The future of grammar schools

Two Reading based grammars provide places for pupils from my constituency. These are popular with parents. The comprehensives also attract talented pupils, so the sixth forms of the local comprehensives can  also provide a good A level education and offer a platform for gaining places at top universities for those who are academically inclined. As a result I have not encountered jealousy of the grammars on the doorsteps from those whose children just missed out on a grammar place. There are clearly too few grammar school places for all the able children who might like to attend.

The government has now said it will make some additional money available to expand grammar places at those schools who would like to do so. This seems to me unremarkable, as around Wokingham we need to expand the number of schools places in general to keep up with demands from all the new housing with many more  people moving into the area. If we are going to carry on with grammars amongst the choices open to parents and pupils, we should allow them to expand if they wish.

I would be interested to hear your views on this latest development. Selection still seems to evoke strong criticism in some quarters, though most seem to accept the need for selection when it comes to university places. It is also easier to teach well if pupils are streamed or grouped  in schools, as different ability and effort levels require  different instruction. In the adult world there is a lot of selection, with professional qualifications and competitions for top jobs being a feature of business life.

The good news is it is often the individuals who did  not compete strongly for academic laurels who go on to be the most successful entrepreneurs and  sports personalities . Life is full of challenges and competitions, so there are prizes for all sorts of exertion and skill. Getting into a grammar does not guarantee long term success. Not getting into a grammar does not stop success and a good career.


  1. Lifelogic.
    May 12, 2018

    Well if grammar schools are a good idea (and I think are) why only expand the existing ones in the few areas that still have them? ÂŁ50 million is just a tiny gesture from T May.

    Of course the best way to organise education is to give education out and allow parents to top them up and use them anywhere they like.

    We also need to improve practical skill training, we need more builders, electricians, plumbers, roofers and he likes rather more than we need more Lawyers and PPE graduates.

    More religious segregation in schools is needed like a hole in the head. It is indoctrination of young vulnerable minds, very dangerous for society and bordering on child abuse in many cases. Literally in the case of genital mutilation. May is wrong on nearly everything alas, but a bit better than Corbyn.

    1. Lifelogic.
      May 12, 2018

      I meant give top up “education vouchers” out.

      I read in the Telegraph today that:- RESEARCHERS are calling for an urgent investigation to find an explanation for more than 20,000 “additional deaths” so far this year, amid severe pressure on the NHS.

      The NHS is absolutely appalling yet no one dares to touch it. Free at the point of rationing, delay, incompetence and non treatment. They have your money already so patients are a nuisance and treated as such whenever they can get away with it. This despite the many excellent and dedicated people who work there. The system can never work well as currently structured.

      We should certainly be encouraging people to go privately with tax breaks to lighten the load on the NHS and get some more competition in health care. Alas we have a dire socialist government in charge.

      1. Hope
        May 12, 2018

        Grammars brought back ASAP as promised by May. Radical overhaul of the poor quality baby sitting service called comprehensive schools. Exiate centers, safe spaces, no control or discipline for fear of reprisals by parents or councils. Knives a daily occurrence under May. Police officers stationed at some schools! What does this say about control in school? None in private schools or grammars.

        I note 3000 percent increase in moped robberies over the last five years when May was HS and PM, same for all other serious crime, May’s cuts in police numbers and stop search being key factors.

        No more cheating at Russell Group universities to allow students with lower grades to get places ahead of those who have bette grades irrespective fo background- fair to all as May promised. If comprehensives are not delivering their pupils should not be rewarded for having poor grades! What does this teach the young?

        I not a coordinated bleat from Major, Kinnock and Grieve about single market and customs union. Electorial traitors ought to know better. Leave won the vote including to leave single market and customs union. Now we expect it to be delivered. No need for any punishment extension as May agreed to sequential talks instead of parallel talks per EU rules. Therefore she knew trade would be agreed after we left. Leave now talk about trade afte we leave per EU agreement with May. She is trying to rat on her own poor agreement to keep us in the EU?

      2. a-tracy
        May 12, 2018

        I wonder how many of the extra flu deaths had flu jabs

    2. Peter
      May 12, 2018

      Nonsense. Voluntary aided faith schools were just as valued as grammar schools.

      It seems as though the host here shares your views though. My first post about grammar schools and faith schools was swiftly deleted.

      Another taboo subject.

      Reply You offered multiple postings so I removed the long one

      1. Lifelogic
        May 12, 2018

        Well the schools of some samon faiths are rather less damaging and dangerous than some other faiths. But it surely cannot be sensible to augment such faith/religious/race cleavages in society. I would generally move to take faith out out schools. Including the absurd, exaggerated, climate alarmist religion.

        Schools should be about real education and reality, not indoctrination in the irrational.

        1. Ed Mahony
          May 12, 2018

          It was religion (the Catholic Church) that first taught people how to think rationally in this country, backed up by the institutions to do it in – and boy did they do it in style: Oxford, Cambridge, Grammar Schools, Eton, Winchester as well as education for the poor!

          It is 20th / 21st century anti-theism secularists who have tried to remove faith from schools – in Britain today and all over the Western World (not forgetting the dreadful regimes of the 20th century from both the hard left and hard right).

      2. Peter
        May 12, 2018

        Well, by removing my first post, the main point I was making is lost and my after thoughts are all that remain.

