More grammars please?

There are two main arguments made by some against grammar schools. One is it divides children too early and could leave many in bad schools. There is no reason why the non grammars have to be bad.

In my constituency we have no grammar schools. The comprehensives usually produce results well above the national average, with the best schools producing excellent exam results. The most highly motivated academic pupils go on to Russell Group Universities.

This demonstrates that grammar segregation need not diminish the other schools. Whilst there are no grammars in my area, children from the Wokingham constituency can apply for places at the Reading grammars. The Wokingham comprehensives lose some of the most academically gifted and hard working children to the Reading selective schools. This does not impede them from pursuing their own academic excellence within their schools and producing high quality undergraduates for elite universities.

The second argument against grammars is that low income background children find it too difficult to get in against the competition from middle class children whose parents help them or hire tutors to get them through the entrance procedures. This is too wild a generalisation. It is certainly true that the grammars need to have tests and selection procedures that gives weight to varied levels of preparation, or preferably eliminates as much of the advantage from better preparation as possible.

It is also the case that advantage does not always need money to buy it. A child from a low income home may have parents who provide much time and attention to reading to the child, encouraging the child and engaging the child in the world around them. Some higher income households may have parents too busy to provide the one to one encouragement that can help. Whilst the figures show more higher income household children get in, we should not ignore the non financial support which low income families can supply as well. We need to remind people that any adult with good intentions can help educate a child by sparking their interests or taking time to encourage a love of learning.


    September 10, 2016

    The question, even the question, is a vote loser.Unless everyone is going.

    1. Edward2
      September 10, 2016

      Does everyone want to go?

      1. Hope
        September 10, 2016

        Grammar schools were never about education, but about Labour’s political ideology. Blaire change the marking system to falsely make it look like education was getting better! Remember his education education, education, mantra, spent billions and delivered eff all.

        Cameron embarrassed by his own posh background, lack of understanding of ordinary folk- focus groups to tell him what ordinary people are like- net along with it to make him look like a modernisers not out of touch toff who did not know the price of milk.

        More grammars, less lefty local authority control. They are now training teachers and staff to be whistle blowers for any suspected racism by children parents or anyone else. Thought police at it worse.

        1. Hope
          September 10, 2016

          Look at the current Tory mess: keeping young people in school until 18 years to reduce unemployment figures and help mass immigration. There are children incapable of learning being kept in education who will never get the qualifications that others would get at 16 years. Academies anothe name for a failed school being given sheds loads of money to improve the surroundings. Teachers still incapable of teaching and who were not bright enough to get good qualifications themselves. We hear in reply you do not need good qualifications to become a teacher- right.

          May should not penalise private schools. Not every private school is like Eton! Why strive to down grade all schools? Private schools should be a bench mark of excellence for all schools to achieve.

          Some need to accept that not all children will do well at school, some who do not well have other skills to become successful. Those who are not inclined for academic study should be provided alternatives to learn trade skills where they might excell, find it enjoyable and earn a damn good living.

          Labour want to keep a voting base and prevent social mobility through good education, except their own children.

    2. Richard1
      September 10, 2016

      Only if there are not excellent alternatives for those who don’t go to grammar schools. With free schools, university technology colleges and of course many good comprehensives, there are good alternatives.

    September 10, 2016

    If a pupil of exceptional intelligence/ability needs a grammar school, he is not.

    1. Caterpillar
      September 10, 2016

      1. I think a point that Dr Redwood makes is that access to an appropriate context – home, school or other is needed. This is clearly the case, the extreme case of intelligent individuals in the ‘wrong’ country, ‘wrong’ place struggle to gain an education.

      2. Also I think allowing smart people from less privileged background to distinguish themselves early is likely to help mobility.

      Rather than simply sneer at the grammar suggestion it might be useful to identify alternative leverage points based on existing root causes.

        September 10, 2016

        Caterpillar: I hope my words were not a real sneer. All opinions are correct.

        1. Edward2
          September 11, 2016

          That is a very strange view.
          All opinions are not correct.
          Some are right some are plainly wrong.
          All may be considered and listened too but nor all are correct.

            September 11, 2016

            I would need much boring space to explain.

            My view arises in small part from thinking back to those times when I had a different opinion from now. I could justify my opinion now…and say it is because of experience . But if I had a Time Machine, my former self would argue with that. He most certainly was correct and fully took into consideration everything I do now. I remember, if I am honest, he did. So I am left with two correctnesses.

          2. Jerry
            September 11, 2016

            @Edward2; “Some are right some are plainly wrong.”

            In your opinion of course… 🙂

            Only facts are ever binary, correct or incorrect and even then the facts can change in an instant or over time. What was “plainly wrong” yesterday, in yours or my opinions, could be correct next week, month or year as circumstances and thus facts change.

          3. Edward2
            September 12, 2016

            They can’t all be right however.

  3. Lifelogic
    September 10, 2016

    Clearly there is no reason why children have to only be divided up at 11. There should also be options at 12, 13, 14, and 16 too for brighter children to change. It was an outrage that Blair actually banned actually new grammar schools and an even bigger outrage that his heir, the dire LibDim David Cameron, continued with this bonkers policy.

    Clearly grammars have a place in the mix, but better technical and practical schools are equally important and perhaps more so.

    But where is T May actually going with this? She has, thanks to Cameron’s lefty incompetence, only a tiny majority & her party is stuffed with lefty wets like Nicky Morgan, Cameron, Osborne and countless others. How is she ever going to make much progress? The Lords is even worse.

    Is it a precursor to an early general election perhaps? This despite her earlier denials. Why else? Without one it is surely almost dead as an idea, due to the lefty composition of Parliament and the Lords.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      Where she is surely profoundly wrong is in encouraging more religious schools & academies. She admitted in her speech that there is, very understandably almost no demand from people outside the Muslim/Jewish/Hindu faiths for places at such schools. Encouraging such cleavages in society with tax payers money sounds extremely foolish, harmful and rather dangerous to me.

      Do we really just want to indoctrinate children in certain “beliefs” or do we want to teach then to think for themselves, based on the real evidence?

    2. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      The Mail today has some sample 11 plus questions, many are very poorly thought through indeed. The questions should be far more neutral and not require certain base knowledge that many children may never have been exposed to. They could be far made less biased to certain backgrounds. They need to be far more of a test of intelligence than a test to see if you mum liked a bit of haddock from the chip shop or not.

      How many 11 years old know that “singular” can mean “strange”, most would surely answer “lonely”. Some children may never have ever been to a fish and chip shop (or one that has a choice of Haddock) or even have ever come across the word.

      The test at the very least be a sound & neutral test of natural IQ/ability.

      I do wonder about the quality of the people setting exam,s nowadays having seen my children’s GCSE’s, AS levels and A level papers and the mark schemes. Many are dire some are very ambiguous and some are just plain wrong.

    3. Mark
      September 10, 2016

      The main reason why more middle class children manage to get into grammar schools than some objective assessment of nascent abilities might suggest is that the poorer children have inadequate access to quality primary education. It is common to highlight the role of parents and additional tutoring in that regard. In reality, what is needed is for able pupils to be identified at an early age and given the more demanding primary education that would bring them up to the standard to win places at grammar schools – perhaps even at attached junior schools.

      Of course, there are also late developers, for whom opportunities up to sixth form entry might be appropriate.

  4. Jerry
    September 10, 2016

    I’m glad that there will be choice, but let’s not allow the choice just be between high academic achievement and low(er) academic achievement, there needs to be proper technical schools too where often highly talented but academic under-achieving children can excel in in the same way as gifted children can at Grammar Schools.

    My complaint is not that Mrs May has announced that there are plans for more Grammar Schools but that she appears to be casting aside those children who are not examination fodder by casting aside the prospects of modern Secondary Modern/Technical schools. In the (immediate) post WW2 era Grammar School kids might well have planed our futures but Secondary Modern/Technical school kids built it…

    1. enrico
      September 10, 2016

      Jerry please don’t used the word underachievers.The education authority must liaise with business and vice verca to see what skills are required in business.That way we are going to rebuild our skill set so won’t need to employ people from other countries and that does include the NHS were the remoaners ! are always saying the NHS would collapse without the people from the EU even though a lot of them are from outside the EU.
      We are a country who should be proud, not the UK but GREAT BRITAIN.

      1. Jerry
        September 11, 2016

        @enrico; I understand your point, and I did indeed debate with myself what words I should use! I was attempting to highlight the fact that those who fail exams but have a gift for the more practical subjects and employment opportunities are not underachievers but are so often over looked by our current (academic) exam obsessed politicos and employers and that is leading to the problems where much worthwhile career opportunities are now going unfilled by our own nationals as you say.

        As for your second point, not sure that it is a case of one or the other, both need to be used, perhaps we should simply use our nations full title “[the] United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”?

