A Grammar School in Every Town

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’.

7 thoughts on “A Grammar School in Every Town

  1. I guess it produced in the past the class system that many came to loathe. It’s ok if you’re in the middle or upper classes… But if you’ve got brains then it’s also a social mobility enabler, to improve your chances of stepping up and being rewarded for your skills and abilities. The idea that space is limited is bad tho. And also, it runs against the ethos of mixed ability teaching, which reflects more truthfully the world we then enter, where we are surrounded with those less literate and those more talented on a daily basis. What of team work? What of ghettoisation?

    1. Exactly. I just wonder what it is that is so attractive about the idea – and those attractions just gloss over the rest, don’t they? The comment ‘nobody wants a secondary modern in every town’ is so true. Nobody wants to look at the flip side of the coin.

      1. Haha, yeah. A list of “nobody wants…” would be good.
        Nobody wants a prison in every town.
        Nobody wants a high security mental hospital in every town.
        Nobody wants NEET training centres in every town.

  2. Good points Nancy, parents are naturally only interested in their children in the end.. However, am I cynical in thinking that while we’re all getting hot under our collars about grammar schools, the government has taken all our focus off Brexit? It’s a useful diversion!

  3. Great post 🙂 I worked in a Grammar school nursery for 4 years, we did take 3 and 4 years old’s with Government funding and once they reached Reception age had to start paying Grammar school full prices. In the nursery I had classes that were the same amount of pupils as ‘mainstream’ nurseries and pre schools. The lunch hall did remind me of a scene from Harry Potter when I first arrived! I was surprised that I got the job after being educated in state schools, I thought I may have to wear a cap and gown to teach lessons! But what I found was advantages and disadvantages to this type of education. At times I found it magical and inspiring, I was without children for the first few years and dedicated a lot of hours in and out of school planning and preparing. Once I returned after I had my first child, it was a different story I could no longer dedicate so many hours to the job as I had a family and when I put my own daughter into the nursery at 2 years old kitted out in full uniform! We didn’t fit in with the clique ! She wasn’t invited to a single birthday party as I was ‘staff’ and we didn’t fit in with the usual crowd of parents as we lacked the social status! I left when a was pregnant with my 2nd child as I wouldn’t have been able to dedicate my time as I did in the first few years, there’s so much pressure on the staff to get the best grades in terms of inspections, I just simply didn’t make the grade and being told to “pull my socks up” was the final straw! My child wouldn’t have been able to carry on this system of education now as she has additional needs. When I do go back to work I would search for County Council jobs as I’ve experienced both sides of the coin 🙂
    Such an interesting subject!

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