Grammar schools. Parents seem overwhelmingly in favour (until their children don’t get in one, anyway), so last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I wondered why. I wondered what it means, this desire – what it is about the idea of a grammar school, something that most of us have never experienced, that holds such power over the public imagination.
I don’t think it means what we think it means. Instead, I think:
It means equal chances and opportunities, a true meritocracy.
It means choice.
It means excellence.
It means hope for a brighter future.
It means quiet and orderly place of learning.
It means libraries where children study and read.
It means well maintained Harry Potter style buildings.
It means distinctive uniforms.
It means pride in your children.
It means a smaller school.
It means your children don’t have to go to school with those children.
It means that your child isn’t one of those children.
Who wouldn’t want their child to go to a school like that? Who wouldn’t want their child to go to a school where they might find someone like them, someone to be a friend with, regardless of how quirky, or different from the majority they are – and for that to be celebrated, for that to be more than OK?
Who wouldn’t want those things for their children? Who wouldn’t want the best for them – or what we think is the best, or what we are told is the best? Who wouldn’t want to be reassured that their child is, in fact, the best?
After all, grammar schools are places where the ‘best’ are ‘creamed off’.