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Why do Matthew d'Ancona and Lord Blackwell imagine that the leadership of the Conservative Party consider social mobility to be desirable?

This is the final straw. This conservative, for one, can no longer in good conscience support Project Cameron. And I was a "May Cameroon", i.e. someone who supported Cameron as leader before he even announced because I believed that he had the right characteristics to defend and resuscitate conservatism in Britain. Unfortunately, Cameron and his cronies seem to think that the only way forward to high office for them is to dump all conservative policies and become the New New Labour. I won't support this and I won't vote for a party like that. I doubt I will be the only one, and in an election that is likely to turn on every vote, Cameron is seriously miscalculating. I think his betrayal of conservatism may very well cost him the crown he so covets. But at this point, I'm pretty much indifferent about it.

Why cannot Cameron be like Sarkozy?

A truly pathetic decision. I live in Kent and our grammar schools are a jewel for parents and pupils. Sorry, Dave, you just set back your attempts to regain the Kent marginals a very long way indeed.

I am entirely at a loss as to what differs here from our earlier announcements of exactly the same thing.

Can somebody fill me in on what is new today?

Political parties are supposed to win votes by giving the public what they want within reason (without of course doing purely populistic stuff).

And seeing as politicians don't really know what people want (or how to deliver it), the default option must be to leave it up to people (i.e. parents/schoolchildren), i.e. give them a CHOICE.

If a party offers people a CHOICE (between different types of schools), who in their right mind would not vote for that party? If you want to send your kids to a bog-standard comp, great, go ahead, your decision, perhaps this is in fact the best type of school, what do I know?

A party of CHOICE would allow that option, as well as secondary moderns, streamed grammar schools, City Academies, vouchers for schools/private education and so on.

If people make the wrong decisions, then that's their look-out and there's no come back on the politicians in charge.

You could have written this post at any time in the last 12 months Goldie. All your posts during that time have been relentlessly negative and your predictions regarding elections have been woefully wrong.
Most things that Cameron has done during the last year appear to have been popular both within the party and amongst the electorate. This speech from Willetts like Greg Clarks 'Toynbee' speech appears to have gone down badly with many people within the party but that's life I suppose.

"Why cannot Cameron be like Sarkozy?"

You want Cameron to go further to the left?

This was an area to play the 'more in sorrow than in anger' line.

Willetts should have said something like: it's too late to reinvent grammar schools; it would be too much of a political distraction; so much as we'd like to we're not going back there; but I guarantee the survival of any existing grammar school if parents still want it; we'll just concentrate on making sure schools deliver grammar school quality for the modern comprehensive era; gosh these Academies are a good way of doing just that; here are 76,767 other policy suggestions we're looking at; and here's an Opposition Green Paper.

Perhaps Willetts did actually say something like this - and I'm not convinced that the substance of the policy has really changed - but that's not how it's sounding, is it?

PS: Malcolm, you're being a little unfair to Goldie. He was one of the genuine 'early adopters' for DC on this site. He was also one of the 'early defectors'.

What a disgraceful attitude from a so called Tory, pull up the drawbridge men, I'm alright. "Two brains" Willetts has become at a stroke "no brains" Willetts. Reading his article? does he know what the Grammar Schools did? I'm afraid he hasn't a clue and his conclusion from a limited situation is perverse, ( OK stupid).

What a disgraceful attitude from a so called Tory, pull up the drawbridge men, I'm alright. "Two brains" Willetts has become at a stroke "no brains" Willetts. Reading his article? does he know what the Grammar Schools did? I'm afraid he hasn't a clue and his conclusion from a limited situation is perverse, ( OK stupid).

Malcolm: well, yes, I have written that post in weaker forms before, I have been disappointed with Cameron, but at some point it's just enough. I don't want the Conservatives to win power if they are opposed to grammar schools, in favor of continued mass immigration, critical of the use of the "islam" in connection with "terrorism", opposed to tax cuts, in favor of the currently unsustainably high levels of spending, and so on. Because you can call it what you want but it has nothing to do with actual conservatism, it is in fact leftism. I'm not a leftist, and I would rather have another term of New Labour so the Conservatives can find their bearings again. Sorry if this hurts your feelings.

