Can grammar schools really sprinkle fairy dust on struggling secondaries?

Theresa May expects selective schools to take over their neighbours and magically improve them. But the data tells a cautionary tale.


urther turmoil at troubled academy chain as Cedar Mount’s GCSE results plummet,” reported the Manchester Evening News in September. Under the headline was a striking story with a message for ministers as they seek, controversially, to encourage grammar schools to get involved in running non-selective institutions as part of Theresa May’s plan to expand selection.


The article was about an academy chain set up by the highly successful Altrincham grammar school for girls, which has faced a challenge in trying to turn around a comprehensive in a much tougher part of Manchester.


Cedar Mount academy has been in special measures for 18 months, despite being in the Bright Futures chain – praised as transformational five years ago by then education secretary Michael Gove. The school has seen the proportion of pupils passing English and maths GCSEs drop for four years in a row.


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