Read comments about life in grammar schools and high schools in selective areas.
The difference in schools is stark
Having experienced both non-selective schools and grammars in Kent I fully understood why parents feel the need to play the game and try for grammars – even if they hate the 11+ system. My daughter went to a high school that did it best, but there were behaviour problems, constant teacher shortages, lots of children from difficult backgrounds. The grammars avoid all this by mostly accepting middle class kids with motivated parents. The problems the high schools face is caused by the grammars! Grammars find it easy to recruit teachers, they admit no difficult kids. This whole system breeds inequality. I was lucky enough to go to a comprehensive school which was a whole lot better as a school system.
“We only have the best of the best here.”
The selective system is divisive. This was demonstrated to me when we attended the open evening at our local grammar school, and the headteacher announced in his welcome speech that, “We only have the best of the best here.” I was appalled. What sort of message is this? If this is the message given in that school, the kids who go there can only end up thinking they are ‘better’ than others like my boy. How is this good for either set of children or for society?
I have a son, currently in Year Five, who is dyslexic. I know that there is simply no point even considering entering him for the grammar school entrance exam as I know he would fail, despite being above average intelligence. It is my understanding that the grammar school makes no allowances for dyslexic children, such as extra time etc. This sends out a rather strong message that these children are not welcome. In Trafford children with SEN seem to be forgotten about, in favour of lauding our grammar school system.
It feels very much like there is an ‘us and them’ situation in Trafford. Those parents whose children pass can feel somewhat superior, while those whose children don’t make it often feel resentful towards those who do. People won’t admit it, but that is the truth of the situation.
It would be so much better if our children could attend an outstanding comprehensive school where they could all receive the best standard of education, but without all the stress and division created by the selective system we experience in Trafford.
As a grammar school girl I think the 11+ should go
Having had the opportunity to attend a grammar school, it’s easy to say that I’m being hypocritical; I’ve benefited from the system and now want to deprive others of the same opportunity. Yet, in reality, this isn’t the case. Whilst the grammar school system may benefit a select few, many more are suffering as a result.
By splitting pupils up, based on a test that actually isn’t fair at all, you essentially split them up into two tiers – those who are intelligent and will do well as a result, and those who won’t. Labelling children like this at such a young age isn’t right, if anything it causes more harm than good. The majority of children are essentially being told that they’re not good enough – which will contribute to the creation of self-fulfilling prophecies. Those who do pass the test are essentially being told that they’re better than everybody else – which too creates more problems further down the line.
If we were aware of the consequences that grammar schools would have when they were proposed, they would rightly be the subject of mass opposition both within Parliament and from the public. They were pitched as a way to increase social mobility, as a way to increase the life chances of everyone, no matter the background they came from. In reality, this isn’t how it is in practice.
Yet, somehow, this reputation is still one that the public believe in.
We’ve come to accept that grammar schools are a good thing because they provide an opportunity to disadvantaged students. Whilst this sounds good in theory, they’re the group that’s most likely to be negatively impacted by the solution that’s supposed to enhance their lives.
But what actually causes this attainment gap? Why can’t disadvantaged students access grammar schools? Why is the test unfair, it’s standardised? The answer to all of these questions is ultimately the 11+ itself, with those from richer and wealthier backgrounds being tutored in order to pass it – with these parents having access to both the material and cultural capital that the test requires. They use sophisticated vocabulary within their households, they have the skills to research the examination itself, and they have the money to get their child tutored. We’re told that it’s impossible to tutor for this test, but this isn’t the case at all. The majority of my year group were tutored to pass the exam, most of them come from households that earn more than the average income. The girls in my year groups often had parents who graduated from University themselves and were working in industries that were skilled based. This isn’t uncommon for the middle classes either, with my town falling on the London commuter belt.
Yes, this isn’t the case for everyone. But it was for a significant amount of people. At my school, the amount of people claiming free school meals is around 13%, nationwide 35% of students are eligible for it. Even with regional and local discrepancies, the number of students eligible is much less than expected in a fair system.
The culture in the school is also an unhealthy one. It’s the one where you’re pushed to apply to Universities and where sixth form students feel entitled to get into Oxbridge. The amount of times that I’ve heard people refer to non-grammar school students as “stupid” is ridiculous. One time, a girl in my year group didn’t get into the University she wished, remarking that “the decision was stacked against her due to her coming from a grammar school,” and that “she didn’t understand why she was rejected, when kids who couldn’t even pass the 11-plus got in.” The grammar school system creates a toxic culture of entitlement to those who pass, with kids assuming that because they were the ‘best’ at passing a test at 11, they deserve the best jobs and access to the highest education institutions.
