The extension of a Grammar school in Kent, has caused discussion and debate over the last few days.
When I heard that the Govt had decided to allow a Grammar school to build another school, apparently this was the first one in 50 years to be built. I did wonder what is progressive about this Govt.
It preaches it is progressive. But another Grammar school ? That’s not progression. That’s a conservative approach – oh ! So the true colours are still there. That will make some people happy.
I never went to a Grammar school. But my parents did, my Uncle did and so did my husband. So you’d have thought they’d have thought this was a good idea. Well they don’t.
Infact they don’t agree with Grammar schools, though they went to them themselves. They don’t agree with selecting a child at age 11 and this determinimg a child’s future. What about those who are left behind ? In my parents time, many children who went to Secondary moderns, felt inferior, they felt they just weren’t good enough. Siblings were split up, my dad went to a Grammar school, his sister did not. His sister was bright, as he was, but perhaps at 11 she couldn’t do the exams as well as he could, thus she was sent to the Secondary modern and this did affect her life. Her life choices may have been different if she had been able to pass her 11 plus and be in the same school as her older brother.
My Uncle had a conversation with me once about schools. He had been a head teacher in Australia. He believed completely in a comprehensive school. He didn’t have streaming in his school, or any selective test to enter the school, like the 11 plus. His school was highly successful. He never thought Grammar schools were the answer, though he also went to one.
What he concentrated on was leadership and good teaching.
And this is the answer. Not selecting children in a test at 11, but concentrating on the teaching. Having good leadership and teaching in schools.
The answer is to have a fully comprehensive education system where ‘all’ children have the opportunity to succeed. Where we concentrate on the training of teachers and future head teachers.
People have often said to me – it shouldn’t be about structures – but about choice and what does it matter if we have Grammars or Free Schools. Well I choose to have an education system where the choice is that every child is given the opportunity. And that choice involves knowing that you shouldn’t determine a child’s life at 11.