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King Edward VI Grammar Schools Respond to Birmingham Mail

I am writing in response to the Birmingham Mail article: “How Birmingham grammar schools continue to under-serve deprived pupils” by Annie Gouk and James Rodger (18 September).

Whilst the article correctly states that 563 pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) attended the eight grammar schools in Birmingham, this does not take into account additional pupils who are eligible for Pupil Premium funding, designed to help disadvantaged pupils perform better and close the gap between them and their more affluent peers. Pupil premium funding provides assistance for children who have received free school meals within the last 6 years.

The King Edward VI grammar schools have, for some years, sought to increase the numbers of children eligible for Pupil Premium through our admissions criteria.

For example, King Edward VI Aston has 16 boys in Year 7 who are in receipt of free school meals. In addition, there are 29 boys who qualify for pupil premium funding. In total, that means that almost a third (32%) of the cohort is counted by the Government as disadvantaged. This picture is replicated in the Year 7 intake at our other selective schools: Camp Hill Boys (24%); Camp Hill Girls (24%); Five Ways (20.5%) and Handsworth (28%).

Handsworth Grammar School for Boys joined the King Edward VI Foundation last year and therefore does not currently have the same admissions arrangements, but it has previously had the highest proportion of disadvantaged children for any selective school in the country.

In addition, our two independent schools offer access to all children, whatever their background or financial circumstances, through a nationally-regarded Assisted Places scheme.

The King Edward VI schools have been singled out in the national press and in Parliament for our ground-breaking work on widening access. It is disappointing that this was not recognised by your recent article, about which nobody took the time to contact us for a comment or for clarification.

We want Birmingham to be best place to be educated in the UK – and we will continue to strive to make our schools both excellent and accessible to all, regardless of background.

I am sure that the Birmingham Mail shares these high aspirations for the city.

Heath Monk
Executive Director – The Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham