Let’s sort the fact from scaremongering fiction

Cllr Ware-Lane makes some points in a recent blog post that I feel must be answered:

The incoming children from Essex to our grammar schools do not take places from our children – all Southend children who achieve the basic pass mark in the 11plus get a place.

I don’t want to bore you with the statutory limitations that are put on admissions policies, but you can’t just say only Southend pupils can go to Southend schools. However we do ensure, quite rightly, that local children, from Southend and the local area receive priority and do not get sent to schools outside of the borough, so a pupil from miles away can attend one of our schools.

We are lucky enough to have been saved from the Labour cull of grammar schools, and in Southend we have four. Southend does not have enough children, at this time, passing the 11plus to take all of the places. We provide these places to those pupils outside of Southend (and don’t worry, it isn’t Southend Council Tax that is used, the money is per pupil direct from central government).

Our grammar schools assist us with improving other local secondary schools, they teach teachers to teach as well as making other contributions to the local community.

Similar policies are in place for faith and other non-local authority schools.

If we did not allow Essex children to attend our schools, we would have a significant number of spaces going unfilled. This would mean job losses for teachers. So actually, in response to Julian Ware-Lane’s recent knocking of Southend’s education, what we are doing is providing the jewel to all of our children and those from Essex as well. In doing so we are delivering a first class standard of education to our children, children from the local area AND creating teaching jobs which are more often than not filled by local residents.

Does he seriously suggest we should be making teachers redundant?


About jamescourtenay

Local Southend resident, since before I can remember. I am hoping to represent the residents of Blenheim Park Ward after the May 2011 Local Elections. Straight Talking? - Yes. Approachable? - Yes. Accountable? - Yes. See my blog to find out how!
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11 Responses to Let’s sort the fact from scaremongering fiction

  1. “Labour cull of grammar schools” – which Education Secretary closed the most? Answers on a postcard to Baroness Thatcher.

  2. Rob Brown says:

    I rather wish we had managed to cull grammar schools.

  3. mikejpaterson says:

    I do not think you are correct that all children who achieve “the basic pass mark” get a place . Children just achieve a certain mark, which may or may not be enough to gain a place in their school of choice –

    •11 + score – highest score downwards until all places are filled. It is illegal under the School Admissions Code for priority to be given to siblings for schools where places are allocated by highest score in the 11+ tests. (taken from an article about demystifying admission policies and rules on the elevenplusexams.co.uk website – http://tinyurl.com/bdgy5l8

    If memory serves me correctly( and I have a child at each of the WestCliff Grammar Schools), a certain number of places at each School are allocated to children schooled at primary Schools in Southend District and another bunch for those in Essex but who were in primary School outside the District. The places are given to those achieving the highest mark down until all the places are filled.

    These rules are set to change soon so that there is no legal requirement to reserve places for local children.

    The Schools are always oversubscribed by a huge number and I know that many children wanting to attend the Grammar Schools fail to find a place as they have not achieved a high enough score.

    There is an interesting document on the Southend council website about the selection criteria for the Southend selective schools at http://tinyurl.com/bgdtpkp

  4. jayman says:

    i offered you the opportunity on the echo website to apologise for the vast and shameful difference in educational outcomes between southends selective schools and southends comprehensive schools. here is my original comment.

    Southend high school for boys number of children eligible for free school meals.


    number of children eligible for free school meals in the past six years.




    chase high school number of children eligible for free school meals.


    number of children eligible for free school meals in the past six years.



    almost half of chases school population are in receipt of free school meals which is used as a bench mark to track poverty amongst school children.

    the rest of the stats on both schools are even more telling of the massive divide that exists..

    i want a full and frank apology from James Courtenay that addresses the fact that children from poor backgrounds are being failed by a council that cant or wont recognise there is a problem.

    Southend high school for boys, five good GCSEs or equivalents.


    chase high school five good GCSEs or equivalents.




