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Do we want more grammar schools?

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Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by Ivan on Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:18 am

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England still has 164 grammar schools, but there are now no grammar schools in Wales or Scotland. Charles Windsor thinks there should be more, but whether ‘the meddlesome prince’ should be sticking his nose into what is a political issue is something which can be discussed elsewhere. In his autobiography, ‘A Journey’, Tony Blair says that the way grammar schools were abandoned in favour of comprehensive schools was tantamount to "academic vandalism”, but he didn’t restore them during his ten years in office, creating academies instead. Boris Johnson says the loss of grammar schools was “a real tragedy” and that the system was “a great mobiliser and liberator". It is UKIP policy (well it was when I last checked) for there to be a grammar school in every town. Predictably, David Cameron, who in opposition warned his party members to drop their obsession with grammar schools, has caved in to the Tory right and backed the expansion of grammar schools. Are all these people correct?

Let’s just remind ourselves what happens when you have grammar schools. In their primary schools, Year 6 pupils are given a test known as the 11 plus which is similar to, but an expanded version of, the one found here:-
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7773974.stm
Based on the results, about 20% of children in an area will be offered a place at a grammar school, while the rest go to secondary modern schools from where, until 1965 (when the CSE exam was introduced) all would leave at the age of 15, without any formal qualifications, and be expected to find a job.

Those who support grammar schools will tell you that, according to league tables, they produce some of the best results in examinations. The journalist Frances Ryan answers that one: “Grammar school children do better than comprehensive kids? That’s the point. Otherwise, why did we separate them in the first place? Dividing two sets of people by current advantage creates future advantage. Just ask the offspring of the wealthy walking into private schools and out the other end into this country’s power and money. If we wanted children to be equal, we’d treat them equally.”

Those who support grammar schools will argue that they increase social mobility by providing an opportunity for students from low-income families to escape poverty. However, the intake of grammar schools tends to be firmly middle class, as evidenced by the low number of students on free school meals at grammar schools. It‘s been argued that the system benefits the middle classes who can afford private tuition for the 11 plus exam. A BBC Radio 4 programme found that some middle class parents spend as much as £1,800 on private tuition to help their children pass.

There are other objections to the 11 plus. It has a negative effect on primary education, since it puts schools under continual pressure to train pupils to pass the test. A child’s cognitive development continues well past the age of 11, meaning that the 11-plus system ignores late developers. The idea that taking a test at the age of 10 or 11 can determine your potential ability to pass exams at the age of 16, 18 or 21 seems absurd if you think about it.

Is the grammar school system socially divisive? Does it lead to a waste of talent in those who fail the test at the age of 11? The veteran politician Roy Hattersley has long argued that there is an adverse psychological effect on many of the pupils who are considered failures at such an age. And as Tim Wigmore has written: “Selective education works for the chosen few, but the rest do worse than under a non-selective system. The debate about selective education suffers from a selection bias: we only ever hear from those who went to grammars and attribute their success to it, never those whose education suffered after failing to get in.”

Sources used:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammar_schools_debate

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/11223101/Scrapping-grammar-schools-was-a-real-tragedy-for-Britain-Boris-Johnson-says.html

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/17/david-cameron-grammar-schools-tory-right-ukip

http://www.newstatesman.com/education/2014/05/grammar-schools-widen-gap-between-rich-and-poor-why-are-we-still-surprised

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/05/grammar-schools-don-t-help-poor-evidence-grows

Further reference:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/11263222/Leading-Tories-call-for-more-grammar-schools-pledge-in-next-manifesto.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7773974.stm
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:34 am

It's possible that Mrs. May was just "flying a kite" to test current public attitudes to the idea.
Following on from her fight 'burning injustice' and take on the 'privileged few' Downing St speech.

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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by Ivan on Fri Aug 19, 2016 3:33 pm

Grammar schools aren’t fit for the world of the future

From an article by Paul Mason:-

"As the Tories prepare to reinstate selection at 11, it is worth remembering that grammar schools were only the second tier of a three-tier caste system, carefully moulded on to the workforce stratifications of the postwar era. This three-tier system was functional in that the economy needed clever, skilled people to do the top layer of manual jobs; managers to organise and innovate; and an elite to do the higher brainwork. The designers of the comprehensive system understood that this rigid, lifelong stratification would be dysfunctional in an economy based on information.

The 'divide' in the 21st-century economy will be between tasks you need a human for and those you don’t. If Theresa May understood this, she would forget about grammar schools and do something far more radical: scrap the majority of tests, scrap the coercive inspection regime and scrap most of the national curriculum. If Sats, league tables and Ofsted bullying had any use at all, it was to force the remnants of the 'secondary modern' mentality out of failing comprehensives. Under successive governments, however, the arrangement has become simply a whip for driving schools out of state control and into a quasi-private sector, and for imposing uniformity.

The type of person typically produced by uniform and coercive education systems is well-behaved, articulate, literate and dull. Such people will come ill-equipped for a period of revolutionary technological change.
"

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/08/grammar-schools-arent-fit-for-the-world-of-the-future
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by boatlady on Sat Aug 20, 2016 9:30 am

He's not wrong - currently the educational system, at all levels, seems to be designed to enable people to follow algorithms so as to produce standard responses in all situations - we need to rediscover the human brain and its infinite variety
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by Ivan on Sat Oct 01, 2016 11:32 am

“In Britain, the main alternatives to genuine state comprehensive schools include selective state schools (called ‘grammar schools’), a surviving relic from the education system that prevailed until the 1970s when, in effect, most children were selected to go to a school for ‘rejects’ (called ‘secondary moderns’), and only a few were admitted to schools for those not rejected by a test. Grammar schools still award places according to rank order of performance in their entrance tests. Before there was a change to the system, 75% of children would typically be relegated to those secondary moderns.