A welcome policy shift.

Grammar Schools are over-rated and are usually the preserve of the well-coached, well-connected or the well-addressed. An 11+ exam is no real test of ability, just opportunity.

PS: Malcolm, we've only had one real result in Westminster since Cameron became leader and if you think Bromley and Chislehurst was a good result for Project Cameron perhaps you should reconsider.

I was indeed an early adopter of Cameron and until recently I continued to believe that perhaps Cameron could turn it around, but he really doesn't seem to want to. I think Willets and Letwin play a very bad part in all of this.

I continue to adhere to the AND theory of conservatism, particularly in Britain's current opinion climate. But "conservatism" is an integral part of that formula. Someone like Sarkozy has understood that, someone like Giuliani in America understands that. Cameron does not seem to. I predict it will be his undoing, but to the extent it's not his undoing, I predict he will do little as prime minister conservatives can be proud of.

'I continued to believe that perhaps Cameron could turn it it around'Goldie.Simply not true as every post you have made in the past year makes very clear. Your predictions on the local elections were also massively wrong.No doubt todays will be equally wrong.

malcolm, I have responded to your comments at 14:40 on the original thread. Interested to hear your thought's

Maybe when many people consider grammar schools they think of the negative connotations of the 11+ exam, so perhaps a different type of entrance criteria and even a higher entry age need to be considered, and then maybe there can be a more objective debate to that form of education, one which I feel I benefitted from in the late sixties to mid seventies.

Paul - your point is sensible.

I just note that for all the howling and anguish about the poor little grammar schools no one has mounted a rational defence of the 11+ system and nor could they, in my view. It is elitism disguised hiding behing the rhetoric of meritocracy

Sean Fear:
"Why do Matthew d'Ancona and Lord Blackwell imagine that the leadership of the Conservative Party consider social mobility to be desirable?"

The cultural Marxists I've conversed with seem actively hostile to social mobility, and the Conservative leadership seem to share their views. It's hard to run a technocratic, PR-based state unless you have a permanent technocratic elite lording it over an uneducated, socially immobile general public. Creation and maintenance of such a technocracy seems to be the aim of the American, British and European governing elites of all major parties.

David Allen Green:
"It is elitism disguised hiding behing the rhetoric of meritocracy"

The 11+ was intended to create a meritocratic elite. As opposed to the prior and current hereditary elites.

DA Green 16.35

Meritocracy IS elitism - that's the whole point! Do we want our most promising youngsters to get a shot at the best schooling? You bet we do. It's good for the child, good for the state and good business as the child will undoubtedly be a productive taxpayer. All this I like. Western countries don't succeed because of some egalitarian nonsense; they succeed because the elite, in all sorts of different spheres, rise to the top. We need to encourage that, whilst improving the state schooling that the majority of children will experience. You can argue as to whether the entrance should be sat at 11, 12, or 13. Perhaps even a sixth form intake at 16. But I'll defend it in principle.

journalists I've been speaking to, whilst doing those interviews, genuinely can't understand what Cameron-Willetts are trying to do.
Far be it from me to cast aspersion on the intellectual ability of journalists, who, if Today is anything to go by, cannot fathom a policy in terms of anything other than how much more money ought to be spent on it, or how well it fits their stereotyped view of Conservatives. I presume, Editor, that you were able to disabuse them of their confusion easily enough? After all, what is being attempted here is clear: a massive expansion of the non-LEA controlled sector, to increase diversity of provision, and thereby to open up opportunities to the poorest in society currently denied them by our class-based education provision. I think grammar schools were clearly fantastic in their time - the statistics and the anecdotes are inescapable - but equally inescapable are DW's data which shows they are absolutely not reaching the poorest in society now. Since that is the sector which you grammar champions claim is being helped by them, then you are either arguing for a nationwide return to the 11plus, or you are not serious in your claim to wish to address social mobility. I do not believe the latter, so you should at least admit the former, so that I can say 'thank god that is not our educational policy'.

