24 May 2012

Grammar schools: equality and social mobility

You may have noticed the lack of new posts recently. This is because of two things: exams, and a lack of inspiration for things to write about. However, an article in The Independent has made me spring back into action and write about one of the many topics that frustrates me.

Grammar schools are one of the best ways to increase social mobility that has stagnated in our country.

Tony Blair’s Labour government, during their first term in office, effectively abolished the remaining grammar schools, leaving very few left in the country. This was one of the single biggest blows to social mobility in the UK. Labour’s abolition of the grammar system (and the unpopular 11-plus test) has reduced the proportion of the state-educated at the top of every profession, and now we have a country ruled by a lot of privately educated millionaires. 59% of David Cameron’s first cabinet were privately educated; only three were educated at a comprehensive school.

Firstly, I shall set up a justification of grammar schools. Many accuse them of being socially divisive: the 11-plus selection system is seen by some to select the best and leave everyone else behind. However, is the system we have now better? Now, even those bright, less fortunate children don’t get a chance to compete with the privileged. Grammar schools allow fewer children to be disadvantaged. They give some the opportunity to compete with the privileged.  

Since the abolishment of grammar schools, there has been a slow but sure increase in elitism in the country. Lower-class children are now less likely to get the top jobs, being beaten by people that have been fortunate enough to be privately educated. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, described this widening gap between private- and state-educated people ‘morally indefensible.’

And yet, nothing seems to be addressing this crime.

I therefore believe that more grammar schools should be introduced again. I’m not alone: according to ICM, 76% of people support the introduction of new ones. With the correct selection processes, incorporating a second selection to allow ‘late-bloomers’ after 11 years old the opportunity as well, grammar schools would once again allow more bright, state-educated students the chance to compete with their private-school competitors. This will allow meritocracy to flourish again in our society, giving the less privileged families a better chance of success. Why should the rich be naturally entitled to a better education?

Our country needs grammar schools to resuscitate social mobility. At a time where trust in politics is low, and jobs are hard to come by, the education system needs to be revitalised with competition, opportunities and fairness. It is a revolting reality that our education system does not provide lower-class children, on the whole, the same chances to compete for the University places and the best jobs.  Grammar schools are ‘a beacon for the entire state education system’ (Gove), and give more children the opportunity to succeed, so why do we only have 4% of children being educated in them? Give children the opportunity to compete with the privately educated; decrease the cruel extent to which elitism dominates our society; allow the education system a renovation of fairness and equality.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. you statement is wrong by saying grammar schools the great help in social mobility no evidence for this at toll
    This conservative belief less immigration get out of the eu more Grammar schools this will make britain great agin if there where no poor people there wouldn't be a raisin to get rich.
    you statement Tony Blair’s Labour government, during their first term in office, effectively abolished grammar schools NOT TRUE
    Margaret Thatcher as Secretary of State for Education was one of the minsters in 1972
    there are lots of risen why the got rid of schools Grammar schools it was not some great conspiracy

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  4. Kids are still kids. You don't need to rebuild educational system and think that everything will be alright. You need to get their attention first, get them to do their homework, or they still will be using sites like this