It was under Thatcher that the final cull of over a third of the 315 grammar schools still functioning in 1979 was undertaken, with 130 becoming comprehensives by 1982. However, the Conservative government then introduced ‘assisted places’, whereby they began to sponsor a small group of children chosen by private schools. And so, just at the time when it looked as if divisive state education was ending, the state itself sponsored an increase in division, which was the first major increase in private school entry in Britain for decades.

Before the abolition of almost all selective grammar schools, affluent parents whose children were much more likely to attend such schools had seen much higher state funding of their children’s education compared with that of the majority. The advent of much greater educational equality was accompanied by a significant growth in the numbers of parents choosing to pay so that their children would not have to be taught alongside certain others, nor given the same resources as those others.”


Professor Danny Dorling, ‘Injustice: Why Social Inequality Still Persists’ (Policy Press, 2015), p.65-67.
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Oct 01, 2016 1:16 pm

The question is much wider than just being the obvious unfairness of an 11-plus type shibboleth deciding the future of a child before they even have a proper chance to think about that. The laudable idea of equal opportunity fails upon the realisation that not everyone has the same level of ability. Universities for the mediocre cannot be what was intended.

In third-world countries there are over-educated people who cannot find suitable employment in an environment where the prime requirement is for muscle power. In all human communities there is a requirement for Leaders (not too many, or they just squabble amongst themselves) and followers who are suited to the practical needs of building houses, sewing garments, growing food and burying the dead provided someone supervises and co-ordinates their activities for mutual benefit.

Why is it proving so difficult to assign appropriate functions to the right people through adequate training and education?
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by Ivan on Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:29 pm

Nicky Morgan must think we all have short memories. Less than eighteen months ago, when she was still education secretary, she bent the rules in order to sanction a new grammar school in Sevenoaks, disguising it as the annexe of a school in Tonbridge. However, there is clearly no love lost between her and Theresa May and so, in the words of an ancient proverb, "my enemy's enemy is my friend" would seem applicable.....

Cross-party alliance takes on Theresa May over grammar schools

From an article by Toby Helm:-

Theresa May’s personal crusade to expand the number of grammar schools is in serious jeopardy as senior Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs unite in an unprecedented cross-party campaign to kill off her flagship education reform. In a highly unusual move, the Tory former education secretary Nicky Morgan joins forces with Lucy Powell and Nick Clegg to condemn the plans as damaging to social mobility, ideologically driven and divisive. The formation of their cross-party alliance against grammar school expansion, which is opposed by about 30 Tory MPs, spells yet more political trouble for May on the domestic front.

In a clear swipe at May, they say: “Those championing selection as the silver bullet for tackling social mobility, or as the panacea for creating good new school places, are misguided. While there are positive moves in other areas, such as the new T-levels and opportunity areas, all this good work will be squeezed out by an endless debate about more selection. All the evidence is clear that grammar schools damage social mobility. Whilst they can boost attainment for the already highly gifted, they do nothing for the majority of children, who do not attend them. Indeed, in highly selective areas, children not in grammars do worse than their peers in non-selective areas.”


https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/18/cross-party-alliance-grammar-schools-theresa-may
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:30 am

There are many unresolved problems which arise from the basic condition of human existence, and trying to resolve any one - such as selective education - in isolation will probably fail.  HR Departments in the real world use the science of biometrics to weed out clearly unsuitable applicants for employment before selecting candidates for an interview.  Almost certainly an individual's chances of finding well-paid employment hinge on their record of academic achievement.

In this Country there is a clear and unbreakable link between parental affluence and children's educational success.  

Resolving unequal opportunity due to background is the primary requirement before re-arranging the classroom furniture.
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by Ivan on Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:15 pm

To justify expanding grammar schools, the government is inventing evidence

From an article by Angela Rayner:-

Anyone listening to the pronouncements of government ministers lately will have heard three words: “ordinary working families”. These are the people Theresa May would have you believe her government is all about. I can see why she made it a slogan. It certainly sounds a lot better than “tax cuts for the rich, cutbacks for the rest”, or any other description of the Tories’ actual policies in government.

A government press release has declared that 36% of pupils at grammar schools are from “ordinary working families”, compared with only 35% in non-selective schools. But ministers have been as selective with their facts as they plan to be with their new schools. This headline figure excludes all families whom the government defines as “disadvantaged”. That leaves nearly one million children whose parents are now being told they are not “ordinary working families”, even though hundreds of thousands of them are in work, albeit on low or unstable wages.

The government’s own data, buried deep in its consultation papers, shows that fewer than one in ten pupils at the existing grammar schools are “disadvantaged”, compared with more than one in six pupils at non-selective schools. So it is no surprise that they have tried to invent some evidence to support their discredited and divisive plans to expand selective education. Justine Greening is embarrassingly unable to cite a single serious expert in support of the government’s policy. There is no reason to believe that new grammar schools would provide any significant benefit for the overwhelming majority of children from working-class families.


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/13/grammar-schools-ordinary-working-families-evidence
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Apr 15, 2017 5:56 pm

I remain convinced that this particular "debate" is a smokescreen for Brexit and similar Tory right-wing plans.
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Re: Do we want more grammar schools?

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