Not germane to the argument itself but certainly germane to the ridiculous brigade of people like Roger Gale -- if this grammar school thing is such a litmus about David Cameron, why the bloody hell didn't Thatcher reintroduce the 11plus and have a massive expansion in grammar schools? Why did John Major create grant-maintained status? Rhetorical questions obviously but worth remembering that grant-maintained schools were (1) really really good things, (2) distinctly Tory, (3) dismantled by Labour in 1997, (4) reintroduced by Labour as City Academies -- only with the votes of Conservative MPs.

Although the Conservatives announced earlier that they wouldn't introduce any more grammar schools, I am still saddened at this decision. I went to a grammar school in Kent (I am now at University) and it wasn't stuffed with middle classes. What David Willetts should have said is that LEAs should be give the choice between retaining their comprehensive system if it works, or allowing Grammars to be reinstated. The entrance test can then be changed to reduce the bias towards overcoached middle class children and if necessary, the SATS in Year 9 can be used an indicator if pupils want to change schools at at a later stage. In addition, more funding could be allocated to the non-grammars in an effort to redress unfairness. However, abandoning them for academies is wrong - a little reform is all that is needed.

David Allen Green seems to be a reincarnation of Erich Honecker. There is nothing wrong with elites as long as they are open (i.e. meritocratic) elites. With all its faults, the 1950's and 1960's grammar school came as close as this country has ever come to creating open elites and genuine social mobility. The current leadership of the Conservative Party is easily parodied as the worst form of closed elite: a cabal built around inherited wealth, social status and contacts.

Simon Newman's post at 16.40 seems to be worryingly true.

David Allen Green, intellectual elitism is preferable to social elitism.

The current system is socially elitist, as it entrenches the advantages that the wealthy but mediocre have over the poor but intelligent. The best-performing state schools are generally those that are located in the best areas, with the wealthiest parents, and/or those who know how to pull wires to benefit their children.

I've never worked out if entrenching privilege was the rationale for abolishing grammar schools, or simply an unintended consequence.

The issue is not so much about grammar schools or the eleven plus. It is only secondarily about education policy. It is about Project Cameron which has sold itself to the Party as understanding post Blairite politics and being media savvy making this turkey of a decision to the derision of the media and 5/6 of the Party. It consists of so many separate own goals, it beggars belief. The ineptitude of the presentation over so important a policy area as education is contemptible.

If Project cameron can't get this right, what use is it?

When I heard on the radio this morning that the Tories were 'to abandon grammar schools' I was profoundly and utterly shocked. But I have read Mr Willets' speech and it seems to me that he doesn't propose such abandonment at all.

In my opinion, it's clear that the 11+ helps to entrench social immobility: if well-off parents can pay for private tuition to ensure a good result in the 11+ and entry to a grammar school and the children of poorer parents cannot do this, social immobility is entrenched.

This is also true of the good comprehensives, where wealthy parents can afford to move into catchment areas of good schools and get their children into good schools. Poorer parents cannot do this.

Making it easier, as Mr Willets' proposes, to establish new schools is a good idea, provided they can attain the requisite academic standards through the use of the more coherent system of pedagogical research and empowerment of teachers which he advocates. Using multi-school academies seems to me to be a sensible and time-saving way of sharing successful educational approaches.

Furthermore, the idea that you can effectively separate the intelligent from the unintelligent at the age of 11 is ridiculous. As Mr Willets argues, at the age of 11, such selection will merely reflect socio-economic backgrounds and parental enthusiasm. I was fortunate enough to be sent to an independent school. There, several of my classmates never got good grades at 11, but developed through setting and streaming and reached the highest standards at 14, 16 or 18. People develop academically at different ages.

Setting and streaming should be used in all schools. That's what the headline should have been today: support for fair selection (setting) and not unfair selection (the 11+). I don't see why this wouldn't work. Bright kids in the top sets are stretched and challenged. Less clever kids in the lower sets get more attention and focus on where they need to improve. They then have the chance and asipration to be moved up to the top sets (just as those in the top sets can be moved down).