  5. acorn
    September 10, 2016

    As was in the old days, the first question you get asked in the Grammar school playground will be “what does your Dad do”. If he is a plumber, say he is a hydraulic consultant, otherwise you will be branded as working class and should be at the school on the Council estate.

    1. Liz
      September 10, 2016

      What rubbish! Nobody asked me or my fellow pupils, that at my grammar school or anyone else in my family who went to one.
      The non selective schools in Bucks, where they have grammar schools, usually do better in the league tables than many comprehensives.

      1. enrico
        September 10, 2016

        Selective education gives people a choice, what’s wrong with that as long a we have the quality and numbers of teachers.

      2. a-tracy
        September 10, 2016

        Liz would you mind saying what your parents jobs were?

    2. Anonymous
      September 10, 2016

      Anyone who takes a wage, draws a salary or otherwise works for an employer is working class – even middle ranking solicitors are working class.

      The myth that grammar school children are the offspring of the rich needs to be exploded. Many get there because parents gave up modest holidays to pay for tuition (a test of parental prioritisation as much as anything else.) They might not qualify for school meals but nor can the afford to pay for them – so take sandwiches instead.

      Even the unemployed could pay tution fees, which amount to hundreds (not thousands.) “But we don’t get holidays to give up.” Oh yes you do. And I’ve seen for myself your fags, iphones, Sky TV and fast food.

    3. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      Well at least plumbers do something useful. Unlike so many lawyers, tax consultants academics, BBC employees & bureaucrats.

    4. JohnF
      September 10, 2016

      I attended a grammar school in the 1960s. At least half of my friends at the school came from council estates or lived in council accommodation.

      1. M Davis
        September 10, 2016

        My Brother and I passed the 11-Plus and went to a Technical High School in the 50’s. We were known as being ‘Fatherless’ – since He died when my Brother & I were 4 yrs old. We were always poor as far as money goes but we were lucky enough to go to a very good Primary School and then on to a very good Technical High School (one of only a very few at the time, as it was an ‘experiment’ I have since learned).

        Schooling children after Primary, should not have anything to do with being ‘poor’ or ‘rich’ but to do with meritocracy. On that basis my Brother and I had a very good higher education. Bring back the Grammar & High Schools and possibly the Technical (or equivalent) Schools, as well as the Comprehensives and for the less academic we need Apprenticeships of good quality for early school-leavers. Listen to the Employers!

    5. Monty
      September 10, 2016

      Utter rubbish.

      My Dad was a docker, Mam was a shop assistant, and I was not out of place in my Grammar School during the mid sixties. There were 800 of us in a school catchment area that didn’t have enough rich people to fill a minibus.

      We had new entrants joining the school at specific junctures, such as the beginning of the GCE cycle, the beginning of the A-level cycle. The 11 Plus was never the final opportunity for children to join a Grammar School.

      An additional benefit was the fact that the Grammar syllabus tracked the GCE Ordinary level requirements. In general, they were much more rigorous than the CSE courses, they had to stretch the pupils and cover the ground needed to prepare us for university.
      The CSE courses concentrated on establishing and consolidating the basics, for youngsters who would never need, for example, 3rd-order differential equations but would need a good grasp of quantities in three dimensions.

      In order to squeeze all the children into the comprehensive, modern GCSE format, all the rigour was taken out of the top levels of the former GCE courses. Continuous assessment of coursework served to embellish the scores of pupils who weren’t capable of fully comprehending and applying their knowledge in exams. Grade inflation was then allowed to run rampant, leading to ridiculous numbers of pupils achieving top marks. Now about 40% are taking on debts to go to college, and get degrees that give them no greater advancement in real terms.

      Bringing Grammar Schools back is a start. It will make many teachers all bitter and twisted, because they will be forced to accept the fact that their own subject knowledge is not good enough to teach the more rigorous syllabus.

      1. Jerry
        September 11, 2016

        @Monty; Oh right so as long as the swallows have returned to your area it must be summer everywhere… The fact that you were attending a Grammar School in an area where the majority were ‘working class’ and by definition most children were from such families doesn’t make the point @acorn was making “Utter rubbish” – I wonder what your peers thought, even if you did not, of those who could have filled that minibus, ‘toffs’ more than likely, reverse snobbery in other words.

        As for your third and fourth paragraphs, that is not how I remember my time at a Comprehensive, streaming was a fact of school life. In any given subject a child could be in the A stream, equivalent to taking that subject at Grammar, but in another subject the same child could be in a (much) lower stream -or even receiving remedial assistance if the subject was core.

    6. acorn
      September 11, 2016

      The answer is simple then. All new build and converted to Grammar Schools, shall only be aloud planning, on housing estates that have a low ratio of owner occupation; Council Estates for instance.

      This to show proof of “One Nation Conservatism”. The poor bright kids can then walk to the Grammar School, while the middle classes can drive the family BMW X5 through the “one nation” estate.

    September 10, 2016

    A Committeeman at Arthur Scargill’s original pit, who I worked with there and knew reasonable well, introduced me to his fellow colleagues.
    I was informed most of them were ex-grammar school boys who were more or less forced to work down a coalmine irrespective of their education. They were the Committee which promoted Mr Scargill first to Delegate and later with the help of the then retired ex-President of the branch pushed Mr Scargill right to his Presidency of the National Union of Mineworkers.
    Mrs May should be very careful what she wishes and prays for.

  7. DaveM
    September 10, 2016

    I was fortunate enough to go to Reading School, but 25 years on when the catchment area had expanded to cover Berkshire I decided to hedge my bets and send my kids to private school. I’m still paying for it and will be for some time. Another grammar school in Reading would be great.

    However, having lived in many places I have discovered that there are excellent comprehensives all over the place. I would like to see more technical schools that provide vocational training for children who aren’t some good at academic subjects but who have a real aptitude for other things. This is surely the best way to develop our country’s industry and infrastructure.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      People should get an education voucher from the government, to go towards their school fees. Why should you have to pay twice? This would hugely lighten the demand for state schools and improve education greatly at a stroke.

      Similarly with medicine where you have to pay three times. Tax for the NHS, the cost of medical insurance and then Osborne’s (now 10%!) IPT tax on top. At least he has gone.

  8. Lifelogic
    September 10, 2016

    It is hardly surprising that low income background children are less likely to make it in to grammar schools. They are often rather less motivated in this academic direction and intelligence is largely heritable anyway, like it or not.

    1. Colin
      September 10, 2016

      Yes, it does seem to be taboo to point out that children from higher-income families may do better because they tend to be more intelligent – that being the reason they’re higher-income families in the first place.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 10, 2016

        There are few things more dangerous for politicians than telling the blunt truth.

        Other unspoken truths are:

        It is surely a bit immoral for Labour politicians (who can afford to) not to send their kids to private schools. But to magically find a place at one of the rather few excellent and hugely over subscribed state schools. Thus depriving others of a place. Perhaps by bending the rules or renting/buying a house 50 yards away.

        There is no real gender pay gap on any rational analysis in fact in many cases the reverse exists.

        Trains are rarely more energy efficient door to door than cars. Cycling is not that green either all things considered.

        Outside a few professions getting a degree rarely pays back at all in most subject. Most graduates who earn more usually do so because they are bright, but they were bright before they went to university (that is perhaps why they went).

        Also governments can only “invest” by first taking the money of others who would usually have invested it far better (or borrowing on their backs).

        Oh and women, on average, seem to far prefer to study languages, performing arts, english and the likes rather than physics/further maths or computer studies. This to a rather surprisingly large degree.

