GRAMMAR SCHOOLS – YES OR NO? The Truth most out



The Grammar School issue which Teresa May has just opened up again illustrates the folly of basing an educational policy on envy, fear of failure and an unreal expectation of the real world, totally without any respect for the multiplicity of different individual needs that schools should try to meet. It was based on political dogma created in the 19th Century, a far cry from the world of the 21st Century we have now entered.

In the pursuit of Equality, their aim was to homogenise all children –pushing them under pressure through identical small holes. As I keep repeating, “we are equal only sometimes, unequal most times and different always.”

For the past 60 years Socialist academics, many weaned on Karl Marx and Das Kapital (written in 1867-1883), hijacked the educational system in the UK and beyond. Their sugar-coated dogma and simplistic, no, blind faith in the benign nature of the Nanny State left no room for common sense. They also have a learning disability.They don’t read people, their needs, their behaviour, their fallibility.

In the tributes to the legendary golfer, Arnold Palmer, I came across this story that the late Ian Wooldridge, Sportsmail’s writer wrote about him in 1987. “We were talking of the competitive urge and how it can be sustained against a background of mounting wealth when, casually, I mentioned the new philosophy of the Inner London Education Authority that sporting competition in schools is somewhat indecent.

 ‘Tell me more’ said Palmer, looking rather as Ollie North might if propositioned by Green Peace. So we explained the theory that young kids these days should not be disadvantaged by being exposed to others more proficient or aggressive. Behind the fifth green Arnold Palmer exploded ‘Well’ he cried within earshot of dozens of spectators who must have been bewildered by what provoked it. ‘That sure is the damnedest, most stupid thing I have ever heard. What, are they dreaming of a utopia of equality? Impossible. It will never happen. The world wouldn’t work.’ He went off muttering and shaking his head to the sixth tee and bolted a huge drive to the horizon. The Inner London Education Authority may have been totally responsible for it.”

First, let me set out the range of children’s’ needs. This is how I described it in my last post:

See this again when you read what I write about the multiplicity of children’s’ needs, some academically endowed, some with practical skills, children with special needs, some physical, some emotional, some with profound learning difficulties, some gifted and talented some musical or artistic, some athletic, some just kids wanting not equality of opportunity to go to Oxbridge, just wanting an opportunity with the life skills to grasp it.

The Left hates competition, but competition is part of life. Despite Charlie Darwin they hate selection and the 11 Plus – they say that it gives children a sense of failure. Don’t they realise that you cannot succeed in life unless you learn to risk failure, and sometimes do fail? No better way to learn.With supreme irony they condemned half the school population to a sense of failure in not making it to University when they focussed schools on getting the other half qualified for a University education.Those pupils were denied the feeling of attainment in the many other areas of school work they could undertake. I myself witnessed the joy of this at the Presentation evenings at the Barbara Priestman School, a special school in Sunderland, when I was chair of its governors.  If you want to know why some children misbehave or truant or are put on ritalin, think about this paragraph.

Worse, they believe that an equal opportunity to get degree, any degree, is a passport to success in life. HO HO. They oppose bursaries and scholarships with a bond requiring recipients to stay in the UK for 10 years because, in their equal world, every student can’t have one. They prefer student loans or a graduate tax that act as a disincentive to self-advancement, not least an obstacle in getting a mortgage for a first house buyer or putting money by for a pension.

Thus, they stigmatised one of the best parts of State education. They stigmatised special schools and closed over 100 of them in the UK They denied children the trained and dedicated teaching and care they needed. They exposed them to the cruel world of the bully;  very often they are excluded in an inclusive environment.  And for good measure they also killed off technical education.

In a binary system of Grammar Schools and Secondary Modern Schools, they went for the wrong target. Envious of unequal excellence, they targeted academic excellence of the one and totally failed to look for imaginative alternatives to the other to teach life skills where they should have focussed their attention.


The price? For over 60 years generations of children have been short-changed. Nationally, this is one reason why the UK has had to welcome so many immigrants with skills not taught in UK schools BUT TAUGHT IN OTHER COUNTRIES. It is also one reason why the UK has lost out industrially to Germany.

Meanwhile, the academic elite of the right were not equipped, not positioned, not even minded to challenge all this and the media, was silent as the grave. Some maybe bought into the utopian dream, others cynically and without question went along with it in pursuit of readers or airtime, money in other words.

I went from Bede Grammar School to University on a State Scholarship from the working class town (as it then was) of Sunderland. I was not alone. And many Labour MPs made the same journey. My own Grammar School is no more.

Dead hand of the past, your grip on us is still quite strong.

Dead hand of the past,  you’re a dead hand to the last.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *