Grammar schools

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): There is a happy consensus well hidden in this debate. All parties in the House believe that education is of huge importance, and we all want the best possible education for every child in our country. We also accept that the state has the main obligation, because most children will need state finance and state support to secure that great education.

I pay tribute to Ministers for the fact that 1.4 million children are now being educated in good and outstanding schools. There is proof that work by successive Ministers, and, more important, by an army of heads and other teachers in state schools, is delivering better education throughout the country. However, there is still much more to do, and I hope that all the Labour Members who are so critical of current educational achievement in their own areas will work positively with their schools and local education authorities to try to achieve that better performance.

I was pleased to hear the shadow Secretary of State say that she wanted to look at the evidence, but she rather spoilt that by revealing that, although she has made grammar schools her “big thing” and tabled this motion, she has not actually visited any grammar schools since taking on the job. I think that it would have been a courtesy to the grammar schools that she is attacking to visit one or two of them before mounting her challenge today.

The Opposition’s argument is that selection is wrong because we may not select all the talented people at the age of choice, and that it is therefore unfair to give the advantage to those who are selected. Again, however, there is huge humbug on the Opposition Benches. When I asked the shadow Secretary of State whether she was upset by the fact that our elite sportspeople are usually selected at quite a young age for special training and special education, and that they are expected to achieve to a much higher level than the average and are given training and made to do extra work in order to do so, she did not seem to be at all upset.

Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab): That is a completely useless analogy. Education is about life. It is about the skills that people need to get through life—the basic literacy and numeracy. Sport is not about the entirety of life. That is why education is different, and that is why it is wrong for any child to be labelled second class at the age of 11.

John Redwood: The right hon. Gentleman simply does not understand. If a young person from a poor background becomes a top footballer, that is a transformational event in their life, and good luck to them. Why do the Opposition not understand that exactly the same arguments apply to art, ballet and music? We take the children who we think are going to be the most talented musicians, at quite a young age, and we give them elite special training so that they can play to the highest standards in the world.

Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op): I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned football. The fact is that 13% of our national football team went to private schools, which is twice the national percentage of children who go to private schools. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that that might account for the performance of our national football team, and that we might be missing out on the talent that exists in the comprehensive sector? Does he not recognise that that is precisely the problem that we are discussing today? We are missing out on talent as a result of too narrow a focus.

John Redwood: I do not think that we will get a better team by training them less, and no longer giving them any kind of elite education. I think that Opposition Members are being very obtuse.

Let me try a different argument. The Opposition’s second argument against grammar schools is that in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, where we have some good grammar schools, all the other schools must be suffering. Opposition Members write off and write down the many excellent comprehensive schools in areas that have access to grammar school places, in a quite unrealistic and unpleasant way.

I know my own area better than Buckinghamshire. We do not have any grammar schools in my constituency, but there are two excellent grammar schools just over the border in Reading, a girls’ school and a boys’ school, which take some of our brightest and academically most gifted pupils from the Wokingham area. Our comprehensive schools in Wokingham also contain great, academically gifted children. Those children, at the top of those schools, do not have to compete with the children at the grammar, and they go on to compete very successfully and get good places at elite universities. Opposition Members should not write off those schools, or pretend that they are some kind of failed secondary modern.

I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) reminded us that there are some very good secondary modern schools whose pupils achieve great things. My hon. Friend himself achieved great things before coming to the House, and some will consider it a great achievement that he is in the House now. I think that that shows that no one should write off any whole category of school. As an Opposition Member pointed out in a more honest moment, what really matters in a school is the talent of the teaching force and the good will and working spirit of the pupils. The two play off each other. That can be found in a good comprehensive, and it can be found in a good grammar school.

The Opposition must understand that we are not trying to create a series of schools for failures. We want to have great schools for everyone. We believe that selecting some pupils on the basis of academic ability and giving them elite academic training can make sense for them, but it does not write off the other schools.

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): I am not at all opposed to giving the brightest pupils an elite education. That is not why I am worried about grammar schools. I am worried about grammar schools because they do not solve the central problems that our education system faces. Michael Wilshaw has said that we have “a mediocre education system”. When it comes to the vast majority of pupils, we are falling behind out international competitors. In a modern economy in which the innovation sector is creating jobs at 30 times the rate of the rest of the economy, we need to exploit the talents of all our young people. That is why I am worried about grammar schools.

John Redwood: I opened my speech with exactly that comment. I think that that is common ground. However, selecting some people who are good at football or good at academic subjects does not prevent us from providing a good education for everyone else. If we want to have more Nobel prize winners in the future, we should bear in mind that they are likely to be attending the great universities in our country. Do we not want to feed those great universities with the best possible talent from our schooling system, and should not those talented people have been given an education that stretches them and takes them further along the road to great work before they reach the universities? The most successful people at university have often had an extremely good education beforehand. They are self-starters, and understand the importance of that.

Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

John Redwood: I do not have time, and many other Members wish to speak.

We need to get the maximum number of talented pupils through at the highest possible level, so that they can achieve even greater things at the elite universities.

That brings me to my next problem with the Opposition’s arguments: they completely ignore the fee-paying schools. Some fee-paying schools in our country achieve enormous success academically. They have a double privilege, because they select bright pupils who also have rich family backgrounds. When the two are put together, the combination is explosively successful.

I do not begrudge people a great education if they come from a rich background. I did not come from a rich background myself, but I am grateful for the fact that those people can have a great education, and it is even better that they pay for it themselves as well as paying their taxes. I am not jealous. It must be a great problem to be against all kinds of elite education when we have those great schools with their double advantage. However, a grammar school gives people who are bright but did not come from a rich background an opportunity to compete better against the phenomenally successful elite schools in the public sector. As was rightly pointed out by the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), some of our public schools dominate not only academically, but in the sporting world and in other worlds as well, which shows that their combination of resource and selection is very powerful. Surely we need more centres of excellence to which people can gain access without having rich parents.

I find it deeply disappointing that Opposition Front Benchers, having called a debate on this important subject, cannot confirm or deny that they wish to abolish the grammar schools that we have. I have one little tip for the Opposition. I was in opposition for all too many years, and I remember how difficult it was, but, as a shadow spokesman, I always found it helpful to work out my party’s position before challenging the Government on theirs. I needed to make sure that my party’s position on the topic for which I was responsible was sensible and also likely to be popular. I think that the Opposition have failed both tests today. It sounds as if the shadow Secretary of State wants to abolish the grammar schools, but does not have the courage to say so.

Let me issue a plea to the House. I ask Members to get behind the excellent grammar schools that we have, and to get behind the excellent comprehensives that we have. I ask them to understand that where comprehensives and grammars coexist, the comprehensives can do very well, and can achieve great things with their pupils. We do not have enough great schools, so let us not cripple those that we have. I certainly do not want to live in a world in which one has to be rich to go to an elite academy.


  1. Lifelogic
    November 25, 2016

    An excellent contribution to the debate and some absurd arguments from the evil politics of envy and all will be “equally bad” side of the house.

    Of course age 11 should not be the only chance of a place at Grammar schools there should be more chances, certainly at 12/13 and 16. This too would be an encouragement to many to advance.

    Of course the best way to go is to give everyone education vouchers that they can use as they wish and top up which every school they want to go to. But as we know May does not believe in free markets at all. Not even this minor degree of freedom.

    We also need far better training in practical and engineering skills.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      The other problem in education is the lack of freedom that teachers have, the dire and simplistic syllabus and exam system.

      Compare say the Maths, Further Maths or Physic papers from today to those of the sixties and seventies and this is very clear indeed.

      Much of the stuff taught is politically correct, lefty and “BBC think” drivel. Even in the science courses there is much misinformation especially in the climate alarmism and the misnamed “renewable” areas.

      1. Lifelogic
        November 25, 2016

        Why become a teacher when you have so little freedom and are so micro managed by the government and the PC syllabus and forced to teach the climate alarmism religion too?

        1. Hope
          November 25, 2016

          A lot of schools provide nothing more than a poor baby sitting service where children learn to behave badly without manners or respect for teachers. They are taught by people who feel that academic achievement is not important to being a teacher! In most cases literacy policies are in place but never observed, dress codes ignored yet fail to link bullying to wearing personalized clothes. The comprehensive system has demonstrated over 40 years it has comprehensively failed. Time for change. This does not include making failed schools academies. A further waste of our taxes. Education needs to be about education not Labours’ worry of losing a vote base. We had mass immigration protests silenced by equality legislation.

          Today we hear the ignorant Major labelling leavers the tyranny of the majority for voting to leave the EU. I think he has lost leave of the little senses he had. He forgets his ERM poverty venture on the ordinary people and how it served to force the Tory party out of office for 23 years.

