What other arguments do people have for getting rid of them? I have heard people say that grammar schools are elitist, and that only wealthy people can go because they are the only ones who can afford private tutors.
Rubbish! I went to one. So did my brother. We came from a family where there was always too much month left at the end of the money. My parents often had to choose between paying the bills or putting food on the table. There certainly wasn’t anything to spare for luxuries such as an 11+ tutor. We still earned ourselves a place, and we weren’t the only ones who passed without a tutor – there were children in our class from all walks of life.
It’s still the same now – I know children of single parent families, and parents on benefits who have passed the test in recent years. I have also taught in a grammar school and it certainly wasn’t all rich kids in my classes.
It’s true that many children do have coaching for the 11+ tests, but then they also have coaching for GCSEs and A’ levels too. Should we therefore abolish all exams for all children just because some families can afford to pay for extra help for them? Or close all the schools in more affluent areas? Of course not. So why single out grammar schools?
To be honest it’s not only rich families who pay for tutors. I know families who scrimp and save to pay for a tutor and who go without holidays, or don’t own a car, or don’t drink or smoke so that they can afford tuition fees. It’s called choosing priorities. And at the end of the day, tutored or not, the children still need to pass the exam, and having a tutor is no guarantee.
The final argument against grammar schools? Bright children can do just as well in a comprehensive. I’m sure that the confident ones can, but those who are shy are probably going to get lost. Those who know the answers but who are too timid to put their hand up, and who just quietly get on with their work are probably going to get forgotten.
Enough about why other people are against them. Why am I for them? Find out in Do we still need Grammar Schools (Part 3).