Allison Pearson in Telegraph about why grammar schools best

(93 Posts)
PollyParanoia Thu 11-Nov-10 16:28:52

I have to say I think this is poorly written, even without me going into my (somewhat confused) thoughts about grammar schools. Do agree with her about the hypocrisy of so many of our elite sending kids to faith schools.
And, ooo, the readers' comments are a bit scary, but then what was I expecting?

stoatsrevenge Thu 11-Nov-10 19:09:25

So if selection doesn’t work, why are the Prime Minister and 70 per cent of his Cabinet products of selective education?

60% of the cabinet were 'selectively' educated at the following establishments....
Eton, Westminster, st pauls, Charterhouse, Westminster, Brentwood, Rugby, Wellington, Radley, St Georges, Cheltenham Ladies', HMS Conway

What is she going on about?!

Clary Thu 11-Nov-10 23:23:24

Yes, since when is Eton a grammar school????

Or is she just in favour of lots of money to pay for your school? Makes no sense at all.

Litchick Fri 12-Nov-10 08:55:47

Eton may not be a grammar school but it is certainly selective.

I think what AP is trying to say, is that it is bloody hypocritical to campaign against academically selective state schools, when your own children are going to attend private selective schools or schools that are selective by stealth ie faith schools or schools in very expensive catchments.

PollyParanoia Fri 12-Nov-10 12:43:51

Yes agree with Litchick that's what she's trying to say but don't think she says it v well.
Her kids are in private schools, whether this is relevant or not I don't know.
Still have big reservations about grammar schools though I know if I were in a grammar school area I'd probably be tutoring my y2 kid already...

sue52 Fri 12-Nov-10 12:45:49

Politicians adjust their political stance to suit their own children's needs. Tony Blair sent his boys to the Oratory but he himself later converted to Catholicism. I wonder if Clegg, currently an Atheist, will do the same. He does seem to change his mind about firmly held beliefs rather easily.

inkyfingers Fri 12-Nov-10 19:20:52

Nick Clegg's wife is a committed Catholic, so that'll be Nick's get-out clause for sending kids to a church school (it was David Milliband's too, I think).

I have mixed feelings about it: I don't mind comprehensive but want my DC to be with pupils who want to learn and have teachers who are ambitious for them. Don't care about their class or accent.

The grammar school system means the secondary modern system too - those who DON'T pass 11+. Show me a product of the secondary modern system (85% of pupils at the time) who is campaigning to bring back selection. How can you build an education system that is geared towards a well-educated elite to run the country, the legal profession, BBC and stuff the other pupils who'll be happy to make the tea and do the plumbing because 'they're good with their hands' arrgghh.

Prinnie Fri 12-Nov-10 20:11:52

I read a very interesting article today about how the comprehensive system actually produces a more imbalanced form of selection than the old system as the new form of 'selection' is - 'can your parents afford a house in the catchement area of a good school?'.

The article cited the German system as a good system where you have 3 tiers of school - proper grammar schools for the very brightest, a middle ground school which is both academic but also vocational and then a third tier of proper vocational training schools for learners who are really suited to that kind of thing early on. I don't know any more about it than that so would happily be put right/told more, but to me it sounded like a better system than the one we have currently. Children aren't all the same, they have different needs - surely it is better to tailor their education to their needs?

inkyfingers Fri 12-Nov-10 20:27:24

Prinnie - I'm inclined to agree. But I hear so little about the education offered to the others, plus those who failed 11+ and had to prove themselves and work extra hard, that it makes me wonder if the old system had only a few 'winners'. FWIW the 1944 education act had those 3 types of schools - grammar, SM, and technical colleges, but ended in for most pupils being a choice between the first two.

Clary Fri 12-Nov-10 23:55:34

Actually education is tailored to different needs within the comprehensive system.

As an example, I work at a secondary school, and the students have the chance in yr 11 to do a course which involves them in a day-release once a week to do vehicle maintenance.

OTOH if they want they can do GCSE Music or French and go on to do the same at A-Level.

There are students who want to get married at 16, some who want to leave and go to beauty college, some who want to be car mechanics, yes, some who want to compose music, some who want to go to uni and study brain surgery or law.

Oh and teachers soooo much better than those at my grammar school 30 years ago. It's a total eye-opener.

peteneras Sat 13-Nov-10 01:40:00

My greatest problem is not so much with the politicians in this context but some of the faith (Catholic) schools. I’ve no quarrels with the Catholic Church but I’ve lots of disgust and contempt for some of the Catholic schools. They are the biggest hypocrites on God’s earth!

According to the Joint Guidance on Admissions for the Governing Bodies of Catholic Voluntary Aided Schools published by the combined Archdiocese of Westminster, Archdiocese of Southwark and the Diocese of Brentwood, a non-practising, two-parent Catholic family has a higher priority and claim to a Catholic school place than a single-practicing Catholic parent of a two-parent family. In other words, Tony Blair’s children would never have entered the London Oratory if he was just an ordinary Mr. T. Blair before his conversion. But true to their hypocritical form, the London Oratory would gladly admit the Blair children because he was an important minister.

