An inconvenient truth, if you’re a lefty

In my experience those on the left of the political spectrum have a big problem with selective education, I have heard that it breeds elitism, social division etc. etc.

The biggest argument that I hear is the secondary modern schools were appalling and failed the children that had to go to them. This focus on destroying the successful element of a system rather than improving the least successful element have never made sense to me.

I have long felt that it is not the rich who benefit most from selective education but the poor, and for them a good education can mean a chance to lift themselves out of the poverty trap. Denying this option to bright but poor children has always struck me as being morally corrupt.

Eric Anderson, one of the big brains from Eton, writes a very interesting piece in the Telegraph on this subject which coincides with this BBC article showing that a majority of people now support selection in education.

Whether it is an expansion of the Grammar School system or a modern replacement it matters not, but there must always be an educational vehicle for bright children from poor families to learn and be pushed academically. Not to so so is wrong both economically and morally.

4 responses to “An inconvenient truth, if you’re a lefty

  1. From the Daily Telegraph of almost a year ago:

    Cameron takes a step back on grammars
    Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 10/01/2006

    Casting about for a stick with which to beat the resurgent Conservative Party and push it away from the centre ground occupied by himself, Tony Blair has chosen school admissions policy. In recent weeks, the Prime Minister has repeatedly claimed that David Cameron’s Tories would extend academic selection at 11, recreating the invidious divide between grammar schools and secondary moderns. Yesterday Mr Cameron blocked the thrust. Stating that “the Conservative Party … does not want to go back to the 11-plus, does not want to go back to the old grammar school system”, he promised to prevent the opening of new grammar schools.

    The key word here is “back”. In all he does, Mr Cameron’s strategy is to present the Conservatives as the party of the future. He is prepared to jettison any baggage, tear down any idol, to this end. Much as New Labour did in the years before 1997, the Tories are edging as close to the Government’s position as possible in order to diminish any philosophical or policy difference between them – so that voters will face not the difficult alternative of Left or Right, but the easy choice of forwards or backwards.

    Mr Cameron’s announcement was astute politics. But clear-sighted tactics in the short term can mean strategic myopia in the long term. It can also be plain wrong. In restricting the spread of grammar schools, Mr Cameron is repudiating the most successful educational model in our history. The decline of social mobility – a child born poor today is more likely to grow up and stay poor than a child born poor in 1950 – is directly attributable to the introduction of comprehensive education in the 1960s. Nor (as is often claimed) do grammar school pupils excel at the expense of their peers. In the areas, such as Kent and Lincolnshire, where grammars still exist, aggregated school results are better than in areas where they have been abolished: selection improves standards overall. It is fantasy to imagine that a limited extension of streaming in schools, as proposed by the Tories to palliate the ending of grammars, would do the same.

    advertisement
    In 2004, David Willetts, now Mr Cameron’s education spokesman, gave a speech in which he referred to his own schooldays at King Edward VI grammar school in Birmingham. He pointed out that from a single founding school, the King Edward VI foundation grew to six separate schools during the 19th century. That is the sort of dynamism we want to see in our education system today – a myriad new schools catering to the diversity of the population. Stopping schools from controlling their own admissions will limit such dynamism. Yesterday the Tories took a step backwards, not forwards

  2. From the Daily Telegraph of almost a year ago:

    Cameron takes a step back on grammars
    Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 10/01/2006

    Casting about for a stick with which to beat the resurgent Conservative Party and push it away from the centre ground occupied by himself, Tony Blair has chosen school admissions policy. In recent weeks, the Prime Minister has repeatedly claimed that David Cameron’s Tories would extend academic selection at 11, recreating the invidious divide between grammar schools and secondary moderns. Yesterday Mr Cameron blocked the thrust. Stating that “the Conservative Party … does not want to go back to the 11-plus, does not want to go back to the old grammar school system”, he promised to prevent the opening of new grammar schools.

    The key word here is “back”. In all he does, Mr Cameron’s strategy is to present the Conservatives as the party of the future. He is prepared to jettison any baggage, tear down any idol, to this end. Much as New Labour did in the years before 1997, the Tories are edging as close to the Government’s position as possible in order to diminish any philosophical or policy difference between them – so that voters will face not the difficult alternative of Left or Right, but the easy choice of forwards or backwards.

    Mr Cameron’s announcement was astute politics. But clear-sighted tactics in the short term can mean strategic myopia in the long term. It can also be plain wrong. In restricting the spread of grammar schools, Mr Cameron is repudiating the most successful educational model in our history. The decline of social mobility – a child born poor today is more likely to grow up and stay poor than a child born poor in 1950 – is directly attributable to the introduction of comprehensive education in the 1960s. Nor (as is often claimed) do grammar school pupils excel at the expense of their peers. In the areas, such as Kent and Lincolnshire, where grammars still exist, aggregated school results are better than in areas where they have been abolished: selection improves standards overall. It is fantasy to imagine that a limited extension of streaming in schools, as proposed by the Tories to palliate the ending of grammars, would do the same.

    advertisement
    In 2004, David Willetts, now Mr Cameron’s education spokesman, gave a speech in which he referred to his own schooldays at King Edward VI grammar school in Birmingham. He pointed out that from a single founding school, the King Edward VI foundation grew to six separate schools during the 19th century. That is the sort of dynamism we want to see in our education system today – a myriad new schools catering to the diversity of the population. Stopping schools from controlling their own admissions will limit such dynamism. Yesterday the Tories took a step backwards, not forwards

  3. James said:<>I have long felt that it is not the rich who benefit most from selective education but the poor, and for them a good education can mean a chance to lift themselves out of the poverty trap. Denying this option to bright but poor children has always struck me as being morally corrupt.<>According to Conservative party spokesman (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6658613.stm):<>“We must break free from the belief that academic selection is any longer the way to transform the life chances of bright poor kids,” Mr Willetts will tell business leaders.“We just have to recognise that there is overwhelming evidence that such academic selection entrenches advantage, it does not spread it.”He will say the numbers of poorer children getting into grammar schools is “shockingly low”<>So it appears that grammar schools do not advantage children from poor backgrounds and it is “fantasy” to think selection at age 11 can be fair.I assume you have changed your opinion now your leaders have corrected your misunderstanding of the state education system.

  4. James said:<>I have long felt that it is not the rich who benefit most from selective education but the poor, and for them a good education can mean a chance to lift themselves out of the poverty trap. Denying this option to bright but poor children has always struck me as being morally corrupt.<>According to Conservative party spokesman (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6658613.stm):<>“We must break free from the belief that academic selection is any longer the way to transform the life chances of bright poor kids,” Mr Willetts will tell business leaders.“We just have to recognise that there is overwhelming evidence that such academic selection entrenches advantage, it does not spread it.”He will say the numbers of poorer children getting into grammar schools is “shockingly low”<>So it appears that grammar schools do not advantage children from poor backgrounds and it is “fantasy” to think selection at age 11 can be fair.I assume you have changed your opinion now your leaders have corrected your misunderstanding of the state education system.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s