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Great work Graham, well done.

Now I'll leave the Red Tories to rip him apart for 'disloyalty', rip apart the benefit of grammars, recall how many grammar schools Thatcher closed etc etc.

Should be an entertaining thread... ;-)

Don't tell me this is about to kick off again...

Personally I'd happily set up the Conservative Friends of Quality Education for All, though I doubt it'd be so popular.

SW - I believe that every child should be given quality sporting activity at school, I also believe that the most able sporting kids should be identified and given the specialist training to excel in their field internationally.

I also believe the same for academic excellence, as I would suggest do all FoGS.

I haven't heard anyone accusing the FA of being anti-quality grassroots quality football training because they run the footballing equivalent to grammar schools.

Supporting quality for all and supporting centres of excellence are not mutually exclusive and I am sure all FoGS support both.

I am delighted to see that Graham Brady has not given up on this vital issue. The evidence is clear for all to see; grammar schools provide a much better education for pupils than any other form of schooling outside of the private sector. You only have to look at school league tables and exam results to see this. There is also a huge demand for them from parents and in areas where they still exist house prices are higher and they are all over subscribed.

It strikes me as shear lunacy that David Cameron felt so strongly on this issue that he wishes to stunt the growth of what are simply excellent schools. One could understand his policy if grammar schools were rubbish, but they are not!

I am sure that Cameron has done what he has done to show the public that the party has "changed". Sadly this policy will be to detriment of countless generations of our young people.

My wife and I have already said that if we cannot get our future children into a local grammar school we shall have to find the money, somehow, to send them to a fee paying school.

As a grammar school boy I'd better join the group.

Not a wise move.What's it going to achieve? As a staunch supporter of Grammar Schools this is an debate we should have when we are power not before.
Graham Brady is obviously a principled man but how bright is he?

"but how bright is he?"

And the prize for the first personal insult against Graham, goes to Malcolm!

GB£: I certainly believe in academic excellence, but for ALL. Nobody's proposing cutting grammar schools, those that are there are under no threat, but a future Conservative government must be concerned with improving the education of everyone in the country, not simply - quite literally - the select few.

So those cheering the grammar schools would seem less elitist and out of touch if they tempered their remarks with a genuine commitment to improving education standards in other sectors as well as the grammar schools... but when was the last time they set up high profile meetings supporting comprehensive and faith-based schools?

"Personally I'd happily set up the Conservative Friends of Quality Education for All"

And that would include academically selective schools for those youngsters for whom it would be appropriate.

SW - Do you therefore support the closure or lack of expansion of FA football centres of excellence (football being one example) for the same reason as this prevents ALL children getting the same quality of football coaching as the chosen few?

Have you not spotted how successful sporting centres of excellence (ie selective entry for the brightest talents) has been a massive social mobiliser? I think you'll find that most pro footballers are not from the richest echelons of society.

Why deny the brighest academic talents the same opportunities?

As my post yesterday attracted no comments whatsoever, might I repeat it today on this thread?

"I can't think of any other area of human endeavour where a successful set-up such as the grammar school system finds itself constantly underfunded and undermined, while a failing system, like comprehensives, is forever being encouraged to expand. It just defies logic".

Robert McCartney, chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association.

Posted by: David Belchamber | 03 March 2009 at 09:47

I have enormous respect for Michael Gove but I have real hesitations about the policy of 'a grammar stream in every comprehensive'.

Grammar schools produce the social mobility that both parties claim to want and their recent results appear to be as good as - or even better than - the independents.

The problem, as I have argued before, is that there are either too many of them (i.e. there should be none at all) or that there are not enough of them ("a grammar school in every town"). If you look at France or Germany, the latter solution is the best.

Finally, if the conservatives do believe in local democracy, then leave it to individual communities to decide what systems of education they want for their children - and keep central government out of the decision.

"And that would include academically selective schools for those youngsters for whom it would be appropriate."

Absolutely, I'm from a grammar background myself, and work in education. All I'm saying is that we should avoid being sucked into the trap of focusing exclusively on selective education as Graham Brady often is. A national government must focus on raising standards in ALL sectors, and we don't currently have enough genuine support for this stance from many blinkered MPs in the party. An event for quality education for all would be a better idea in my view.

I'm glad to see that Graham Brady is standing up for what he really believes. I wish more MPs would do the same.

I believe UKIP support grammar schools;

With the utter mess selection into Secondary schools has become surely it is obviously a case for grammar schools. As a teacher of experience in all types of schools it is the fairest and most sensible course to take. But do not make the children be regarded as second class. This is the nonsense. Our country needs people with a range of skills properly taught and properly executed. It is the execution of work which must earn respect not the type.
Liz Kemp

SW, it's all very well talking about 'academic excellence for all', but that ignores the fact that plenty of children aren't cut out for academic study, certainly not beyond 16.

