A third of Birmingham grammar school places go to children outside the city

A third of Birmingham grammar school places this year were offered to children living outside of the city, figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request have revealed.

The highest levels were at King Edward VI Five Ways School in Bartley Green, where the figure was 48%. The school is part of the King Edward VI Foundation which runs five grammar schools in Birmingham, as well as two independent schools and one academy.

The Foundation declares in its statement of values that its schools “should be rooted in the communities that they serve”. However, around a third of places at its five grammar schools go to children not resident in Birmingham.

A third of Birmingham grammar school places this year were offered to children living outside the cityBirmingham Grammar SchoolsPercentage of 2016 places at Birmingham’s grammar schools offered to children living outside the city (Source: FOI)

At Handsworth Grammar School, 28% of the places this year were offered to children outside of Birmingham.

Headteacher Simon Bird said: “Handsworth Grammar School is both in and of the local community and we run (free of charge) a whole range of Masterclasses and Outreach programmes – for example in English, Maths and Science.

“We run a free 11+ Familiarisation course over a 3 week schedule to a large number of Primary schools. We are very proud of our Primary school links and open up our facilities free of charge to local schools.”

The King Edward VI Foundation also runs “familiarisation” programmes with over 60 local primary schools, to inspire gifted children from disadvantaged backgrounds to take the entrance test.  The programmes include help preparing for the 11+ test, masterclasses on different subject areas and summer schools.

However, applicants from outside of Birmingham continue to be attracted to its grammar schools which are amongst the top performing schools in the region and the country as a whole. In 2015 both King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls and Five Ways School were placed in the top 10 schools for GCSE results in England, with 100% of their students achieving five GCSEs at grade A*-C.

Theresa May recently announced plans for the expansion of grammar schools. May argues this will lessen competition for places at high-performing selective schools, however critics say grammar schools entrench inequality.