Thursday, 8 September 2016

Grammatical Errors

Believe in anything more than an extension of an existing grammar school (and therefore, by definition, in a local authority area that already had them), when you see it, and not one second before.

What does Theresa May propose to do in order to get this legislation through? Abolish the House of Lords? Or abolish the House of Commons?

As anything other than a doomed backbench amendment, if that, this will never reach the floor of either House.

And that, please note, is nothing more than an attempt to allow existing grammar schools to expand, only into areas of economic deprivation (nothing to do with academic selection), with a quota of pupils on free school meals (nothing to do with academic selection), and only "if local parents want it".

How will such demand be measured? In, through and as the local Labour Party, the unions, Momentum, and so on, the opponents will be able to shout very loudly indeed.

It is never going to happen.

So much for the ridiculous suggestion that 1950s institutions can be conjured back up out of thin air, to employ this country's existing glut of Classics masters and school cap manufacturers.


  1. You want to teach Classics. I mean, I know *you* don't. But you want the subject to be taught.

    1. Oh, yes. But that happy restoration would take time.

  2. How many people have met you and assumed you were a master in a public school?

    1. I have been getting that ever since I graduated, and occasionally even before. Often at first sight. I have no idea why. I didn't even go to one.

  3. You're right, get up a petition of people who failed the 11 plus, think they would have done if they had been old enough to sit it, were never allowed to sit it, think their children or grandchildren would fail it, or just hate the Tories. Problem solved: "no local demand", "overwhelming public opposition". There'll never be one, not one. We can win these battles in our sleep. Plus, as you say, Parliament will never pass this.

  4. 50 years ago, 50% of Oxbridge students were public-school educated. It has barely changed today. What is different is that 50 years ago nearly all the other students were from grammar schools. Now they are nearly all from comprehensives.

    Since there is no quota system at Oxbridge, it follows that state school educated students are as good today (with comprehensives) as 50 years ago (with grammars).

    Grammar schools have never taken the "most intelligent", they've taken the ones who've done best in a single test that isn't linked to intelligence, ability or potential.

    If you have selection of say the top 20% in the test, then the four times as many will have a poorer education, including the 30% who are better than average.

    Topslicing like this doesn't take into account variability between years, so in some years less able pupils will qualify compared to those who would have done so in other years.

    If places are being determined by whoever can buy into the postcode then deal with that problem, rather than slicing education into thinner and thinner slices. School should be a consistent quality product where ever you go, so that postcode lotteries aren't needed.

    1. Everyone who thinks they were in the top 50% thinks they would have gone to grammar school, everyone who thinks their child is in the top 50% thinks their child would go to grammar school.

      But as you say, it was not like that then and it would not be like that now. I remember being in the top stream of a secondary modern and having to get truly fit in order to punch the living daylights out of those who had pursued me so mercilessly. Thus were the borderline students served, and thus would the borderline students be served.

  5. I don't see how you can just 'invent' a new grammar school. The point of the grammar schools was their long heritage and often, foundation trust status - public schools without fees.

    You can't produce a tradition of excellence out of a sorting-hat. There is already a dire shortage of teachers nationally. Where are these elite teachers to be found, if not creamed off from the best secondary schools? How do you create new recreational space in an urban environment, or are only computer games to be on the curriculum? Is the plan to take existing schools and rebrand them, or simply introduce nationwide entry testing for academy places?

    Children don't stop adolescing while the government of the day buggers about with the system, you have to decide where to send them based on what's out there now, not on glowing ministerial fantasies of yesteryear.

    I was brought up in Leicestershire, my sister who is now 70 was the last year to sit the 11+, but she was never given the results.

    The reason was that the Conservative County Council decided that selection disadvantaged poorer pupils because in an era of full employment those failing the 11+ who then went to Secondary Moderns were much more likely to come under pressure to leave school at 15 and get a job.

    Leicester City Council, run by a Labour administration, kept selection until all education was combined under the one authority after local government reorganisation in the 1970s by the Heath Government. Which the current Conservatives have also unpicked, I note.

    The local Grammar School continued to be called that until the mid 70s when it became a community college named after some poet no one had ever heard of and is now an "Academy". Teaching was excellent and cooperated with the Nuffield Foundation in the sciences.

    I don't think the Tory County Councillors of 1950s Leicestershire were pinko leftie fellow travellers.

  6. I was at a grammar school in an outer London borough in the 60s. Out of over a thousand kids there were THREE from council houses. The rest lived exclusively in the "better part" of the borough - some from the better parts of the surrounding boroughs.