Theresa May has announced that selection by ability will be allowed by the new Bill being introduced to parliament bringing back Grammar Schools for the first time in 50 years.
I’m really against grammar schools for these reasons:
1. 11 is too young an age to take a test that could affect your life chances for ever.
2. Comprehensive schools enable young people to mix and learn with others from a range of backgrounds, rich and poor, black and white, high ability/low ability, able/disabled. This mix teaches young people how to live in a diverse community which is very important and leads to a more tolerant society
3. Comprehensive schools have successfully provided a curriculum for all abilities for 50 years
4. There has never been more accountability for schools to ensure that every pupil makes good progress regardless of ability. We are told that pupils are attaining at the highest levels ever, so where is the evidence that disadvantaged able children underperform?
5. Grammar schools select the brightest children to join them. Parents all then want their children to attend them, teachers want to work in them, government spin tells the wider public they are the best schools. Grammar schools then go from strength to strength. The other schools then fill up with the children who failed the 11 plus and have much higher numbers of children with learning difficulties, behavioural problems, less supportive parents etc. Those schools have a much harder job than grammar schools but they will be compared to them (unfairly)
6. To ensure their children don’t end up in a sink school more affluent parents will pay for additional tuition for their children to make sure they pass the 11+. So middle class children then take up most grammar school places with the odd bright working class child to justify the vision that set them up in the first place.
7. The brightest 10% in grammar schools get the best teaching in the nicest schools. The 90% just have to accept this and get on with it. Who would want second best for their child? Grammars are great for those who get in…what about the rest? May said she wanted hard work and ability to be the ticket to the best opportunities, not privilege and background. But only 10% will get in, and most of them will be middle class, so it isn’t going to help the majority at all.
Grammar schools will be a massive step backwards and will do real damage to the life chances of the many. We should be concerned that all children get a good education following a curriculum that is well suited to their skills and abilities. Grammar schools will create division and inequality. I despair.
In my view the government should be concentrating on how to attract the best teachers and leaders to work in less affluent areas helping those schools to be fully staffed with the best teachers, just like grammar schools are. That’s the best way to help disadvantaged able pupils to achieve their potential