    3. graham1946
      May 12, 2018

      ‘Give out education vouchers’

      Very good. Now where do you suppose they will all go to? There are 8 million school chlidren and 24000 schools. There are 2500 independent schools educating the vast number of 600, 000 students. I think you need to think a bit more logically before you post your repetitive stuff about schools NHS et al.
      What is really needed is a return to proper discipline in schools of all types, restoration of teacher respect from pupils and parents and stop the pernicious cult of children ruling the adults. Also get the politicians out of the way with their constant changes and paperwork designed to keep them in employment.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 12, 2018

        Well the reason reason there are so few private schools is due to the virtual monopoly the state has by taxing then supplying free at the point of use. Not that easy to compete with “free”. When you give the vouchers out (that people can top up) the private schools with follow for sure. The state schools would accept the vouchers too and compete for pupils. Many would be sold off and go private.

        The same with the NHS. There is little choice because the state takes you money in advance in tax and gives you what it feels like (or not) years later.

        Rather like a company paying its workers in vouchers that can only be used to the works shop. Worse in fact, as you do not even have a voucher. You just get what they feel like giving you or not giving you with very little choice.

  2. formula57
    May 12, 2018

    I agree with your view.

    Let us put aside the suspicion that this latest development is another example of Mrs. Weak & Vacillating’s approach, being another bite of the cherry (to use a Geoffrey Howe term) to go some way towards implementing the abandoned aim of reintroducing grammar schools.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2018

      It is a rather pathetic face saving exercise, similar to the cheating on the Tories IHT threshold promise of ÂŁ1 million. (With the pathetic & convoluted attempted deception from Philip Hammond – that deceives no one). The threshold is still just ÂŁ325K each.

      About ÂŁ4 million each in the USA and no IHT at all in most sensible countries.

  3. David Cockburn
    May 12, 2018

    Having seen a little of the Canadian system where most people go to the local high school, which is the equivalent of a comprehensive where they are streamed. I would say there are advantages in terms of bringing together all citizens with a background of shared school experience. This is very important in Canada, a land of immigrants, and is becoming increasingly important in England.

    1. Anonymous
      May 12, 2018

      Canada is not know for disruption and lawlessness in its schools. When I visited there it seemed to have an orderly culture. No litter. No grafitti. No swearing and general politeness.

      We have lost all that. Selective education is more important than ever now.

      1. L Jones
        May 12, 2018

        Canada is a ”multi racial” country, and not (in my experience of Alberta in particular) a ”multi cultural” one.

        There are many races in the community that I know well, but the ”culture” is CANADIAN.

        1. lojolondon
          May 14, 2018

          Very good point. You have hit the nail on the head there!

  4. oldtimer
    May 12, 2018

    Grammar schools are part of the educational mix in several areas of the country. If they deliver a sound education and the demand is there it would be obtuse to inhibit their growth and expansion. Unfortunately education has been an area of national life that has been unduly distorted by the imposition of opinions rather than by responses to demand from parents.Polytechnics, along with grammar schools, have suffered in this way, in my opinion, over the past 40 plus years.

    1. Lifelogic.
      May 12, 2018

      Parents get virtually no say in what school they go to unless they are rich enough to pay privately or pay to move to a different area. The government takes your taxes, so then most do not have the money to go privately, then they tell you your limited options to get a bit of your tax back.

      Education vouchers, tax breaks and freedom to choose please. Same as is needed with the appalling NHS.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 12, 2018

        The competition authority should look at the NHS, the BBC and School which are all unfair state competition, dire virtual state monopolies.

        1. Lifelogic
          May 12, 2018

          as is social housing.

  5. Lifelogic.
    May 12, 2018

    Indeed as you say “ Getting into a grammar does not guarantee long term success. Not getting into a grammar does not stop success and a good career.”. There should of course be plenty of opportunity to switch between schools and colleges where appropriate. We have centres of excellence for sports, music and the likes we also need them for academic subjects, history, languages, maths, science, engineering and indeed vocational and practical skills. How can anyone but a politics of envy, chip on the shoulder, it’s not fair lefty dope object to Grammar Schools. We all benefit from the doctors, engineers, scientist and the likes they are good at producing.

  6. agricola
    May 12, 2018

    As long as Mrs may maintains her socialist agenda you will not get the grammar schools that the country needs. She will remain unquestioned by the current opposition, many with grammar school backgrounds, whose hypocrisy denies the return of grammar schools. As you point out they are not the answer to everyone’s success in life, but they are an essential key to social mobility.

    1. L Jones
      May 12, 2018

      Mrs May herself is a grammar school girl. And many others, as you say, Agricola. Is this a case of : ”I care not for your predicament, Jack, pull up the ladder, I am suitably provided for”?

    2. lojolondon
      May 14, 2018

      Mrs May came into power a great believer in Grammar schools. She made the announcement that every right-minded person in the country agreed with. But she was shot down by the media and leftist elite, so the subject disappeared from the agenda, never to reappear until this pathetic ÂŁ50m appeared out of nowhere. A good time to remind ourselves that we give ÂŁ1Billion to the EU every single month, and nearly another ÂŁ1Billion to ‘charity’ = ÂŁ24 Billion every year, entirely wasted!!