    2. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      Health care would benefit hugely for similar freedoms to allow people to have a choice rather than be forced onto the NHS rationing and delay system.

      1. Lifelogic
        November 25, 2016

        But is seem May and Hunt want to continue with the dire, hugely inefficient and unworkable as currently structured NHS rationing system. Hammond even upping the tax on private medical insurance by another 20% from 10 to 12%.

        Under Thatcher we sensible had no such IPT tax and also income tax relieves for companies who provided such medical cover to their workers. Thus taking the strain off the NHS and encouraging real competition. We furthermore has fiscal encouragement for investing the rental properties to improve the provision.

        What has the government got against tenants and businesses renting out properties?

        We foolishly have the total reverse from these fake Tory. tax borrow and piss down the drain socialists.

      2. Yossarion
        November 25, 2016

        I see there is a British Irish Council meeting in Cardiff today John, how is it that the Irish republic have someone one on this body to put their case but there is no English representation, the sooner we have a parliament the better
        I see Paul Nuttel has said he will lobby for an English Parliament if elected leader, that will not help Corbyn in the North and might give some of your Party a fright down South.

    3. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      Having now had time to go through all the emails that I get from my accountants and lawyers on the Budget, it is clearly even more dire than I first thought.

      Proposals to cancel higher rate tax relief on pensions seem to be on the way. This would make pension contributions for many totally pointless. It is not relief anyway just deferment so who is going to pay in and get 20% back to pay 45% later?

      Lots of other daft and complex proposals too many relating to offshore companies. IHT and trusts investing in the UK which will create lots of pointless parasitic work for lawyers and accounts. It will also deter UK investment.

      If you want better productivity you need a simple tax system and far fewer parasitic jobs for lawyers and accountants. Is Hammond really too daft to see this? I suppose that having done PPE at Oxford he might well be. He certainly seems to be nearly as dire as Osborne and even more tedious. He is certainly using the same duff compass and has failed to understand the Laffer curve and basic economics.

      Doing nothing to undue the absurdly high SDLT rates, that are destroying mobility not even raising tax receipts, was particularly idiotic.

      Jam tomorrow in the form of tiny cuts to CT tax is just pathetic. We still have not had the £1M each IHT promise of 8 years ago. Why should we trust anything the Tories promise at all?

    4. Sugary
      November 25, 2016

      Yes but for those who prefer a vocational education..a proper, useful and productive trade, they may be convinced they should cheat at their 11+ exam and answer the questions incorrectly.

      Children should be allowed to refuse an academic education; in fact, encouraged not to have one as vocational training often leads to greater wealth and feelings of job satisfaction. As Mrs May says quite correctly,a vocational education allows children to reach their full potential. That potential cannot be reached when grammar school leavers cannot fry an egg, cannot change a lightbulb…oh, and these two examples are real for two students who were on a university course in English Literature and some Liberal studies nonsense. Another student who got a Degree in psychology could not on leaving Uni boil an egg. She knew it must be boiled in water but did not know for a minute or anything up to one hour. I promise you this is a true story of people I knew.
      One gets the idea many Remainers in Parliament have trouble when it comes to feeding themselves using a knife and fork. I bet many of them have a teaspoon in their top pockets.

    5. The PrangWizard
      November 25, 2016

      I had two goes at the 11+ and failed at each attempt. I eventually got to a GS when I was 15. I was upset of course when I didn’t get in at 11.

      I presume there can only be a certain number of places at any one time, and those bright enough should I think be given more than one opportunity to get in, but it can never be a perfect system.

      As for the comps everything must be done to raise the standard of teaching and teachers and their motivation. Political views must be strictly prohibited.

    6. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      People like John Major and Tony Bliar really do not know when to shut up and get lost.

      I suppose Blair thought that his losing war on a blatant lie was just a great plan and John Major clearly thought his ERM and the EURO were really fabulous plans too.

      Also I assume he thought not apologising afterwards (for all massive economic damage he did and lives, jobs and businesses thus destroyed) was a great idea too. Thus burying the Tories for three plus terms.

    7. Sir Joe Soap
      November 25, 2016

      If Sir John Major had been given a voucher, we might never have had one of the all time classics “tyranny of the majority”. Wasn’t his dad a clown too?

    November 25, 2016

    “Billy Elliot” was a nice ugly duckling story. A young man was given the opportunity to advance by specialist ballet training. The screenplay was by Lee Hall’ who was educated in a Comprehensive School.Hans Christian Andersen, had only basic education until the age of 14. Even up to that age he was engaged in manual labour.
    Who knows what heights these people would have achieved if they only they’d had a grammar school education.Did NOT having such a good education provide the special spark? I genuinely do not know, though I suspect it was to some extent. Though I know resentment can burn positive or indeed become negative like Corbynism.
    Generally, being failed can have negative consequences: proportionally few of the failed actually will change into a swan at a later period. Of course not all ugly ducklings starting grammar schools turn into swans and one wonders what is their resultant psychology. Given the best they failed. No spark of resentment to push them on. Nothing except proof as they see it that they are quite useless.
    In academic work, I see no reason why grammar school teachers cannot work satisfactorily in a building with Comprehensive School at the front as one where Grammar School is written. Their former grammar school education should have included training in adaptability, working in difficult and challenging situations.
    Too much, I feel is made of academic education. Take last night’s BBC Question Time. An extremely well-educated panel, generally. Of course the resultant dialogues cannot be held to the up to the flame of truth to prove it.
    Many in the audience were also very well educated. One could tell by their sentence formations and in some cases their accents. But most were dumbclucks of the highest order. Lacking basic logic. I dare say most would have passed for grammar school. Sad.
    There needs to be a revolution in teaching. Most emerge from schools unable to think though they have passed numerous exams.

  3. Sam Stoner
    November 25, 2016

    Floored by Andy Burnham! A new low for you, Mr Redwood

    Reply He had no good point as I explained

    1. zorro
      November 25, 2016

      A floor similar to what you try and deliver on this site to contributors Sam, vacuous, often containing a specious argument, and too often missing the point.


    2. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      Andy Burnham’s argument was totally absurd. He floored himself by making such a bonkers non argument.

      People are generally clever or they are not clever. Education gives you skills and knowledge but tends not to make you “cleverer” I find. Just more polished like Cameron and Osborne but still not able to see the wood for the trees.

      Denis Healey (double first Balliol in Great) and ex-communist even thought 98% income tax was a good plan. Intelligent perhaps but also as daft as a brush!

      There clearly are many different areas of intellectually ability, (nine types of intelligence according to Howard Gardener). What makes people play sport well is, after all, their brains. This is intelligence processing data from their eyes & senses and controlling their timing, positioning, tactics & muscles.

      I have met many people doing practical jobs who are totally lacking in formal education but can be very clever indeed in all sorts of interesting ways.

      People should not underestimate the intelligence needed to do many practical jobs efficiently nowadays either.

      1. Lifelogic
        November 25, 2016


      2. Sir Joe Soap
        November 25, 2016

        Yes and no
        I don’t think people are just clever or not clever.

        I think many things come down to having a “knack” for something – cooking, working with figures, writing poetry, playing music, football, running a supermarket etc.

        The school you attend can help and encourage you or completely ignore the knack you have for whatever it is. Surely the best way is to let kids choose say the ten things they like best and test them on those-if they’re fantastic at music then it makes sense they focus on that. If they write great stories they focus on that. They’d then fit into whichever milieu suits their skill sets, at whatever level. As has already been said, the child who would be the Michelin star chef is unlikely to succeed with similar lessons to the budding accountant. Two totally different skill sets.

    3. David Murfin
      November 25, 2016

      If you wish to know which children in a school are first class (and so distinguished from their ‘second class’ classmates at football, music, art, maths, science, French or anything else, the surest guide is to ask their classmates (especially the ones who copy their homework.)
      They can also be quite ruthless in identifying those whose talents are limited.

    4. a-tracy
      November 25, 2016

      Are you kidding? Andy Burnham’s interjection was hopeless.

      Look Sam, I’m not a supporter of grammar schools but having gone to a hopeless Secondary modern school myself and as a parent who chose to educate my three children in a mid-league state comprehensive, even though they were selected for the national academy of gifted and talented youth, I can see things from both points of view.

