Andreas Schleicher, the OECDs education expert thinks that the UK government is overplaying the capacity for grammar schools to increase academic standards and improve social mobility in the United Kingdom. According to his words, such notions are being “dramatically overplayed”.
The head of education assessment of the OECD made his comments less than a week following the U.K.’s Prime Minister Theresa May’s unveiling of plans to open more grammar schools using £50 million of new money.
As the PM argued how grammar schools would be boosting opportunities for many, in particular those who could not afford to live in areas of better schools, Mr Schleicher warned that more academic selection isn’t the answer. He is urging for more investment in high-quality teaching instead.
Talking to the press he was quoted as saying “I can see the case for introducing more meritocracy in the UK school system. I think the brightest students don’t always get the opportunities they deserve. But if I wanted to address it, I would look at what happens inside [existing] schools. The fact that too many students fall through the cracks in too many schools is a far bigger problem than not having enough schools which are selective. The issue lies within schools, not between schools.”
Mr Schleicher pointed out how academic selection ultimately become social selection in many other European countries, despite the Prime Minister’s insistence that grammar schools would the chances for many, in particular less well off students.
“Schools are very, very good at selecting students by their social background but they are not very good in selecting students by their academic potential,” he said.
Likewise, he said that evidence from highly stratified education systems, citing examples from Germany and Switzerland who introduce academic selection at a very early age is evidence that widespread entry testing isn’t benefiting students in terms of getting the best results.
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