As a new government begins to set out their plans, Dr. Stephen Curran urges them to consider more grammar schools to help with ‘levelling up’.
The ‘blob’ is once again active in opposing the expansion of the grammar school system.
It was forced into action after the new Prime Minister’s government indicated that the ban on new grammars might be reversed.
As night follows day, the education establishment came out against it.
First out of the blocks was Professor Becky Francis, the chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
She urged the new powers that be to ‘focus on evidence not ideology’, and said the evidence was ‘pretty clear’ that grammar school expansion was ‘unlikely to reduce education inequality’ – and could widen it.
That’s a big FAIL for the professor.
It is those wedded to the comprehensive system who are failing our children – not those who want more grammars.
The comprehensive system is based on wealth and privilege.
Those with wealth can move to leafy suburbs with few social problems and high performing comprehensive schools.
The poorer parents live in areas with many social problems and often poor-performing schools.
How fair is that?
This system is purported to be based on equality but that is just not true.
It is based on salary and income.
It is far more divisive than any grammar school system and it has perpetuated class differences and inequality.
This should be called out!
Ironically, those who are very supportive of the comprehensive system baulk at selection and yet they support one of the most pernicious systems of selection which socialist values should hate – selection by how much you have in your bank account.
Where is the research that shows how comprehensives have failed to level up society? We all know that it is the case.
The quote often attributed to Einstein that ‘insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results’ is proven by the constant reiteration that comprehensive schooling can solve the issues. It hasn’t done this and it’s been in operation for over fifty years.
We won’t know whether a fresh look at selective schooling will improve things until we try it out.
It won’t be perfect but what we have now doesn’t work anyway.
The introduction of new grammar schools could be effective if it is carefully thought through.
I’ve always advocated a partial return – the siting of a grammar school in every major town in the country (particularly in more deprived regions and areas).
This would provide an academic route for children from poorer backgrounds who show potential for that kind of education.
At present, the grammar schools are sited very unevenly across the country and many are in very privileged areas.
It is also true that these grammar schools have attracted pupils from some distance away and because there are so few of them the entry requirements have gone up. They have therefore been targeted by wealthier parents in a similar way to top, leafy suburb comprehensives.
However, if the siting of grammar schools is considered carefully it could be a real help in levelling up.
New grammars will take the heat out of the system and entry requirements could be based on exam results and children’s social background too.
There are other specific ways to spread opportunity if it is carefully planned.
I also advocate an expansion in the technical and vocational styles of education.
There are many kinds of intelligence and only around 25-30 percent of children benefit from a highly academically-focused education.
The UK has overvalued this form of education through the system of GCSEs and A Levels.
We need to provide children with the best kind of education that will maximize their potential.
The German system does this far better than the UK system and it is not a political football as it is here.
They have their ‘gymnasium’ for the more academically inclined and the ‘Hauptschule’ for children who go in a more vocational and technical direction.
It is not hierarchical as it seems to be in the UK. It is focused on what is best for the child and the economy and no one can argue that Germany is not successful.
So I say to the new government, ignore the ‘blob’ and let’s have a grammar school in every town and stop this prejudice against giving academic opportunities to poorer and less privileged children.