A grammar school

The Prime Minister is proposing to encourage the creation of more grammar schools, in order to increase social mobility.

A moment's consideration shows that this is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. Grammar schools, which select children according to their educational achievements by the age of eleven, automatically exclude the majority of the age-group. Rather than increasing social mobility, they actively prevent it.

In the comprehensive system it makes no difference whether an eleven-year-old is one day over the age of ten on the appointed day, or one day under the age of twelve. In a grammar school system this difference may be crucial. Once you have failed to get into a grammar school your future prospects are artificially limited.

So much for social mobility.

Perhaps there are other advantages to being selected for a grammar school education. Are the teachers better? Are the classes more likely to be well-behaved and industrious? Are the pupils likely to be of higher social status? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, this creates a privileged minority from which other children are excluded.

Social mobility demands a more comprehensive system. Grammar schools are not merely irrelevant, they actually reinforce inequality.




Photo By A P Monblat - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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