  7. Bryan Harris
    May 12, 2018

    As an institution, grammar schools should be encouraged – When I was at school, there was always a certain aura about their pupils, and a feeling that these people would be successful. They had a refreshing air about them – We should get a lot more grammar schools going.
    As for the nonsense over selection – Selection has to stay, but of course, the labour party and other socialists will attack anything that is successful – Lets just remember that this is all part of their agenda to make everything the same, on the lowest possible common denominator.
    Socialists will never raise educational standards, because they rule out competition, a vital element in survival and winning.

  8. Peter
    May 12, 2018

    Being against grammar schools is part of the stock ideas for most politicians these days. So the likes of Angela Rayner will say it is bad because it is only for children whose parents pay to have them coached.

    Of course, she is too young to remember how the grammar school actually worked at the time.

    So she bases her opinion on reports about a few remaining grammar schools in wealthier areas.

    1. Dave Andrews
      May 12, 2018

      But then you find that those politicians condemning selective education send their own children to a private school.

    2. Adam
      May 12, 2018

      Those who oppose selection for Themselves don’t choose, so they often:
      – Eat mouldy fruit
      – Risk dangerous paths
      – Die needlessly

      Those who oppose selection for Others, oppose Grammar Schools.

  9. Javelin
    May 12, 2018

    Peers are mandated by The Salisbury Convention to refrain from wrecking the manifesto pledges of an elected government; the Conservative manifesto was clear – a commitment to Leave the Customs Union and Single Market.

    1. Lifelogic.
      May 12, 2018

      But the government is rudderless under the dithering ex? Remainer and socialist T May. The Blair and Cameron cronies stuffed into the Lords and the Soubries, Clarks x2, Morgan and Grieve types are likely to win until we get a sensible real Tory leader with some sensible vision and electoral appeal.

    2. Roy Grainger
      May 12, 2018

      Only applies if the government has an absolute majority. May doesn’t.

      1. Denis Cooper
        May 12, 2018

        In reality it only applies if a majority of the Lords agree that it will apply, and in this case a majority of the Lords do not agree because they want to dilute, delay and preferably thwart Brexit notwithstanding the decision made by the people directly in a official referendum ordered by Parliament. Amongst others that was made clear by Baroness Wheatcroft in August 2016, and I have given the link to her article in Prospect magazine on a number of occasions. They need to have their teeth drawn by cutting the maximum permissible period for which they can delay any Bill from around thirteen months to just one month, as it already is for Money Bills.

      2. Lifelogic
        May 12, 2018

        Thanks entirely to May’s silly “vote for me and I will kick Tory supporters in the teeth” manifesto, the highest taxes for forty years and her robotic dreary delivery and daft socialist/interventionist policies.

        We want leadership and a working compass! We have had more than enough of Tory Leaders who are not real Conservatives.

  10. Peter
    May 12, 2018

    “ Bottom rung” not “bottom rung”.

    Must try harder. C minus.

  11. Peter
    May 12, 2018

    There was the claim that grammar schools stigmatised the majority who failed the eleven plus exam.

    I think the idea of cutting people down to size and simple jealousy played as big a part in the disappearance of grammar schools.

    1. Lifelogic.
      May 12, 2018

      The evil politics of envy is how the left get their votes. Stocking up grievances wherever they can.

      Sensible people believe in aspiration, fairness and rewards for hard work. Alas all the parties are currently absurdly big government know best, high tax borrow and waste socialists. But for the 100 (at best) on the sensible wing of the Tories.

      The highest, most complex and hugely idiotic and unfair taxes for forty years from halfwit Hammond. Yet still he remains in no 11 damaging the economy further every day.

    2. Iain Gill
      May 12, 2018

      my view is the push to stop grammars back in the day was an open door, mainly because so many secondary moderns were so bad. people where I lived were prepared to tolerate the grammars shutting as long as something was done to radically change the secondary moderns.

  12. agricola
    May 12, 2018

    Another piece of socialist, hug a terrorist, policy to emanate from Mrs May is the reopening of enquiries into UK soldiers behaviour in Northern Ireland during the troubles. Current members of the armed forces must be appalled. Potential members will be looking for something less onerous. The effect on morale must be devastating. No mention of investigating the terrorist murders, comparable with anything the gestapo achieved in WW2, that UK forces were fighting to minimise. That would not be politically correct, would it.

    1. Iain Gill
      May 12, 2018


    2. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2018


    3. JoolsB
      May 12, 2018


    4. mancunius
      May 12, 2018

      Hear hear!

  13. Anonymous
    May 12, 2018

    The point of selective education is not to select the children but to select the parents.

    The 11+ is not particularly difficult with preparation and is a test of the child’s support group and the general ethos in the child’s home.

    Selection is a way of filtering out uncooperative parents who tend to nurture disruptive children.

    The headteacher has the full support of all the parents and gets to instill discipline, ethos and policy as they see fit. That includes unashamedly reaching for the greatest of heights.

    The closure of grammar schools brought with it a reduction in social mobility which we see in politics and art today.

    The left purport to be against advantage but are so often advantaged themselves and seek it for their children – this is particularly obvious in arts and entertainment. Many Labour MPs use private education for their children.

    Expand grammars. Give supportive parents the right to fence their children from disruptive pupils – something which utterly ruined my own education and I vowed would never happen to my boys with good effect.

    If there is an opportunity for late developers to join in at sixth form then what’s the problem ?

