The grammar school system should be reintroduced in the UK
Are grammar schools the great equaliser? Or do they bestow unfair privilege on a minority?
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Grammar schools allow disadvantaged children access to excellent education.
Grammar schools create the opportunity for talented but financially unprivileged children to access academically excellent schools. The majority of parents are unable to afford private education and it is unfair to condemn children to a second rate education because of their parent's earning power.
For disadvantaged children to access the benefits of a grammar school requires that they pass an exam in the first place, demonstrating their ability, before receiving the education they so desperately need - a catch-22. The exam entry system merely keeps out those who need to get through, because they won't come from privileged backgrounds that groom them for passing the entrance exam. The solution is to make sure all our schools are of a high standard.
Without grammar schools the rich will stay rich and the poor will stay poor.
Generally speaking the better a person's education, the more money they are likely to make in the future. If the best education in the form of private schools is only given to those with rich parents, they will become the people with the higher earning jobs, while those without money to support them will be denied opportunities to change their situation.
As noted below, the grammar school system partly gives the middle classes an advantage in the first place, as they can afford extra tuition in the run-up to entrance exams and interviews. This then entrenches the rich/poor divide, as opposed to closing it - grammar schools do not help the poor out of poverty.
Selection allows for the identification and cultivation of all levels of talent
Education is about identifying and cultivating talent. It is not about equality; it is not about levelling down; it is not about trying to compensate for a damaging early life, which is the province of broader social policy. Not only do grammar schools enable excellent staff to focus their efforts on fertile academic brains, but the secondary moderns allow for a curriculum tailored to the needs of less gifted children. Meanwhile specialist schools cater for the educationally subnormal. Everyone benefits. Heaping every variety of child together in one purposeless pen - the comprehensive - means that there is no focus and no help for anyone. The truth of these contentions has been established by government figures: education authorities which have retained selection obtain better results from all pupils, not just those pupils who attend grammar schools. The left clings to the comprehensive with a view to pulling people down into a common mediocrity. It has no interest in making the best of them.
If education is about identifying and cultivating talent, then surely an emphasis solely on the academic is reducing talent down to cognitive ability. What occurs with a bipartite system, is that value is only placed on cognitive ability. Finance is then directed to these 'fertile academic brains' who actually make up a smaller proportion of society and the rest lose out. A truly liberal education considers more areas of education as valuable, including the vocational. In having separate systems we do not allow for learners who have different talents: those that are vocationally talented and academic or vice versa. We must stop putting children in boxes: The academic box and the non-academic box. Human beings cannot be so simply graded.
It's about your child, not the system.
Of course middle to upper classes will cheat the system. Like everything, it has it's flaws, but to completely disregard what could offer some children a fantastic education is unfair. Surely, the priority is the child's education. What about the bullying system in some schools? Children who complain they are being bullied are often treated with apathy by teachers until they get their parents involved, then the teachers are on the ball. But would it be fair to say to your child, "I'm not going to go to the school for you, because many other parents wouldn't do that, so I don't want to make the system unfair"? Not the best analogy, no, but the point is, who cares about the system? It's your child's future. There are creases which need to be ironed out, but at the meantime, a child with an excellent gift or who has worked hard cannot be wasted on the state funded education which operates more as a creche than a school!
It is glib to say 'it is not about the system'. It is about the system because it can be changed! Why is it impossible to make all schools as good as the grammar schools? Because the political will is not there. If we know people are going to be disadvantaged with a selective system, we should fix that system instead of shrugging our shoulders like it is a force of nature.
It is wrong to categorise children at age 11.
It is impossible to categorise children correctly at age 11, and doing so dictates the course of their lives and possibly creates a self-fulfilling prophesy in the form of "you are not bright enough to go to a grammar school," causing the child to think there is no point in paying attention to school.
I’m a grammar school alumnus and I can’t sing its praises enough, although I will in no way give a biased view. I received a grammar school education for academic years 8 to 11, whereas a friend of mine did not. Both of us are drawing close to the end of our degree courses at university, although mine is of a practical/artistic nature and my friend’s course is far more intellectually/theory based. Thus I suggest that the notion of grammar school "dictating the course of their lives" and greatly affecting a child’s future is quite unfounded.
At the age of children beginning a grammar school education (usually 12) I doubt that they are inclined to discriminate against children with comprehensive school education, I have certainly never found any friction between the two, which are almost identical in nature, the only difference being in the willingness to work which is my next major point.
There are children who are willing to learn and those who are not, the reasons for either are not for me to say, but the fact is that there are children of the same "intelligence" (hardly measurable) who want to learn, and those who don’t. So the grammar school system is just allowing the children who are willing to learn and work to do so in a supportive environment, with pupils with similar aspirations.
The only aspect of grammar schools that I’m not sure is beneficial are the entry tests ("eleven plus"). These assess verbal, maths and non-verbal reasoning skills, and not willingness to learn or reception and retention of the seven years of education already received.
The grammar school system has proved its worth since the 1940’s, why forsake this useful tool for aiding our children through their mandatory education?
Grammar schools create a two tier system.
In the areas of the UK where grammar schools still exist, a two tier system can be noted. Money is often focused on grammar schools to the detriment of the other schools in the area, and stereotypes are created about the students of the different types of school.
There are already very differing levels of quality of education depending on where you live in the UK. Inner city schools tend to do worse, and there is something of a postcode lottery in existence.
Middle and upper class families play the system.
Many middle and upper class families send their primary school age children to "prep" schools, or private primary schools which educate children intensively in verbal reasoning - the focus of the grammar school entrance exam. This creates an unfair advantage for upper and middle class children and the children from less well off backgrounds, the group that the system is meant to benefit the most, are once again at a disadvantage.
Presumably if a government were introducing a scheme such as this it would encourage state primary schools to improve the chances of those students who could go to grammar school.
It widens the gap between the haves & have-nots and keeps the disadvantaged where they are - servants to those who have made it.
In the UK today - working parents have no time or energy to come home - after trying to keep their jobs - and then drive and cajole their kids into trying to study hard, practise like mental athletes in order to make it. They are too tired and too poor to afford tutions.
And unlike rich parents where invariably one of the parents can afford to be at home in order to "take up their kid's studies" and pressure their kids into getting thru these heavily competetive exams - the poor ones who probably come home @ 8pm by the time they have managed to meals on the tables even though they could have talented children in their midst - invariably are forced to settle for comprehensives.
Thus, the people who really really get thru are the rich kids - who really talent-wise are probably there because of the coaching classes they went to while the poorer kid lost out to a place not because he was not talented but because he did not have access to tutions.
If the Labour and Conservatives were not lazy and took responsibility to raise the standards of the comprehensives and help parents to find time along with their employers - so that they can tutor their kids. The rich - poor kid gap would narrow and the purpose of comprehensive schools for equal eduacation for all would be upheld.
Poorer but talented kids rather than being identified early for better education - get lost and probably go in for other careers
A country's biggest resource are both rich and poor kids
Poorer but talented kids get lost by the grammar school system and end up taking up other careers when they could have served the nation better by getting the jobs their talent deserved.
Reintroduction would aggravate the rich - poor gap
The very fact that if the Conservatives would go for Grammar Schools - thereby causing Comprehensives to be second tier schools - would mean that the poorer but talented kids would continue to languish in low paid jobs. Probably, end up working for their richer sibilings.
These poor kids would continue to face the same hurdles faced by their parents & the vicious cycle would continue thru the generations.
What do you think?