  9. Iain Gill
    September 10, 2016

    It’s all a bit more complicated than all that. I don’t think Wokingham is the most representative example constituency.
    For a start if the best infant and junior schools remain exclusively for those with the most expensive houses then the children going there are likely to be better prepared to pass any qualification round for senior school. On the other hand having infant and junior children travelling long distances to school is a bad idea, especially when they have siblings in a pushchair and so on, or one of the family has medical problems, so there are practical considerations for young children and which school they go to. If children go to a school a long distance away it can prevent the parents playing an active role in the school.
    I would like the see the parent’s ability to select a preference of school significantly beefed up, and real buying power put into the parent’s hands. For many people the supposed chance to express a preference doesn’t help at all currently, those let down the most are those who move address across the country, they end up not being able to prove the new address (and therefore be allowed to apply for a school) until the purchase or rental agreement is legally completed which even for the best planned moves means they are applying after the cut off dates, and whatever preference they select they end up being allocated the worst school in town and/or their children travelling very long distances to school. Really we need to encourage workforce mobility, and we need to make it much more equitable for people moving.
    I am also upset that the class size limit of 30 for key stage one is disadvantaging many children. The pupils in the class of 30 are being protected from larger classes while the children kept out of those classes are forced into crazy long journeys to school, or into the worst school in town, are being significantly let down. We should relax the 30 limit it is doing more harm than good BUT put in place extra teachers where necessary to support the larger classes. If a population in a given location is expanding we need to do something other than bus infant age children half way across the country to another school !
    I myself would force all state schools to integrate all races and religions. I don’t feel the state should be paying for religious segregation when we have all seen the problems that led to in Northern Ireland etc. Religious selection is popular because it’s the only way for schools to be kept “for those like us”, when faced with mass immigration and so on, and especially when many classes end up with large number of children with English as a second language. All this needs blowing away and we need to get our children integrated and mixing with each other. But we need radically different approach to handling kids who struggle with English as a second language, just dropping them in a normal class is not working.
    On the other hand I would allow infant and junior schools to select on ability and behaviour too. I don’t see any problem with the brightest X % of the infant schools being lifted from all the towns schools and put together in a school for those ahead. But crucially if schools have more ability to select pupils then parents have got to have much more influence on the school choice. For me giving the parents a cheque to take anywhere they want has a lot of attractions, real buying power like that would allow schools to adapt and expand if they got the parental vote.
    And one of the real advantages fee paying schools have is an ability to exclude disruptive pupils much more easily than state schools can. That one or two disruptive pupils in a large state class are destroying the education of everyone else in the class, we need to have a radically different approach to what we do with such pupils. State pupils who do end up excluded get very poor support and education thereafter, and that’s one of the reasons heads are reluctant to do it. We need disruptive pupils out of mainstream classes, but a much more effective set of measures in place to help those children and ideally get them back into the mainstream later if possible.
    I don’t see why we don’t help parents home teach more. All the children I have seen who have been home taught do very well. Indeed I don’t see why we have the “all or nothing” model. I don’t see why we shouldn’t allow parents to home teach X hours a week, but put them in school the rest of the week. It should be up to the parents.
    The admissions services of councils are a complete and utter failure. They are a complete and utter waste of our taxes. Not only are they not helping they are actively doing bad things. I would prefer the negotiation to be between parents and schools but both sides to have some leverage and buying power.
    My own child is currently out of school, all the schools in town are full and the admissions service has known they would be needing a school for many months. And yet one week into term still no school. And yet the admissions service doesn’t seem to be feeling any pressure to help resolve this. I have no buying power, and all the schools being full have no interest in helping. If I had real buying power you can be sure someone would want to take my money in exchange for teaching my very bright child.

    1. Jerry
      September 11, 2016

      @Iain Gill; “My own child is currently out of school, all the schools in town are full and the admissions service has known they would be needing a school for many months.”

      Not sure if that is a local education services issue or one for the local planning department, the DfE or perhaps even HMT in Whitehall, if the schools are/will be full then what do you expect done, if it had not been your child it would have been someone else’s, quite obviously there has been a need for new or enlarged schools for some time but if no extra money has been made available…

      Perhaps it would have been better to have used all that QE over the last 8 years or so, on some good old Keynesian theory, putting people to work building state infrastructure projects such as new schools and the like?

      1. Iain Gill
        September 12, 2016

        In the short term: When I was a child the local schools were over capacity. They dealt with it by hiring extra teachers and having “pre fabricated” buildings in the playground. I remember it well. So there are ways of dealing with spikes in the local child population even if you insist on keeping class sizes at 30. A “pre fab” building can be ordered and delivered the same week. Its not a perfect solution but its better than having children without a school or infants in long taxi or bus rides to a school far away from home.
        In the longer term: How we organise things is a wider question. State command and control is never the best solution it always leads to corruption, rationing, and inefficiencies and that’s exactly whats happening with state schools as massive numbers of parents lie about their address and religious views, and friends of the system magically get places in the best schools. The state is never going to be able to predict where free people choose to liv e perfectly, far better to give the parents real spending power and let the magic of competition for that money react.

        However you feel it should be organised the current ways its operating is clearly broken and needs urgent action.

        1. Jerry
          September 13, 2016

          @Iain Gill; Who pays for that Prefab, and for those extra teachers, never mind all the other extra resources such as books, even furniture to put in the Prefab?…

          Oh and please do not show you ignorance of state “command and control”, as was practised (and still is in some) countries west of the old Warsaw Pact! We are seeing today what non centralised state control/funding does, after all and as you said, in your day (in mine) if the state needed to fund prefab classrooms and extra teachers etc. the money was made available, not so now, according your your account of your child’s experience, what happens now is the “Full, no vacancies” sign is being hung in front of the admissions desk as the funding/admission limit is reached.

          Oh and why can’t the state predict, what is so magical about ‘commercialism’ in this respect, after all both will use the same census figures, same land registry data, same BMD registry data etc. Perhaps if you stopped trying to think up nice sound-bite rants that back up your preconceived political ideals but actually spend more than 10 seconds thinking the real-world facts through!

          1. Iain Gill
            September 13, 2016

            I hope I am not that blinkered.
            Of course the free market economy predicts where its customers will be incorrectly from time to time, the thing is with money in the customers hands the incentives are in the system for everyone to follow the customers as fast as they can. Nobody is incentivised to help my child, nobody is being sanctioned, its completly unaccountable public sector at its worst.
            Where does the money come from? In my case I have paid way more into the education system through taxes, which the state has taken from me under threats of imprisonment, than my own children will ever get out. Having taken the money from me it has deprived me of the ability to make any of my own decisions. And at the moment it cannot even nominate any school at all. That’s right a developed Western democracy with children at home because somebody decided key stage one classes should be 30 and no more, and has not put in place any measures to deal with the possibility that there are more children than that around. If I had control of my kids education budget you can be sure I would be able to do a deal with a local head teacher, my money would fund more resources they need to cope with going over 30 etc.
            I am one of the few people I know who doesn’t lie about their address and religious views to help their school allocation case, my honesty is being penalised. Not a good way to organise society to penalise honesty.
            Who pays for the prefab etc? Well the state should have thought about that when it allowed the high levels of immigration etc. It lets them in it needs to think about these things. Give me my childs proportion of the countries education budget and I will sort it out, I will do it a whole lot better than the state is doing it, or should I say not doing it.
            I hope I am not ranting. Considering the rants I have heard from the public sector the last few weeks, and excuses why they cannot school my child I think I am being mild and moderate.
            I would be better off with the pre “free education” system where the local churches organised schooling for the local kids, at least somebody who cared and had the childrens interests at heart could be approached.
            What is your solution?

  10. Kevin
    September 10, 2016

    JR writes: “The second argument against grammars is that low income background children find it too difficult to get in against the competition from middle class children whose parents help them or hire tutors”.

    Who, among those making the above complaint, cares one jot for the same “low income background children” when they grow up and have to compete with job applicants who have been educated in other countries without the interference of British politicians? Do they propose barring immigration by anyone who has received private tuition?

    1. backofanenvelope
      September 10, 2016

      It is not just when they grow up. Three of my grandchildren have gone or are going to a London grammar school. There are usually more than 2000 applicants for an annual intake of 65. 80% of the successful applicants are foreign born or the children of foreign born. I don’t dispute that they have won their places fairly, but they are displacing English children

  11. Lifelogic
    September 10, 2016

    So business leaders are “fat and lazy”, according to Liam Fox.

    Businesses could easily export far more and compete far better in the world if the government just got off their backs and taxed & inconvenienced them rather less. If he wants to sort out the fat, lazy and usually delivering very little of any value anyway, then he would be far better looking at the state sector. That is the way for him to improve UK exports sort out the really bloated state sector.

    The private sector is kept in check by the market. The state sector has no such culling mechanism other than by ministers, who rarely do any such thing.

  12. Richard1
    September 10, 2016

    It seems odd to be comfortable with academic selection from age 16, comfortable with selection on musical, artistic or sporting ability at any age, but be resolutely opposed to academic selection below 16. I would have 2 requests for the govt as they develop this policy: first don’t bring back a once for all test at 11 as this seems to be the main concern of objectors – its too young for a last chance for a top academic streaming. Let there be multiple potential entry points to grammar schools. second, let’s also encourage more university technical colleges of the kind championed by Kenneth Baker. There are very few of these but they seem to be a great success. This would mean there is really excellent specialist schooling on offer for children who are applied but arnt academically inclined.

    In the longer run we should enable profit making companies into the schools sector – that’s the way to get real hide and competition, as it is in every other sector and field of human activity.

    1. Richard1
      September 10, 2016

      Choice and competition

    2. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      Indeed there needs to be multiple points for people to switch between various options academic, science/maths, vocational & practical skills, languages, history, art etc. and at various ages. Choice, variety and real competition is what is required (as Allister Heath pointed out very well a few day ago in the Telegraph).

      Also the 11+ can often mix up ability in different areas giving a average score to some people who may be excellent in one area but duff in another. They might well benefit hugely from a high level maths/science training but not get it (due to this averaging). The selection exams need to have far better and rather more sophisticated design. They need to judge potential not the quality of the schooling they have had so far.

      Some children may be excellent at maths, logic & science or music but hopeless at spelling and writing essays for example and can fail their 11+ despite when they would have benefited hugely from good science and maths teaching. Or indeed visa versa.

