I'm not sure grammar schools are the answer or even if there is a issue that needs addressing. The Tory government talk of Grammar schools improving the educational experiences for young people across the country, why do they need improving?
My children have just completed their education and I'm still very much in touch with families across Swindon, no-one has been telling me the school system has to change. Actually many tell me they'd like the government to leave it alone for a while so teachers can just get on and teach!
But looking at Grammar schools, back in the 1950s until the 1970s children took an exam (the 11 Plus) at the age of 11. It divided children into either Grammar School students if they passed or Secondary Modern students if they didn't. From the 1970's, Grammar schools were phased out in many areas and replaced with the comprehensive system for everyone that has remained in place since. So why does Teresa May’s government want Grammar schools back?
1) I believe it is because it's assumed that selective education at the age of 11 can iron out the effects of poverty or lack of aspiration in the home and therefore promote social mobility.
But a recent study by the Sutton Trust found that of the 164 grammar schools still open in 2014, 119 had fewer than 3 % of students eligible for free school meals. The national average of students eligible for free school meals across all state schools was 18%.
2) It appears to be assumed too, that Grammar Schools in the 1960s had a higher academic success rate than schools today.
But in 1976 less than one in four young people was achieving 5 O Levels or GCSEs, in 2008 it was more than three in four.
The percentage of those still in education at the age of 17 rose from 31% in 1977 to 76% in 2011, even before it became compulsory.
While some argue these might be explained by “grade inflation”, there can be no dispute about the increase in students going on to higher education. The number achieving a degree has gone from 68,000 in 1981 to 331,000 in 2010, an almost five-fold increase. (Source: House of Commons)
Dividing children aged 11 is surely not right? Grammar Schools will barely touch those families with low incomes unable to pay for the private tuition to boost results for the 11 plus. Yet Comprehensive schools have brought real successes with no child feeling a failure because they haven't passed a test aged 11. I've just been to University for the first time aged 48, at no point in a child or an adults life should we remove options that allow them to be the best that they can be. Education not segregation, improving inequalities not providing more inequality has got to be the way forward not reversing what's worked.
Finally, up until three years ago Ofsted collected data on parents' views of schools and published the results in their annual report. In 2011 it found that 94% of parents were happy with their child's school, a remarkable level of satisfaction. If it aint broke don't fix it! Please.