Thanks to everyone who responded to last week’s article on Grammar Schools. I feel I am slowly becoming able to articulate what I think about this.
An article in The Guardian today has clarified things further:
The gist of the story is that Latymer School, a Grammar School with 96% A*-C pass rate at A-level, has asked its parents for more money. The Guardian quotes the school as saying:
“We are now appealing to all parents and carers of current students to support the school either by making a new or increasing an existing voluntary regular donation. Typically the amount you would pledge would be £30-£50 per month (£360-600 per annum) over the period your child attends Latymer. This averages out at between £1.89 and £3.15 per school day and is considerably less than the average fees of an independent school.”
It seems like a perfectly reasonable request. I think Tiffin School asked – but did not require – something similar.
The contribution amounts to roughly £50,000 per school year (i.e. about £350,000 per year across all seven school years). But not all schools have parents who could afford such a contribution.
And isn’t the point of state schools that parents don’t have to pay directly?
Latymer has been able to keep going in the last couple of years despite cuts to their budget because of the Latymer Foundation, which clearly has substantial funds available.
In a June 2015 letter to parents available on the school web site, the trustees write:
To balance the budgets over the next two years, the Foundation will underwrite the school deficits for 2015/16 and 2016/17 for potentially in excess of £1million. The funding will help buffer the impact of the significant drop in funding and increased costs for the next 18 months.
Over half of this sum relates to one-off capital and non-recurring revenue expenditure. However, the school will need to use this window of time to plan for and adjust to the, as yet unknown, longer term forecast of revenue and capital funding streams being made available by central government.
The Latymer Foundation wishes to express its thanks to the large number of parents who have been donating to the Standards Fund over many years and whose continuing contributions make this funding support possible.
So it seems that there are two elements to the success of Latymer, and by inference, other successful Grammar Schools. We can summarise this simply:
Money + Selection = Success
I arrived at the money connection at the end of the previous article where I pointed out that private schools cost approximately twice as much as state schools.
But what about the role of selection?
Grammar schools select children who – at the relevant age – can display a particular kind of mental agility. Typically – as Latymer’s appeal suggests – this also selects parents with an ability to contribute financially to the school.
But did anyone else notice Ed’s radical suggestion in the discussion of last week’s article? He proposed selection by behaviour rather than ability.
He suggested that schools selected the 95% of children who – given the right culture – are capable of benefiting from an academic education.
An alternative statement would be that we identify the 5% of children who disrupt every class they are in, and do something – I have no idea what – to engage them in a way which doesn’t disrupt the education of the majority.
In the end, its about the money
The education of the majority of people is a critical cultural endeavour. Our culture is our collective treasure.
We need more than an elite capable of understanding the technology our our brave new world. We do need that elite – but we need a culture in which their enhanced skills make sense.
But this costs money.
And when we see how expensive it is in the private sector – supposedly the most efficient provider of services – is it any surprise that the state sector struggles on half that level of funding? Maybe the formula is even simpler:
+ Selection = Success
[October 2nd 2016: Weight this morning 74.0 kg: Anxiety: Medium]