Academic selection in UK state schools

Oh man, Peter Hitchens is absolutely visceral this morning! This time he’s gunning down those rich “socialist” folks who don’t much like the idea of having people from less privileged backgrounds getting above their station due to merit! :slight_smile:

"…Is there any spectacle more distasteful than a sleek elite using its power to cling on to its advantages? But over the past few days, we have seen a sort of elite riot against the very idea of state schools selecting on merit.

Left-wing politicians, almost all of whom know how to fiddle the unequal state schools to get maximum benefit for their own children, have been at the forefront of this since the Government announced plans for new grammar schools.

But so have BBC persons, whose own education was privileged and who no doubt wangle their offspring into elite alleged comprehensives. Why else did the Corporation spend the whole of Thursday cramming the airwaves with the haters of grammar schools?

Likewise liberal newspapers, who without exception twisted the grammar-school story into a false claim that academic selection would increase privilege, the exact opposite of the truth. These people fear the austere fairness of grammar schools. And no wonder. They are obviously not very bright, as well as not being very nice.

The rule used to be that from those to whom much is given, much is required. If you do well in the lottery of life, you should reach your hand down to those struggling up the ladder, and help them. Not this lot. They kick and gouge at those below, pelting them with propaganda lies to keep them in their place.

Unlike these shameless creeps, I’ve spent more than ten years researching the crass destruction of state grammar schools, and fighting for their restoration. This doesn’t benefit me personally at all, though I treasure a hope that it might benefit my grandchildren. And I can tell you this.

When we still had a national grammar system, 64 per cent of its pupils came from the working class. And during that period, such schools wiped the floor with expensive private schools, their products storming into Oxbridge in unprecedented numbers, without quotas or concessions.

The elite repeatedly shout that the tiny rump of surviving grammar schools are nests of privilege. So they are. But that is because Labour fanatics and Tory cowards spent the late 1960s and early 1970s bulldozing hundreds of fine grammar schools in poor areas.

Almost all the remaining grammars are unsurprisingly in better-off districts, and are besieged by well-off, long-distance commuters.

Far more important for most British people today, who have no access to grammars at all, are the hundreds of elite ‘comprehensives’. These are closed to the poor, and just as socially selective as the few dozen surviving grammars.

And that’s the way the liberal elite want them to stay, protected from the common people by a barricade of expensive houses called a catchment area.

But it’s even worse than that. The real point about grammars is that they are vastly better than the best and most fiercely selective comprehensives, and than most fee-charging schools.

They are, in fact, among the best schools in the world.

The House of Commons Library recently produced a briefing paper comparing school exam performance in the year 2014-15. On the key measure of the percentage achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and Maths, grammars achieved 96.7 per cent.

The average for all state schools was 58.1 per cent. That was, interestingly, also the average for all independent schools. For comprehensives it was 56.7 per cent. For the (wrongly despised) secondary moderns, it was 49.7 per cent. Note the rather small difference between secondary moderns and comprehensives, which we were told would be so much better. They aren’t.

Did you ever wonder why the old O-level exam was first watered down and then abolished? And why A-levels are so much weaker than they were? It is because comprehensives couldn’t cope with them, whereas grammars could.

A 2006 Freedom of Information request to Oxford and Cambridge universities found that fewer than 20 per cent of state secondaries provided all the state-school entrants to Oxbridge. Most of them came from grammar schools.

For here’s the real point. Britain, a country increasingly run by greedy, feckless, ignorant and stupid people who can’t think, needs good schools as a man in the desert needs a spring of cool, clear water.

Grammar schools, not private schools, were what kept our education honest and good. Germany, which retained its grammars, remains a country of fairness, competence and efficiency. Without them we have become a second-rate country in which the wrong people are making most of the decisions and making them badly.

And now these privileged buffoons, this dictatorship of elite mediocrities, are fighting with all they’ve got to save themselves. Ignore them. Grammar schools are wholly good and we must have them back…"

He’s mostly right, IMO.

In the 1950s and 60s generations of bright kids from ordinary backgrounds came to dominate the law, academia, politics, science, the arts, big business and so on…then they pulled up the freaking drawbridge behind them! Guess what? From the 1990s onwards the law, politics, etc has been dominated by privately educated second-raters with rich daddies - people like Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, etc.

Do you think there would have been such a gap between the elite and the people over Brexit if the grammar schools were still providing a social conveyor belt? Btw, I’m sure @someblackguy’s mother would have liked the choice to send him to a religious charter school. Even with starting in a private school and finishing in public, he was keeping up with Dr. Jordan Peterson just fine.

“…Do you think there would have been such a gap betweenthe elite and the people over Brexit if the grammar schools were still providing a social conveyor belt?..”


It won’t surprise you that I don’t much go along with the trendy idea that only poor and uneducated people voted for Brexit. Indeed, even Prof Mike Dougan (the hight priest of whiney remainers) has rejected this idea, pointing out that some working class areas such as West Belfast voted to remain, while many comfortably off areas in the South of England voted to leave…

Really, Brexit was part of a cunning strategic plan cooked up by the British elite from the start:

Yes Minister — Why Britain Joined the European Union - YouTube :slight_smile:

(Maybe truth is now going to imitate fiction!?)

What is the main difference between grammar schools and the others?

“The real point about grammars is that they are vastly better than the best and most fiercely selective comprehensives, and than most fee-charging schools.”

Selectivity, or “selecting on merit” is not the only difference, is it? Are students enrolled in grammar schools still learning Latin?

Does the writer think that what he calls “the best comprehensive schools” are “most fiercely” selective? Does he think that this fierce selectivity in some comprehensive schools is the problem? Is this why grammar schools, which he thinks are academically less selective, are needed?

I don’t know if his logic makes sense.