Kent CC to improve social mobility through grammar school access

Recommendations have been put forward to help improve social mobility across Kent by ensuring children from all backgrounds have access to grammar school education

A report containing 16 recommendations to improve social mobility has been put together. Nine cross-party Kent County Council members made up a select committee that aims to ensure children from all backgrounds are able to access grammar schools in Kent.

The report included interviews with headteachers of both grammar and primary schools, as well as parents, children in care, foster carers, and education experts from Kent and the wider country.

Leader of the group Councillor Jenny Whittle said: “The remit of this Committee focuses on what can be done to improve the representation of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in grammar schools so that they too can benefit from a selective education if it is appropriate for them.

“That just 57 per cent of high ability children in receipt of Pupil Premium in Kent attend a grammar school, compared to 79 per cent of similar ability children not eligible for Pupil Premium, highlights that concerted action needs to be taken to ensure that more academically able children from poorer backgrounds have the same access to selective education as their more affluent peers.

“Our research has found that strong partnerships between schools and parents, and between primary and secondary schools – and in the context of this Committee’s report, grammar schools – are essential to ensure that bright children from poorer backgrounds are identified early to apply to take the Kent Test and be properly supported through the process, including at the appeals stage.

“The educational landscape is changing rapidly with increasing numbers of schools becoming academies. As such, the recommendations from this report are just that – none of them can be imposed on schools.

“We believe, however, that KCC, primary and grammar schools have a moral responsibility to work together to support the most academically able children from disadvantaged backgrounds to access grammar schools.

“We saw evidence of excellent partnership working between primary and grammar schools, and grammar and high schools to support the most academically able pupils from poorer backgrounds.

“We would like to see this approach being consistently applied across the county, so that no child is denied an education that is best suited for their talents and abilities.”

The county council has remained committed to improving social mobility, a lack of which can damage economic growth and waste talent.

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