An argument for Grammar Schools
Currently in the UK four private schools and one college send more students to Oxbridge than 2000 state schools. The Government is aware of the social mobility problem but for years has struggled to find a solution to it. New Labour tried to open up universities to a greater number of poorer students and had reasonable success in this, however this is only half the job. Many Schools fail to give their students the grades to access University leading to many potentially talented individuals getting no opportunity to climb the social ladder.
This is where the Grammar School comes into the picture. Grammar schools in the UK are oversubscribed parents send their children miles away to get to one and the question is why? The answer is simple if your child can make the grade a Grammar school offers them a world of opportunity that the local comprehensive may not. The problem is there are only around 164 state funded fully selective Grammar Schools in the UK meaning the majority of children don’t have access to one. The argument for expanding the Grammar school system in the UK is a simple one, social mobility. Nothing has more impact on social mobility than a quality education, everyone who reads this will be aware of a school near them in which hardly any students will get GCSE’s and no parent wants to send their child to these schools, but many have to due to financial reasons. Currently in the UK if your local school is poor your child will get their opportunities restricted unless the parent is rich enough to pay for a private education. However, by increasing the numbers of Grammar schools children have the opportunity to go to a good school even if their parents are not wealthy. Grammar schools end the postcode lottery that exists with comprehensive schools, some comprehensives are very good schools, my secondary school was very good however many fail their pupils. Comprehensive schools in middle class areas tend to be better than those in working class areas, there is one huge reason I can see for this. Culture, in middle class areas children are expected to do well both by their family and the school this expectation reduces disruption in classrooms and puts pressure on children to achieve. In working class areas, there is usually less expectation by the school, there are also other social problems in these areas such as family break down and poverty which can seriously hamper a child’s progress at school. Grammar schools like private schools and good comprehensives expect their students to do well they enforce the idea that if you work hard you can do anything you want, it is this expectation combined with the best teachers and brightest pupils that make it easier for Grammar school pupils to succeed at school.
If Grammar schools were to ever return in force, the problems with the old system would need to be ironed out. Although I think Grammar schools are excellent for social mobility, the old system did have some major flaws, mainly the underfunding of all other schools and selective testing at such a young age. Grammar Schools should not take funding away from other schools as most of the population will still go to a comprehensive and they cannot be forgotten about. This means that Grammar schools should only get the same funding as comprehensives and students at local comprehensives should still be able to sit the same exams as those at the Grammar school to prevent a restriction in opportunities. As for the selective testing at 11, I think you should still have the selection tests at 11, but also at 12, 13 and 14 so there is the opportunity to get into a grammar school for those who develop later. Of course Grammar schools will not fix the UK’s education system by themselves, they are a way of allowing everyone who is capable enough to have a high quality academic education. It is important to also allow everyone choice which is why free schools could potentially be a fantastic addition to the UK, but we also need to look at improving opportunities for those who don’t go down the academic route as they are also an essential part of the economy and are currently being let down by our current vocational courses. If countries such as Germany can run a selective schooling system but also support vocational trades why can’t the UK?