But grammar schools not only create a sense of entitlement among pupils, but also a fear of failure. The system, and the school that I attend, taught me to believe that getting a ‘C’ was unsatisfactory. I’ve seen students open their report cards and be disappointed to receive this grade, despite it being counted as a pass. The school itself didn’t help with this, instead they pushed the narrative further. Receiving a B or a C often means that you were required to attend tutoring or lunchtime sessions to help push your grade up. The idea that these grades, ones that are perfectly okay to achieve, aren’t; is one that that the school, subconsciously or not, pushes.
Grammar schools existing not only damages the area, with them actively reducing the amount of social mobility that occurs, but also the livelihoods of the students that attend them. They don’t solve any of the problems that they were designed to solve, instead they make them worse. The system doesn’t even work for those that it is designed to help, with grammar school students being pushed into a small academic bubble and, at times, being unable to see the bigger picture or the world around them.
We need an education system that works for all children, no matter their background. An education that both exposes children to, and helps them to prepare, for the world around them. One that moulds students into adults, helping to both further them academically and personally. Grammar schools aren’t the way to do this, with this system actually fuelling the problems within our education system in the first place.
Moving my son out of a grammar school
I went to a comprehensive and it never really occurred to me that in some parts of the country, the grammar school system was still alive and kicking – until I moved to Kent.
And this is where it got difficult. It would be easy to say that I should have stuck to my principles and refused to let my son take the 11-plus and just boycotted grammar schools. But this is much harder than you think. In Kent we do not have a fully comprehensive system. The non-selective schools will tell you that they are comprehensives but they are not. They cannot be all-encompassing and comprehensive if the grammars have skimmed off 30% of the cohort – who are of a certain ability and, controversially, largely of a certain demographic.
So in Kent you cannot simply veto this antiquated system and send your child to your local comprehensive. Because they don’t exist. Additionally, the whole education system is geared around the Kent Test. The primary schools, despite what they say and despite what they’re supposedly not allowed to do, revolve around it – they set practice papers as homework; they go over questions in class; they hold parents’ meetings advising you on how to prepare your child for it; they fill the children’s heads with the build-up to this test. And thus, we have to exist in the system we find ourselves in.
It was not surprising therefore that propaganda – both indirectly from the school and directly from classmates – soon trickled down to my son, convincing him that his future happiness and life prospects depended entirely on his performance in these test papers. So reluctantly I registered him for the Kent Test which he would sit in his own school the following year. I refused to pay for tuition for him and I refused to force him into hours of practising. If he had to be tutored to pass, a grammar school would be the wrong place for him, I reasoned. He went on to pass it, as did most of his close friends. Not letting him go to the boys grammar school with his friends for the sake of my own principles felt at the time like I might be denying him something. Predominantly happiness but also, perhaps a better education. Because for the last few years, other parents around me had done nothing but go on about how “grammar schools are better schools”. So perhaps they were.
It took me a while to realise I had a made a terrible mistake.
Parents who tell you that “Grammar schools are better schools” rarely make any effort to explain exactly what ‘better’ really means. They may well, of course, mention results. But really? Is a school that has creamed off the top performing pupils more likely or less likely to get the best results? The answer is obvious but it still baffles me that most parents can’t get beyond that basic fact.
But those who do often then talk about how children there get a different education, “a grammar school education”, a so-called ‘better’ education. What does that mean? Is it still the 1960s? When kids went to grammar schools to learn Latin and sit O-Levels whereas those in secondary moderns were taught sewing and woodwork and left at 15 with a handful of CSEs? How have they not noticed that it’s not like that now? Hasn’t been for years and years, in fact. Whatever school you’re at, you’ll still be doing the same GCSE curriculum. You’ll still be learning pythagorus and photosynthesis and iambic pentameters. “But they have better teachers in a grammar school,” I’ve heard it said. Again, really? Teachers are teachers. They’re all trained in more or less the same way, to more or less the same level. And there will be both good and bad teachers in any school.
