Now let’s open a grammar school in every major town

Now let’s open a grammar school in every major town

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs you will not be surprised to learn that I very much welcome the government’s investment in expanding the number of grammar school places.

You’ll also not be surprised to learn that I think this is only a step in the right direction.

For those that decry that grammar schools are elitist, I would argue that elitism will always exist with or without selection and there is nothing wrong with being elite.

In all walks of life, we should strive to be the best we can as that is how we’ll survive as a nation and an economy.

If people have a particular talent – in this case, academia – their skills should be harnessed as that will benefit us all.

Where I would argue we need change is our attitude towards what is deemed successful.

For far too long the focus has just been on academia and how clever a person is in terms of passing academic exams.

Of course, these skills should be highly valued as it is these people that will be our future doctors, teachers and lawyers.

More recently, thanks to the legacy of the London Olympics, we’ve positively encouraged and harnessed the skills of the elite in sport and this brings joy to a nation.

But what about those people who are entrepreneurial, artistic or technical? These skills are just as important and should be just as highly valued. We should harness those talents just as much as those that are brilliant at maths, science or English.

After all, these people will be the wealth creators and even future leaders.

A one-size-fits-all education has not worked for more than 50 years and all it does is bring us all down to the lowest common denominator.

The most vocal of grammar school critics argue that it does not help social mobility. This is quite clearly nonsense.

If we can get enough academic children from poorer backgrounds to grammar schools they will benefit from the expert teaching and smaller class sizes.

Just look at how many former Prime Ministers from relatively humble backgrounds went to grammar school.

In fact, some of the most well-known opponents of grammar schools either benefitted from a grammar school education themselves or have sent their children to grammar schools. So, it’s okay for them to reap the benefits that they would deny to others.

I welcome that grammar schools must first prove how they will enable more children from deprived backgrounds entry before they are granted permission to expand.

But for grammar education to really boost the social mobility of children there must be a change in the law to allow new grammar schools to be built.

New grammar schools in the deprived areas of major towns would provide far more chances for academic children from these backgrounds to reach their full potential.

I would also like to see a 13+ exam as well as an 11+ to not only give children more than one chance but also recognise that some children develop later than others.

That would enormously benefit the academic elite from all backgrounds.

We just need to recognise that there are elites in all fields and academia is just one of them. We must also provide far more specialist schools for 14 to 19-year-olds.

In the current political climate, such radical change of our education system is unlikely to happen but I will continue to fight hard for it.