      Knowing for example the difference between a simile, allusion, onomatopoeia, metaphor or what is (or is not) a preposition is not really testing student potential just knowledge and how well the school or tutors have rammed bit of knowledge into them.

    3. zorro
      September 10, 2016

      Agreed, it would be unfortunate to encourage some of the counter productive petit bourgeois snobbishness which sometimes pervades grammar schools. As you say, multiple entry points into the system as children develop would be useful, let’s say 11,12, and 13. Indeed, technical, professional colleges for practical disciplines should be encouraged as we need a society which can be multi disciplinary in its skillbase.


    4. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      “It seems odd to be comfortable with academic selection from age 16, comfortable with selection on musical, artistic or sporting ability at any age, but be resolutely opposed to academic selection below 16.”

      Indeed it not just odd it is absurd. Bliar even passed a law to ban new grammar schools. Then we had Cameron who stuck to this daft, lefty bonkers agenda.

      Most private schools of course do select on ability but they did not ban that!

    5. Amanda
      September 10, 2016

      Choice, exactly.

      I find the whole idea of comprehensive vs grammar, so old hat, as are the arguements. This is the modern world, there should be schools to suit different abilities, whose main focus is to develop children into adults who can fulfill their potential.

      We should have schools for the academic, schools that focus on sport, on the creative arts; there should be technical schools, science based schools, farming and ecology schools, schools that lead to early skilled apprenticeships of 7 years duration. As a parent I want to choose a school to suit my child’s abilities.

      Comprehensive’s are a disaster that fail most. Those who do well in them have a background with extra support, paid or family. As sensible family builds learning into every day living – education is not just for schools.

      I heard a think tank bod, say he’s didn’t think grammars would help social moblity. Well, schools are not there for social mobility, or social engineering of any kind: that’s his first mistake. Get the state, and the public sector out of schools. As a parent I want a choice in where to send my children for their advantage, not that of the State.

      I’m sorry Mrs May has approached this from the old comprehensive vs grammar argument; it should be the failed one size fits all vs tailored learning for everyone.

      1. enrico
        September 10, 2016

        Well said, total common sense but much too simple for our so called elite in government.I failed the 11 plus so went to a secondary school which did me no harm and ended up employing 450 people.I am very proud of that.I went to a school that sorted individuals out just as you explained but unfortunately in this day and age uni is the place to go as you can never get anywhere without these so called degrees.Common sense does never seem to come into the equation these days.Very strange,I wonder why.

    6. Richard1
      September 10, 2016

      I have never been much impressed by Liam Fox, he has always struck me as lightweight. Now he has made a complete twerp of himself with an inane generalised criticism of British business as “fat” and “lazy”. If a Labour politician made such a remark he or she would rightly be castigated as ignorant and unintelligent. The same should apply to Fox. why we have this silly man in an important cabinet post while Michael Gove is on the backbenches I cannot think.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 10, 2016

        Because Gove behaved totally idiotically in knifing Boris.

        1. Lifelogic
          September 10, 2016

          Fox is basically very sound. Even if he does say the odd rather stupid thing.

          1. Richard1
            September 10, 2016

            We can only judge a public figure by his / her comments and actions. These words by Liam Fox show him to be a fool.

      2. Denis Cooper
        September 11, 2016
  13. Ian Wragg
    September 10, 2016

    I listened to a Tory lord on radio yesterday saying grammar schools are monopolised by the middle classes and by house prices.
    He seemed deaf to the argument that because there are so few only the nimblist will get in.
    We also need to have good technical schools for the less academic pupils.
    I passed the 11 plus in 1956 but there was no way my parents could afford the 2 pages of kit.
    I went on to do HNC and have a successful career in the Navy and power generation.
    Free the kids that want to do well and let the air heads dream.

  14. Glenn Vaughan
    September 10, 2016

    If the teaching at a school is of poor quality than does it matter if that school is labelled as a grammar, a comprehensive, an academy et. al.?

    1. Glenn Vaughan
      September 10, 2016

      Should read “then” not “than”.

    2. matthu
      September 10, 2016

      If a university provides a poor education, does it matter if it is media studies or science?

      That is surely no argument for substituting all science courses with media studies.

  15. agricola
    September 10, 2016

    When Mrs May spoke she gave the impression that she was happy to let the public schools get on with what they mostly do very well. There is a way to involve them in her desire for a good education for all.

    My old school evolved a scheme under the auspices of their now retired chief master. They set up a trust fund, contributed to by ex pupils on a voluntary basis, that funds the education of gifted pupils of parents who could not otherwise afford the fees. The scheme has generated a very substantial sum from which now many benefit.

    Can I suggest that you talk to David Willets, an ex pupil, and facilitate a discussion between Mrs May and our now retired chief master John Claughton. The scheme fits well with Mrs May’s desire that all pupils get the very best education subject to their ability but irrespective of background or parental wealth. If she likes what she hears she is in the very best position to encourage similar schemes among our best public schools. They in turn have the chance to feel that they are contributing on a wider front to equality of opportunity.

  16. forthurst
    September 10, 2016

    The argument in favour of comps is that each child is a tabla rasa and by teaching all children together, the purported unfair advantage of the children of middle class families can be eliminated such that all children will progress equally throughout their academic careers, leading to the elimination of an inherent middle class and the consequent arrival of a socialist utopia; there have been other methods to achieve such an allegedly desirable outcome, notably the Cultural Revolution in China.

    The main victim of the comp revolution has been academic standards as expressed through the exam system; we now have the absurd situation whereby schools whose catchments are largely middle class and or selective, produce results in which A or A* grades are the norm. The reason for this is that the exams are too easy; in scope and content they do not stretch the children at all but rather stress them whilst boring the pants of them, depriving them of the essential nutrients of a truly academic education and slaking their thirst for knowledge. As a result, students are arriving at Russell group unis approximately two years behind their grandparents’ generation in attainment and likewise behind their peer groups abroad, some of whom sit exams which whilst set in this country are too advanced for native children.

    A return of grammar schools would facilitate the resurrection of academic standards to the best in the world as they had been before the advent of comps, but without the corresponding return to the previous more academic exams, the exercise would be futile.
    Not only have the exams been simplified but they have been re-engineered to enable girls to outperform boys thus achieving another cultural marxist objective, namely the facilitation of the feminist revolution, thereby discouraging women from reproducing in favour of competing with men throughout their lives, leading to its closeted purpose: the decline of European stock and its replacement from the third world.

    Let’s get back to single sex schools and exams designed for the needs of the child, by sex or by ability, not for those of social engineers.

    1. Mark
      September 10, 2016

      I agree. Grammar schools are an essential part of restoring academic standards and indeed the productivity of the education system. Students arriving at university two years behind have to go through remedial education, and their degrees have tended to become of lower standard. The education system profits because able students now have to go on to post graduate degrees to attain the level of education their parents had with a simple undergraduate course. The students lose because they have to fund learning what their parents learned in school, and then perhaps postgraduate study as well – delaying the start of career and earning.

  17. Dave L
    September 10, 2016

    Just like to reinforce your praise of Wokingham comprehensive schools. My youngest has just finished at the green-blazered one with excellent GCSE results, as did her elder siblings.They have excelled at Russell Group universities themselves. Whether Reading Grammar would have served them even better is something we have briefly pondered. However, we are a low-income family who try to give our children exposure to a wide range of experiences, cultures and travel within a restricted budget. You are correct that parents have to play a major role in education.

    Reply Thanks – glad we agree and well done to your children.

    1. Anonymous
      September 10, 2016

      Not all state schools are a failer. Those in the area of high house price catchments generally do well. Exclusive by virtue of parental wealth rather than any measure of ability.

      Though wealth comes (mostly) through good decision making and will reflect in the offspring most times.

      1. Anonymous
        September 10, 2016


    2. behindthefrogs
      September 10, 2016

      What you have to realize is that St Chrispins was in the past a failing secondary modern school, dragged down by the children (words left out re who dragged it down in your opinion ed)………… It was the turning of Holt and Forest grammar schools into comprehensives that allowed St Chrispins also made a comprehensive to raise its standards to the current high level. This took quite a long time as some of the teachers could not rise to the challenge of the brighter children they then had to teach.

      This example seems to argue against an increase in the number of grammar schools. Even in larger towns like Reading more grammar schools would adversely affect the remaining schools.

  18. Brexit
    September 10, 2016

    O/T, apologies JR.

    It’s the weekend. Maybe some of your readers might enjoy taking two minutes out to enjoy something on our news page, ahead of the Last Night of the Proms this evening.

    This event has never been political. As usual, the music and the musicians come from all over Europe and the World. None of this will change following Brexit.

    At the end and for one night of the year, people traditionally indulge ourselves in a rare moment of Britishness and in some cases Englishness. We think we may be allowed this.

