Removing the ‘un’ from ‘unfair’ in the allocation of grammar school places – giving poorer children a brighter future by Dr Stephen Curran
In February last year Graeme Paton, the Education Editor at The Telegraph, posted an article on the high number of applications per grammar school place.(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10668618/School-admissions-up-to-12-pupils-compete-for-each-place.html). He states that grammar schools are seeing up to twelve children sit the 11+ exam for every available place.
Since then, the government has approved the opening of a new satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks, Kent. Although this development is an improvement on the current situation, it is nowhere near enough to ensure a fairer education system in the UK. In my opinion, we need to have a grammar school in every town. Currently, those children who are financially poor, yet academically strong have little chance of getting a place in one of the relatively small number of existing grammar schools.
The current comprehensive system, which was designed to make everything equal, has instead cruelly blighted the bright children from less affluent areas, and only benefits the wealthy. Middle-class parents are moving to good catchment areas so their children go to the best comprehensive schools thus pushing up property prices – making it even more difficult for poorer children to get a look-in. The schools in those areas attract the best heads, the best teachers and secure the best grades.
Quite frankly, our current system is failing bright children from poorer backgrounds. Having more grammar schools will greatly increase the chances of these children receiving the education that matches their ability. Further down the line I’d like to see a more continental system where children can change schools part-way through their education to reflect the talents they’re displaying – whether that be academic, sporting, creative or technical. There’s a place for all schools – comprehensives, academies, free schools and grammar schools. More choice can only increase the chances for everyone and not just the few.