And of course, there is a problem with teacher recruitment and retention nationally. That said however, I’ve met a lot of teachers over the years, especially when I was involved in recruitment as a school governor in London, and I have to say that I have never met so many weak and uninspiring teachers as I met during my son’s time at that grammar school. Quite frankly most of them wouldn’t last a minute in a comprehensive. I got the impression that many had either failed in the normal state sector or were seeking a cushy number. Surely teaching is a vocation, one that is filled with a desire to really make a difference to the lives of children? But these teachers seem to have instead opted for an environment of spoon-feeding – teaching by rote, handing out downloaded worksheets and getting the class to copy stuff down off the board. And in an era where children are used to fast-moving innovative content at the click of a button, teaching like this can no longer cut it. Even in a grammar school.
My son would frequently come home with tales of boys running rings round the weaker teachers, some of them by the time they got to Y11 even jumping out of windows or jumping around the desks, while the teacher sat there totally helpless. Yes, in a grammar school! Staff turnover was thus fairly high and therefore highly disruptive to his education. Many of his teachers didn’t really seem to know him very well at all. One teacher called him completely the wrong name throughout the entire parents meeting, even though he’d taught him for several years. Another one, asked if he was new, despite her teaching him for the whole of the previous year. A friend who is a private tutor says almost all his pupils come from grammars and that it is very evident from his pupils’ existing knowledge that much of the teaching is at best woefully inadequate and in some cases non-existent.
Moreover, the general quality of my son’s education was far from being at a high level. The whole school always felt humdrum, where children seemed to have almost lost their sense of identity, going in and out of the school like factory workers just carrying out their allotted tasks to get by. I never felt a spark of excitement in the school. I never felt anyone was doing anything remotely innovative that I had seen in other schools that weren’t grammars. Education should be inspiring and teachers should be nurturing pupils’ interests and encouraging a lifelong love of learning. But my son never came home excited about a subject – ever. And when I went to parents’ evenings, it was obvious why. Most of his teachers had become result-obsessed who seemed to have lost both their own fascination with their subject and that pedagogic desire to pass on their interest to their pupils. Their only motivation was to get their pupils to a target line that someone somewhere had generated on a graph.
It would be pointless trying to getting the pupils enthused anyhow. Let’s not forget that grammar schools are packed to the rafters with kids who have been trained within an inch of their lives to perform to a very specialised test, and specifically taught not to think outside of the box. Indeed many of these children have had the creativity and initiative sucked out of them. In fact, far from being educated “among the brightest and best” as the grammar school propaganda will have it, my son seemed to being educated among exam robots who were treated like assets in the school’s flotation on the annual league tables.
These are accusations that you could level at some non-grammars, of course, but the problem is significantly worse in grammars because there is a complacency there. They don’t feel the need to try very hard with their pupils because the school results are fine and that seems to be the only thing that drives them. But there are struggling children. Many in fact. Many are struggling because the 11-plus is not a perfect indicator of a child’s educational potential. But many are just struggling because children do struggle with things. They are children, after all. And the grammars are just not set up for dealing with it. Teachers don’t come up with anything innovative to motivate their pupils. They don’t use technology inventively for example. They don’t embrace the kids’ interests and incorporate that into their teaching methods. Their main mantra was always “Come on boys, you’re in a grammar school, you worked your socks off to get here and you should be doing better than this.” Which is not remotely helpful. With this attitude towards pupils’ learning, children will, and did in fact, fall by the wayside. Several of my son’s friends ended up with the absolute bare minimum GCSE grades and a few even left with grade 2s (equivalent of an F, a fail) in English and Maths and are now being forced to retake them. Yes, in a grammar school! The problem is that a few failures in a grammar will have a smaller impact on a grammar whose overall results are already coasting near the top of the league tables, than in a non-selective school where teachers will be doing everything they can to get each child to reach their potential in order to push their school’s position.
And then there’s the pastoral care. Ask any grammar school parent who has had a issue with bullying, fights, friendships or their child’s wellbeing and mental health, and they will all tell you the same: The school were totally ineffective in resolving it. Indeed poor pastoral care seems to be just accepted as part of the grammar school system. A pay-off if you like for the supposed ‘better’ education. In fact it seems that they have no effective system in place for dealing with anything outside their remit of getting students through exams. And there’s a reason for this. They don’t need to. Schools who don’t deal with behaviour issues soon find themselves in very hot water. Parents go to the press, they talk on social media, a school gets a bad reputation, numbers fall, staff leave, results drop, the school gets a bad Ofsted report, its reputation plunges further, its roll totally dwindles and it’s not long before it faces Special Measures and potential closure. I know this only too well as it happened to my old school a number of years after I left. It started with only a handful of parents complaining to the local paper but took only a couple of years for the all the above to happen. The school has now gone. The site is currently being sold off for housing. But grammar schools don’t have to worry about any of this. None of it will ever happen to them. Parents can complain all they like, they can remove their children, there can be huge stories about bad behaviour in the local paper, but there will always be hundreds of parents clamouring for every available place. Fifty children could leave in one day and they’d fill those places by the next. So why waste energy on coming up with effective strategies and programmes to deal with those extra challenges?