    1. Anonymous
      May 12, 2018

      “The left purport to be against advantage but are so often advantaged themselves and seek it for their children ”

      Quite obviously this is happening in politics too.

  14. Edward2
    May 12, 2018

    Many critics complain of better off families getting their children coached to get into Grammar schools.
    They forget that for a modest cost you can buy the entrance exam practice books or use on line resources or use the local library and help your own children prepare for the exam for virtually nothing.
    More money for good popular schools is a fine thing and we should bring back the assisted places scheme too.

    Reply A lot of children get into grammars with no extra coaching. Mine for example! I myself won a free place at a Direct Grant school, also with no extra coaching, fresh from state primary.

    1. Anonymous
      May 12, 2018

      We gave up our holiday that year.

      The cost of tuition is within reach of the vast majority of ordinary people if they sacrifice a little bit.

      The ‘disadvantaged’ will doubtless still be smoking, going to the pub and taking holidays.

    2. Denis Cooper
      May 12, 2018

      My parents could not possibly have afforded any private coaching for their children, the idea would never have been mooted, but nonetheless four out of the five of us got into grammar schools and two of us went on to further education.

    3. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2018

      Indeed you can design IQ types of test to largely overcome coaching issues to a degree but not completely. But what is wrong with coaching it shows they and their parents are keen to advance which is part of the battle?

      It is a fact (like it or not) that intelligence and IQ is to a large degree (well over 50% on average) is inherited, so it is hardly surprising that brighter parents have brighter children. Just as taller ones have taller children and sporty parents sporty children.

      Though intelligence clearly comes in many forms. Some is memory (long and short term recall) some numerical, logic & reason. I was fairly good at Maths, Physics, Engineering and Science and sports, but rather bad at spelling, English Lit remembering my French words, writing neatly or remembering people’s names or historical dates.

      Howard Gardener years ago suggested 9 types of intelligence

      Naturalist (nature smart)
      Musical (sound smart)
      Logical-mathematical (number/reasoning smart)
      Existential (life smart)
      Interpersonal (people smart)
      Bodily-kinesthetic (body smart)
      Linguistic (word smart)
      Intra-personal (self smart)
      Spatial (picture smart)

      The best thing to do surely is work to your strengths? That is why we should have the freedoms to choose from a wide ranges of schools with vouchers we can top up.

  15. forthurst
    May 12, 2018

    6 out of 16 comments from lifelogic: how boring.

    1. agricola
      May 12, 2018

      Perhaps it is our hosts alter ego.

    2. backofanenvelope
      May 12, 2018

      I suggest Lifelogic sets up his own blog.

    3. piglet
      May 12, 2018

      On the contrary: LL’s comments brighten my day; your comment is the boring one.

      1. fedupsoutherner
        May 12, 2018

        Hear, hear Piglet

    4. L Jones
      May 12, 2018

      No – not everyone would agree. At least LL usually has something interesting to say. Sometimes a little repetitive – but then some things NEED repeating. It’s often the only way to get one’s point across.

    5. walter
      May 12, 2018

      Up to 9 at midday – Few days ago I stopped counting when I got to 20. I consider myself lucky if I get one a week.

    6. mancunius
      May 12, 2018

      I generally find Lifelogic’s comments lively and pertinent – and all of his/her comments today I must say I find well-expressed. (Perhaps I’m prejudiced, as I agree with them all!)
      It is a blog, and our host wants to stir up a discussion of his remarks. It is up to him to suppress or allow. If you disagree with a comment, say so.

      Yours is your only comment so far, and you have not addressed the topic at all. What is your opinion on the topic?

    7. fedupsoutherner
      May 12, 2018


      Actually, I find LL comments very interesting and very realistic. He talks common sense which is hard to find these days. Keep it up LL.

  16. MikeP
    May 12, 2018

    I had the good fortune to go to a very good State grammar school in the 1960s, it was maybe unusual in taking pupils in at 13+ and 15+ to cater for later developers and overcame the criticism that your only life chance was at 11+ otherwise you were doomed.
    But this is a very emotive subject and I believe a change of direction is required:
    – all secondary schools should be re-fashioned as “High Schools”
    – they should all stream their pupils into more academic work and more technical subjects
    – this would create a Grammar level equivalent in less academic subjects
    – it should be possible to move between the streams as skills develop and career choices emerge
    – there should be a more overt relationship between what employers need and what is taught.
    – somehow the seemingly strong sense of left-wing bias and unionisation in State school teaching has not helped our children but I don’t know how that can be overcome but today’s Grammars seem to have achieved it.
    The most common criticism I hear (eg from my wife 50-odd years after “failing” her 11+) was the lifelong stigma and sense of failure that created when shipped off to the local Secondary Modern.
    The new High Schools I’d like to see would overcome this, all children would go to High School and both academic and technical streams would attract similar investment and quality of teaching. Ironically this was the approach taken at my Grammar school. I made it to 6th form via more scientific and technical subjects and merged with those who had taken a more academic route but all wished to study similar subjects in the 6th form..

  17. Satan
    May 12, 2018

    A Grammar School worked for me.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2018

      Me too.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 12, 2018

        Though they forced me to play rugby when I was a far better footballer. I think they thought it more upmarket. I thought it a rather inferior sport.

