On a day when news broke about the Tories allowing another selective grammar school to be set up in Kent, it was refreshing to read some common sense about education from Melissa Benn and Lucy Powell (Morning Star,15/10/15).
Tory views of grammar schools have long needed challenging, if not repudiating. Of course, many working class students achieved success in such schools, and were given opportunities 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". Results, despite the selection process, were never 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.
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 Tory propaganda about education, largely because of their own education in private schools. Hopefully, Powell`s promotion will see things change, as clearly the Kent decision could be just the start. At least, we should not see again Tristram Hunt`s nonsense about "character and resilience" being the preserve of the privileged any more!