26/27 April 2017, County Hall, Westminster, London.
National Association of Secondary Moderns

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About Us

The National Association for Secondary Moderns (NASM), was established in 2013 to be a champion for Secondary Moderns and the great work that they do (often with very little or no recognition).

Headteacher of Giles Academy, Ian Widdows says that “as an organisation we want to speak about the reality of selective education today. We are extremely proud of our students, they are ambitious, confident, successful young people who learn well. Many go on to University and have great careers. They have opportunities to develop new skills and challenge themselves in a range of courses and activities”.

Today one in every five secondary schools in England is affected by academic selection. This is a fact that is far too often ignored by the media and politicians. The current government plans to increase the number of grammar schools has provided us with a welcome opportunity to contest many of the misconceptions about Secondary Moderns and also to speak about the challenges which we face every day.

We feel that it is time for decision makers to accept the reality of academic selection today. We are not an anomaly which can be ignored. We make up a very significant part of the education landscape and if the proposed plans are successful we will be even more significant. The starting point for any policy decision should be a firm grasp of reality. Some honesty and understanding of what happens in selective authorities today would go a long way to help with this.

Ian Widdows

Headteacher of Giles Academy and Founder of the National Association of Secondary Moderns



- The Rt Hon. David Laws (Education Policy Institute)

- Rebecca Allen (Director of Education, Datalab)

- Steve Besley (Head of UK Education Policy at Pearson)

- Neil Carmichael (Chair, Education Select Committee)

- Professor Sonia Blandford (Founder and CEO, Achievement for All)

- Nick Chambers (Director, Education and Employers charity)

- Mike Kane MP (Shadow Minister for Education and Schools)

- Christina Astin(Chair of the Schools Together Group)

The evening prior to the conference (between 4 and 6pm) there will be a House of Commons Reception for Headteachers and Chairs of Governors of Secondary Modern schools which will be addressed by Schools Minister, Nick Gibb.

Meeting with Sean Harford

I met with Sean Harford (Director for Education at Ofsted) and Joanna Hall (Deputy Director for schools at Ofsted) on 2 November. I made it clear that I do not see this debate as insignificant – with 163 Grammar Schools (and more annexes potentially in the pipeline) there will be three times this number of schools whose intake is affected by academic selection. This means that there are many more that 600 school affected by selection – that is 1 in 5 schools in England! We had a long discussions in which I was able to raise some of the concerns which colleagues have shared with me about the relationship between Secondary Moderns and Ofsted and in particular what we perceive to be bias in the judgements of schools with lower ability intakes. Both Mr Harford and Mrs Hall strongly deny any bias. They stand by the majority of judgements and explain the fact that Grammar Schools are far more likely to be judged outstanding when compared to other schools nationally by saying that Grammar Schools are able to recruit better (“higher calibre” – the term used in Ofsted’s letter to NASM in June this year) teachers due to the larger number of applications for teaching vacancies at Grammar Schools. I have since written to Mr Harford and Mrs Hall to follow up on this discussion and to ask for evidence to support this argument.


In the media

I have now got a number of contacts at the BBC (the new Education editor has been in touch and given me contact details for all of their journalists so we might find it easier to get stories/comments considered). Schools Week and the TES both now routinely contact me for a comment on behalf of NASM when news stories break. Both newspapers will be running stories referring to NASM in the next 10 days. Watch this space!
See the links below and the photograph attached for examples of NASM in the news.

New grammar school decision - how secondary moderns are responding

One in five secondary moderns could fit the definition

Brighter pupils make getting top ratings easier



Schools Week article on Ian Widdows, Founder of NASM - May 2017


There are two key consultations which are likely to impact disproportionately on Secondary Modern schools. It is extremely important that headteachers and others take this opportunity to make clear the impact of these policies on schools affected by academic selection.
Intervening in Failing, Underperforming and Coasting Schools
The DfE is opening a consultation on this proposed new strategy for dealing with failing, underperforming and coasting schools. The consultation was launched in late October and responses are requested by the 18th December 2015. This can be done by clicking here
Consultation on implementing the English Baccalaureate
The government believes that every child, irrespective of background should receive an education that opens doors for their future. The government is therefore proposing that the EBacc becomes the default option for all pupils, but that schools should be able to determine the small minority of pupils for whom taking the whole EBacc is not appropriate. EBacc should be part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Vocational subjects should complement, not replace a common academic core (Wolf Report).
The closing date for this consultation is 29 January 2016.
You can access details of the consultation and how to respond by clicking here or by you can respond by email to


Local Secondary Moderns Association (LASM? KASM? BASM? TASM…)
As has been said previously – there is a real need for some form of local networking oppoortnities for Secondary Moderns. This will help to push the agenda and ensure that our voice is heard both locally and nationally. I would very much appreciate it if you could share the details in this email with colleagues in other secondary moderns in your area. If you can think of any other practical ways of getting these messages across I would be more than happy to hear them.



Click here to download the letter from Robert Pike - Ofsted's Chief Statistician and Deputy Director Data and Insight

Click here to download the report on bias in Ofsted Grading March 2015



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