Everyone then has an equal and good chance of attaining a good standard at 16, at which point they are employable and can decide to get a job or to continue into further education. (As an aside, I also think the Conservatives should also speak out against the government's awful idea of compulsory schooling until 18)

I see Mr Willets' central themes as: making existing schools better through setting, better research and teacher empowerment, spreading good techniques and making it easier to set up new schools using proven teaching methods. This approach is Conservative, not Labour / New Labour, because it doesn't say: 'throw cash at it and hope it works' or 'achieve equality by bringing everyone down to the same lower standard'. It could also be effective politically, with Brown being the 'roadblock to reform' etc. I therefore don't think the fuss which the speech attracted can be wholly justified.

It seems to be one of those widely held, but utterly false, beliefs that it is the poorer in our society that benefit from grammar schools when the vast bulk of evidence shows it is not the case. That is not too say it doesn't help some but on the whole they reinforce social immobility. What would be better and has proven to be better is greater independce for all schools coupled with a voucher system within these schools as has been the case is Sweden , the Netherlands (which offers a top up voucher for the poorest), the US, Columbia and many more with huge success.

Chappers - some sensible thoughts, I agree that people do develop academically at different ages so 11+ should not be the only entry age. 14 & 16 should also be potential entry points.We need schools that produce excellance and identify each individual's area of talent. Selection is the only way forward, we are not all blessed with the same gifts or skills and we do our children and young people a great disservice by misleading them, as politicians of all parties have done, and this has resulted in huge grade inflation, lower standards, and much lower quality entrants to our universities resulting in huge numbers of poor quality graduates been spewed out to try and find employment! I totally disagree with a number of previous comments stating that Grammars entrench social mobility, it has been quite the reverse historically! I don't disagree that in more recent years, due to the limited number of good state schools that the 'middle class' may have been more aggressive in 'coaching' their children both for the good Comprehensives(and yes there are some!) as well as Grammers. The only criticism you can justifiably point to is that the old Grammers should have had multiple entry points as I originally stated at the start of my comment. The Leadership team are yet again believing that the 'project/makeover' overides common sense or conservative principles. Giving people the opportunity is all you can do!

grammar schools gave us Edward Heath, surely reason enough to welcome their dismissal.

In 18 years of tory government not a single new grammar school; so Thatcher & Major opposed social mobility?

I teach students who couldn't pass a computing exam to save their life. According to many posters here these students are either thick or not worthy to be member of the elite. But when you want a heterogenous network with a properly configured firewall and a clustered MySQL database there the ones who can actually do it. I think we should have a reverse grammar school system with all the money first going to skills based training for the majority with the academically gifted being given some textbooks and told to get on with it. If they're really bright they'll thrive.

I was shocked to hear David Willetts implictly call for the abolition of fee-paying education....but that can be the only conclusion if the proportion of children taking free school meals at schools like Eton and Harrow and Marlborough is too low.

I do not know how many children from poor families David Cameron and George Osborne met at their schools, but if they have to have charitable status removed and VAT-imposed because they serve only a moneyed-elite it would be such a pity.

If the only selection in education is to be parental income and house price things are certainly regressing further than anyone could have contemplated. It looks like Gordon Brown will have to be the traditionalist and fight of the Blairite Conservative Party.

academically at different ages so 11+ should not be the only entry age. 14 & 16 should also be potential entry points.

It was in some areas. In my area it was 11+ backed up by continuous assessment on the Thorn Scheme to complement the exam result and serve as a cross-check

Sorry, but I fail to see how Willets implicitly called for an end to fee-paying education. Surely the objective here is to make the state system as good as the independent one, by making it easier for teachers to do their jobs, by using setting, making research better, and making it easier to set up good new schools. That way, everyone has equality of opportunity through equality of access to the best education available.

Brown's approach to all this is epitomised by what he said in the 2006 budget. He made much of his goal that the same amount of money would be spent on each state school pupil as each private school pupil. But as the last 10 years have shown, fixing a leaking classroom roof doesn't mean all the pupils get A*s. Learning how to win elections and then throwing money into crucial areas without any intelligent idea of how best to apply that money is the Blairite approach.

So I hope you're not conflating 'Blairism' with Cameron's attempts to make meaningful, centre-right suggestions as to how to approach problems which actually affect normal people. I think that reading the substance of Willets' remarks makes clear that the Tories are not taking a Blairite approach to this issue.

Sorry, but I fail to see how Willets implicitly called for an end to fee-paying education.