I sought help from the school when my son finally revealed to me that he had been the victim of a long bullying campaign culminating in a video posted by a fellow pupil on YouTube mocking him. The school simply said there was nothing they could do as it wasn’t a school matter. The video was being shared around the school and he was coming home in a state of significant distress. Still not a school matter, apparently. And also, did I not think my son was being a bit overly dramatic about it? Other parents will tell you similar stories. Later in his time there, my son was suffering with mental health issues and took a number of days off. I felt reassured when the school offered him counselling. But I was stunned when after a few weeks, I was told the counselling was being discontinued as his attendance had now improved and the issue was now resolved, revealing of course that their strategy had never been about my son but rather their attendance figures.
There’s a general perception that bad behaviour does not exist in grammar schools whereas secondary moderns are hotbeds of anarchy and pandemonium with out-of-control kids lads chucking chairs at teachers. Perhaps a concept generated by various 1960s film and TV shows. But if parents really believe that sending their child to a grammar school will shield them from any unruly behaviour then they are in for a rude awakening. At my son’s school there were regular fights, punchings, kickings and regular incidents of kids smashing windows, setting off smoke bombs, chanting racist insults, getting high at lunch – much of which was was never properly dealt with. Schools with challenging pupils will dedicate time and energy to ensure behaviour does not impact on pupils’ learning and affect results, but grammar schools sitting comfortably at the top of the league tables won’t bother and so behaviour issues are often left to just bubble along.
There was an additional element of behavioural issues too at the grammar school – one of elitism. Several teachers would frequently say “If you don’t do homework, you will end up at [name of neighbouring non-selective school] which is full of all the thick kids”. This still shocks me when I think about this. It goes against everything that schools should be teaching about inclusion. Rather than teaching about equality and tolerance, they are sowing division and entitlement. It is reinforced in many grammar schools each morning in assemblies where they are told they are in one of the best schools in the country. This is utterly wrong and is doing nothing but breeding a generation of kids who think they are above the rest. Add this to the all-boys environment and you’ve got a potential problem with misogyny too.
I know there was a pack mentality at my son’s school and was one of the reasons my son was so miserable there. The boys’ general attitude to girls was horrendous and highly sexualised, if not threatening. Now in a mixed school, my son says the attitude of the boys is significantly different towards girls and is certain that the predatory culture was entirely down to segregation. My elder daughter attended a different boys grammar school for Sixth Form and there was an incident when the year group were told they were having a talk about consent. A large bunch of boys started loudly objecting saying they didn’t need the talk as their social class weren’t the rapists! They were shouted down by a small group of horrified girls.
My son spent five years at his grammar school. Most of it in utter misery. Many times he begged me to let him leave but I was worried about the impact of moving him to a non-grammar in the middle of his education. In the run-up to his GCSEs he and I looked round a nearby non-selective school for Sixth Form and the difference to me was astonishing. There was none of that complacency at the open evening. They weren’t bombarding parents with an arrogant show of results but rather explaining what they would do to support pupils and inspire them to reach their potential. My son attended the induction day and I am not exaggerating in saying that I saw him return from school with a smile on his face for the first time in a very long time.
He did well in his GCSEs and his grammar school told him he was making a big mistake not staying on. I was told the same thing. Friends told me that he wouldn’t be challenged, that he wouldn’t be around like-minded people, that it would look bad on his university application. But it was all nonsense. Like much of the myths around grammar schools.
Since September, my son has been a totally different child. For a long time his low mood had overshadowed everything – he rarely spoke without anger and resentment and I was genuinely very concerned about his wellbeing. He was motivated to do nothing but sit in front of his Playstation but now it’s like his mood has cruised up 20 new levels. Suddenly a spark has been ignited in him. He actually whistles around the house, he hardly powers up his console and even asks me about my day. Every day he comes home and tells me excitedly about everything he’s learned, about his new friends, about the discussions he’s had in class, about his teachers. And then he phones his grandparents and tells them. He seeks out extra information on the history topics he’s learning and is constantly talking about the English books he’s reading. I’m aware it’s early days and this could still be a novelty factor, but it’s given me a chance to really reflect on how destructive the grammar system was on him. There is much talk about the effects on those who fail the 11-plus but this divisive test is creating a huge rift in educational practices across the board and is deeply damaging both those who pass as well as those who fail.