  18. Dave Andrews
    May 12, 2018

    Were it not for the comprehensive system, clever children might go to a grammar school and become high achievers, only to find out when they left that they had become despised in a world of low-achieving dumb people.
    However, send those same children to a comprehensive school, and they will be trained by gangs, using duress, that being bright is not cool. They can then leave with no presumption for success, fitting in with society having learned the only thing they need to know, that everybody hates a smart-arse.

  19. Michael Keating
    May 12, 2018

    Broken manifesto pledge on faith schools is not good. Trust in politicians to deliver on promises is material for a commedian.

  20. ChrisS
    May 12, 2018

    I attended Maidenhead Grammar School with a group of friends, none of whom received any coaching whatsoever.

    We have a small group who were pupils at Ellington junior school in the town who keep in touch via Facebook and none of the girls who went on to the High School were coached either. Coaching was unheard of in our area.

    It is far too convenient that research carried out by the left wing educational establishment “proved” that Grammar Schools have no effect on social mobility. It seems too much of a coincidence that the erosion of upward mobility just happened to coincide with Labour’s destruction of the Grammar School system.

    The Lefties continue to go to even greater lengths to eliminate any form of perceived unfairness in the education system. The latest crazy idea has been the banning of pencil cases in one school. The stated reason being that some of the little darlings might feel inferior because their parents can’t afford a designer pencil case ! Perhaps if the parents smoked and drank less they could. Another school insists that all pupils have a standard backpack for the same reason.

  21. libertarian
    May 12, 2018

    All education should be selective and based on the abilities , talents and needs of the pupil. Here in Kent as well as grammar schools we also used to have Technical Schools, we now have introduced two schools called University technical colleges for students aged 14 plus they specialise IN ENGINEERING, CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT & DESIGN

    The whole of our education system however needs to be rethought for the 21st century starting with scrapping worthless GCSE’s

    1. a-tracy
      May 12, 2018

      I’m pleased to hear this about technical schools.

  22. EpĂ­kouros
    May 12, 2018

    Equality and diversity are aims that are worth pursuing but not with the vigour and intensity that we do so these days. The reason is the need for quality of inputs and outcomes, personal responsibility and self reliance is far more important as it ensures societies are well structured and stable. Overindulgence of equality and diversity does not do that. In fact the opposite becomes true quality suffers; merit is replaced by mediocrity with all the inherent problems that throws up.

    It is short sighted people or those who resent putting in effort to achieve their goals that rage against the likes of grammar schools. They do not understand that selection enhances social justice as it identifies strengths and weaknesses in individuals so that individuals can be directed onto paths that can utilize their strengths and improve their weaknesses. Society is the better for it and individuals more contented. Round pegs are not asked to fit in square holes.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2018

      Equality of opportunity is perhaps sometimes worth persuing, but not equality of outcome that is a disastrous policy. The world is not equal or fair not can it ever be so – just get over it is perhaps the best advice.

  23. Caterpillar
    May 12, 2018

    1) The criticisms of the insufficient control variables in the Progress 8 measures in comparing grammar and other schools should not be ignored.
    2) Education should be rational. Any government that continues with faith based schools declares its support for and its own irrationality.

    1. Ed Mahony
      May 12, 2018

      ‘Education should be rational’

      – It should also be non-rational (as opposed to irrational).

      Thinking logically is key (and we can thank religion – the Catholic Church – for that, after introducing our great schools and universities hundreds of years ago – Pilgrims School Winchester as long as the 7th century).

      But thinking creatively is also key. In fact, many entrepreneurs will tell you that creative thinking in business is just as important as logical thinking (not forgetting how important creativity is, also, in design, innovation, marketing, the entertainment industry, fashion, the arts, architecture, and so on).

  24. Lord of the Twerps
    May 12, 2018

    Look to members of the Supreme Court who sat listening to evidence in regard to our Brexit/ Henry VIII powers a little while ago. A number of them were not computer literate
    so to read the evidence. They requested paper files. Many their age on Council Housing Estates, ex-Secondary Modern School boys and girls, used to be labourers, taught themselves computers ( I have personally met many of them ) with a little help from their grand children. Grammar schools should enable pupils to educate themselves. They have failed at the very top levels of our society. FAILED. These people are too thick to genuinely learn and obviously always were, though they speak very well of themselves to be sure in ducet tones. Supreme twerps.

    1. mancunius
      May 12, 2018

      And surprisingly similar in their world viewpoint – similar to an extent that does not seem coincidental at all…
      That is the most usual form of selection: self-selection.

  25. Adam
    May 12, 2018

    A key distinction of Grammar Schools is selection: carefully choosing those most suitable to thrive.

    Selection is essential to all life. Every decision we each make involves selection.

    Ideally, every school would attract the pupils most likely to thrive in its educational environment.

  26. Andy
    May 12, 2018

    I do not object to grammar schools in principle. But the means of entry – the 11+ – is unfair and needs scrapping.

    My daughter is doing the 11+ this coming September. Her teachers tell us she should pass – she is one of the most able in her school.

    But she will be competing against children who have been tutored specifically to pass the 11+ for three years. Three years of tutoring specifically to pass the 2 hour test you need to get into grammar school. Staggering.

    Now, we can afford to have paid for such tutoring ourselves. Instead we chose to let our daughter be a little girl and do all those things little girls should do at weekends – rather than studying to pass a test. But for us this was a choice. Many families simply do not have this choice. They can not afford this much tuition – and their very able kids are at a major disadvantage.