Clearly you did not hear the Conservative Caroline Quinn interviewing Socialist politician Willetts today.

Quinn pointed out that nationally only 13% children were on "free school meals" supposedly some criterion of poverty (although asylum seekers can claim them, EU nationals cannot for 12 months..in this area schools are diverting funds to help poor Slovak children eat)

Anyway, if the proportion of "free school meals" is low at grammar schools according to Willetts, I cannot see that it is higher at Eton or schools by appointment to the moneyed classes.

In short if Grammar Schools don't make the grade, Public Schools certainly do nothing but entrench privilege and instill the sense of moneyed elitism without academic underpinnings.

It is clear that on the basis of free school meals - the criterion advanced by Willetts - public schools should be abolished and brought into the state system

, centre-right suggestions as to how to approach problems which actually affect normal people.

Worse than that...I think Cameron's groupies are so besotted with 1997 that they want to re-run it. Gordon Brown is going to walk all over them....I would not have believed it possible for Labour to appear the lesser of two evils...better the devil you know

The independent sector should prepare for a very rough ride from the Cameroons.

"And I was a "May Cameroon", i.e. someone who supported Cameron as leader before he even announced because I believed that he had the right characteristics to defend and resuscitate conservatism in Britain."

It's amazing the amount of people who express these sentiments: 'Oh, Cameron fooled me into voting for him during the leadership election'. What you mean is that you so desperately wanted to believe that he thought as you did and accordingly projected your values, desires and opinions onto his smug, Sofa warehouse salesman demeanour.

There was a David in the race who represented the over-whelming majority of Conservatives, but it wasn't David Cameron.

The membership only have themselves to blame that the Conservative Party isn't led by a Conservative.

"In 18 years of tory government not a single new grammar school; so Thatcher & Major opposed social mobility?"

Nevertheless, social mobility under Thatcher increased. It's decreased since her time and continues to do so.

I don't recall Thatcher ever singling Grammar schools out for criticism; nor indeed Major for that matter.

As for installing heterogenous networks, configuring firewalls and clustered MySQL databases - I think you'll find that the vast majority of those in the market place undertaking this sort of work have written exam-based qualifications coming out of their ears. Clearly you don't work in the I.T. industry.

Someone suggested that this could be Cameron's "Clause 4 moment"

I sincerely hope it is, with one big difference. Blair defeated the unions over his Clause 4. Cameron will lose.

At last we the people have the chance to give Cameron and his Mafia bloody noses all round.

Grassroots Tories have been waiting a long time for this. Let's seize the chance.

I agree that the number of free school meals claimed is a dubious indicator and that there are others which would make the point which Willets seeks to make - that there are fewer children from underprivileged backgrounds attending grammar schools (because richer parents can move into catchment areas / pay for private tuition before 11+ etc). Quite obviously there are going to be few claimants of free meals at public schools. But just as Willets didn't call for the abolition of grammar schools because of this, he didn't call for the abolition of public schools.

I'd suggest that public schools have flourished of late because of the failures of the state system. Parents who can afford to would naturally rather send their children to a public school where their children will be well-educated, in an academic and extra-curricular manner, than to a state comprehensive where, in the name of equality, their child will not be stretched and will not realise his/her full potential.

It's the same if the choice is between a good grammar and a poor comprehensive. Surely the fair approach is to make state schools as good as private ones, so parents don't have to make that choice? Abolishing fee-paying schools would be the traditional Labour/ socialist proposal. The Tory proposal is to introduce teaching methods which work, and extend those to comprehensive / academy schools which are not selective, because as I commented earlier, selection at age 11 is unfair.

I'm not entirely sure why you think Gordon Brown will walk all over Cameron's Tories. Yes, this policy idea hasn't been presented properly in the media. But after 10 years, what are Gordon's answers to failing schools and what does he have to show for his massive, 'smoke and mirrors' taxation?

I think that Cameron has faced up to the fact that Tories have to talk about issues such as education and the NHS more than issues like Europe if they are to appeal to the wider electorate. Not so sure about the re-run of 1997. What Cameron certainly needs to do is to win back the votes which Blair & the Lib Dems took in 1997. The way to do that is to fight for the centre ground.

Well said Jonathon at 16.58.

stephen tolkinghorne

I worked at a senior level in the IT industry over many years before going into teaching as I decided I wanted to do something for others.

I know of which I speak. If you mean vendor qualifications these are usually on-line practical tests - exactly what I'm talking about.

outside of very specific areas most software developers are not academcically minded. Employment is based on a track record and ability to get the job done.

I'm afraid you don't know what you're talking about and this is the problem with the grammar school deifiers - right ideal, wrong way of achieving it

My first opportunity to blog on the education speech today, having just skim-read the text...

I should perhaps start by declaring an interest - I received an excellent education from the first grant-maintained grammar school in the country, and there is no doubt that that policy functioned in its time, and as Willetts said, achieved its aim of extending high-quality education to those from more modest backgrounds.

Hearing this announcement leading the 6am bulletin on the Today programme, I had to smile to myself, as I could already hear the howls of outrage on CH.com commenters and a noisy minority in the Parliamentary Conservative Party. Perhaps I should draw some comfort from the predictability of the over-reaction from the usual collection of right-wing turkey-basters...

I'm not wedded to the expansion of grammar schools on any kind of of ideological level - if they are functioning in their original role of extending educational opportunity to all, helping ensure that no child is left behind when there is tuition they could benefit from, then fine. Willetts' evidence tends to suggest, however, that they are not as effective in helping the most disadvantaged as the old CTCs and the new City Academies.

I think that it is probably right not to disturb the structures of existing grammar schools if that can be avoided, and always right to remember that these are not abstract structures but active institutions with a constant responsibilty for the children within them. For that reason I am encouraged by Willetts' steady, measured approach to introducing reform.

Should we pursue an alternative to grammar schools going forward? The answer to me is that we have to if we think we can do better. It's not a matter of grammar schools, right or wrong, but of following the evidence in making policy. As far as I am concerned, quality education is such an important driving force in "elevating the condition of the people" that "what matters is what works" (I realise that someone may have used that phrase before...)

"It seems to be one of those widely held, but utterly false, beliefs that it is the poorer in our society that benefit from grammar schools when the vast bulk of evidence shows it is not the case."

Probably because the bulk of remaining grammar schools are in middle class areas.

Regarding the fact that Thatcher failed to open more grammar schools, although this was an unfortunate failure it is notable that a)she achieved many other things which makes it easier for that cockup to be ignored and b)there were, arguably, more pressing issues to be dealing with.

In the 1997 manifesto the following line appears:

"We will help schools to became grammar schools in every major town where parents want that choice"

Well done Cameron, you're a moron. truely, This countries main parties seem determined to believe that if not everyone can have the chance to excel and recieve education from a school that puts alot of effort into providing the engineers, scientists, doctors and buisnessmen of tomorrow then no one can. Its quite possible that he's just alienated a very large section of his member base. If cameron continues to decontruct and degrade to the level of being a pure Tony Blair nu Labour clone. Then many more people are going to leave to vote for someone else.

Mr Carey, I entirely agree.

RS, I don't know where you get the idea that "if not everyone can have the chance to excel and recieve education from a school that puts alot of effort into providing the engineers, scientists, doctors and buisnessmen of tomorrow then no one can". That's Labour policy. Nobody is talking about abolishing schools which already give people the chance to excel and enter the professions. Quite the opposite is true. Today's speech was about improving schools so that more of them can do exactly this, and for school classes of a fairer socio-economic composition.

What I find staggering in all this is that the truly conservative ideas in Willets' speech have been totally muted by all the 'for / against grammar schools' argument (those ideas including being setting and streaming, proper pedagogical research and allowing teachers the freedom to use the best methods). In advancing these ideas, Cameron is going the opposite way to Blair and Brown, and certainly not being a New Labour clone. I really hope this grammar school headline wont stick and that the virtuous, underlying ideas get more coverage.

kingbongo "I worked at a senior level in the IT industry over many years before going into teaching as I decided I wanted to do something for others."

