Grammar schools are not just socially divisive – they’re deeply ineffective | The Guardian

'Grammar schools rarely educate young people from low income backgrounds – just 3% of their pupils receive free school meals – so they exacerbate social divisions rather than easing them.’ [Image: Bloomberg/Getty Images.]

‘Grammar schools rarely educate young people from low income backgrounds – just 3% of their pupils receive free school meals – so they exacerbate social divisions rather than easing them.’ [Image: Bloomberg/Getty Images.]

Ex-MP Lynne Jones, who lives near This Writer, tweeted, “Maybe it’s good we’re having debate on grammars. If PM really believes in helping disadvantaged, she should abolish.”

Read the following, and agree.

Perhaps the biggest question right now is: Is this debate simply a smokescreen to distract attention from the infernal catastrophe that still calls itself, with increasing lack of meaning, Brexit?

Grammar schools are the education policy that will not die. The evidence that they harm poorer children’s life chances is clear, but the residual belief among many that somehow they promote social mobility remains stubbornly resistant to the facts.

It’s not difficult to understand why. Many people in politics and the media benefited from a grammar education themselves and feel it formed the basis of their success. They genuinely want to offer that opportunity to others whose parents can’t afford a private school or the expensive catchment area of a popular comprehensive. The problem is that for every success story there are far more hidden examples of lost potential.

The fact is that grammar schools rarely educate young people from low income backgrounds – just 3% of their pupils receive free school meals – so they exacerbate social divisions rather than easing them. Combined, Grammar schools educate just 9,000 low-income pupils. That’s fewer than the number of low-income pupils in Bradford. And this is why education experts are united in opposing them.

But even if a way could be found for more poor pupils to benefit from grammars they would still be a bad idea. The fundamental assumption behind selective schools is that only a small percentage of the population can truly benefit from an academic education.

Not only is this not true but it’s economically dangerous.

Source: Grammar schools are not just socially divisive – they’re deeply ineffective | Sam Freedman | Opinion | The Guardian

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4 thoughts on “Grammar schools are not just socially divisive – they’re deeply ineffective | The Guardian

  1. Barry Davies

    Grammar school debate is nothing to do with Brexit, and under the old system many people from poorer backgrounds benefitted from them being there as it closed the gap between state and public schools, additionally no one was receiving free school meals when they were open, so that is a non argument. There is no reason why the educationally gifted should have to miss out because of political dogma which wrongly believes the more clever pupils will drag along those less gifted, in fact there is years of evidence that prove the opposite.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      No, Grammar schools are nothing to do with Brexit, but it seems possible they are being used as a distraction away from Brexit.
      No, people from poorer backgrounds didn’t benefit from them – or at least, not enough to make it worthwhile. Check the statistics and you’ll see this is correct.
      Grammar schools never stopped being around, so your comment about free school meals is incorrect.

  2. Tim

    With Brexit and goodness knows how many other problems I find it odd that May has pushed forward the Grammar school thing so quickly. Obviously she must have had this pre-prepared and up her sleeve for a while.

    Personally I disagree with categorising pupils in the way the old Grammar school system did as well as the way funding was allocated to massively favour Grammar school pupils was concerned. I actually went to a Grammar school and my sister went to a Secondary Modern. Everybody at my school was issued with individual text books for all subjects whereas my sister had to share one book with two, or even three, other pupils: my classes were small and my sister’s large; I studied physics, chemistry, biology and a foreign language and my sister did very elementary general science, domestic science and similar. My teachers were also generally much better than the lackadaisical ones that taught sis.

    In short because my school called itself a “Grammar” it was well funded and equipped whereas the opposite was true for my sister’s run down and poorly funded “non-Grammar”. Just as a private education opens doors the mere fact of being selected to go to a Grammar definitely gave me a completely undeserved leg up in life as far as jobs and career were concerned which my sister didn’t enjoy which was wrong.

    Although I did fairly well in later life and enjoyed reasonably well paid secure work my sister later exceeded me by starting her own business, a company that now has five branches and employs about thirty people. She’s much better off and much more of a success now than I could ever hope to be.

    So whatever May says all of that will happen again with funding and kudos lavished on the Grammar School boys and High School girls, based on tests taken at a few points in their lives, and the opposite as per all the other in the state system which simply cannot be right, or good, or just.

    If Grammars did better it was because they were funded and staffed better.

  3. NMac

    This is just one of the Tory ways of keeping working class people down. They don’t want a well educated population.

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