      I would issue a challenge to our government, let’s see if you can prove this grammar system works, not only for the selected 10% but also for the other 90%, in a new area like Knowsley or one of the other failing school bottom of the league areas, in the town with the biggest social deprivation. My children suffered years of the Labour party using them as guinea pigs in the education system. Some things worked, lots of things didn’t and not streaming the classes in a mixed comprehensive was something my children suffered educationally from. BUT when streaming did happen in Year 9 my daughter was assessed on her mark rather than her % and she was streamed two sets below the top set she should have been in. The pace of the other children bored her, her knowledge of the subject suffered, I only cottoned on what had happened at her first parents evening and realised I had to get involved to get her some books to study outside of the class and asked that she be moved back up at the first opportunity, she had to spend the entire year in stream 3. She got an A* in all three sciences but this error has persuaded me more into academic selection even if it is in a comprehensive school from Year 7. Including streaming in the arts subjects that seem to get so little care and understanding in English Comprehensives with no music lessons as just one example where the Scottish system is superior.

      1. a-tracy
        November 25, 2016

        for music lessons I should have said instrumental musical lessons.

    5. LittleBlackCensored
      November 25, 2016

      “Floored by Andy Burnham”? Go back and read the exchange again.

    6. rose
      November 25, 2016

      The main point Andy Burnham missed is that education isn’t just for life, it is to hand on to the next generation the knowledge and the skills which have been accumulated by our civilization. Not all children will be suitable repositories of every part of this knowledge and skill. Some will excel in some parts, others in others. Communist countries know this. Socialist countries know this. Why don’t we? Because we have been brainwashed into thinking education is just for making children feel good about themselves, not about preserving and developing our civilization.

      1. rose
        November 25, 2016

        An anecdote on this: my son read physics at Oxford. There was a Romanian girl in his year reading the same subject who didn’t just know more than all the undergraduates: she knew more than their tutors. Disappointing for her and shaming for us.

      2. Lifelogic
        November 26, 2016

        Indeed and the “equality” regardless of merit or ability religion. All shall have prizes regardless, even if they do not even try.

    7. libertarian
      November 25, 2016

      Sam Stoner

      Are you for real? Burnham was talking piffle as usual. In what world do you think multimillionaire sports stars are denied lifeskills by being removed from a standard comprehensive ??? Oh and our Stella was talking bunk as well. 13% of the England squad is 3 players and of those 3, 2 of them were sent to private school by their premiere league football club. Why are socialists so anti success, so anti talent, so anti help for working class people? Why do socialist continually try to suppress the working class aspirants , whilst championing the spongers ?

      1. Mitchel
        November 25, 2016

        Because having a dependent,inadequate population provides them with well paid jobs and doesn’t threaten them,the odd outbreak of mob violence aside.

        Interesting comparison with the soviets who gave their children a good education within the political constraints and encouraged an appreciation of previously elitist classical culture rather than dumbing it down.

    8. scottspeig
      November 25, 2016


      Did you read the exchange? I think the analogy is perfectly apt. Either the principle of selection is right or it is wrong. One should not pick and choose.

      Selection occurs at comprehensives anyway, and so what is wrong with Grammars?? We need to select even more (and separate boys from girls at least up to 16 in my opinion) and offer more vocational institutions as well!

    9. Anonymous
      November 25, 2016

      How did Burnham floor him ? I fail to see it.

    10. Mactheknife
      November 25, 2016

      Burnham is a populist politician of the worst kind always ready to oppose something if he thinks there is media attention in it. Like He would go to the opening of an envelope in search of a media opportunity.

    11. Sir Joe Soap
      November 25, 2016

      They need to keep this “second class” label attached to a section of the population, and that is where their argument falls down.
      You could, Mr Redwood, have suggested selection for practical skills courses, too-indeed, does little Joe/Josephine know how to plumb in a dishwasher, build a tree-house, draw somebody?
      A plethora of different attributes can be tested to encourage honing specific skills later.

  4. alte fritz
    November 25, 2016

    As good an illustration as you could wish for to see how the left levels standards down and the right pushes standards up.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      True, but the Conservative are well to the left too. Even now under boring May and Hammond we have workers on boards, gender pay reporting, wage controlling, agent fee banning, endless tax borrow and waste, green crap and vanity projects.

      She is unlikely to be able to do anything on Grammar Schools anyway given the make up of the Commons and the Lords. It was just a dog whistle for the right wing.

  5. Prigger
    November 25, 2016

    Well, schools should not be destroyed.
    Much of the destruction of grammar schools was based on political ideology ( false ideology in point of fact because the socialist brethren of the Labour Party in eastern Europe were promoting grammar schools and always did )

    Yet the nastiness of the Left stemmed from and found a base in the pool of jealousy and envy of those who did not go to grammar school. It still does. If grammar schools were generally accepted as a good idea then they could never have been destroyed in the first place; no argument could be raised against them.It would be patently obvious grammar schools were right and good. But in the Eastern Bloc, grammar schools were thought good even by those who did not go to them. Why? Because in theory at least a “Worker” had as much..well actually more status ( again theoretically and, in all public propaganda ) than those “bourgeois intellectuals”. This was reflected in the pay of schoolteachers which never amounted to the heights which they are paid here in relation to industrial wages.
    But to be…. a Plumber, Electrician, Bricklayer, Car Mechanic here in the UK is not thought to be an accolade. It should be. Because it is. When these trades and others are seen as of high status then by all means send those not capable of engaging in them to grammar schools where they may find nevertheless something productive which they can do if they prove mentally able to stick a it.

  6. E.S Tablishment
    November 25, 2016

    Academia is letting the grammar school side down.

    Almost daily, in the UK we see those who have been or would most certainly attend grammar schools on our televisions. They jump up and down, chant, shout and prance along streets with childish cardboard placards: young doctors. The less well-educated go about their daily chores with less pay but greater clarity of mind and purpose.
    Also on the box, what would be or is the grammar school elite doing their level best to thwart the democratic decision of what they feel are the less intelligent and ill-informed. ( in the referendum ).At the highest academic ( grammar school ) level we see Judges who institutionally KNOW better than us.
    Across the Pond we see University Professors encouraging the intelligentsia in colleges to protest and use violence against a democratically elected President-Elect. Thousands of banner waving “grammar” school kids denying the right and the result of a ballot.
    Our societies, tell these “grammar school” kids they are more worthy than those who are not…to the point of shouting, chanting, jumping up and down and smashing people and property of those in disagreement…or undeclared loyalties.
    Society in the UK and the USA needs fixing before any more “grammar schools” are planned and built. Education in democracy is futile if young persons are insinuated in the belief other persons “X”s are invalid because of lower IQ and or lower academic exam results.
    I see Mr Trump spoke to those human beings doing manual labour. His opponents could have tried to speak to them. But they did not have the language.

  7. alan jutson
    November 25, 2016

    A good head teacher usually means a successful school, they are thus the key appointment.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 26, 2016

      Except the new head teacher might well inherit a team of useless, lazy, timesever teachers and they usually cannot get rid of any of them due to the hugely restrictive employment laws and the unions. They also have problems recruiting decent Maths and science teachers as they find it hard to pay them the higher wages they can command outside teaching.

      The state sector need easy hire and fire as much as the private sector, especially if Hammond wants higher productivity. As usual government is once again the problem.

      1. alan jutson
        December 1, 2016


        A good head teacher usually finds a way forward.

        Thats what makes them so valuable.

  8. Roy Grainger
    November 25, 2016

    There is another charge of humbug that can be levelled at Labour which is that even inside most state comprehensive schools there is streaming – some implemented immediately in the first year – which puts all the gifted children in separate classes and in many cases allocates the better teachers to those classes too. So there IS selection by ability but within the school. The fact they are physically occupying the same building as the less gifted children is the only concession to comprehensive education.

  9. Head Caster
    November 25, 2016

    Your premise JR is that grammar schools educate people well.
    In Parliament, one can see many examples where despite polysyllabic and complex sentence formation, the end results are dopey conclusions.

    Generally speaking,I find all arguments correct. One has had opinions contrary to ones present opinions. One was just as clever and logical then as one is now. One is not necessarily now in receipt of updated information to excuse or explain a change in opinion. But it can be seen from some grammar school leavers and those of a grammar school education a distinct inability to even understand what I have just written in its entirety, in the round. A similar piece to this was written by someone or other in a previous Comment and, not one of the published Commenters understood. They could not all have been Secondary Modern School wallahs. Probably none of them .
    So, educating someone in grammar school requires intelligent teachers. Perhaps we should as a nation start advertising abroad for such. They are too thin on the ground here to staff above a couple of medium sized ones. Finding a headmaster is a severe problem. One up to it..

