Bring Back Grammar Schools to Increase Social Mobility

By: Ben Thrussell

"Education, education, education". The famous words of Tony Blair. With the accession to Number 10 of Theresa May now complete, the government must realise that there is still a major problem within the Department for Education. The new Prime Minister has appointed a new Education Secretary, Justine Greening and, as far as I am concerned, this can only be a good thing after the abject misery of the tenure of Nicky Morgan. Ms Greening says she is open to considering the reintroduction of the grammar school, a selective state-funded type of school that was mainly abolished by Labour in the 1960’s.

Grammar schools provide a better quality education in academic subjects than the comprehensive system we have today. While the comprehensive system has, no doubt, brought the least able forward, the lack of grammar schools has meant that intelligent but less well-off children haven’t been able to reach their full learning potential.

This, therefore, means a distinct lack of social mobility, which is becoming an increasing problem in the UK. This essentially means that children from poor backgrounds, no matter how intelligent, are not able to maximise their potential because their education was of a poorer standard than it could, and should, have been. Therefore, the UK is seeing a lack of people from traditional working class backgrounds reach the top jobs and the highest incomes.

Obviously, the reintroduction of grammar schools would be a very transitional period. It would require children to undergo an exam at the end of primary school to determine whether they can enter grammar schools (this was called the Eleven-Plus in the old system). This would potentially cause controversy as many parents believe that extra exams would add to the already mounting pressure on their children to perform well. Therefore, I would propose an alternative to the exams: gradual assessments. These can be made up of the final exam (perhaps 25% of the final grade), classwork and other projects so that children, even if they don’t perform in the exam, still have a chance to show their intelligence.

The question I hear next is probably the most important: what about those who don’t make it into grammar schools? My personal preference (which may or may not be a good idea) would be to retain the comprehensive system, and to introduce a third type of secondary school; something very similar to the old “secondary-technicals”, which taught mechanical and engineering skills to serve industry. Although industry is no longer as prominent in the UK economy as it once was, manual skills are still required, such as in car repairs or any field relating to engineering. After primary school, pupils not entering grammar schools would complete one year at each type of school and, after the two years, would then decide what type of education they would like to receive after that.

This is my idea for the future of secondary education. Whether it is possible or practical, I don’t know as I am not an education expert. This plan may be riddled with unfixable flaws, but it makes sense to me.
Bring Back Grammar Schools to Increase Social Mobility Bring Back Grammar Schools to Increase Social Mobility Reviewed by Student Voices on 18:57 Rating: 5

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