    So I would keep grammar schools – but scrap the 11+. Instead entry should be based on continuing performance in primary schools with each primary school in a grammar’s catchment area being able to select which pupils should go. This would be based on all around performance and assessment. It could take into account family circumstances which an exam can’t – and it would be fair to all children.

    1. mancunius
      May 12, 2018

      “This would be based on all around performance and assessment.”
      I think you underestimate the degree that the personal likes and dislikes of the teachers and pressure on them from pushy parents and school trustees may play. Few teachers would want the responsibility of playing God.
      And ‘family circumstances’ are irrelevant to a child’s innate intelligence, which is all the 11-plus is really supposed to measure. If it reverted to being the IQ test it used to be, it would be uncoachable.

      1. Andy
        May 12, 2018

        And I think you underestimate the extent to which better off families pay to get their children in. The current system is demonstrably unfair of children from a poorer background. They need more help from the state, not less.

    2. Anonymous
      May 12, 2018

      I’m so glad I’m not at your stage.

      You need some kind of filter. Something that keeps the children of careless parents out.

      It’s careless parents who damage schools and education.

    3. a-tracy
      May 12, 2018

      Who selects then Andy biased teachers who pick their favourites or the child whose parents they know on the parents governors or are friends with? No selection is going to be fairer.

      Tests should be changed every year, not pre-advertised as workbooks etc. They should be varied and really stretching, like the tests employers do now to determine the naturally gifted to interview because they can’t trust examinations.

    4. libertarian
      May 16, 2018

      Andy etc

      Here in Kent where we have grammar schools the reason that parents have to pay for “extra” coaching is that the primary schools do not teach to pass the Kent Test as its now called. In fact you have to place a special request and pay to sit the test as an optional extra and a lot of primary headteachers will try to talk you out of it.

  27. English Pensioner
    May 12, 2018

    I went to a grammar school and certainly support them. I would estimate that maybe a half of the boys who attended the one that I did came from poorer areas. They were the hardest workers, pushed by parents who saw they’d been given an opportunity and wanted them to do better than their parents.
    This pressure from parents also worked in the junior schools, they wanted their children to learn to get a grammar school place, so there was less problems with disruptive children as parents would press the school for action.
    With no selection there is less pressure to work hard, they all go to the same secondary school and standards continue to fall.

  28. Ghost of JB
    May 12, 2018

    Speaking as a former pupil of a now long defunct grammar school I find the debate around grammar schools to be largely ideological on both sides, so here are some personal observations.

    As my borough had abolished the eleven plus I sat an entrance exam, and my lowly-paid single mother was obliged to pay top-up fees to augment the scholarships I and later my sister won. Pupils from outside the borough, some from wealthy families, were not burdened with fees and could instead enjoy a free education tailored to their strengths, including vocational subjects like engineering, metal work and technical drawing as appropriate.

    Without this support I doubt that I or my sister would have achieved the level of social mobility that enabled me to go to university and then Sandhurst, or my sister to enjoy a career in international banking and IT.

    I note that educationalists and social observers believe that social mobility has declined in recent years, and that they do not support grammar schools as they claim they do nothing for the less well off, and they adversely affect overall school achievement by lowering the average attainment of non-selective schools.

    The reason grammar schools now do little for pupils from poorer backgrounds is that their catchment areas have been gentrified by families not unreasonably looking to provide every benefit for their children.

    It should be the aim of educationalists to maximise the potential of every individual pupil, not to worry about the effect of losing the brightest pupils to grammar schools on their averages. What matters is not the overall score, but whether pupils make progress, and no education system can change the fact that someone will come last in every race – providing the opportunity to maximise a pupil’s potential is the best that can be done.

    1. Peter Parsons
      May 13, 2018

      Providing the opportunity to maximise every pupil’s potential is indeed the key, and the evidence shows that selective systems do not do this, they actually do the opposite.

      If you can’t provide supporting facts and evidence for a decision or a policy, then that policy exists for some other reason, such as ideology. If the Prime Minister is prepared to dismiss facts and evidence in order to make policy based on anecdotes, then that policy falls in to the ideological category. Grammar schools fall in to this category:

  29. mike fowle
    May 12, 2018

    I “passed” the 11+ rather to my parents’ surprise, but the secondary modern alternative was a frightful place and I was relieved to escape it. I think (but have no direct knowledge) that comprehensives are much improved on those days. I certainly believe that grammars serve a vital function: it is not only the level of teaching, it is the peer pressure and competition as opposed to the disruption and rebellion where pupils don’t want to learn. It was depressing hearing the teaching unions decrying elitism (obviously not knowing what the word meant).

  30. duncan
    May 12, 2018

    Any policy that undermines, weakens and damages the NUT and its allied teaching unions should be aggressively welcomed by those who elevate the interests of all pupils above the interests of teachers, their unions and the liberal left teaching establishment or ‘blob’ as they have become known

    A massive expansion of Grammar schools should be a major policy platform. Aim it all young pupil and treat each pupil as a unique individual. Their background is absolutely irrelevant. Their incomes and occupations of the parents of each pupil is absolutely irrelevant

    Any policy that drives back and destroys the politicisation of all education in the UK should be a priority

    Any policy that targets Labour’s client state politics and dilute its influence is to be welcomed. That attack starts in the school classroom

    The removal of EU influence in state education should be a priority

    Stop pandering to the leftist agenda of teaching unions. if they threaten strikes, cancel their pensions.

