This conceptual paper will suggest that far from increasing choice for parents, the introduction of Grammar schools will simply be another nail in the coffin of the purportedly equitable system of school selection that parents and their children face during the move from Primary to Secondary school.
Since Whitty (1998) and Reay (2012), through to the latest PISA (2017) report there has been a constant flow of research discussing the effects of the neoliberal policy of school ‘choice’ on society. This paper will trace these and discuss them from the point of view of my current PhD, which is enquiring into the transition period from Year 6 into Year 7 thus assessing whether this is indeed a source of inequality in education provision.
The PhD is building on my own previous research, which involved meeting parents and teachers at two schools in very different socioeconomic areas and discussing their understandings of what the primary schools involved should do with regard to helping their children during this often quite traumatic time for what are still young children. One of the issues that transpired from this small piece of research was that parents view the school choice system as the start of transition period, and therefore this paper presented will form part of the literature review in the PhD I am currently undertaking.
The expansion of the Grammar school system increases the number of selective schools within the education system, and research (Andrews et al., 2016) has already shown that pupils attending selective schools travel, on average, twice as far as those attending non-selective schools. This pointer, in conjunction with other factors, such as, only 2.5% of pupils at Grammar schools being entitled to FSM compared to 13.2% average across all state funded secondary school (Jones et al., 2016), indicate that those children in families who are being classes as JAMS are not likely to be the ones benefitting from the expansion of the Grammar system.