  10. Ian Wragg
    November 25, 2016

    I’ve never understood Liebours opposition to Grammar Schools

    They were the biggest contributor to social mobility in history.
    I passed the 11 plus but didn’t get head teachers recommendation because of limited numbers.
    I then passed the 13 plus but chose not to take up the offer.
    The secondary school gave me a rounded education and have a successful career in engineering.
    I often wonder how things would have panned out if I had gone to grammar school
    As for the national football team being oversubscribed by public school boys that would be 3 then. And they’re useless

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      November 25, 2016

      Labour’s opposition enables them to label a section of the population as second class citizens under the Grammar system. This is because they don’t want to encourage good technical schools and “trades”, because good traders are independent and won’t vote for them. They’d prefer, it seems, to have those same people as University educated failures who have been through Comprehensives but haven’t quite met the mark academically, brainwashed and taught subjects at “University” which are useless, so they earn less and vote Labour which still promises them a helping hand.

    2. bigneil
      November 26, 2016

      You are not supposed to start a sentence ( last one ) with”and”. Education indeed. When’s the kettle going on ?

  11. Donkey
    November 25, 2016

    The Labour Party hates the idea of excellence. They are levellers. They’ll send their children to private schools like one famous looney Corbynite and tell everyone else to rebel against grammar schools. For working class children, it is sometimes the only opportunity for them to excel and get an education commensurate with their aptitudes.
    I’m not sure whether the talents of kicking a ball about a bit or acting or dancing or swimming should merit a specialised education. Winning Olympic medals is fine. Doing an Ed Balls on a dance floor is entertaining for some but adds nothing to national wealth. You have to remember that in any race of 10, there are 9 losers apart from the smiles of the winner. So what is to become of an athlete or dancer who never gets above 4th position? Well their local pub may need a part-time cleaner early in the mornings. As for actors, most feel lucky if they play the back end of a donkey in a 2 month long pantomime at a seaside resort. So acting has been a waste of their lives unless they turn it into being a Labour or Liberal politician. One can imagine them stood round in a circle in acting school being taught to get a tear in their eyes or a frog in their throat, tipping their head compassionately with the ahhh factor as they talk about “poor babies ” ( aged 42 ) in Calais.

  12. agricola
    November 25, 2016

    That we should all want the very best education for our children should not be in doubt. That all children are different in their educational needs can only be denied by those with a political agenda. They choose not to see that life is selective, while opting for the best possible education for their own offspring, but denying it to others. A better example of hypocrisy would be hard to find. Entry to a grammar school at 11 and 13 for those of academic talent is the best that the state can offer. Some public schools also offer entry to the talented but parentally impoverished, to their credit and should be sympathetically supported.
    While fighting for grammar schools, and accepting that many other schools are excellent, we need to put a lot of energy into raising the standards of all the other schools that fall short of the desired level. We also need to accept that university need not be the goal for everyone, and in so doing, provide a great range of technical and training colleges geared to the needs of society and industry. If this area had been satisfactory we would not have needed the apocryphal 600,000 Polish plumbers or the vast number of medical professionals we import for the NHS.
    I cannot imagine that the Burnhams and Creasys of your world would object on political grounds to having their hip replaced by a surgeon with a grammar school education. So do not let warped political thinking get in the way of the very best education for our children.

  13. EyeEye
    November 25, 2016

    Many Labour MPs are ex-grammar school. But then so are Tories and the rest
    What is not expressed enough by educationalists is that intelligence and even education can regress within an individual.

  14. ChrisS
    November 25, 2016

    It has always been the case that those on the Left believe that when one person gains something, anything, in life, that disadvantages everyone else. This is at the heart of their arguments against selective and private education.

    It is an underestimated problem throughout the state education system that probably 90% of teachers and heads are Liberal or Labour party supporters. This skews attitudes and results in an overwhelming atmosphere of Political Correctness. I saw this at first hand as a School Governor where we had to fight a ludicrous battle to ensure that our annual Sports Day continued to be run with competitive events.

    Although it is often swept under the carpet by our overwhelmingly left-leaning educational establishment, it is an inconvenient truth for them that all children are not created equal. All children have abilities in one field or another but the important thing is for a State-funded educational system not to fundamentally value one skill set above another.

    Although it is also a fact that relative wealth does have a substantial effect on attainment, especially in the early years, we are really talking about the need for a different type of education for children of different abilities.

    Grammar Schools have always provided a deliberately more academically-orientated education than other state schools. It stands to reason that this would not be of benefit to those who are less suited to that kind of education. They are therefore not disadvantaged by the presence of a Grammar School in their area.

    Whatever method of selection is used, it is essential that those pupils who do not go to Grammars should be taught under a system that is designed to draw out their best talent and develop them for a successful career.

    I am quite sure that the very best large Comprehensive schools could teach all kinds of pupil well through aggressive streaming but I suspect that this is not politically acceptable to those that teach in such schools and is in itself likely to result in all kinds of tensions between pupils, staff and parents.

    The Educational Establishment always decries the existence of Grammar Schools and denies that they have had any role in promoting social mobility. Yet the reduction in social mobility over recent decades exactly mirrors the decline in the number of Grammar Schools. I have no doubt that all their research on the subject is deliberately conducted in ways that ensure that the conclusion is that there is no link between the two.

    The Government should go all to re-introduce Grammar Schools across the country while ensuring that the standards in Comprehensive Schools and Academies is improved.

    I have no doubt that in thirty years or so we will see a return to the levels of social mobility last seen in the 1970s and 1980s.

    PS I was a pupil of Maidenhead Grammar School.

  15. Ken Moore
    November 25, 2016

    I don’t have a problem with Grammar schools with the caveat that children develop at different rates and it’s important not to exclude late achievers.

    A better way in my view is to introduce more streaming in schools – when i was a lad we had the bottom maths set for children with behavioural problems and short attention spans from backgrounds largely of single parenthood. This way these often damaged and unmotivated individuals could learn to count beads without being too much of a nuisance to brighter kids. There are many many more of these problem children now because of the failed social policies of LIB/LAB/CON.

    There was also an intermediate set and a top set that would offer the most rigourous lessons for children aiming to take higher level papers.
    Form groups also need to segregate ‘bad apples’ from more able children – the rogues need to be weeded out and given special help and discipline.

    JR should be asking why GCSE core subjects have been dumbed down so much – ask any maths teacher and he will tell you that the old ‘O’ level maths exam was similar to a modern GCSE higher level paper.

  16. margaret
    November 25, 2016

    No one should argue that education isn’t important, however from one who didn’t do well at school , yet had the ability compared with those who went to university at 18 yrs , the difference is apparent and not in the way many would jump to understand. The writing down and remembering their topics has not improved understanding and application. If formulas have been forgotten all things have fallen by the wayside. The education has blinded many into quoting outworn academics.
    Andy Burnham is correct ;education is about life and understanding how it works. It is not a memory test as in the ’39 steps’ It is not about some ogre standing at the front of the class and ridiculing children if they want to know why and who come up with questions the despot can’t answer. Children are put down because of the grammar school system.
    My children both went to private grammar school and when my husband left me and did not pay the fees they were thrown out.. So much for education..

  17. JM
    November 25, 2016

    The problem with the education debate is that it is premised on the basis that every child can do as well academically as the next if only he or she had the same level of input. It is a lie. Academic ability is like any other ability. It varies from person to person. Some children are suited to such an education; very many are not.

    At present we are serving both groups badly. We have to come up with a system which selects children for the type of education which suits them best. That system of selection must not be a once and for all blunt instrument because children mature at different rates. However, we must do what did not previously happen, which is to fund properly the non-academic stream. Employers should be encouraged to get involved in their local schools so that young people emerge workplace ready with the skills that will enable them to get a job in their local jobs market or beyond.

    At present too many young people leave school utterly disenchanted with the process and in the habit of truanting and not working because they have been enforced to endure an academic system, which is beyond them. It is a sad indictment that we have to import tradesmen. These are the young people who should be going into those trades.

    Equally, the state school sector has to up its game. There is much hand wringing about the low numbers of state school educated pupils going to our best universities. One hears too often that pupils are actively discouraged from applying lest they suffer a rejection. Equally one hears (first hand) stories of state school pupils expressing an ambition to pursue a professional career, only to be told that children from this school do not do such things and have you thought about hair dressing. The young lady in question is now making a first class barrister.

  18. acorn
    November 25, 2016

    Privatise it JR and run it on a voucher. About £6,000 a year per child should cover it, including teacher pensions.

    You are about the only one left to finally introduce the Thatcher plan. “The proposals considered by her cabinet included compulsory charges for schooling and a massive scaling back of other public services. “This would of course mean the end of the National Health Service,” declared a confidential cabinet memorandum by the Central Policy Review Staff in September 1982, released by the National Archives on Friday under the 30-year rule.” (Guardian)

    You could do a similar privatisation on Health, a voucher of £2,200 per person per year.

