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How grammar schools let their students down

Your headline of August 20 suggests, albeit in quotation marks, that the grammar school system is responsible for Northern Ireland’s good grades.

How can you justify ignoring the contribution of the increasing number of all-ability schools contributing to those excellent results?

I spent Thursday celebrating with my own all-ability students, including all the ones with straight A*s at A-level. I spent Friday fielding phonecalls from the distressed parents of grammar school children, whose schools have put them out at the end of year 13 on the basis of half their A- level course. The parents have tried ringing further education colleges, only to be told they no longer offer A-level.

These are the ‘selected' children, who passed the 11-plus six years ago, achieved excellent GCSE grades, yet their selective schools consider it appropriate to throw them out with one year to go to A-level, with no alternative provision available.

If I were one of those parents, I would be demanding to know how the grammar schools explain having failed those students. Are the AS grades so unsatisfactory that it is beyond the skills of the teaching staff to support the students in improving them? Is there so little flexibility in the curriculum that no alternative can be offered within the school to these students who have already proved their academic worth?

Personally and professionally, I can't believe this is happening. If this practice is widespread, it is hardly surprising that grammar schools look as if their students only produce top grades.

Truly Shocked

Belfast

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