Some may say Tony Blair had always wanted to be a Catholic anyway. Yes, but it was inconvenient for him to covert whilst still aspiring to be, and eventually becoming, Prime Minister. There would be constitutional problems for a Catholic to become Prime Minister in the UK. So, it’s a matter of “my career comes first and God comes second” when it suited him. Apparently, he went to see the Pope just before he converted when pushed out of office later. Why? Does it mean he’d stand at the top of the queue in front of the Pearly Gates when his time comes?

My partner converted to Catholicism when we got married (we never saw the Pope) and my son (therefore, born and bred a Catholic) was refused a place at the London Oratory because we were “not Catholic enough” in spite of the fact that the family regularly attended church and our parish priest supported our application 110 percent.

So, Nick Clegg, an Atheist and an unprincipled man ( No Student Fee Increase Pledge) put your son’s name down at the London Oratory and you’ll be guaranteed a place.

onceamai Sat 13-Nov-10 08:56:14

I went to grammar school. I had a fabulous education. My classmates included the local doctor's daughters, the local bank manager's daughters, local bus driver's daughters, local shop keeper's daughters, ticket office daughter's, the farmer's daughter and the farm labourer's daughters.

It provided a setting where all bright girls were able to receive the same education and intellectually were treated as equals and given, by virtue of their intelligence, the same opportunities to succeed.

It was three form entry, it was nurturing, I don't remember anything ever getting nicked and there was very little bullying.

It was Kent in the 70's. My best friend from primary went to secondary mod; she went to the tech for O'Levels and A'Levels. Admittedly a year behind me she went to uni and is now a very successful lawyer. Her children go to grammar school. grin

I though Alison Pearson's article was on the nail - she also listed a number of very successful people from very moderate backgrounds who succeeded because of the opportunities afforded to them by grammar schools.

seeker Sat 13-Nov-10 09:03:09

I haven't yet readthe article yet, but I just wanted to say that if grammar schools were ever a way for clever children from disadvantaged backgrounds to step up out of disadvantage, then they certainly aren't now. They are now a way to give the privileged children of middle class parents even more privilege, and to perpetuate social divide. You only have to look at the FSM statistics to realize that.

onceamai Sat 13-Nov-10 09:04:58

Seeker - it wasn't like that though when there was a grammar school in every town.

seeker Sat 13-Nov-10 09:07:19

I suspect it was, though - although I can't prove it!

But the fact remains that it is now. Grammar schools perpetuate privilege and also have a negative effect on the non-selective schools in the area.

sethstarkaddersmum Sat 13-Nov-10 09:09:34

agree with Seeker. They used to be. They aren't now.
My parents and MIL all came from working class backgrounds and went to grammars. My dad's grammar was in a coalmining area and the children included a lot of miners children as well as the local doctor's etc. It is now a sink comprehensive - bad education for everyone.

Seeker/ Seth - actually a recent Sutton Trust report found the grammar schools are more diverse than top comprehensives schools.

DinahRod Sat 13-Nov-10 09:22:12

Unless you have one secondary serving one town, then it's all selective - based on 11+, religion, wealth of parents buying into the right catchment or paying to go private.

My father gets phone calls from prospective parents saying if we buy a house in this road will we get into your school.

seeker Sat 13-Nov-10 09:23:20

jackstarbright - so not very diverse at all, then!

sethstarkaddersmum Sat 13-Nov-10 09:26:39

didn't know about that Sutton Trust report Jack. I like the Sutton Trust.

I still think more needs to be done to make grammars more diverse though.... when you read the threads about 11+ preparation it is clear the children without supportive and clued-up parents have very little chance. Whereas in mum's and MIL's families it was 'Your dd has passed the 11+!' 'Oh, has she?'

And I hate the attitude that selection by ability is worse than selection by house price.

Bonsoir Sat 13-Nov-10 09:31:50

onceamai - I also went to a Kent grammar school in the 1970s, though, by dint of fate, didn't stay long.

I remember many girls in my class having free uniforms, free school meals and living in council housing; there was also the daughter of the headmaster of the nearest boys' public school and many daughters of the professional middle-classes.

DinahRod Sat 13-Nov-10 09:33:13

The 11+ doesn't rely on having a certain native level of ability any more. The test includes an area of maths not required by the NC in yr 6 so it's also a test of parental support in teaching them this/getting coaching/accessing test papers. However, you could say the same of parents who suddenly find an interest in religion or who plan a house move for the right catchment.

The Sutton Trust report Worlds Apart - social variation among schools is actually more of a criticism of the comprehensive system in this country, rather than an endorsement of grammar schools.

"Of the 100 most socially selective schools in the country, 91 were comprehensives, eight were grammars and there was one secondary modern."


"The ... country's top 164 comprehensive schools took only 9.2% of children from income deprived homes although they drew pupils from areas where about 20% were income deprived. The 164 remaining grammar schools, also drawing their pupils from areas where 20% were income deprived, were found to be more inclusive, admitting 13.5% of children from poor homes."

Bonsoir Sat 13-Nov-10 09:35:32

DinahRod - I find your comment self-contradicts.

If the 11+ test is not covered by the NC, surely it is trying to test innate ability?

Though, personally, I do not believe it possible to test such a thing as innate ability and discount that which has been taught and learned.

daftpunk Sat 13-Nov-10 09:36:57

If you can afford to buy in a good area and you're catholic - you're going to do ok education wise.

The London oratory is not a grammar school for example.

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