    Please can we have a General Election with each candidate declaring in their personal manifesto, for or against Brexit.

    Reply I have always supported free at the point of use for NHS and education, as did Mrs Thatcher.

    1. Iain Gill
      November 25, 2016

      I would support parents being given a cheque per term for their childs education to take to any school of their choice.

      I would also support turning the NHS into a state backed health insurance scheme which we pay for according to ability to contribute, and get payouts according to diagniosis and need. But where the state withdraws completely from owning and running health services. And where patients get to take their insurance payout to any provider they choose.

    2. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      I tend to agree to a free at the point of use education and health care, but I would largely limit it to only to those who really cannot afford to pay. If taxes were lower far more could afford to pay and would do.

      Also it should be delivered in a way that allows the patients or students lots of choice of providers and encourages people to go privately if they can afford to.

      This would improve standards hugely.

  19. Children
    November 25, 2016

    It would perhaps, and only perhaps, be an advertisement for the grammar school cause, if in addition to publication of exam passes, that a list of students subsequently entering college and university were updated on their leaving giving comprehensive lists of the jobs which ALL of the grammar school pupils in later life actually got… and the salary and hours of those jobs…and the progression in career of each and every one and the salaries at every given stage. Costs of maternity leave. And how much time was taken off for child rearing and looking after children when they are ill.

    I do not believe the above information is readily available. Time-consuming, perhaps hard to get information. nevertheless vitally important for people advocating grammar schools.So important that the data must have been already obtained and a decision made , for some reason, not to publish. In fact, information relating to ALL further education students in the same regard is not blasted from quality newspapers and tabloids alike.

    Let us stop this myth about “Excellence” in education and speak of realities and the massive waste of money in academia with too little tangible and worthwhile results per Pound expended across the board.
    Humouring electorates comprised of parents and students may be the bread and butter, the alpha and omega, of politics but it takes no account that most schools waste the time of pupils and students and are little better than professional kindergartens and child minding services for kids and teenagers. Teenagers need proper work training not ruling margins with multi-coloured pencils and inks at the sides of exercise books or walking around the playgrounds in “sponsored walks” for school funds. A few teachers could also be given some useful work to do. Oh and the next headteacher banning a pupil for not being in uniform should be sent forthwith for two months in a boot camp and sacked from his or her post. Such nonsense! You don’t need anyone’s permission-slip nor a silly uniform to fight for your country. How can England expect its children to show any respect whatsoever when taught and having to take daft orders from such gorps?

  20. Bert Young
    November 25, 2016

    John – your contribution was both accurate and revealing . In the early part of my life I spent 12 years in education – 8 of them as a Headmaster of a co-educational school . My experience showed that , whether streaming and addressing the needs for talent within the school , or , by other means (private select schools etc ) , it was far and away the best way to satisfy the individual challenges and needs of the children . In mixed talented classrooms the differences in abilities and interests are enormous and well beyond the skill of any capable teacher .

    Some children are academically oriented , some are more practically skilled , some children take to music – some do not ; there are many sorts of differences and they are best dealt with by streaming . The IQ range in a group of 30 children is considerable and sorting them out into similar groups is the most efficient way of developing and exploiting their capabilities . Dyslexic children – who are my no means lacking n intelligence , need to be approached in a special way ; other children with other handicaps equally so .

    The most effective approach in the years I have witnessed was the system of streaming introduced in the late 40s . At age 11yrs ( or thereabouts) children were selected for their Senior education into Grammar Schools , Technical Schools and Secondary Modern Sschools . At age 13 yrs (or thereabouts) transfers could be made if the original selection was unsatisfactory . The system of selection was certainly not foolproof at the time but it broadly succeeded . As time went by and the development of the selection procedures improved , the system became quite accurate . On both sides of the Atlantic screening tests were exchanged used and reported ( and during the late 40s and 50s such methods of screening were used by the Armed Forces to separate and deal with conscripts ) . Today such screening methods have been successfully introduced into all forms of businesses .

    If high achievers are not specifically approached in a way to draw out and exploit their talent , the loss is felt across the wide spectrum of a community . Equally the talent has to retained afterwards ( eg the loss of Atomic Scientists to the USA in the 60s and 70s ).

    The last point I wish to make is the training and selection of teachers . The standard of teachers has dropped considerably in the last 20 years with the knock-on effect in the classrooms . Children react and respond to the right sort of motivation and skill ; when this is lacking the results show . This discrepancy is a major concern now and it has to be dealt with from the very top .

    I certainly am in favour of selecting and dealing with talent ; there is no point if such talent is not in the right hands .

    1. Lifelogic
      November 25, 2016

      An excellent contribution, thanks.

  21. Mockbeggar
    November 25, 2016

    Young people should attend school until they are 14, at which point they should have completed a School Leaving Certificate. This would be a certificate of competence to enter the adult world and NOT of academic ability. It would include the ability to read, write, speak clearly and simple arithmetic. Pupils should also have interpersonal skills to deal politely with other adults and be able, for example, to find their way from Kentish Town to Hasmmersmith using public transport and timetables (not an App). At present, young people can leave school at 16 with no qualifications whatsoever.

    Once they have gained the School Leaving Certificate (and they don’t leave without it), they may choose, within limits what the they would like to learn more about, be it academic, artistic, technical or sporting/physical and they would go to certified teachers for each of the skills, not to schools. Schools cannot teach the perfect combination of skills for each unique pupil with his/her particular and individual combination of needs, but there is always someone who can.

    There is a book that sets out these ideas in much more detail, but I will not take advantage of our host’s diary to advertise it.

  22. Antisthenes
    November 25, 2016

    The left believe that education is about privilege which it is but not in the contexts of which they equate it. Theirs is class based whilst the real privilege is being able to have one of the very best quality. Making it one of class is a narrow bigoted view which makes them look for narrow bigoted means of delivering education. Their solution is to seek to eliminate the class distinction forgetting that they then eliminate the quality distinction. The result is dumbing down and therefore poor quality for all those ensnared in their class based education system.

    The result has been grammar schools replacement in the most part by comprehensives. A most disastrous move which we now have found out to own children’s cost. Grammars may have been flawed but they were a beacon of the educational standards that can be attained. Private schools similarly. If the left were not so stupid they would have grabbed what grammar and private schools could offer and made a system whereby the state used subsidies so all children could attend schools of that type of quality.

    The state may have had a hands on role in the education of our children that was necessary to kick start universal education. However that point passed and it should have been handed to the private sector. That is happening to a limited extent but a lot more needs to be done and that that only by ignoring progressive nonsense.

  23. ian
    November 25, 2016

    If the bankers do not want Grammar schools we will not have grammar schools.

  24. English Pensioner
    November 25, 2016

    Living in Buckinghamshire, we have some good grammar schools and, I believe, good secondary schools. One anomaly is that the Grammar Schools are all single-sex whilst the secondary schools are mixed.
    When my daughters were young, there was just one all girls secondary school to which both went and which served them well, but this has subsequently been closed. There are strong arguments that many children progress far better in single-sex schools, as I’m convinced my daughters did, and I find it surprising that this issue is never discussed. Is part of the reason that Grammar Schools a better because the majority are single sex establishments?

  25. JoolsB
    November 25, 2016

    As usual with the nasty spiteful envious party called Labour, it’s all about keeping everyone at the lowest possible level, except of course where their own kids are concerned.

    Thanks to these hypocrites and the Lib Dums along with the support of the SNP, grammar schools will never get off the ground even though their introduction only applies to England. Just as happened with Sunday trading laws, the SNP fully intend to scupper any notion of grammar schools and when they do, no doubt your party will do as they always do and not utter one word of protest at this affront to democracy or the unaccountability of 117 unelected MPs thwarting any pretence that the governance of England is either fair or democratic.

  26. Norman
    November 25, 2016

    Thank you for speaking up for a system of education that was such a help to those (like me) from a good but poor and struggling background. My father worked as a farm labourer, and naturally always voted labour. And yes, we did resent the class divide which was still quite tangible in the post-war period. Nevertheless, loving parents, other kind influences and dedicated teachers – passionate about bringing out the best in their charges, transcended all these barriers, to give one a great start in life. Other boys who were less academically inclined had the opportunity to be selected for technical School, at the age of 13 – how important such vocational training is, and how sadly Britain has erred in this! A good education, however, is only the beginning – other things determine the outcome for the young person, and the contribution they can make good of. Diversity of choice is an attribute of freedom. Doctrinaire uniformity leads to slavery.

