National Grammar Schools Association
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How grammars survived ministers

7th December 2001 - The Times

By Glen Owen

Grammar schools have been fighting for their survival since Anthony Crosland's infamous vow to close down "every f***ing one" in 1965.

The 164 schools left are the remnants of the tripartite system established under the 1944 Education Act. Grammars were expected to emulate the academic ethos and sporting prowess of the top public schools by creaming off the brightest 11-year-old pupils.

Circular 10/65, issued by Crosland as Education Secretary, requested local authorities to abandon the 11-plus. And heralded a 35-year fight by defenders of the selective system. By the time Margaret Thatcher became Education Secretary in 1970, the momentum for abolition was unstoppable: although she prevented the closure of more than 90 grammars, she presided over more comprehensive school designations than any predecessor or successor.

In 1995 David Blunkett, then Shadow Education Secretary, told the Labour Party conference: "Read my lips. No selection by examination or interview under a Labour Government." The following year, he claimed his comment was a joke and declared that the partyês ideological war against the schools was over.