Sunday 7 August 2016

Theresa May brings back Secondary Modern schools - though she will say she's bringing back grammars.

Theresa May looks set to allow selection for secondary schools. This sounds like a return to a grammar school-secondary modern system.

1. The main justification for this is 'social mobility'. The evidence for this is that there was social mobility in the years of the system roughly 1944-1970. However, at the same time there was continued economic expansion along with a steady inflow of labour for the lowest paid jobs from Ireland the Commonwealth. Whatever mobility went on has to factor in that. Personal anecdotes from working class people who went to grammar school doesn't explain the whole picture.

2. Worldwide there is evidence to suggest that whenever you run a selective system, money and qualifications follows the selective schools. More money and better qualified teachers go to the selective schools. This is discrimination.

3. We know how to improve education for all. Sir Tim Brighouse has shown that the key thing is co-operation at classroom teacher level between clusters of schools. He has been sidelined.

4. Some of this is about 'regularising' what is already taking place, with covert selection in academies through entrance requirements, weeding out of SEN and EAL children. The pressure for it will have come largely from such academies wanting to cement their status as the local top dogs in the local education 'market'.

5. The effect will be to increase pressure on primary schools to 'coach' for whatever selective systems are in place. Education will become even more test-oriented as if education IS the test. There isn't enough time in a school day to cover the strategies required to do the tests successfully or to cover all the content. This will only be achieved either by parents who know how to do it and time to help their children or those who can afford to buy in tutors. The tests are then a test of parents' education levels and/or their income. This is discriminatory.

6. The spread of grammar schools across the country will be patchy and varied. This means that not only is their selection locally but there will also be a form of regional selection going on. Again, this is discriminatory.