Thursday, 13 June 2013

Bring Back Grammar Schools?

Today Ofsted have come out to say that the state education system in the UK has meant that clever children have been 'let down'. Thousands of children have been 'systematically failed' because we do not have a selective based education system. But should we bring back Grammar Schools then? Before I answer this question, I'd like to point out the bias that I went to Spalding Grammar School.

The problem that comprehensive education has is quite simple. Its catering for the needs of a few in the middle achievement level of society and nobody else. This is why we are failing to produce enough technically skilled workmen in Britain and thus to an extent use more foreign labour. Similarly this is why Oxbridge has to artificially select pupils from state schools, who would not meet their standards on merit, under pressure from the Government. Social mobility is on the decline in the UK.

However this was not a problem after the war with Grammar Schools. Selection of the brightest students, but also of those who are more technically able, led to the greatest moments of social mobility the country saw in the 1970s and 1980s. The Wilson, Heath, Callaghan and Thatcher government saw the break through of people who were not at Eton or a member of the aristocracy.

My School was Spalding Grammar School. But who is the chap in the blue suit?

Grammar Schools however have a problem though. During the 1960s the Labour government  decided that they didn't produce social mobility. This was partially out of an ideological belief of equality but also because the Secretary of State for Education had a bias of being lower members of upper middle class society. Anthony Crosland as Education Secretary said at the time "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every f*#@ing grammar school in England. And Wales and Northern Ireland." Since then there has been a stigma against Grammar Schools, by those who have believed the Labour lie, were actually elitist places for those who just missed out on Harrow.

Areas in red kept Grammar Schools after the 1960s, a good idea.

So what is to be done? Well I think there is promise in the governments education programme. With academies and free schools there is an ability to select and differentiate between the teaching of pupils according to their ability. In this country we select on the basis of religion as well as musical, artistic and sporting ability. Scholarly ability is the next step but it should not be called Grammar Schools because the brand is a bit to damaged for implementation of them.


  1. Grammar schools are a terrible idea. You fail one test at 11 years old and you're stuffed. A state product should be available to all - the army doesn't protect those with the biggest houses only. Elite toff!

  2. Have you heard of the 13 and 15 + tests?

  3. Because these always happen...

  4. They happen loads, lots more than people realise. The problem I think there is that these arn't advertised well because government policy doesn't really allow it.