    The full concert is on BBC2 at 7.15pm, with the traditional second half starting on BBC1 at 8.50pm.

    Best wishes, the Team

    1. Anonymous
      September 10, 2016

      It’s interesting that I don’t recall an EU flag being waved – certainly not in enough numbers to remember.

      Are we seeing the emergence of patriotism towards the EU all of a sudden ?

      The event is already spoiled, probably for good – now everyone waving a UJ at the proms will be a rabid Brexiter, according to the other side. I hope there won’t be any fighting.

      Whatever it is the EU is no force for unity. It has caused deep divide and unhappiness in a country that was so united and confident in itself it created the proms in the first place.

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 10, 2016

      There was a period when EU flags started to intrude in considerable numbers and my wife told me to stop watching it as she didn’t like my bad language. Then after some years that tide started to recede and in recent years there have been only a few if any at all. However this year a group of bad losers have raised funds, about £1000, so they can offer free EU flags to members of the audience. It remains to be seen how many will accept them, but as part of their stunt this bunch have asked for police protection so they can hand the flags out safely, and they have let it be known that they have done this, and some sections of the media have played their game by reporting it. You see the problem they have identified is that the awful vote on June 23rd has unleashed a wave of hate across the country, and they have a reasonable fear that Brexit rowdies, let us follow Baron Ashdown of Brazen-cum-Hypocrisy by calling them Brexit Brownshirts, will violently attack them … well, we’ll see.

    3. Mitchel
      September 10, 2016

      “This event has never been political”

      Except when the vastly overrated Marin Alsop chooses to give us a rant on issues such as inequality and diversity.

      1. Denis Cooper
        September 11, 2016

        Her speech was appalling.

    4. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      Indeed and no last movement of Beethoven’s 9th than goodness.

      Needless to say all the main venue tickets are sold out, so clearly it is far more popular than the Olympics and Paralympics for which very few seem interested in watching or prepared to splash out on tickets anyway. This despite all vast the state subsides.

      Lost more, expensive but empty, white elephant stadiums though.

    5. graham1946
      September 10, 2016

      This programme is superb and well worth the licence money – and say what you like only the Beeb could or would do it.

      Lets hope the Remoaners get short shrift and the EU flags are not seen.

      1. Cheshire Girl
        September 10, 2016

        I read today that Aarron Banks has purchased £5k worth of Union Flags which will be handed out to those prom goers who want one.
        Well Done to him I say!

        1. rose
          September 10, 2016

          Well that was a damp squib! Those few little EU flags looked cheap and nasty. Whatever they were made of, they didn’t wave properly.

          1. Denis Cooper
            September 11, 2016

            Still far too many, I had to sit with gritted teeth.

            Possibly the bad losers will have given up by next year.

          2. graham1946
            September 11, 2016

            Yes – seems like an allegory of the EU itself.

    6. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016

      You will not get the luvvies and the BBC ever to forget politics. They honestly think they are right on:- the EU, the destruction of UK democracy, climate alarmism, ever more bloated government, magic money tree economics, the “wonderful” NHS, lots of state & EU subsidies for “the vital arts sector”, the BBC licence fee, the tobin tax and ever more regulation of almost everything. These are religions to most of them.

      They are of course wrong on each and every one. They are (like Cameron/Osborne Clegg and the Libdems) a very reliable guide to what does not work and should not be done.

    7. Cheshire Girl
      September 10, 2016

      Thank you for posting that. Everyone is welcome at the Proms, and as you say it is no place for political gestures. Let all those who love this country and its unique culture, hold the Union Flag high, and sing with gusto the timeless words and music so many have enjoyed down the ages. It always warms my heart to see this sign of pride in our country. Long may it continue!

  19. A different Simon
    September 10, 2016

    The majority of the population , around 80% , make a negative financial contribution to the economy over their lifetime and are subsidised in terms of benefits and services received by the remaining 20% .

    As a result of globalisation , this ratio will probably head towards 90:10 before flight of talent forces a rethink on limits of redistribution .

    Whether people like it or not , they need to understand that the success of the country as a whole depends more on running it’s winners than it depends on getting more out of it’s less able .

    Thus the education of the brightest must take priority .

    This does not mean that the less able should have to put up with substandard educations or be denied opportunities .

    Whether this is best achieved by streaming within schools or selective schools is debatable .

    Education is not the only obstacle to success of those from modest backgrounds .

    With a few notable exceptions , the public sector fast tracks those from the chinless talent pool which represents only 7% of the population . It does not seem to be meritocratic like the private sector .

    I’m not suggesting the public service should adopt affirmative action . They should however be required to explain why they still do this and whether it is because state school pupils lack something which could be addressed .

    Whatever , I don’t think the country can afford to ignore the talent of the 93% who go to state schools .

    J.R. makes some great points in his last paragraph .

    1. Lifelogic
      September 10, 2016
    2. Caterpillar
      September 10, 2016

      A Different Simon,

      Your data on ” financial contribution” could be alternatively read as – most people of working age are in work, yet most tax is paid by a small percentage this indicates that a disproportionately large amount of the value add is being appropriated (not necessarily created or produced) by a disproportionately small proportion of the population. Whether the reasons for this are luck, (negligible difference in) merit, dubiously valued products … or other, it is a problem.

      Education of the brightest? Call me stupid, but beyond IQ /general mental aptitude I don’t know what this means. Some bright people used to go into accounting, financial analysis etc. and their families now have resource benefit, but as these are all high frequency tasks they are easily replaceable by either programmed algorithms or deep learning AI. Once software has the right to sign off limited company accounts there will be little need for many of the roles.

      Societies moved from traditional economies to mixed economies (on the left-right) continuum, and hence growth and freedom from poverty followed. Whilst our existing politicians are currently stuck debating where to be on this continuum, I would hope that we will realise it is time to move on. Given the current monetary system, the origin of infinite wants and AI progress debates, policies and institutions will have to change.

      Back to who ‘gets’ education – I will arrogantly dare to suggest that education is part of the good life. Whether appreciating quantum field theory or Surrealism, educationneeds to move from a purely – for production mindset, to a – for satisfaction mindset.

      How can we get to a country where all work for less hours a week and what would we want it to look like?

  20. mike Stallard
    September 10, 2016

    “the best schools producing excellent exam results.”
    That is the whole problem.
    Yes, a few people are academic. Most are not. All we want out of life is a nice home, peace, prosperity and a job we enjoy doing. And sport. And nice friends.
    Cramming people (I coach pupils) through the current A level and GCSE destroys any hope of enthusiastic enjoyment of the subject. A levels are so dumbed down now that there is a new preUniversity exam which some independent schools have already adopted. IGCSE was not Blunkettized so they do that too.
    Comprehensive Schools think they are Grammars (Crammers?) They neglect the middle children in favour of the “special” ones and let the very clever ones get on with it.
    Secondary Moderns used to look carefully after their staff and their children. The parents were welcomed by name. There was a job at the end and children were trained in household management, woodwork, metalwork, cars, maths, English and very few left illiterate, jobless and frankly aimed at a life on the dole with a bit of sperm donery thrown in.
    We need to nurture the Secondary Moderns more than the Grammars.

    1. Lindsay McDougall
      September 11, 2016

      I went to a direct grant school, as Merchant Taylors Crosby then was. It is now a public school, having been forced to choose between becoming a comprehensive school and becoming a public school, thanks to the ideology of Labour and Shirley Williams. With the direct grant system, there was selection at 11 and an entrance exam that was a little bit tougher than the 11+. A certain number of places were reserved for pupils that were good enough but whose parents could not afford the fees. The State stepped in with a means tested grant.

      If the direct grant system were still in operation, it would have helped me get a better education for my childrn, something I feel a bit guilty about.

      You are right about the education of non-academic children. We should not forget the option of letting them leave school at 14 or 15 to start an apprenticeship. For the avoidance of doubt, I refer to apprenticeships financed by companies, not dodgy schemes organised by governments and charged to employers. It seems to me that we now operate a system of cheap imported labour, with apprenticeships for UK people having been nationalised. This is not the happiest of situations.

  21. Anonymous
    September 10, 2016

    The tutoring for grammar is not particularly expensive. If a family has the money for a modest holiday then they have the money to have grammar school tuition. Indeed we sacrificed our family holiday that year to have it.

    It is not exclusive.

    The entry exam is far more about testing parental commitment and priorities than it is about testing children, so that careless and disruptive parents (ergo their children) are excluded from the school and each term begins with the right mindset and the peer pressure aimed towards academic success rather than street cred.

    Far from children being done for a 11 if they fail the exam they can join at the beginning of any year – especially sixth form. Children already at grammar school are excluded if they do not meet academic standards.

    Though I welcome new grammar schools too many new ones will dilute their effect.