  27. Dave Andrews
    November 25, 2016

    Whilst it is true that a bright child can do well in a comprehensive system, many bright children are weaker in other aspects and are out of place in the rough and tumble of the comprehensive mix.
    Human nature being what it is from an early age, there is the obligation to settle to the level of the lowest, with academic achievement being actively discouraged by a child’s peers.
    This also happens in a grammar school, but at least there the lowest common denominator is of a higher standard.

    1. Edward M
      November 25, 2016

      You make most pertinent points, that are central to the issue.
      What type of education is most suitable for the child is entirely ignored by those who want to prevent choice.

  28. Ed Mahony
    November 25, 2016

    (In reading this, don’t forget that Mrs Thatcher was a practising Christian)

    I think Christianity finds the perfect solution to this. I think Christianity supports grammar schools (that grammar schools provides children gifted with intelligence to use these gifts to the full). But at the same time, Christianity teaches that with privilege comes responsibility, and that we must also provide the best education we can for those of other abilities.
    (It’s not surprising of course, that Oxford, Cambridge, grammar schools, and other types of schools, find their origin in the Church!).
    I also think that Christianity teaches that competition is part of life – neither good nor bad. But only becomes bad when that competition becomes dishonourable. Sport is a great example of this. There is an honourable and dishonourable way of playing cricket and rugby. Just as there is an honourable and dishonourable way of running a business or being an employee.
    Christianity loves education because education helps us to understand the physical world through maths, logic and science – a world in which we work and become stewards of. Education also help us to understand the spiritual world (part of the physical world) through literature, the arts and philosophy, and if we are to be successful stewards of this world, then the spiritual dimension is just as important.
    Until we look at our world through the prism of Christianity, then I think we’re going to be held prisoner to ideologies based purely on the head without the heart (and soul) or the heart without the head (and soul). Christianity (at its best) ALWAYS brings the best solution and the greatest sense of fulfilment. The alternatives only bring conflict, jealousy, suspicion and so on. If anyone wants to debate with me the existence of God etc … happy to do so in private, off this site, and will only discuss Christianity here in the context of politics and public affairs. But i think the case for Christianity has to be made especially when there is so much uncertainty, fear and anger in our country at the moment, indeed in our world in general.

    1. Ed Mahony
      November 25, 2016

      ‘Until we look at our world through the prism of Christianity, then I think we’re going to be held prisoner’

      – sorry, should say it’s more likely we will held prisoner.
      (apologies for not writing more sensitively but only so much space to write – and sure, I might be wrong but happy to be challenged – and it’s better to have a view on this than none at all and just drift along according to popular opinion or whatever).

  29. Elaine Turner
    November 25, 2016

    My late father was in the Armed Forces and as a consequence I moved around regularly during my primary years. I failed both my 11+ and 12+ exams, getting through on a 13+. Two things to point out from this – one that having the ability to transfer as maturity arrives is essential and secondly, we had a brilliant history teacher at the Sec Mod I attended where the details of the Battle of Thermopylae were discussed and written about as Year 7s! So those attending any school are only hampered as low as their teachers allow them to be – which sadly, is too frequently with academic standards set at levels too low for the bright.

    Equally, by giving a one size fits all education, we are failing that bottom 20% who are always going to struggle to achieve GCSEs in Maths and English. In a way, it doesn’t matter because very few people have need of a quadratic equation later in life, but we all need to be good at the three Rs, having good oracy (ability to speak well and clearly) and good social skills, lacking in so many of our young. With an education designed for this block of low academic achievers, we could equip them for life as well, instead of having them leave school with a paucity of ambition and ability.

    The debate mustn’t be about grammar schools, with which I totally agree, but upping the game for all children, ensuring they have equal funding and getting rid of the big Lefty Blob in education that is determined to dumb down. When our children have a good education that isn’t seen to be failing in world PISA scores and when they are turning out pupils fitted for the work place that employers are glad to employ, then teachers can sit back on their laurels. Until then, they aren’t doing very well at all.

  30. ferdinand
    November 25, 2016

    It seems to me that there is a grudging acceptance by the Opposition that Grammar School and privately educated children do better than comprehensives. The allocation of a place at one is by selection and the other by in some cases financial resources. My public school gives bursaries of a varying value to 45% of its pupils. But all its places are by selection. Surely the way to free up the system to achieve the best results is to use selection but give all children an education voucher which they can spend at the school of their choice. This will give signal to the schools to improve themselves or find they are short of pupils and funding. I would allow successful schools to take over failing schools rather as businesses are taken over by more successful companies.

  31. The PrangWizard
    November 25, 2016

    Didn’t see the debate, but nice to read that Lucy Powell was slapped down.

  32. forthurst
    November 25, 2016

    The key issue is not the schools but the examinations; according to the Cambridge Internation Examinations site, “Along with schools in England, we lobbied for the continued inclusion of Cambridge IGCSEs in performance tables. However, the Department for Education’s decision to exclude IGCSEs from its performance measures, and a change in regulatory status, means that very few state schools are expected to take Cambridge IGCSEs once each subject comes out of performance measures. Independent schools will still be able to offer these qualifications.”

    Is it government policy that the D0E should continue to exclude the IGCSE exam from their ‘performance’ tables? Not only is there an issue of the academic level of current GCSE exams compared to the O levels of yore, but there is also the issue of grades awarded for actual marks attained. Do we want to continue to promote the idea that schools and pupils are improving whilst their performance in comparison with their international peers in advanced countries is deteriorating? How much cognitative dissonance is it reasonable to expect the people to continue to accept following the Bliar/CMD maladminstrations?

    Let’s get the exams that are suitable for the top quartile available in all areas, and it is likely that a combination of private and grammar will transpire to achieve the best performance because of their ability to focus on achievement rather than remediation. Perhaps then universities could tackle their own grade inflation having been able to start their courses from beyond the level of the old A level.

  33. Leslie Singleton
    November 25, 2016

    Dear John–Personally I think there has been more than enough talk about Grammar Schools: what we want is a (binding) Referendum on the subject. The issues are easy enough to understand and I genuinely do not have the slightest idea why anybody should think that MP’s and Lords would know better.

  34. Anonymous
    November 25, 2016

    Ms Creasy sidestepped JR’s point altogether. He was saying if it’s OK to be selective of kids for sport then why on earth not for education ?

    As it happens my kids did go to grammar and both are now training to be doctors. (I have a trade.)

    It’s all very well saying that not enough kids eligible for free school meals go but we weren’t rich and couldn’t afford school meals either – so my boys took sandwiches.

    1. Anonymous
      November 25, 2016

      Grammar schools are not selective of the children btw. They are selective of the parents. The test is not of the kids but of the parental support in preparation for it.

      It’s the quality of the parents that determines the success of a school. If a school is perpetually invaded by angry parents undermining discipline because Johnny got told off then it is doomed to failure.

      1. Iain Gill
        November 25, 2016

        Yes and the best so called “comprehensive” schools are selective of the amount the parents are prepared to spend on housing.

      2. Lifelogic
        November 25, 2016

        But academic ability is to a large extent heritable anyway!

        1. Anonymous
          November 25, 2016

          Certainly not from me, Lifelogic !

    2. Anonymous
      November 25, 2016


      My “Ms Creasy sidestepped JR’s point altogether. He was saying if it’s OK to be selective of kids for sport then why on earth not for education ?”

      Should read…

      “Ms Creasy sidestepped JR’s point altogether. He was saying if it’s OK to be selective of kids for *professional* sport then why on earth not for education ?

  35. hugh rose
    November 25, 2016

    I just love the fact that 13% of the British football team went to public school. Is that one player? How would Labour get a fair representation of 7%? Hack him off at the waist perhaps?

