Supporters of comprehensive schooling claim the system offers equal educational opportunity to all. This is far from the case.
An article published on the Telegraph website yesterday (10 September 2019) listed the ‘eight best places to live near ‘outstanding’ secondary schools’ (read here). The majority of these are areas where house prices are far higher than the national average, thus making their schools exclusionary of those with less money.
Only three of the areas listed were below this average, though it should be noted that ‘average’ does not mean ‘affordable for all’; many across the country would struggle to aquire the money needed to by an ‘average’ priced house.
The average UK house costs just under £230,000 (see here). In one of the areas listed, the average house price is £395,000. In another, it is £424,000. As such, the selection for these schools is rigorous. If you don’t have deeply lined pockets, you will not be getting in – however clever you are.
A report by the Sutton Trust from 2017 (read here) highlights the depth of this selection, pointing out the fact that ‘living in the catchment area of a top comprehensive school is associated with a house price ‘premium’ of around 20%’. Specifically:
‘A typical house in the catchment area of a top 500 school costs £45,700 more than the average house in the same local authority’.
The takeaway from all this is quite simple: the destruction of grammar schools and their replacement with comprehensives has NOT removed selection from our education system. Selection by ability (whatever one’s background) has simply been replaced with selection by wealth. Hardly the egalitarian utopia the constructors of comprehensivisation had in mind.
Read more by Michael on grammar schooling here.
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr.