It’s time we started speaking up for grammar schools

By: Jimmy Allen, Student Voices writer

News was being leaked by the government to the media over the weekend that Theresa May has her crosshairs firmly aimed at Tony Blair’s reform to ban the creation of more grammar schools.

Controversial as they maybe, grammar schools are an issue very close to my heart and my advocacy for them has not waned at all in the since years since leaving one for university. Why? Because I have experienced grammar school education first hand.

One of four children in a working class family in a Victorian seaside town, my siblings and I all embarked on grammar school education. We are living evidence of bright young children being given the same opportunity as everyone else to enjoy a higher standard of education that we would have not enjoyed had certain political parties had their way. Every pupil in my year was treated the same, respected and no one was left behind regardless of the speed that they developed. Many of my fellow classmates were working class hailing from council estates and had single parents.

I think it is that particular point why grammars are so important to society. Every child has the opportunity to a higher standard of education regardless of their background. Let those last words sink in – ‘regardless of their background’. What a beautiful concept. Let’s drag up those less well off to enjoy higher standards and realise their true potential. Why should bright children have their potential stunted in order to fit a one size all system?

The link below lists the top 100 schools by 2015 GCSE results. The first ten schools in the list are all grammar schools – I didn’t need to check any further down the list, the proof is in the pudding. We should be celebrating their success, not condemning them for being selective.

Towards the end of 2015, former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan gave the green light for an annexe to be built for an existing grammar school in Sevenoaks. Controversy greeted the announcement from the usual suspects on the left.

But how does Sevenoaks itself feel about it? Let me tell you as a fellow Sennockian. If one is not familiar with Sevenoaks, it is a prosperous commuter market town close to the London suburbs. If you don’t have deep pockets you will discover soon enough that Sevenoaks is not well served when it comes to state funded secondary schools with just an academy to consider. This academy (without mentioning names) called its result of 51% of their students achieving at least five A*-C grades at GCSE as ‘fantastic’ for 2015.

No, no it’s not.

This is a school where the head mistress receives a larger salary than Theresa May. I think most of us would be ‘tidying our desks’ if we were scoring a paltry 51% in our jobs.

If parents want their children to benefit from a higher standard of education in Sevenoaks and cannot afford the fees of public schools then the choice is to simply send them all the way to Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells etc often on expensive train services. Shouldn’t the working and middle class families of Sevenoaks have as much choice as the next town when it comes to schools?

“Grammar schools are selecting fewer working class children!” they will cry at me. Well that is distorted by the figures in Kent; the home of most grammar schools where there are simply less working class families. Build more grammar schools elsewhere in the country and then there will be even greater opportunity for less fortunate children to succeed. If the education formula that grammars pursue is so successful when it comes to grades, why don’t we want to keep on replicating it around the country?

Corbyn and his cronies continue to be intent on being out of sync with the public’s opinion on the important things in life and this would appear to extend to the issue of grammar schools. The polling company ORB published a poll on Aug 6th where close to seven out of ten people polled were in favour of scrapping the grammar school ban. Why can’t those on the left admit that their communist inclination for a one size fits all comprehensive system doesn’t work? This is the real issue, it’s not the grammars. If the Labour movement are so adverse to selection, why did they bring us ‘Gifted & Talented’ that achieved just that?

I continue to fail to understand why the Liberal Democrats are so against grammar schools. Their very principals are based on individualism and liberalism so why not let pupils express themselves and flourish with the greater opportunities that grammar schools bring? Why are they so keen to retain a system that stunts potential?

The abhorrent Paul Mason has written in the Guardian this week that the way forward for education is creating ‘diversity’. However, grammar schools providing an element of diversity does not sit well with him at all. His solution was full of hot air – he simply said we need ‘to set education free’. Cheers Paul, remind me to never read anything your write again.

So there you have it, my colours are firmly nailed to the mast on this one and I will be cheering Theresa and co on. 
It’s time we started speaking up for grammar schools It’s time we started speaking up for grammar schools Reviewed by Student Voices on 09:15 Rating: 5

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