Home / Debates / Education / Selective Education

Selective Education

Are selective schools better for children? Should they be supported and funded by the government, or is it better to have a standard system for all children, regardless of ability?

All the Yes points:

  1. Selective education produces better results. Studies have shown that children of equal ability at a…
  2. The widespread use of academic streaming to separate children in a mixed-ability school into classes…
  3. The pupils of all abilities benefit from selective education. Rather than aiming at an ill-defined …
  4. It is not fair on the majority in a class to have their lessons ruined by troublemakers. Those that …
  5. Our standing in the world economy depends on a skilled workforce and jobs that can be filled by educ…
  6. Selection makes it easier for teachers. They can target a certain level at the class and don’t have …

All the No points:

Selective education produces better results. Studies have shown that children of equal ability at a…

Yes because…

Selective education produces better results. Studies have shown that children of equal ability at age 11 go on to have different results at 18, depending on whether they were at a selective school or at a school with children of a mix of abilities.

No because…

The results are skewed because the mere presence of selective schools mean that certain able pupils and certain able teachers move on, not giving others a chance. A fully comprehensive system would ensure good results for everyone. The process of selection is also unfair as the tests children take at 11 attempt to measure their current ability rather than their long-term academic potential. Social class and parental pushing, the quality of their primary school, recent illness, etc. can all play too large a part for the process to be objective.

The widespread use of academic streaming to separate children in a mixed-ability school into classes…

Yes because…

The widespread use of academic streaming to separate children in a mixed-ability school into classes of different abilities recognises that children have different needs. This should be taken further. It is a more efficient use of schools wholly to stream or be selective. It is also more meritocratic, as bright students from poor homes get the kind of academic education that the rich can purchase for their children in independent schools.

No because…

The plan is flawed in that not all children who are good at English are good at Mathematics, for example. Streaming allows a child to be in a high-ability class for one subject and a remedial class for another, which is not possible in a fully selective school. Yet the main objection is that the system is shockingly and openly elitist. Education is a right, not a privilege. A good education should be available to all, not just the elitist stratum whilst the majority are left to rot.

The pupils of all abilities benefit from selective education. Rather than aiming at an ill-defined …

Yes because…

The pupils of all abilities benefit from selective education. Rather than aiming at an ill-defined and vague medium, selection allows specialist teachers to stretch the able or give proper support to students with learning difficulties.

No because…

Effective streaming within a mixed ability school can do this. The difference is that in between lessons, at break times and lunchtimes and going to and from school, pupils mix together socially. This fosters a sense of community, prevents stratification and means that the less able feel valued and more able feel less ostracised. In addition, even in unstreamed classes teachers everywhere succeed in teaching to a wide range of abilities; often the most able students can help to support the slower learners, and gain themselves from the experience.

It is not fair on the majority in a class to have their lessons ruined by troublemakers. Those that …

Yes because…

It is not fair on the majority in a class to have their lessons ruined by troublemakers. Those that want and have the potential to learn should be allowed the chance to be educated properly. If selective education is not provided free by the state, there is a danger that parents of bright students will opt for private education or home schooling instead, if they can afford it, further isolating brighter children from poorer backgrounds.

No because…

Whilst the rest are dumped! The bad schools are those where all those who can get out, have. Funding, pupils, teachers all move on and you are left with those who can’t. How is it equitable, or morally justifiable to dump kids on the scrap-heap at eleven? Abandoning the easy option leaves good teachers open to all, thus showing the troublemakers that are valued and thus remain feeling that nobody cares about them.

Our standing in the world economy depends on a skilled workforce and jobs that can be filled by educ…

Yes because…

Our standing in the world economy depends on a skilled workforce and jobs that can be filled by educated people. For the best to be stretched they need to be challenged and educated to the top. Selective education produces these world-beaters.

No because…

This is not necessarily true at all – many leaders of industry, politics and the arts have gone to mixed ability schools. The negative effect is in also producing an underclass. Studies show that those who commit more crimes, truant more, have children earlier, take children earlier take more illegal drugs went to schools in sink areas. It is not acceptable for this to be happening. We cannot abandon the majority at eleven to concentrate on an elite few. All children deserve a good education and the only way that this happen is by ensuring that good teachers and good pupils are taken along the same path as not so able children.

Selection makes it easier for teachers. They can target a certain level at the class and don’t have …

Yes because…

Selection makes it easier for teachers. They can target a certain level at the class and don’t have to try to cope with a wide range of abilities. Most of the problems in schools come from pupils either not being challenged or being given work that they don’t understand.

No because…

In no school can there ever be a class of identical ability, even in selective schools, there is a divergence. The mark of a good teacher is in being able to juggle varying abilities. Giving teachers an easy time is a poor way of justifying such an elitist education. In any case, the problem is a relative one; weaker students within a selective school may become unmotivated and perform less well than they would have done as more able students in a mixed-ability school.

Subscribe
Notify of
2 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lisa
1 year ago

I am in favour of class streaming at public comprehensive local high schools rather than selective schools. It is appropriate for students to be able to progress at their level of ability & not be held back by disinterested or disruptive peers. Within a comprehensive school, streaming allows students to progress at different rates in different subjects and move up & down for individual subjects. Selective schools sort 11-12 year olds into two groups based on a single set of exams and the lack of flexibility thereafter reduces the ability of the public education system to cater for all students.

Top