    The solution to improving state schools is to segregate disruptive pupils as early as possible – to an annex of the school run by a sub-head, preferably an ex NCO type. In the main body of the school academic virtues can be encouraged and good teachers will be more satisfied in their jobs able to do what the vast majority of them want to do which is to be able to impart their own knowledge and love of it.

    We also need to drop A levels. They have become so devalued. The International Baccalaureate is far more like the Gold Standard A levels used to aspire to; though very different in structure it also provides a more rounded general education.


    Please don’t let this distract from Brexit. One heck of a fight has been kicked up here for some reason. Like gay marriage it is the right thing to do but we should be asking ‘why now ?’ not ‘why ?’

    1. Mark
      September 10, 2016

      I think you raise a very important point about disruptive children. It is in their interest to be given particular attention focused on correcting their disruptive behaviour and the reasons for it, so as to reduce the chances of becoming lifetime burdens on the welfare state and perhaps the criminal justice system as well. Moreover, it allows the rest of the children to concentrate to the best of their abilities and for the teachers to have productive minutes for the whole class every lesson throughout.

  22. Ed Mahony
    September 10, 2016

    I’m with you on this.

    – EXCEPT that it’s a really thorny issue to deal with. Even in ‘normal times’ (e.g. no Brexit nor a massive national debt to pay off), it would still be a challenging issue to deal with. But with the PM having to deal with Brexit and the national debt, it’s like she’s on some extraordinary, Herculean quest.

    – Let’s hope Brexit doesn’t turn out to be a terrible Greek tragedy (‘Japan’s demand for ‘seamless Brexit’ is a timely warning against hubris’ – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor – Telegraph). (And that we will still have the opportunity to prevent things going down that road)

    1. Anonymous
      September 10, 2016

      I believe the point of this is to con people that there is a Conservative battle being waged.

      My intends to take on the educational Blob and any other union… except the European Union !

      This is a sop and a distraction to disappointed Brexiters and the proof of it is that ‘all schools can be selective’ which is a Blairist way of saying that none of them will be.

      1. Anonymous
        September 10, 2016

        May – not My.

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 11, 2016

      Of course Brexit must be “seamless”.

  23. Iain Gill
    September 10, 2016

    Re “against the competition from middle class children whose parents help them or hire tutors” I went to a big Comprehensive school. Looking back its clear many of my fellow pupils were having outside tutors. I don’t believe for a second anyone passed a foreign language exam without outside tuition as the school language teaching was so bad, for example.
    I don’t think you can or should stop parents helping their children. But it would be good to take more account of the other stuff a bright working class kid learns which their middle class contemporaries rarely know, I aced my Engineering Drawing exam cos of the people around me outside school, I could repair motorcycles with real skill at a young age, and so much more.

  24. Dave Andrrews
    September 10, 2016

    As someone who experienced the onset of comprehensive education whilst at school, my observation of the comprehensive system was that it levelled the playing field to the lowest common denominator. Achievement was strongly discouraged by one’s peers, motivated by envy of another’s success. The grammar school stream adopted the same policy, but at least the lowest common denominator was a higher standard.
    The only observation I have of the grammar school system is that there should be a pathway for late developers to be promoted to the higher stream.

  25. Caterpillar
    September 10, 2016

    I would like to see fewer teachers with teaching qualifications, the time put into these could have been put into more scholarly activities or developing an understanding of cognitive psychology.

    I would also like to see the return of decent chemistry sets to the high street.

    Finally more open access examination/assessment centres including university examinations so that anyone self- or online taught can evidence their learning.

    I think all of the above three will reduce monopoly power, hence increase the quantity of learning and reduce the price to access it.

  26. JJE
    September 10, 2016

    I was a grammar school boy. My son went to Reading School and my daughters went to a Wokingham comprehensive. All went on to leading universities. My sister is an “outstanding” teacher.

    The big difference is in expectations and the confidence instilled in the pupils. The comprehensive system is happy with meeting the minimum hurdle and doesn’t look to develop the brightest. The academically bright waste a LOT of time in lessons where the pace is set by the slower less able pupils. The quality of the teachers isn’t the same and I question how far some teachers are able or interested in developing pupils who are more academically gifted than they are themselves.

    School education in general is extremely inefficient and outdated. My daughters learnt more by working alone and actively tried to avoid wasting their time in lessons because they were competitive and wanted to best use their time to learn. They were on track for A’s and bored out of their heads with the lessons.
    The model needs to adapt to using technology to learn and classroom time to help pupils with individual problems.

  27. Denis Cooper
    September 10, 2016

    It seems that this is unlikely to get very far, because the unelected-legislators-for-life in the House of Lords are dead set against it. And that is understandable, if you accept the view of Sky News that this proposed change is yet another terrible consequence of Brexit. But in any case there will simply be no money to set up new schools, grammar or any other sort, when the catastrophic effects of Brexit emerge and we are all reduced to eating turnips.

  28. Excalibur
    September 10, 2016

    My stepbrother,who was just six months senior to me, passed the 11-plus and went to a grammar school. He ultimately went on to university and became in due course, Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
    I failed the 11-plus and duly went to the local Secondary Modern school. I never felt in any way deprived. Both from working class backgrounds,we each subsequently chose our preferred paths. The fact is that ability and success stem from an inner drive and a determination to succeed, rather than academic achievement.

    1. A different Simon
      September 10, 2016

      Absolutely agree with you .

      I learned stuff about the fundamentals of data by reading text books on the long train journey to work which I would never have got exposure to on a degree course .

      Took me years of struggling through the wrong text books in order to find the right ones .

      Incidentally almost half of what proved to be the right text books were written 20+ years ago by Briton’s who had either lectured at Warwick University or emigrated to the U.S. to work in research for I.B.M. in California .

      I have been able to design solutions to problems for multi-national companies after they have failed to find any other individuals /consultancies capable of doing so .

      It is not that my skills and knowledge are so exceptional , it is that over the past 30 years fewer and fewer people have been taught what I learned on the train of my own volition .

      Once they get into the outside world , most computer science graduates seem to be happy to be spoon fed by the product vendors rather than get ahead and demand better products .

      This has lead to a dysfunctional market where real progress in management of data has stagnated and silver bullet solutions proliferated .

  29. Bert Young
    September 10, 2016

    If a school has classes of mixed abilities the approach to the teaching is difficult ; it handicaps those children who are not very bright and , equally , those children who are bright . Schools that are large enough can create divisions of ability and cater to the different levels of intelligence and , in some few cases , aptitudes . Because this “streaming” may take place under one roof , it does not – and will not reduce the feelings of social difference .

    In the “old” days Grammar , Technical and Senior schools achieved an approach that catered to the different levels of ability and aptitude ; they created their own standards; they were not essentially methods of social divide . It was possible for later achievers to change schools if , at age 11yrs – or thereabouts , their orientation did not show . I believe this organisational method worked and responded most effectively to the needs of communities .

    Certainly the Technical schools ( I taught at one for a short period of time ) were orientated to occupational demands and were able to enjoy work experiences with local businesses ; the process of moving from school to work was relatively seamless . When Secondary Moderns were created this whole approach to ability and lifestyle was lost .

    Today the differences in schools is more about class size . Parents who experience the problem of 35+ numbers in one classroom , know that their child is not receiving the individual attention they require ; if they can afford it they opt for an independent school where class sizes are seldom above 20 children . Dyslexic children – when identified , are often sent to special independent schools and given the particular teaching approach their disability deserves .

    The time has come for a change in the Education system ; it is not simply about the re-creation of Grammar Schools it is about creating an approach that caters for the different needs of children . At the same time the training and supply of Teachers has to change ; the quality and standards of those in the profession has to be raised . Teachers must be trained for the specific needs of those children in their care .

  30. Bob
    September 10, 2016

    Of course we cannot accept that some parents nuture and encourage their children while others are indifferent or downright neglectful. The solution is obviously to remove all children from their parents at birth to avoid any unfair advantages such as breastfeeding or having bedtime stories read by mum or dad. The kids can they be given identical upbringings in state approved institutions with identical educations thus ensuring identical outcome for all.

    Should any child after this process emerge as a more capable with a more successful career their tax rate can be set at a level to restore equality by giving their surplus earnings to those who are not as successful.

    1. Mark
      September 10, 2016

      An alternative is to educate parents in the art of parenthood.

      1. Bob
        September 11, 2016

        Yes, that would ensure that all parents were equally capable and committed to nurturing and encouraging their children through the education process, thus eliminating any “unfairness”.

        I don’t know why I didn’t think of that solution.

        A couple of question arise:
        Do you think parental education should commence at a certain age, or at the stage that the child is conceived?

        What would be done about parents that didn’t attend lessons or just failed the exam?
        Would their children be taken away?
        would they be prevented from producing more children?

        How would unfairness be eliminated if some children were taken into state care and others remained with their educationally enhanced parents?

  31. libertarian
    September 10, 2016

    There are 8 different types of intelligence possessed by people. Our education system only caters for 1 ( academic intelligence) and its not either very good at that or fit for the digital world of the 21st century.