    Teachers are there to teach and educate not indoctrinate and politicise pupils

  31. Denis Cooper
    May 12, 2018


    “However critics of the Norway model say it would mean the UK would still be subject to EU laws after Brexit, but with no say in how they are made.”

    But, JR, why is it so rarely reported that a critic of the Norway model has pointed out that NORWAY IS NOT IN ANY FORM OF CUSTOMS UNION WITH THE EU and that even though the customs border between Norway, outside the EU, and Sweden, inside the EU, is generally seen as being very “light touch” THE IRISH GOVERNMENT HAS TOTALLY REJECTED ANYTHING LIKE THE NORWAY-SWEDEN BORDER:

    There is a simple solution to the Irish border problem, and the SNP know what it is but prefer to keep it to themselves for their own use in Scotland rather than helpfully offering it to the Northern Irish:

    “… paragraph 152 here:

    “The laws of the European Single Market would apply only to those goods and services traded between Scotland and the rest of the European Single Market … In essence, this involves applying the principle of “parallel marketability” … “

  32. walter
    May 12, 2018

    “Selection” will no doubt include a compulsory number of new arrivals ( only from the better-off immigrants ).

  33. IwasGnarth
    May 12, 2018

    I have nothing against Grammar Schools (having been to a Technical High School myself) but I cannot avoid the feeling that this, like fox hunting, is a subject best left in the long grass at present.

  34. Alan Joyce
    May 12, 2018

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    I apologise for being completely off-topic today. I could not help but comment on the customs union fiasco.

    The dictionary gives the meaning of the word charade as ‘an absurd pretence intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance.’

    Synonyms include, pantomime, travesty, mockery, parody, pretence, masquerade, sham, fake, show, front and facade.

    All of these words could be used to describe the decision to divide remainers and leavers into teams that will try to decide on customs arrangements post-Brexit. Was it really the Prime Minister’s decision or did someone put her up to it?

    I can just picture the scene now as the players, locked away in sweaty mortal combat, try to guess the customs union scenario forming before their eyes as they act out their parts and each side tries desperately to outwit the other.

    What a farce! What a charade!!

    1. Lifelogic
      May 12, 2018

      Hardly leadership is it? May should have been a geography teacher or primary shcool teacher it would have suited her far better.

  35. Roy Grainger
    May 12, 2018

    Selective education is the norm in Germany – odd that Labour Remainiacs don’t want to align with the EU’s most successful country.

  36. mancunius
    May 12, 2018

    It’s interesting that critics of ‘elitist’ educational selection – on right or left – never seem to object to the elitist selection children may have had at birth (affluent parents; influential professional relatives; generous, asset-rich grandparents) nor the choice later made at recruitment boards (assortative social background, acceptable PC blandness, shared politely acquisitive or soft-left values, family influence, personal charm, or merely good fortune) nor the choice of later appointments (social network e.g. of school-friends or contacts) nor what is in many cases the selective choice of marriage partner (prospect of wealth).

    No, it’s seeing the little beggars getting a decent education at age 11 by dint of their degree of intelligence that infuriates them, and that they do their darndest to oppose. It reminds the left that equality is an empty fiction, and the right that their own children are not invariably as bright as they would wish, and – unfairly, they believe – their money does not seem to be able to remedy that.
    And as long as the state educational system is as generally dreadful as it is, this prejudice will continue.

  37. Syd
    May 12, 2018

    Sixty three years ago, I sat the 11+. I failed. I was so disappointed. I attended a Secondary Modern where I was usually in the top 4 of the “A Stream” class. The staff, mainly men, and mainly Second World War veterans, were strict disciplinarians and inspirational teachers. I left school without a qualification, other than the Leaving Certificate.
    Working as a craft apprentice and mechanical fitter, I attended Technical College Day Release and evening classes to gain a Mechanical HNC, then an Electrical HNC with distinctions.
    I retired early, at 55 yrs of age, as Engineering Manager in the largest and most technologically advanced conventional power station in Europe.
    I think I’ve done OK, but I think I was lucky.
    Take the luck out of it. Provide a Grammar School in every medium sized town and give the council estate kids a chance to better themselves.

  38. Richard1
    May 12, 2018

    I think grammar schools are a good idea, the more excellent institutions the better. But it needs to be possible for a child to move into (or out of) a grammar at stages other than just age 11. Children develop at different paces and an opportunity enter later answers the point on fair access for all classes. Incidentally we should have no problem with people having their children privately tutored – it means more resource being allocated voluntarily to the education sector. Perhaps the govt should ensure availability for voluntary private tutoring for all through a voucher system.

  39. Derek Henry
    May 12, 2018

    University student fees is a hybrid hypothecated taxation system.

    The aim of all this subterfuge is to maintain a list of people who can then be charged a higher tax rate than everybody else. That list of people being those who wanted an education but weren’t rich enough just to pay for the whole lot out of daddy’s pocket change. The list then gets subject to an additional income taxation system of 9% above £21,000 earned, either for 30 years or until you hit zero on your notional balance, whichever comes first.

