The Comparative Evaluation of GCSE Value-Added Performance by Type of School and LEA
Diversity in the provision of the key public service of secondary education through different types of school is a feature of the English educational system. Much of this diversity has emanated from the distinctively different roles which Local Education Authorities have played in the development of the type of schooling for their areas. The 1944 Education Act described the resultant educational system as a ‘national service locally delivered’. However, one aspect of this diversity, the continuing existence of grammar schools selecting an ‘able’ minority of pupils, remains a contested issue. Whereas over ninety percent of secondary age pupils are educated in ‘comprehensive’ schools, a few areas have retained selection of ‘more able’ pupils for grammar school education - along with its concomitant allocation of the others to secondary modern schools.Selective grammar schools have typically been given a high ranking in published league tables of schools’ examination results, a fact which has led to claims that these schools offer the best education for pupils. The emergence of statistical techniques making more sophisticated comparisons between such schools and others has been the motivation of the present paper. It compares the performance of able pupils in grammar and other types of school using value-added techniques on a pupil-level basis using recently available national datasets. In addition it considers the performance of ‘selective systems’ of educational provision for all the pupils in selective areas , compared with what occurs in fully comprehensive systems of educational provision. The paper finds no evidence for the superiority of either grammar schools nor selective systems of educational provision; indeed any advantages appear to lie with those schools and systems organised on non-selective lines.
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