Anyone can be anything they like on these discussion boards. I would suggest that you aren't as you claim, else you wouldn't make such statements. A great number of those with whom I've worked in several software companies were of grammar schools, and certainly benefitted greatly, in their own words, from the excellent grounding in mathematics and physics they received - a standard of education befitting their undoubted talents. They would not have gotten that at the bog standard comp, which you seem to love so much, and wouldn't have been able to do the job as a result.

Result: no high paying IT career, bog standard life, bog standard job with far fewer prospects.

I have tolerated all of Cameron's puzzling eccentricities, no matter how maddening. But this is much too far.

My constituency is being merged with its neighbour in the boundary changes next election. It will be a marginal seat, and certainly one to watch - every Conservative vote will count.

Mine will not be one of them.

Regarding the fact that Thatcher failed to open more grammar schools, although this was an unfortunate failure it is notable that a)she achieved many other things which makes it easier for that cockup to be ignored and b)there were, arguably, more pressing issues to be dealing with.
It was a policy decision because she saw Grammar Schools as Socialist, in the early 1970's she delighted in closing Grammar Schools as Education Secretary working with Labour councils up and down the country, and she remains opposed to Grammar Schools to this day, Grant Maintained Schools were intended to be the replacement for Grammar Schools. So from her point of view it was a success.

From John Major's point of view of wanting a Grammar School in every town his time as Prime Minister, it was a failure in that no more opened.

I would just like to widen this debate with the following statement and questions.
All kids have special needs, that is the special need for their individual aptitudes to be recognised and developed to the best of their ability. We are individuals and if allowed to play to ones strengths, the whole game will reap the benefit. Achievement in one facet of education will build the confidence to maximise all areas.

In which school system does this really truly happen?

Which school system can genuinely claimed to achieve this?

It is not my intention to answer this question, but rather to hope we can on ponder upon this for a moment.

Superb posts by Chappers at 19.22 and 21.48. These are good policies that build on the best ideas including ideas from grammar schools. They set us apart from the other parties and they would work. Our duty as a party is not to hark after totemic issues or worry about whether we are too centerist BUT to govern well for all the people. Interesting that Thatcher preferred grant maimntained schoolos andkiyt seems we are buidling further on that model. Perhaps the only thing that might be said is that the PR over the policy failed but I don't know personally whteher that is true or whether the first media to cover it were just being negative,


Can I just echo Matt Wright's praise of the excellent posts by Chappers who put forward an excellent argument in a much better way than I could. Would also like to agree with Richard Carey and Kingbongo who made excellent contributions to this thread.

But the problem is that Willetts started it. He had a good story to tell and then blew it by quite unnecessarily mentioning grammar schools. Why? What was the point? If he had any bottom (18th century political sense, not in the CCHQ sense obviously) in the Conservative party at all he should have predicted this reaction.
Its arrogance or incompetence or a deliberate attempt to inflame the non-elected part of the Party and in any case he should go.

Of course the upper class toffs want to linit grammar schools, they always have despised the middle and aspirational classes

Personally, the policy has been announced for over a year, and the fact that the wealthier can pay for extra tuition, more preparation etc means that they do exclude people.

The wealthier should not be penalised for being so, but beating the system, for me, leaves little remaining choice - which is a shame, as in principle, I do agree with grammar schools.

Willetts may have two brains but he has ZERO common sense or judgement. Remember he was the man who took a friend to court over a dispute which involved him trying to scrounge a free holiday in exchange for a couple of dreadful chocolate box pictures painted by his wife?
He has delivered the enemies of grammar schools the best piece of publicity they could have dreamed of. The man is an idiot. Moreover, his suggestion of adopting Blair's city academy strategy (the "I don't know what to think so I will agree with what the last bloke said approach) shows even less judgement. These places are a disaster whereas grammar schools are a huge success producing great results...so what does "Two Brains" do: "disses the successful one and nails his colours to the mast of the disastrous one". Brilliant!
I would prefer to have one brain and a bit of common sense personally and an iota of judgement.

I have come to this late, but I have to say two things.

1. I was a child of a bricklayer who passed the 11+ in the 50's and retired as a University Lecturer - that is what meritocracy is about.

2. My Dean of Faculty once said to me "If we want to win the high jump competition, we need to find one student who can jump 6 feet, not 6 students who can jump one foot!"

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