Round here, children are continually judged by what school they attend. People will ask you what school your child is at and they make an immediate assessment. “Oh jolly good,” they will say if your child is at a grammar, “that’s a very good school.”. But answer with a rather sheepish “Oh well, I’ve heard there’s a good bus service there,” if you say your child is at a non-selective school. My son says he now feels the eyes of other children as he walks to the bus stop, feeling that they are judging him, making assumptions that he got kicked out of the grammar for bad GCSE grades. He says he feels the urge to justify his move, to tell them he’s really happy now. But he shouldn’t have to justify it. And he shouldn’t be being judged like this.
Recently I asked my neighbour what school her grand-daughter was at. We were chatting about our family and it seemed like a natural question but she seemed to suddenly tense and immediately started to tell me how her grandchild had done the 11-plus, had only missed out by two marks but had been put into the “grammar stream” at the local non-selective school. This wasn’t what I’d asked and I felt angry that our system is forcing not just children but their parents and grandparents into these ridiculous defensive positions where they feel they are being judged. Britain is one the most class-divided countries in the world and perhaps as a consequence of this, people are obsessed with fitting people into boxes, often on the basis of a very short conversation. In Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw wrote, “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.” He was talking about accents but it could easily be extended to be about someone’s education.
It’s very rare that people ask if your child is happy, is enjoying their learning, is being inspired to learn, is being challenged, is being nurtured, is being protected, is being taught about respect for all others despite their differences. But they should. Because these are the things that are significantly more important than the name of their school.
A wonderful, inclusive, school experience is being denied to my children
I was educated in Sussex, a fully comprehensive area. Many of my peers achieved outstanding results at O level, went on to the local sixth form (the old grammar school) and onto to top universities including Oxford and Cambridge. The school also supported the less able children really well. We even had a thriving school farm.
When I moved to Bucks it saddened me to know that my own wonderful, fully inclusive, school experience was being denied to my own children. All my Year Six peers came up with me from our primary school to the local comprehensive.
I now have two daughters at two different schools – one at a grammar school, one at an upper school – and I am already seeing the inequity of selection. Upper schools have to work hard at raising the confidence of their new year 7s. They don’t seem to have access to the deep pockets of parents, ex-parents and alumni of the grammar schools. They also have children joining throughout the year, and in the town of High Wycombe, many of these children have little or no English. This simply does not happen in the grammar schools.
To me, the selective education system embeds disadvantage throughout the process: up to and then beyond the 11-plus exam.
What is the point of all the stress, pressure and divisiveness imposed on our ten year olds if the outcomes are just as good at comprehensive schools?
The first I knew about children in Maidenhead attending selective schools in neighbouring Buckinghamshire was when an estate agent congratulated me for viewing a house in the “grammar school catchment”. I looked down at my three-year-old and one-year-old and thought that we had a long way to go until we had to worry about secondary education. I had attended my local comprehensive as had my husband and we were both quite satisfied with our schooling, progressing on to degree courses and professional careers. We had assumed our children would take the same route.
Sooner than I had anticipated, wherever there were mothers, there were conversations on the topic. At the school gate, whilst watching swimming lessons, at coffee mornings or Book Group the chat inevitably came round to ‘11-plus’, ‘grammar schools’, ‘tutoring’. My daughter was given a verbal reasoning test papers book for her seventh birthday by a well-meaning party guest’s parent!
There were rumours of who was trying for grammar school, who had passed, whether the catchment area had changed, which grammar was best-regarded. There were whisperings of who had been admitted, who was going to appeal or retry through the 12-plus.
When my eldest was in Year Five I received a phone-call from one classmate’s mother. She wanted to know if we were embarking on the 11-plus and was surprised when I said no. “But you’re bound to do the best for your child, you’ll be holding her back by denying her a grammar school opportunity.”
As mums talked so did the children. So, to be fair we took our eldest to the grammar school open evening. Her review was, “They’re rather stuck up and go on a lot about rowing”, so that was the end of our brief flirtation with the concept of selective education.