    Do you think this is a level playing field for all? I have four children, one who attends st’ Christopher’s school ‘by default he is excluded from selective schools’. my eldest son is on the gifted and talented list. He excels in academia and sports. My family are on a low income. i say this just to dispel the Tory belief that children who are not coached at great expense to pass the 11+ are natural born losers who have feral parents who don’t care…


  5. Thank you for your reply. I am not going to apologise that children from a poorer background do ‘worse’ than children from richer backgrounds. This council is not failing pupils from any background. If grammar schools got the same results as those schools that took pupils who were not eligible to go then even I’d be campaigning for them to be closed – what would be the point?!

    What I am striving to do, in my own small way, is to close that gap. The gap between those on Free School Meals and those who are not. The gap between those who are Looked After Children and those who are not. The gap between those with Special Educational Needs and those who do not.

    There has been mixed success with this over the years, for example last year the FSM gap at both Key Stage 1 and 2 narrowed, but increased at Key Stage 4.

    I keep no secrets…..
    There is quite a lot of information about this here: http://minutes.southend.gov.uk/akssouthend/images/att22060.pdf

    • jayman says:

      thank you for your reply.

      I find the amount of false logic contained within your post slightly disturbing. you have provided a ‘data dump’ document which has been published in the usual council fashion and is abstract throughout. ‘it contains nonsense’ in non-corporate language.

      i loved section 3.6 which refers to PRUs. Given recent announcement of a merger between priory and the renown following the unusual activity of the former heads at the respective schools I suggest a revision of this. the rest of the document is vague in how it is meant to be implemented. other then its publication as a self satisfying corporate statement, how is it going to be implemented? where is its substance?

      here is some further reading for you..



      unlike the document that you have provided, the documents i have provided are for the benefit of the reader, not the publisher..

  6. I have to say that I do not see the link between free school meals and poor education either, other than the less academic children possibly come from less academic parents who have achieved less financially. This is not an issue for any particular Council, rather it is a global issue.

    Selective education at least enables education to be focused properly so that all children are taught at a level which will help them achieve as much success as possible, rather than fitting only the average achievers and failing the less able or the most able.

    • jayman says:

      If you fail to see the link between the two then you fail to understand basic mathematics and percentages. FSM pupils are statistically used by the government to track poverty and social mobility amongst school aged children. To fail to recognise this is to accept the elitist and easily disagreeable principle of ‘good breeding’ and the acceptance of ‘false virtue’.

      • Did you fail to see the link that I suggested?

        Anything can be made of statistics as you well know. I could of course surmise from the statistics that you have listed, that the lower level of passes is directly linked to the quality of teaching staff, and in fact this is known to be true. That School has struggled to recruit good teachers

        You fail (or decide to ignore)the facts that people have different abilities and that they need to therefore be taught at different levels and speeds to ensure they achieve their maximum.

        You also seem to think that anybody passing the eleven plus has been specially coached, yet forget that the eleven plus is little more than an IQ test designed to determine those most likely to thrive in a school that places a greater emphasis on academia, and that is likely to therefore expect more from those children because of their IQ. It is utterly unsurprising that those with a higher IQ are likely to achieve a statictically higher number of higher level passes.

        You spout about Tory beliefs (whatever they are) yet seem yourself to spout a bunch of left-wing rubbish.

  7. jayman says:

    you have compared two tests, IQ and 11+. They are not in any way the same in substance but they are both flawed and in now way an absolute measure.

    The grammar school or selective school system is flawed in supporting social mobility or academic excellence and actually supports wealthy families. This becomes evident when you start to appreciate why any system has only one entry point. there is now sideways movement within the selection/comprehensive process. schools cannot directly refer gifted pupils to grammar schools for other criteria not considered within the 11+. coaching for the 11+ is not a universal or free provision. selective schools are not required to give talks at key stage schools for the benefit of parents and for the sharing of information to better enable parents to make informed decisions.

    If I was advising on implementing an elitist and state funded educational system that supports wealthy families i would recommend a re-enforcement of the current system. i would go further to suggest a complete fragmentation of the current key stage system and comprehensive system to broaden the gap.. I would of course need to produce a flowery name for this. ‘free schools’ would be the top of the list of suggestions. It would also double up as an in house joke amongst my Tory clients

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