Few intra-governmental memos have sparked more anger than one called Circular 10/65, a memorandum sent 51 years ago by Anthony Crosland, then the education secretary, to local authorities. The document instructed local officials to commence converting grammar schools into comprehensives. Only a few English counties, such as Kent and Lincolnshire, retained many.
Today, we learn, we have a new education secretary - Justine Greening - and she went to a comp. She is the first post-Crosland education secretary - and it has taken longer than one might have hoped for the new system to attain this position. But we also know, though, that Theresa May - and her advisers - are rather keen on a return to a world of grammars.
This might be an apt moment to quickly rattle through what we know about the grammar system. This is an argument that is, in truth, really about more than what is known, in the jargon, as "tracking" - the process of making pupils sit an academic test and separating the highest-performing from the rest.
That is because a lot of people think grammars mean high standards, neat school uniforms and strict discipline. For a lot of adults, the achievement of getting to a grammar still remains a source of pride. Lots credit their subsequent achievements to their schools in a way that presupposes (probably wrongly) they would have been crashing failures had they gone to a comprehensive.
The argument about grammar schools has also acquired a political edge: grammar schools are a shibboleth for lots on the right. Conversely, lots of people who regard themselves as "progressive" tend to support comprehensive schooling. But there are actual testable claims made for grammars and comprehensives. We can examine these schools on their real merits. So we should: do they raise standards, overall? And do poorer children tend to do better in selective areas?
Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36662965
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