Friday, November 23, 2007

Could a revisiting of the grammar school debate help Brown gain back some momentum?

Writing in this week's New Statesman Peter Wilby has produced a powerful critique of the age old chestnut that grammar schools = excellence. He also takes issue with the Tory party's near obsession with setting and their passion for the introduction of the so called 'grammar' stream.

The reality is that the surviving 164 grammar schools in England (there are no selective schools in Scotland or Wales and they are on the way out in Northern Ireland) are in the main schools for the middle-classes. There now appears to be cross-party consensus that selective schools are not escape routes from poverty, do not offer good value for money and do not help raise standards overall. So perhaps it is now time to address, once and for all, the archaic and socially exclusive policy of academic selection in England. I doubt David Cameron has the stomach for it but what about Gordon Brown?

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