  36. With a Rebel Yell!
    November 25, 2016

    I am not sure grammar schools gave everyone “special elite training”. 90% of my friends at school and in the neighbourhood left me to go to grammar schools. They left and did leave.
    Knocking on my friends’ doors they tearfully insisted they were given so much homework they could not come out. True or not, they did not come out even to play and laugh and sing and play like yesterday with anyone . They ceased to be friends and known people. I was incapable of joining them again.
    So, no-one was able to educate them to the wisdom that overtime must not be given to children even if you believe they should as a matter of course be given clerical work and more 9 to 4 …..5 days per week.
    My Secondary Modern School and other pupils and their greater families and community provided me with another special education. That when you have stuffed up parents who see you as an inanimate object leading to their own social acceptance and success, they are prepared to use and abuse you as a child for the sake of social status even if it means robbing you of your childhood friends in your community and working you in cooperation with Authority like a Third World donkey more, longer hours than the United Nations has laid down for “child-workers”
    By all means do not destroy the good of grammar schools. But keep an eye on their historic abuse of children supported by some Parliamentarians. School must stop at 4pm. Stop means stop.Parents found working their children with additional private clerical working/training/education should be taken to court for child abuse. No doubt the court will find they were similarly abused when children by their parents. Hurt treaches hurt. Hurt breeds hurt.
    As to children required to work in their clerical training at school for such long hours typically nine to five o’clock with even their work/lunchbreak under managerial/teacher supervision in every mouthful…well that is a matter for more enlightened times. People are not ready yet psychologically to fully understand the harm they do. To see their children as human

  37. Mactheknife
    November 25, 2016

    I’m old enough to have been in education at a time when grammar schools were common place and I sat the 11+ exam. A friend of mine who also failed was recognised by the teachers at our secondary school as being above average and at the age of 13 he was transferred to the GS. He is now a consultant at one of the UK’s leading teaching hospitals. So its not true that you fail at age 11, there is and always has been scope to move at any age.

  38. Edward M
    November 25, 2016

    Those opposed to grammar schools are wishing to promote a great unfairness on able school children. Children have a wide range of abilities and not allowing able children to mix and compete with others of similar ability and to have an education that suits them, is very unfair on them. Mixing able with less able children is not fair on either. It is very tedious and demotivating for able children being held back in the classroom, as it is demoralising for those who learn slower to be always outpaced whereas they would profit from a slower pace. Life has its ups and downs and many who were slower earlier in life catch up in their late teens or early twenties. Best to let everyone learn at a pace and in a style that suits them and as and when it suits, provided they try hard. We need plenty of grammar schools, technical schools and plenty of good apprenticeships.
    The Labour party as usual just want the worst outcome for everybody under the guise of superficial equality. Reality is that we are not all the same.

  39. Holidayer
    November 25, 2016

    Ministers have not made clear the shortcomings of Comprehensive schools in that better education for some may be obtained elsewhere say in grammar schools.
    So, a complete assessment should be made public about the flaws, under-educating, below standard teaching in Comprehensive schools and what, other than build and finance grammar schools, is going to be made to remedy the situation.

    The bad standard of teaching in Comprehensive schools, and who of intelligence one point and more above moron level and real education can deny that, implied by those wishing the promotion of grammars schools, is not seen as should be fixed.

    I for one feel most Comprehensive school teachers be dismissed. Who would tolerate, for instance, a plumber, electrician, taxi driver, train or tram driver, a pilot who was sub standard and way below whatt should be the best? Correct! Right! We would be fools to have a Comprehensive School teacher version of our pilot when we were going to toast our toes in the Med or much cleaner places where the European sewerage system does not have exclusive and overwhelming access.

  40. ian
    November 25, 2016

    Recount in three US states to take place, for a win for ?.

    1. Mitchel
      November 26, 2016

      What was it Stalin said-it’s not who votes but who counts the votes that matters.

  41. Being Patient
    November 25, 2016

    I should imagine most junior doctors went to grammar schools. What went wrong?

    1. Lifelogic
      November 26, 2016

      Private schools yield more than a quarter of medical and dentistry students. Not sure on the Comp. Grammar mix.

      I know from experience with my children that you certainly have to be quite determined and organised to jump through all the hoops. This with the UKCAT, BMAT, exam grades, work experience, background reading and the rather testing interviews. Quite hard without determined parent and quite a bit of money needed too. Top private schools often offer considerable help with this. But the universities do adjust somewhat for these advantages.

  42. Glenn Vaughan
    November 25, 2016

    “You need a comprehensive education to overcome a comprehensive education” – Jim Hacker.

  43. RealpoliticalCrisis
    November 25, 2016

    Little to no mention is made of the level of education of terrorists in Europe and in the UK. Grammar schools should not hide their successes under a bushel or in a pressure cooker.

  44. gyges01
    November 25, 2016

    We could make it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of their education just as is done with respect to race, gender, and age?

    1. Lifelogic
      November 26, 2016

      Indeed lest have really stupid people in top jobs such as surgeons, heads of universities and company directors, that should work well.

    2. Juliet
      November 26, 2016

      Spot on.

      Organisations will still continue to discriminate on the basis of race gender and age, especially when the interviewer sits in the middle of the interviewee and the person who is making the request for a new person.

  45. ExternalWriter
    November 25, 2016

    Tales, years ago, I heard from grammar school boys and from girls who went to the equivalent High schools were not good. Nothing to be proud about. Nothing to crow about. Nothing to write home about. Just a very sad period of their personal histories, best forgotten. I’m joking by the way when I use the idiom “best forgotten”
    Oh I’ve been writing a novel based on it all. I’ve been writing it JR for 49 years. In the past I usually only managed a page or two, for I never was a typist; and, I was too weak of will. So it never got past first draft, then destroyed. Written again and destroyed with nightmares singly and then in multiple per night should I not stop. At present I have half of it in a terribly written first draft. I correct it on printed paper one page per day. It hurts too much otherwise. I am now nightmare-free .I had in fact needed to write most of it in free-hand aways from home. Somehow writing free-hand with my new dog by my side OUTSIDE allowed me to write for one hour in the most rapid writing that it is barely legible even to myself. Painful. I continued even when raining. I had to for the words flowed so fast and my pen moved so quickly I could not see it for the rain water in my eyes. Funny.
    I am writing it for myself.
    I was not educated in grammar school so my writing grammar is not much cop. If necessary I shall pay every penny of my savings to get it written up by a professional. As a child I watched Pathe news, of course after the war. As flame throwers were being deployed by our soldiers on Jap bunkers the Commentator in a gravel voice. determined, said with increasing volume as each Jap went up in flames “Nothing, nothing , nothing can stop the advance of our glorious army.” Nothing , nothing, nothing will stop me now.. Well if my neighbour is going to read it. She is. Much younger. So she at least will get to know. Also I will self-publish if necessary online. Writing on your blog Comments has assisted me every single day. Selfishly, that is my motivation.

    Oh I don’t agree with you about grammar schools. It goes without saying.

  46. Oggy
    November 25, 2016

    OT – I see the Scottish Lord Advocate is going to say with the Supreme court appeal in December that Scotland should be allowed a veto over triggering A50.
    Mrs May really needs to ditch this appeal now because the direction in which these court cases have gone hasn’t been favourable.
    It’s ridiculous to think that 1.5m Scottish remain voters could over rule 17.4m UK leave voters, but it seems that is what the Scots are trying to achieve.
    If that were to happen there would be widespread anger and civil unrest.

    1. Anonymous
      November 25, 2016

      We are not leaving the EU. The forces ranged against Brexit are beyond measure and I think Project Fear Mk2 is overwhelming.

      Civil unrest ? What ? From people too old or too busy working or worried about losign their jobs by bringing their employers into disrepute ?

  47. Move on!
    November 25, 2016

    Grammar school educated people are likely to get into high positions within our armed services. There is little argument they will get into leading positions in commerce. The world has changed in some ways, however.

    In the Vietnam war there were stories of suspected “shootings in the back” of American officers who tried to lead their men into scenarios which were thought untenable.

    I believe the benchmark where the led will refuse to be led by persons considered Elite is much lower nowadays. In the normal course of work it may go unnoticed or more usually ignored as the management write the problems of management and the unions are politically ideological liars. The truth is hidden, therefore.

    Arguably when push comes to shove, due to mutual playground trials of strength, each even of those in Leadership instinctively come to know: if the bridge ahead is a bridge too far, for those to their back. This instinct is dependent on both leader and led having occupied the same-instinct-rule-based-custom-based playground., arguably.
    It is to be noted that “arguably” as used at the end of my last sentence is inappropriate to a battlefield scenario where discussion and argument is trigger-length long.

  48. DonaldDuck
    November 25, 2016

    Mrs May said in Parliament she thought it undesirable that someone with money could go and live, at will, “next door” to a good school where less fortunate people in regard to money could not. So, who is in charge of teacher-appointments? Replace them. Problem solved.

