Something about Selective Schools

For some reason we now live in a society (le funny), where no one is allowed to fail, and as a consequence of that, no one is allowed to succeed either. And I’m not talking about stupid boomercore participation trophies, no one cares about the primary school egg and spoon race. For the past 50 years it has been the goal of every government (because they’re all the same anyway) to drag everyone down to the same miserable level. Nowhere is this more evident than in the schooling system (yes, I just read The Abolition of Britain) with the destruction of Grammar Schools. Before the old Tripartite System was scrapped there were over 1,200 Grammar Schools in the UK that were fully state-funded, around a quarter of children went to a Grammar School. Compare that to today, where only 163 fully state funded Grammar Schools remain (see the map). What is a child to do in Norwich if he wants a decent education? The only options of course are to attend a fee paying school (and forever having to be embarrassed about your parents wanting you to get a good education, although it is funny when privately educated people end up in the same position as a lowly comprehensive goer, all that money for nothing, but anyway, I digress) or to live in an expensive area where the quality of schooling is better, neither of which are in the control of the child.

The reasoning behind the destruction of selective schooling, was due to the panic over how Secondary Moderns graduates (the equivalent of modern non-selective comprehensives) had worse fiscal outcomes than those who attended Grammar Schools (what a shocker). It’s seen as an injustice that people may naturally have different abilities, and as such may have different outcomes in life. It would have been much harder to improve the outcome of those attending Secondary Moderns than it was to simply destroy Grammar Schools instead. Not that they would ever reach the same levels.

There is a desire to ensure that even those who don’t want to pass exams leave school with a C in English and maths (although they never do, not that it’s the fault of the school, horse, water, etc.) and in doing so resources are taken away from those who actually want them. They cannot fail at all costs, doing so would enforce the fact that we are not equal, and bring down credentialism. If you don’t have a GCSE in maths, how do we know that you can count? No English GCSE? Sorry, you can’t man the cash register. Many people who did not try in school are now unfortunately being blocked from other opportunities in life, because their employer needs to know that when they were 16 they remembered how to do basic trigonometry.

The sad fact is many people take pride in being uneducated retards (not that much of what you learn in school is even worth learning), failing every single GCSE (when all you need to do is be able to write your name on the paper) is almost worn as a badge of honour. Surely it would make more sense for the top 10% to be given special attention, which they will actually make use of, than for the bottom 10%, the majority of which don’t actually want the help. The same is happening to universities, Blair wanted 50% of all young people to go to university (and he got his wish), of course new universities had to be created for this to happen. To no one’s surprise they’re not up to the same standard as the one’s before. If they were, and as such had the same entry requirements, they wouldn’t be able to fill their places. It was not as if there just weren’t enough places for people to attend university, it was that a large chunk of people weren’t smart enough to get in to begin with, only after the polytechnics were destroyed (thank you Major), did enough sub-standard places open for those unable to finally go. This again leads to the same credentialism where they want to see a bachelor’s degree in anything, before they let you anywhere near the office supplies.

A solution to some of these problems, would be to choose either the highest performing, or most geographically suited, secondary school in an area, and make it selective. If there are 8 schools in a 20-30 minute radius, then after an entrance exam (11+), or based off the SAT, the top 12.5% will go to the selective school (if they so choose), and everyone else will remain at their current school, with those who used to go to the now selective school unfortunately having to switch. At the end of year 8, you can take another exam to gain entry again, probably switching places with someone who peaked in primary school. This isn’t a very radical change and would require no new schools to be built. Most people who are against the opening of more grammar or independent schools, or turning some comprehensives into selective schools, haven’t had the displeasure of attending the human zoo that is the modern comprehensive school that isn’t lucky enough to be down a street lined with range rovers. Those who were responsible for the closing down of Grammar Schools to begin with usually had the advantage of attending a school that isn’t inhabited by monkeys. As per usual, pulling up the ladder behind them. As for the universities, any solution would be too radical for a government to undertake. A slow unwinding of ex-polytechnics either back into polytechnics, or into colleges, would be fine, but would undoubtedly cause mass unemployment and probably devastate the night-time economy of many major cities. Not that any of these changes will take place anyway. Politician’s children either attend comprehensive’s in rich areas, are lucky enough to live near a grammar school, or are begrudgingly sent off to private school. Those of them that did attend a crap comprehensive wear it as a badge of honour, and insist that if we just throw enough money into this bottomless pit then magically everyone will emerge as doctors and lawyers.

These are only some of the problems with the current education system in Britain, and if you’re unlucky enough maybe another rambling blogpost will be made available on your favourite website, I didn’t proofread this, as I felt it would be best left as an exercise to the reader.