    Grammars, comprehensives or any other type of school are immaterial until we A) Start recognising pupils talent clusters B) Organise educational delivery in a completely different way C) Give over with the ridiculous exam system

    All of this existing system is geared to get kids in to universities. That now is passed its sell by date too. 80% of graduates leave university with a huge debt and a worthless degree , the evidence is now clear, in the vast majority of cases apprentices now have better life time earnings than university graduates.

    Those non academic pupils ( more than 70% of all students ) should also NOT be still at school aged 17 and 18 its a massive problem ( especially with boys)

    The trouble is parents, they still insist on their kids getting the “opportunities” they never had or the same “opportunities” they had. They still see grammars and universities as some sort of badge of honour. Its the 21st century, its a digital world, most school and university work could be done in 30 minutes on google. We must let go of the past and build education systems that suit the future or else we condemn future generations to unemployability and that is a total waste of talent

    1. a-tracy
      September 10, 2016

      I agree.

      May has no manifesto pledge for this now. She has too much on with Brexit already in hand and she needs to park this until her next term if she can get re-elected with this is in her manifesto.

      I won’t support this until you say what the other schools would look like exactly.

  32. Roy Grainger
    September 10, 2016

    Countries like Germany with better social mobility than UK have rigorous academic selection at 11. People opposed to grammar schools need to explain why that is.

    On another topic, Liam Fox has no personal experience whatsoever of the private sector, his entire career has been in the public sector. But now he seems to be such an expert on it that he can say UK private company managers are lazy and not equipped to trade abroad ie. the managers of UK companies who have ALREADY been extremely successful trading both with the EU and the rest of the world – look at the percentage of FTSE 100 company profits made overseas. He also claims – I would guess based on a 1970s TV sitcom he saw once – that UK company CEOs play golf on Friday afternoon. Insulting the sector you are supposed to represent in government is a counter-productive exercise. As Number 10 has indicated these are “his personal views” they disqualify him from holding that job and I suppose all Mrs May needs to decide is whether to sack him now or in a few months time when he says something equally idiotic. Interested on your views on this John based on your personal experience in the private sector – my experience is that what really prevents foreign trade is not laziness but trade barriers, penal taxes, red tape etc. I suppose Fox is getting his excuses in early for when he fails to address those issues.

  33. JoosB
    September 10, 2016

    Good luck! Should think you’ll have much luck getting them past the un-elected and unaccountable lefties in the House of Lords, if it gets that far that is, seeing as Owen Smith and the SNP are deadly opposed to them even though it will not affect them or their constituents seeing as we are only talking about grammar schools in ENGLAND.

  34. Margaret
    September 10, 2016

    Whilst I am not against grammar schools, access to them only at 11years is discriminative. It is a fallacy that children will do well at any school . Children pick up on one another and are strongly influenced by their peers. It matters that children are put amongst those whose alacrity in absorption of knowledge is similar to others. Children who are slow to learn , but nevertheless do well set against those who learn quickly and then become bored , lose concentration and as a consequence do not do well are penalised .

  35. Ken Moore
    September 10, 2016

    The main reason grammars work (besides an ability to attract good teachers that don’t have to put up with being spat at etc.) is that it excludes often violent and disturbed kids from…………… backgrounds that take up a disproportionate amount of teaching time and disrupt the education of the kids that want to learn.

    Bright kids are routinely used as ‘punch bags’…..which the politicians find preferable to having out of control schools exclusively populated by the offspring of bad parents. Form groups are now of mixed ages so that older children are forced to act as unpaid social workers to try to keep the levels of disorder in check.

    Thanks to the unopposed politically correct polices of the Lib/Lab/Con block and ‘all must have prizes’ thinking this is where we are at.

    So glad I’m not a politician so am able to speak the truth.. I don’t expect my views will be published….

  36. English Pensioner
    September 10, 2016

    I think the biggest disaster in English education was the loss of our technical colleges and their conversion to pseudo-universities. I went to Grammar School but was glad to be able to go to a good technical college, where I studied electrical engineering and managed in due course, through working in the industry and my studies at technical college, to become a Chartered Engineer. I would never have achieved this via university as I was not academically inclined. We need a non-university route for those who are not inclined to university studies, and I feel this is far more important than all the argument about grammar schools.

  37. graham1946
    September 10, 2016

    Just three questions.

    1) If our schools are not providing a good enough education, where will you suddenly be able get all the super duper new teachers for the new grammars?

    2) Will the extra money required be provided – presumably there will have to be new building and these special teachers will surely command more money? Or is this another sound bite job like the 7 day hospital nonsense from Hunt (no extra doctors or money, no weekend working for all the support staff from cleaners to radiographers to labs specialists, but just a thinly run service 7 days).

    3) If you are going to have selection, what’s wrong with Streaming like we had in the 60’s with the elite being in the top streams and the others lower down instead of what I assume is everyone going at the slowest pace? The Secondary Moderns were not all bad, some were and some produced good results, it’s the experimenters who ruined education and many students futures. Surely Streaming would be quicker and cheaper with all the infrastructure already in place.

    1. Mark
      September 10, 2016

      I think tackling the teacher training establishment is an element that Mrs. May is trying to avoid, although I don’t think educational reform is possible without it. She seems to hope that attempts to force private and successful schools to “help” other schools will suffice. I do not that it will be anywhere near sufficient for the fundamental change in attitudes in the teaching profession that are needed in switching from their equality of outcome mentality to one of trying to provide the best education suited to the child.

      I think the real key to making it all affordable is to restore educational standards – as another commenter points out, by university our schoolchildren are up to two years behind their peers from other countries. If we can shorten the period required to reach a given level of attainment that means class sizes can be smaller. It’s a virtuous circle.

  38. ian
    September 10, 2016

    It just a name change and more likely a biggest budget to buy better teachers with smaller class sizes and if it a new school on PFI2 at 7 to 1 leverage, it will cost a bomb and have be found out of education budget which cannot go up much because they have no money, no i think better teacher training is the way to go.
    At the moment a teacher have a few weeks training before going into a school, i think that needs to be longer with teachers being able to teacher life skills and more subjects to poor ability kids who fine it hard to read and writ and different schools so kids can be more hands on that mean swapping kids between schools and places where they go, woodlands for two weeks with fishing and other things and two or three hours reading and writing,
    sitting in a classroom all day might suit most kids but not all, i think you fined the it system that the problem for 20% of the kids and not them.

    Some people minds work differently to others, people are not all build the same and have different needs and as you go forward not all people will have a job to go to and thinking on this needs to change in the media as if they are bad people and living off the tax payers which is pushed by parties politics to divide society and you get what you sow.

  39. Handbags
    September 10, 2016

    What happens if that year’s applicants are all stupid? If there are places to fill they’ll be selected anyway.

    And the following year if a couple of thousand are brilliant what then? Most will be rejected.

    That was the problem with Grammar Schools – some years the brightest couldn’t get a place whereas a year later a load of dimwits could.

    There’s nothing wrong with selective education – but the standard for entry must be consistent from year to year.

  40. JohnF
    September 10, 2016

    The second argument against grammars is that low income background children find it too difficult to get in against the competition from middle class children whose parents help them or hire tutors to get them through the entrance procedures.

    Whereas in the current system, middle class parents hire tutors to get their children through GCSE and A Levels. No system can prevent parents with money using some of that money to give their children an educational advantage – be it private schools or private tuition. At least grammar schools give some bright children from low income families a “leg up”.

  41. John B
    September 10, 2016

    It is the usual Leftist – (Leftist these days includes a large section of the alleged ‘Conservative’ Party) – ignorance and flawed logic – “A” can only be better off at “B”‘s expense.

    The logical flaw is the belief that there is a fixed amount of wealth, or in this case, educational success available, so if “A” is better off, it has been taken from “B” who is now worse off.

    1. graham1946
      September 10, 2016

      The problem is, John that there is actually a fixed amount of wealth (money) available, or more likely constant cuts depending on the Chancellor and his latest whim or wacky idea. Same in the NHS. They say they keep putting in extra money, but then keep cutting beds and wondering why the hospitals get clogged up and waiting lists get longer. No-one it seems sets out to find out what the right level of funding needs to be to get the result required in the first place. People say you cannot keep chucking money at it because it is bottomless. The results of the Olympics throw that assertion into proper focus. We paid and we got success having made a clinical review of what we required. All the time politicians muck about with things trying to make a name for themselves we will get into the kind of spiral we have with Education, Health and lots of other things besides.

  42. miami.mode
    September 10, 2016

    It’s irony, hypocrisy if you prefer, in the extreme that so many of those in Parliament, on the airwaves or in the press pontificating vehemently against grammar schools did themselves often benefit from some sort of specialised education.

    It should be incumbent for such people to declare the sort of education that they themselves or their offspring received, which obviously gives the Labour front bench a problem.

