Do we still need grammar schools? (Part 1)

I’m going to say something controversial today. I’m probably going to come under attack from several angles. I may be vilified and I may never be welcomed into many social circles again, but I’m going to say it anyway. It’s this: I’m in favour of grammar schools [straps on hard hat and ducks below the parapet].

Why am I in favour of them? In my mind the question is, “Why would anyone be against them?”

I have heard people say the 11+ is unfair because you can’t tell at such a young age who the brightest children are. I have also heard people complain that the grammar schools cream off the brightest children. Well, I’m sorry but they can’t have it both ways. Either the grammar schools are creaming off the brightest pupils, in which case you can tell at 11, or you can’t tell at 11, but then the grammar schools can’t be accused of depriving the comprehensives of the brighter children.

Then there is the argument that grammar schools are unfair because they put non-grammar schools at a disadvantage in the league tables. Well, that’s a great reason to abolish them, right?

“We have a school here full of children who really want to work, and who study hard, and it consistently outperforms all the other schools in the area. What should we do with it?”

“My goodness! It sounds like a terrible school – let’s close it down!”

Does that sound sensible? What would happen if the top three football teams in the Premier League had to be closed down at the end of every season? Would the teams try as hard? What if Manchester United was abolished just because it does so well, so that the players could be distributed amongst the other teams?

If the school league tables put non-grammar schools at such an unfair disadvantage, then it’s the league tables system that needs looking at – not the top performing schools. But that’s a whole other topic for a blog post.

Related posts: Do we still need Grammar Schools (part 2)   Do we still need Grammar Schools Part 3