    We cannot have as a sane society, one with even a modicum of organisation, the best jewels situated conveniently for the already jewel-laden to clasp with greasy fingers. But Mrs May is in an unchristian way and in an undemocratic way denying those who have worked hard for wealth to have any advantage at all. What is the motivation of anyone to create wealth, to advance themselves, if money fails to talk? We will become, all, of the multitude awaiting the dole-out of our loaves and fishes by some guy from the sidelines whom despite it all somehow fails to stay alive long enough to see a result to his sermons of Hope.
    If we are to have a motivational society of money acquisition promoting advancement then it would be stupid to have the chequered flag of such motivation of the winner of the race plunging headlong into an abyss of nothing.
    Like rail and road travel , choose one and not both , Do we want incentive of monetary gain or a red flag and goose-stepping-North Korea-style?
    Of course capitalism is horrible. Must we always need as humans to re-quote Churchill in that however capitalism and democracy are evil, the alternatives are far worse? Let’s grow up, together if possible and one way or another make sure we all have enough to eat, drink ,have sufficient warmth and shelter and, an ability to rise. Unfortunately, it is the very best we can hope for. We are but flawed humans. Not gods.

  49. Death
    November 25, 2016

    Blair and Major are like the proverbial guests at a party who have had one too many but one does not wish to offend by telling them to go forth.Sad.

  50. Elite
    November 25, 2016

    A smart royal blue cap; a royal blue blazer with a Mummy-sewn-on thingy on the top pocket, a pair of dark grey trousers and black shoes, shined. Oh and dark grey woollen socks.Yes, that is just the kind of offspring one wishes to represent ones genetic superiority for all the world to see. Shock and Awe!

  51. Caterpillar
    November 26, 2016

    Another far more pressing educational issue is to dump faith schools. How a supposedly developed country such as the U.K. can permit state funded schools to recruit teachers based on their religion is a deep mystery. I think the current Secretay of State for Education used to have an Equalities brief, she needs to recall that and, at a minimum, stop faith schools’ unequal recruitment policies, and ideally dump faith schools completely. I would hope the new old Labour Party would also wish to correct this policy error.

    1. Simon Platt
      November 26, 2016

      You would, in effect, require all schools to subscribe to the religion of secularism.

      1. Caterpillar
        November 26, 2016

        Simon Platt,

        I don’t know what your reply means.

        To be clear faith schools are permitted to discriminate against who they employ based on religious grounds. I suspect a law that essentially supports sectarianism in schools could have a deleterious effect on the education of young minds. Much of what humans have that is worth learning is faith invariant. The law allows schools to direct U.K. Government spending based on faith not based on who is the ‘best’ qualified teacher. Neither in specificity, generalisation or message can it be defended.

        1. Simon Platt
          November 27, 2016

          I’m sorry you didn’t understand my reply. I will elaborate.

          You say that “to dump faith schools” is “far more pressing” than the the issue of selection at age eleven, or thereabouts. You would outlaw church schools, at least in the voluntary-aided sector, apparently also in the voluntary-controlled sector. I point out that this would require all schools receiving funding from taxpayers to be secular (I mean, to practice religious indifferentism at best), removing the possibility to choose church schools for their children from almost all parents. In case it’s not clear, I think that would be a bad thing. I would describe it as a petty tyranny. Parents such as myself would be forced, by law, to have our children educated at schools, for which we have paid though our taxes, in a manner of which we do not approve.

          (I stress the issue of taxpayer funding because it seems important to your argument. You call it “state” or “government” funding; I take the point of view that the state has no funds of its own, or none that it controls except on behalf of the people.)

          You don’t know me, of course, so there’s no way for you to know that I have a reasonably good, although not complete, understanding of employment practices at least in voluntary-aided schools, my children having attended three at various times and my wife having taught at one. Your “supporting sectarianism” is of course a tendentious interpretation of such school’s employment policies (also their admission policies); my own wish, and my wife’s, was for our children to be educated in a Christian environment; there being no independent church schools within reach of our home or our budget such a desire could only be met by voluntary-aided schooling where staff have at least knowledge of and sympathy towards and preferably strong personal commitment to Christianity. Notwithstanding the well-established voluntary-aided sector, I’m sad to say that it seems hard to find a school in England these days where the staff and governing body are able to ensure a strong Christian ethos; your concern about “sectarianism”, at least in the context of Church schools, is misplaced in my experience.

          You say that voluntary-aided schools’ employment policies cannot be defended. I’m afraid that’s very poor. Of course they can be defended. I have made some points here which could form part of such a defence; a much more extensive defence would be out of place here. Notwithstanding my characterising your own position as “petty tyranny”, I can accept that it can be defended, although I obviously think that defence fails. Why do you not accept that others might have good arguments against it?

  52. alan jutson
    November 26, 2016

    Interesting how many of us who make comment on this site have had a Secondary Modern School education, including myself.

    Many, again like myself, seem to have made use of the technical college route to further their work related education to gain higher accreditation, and then form successful careers in their chosen field.

    Pray tell me why this old tried and trusted system was ever messed about with.

    1. Juliet
      November 26, 2016

      To make everyone coming out of secondary modern / comprehensives equal and stay committed to Labour Socialist values. Even if a student was a high achiever they are held back so others can catch up. I see this as limiting.
      Restricting a student opportunity to aim higher during school years is wrong, this can have a self defeating effect to aim higher in the business world.

      Universities & Colleges need to really focus on subjects that relate to the jobs of the future and drop the useless watered down subjects that carry no weight in the business world and industry/sector, otherwise graduates will be bypassed for jobs by their counterparts from Europe and the rest of the world

  53. agricola
    November 26, 2016

    When 20% of entries are the product of twelve disparate thoughts of one contributor do you not think that it is time to encourage restraint.

  54. A.Sedgwick
    November 26, 2016

    This is a rare area where I disagree with you. Mrs. May has no mandate to pursue this agenda and is on a personal crusade.

    I went to a very minor public school, the fees were low and it exists now as a state school. It was a good school catering from 5 – 18 years, to my memory no pupil left before leaving age. It remained the same size throughout my time about 600 boys. In each year sub A level there were three streams: A,B and C depending on academic ability and interest. Through the years some moved up and down and one very bright chap jumped a year and became top of that year ( never heard of him since!). Brothers were automatically accepted and even cousins. The entrance exam was purely to identify stream.

    My friends there and subsequently were in the lower streams, I never had any real rapport with my form members. If I had gone to Grammar school this social clicking probably would not have happened and made my time less enjoyable. In more recent years some children of friends hated Grammar school and left after GCSE Os for sixth form colleges and A levels.

    I have seen streaming take place successfully in a school and do not understand why this is not the norm.

  55. Helen Farrell
    November 26, 2016

    It is absurd to compare the situation in Wokingham and Reading to the situation in Bucks. The Reading grammars are superselectives which cream off a minute percentage of able children, many travelling from a long distance. The system in Bucks creams off 20% and because almost all children sit the 11+ inevitably the secondary moderns are defined by the fact that their pupils have failed that test.

  56. Simon Platt
    November 26, 2016

    I can add a point from my own experience on the issue of the coexistence of grammar schools and comprehensive schools. My experience is a few years old, it being based on my study of school performance when considering school places for my children, the youngest of whom is currently in the lower-sixth form at his school, but I am sure it is still valid.

    In Preston, where we live, there are no grammar schools. The last free grammar school entry was in 1977, the year after I myself went up to grammar school. Until very recently, there were no schools in Preston proper with a sixth form and only one such school nearby, a few miles out of town and outside the education authority area. This has been the situation in Preston for nearly forty years. By contrast, in nearby Lancaster, there are two very successful state-funded grammar schools, one for boys and one for girls, as well as several comprehensive schools.

    Until at least very recently the performance of comprehensive schools in Preston has been very poor; that of similar schools in Lancaster considerably better. The existence of highly-competitive grammar schools for boys and girls does not seem to disadvantage comprehensive-school pupils in Lancaster; their absence does not seem to have helped comprehensive schools in Preston. It seems to me more likely that the high standards at Lancaster’s grammar schools is a spur to performance at the city’s comprehensives. Lancaster has a culture of high educational achievement which is simply, and sadly, lacking in Preston; I think that culture is driven in part by Lancaster’s grammar schools.

  57. Juliet
    November 26, 2016

    I’m all for Grammar Schools. If Labour politicians con tine to stand on soap boxes and condemn improvement in the educational system, and send there own children to selective / public schools then the subject is closed. Not only are they being disrespectful to the electorates but not practicing what they preach. Perhaps if they stop pigeon holing students into monitoring boxes ethnicity/postcode they would give the best and brightest a fair chance.

    Labour made it easy for everyone to go to University with watered down GCSEs and A level subjects. For most who opted for the degree subjects that do not carry any weight in the business world are in for a rude awakening, many will be faced with limited opportunities to secure graduate places in most of the top 6 companies in leading industry/sectors.

    Misconception “have a degree open doors” it really depends on place of study, subject and person attitude in top-tier companies.

    1. Simon Platt
      November 27, 2016

      I agree.

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