My three children are currently studying feverishly for AS and A levels at local grammar schools. They are all predicted to do well. But, like Michael Rosen, I still cannot understand the government’s policy on grammar schools.
Writing in the Guardian, Rosen explains how he himself went to grammar schools (two) but cannot support the policy because there is no evidence that it actually does improve the prospects of children from hard working families, and because testing at age 11 is traumatic and inadequate in judging a child’s potential. Children develop at different times. Some might be great at Maths but poor at English and this is not allowed for in the test.
Most educational experts agree with him. Yet still Theresa May and her education secretary Justine Greening plough on regardless, calling for a Great Meritocracy and possibly even a quota system in favour of poorer children in the new grammars.
Yet how does this square with another Theresa May policy: on social cohesion. As Home Secretary in 2015 she addressed the Tory Party conference with a speech about how immigration harms social cohesion and her manifesto pledge to reduce migration to the tens of thousands would indicate that she still believes this to be the case.
But how about grammar schools?
In my experience, on leaving primary school here in Kent, children lose touch with their classmates – despite the fact that they live just up the road. Grammar school children (posh, bright) and secondary school children (poorer, not bright) queue at different bus stops in this community, seldom exchanging a word. The 11-plus promotes a sort of educational apartheid. The twain seldom meet.
What does that do to social cohesion Mrs May?