Grammar schools are in large part very good, argues one education writer in Tes. So why can’t we find a home for them in an eclectic, diverse school system?
Why are people so afraid of grammar schools? I mean, they’re just buildings after all. When we put those alcoholic chuckle brothers, Blair and Brown in charge of the bar, we seemed perfectly happy when they gave us lots of new buildings, before leaving the PFI tab for us to pick up. What’s so frightening about a building that, even before Damian Hinds had time to plant his brogues up on the ministry coffee table, voices were being raised, warning him against any attempt to even think about new grammar schools?
One reason, of course, is that teachers know schools are so much more than a building. They are also much more than the sum total of their exam results, but some organisations seem to have forgotten that, too.
If you look into this a bit deeper and read what anti-grammar school lobbyists have to say when they’re busy lobbying, what you find is it isn’t really the grammar schools they hate. The most vociferous clearly have little knowledge or any experience of them. They condemn from a very distant kind of ivory tower: made from recyclable plastic but almost identical to the real thing.
No, it’s the 11-plus that’s their real bogeyman. The idea you can separate children at eleven on the basis of a single test, for which only some will have been carefully prepared – and cart them off to two very different types of schools for the rest of their education – appeals to very few reasonable adults today.
Is it so beyond our combined wit to conceive of a local landscape of secondary schools that includes comprehensive schools, secondary moderns, academies, UTCs, studio schools, free schools and maybe even a grammar school, but which doesn’t run a school admissions policy that uses a single exam aged eleven, to determine the fate of every single child in that local area?
Or are grammar schools just so superior, so good at educating the children they accept, that every single parent, in every single area of the country, given a choice, would choose them? Because if that is the case, then what we’re dealing with from defenders of the comprehensive school really is, nothing more dignified than envy.
Read the full article It’s the 11-plus that should be the real bogeyman, not grammar schools
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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