    So the poor avoid paying additional tax, and the rich essentially pay all their tax up front — avoiding the additional cost of the interest charges. Those in the middle have an albatross around their neck for the majority of their working lives.

    The whole thing is a distributional tax choice to place the collection burden on the third, and fourth quintiles of the income distribution — reducing their lifetime income. All because they wanted to better themselves and add more to society.

    It’s a complete and utter disgrace.

    Just abolish them all together but we can’t because we all think taxes fund spending as if we are still on the gold standard.

    If there was enough political will we could simply pay tuition fees and grants directly from the Ways and Means account, stop recording those as debts of individuals at the SLC, and preferably write off the rest. The result of that is a tax cut to millions of middling income earners and therefore a straightforward stimulation of the economy. Something it could undoubtedly do with.

    Education is the best way, and arguably the only way, a society can invest in its future. We’ve hamstrung ourself in the beliefs that the monopoly issuer of the ÂŁ needs our ÂŁ’s before it can spend. How ridiculous is that ?

  40. gregory martin
    May 12, 2018

    Provision of grammar education should be resourced sufficiently to deliver it to every child able to demonstrate the ability to benefit from it. This ability level should be set as a threshold rather than a filter. It does not need to be an upper target, rather, the acceptable norm. All teachers should be able and inclined to deliver this performance level with such children.
    All children should be assessed as to the type of success that they can achieve. The need for classic scholars is no more than for the more practical applications in life.
    In my experience, the career teacher, who has school-university-school as a career path has the very same deficit as a career politician. How can such give a wide world insight to the wider world?
    Salary banding should relate to experience and results not just time at the chalk face. Promotion on achievement not crawling and cronyism.

  41. a-tracy
    May 12, 2018

    Class sizes aren’t that important our worst performing primary only has 16 children.

    I’m sure a grammar school with the truly 35 best children in the class wouldn’t be too difficult for a single teacher, especially if the children that struggled got moved out at the end of the year and the most competent from the local comp moved in.

    The problem with Comprehensives is the dumbing down of the best, they are expected to be teachers helpers holding back their personal growth but this does teach them to be good collaborators and able to deal with distruptive people, children who don’t want to be in school because they are usually put in the team with the strongest and brightest.

    As a country we are willing to spend oodles of money on children who will never academically achieve much whilst begrudging spending any money on the best and ultimately that will be the downfall of our Country.

  42. fedupsoutherner
    May 12, 2018

    there is a complete lack of discipline in Comprehensive schools today. Due to political correctness pupils are allowed to disrupt classes in a way that would never have been tolerated in our days. Pupils that want to learn and show talent should be allowed to attend grammar schools where they can learn and progress and be a credit to society and someone who will contribute to society. Unlike most of the plebs who cannot be bothered. We should not hold talented children who want to learn back.

  43. turboterrier
    May 12, 2018

    I Just hope that not only along with a good education that the pupils are taught some basic principles of life. Respect, honesty, work ethic and compassion for one’s fellow man.

    It would seem that with the release of Secret Document FCO 30/1048 dated April 1971 a civil servant released a this report to highlight the way our entry into the EEC could and would end up. Ministers and politicians of the time were advised that by the time the public and the electorate woke up to what was happening after 30 years they could do nothing but accept the status quo, so the report was filed away in room 101. The only thing they got wrong was the timing, by over 40 years.

    Education and knowledge is fine but what about principles, service, loyalty and honor, at times surely these things must be considered, as they could possibly lead to the downfall of your country to which you serve.

    I would appreciate it if or host would post an entry on his thoughts on this release of Report FCO 30/1048. For me and millions of others it would seem the whole European Union was nothing more than one gigantic scam. The country fell for it big time. How can any remainer’s sign on to serve and bow down to such a blatantly suspect organization shown for what it really was over 50 years ago?

  44. margaret
    May 14, 2018

    Schools and places of early learning do impact on a whole persons life.I do not like the exam indoctrination of the results league table.They undermine the purpose of learning.It must be remembered that these few years do not adequately reflect an ability to make a lifelong career.In fact in some cases it impedes the persons understanding of where they are placed in society

    I don’t think we need any more grammar schools ( although English grammar generally could do with a little refining!) The hierarchy of learning seems fatuous in many places and respects. We have these people saying I trained for 5/6/7 years for this or that and when they are actually compared to others in a similar position know less.This is because until one takes responsibility and are in a place where they can be tested examination marks or places of training matter little.

    We obviously have quite brilliant children who would not do well if placed in other than grammar schools as the environment affects learning and children pick up on one another. It is not right to demotivate hunger for learning ,yet children learn everywhere.
    Lifelogic for instance seems to have a irrational dislike for anyone taking a PPE course. I was actually accepted for a 3 P’s at Oxford and would have loved to have taken this but as a single parent with a mortgage and other responsibilities could not afford it.It is this inflexibility of outlook which puts people in boxes by looking at titles, headings and other forms of categorisation thereby creating pixels of thought.

    In my training we took medical exams. I took state exams and remember my orals by state examiners . I was questioned about the circle of Willis ( cerebral vessels), heart disease, drugs used and neurological testing.Today the perception is that this knowledge was not gained by us as we did not attend medical school. As you can see this labelling excludes and is wicked in its approach.

    We need to take care of young minds and give all opportunity to enjoy learning.

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