  43. Atlas
    September 10, 2016

    Quite, John.

    I’ll be interested to see how Mrs. M. sees off the ideological ‘Blob’.

  44. ian
    September 10, 2016

    If welfare for companies is ok, subsidy from parliament and now negative interest rates from banks on loans, why should a company need to expand or think about R/D and hiring workers, what i mean is the thing then is to scale down and pay the boardroom staff more money and cut the workers pay and jobs, say a company has 500 million loan and loan go to negative 2% interest rate that 10 million coming in and nothing to pay out on the 500 million and if the bank phones up say we want you to take another 100 million that a extra 2 million coming in and money to buy back shares or buy a company boat or plane that if they have not got extra 100 million from the bank and do not make boats or planes any more and just have a boardroom.

  45. Tom William
    September 10, 2016

    Having a son who briefly taught at what can only be described as an appalling secondary modern school, and then has taught at a successful grammar school for many years, the importance of parental interest in education is paramount. That is one reason why Asian children generally do so well in school. Comments about “class” or snobbery in modern grammar schools are out dated and rubbish. Fact.

    Intelligent children need to be stretched and have good teachers, otherwise they can become bored and lazy.

    There are an increasing number of excellent comprehensive schools where children go on to good universities. For both grammars and comprehensives good primary schools are essential but some do not really accept or understand that education and effort start there.

    While there are many excellent private, or “public”, schools the majority are not as good academically as grammar schools or the best comprehensives. But if parents want to spend vast amounts of money on second rate education that should be regarded as their right and there is no reason to penalise them.

    Likewise the belief that selective schools are divisive is answered by having more selective schools, whether academic, technical or even sporting.

  46. Roy Grainger
    September 10, 2016

    I see Nicky Morgan is in the Times today is saying that Mrs May’s ideas on education are “weird”. I am heartily sick of privately-educated politicians like her of any party, and those who sent their children to private schools (eg. Keith Vaz) pontificating on education choices for my own children.

    1. Mark
      September 10, 2016

      I find Nicky Morgan’s ideas weird.

  47. ian
    September 10, 2016

    I like the company bond buying by the BOE to send the bonds into negative rates of interest with the company then being able to issue more bonds at negative rates, paying the company for the bonds in first place and then paying them again for holding them and waiting for interest rates to go more negative so they can sell them on at a profit and next buyer wait for the rates to go more negative so they can sell them on for a profit, when you get to 100% negative why go for two hundred percent negative and so on, i dare say that the BOE will be looking for a bit help from the taxpayers treasury and with companies have their own court so they can get directly into the peoples treasury by way of corporate court order, will there be anything left out that you will not nodding through on a finance bill, rather than going through all that why not just hand over the treasury to the corporations,
    In a negative world is there any need to educate people.

  48. graham1946
    September 10, 2016

    I’m rather intrigued by the idea that selection can go on up to 16 years. Surely if a 16 year old gets into a Gramnmar from a Comp of Academy, having had 5 years at a lower level, he/she will be so far behind as to be lost and incapable of understanding what is going on? If you are to have lower level classes for these students, then what is the point? Anyone know?

    I can’t quite see how it would work. With Streaming, each individual could be assessed each year or even each term and if they blossom, they could get into higher grade streams straightaway without having to wait for a milestone date or another exam?

  49. getahead
    September 10, 2016

    Bright students must not be allowed to progress. Socialists loathe the pursuit of excellence.

    1. rose
      September 11, 2016

      And no-one must be allowed to climb up into the middle class. Socialists loathe the middle class. They still do, even though theynow hate the working class too.

  50. Lindsay McDougall
    September 10, 2016

    I suppose that we have to be PC on this topic. Presumably we are not allowed to point out that there a component of genetic inheritance in academic intelligence, nor that income and intelligence are correlated.

    Also, can sombody please explain why we do not want to reinstate the direct school system. A direct grant school was a public school in which some pupils were financed by the State. Entry was by selection at 11. If you were good enough but your parents were poor, the State paid for some or all of the fees, after means testing.

    If we are going to have grammar schools with transfers at 11, 14 and 16, what is the right way of doing this? Do we have transfers in both directions? Do we have transfers into grammar schools at 14 and 16 for late developers, who would have a hard job catching up (tutors would be valuable)? Or would grammar schools take in too many at 11 and have chuck outs at ages 14 and 16?

    Now that everyone in the Conservative Party seems to support free schools and faith schools, even to the extent of reduced access to faith schools for children of different faiths, when are we going to see specifically atheistic free schools?

    ‘Religious’ teaching in these schools would consist of debunking some common religious myths, for example:
    – Genesis is bunk and the world did not begin in 4004 BC
    – St Paul was a revisionist historian of considerable skill and zero integrity

    – The Turin shroud has been reliably placed in the 13th or 14th century by carbon dating

    – There are no Gods lurking in the sun, the moon etc
    – Prayer serves no useful purpose
    – Nor does sitting on your backside and going ‘Om’

    (Some items left out ed)

    Once these ‘religious’ lessons were quickly out of the way, the pupils would be taught about real history (to include the innocence of Anne Boleyn) and real evolution.

  51. Richard
    September 10, 2016

    Selection in the current Labour party elite currently means Corbyn before such as Keir Starmer,QC. They are hardly likely to support intellect through merit.

  52. Newmania
    September 10, 2016

    The fact that the children of John`s charming Surrey Constituency, (many of whom are dropped at school on shire ponies by picturesque local swains ) perform better than the mean, demonstrates nothing whatsoever .
    The problem with bringing back Grammars is that ] the more you do it, the more you have secondary moderns .
    I am the lucky father of three splendid boys. Right now it looks as if one of them would breeze into Grammar one would scrape in and the other needs more help. I find the idea of sorting them into winners and losers deeply unpleasant and the suggestion it wouldn’t work that way entirely disingenuous.
    Of course it would; the kids know the teachers know and the employers know
    Education in this country is in any case getting much better and is very good by international standards for the Grammar stream .Where we lag is in offering apprenticeships and and providing technical courses.

    That said the domination of public life and the top of society by Public school Boys gives a tone to our National life I dislike. There is a disconnect between ordinary people and the establishment Grammars once filled and after one silver spooned chancer behaved so irresponsibly as to jeopardise the Nation’s future you start to long for a sensible Grammar school types like Heath or Major.

    Reply Wokingham is in Berkshire and few of my constituents want and can afford ponies.

    1. Anonymous
      September 12, 2016

      You can make all three winners by seeing that they each get the education that best suits them.

      For goodness sakes, do not turn the most academically gifted boy into a loser for the sake of Nu Labourite ideology.

      He will not forgive you.

  53. JamesG
    September 10, 2016

    I’m guessing this is just a way of distracting the media from Brexit for a while. In my comprehensive pupils were segregated into 3 groups based on ability. They could jump up a group should they show progress. Which demonstrates 2 things that grammars don’t solve; absolutely no need for separate scho0ls and flexibility. A 3rd thing would be no stigmatisation for those that don’t make the cut. The only thing that needs to change in England and Wales is for politicians to stop changing things. ie Pick one system and make it work.

    1. Anonymous
      September 11, 2016

      There is stigma in not making the top sets. Stigma (rather the perception that one is stigmatised) cannot be avoided in life.

  54. Angela
    September 11, 2016

    I work in an excellent comprehensive, as a teacher, which my daughter also attends. Results are good but the achievements of those with SEN are also celebrated and there’s a real feel from the majority of children that they can be the best they can. It’s a lovely environment.

    My daughter, aged 12, summed it up for me when she heard the news in the car on the radio – “well that’s ridiculous, what about those who don’t get into the grammar schools – what happens to them ? What teacher is going to work in those schools?”

    There are many issues in education right now, low retention levels of teachers, too fast changing curriculum, lack of teachers and lack of money with budget cuts – one of our problems is NOT lack of grammar schools.

    Wrong priority and wrong message in my opinion. As a teacher and a mum I’m really disappointed that this is the new government’s first foray into policy – could do better.

    By the way my second daughter decided not to take the Reading grammar school exam – and having looked into the exam despite the school’s best efforts to say or promote otherwise it’s an exercise in “who got tutored the most” and is not geared to those not able to pay for tutoring.

    1. Ken Moore
      September 12, 2016

      Specimen papers are available for parents to go through with their children – tutors are not compulsory. A child that has practiced enough past papers has a good chance of success.
      If the child or indeed the parents don’t have the patience and work ethos needed to put in the work they are unlikely to benefit from a grammar education imo.

  55. Ken Moore
    September 12, 2016

    John Redwood’s on working class children….. they ‘find it difficult to get in against the competition from middle class children whose parents help them…’

    Well we can’t have middle class kids with their caring parents and strong work ethic seeking to focus and stimulate their minds been given an advantage can we..Oh no no noo….lets drag them all down to the same level…

    Reply Not what I said at all!

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