Thursday, 29 May 2014

Grammar schools: the Myth (Letter, 16/12/13)

Tory views of grammar schools have long needed  challenging, if not repudiating; well done Michael Wilshaw! (Independent,16/12/13) Of course, as David Davis says,many working class students achieved success in such schools, and were given opportunites of advancement, but how many were denied one, and instead, given an inferior education in a secondary modern, because a test at the age of 11 had designated them as having no potential. In comprehensive schools, created in the knowledge that students` intelligence and potential continue to develop after 11, all pupils get an "opportunity". Examination results were not as good as they should have been; in my two-form entry grammar school, half of the pupils were immediately written off and put into the B stream, where the teachers were even less enthusiastic, the subjects, naturally, "less academic", and the results woeful. Wilshaw`s analysis, for once, can be supported by most teachers.
 The recent laudation of grammar schools was to be expected because it is increasingly being realised that their return is the whole point, along with personal political ambition, of Gove`s examination reforms; schools with only 20% of their pupils capable of examination success will be forced to adopt less rigorous curricula, whilst schools with 80% will force out the minority so they can concentrate on topping spurious league tables. Disappointingly, the penny has yet to drop in all political circles, hardly surprising perhaps, when so few of our opposition politicians are able to respond to such Tory propaganda, largely because of their own education in private schools.

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