National Grammar Schools Association
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June 2008

Social mobility disappeared with grammar schools. Comprehensives were supposed to bring equality. They did the opposite.

It's a puzzle how Gordon Brown manages to maintain the aura of a serious intellectual. He clearly reads widely. But so too do my nephews, albeit books with shorter words. The problem lies not with his ability to read but to draw the correct conclusions. His speech yesterday on social mobility is a case in point – a weird mix of platitudes and outright nonsense....In 1946 65 per cent of male students [at Oxford] were from independent schools. By 1967 only 53 per cent of male students were from public schools. The pattern was even clearer with women, the share falling from 57 per cent of arts graduates in 1946 to 39 per cent in 1967. For all the problems with technical and secondary modern schools, grammar schools did a fine job of lifting children out of poverty and into opportunity. Yet today, our comprehensive system has one of the worst rankings in the developed world. Stephen Pollard, The Times, 24 June 2008

If Cameron has seen the light on grammar schools, there's real hope for the Tories

The runes are being read – and from their mysteriously coded message some discern the dim outline of a Tory shift back to common sense over selection in schools.  On a visit last week to Trafford, which maintains both selective and comprehensive schools, the Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove declared robustly that grammar schools must be 'absolutely defended'...Mr Balls [education minister] claims that the grammar schools make pupils at other schools feel like failures...This obsession with not separating sheep from goats has caused the dumbing-down and levelling-down that have crippled the life chances of countless thousands of children, the vast majority of them from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.  Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 23 June 2008

Ruane's plans 'opposed by 60% of Ulster public'

Almost 60% of people in Northern Ireland – including one-third of Sinn Fein supporters – are opposed to Caitriona Ruane's  plans to scrap the 11-plus, according to a new survey. The poll...shows that almost 80% of unionist voters, 36% of SDLP supporters and 34% of Sinn Fein followers are against the Minister of Education's proposals, while Alliance voters have chalked up 75% opposition... A total of 58% of the sample disagreed, compared to 36% who agreed [with plans to abolish the 11-plus in Northern Ireland]. Victor Gordon, Belfast Telegraph, 23 June 2008.

Plan to get pupils from low score schools into college

Universities will give preferential places with lower grades from poor performing schools, under mew plans to be presented to the Prime Minister. Sixth-formers whose results are better than the average of the comprehensives they attend will be given places over candidates with higher grades who went to good schools. Prof. Steve Smith, the vice-chancellor of Exeter University and the higher education adviser to the National Council for Educational Excellence, established by Gordon Brown, will outline the plan at a special meeting next month...But last night, Prof Smith's plan was denounced as an attempt at social engineering of university intakes to make up for the failings of state secondary schools. Julie Henry, Sunday Telegraph, 22 June 2008.  

Grammar-hating Ed Balls has little Eton secret

If the grammar school-baiting Ed Balls succeeds in his struggle against selection in education, the class war will have been won - at least in part - on the playing fields of Eton. The schools secretary has revealed that as a child he lived briefly at the Berkshire public school when his father, Michael, taught there in the early 1970s. Balls's closet Eton past is likely to surprise many on the Labour left who revel in taunting David Cameron, the Tory leader, and Boris Johnson, the London mayor, for being educated at the school. "While my father was at the University of East Anglia he did a swap with a teacher at Eton," said Balls...

[His father] was fiercely opposed to grammar schools, organising the campaign against the 11-plus in Norfolk. This did not stop him later educating his son privately at Nottingham high school.  Jack Grimston, Sunday Times, 22 June 2008

Grammars damage education, says Balls

[Education secretary] Ed Balls launched his most brutal attack yet on grammar schools  yesterday, accusing them of condemning thousands to educational failure...In a speech in Birmingham, Mr Balls insisted that those who missed out on grammar places were made to feel like they had already failed. The comments were made as he unveiled a multi-million pound package to improve standards at struggling secondary moderns – non-selective schools in grammar school areas [and in many areas where there are no grammar schools at all]. The National Grammar Schools Association accused Mr Balls of having a 'secret plan' to abolish grammars. Graeme Paton, Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2008.

Why £1m bribes 'will kill off grammar schools'

Ed Balls is offering £1m 'bribes' for grammar schools to take over secondary moderns in a fresh assault on selective education...However; supporters of the 11-plus argued that pressuring grammars to run secondary moderns could dilute standards and 'murder' grammars...Robert McCartney, chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association said: 'This is just another ploy in a programme of insidious attack upon grammar schools'.  Laura Clark and Ian Drury, Daily Mail, 20 June 2008.

Education deal crucial

Resolving the problems over education is an issue which could define the [Northern Ireland] executive, the first minister has said. Peter Robinson said they needed to "get into negotiation mode"  and get down to the business of reaching agreement [with Sinn Fein, which wants to abolish grammar schools]. Mr Robinson said if they could agree over education it would show they could agree over anything. [Sinn Fein] Education Minister Caitríona Ruane said she was confident of a resolution...BBC News, 19 June 2008.

Balls now uses Big Brother tactics to sort out our schools

Most of you will know that I’ve always been proud to be a former grammar school boy. Antediluvian class warrior Labour MPs hate successful grammar schools, despite them being the route to a better education for bright children from poor families. So I can imagine their fury when, last week, they heard a grovelling Ed Balls plead with the leaders of England’s remaining 164 grammar schools to come to the rescue of Labour’s failing secondary moderns. “We would all be very encouraging of grammar school heads and governing bodies wanting to play that role with other schools in their area,” said the oleaginous Mr Balls. Labour’s barefaced hypocrisy is stunning. My heart urges grammar school leaders to tell Mr Balls to get stuffed. My practical head urges them to make tough demands. At the very least, they must insist that Labour stops its attacks on grammar schools and actively encourages the opening of many more centres of excellence. Only then should they even consider helping Labour out of the mess it has created. Jimmy Young, Sunday Express, 15 June 2008

Grammars' best being head-hunted to lead academies

Grammar school headteachers are being offered record salaries to take control of controversial city academies, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose. Heads of successful selective schools have been approached by professional headhunters working for the Government in a bid to lure them into the academies programme. Julie Henry, Sunday Telegraph,  15 June 2008

Equality has made dunces of our schools

Imposing one kind of school, one class and one syllabus on everyone, in an attempt to iron out...differences, has been tragically wrong. Encouraging everyone to think they can get a university degree is unforgivably discouraging to the majority of young people who can't and don't. The result has been a school system that suits almost nobody and public exams that mean almost nothing...Quality has been sacrificed to the pursuit of equality. It is shameful. Minette Marrin, Sunday Times, 8 June 2008.