It seems Teresa May’s announcement that she intends to lift the ban on the creation of new grammar schools is the next in a long line of political policies to divide education experts and public opinion. The Derbyshire Times poll of readers seems to suggest it’s a Brexit style split of those who support the idea and those who don’t, with 49 per cent for and 51 per cent against. Nationally and amongst educationalists I hear there is a bigger shift against the plan. The Labour Party has launched their attack against the plan and key education leaders, regardless of political persuasion, are calling for Teresa May to reconsider. Those who are against claim that it won’t achieve the aims of providing a good quality education for everyone and, will in fact, undo much of the work that has helped to raise standards in schools in the last few years. An Education Policy Institute report also states that creating more grammar schools is likely to widen the attainment gap between rich and poor children, and probably will not raise overall educational standards.
May defended the announcement at the Conservative Party conference when she said it wasn’t the plan for all towns and cities to have grammar schools but more about offering the option to develop them as a broad based education system to give parents a choice.
I am with the 51 per cent of you. We don’t empower our students at college to increase their attainment by segregating them into those who can and those who cannot. Yes we teach to ability, yes we put our all into helping students to progress and succeed, regardless of the level students start at, and yes we have seen how nurturing and inspiring young people to learn and develop in a place where there is no glass ceiling of attainment helps them to go far. I have no doubt that being educated in a grammar school opened doors for some but for those who weren’t, the fight was harder and the labelling that went with the two-tier system was often something that held you back if you were on the wrong side of the 11-plus fence. No matter how you dress it up, the process of selection at such a tender age is more damaging than it is empowering.