Looks like people are blaming the downward spiral of pupil behaviour on the closing of Grammar Schools…doesn’t really work when you consider that places like Kent and Lincolnshire have never really stopped having them. I mean I took my eleven-plus as did my classmates who all considered it normal.
(Quick explanation of Grammar Schools for my American readers: all British pupils go to primary school from age four/five to eleven. It used to be nationally but now in some regions in the first and second term of your final year at primary school you can opt to take the ‘eleven-plus test’ which are a series of verbal reasoning tests. The pass mark depends on the catchment area you live in and also how many other pupils do how well, when I took it the pass mark within catchment was 330, because I lived in a rural area most pupils were out of catchment and so I went to school with kids who’d scored into the 400s on that test. If you pass you can choose to go to a ‘grammar school’, ie. a state run school that is academically biased.)
I am in favour of Grammar Schools generally, I realise that this may confuse people who are aware of my left wing tendancies. I do think that selective education helps bright, academic pupils go further, however people’s perception of selective education does not help average and non-academic pupils. I also think that people aren’t taking into account that most grammar schools have smaller class sizes that your average comprehensive. Yes one-size fits all is not a valid way to run an education system, however until you persuade some people and especially some parents that the local comprehensive is not second best or for the ‘thick’ kids then you will always come up against the argument that grammar schools are elitist and snobby.
Lower class sizes across the board, provide individualised education but for gods sakes get rid of the atmosphere that led to friends at parties on being asked what school we went to pretending that we went to the local comprehensive, or just saying ‘Royston Vasey’ leaving the question of whether it was ‘Royston Vasey Grammar School’ out of the question.
NB Again to Americans the place I went to school was not called Royston Vasey Grammar school except on one memorable day when Q-Boy changed the sign, its another referential nickname of mine. Accept it, move on.
Face it state-run education does not need brand spanking new packages that look good on paper and leave teachers cowering behind the paperwork (which my Mother is currently tormenting me with) what it needs are more teachers so that every child is educated in a class of about 25 to 30 pupils any bigger and they get lost and its so much for individualised education.
Get rid of the notion that still permeates among parents and teachers that comprehensive pupils need to have lower aspirations academically that grammar pupils, it’s bollocks, the teaching style just needs to differ not necessarily the objectives. Elitism is about exclusion where as I see combining grammar schools and comprehensives as being about inclusion; including all pupils in an education devised appropriately for them.