Meanwhile some went to private tutors, missed after-school clubs or declined invitations to tea. Family life was placed on hold in some households for the 11-plus. And then the results arrived – some happy families, some disappointments and one successful child said to another who had failed, “I’ll go to a better school and university and get a better job and drive a better car than you.” And there were still eight months of Year Six to enjoy together!
My daughter went to the local comprehensive and her friend went a Buckinghamshire grammar. Seven years elapsed at that comprehensive school during which time she went from child to being a young, confident woman, gained great GCSEs grades, took leadership and mentoring roles through the house system, participated in musicals and plays, sang at the Royal Albert Hall and to our local MP (soon to become the PM) at the inauguration of the new drama studio, played hockey on the astro-turf, mixed with a variety of ethnicities, abilities and backgrounds, went on visits to Oxford, Reading and Royal Holloway universities. I ended up wondering what more she could have possibly benefited from if she had gone to a grammar?
So, fast-forward to summer 2016: The grammar school girl got her predicted grades and went to her first choice Russell Group University, as did my daughter. And I am left questioning – what was the point of all that stress, pressure and divisiveness imposed on our ten year olds if the outcomes are just as good at our comprehensive schools?
No-one can say this is a fair system
Our first child came home from school one day asking when she was starting her tutoring… “Everyone else has started”. We hadn’t planned on tutoring – we don’t believe the selective system is right, and there are better things for our kids to be doing at the age of 10, and surely the school is doing the formal educating?
Family assumed she would ‘pass’ (we both had), and friends said she will get into the school that is right for her. She did not ‘pass’, and we sent her to the secondary modern school of her choice. By day two she was bored and disenchanted. By month two we were in the school asking if she could be challenged more, to be met by the response that she was on course for the grades predicted by their computer system and as that was fine they had no further ideas.
We began exploring all options before caving into the inevitable, and putting her through the 12-plus. We made sure she knew she might not pass, and that even if she did there was no guarantee of a place at our nearest grammar school (five minutes walk from our house). She passed! But we then had to go through the quite extraordinarily complex appeals process.
I sat with 20 other desperate people in that County Hall room listening to the Council explaining why the inclusion of our girls in our preferred grammar school would mean an unsatisfactory education for the 1000+ others. One of the parents had his lawyer with him. Having been through it once before he had sworn never to do it again without legal representation! I would never have got to that stage without a circle of informed friends, the confidence to network, access to online forums, the ability to string a sentence together, a job which enabled me to flex off for meetings and the aspiration for better for my kids.
My daughter was one of three students to be accepted. She settled straight in at the grammar school. Two years on she is on track for great grades, but more importantly is engaged, interested and challenged in her education. We know how lucky we are.
Our second child has also been unsuccessful in getting into the grammar school within walking distance, and as we could not face a repeat experience, he attends a secondary modern much further from home, and away from friends. The school ethos is fantastic, with a clear strategy for stretching, encouraging and inspiring. The problem… as a secondary modern they are facing a dire recruitment challenge, with many lessons taught by supply teachers. So we are about to fill in the forms for the 13+ to try to get him into the school he can walk to.
This situation has not been about choice for us. We knew the system was flawed but cannot move out of the area. We know the system is not about intelligence, but it has designated our kids as being better suited to one style of education than another – it is totally untrue but as a result it consigned them both, for different reasons, to flawed experiences.
It is totally naive to think that the system does not impact on the self-esteem of entire families, or that secondary modern schools can provide the same level of experience as grammar schools where alumni and parents are ploughing thousands of pounds a year into the PTAs.
Our young people continue to be categorised into haves and have-nots by means of a test at a point in time, which makes no allowance for the benefits of learning and the natural development of maturity and ability to learn. No-one can say that this is a fair system, or a system that encourages social advancement for all. Shame on a society that allows this to happen.
Grammar schools are not better schools
For my career sake I have to watch what I say but I am a strong advocate for the abolition of the 11+. I came to a grammar seeing complacency, poor teaching, leadership and pastoral care for students. I hoped to change the schools into genuinely outstanding ones by shaking up the system and moving away from the old ‘chalk and talk’. In some regards I feel I have had success with my own team but I have learned that grammar schools are an institution built on social elitism and me asking the hard questions prevents me from being able to have a position higher in the organisation.
I just read some parent comments on this site and had to say I agree whole heartedly that grammar schools are not better schools. Im fact they are worse institutions than almost every comp I have encountered.
I just had to air my frustrations and sadness that leadership teams and many staff go unchallenged delivering mediocrity in abundance.
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