Following on from the Governments announcements about Grammar schools, I feel the need to add my thoughts on the matter into the arena. There has been an awful lot of debate leading up to this over the types of school that should be available to our children. From the very public rows over public schools becoming academies (which are now falling short on funding) to the pros and cons of private schooling, education has very much been the hot topic. So, are grammar schools a good idea? And will they benefit all of our students, or just a few?

Grammar Schools Have Strong Exam Results

Because grammar schools are very selective about the pupils they let in (the top 10% of year 6 students) there is an argument that they produce much better exam results. This is because the teachers are able to push the children harder, knowing that only the brightest students are in the room. And in my experience, they push them very hard. Anything less than an A is considered a failure. Unfortunately, not every student can cope with that pressure – believe me, I see it every day.

In terms of performance on the UK exam results league tables, in 2006:

– Students from Grammar schools achieved over half the A grade A-levels in the country.
– These were all in what are considered the ‘harder subjects’ like law, chemistry and physics.
– There were only 164 grammar schools in the country, compared to 3045 public secondary schools.

While this sounds fantastic, I am a firm believer in the fact that not all achievements and skills can be measured in grades. This means that there are some students who would be left behind in grammar schools where others would flourish. For academically minded students, grammar schools represent a fantastic chance that just isn’t there for non-academic students yet.

Do They Breed Success?

Because grammar schools have been around for such a long time in English education, there is a huge club of alumni who have gone on in life to become high achievers. Big names include:

– Mick Jagger
– John Lennon
– Margaret Thatcher
– Anthony Hopkins
– David Attenborough
– Alan Bennett
– Teresa May

But no one is really sure yet whether this level of success is due to the selectiveness of the school, the extra pushing they receive to try harder or just the genuine talent of students. After all, I can also name many talented people who left school without any qualifications who went on to be highly successful. You might have heard of some of them:

– Richard Branson
– Jamie Oliver
– Alan Sugar

I believe that if a student is encouraged to have a love of learning and discover the things which motivate them, they will grow into successful happy adults and achieve great things, no matter where their skills lie.

Do I Believe Grammar Schools Are The Way Ahead For A Better Education?

I’ve thought long and hard about this and I have to say that no, I don’t agree with the Governments plans to allow more Grammar schools.  These are my reasons why.

While it is true that we need more schools and school places, we also need smaller classes, more teachers and better resources for our students. That is true for all students, not a select number of academically minded children. I’d like to see schools measured on more than exam results or ‘Progress 8’ as they now call it. We should also be increasing the creative subjects, not decreasing them. We are already in danger of losing these very talented people, without discouraging them from the creative industries even more. Bringing in more Grammar schools will simply encourage a two-tier education system with the ‘elite’ at the top and ‘others’ below. This simple change will leave the hundreds of thousands who don’t make it in believing they aren’t good enough, destroying their confidence despite it not being true.

I believe everyone can learn and should enjoy learning at every level. I just don’t see how more Grammar schools will benefit every child who is eager to learn, and those who aren’t. It will simply drive a bigger wedge into the already huge divide, only helping a few select learners and leaving the rest by the wayside. But of course, that’s just my opinion. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Leave a comment below or get in touch with me for a chat.


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