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There is nothing sacrosanct about any particular type of school, whether state or independent, comprehensive or selective grammar. In essence, there are good schools and there are bad schools. From the annual desperate clamour of parents seeking to get their children into the school of their choice, and hoping not to hear that they must instead attend the school they least favour, we see they cannot be fooled - they know what a good school looks like.

So I will not pretend that all high-achieving schools must automatically be "good". Indeed, it should not come as a shock that Stretford grammar school, in Trafford, Greater Manchester, with a 96 per cent pass rate at GCSE has been put into "special measures" by an Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) inspection team and labelled a failing school. What is perhaps more disturbing is the inspectors' judgment that although academic standards were "exceptionally and consistently high", they felt that the curriculum in some non-academic subjects was "inadequate". Not surprisingly, defenders of selective schools have condemned the government as being hostile to grammars.

In recent years, armies of statisticians have emerged to try to tell us what we all know - that a good school is not just a school with solid examination results. Instead, they tell us we should make our judgment on the statistical shibboleth of "value-added".

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