in the composition of the student body over a period of years. They will remain providing an excellent education, but to the majority not the few and the inequality of opportunity will be eradicated.


Research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that comprehensive education systems provide at least as good results overall as selective systems. We owe it to all our children and to society to ensure that all our children have a fair and equal opportunity to maximise their potential. ”

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  • commented 2014-10-21 12:19:29 +0100
    Well said, the simple fact is that we want a system that provides equal opportunities for all of our children to progress to the best of their ability throughout their school years.

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