Selective Education

MQT on 2016-10-19
Session date: 
October 19, 2016
Question By: 
Jennette Arnold OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What is the percentage of state-educated children in London who leave school with five good GCSEs, compared with the percentage of non-Grammar School, state-educated children in Kent who leave school with five good GCSEs?


Answer for Selective Education

Answer for Selective Education

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman, and thank you, Assembly Member Arnold, for your question.  I know this is an issue you feel strongly about, as indeed do I.


London schools are doing a fantastic job in getting good outcomes for London’s children and young people.  Our results are ahead of the rest of the country at the end of primary schooling and in GCSE results.  Our schools have made such great progress due to targeted extra investment, particularly during Labour’s London Challenge.  This brought together schools and boroughs to lead and achieve improvements in the capital.


To answer your specific question, in Kent only 43% of non-grammar school state-educated pupils left school with five GCSEs in 2015.  This compares less favourably with their London peers: 61% of London pupils achieved this same measure.


London’s non-grammar school state-educated children also perform better compared to other areas with grammar schools such as Lincolnshire, Medway, Buckinghamshire, Trafford and Wirral.  In London, the two local authorities with the highest number of grammar schools, Sutton and Bexley, produced worse results for the children attending non-selective state schools than the London average.  There is no evidence that grammar schools raise standards for the poorest students and we know that the best-performing international education systems are not selective.  London’s schools particularly lead the way in narrowing the achievement gap between children from rich and poor backgrounds despite there being only a few grammar schools in London.  Selection simply leads to segregation and I believe it is vital that our education system works for every single student.


The new Prime Minister’s flagship education policy risks undermining all that London’s brilliant teachers have worked so hard to achieve and of whom the majority oppose such reforms.  An obsession with the grammar schools is essentially the same as giving up on the prospect of a good or excellent school for every child in London.  The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, also agrees with me.  He believes that more grammar schools will lower standards for the greater majority of children and  lead to social division.


If the Government is really committed to increasing social mobility through education across the country, it should follow the example that London has set over the past two decades.  The Government therefore needs to protect the current funding arrangements for the capital’s schools and we need to fight strongly for a properly and fairly funded school system in London.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  Thank you, Mr Mayor, for that full and detailed answer and, also, thank you for reminding us about the comments made by Sir Michael Wilshaw.  I find myself in a strange place be on the same page as Sir Michael Wilshaw.  Even though I thought he was a marvellous head teacher of Mossbourne, I do not think that we are in the same political space at all.  But he is right to say that you cannot find another advanced country that has chosen to go down the selective route.


What actions can you take and what alliances do you plan to be a part of to urge the Prime Minister to think again?  Her proposals will be counterproductive.  They  will do nothing to narrow the current 60% attainment gap that exists between some of our children and others at that stage that she would plan to take them through a selective process to make them either failures or  choose the few who would be winners anyway.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I thank you for your representations?  What I plan to do is to write to the Secretary of State for Education, who is a London Member of Parliament (MP), in relation to two issues.


One is, as you will be aware from previous cross-party campaigning, our concern about the change to the funding arrangements for the schools in the capital and the Government is currently reviewing the previous proposals, which would have been unfair to London’s children.  The letter will be in two parts; one in relation to that issue.


The second issue to express is our concern about the Prime Minister’s proposals.  You will be aware that I recently appointed a very good Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement and you will be aware of the dangers to social mobility.  By the way, the Government’s own ‘social mobility tsar’, Alan Milburn [Chair, Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission], has also expressed concern about the impact on social mobility of an increase in the number of grammar schools.


Only 4% of secondary schools in London are grammar schools.  But in those boroughs where there are grammar schools, those children who go to the non-grammar schools do worse than children in other boroughs.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  That is right.  I welcome the actions that you are planning to take and I will be following through, both as an Assembly Member and as Chair of this Assembly’s Education Panel.  Thank you.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Thank you very much.