That is why government should invest significant amounts in creating technical schools where these children can learn a trade, rather than waste their time studying courses and subjects that are far from academically rigorous, and teach little of practical use. After the next election, we should build on the government's commitment to make part-time training compulsory for those who leave school at 16 to create a more skilled and productive workforce.

David Belchamber is correct.

The only way forward on education is to end this ridiculous, pointless and divisive debate. So what if Grammer Schools are retained? What about everybody who isn't clever enough to get in? Aren't they entitled to an education better than the rubbish currently served up?

The way to end the debate is to take the state out of the provision of eduction.

Funding in the form of "education money" can be provided to be spent at the discretion of the electorate.

After all a good school can be a shed in a field with disciplined and interested children engaged in learning with a focused and respected teacher using a blackboard and chalk.

Not that expensive.

First Class idea . I am with it all the way! Must join this group.

I don't know why people to quibble about exactly what Conservative Party policy has to say about grammar schools when the whole point of our policy is to move past that debate, and place local school provision in the hands of communities by liberalising the process of setting up a new school, so that any interested body can set up a school based around pretty much any educational model it feels is appropriate, and parents can choose which school their children attend. This is a vastly superior policy to one that focuses specifically on grammar schools, and in any case the likelihood is that in the future a great many of the new schools set up under this system will be very similar to grammar schools anyway.

My background is upwardly mobile working class of the post-war culture.
This post is most certainly a product of that background. If we as a party do not support Grammar schools, we are not only condemning another generation of gifted working class children to an intellectual and financial poverty, but are actively supporting the under-development of intellectual human capital. If we do not rework our comprehensives to allow for different types of intelligence, then another generation of talented working class children will be left unfulfilled and alienated by the world in which they exist. By talented, I do not mean the narrow definition beloved of socialists confining "talent" to soccer, athletics and the Arts, but the development of manipulative skills and abilities of working with materials. These are the engineers and technicians without whom the concepts of the intellectual scientist will never be realised. Many of our young people are capable of becoming fully developed through this route. Examples are the graduates of Forces apprenticeships, many of whom went on to reach General rank (or equivalent) and a man of my acquaintance who started his working life as a craft apprentice with an engineering firm, was re-graded as a student apprentice as his ability became apparent and some 20 years later is the managing director of the European division of a multi-national engineering concern. A wholly intellectual education would have been irrelevant to the needs of the people mentioned - just as the present intellectually based system is to many of today's young people.
The children of privileged parents; the rich, those who will make any sacrifice for their young, and the children of MP's of all parties, will continue to benefit from superior education which should be available to all who would benefit. In the 50's and 60's, until Crossman and Williams, the Country was moving towards that ideal. The comprehensive system is a camel of a educational policy, designed to appease politically correct doctrine rather than provide the best possible education according to the abilities of the young person. "All Must Have Prizes" continues to be the ultimate expose of the emperors' clothes which is socialist educational dogma, 20 years after publication. The present wholesale celebration of ignorance and underachievement in our schools is wholly due to that dogma.
The socialists have, however inadvertently, actually left us a useful tool to realise our aim of the best possible education for all. Funding is, in the main, not allocated by the type of school. The vast majority of funding goes with the pupil. Thus the same amount of money is used to educate the gifted, the talented and the latent ability child. We could build on the academy model, first stripping out the PC c~~p and designing schools which teach a core curriculum but have the flexibility to marry the burgeoning abilities of the pupil to the requirements of local commerce and industry. The most difficult thing will be culture change in the educational establishment. In the main, those with their hands on the levers of power are fully paid up members of "With Kids like this, what can you do?"- a phrase infrequently heard in staffrooms but more in frustration than as a core belief. They are so patronising that they even take a term of endearment and turn it into a negative metaphor for working class young people. Teachers at the chalk face have been exhausted by 12 years of statist bullying, denigration and incompetence. The vast majority would love to be given the chance to achieve a high and continuing standard of excellence, of which State support of discipline in schools is but one part. Trying to get unions and the present crop of government "advisers" to adopt a positive attitude to our young people and build a culture of excellence in schools was one too far even for Maggie (pbuh). If DC manages that one he will truly have a legacy to be proud of.

Congratulations. This needed exposure. The fact that there is a discrepancy in education proves that the "One size fits all" attitude of the Labour Party has not worked. It is the result of envy, and always succeeds in bringing down the general level of education, rather than raising it as intended. These schools were a good grounding for everybody, and were available to all who are capable of utilizing them. Polytechnics and trade schools were available to those who prefer to study a trade, and offered just as good an opportunity to succeed.

To those who say that we should concentrate on academic excellence for all and not on selective education, do you not realise that in the areas that have grammar schools, the education and results for those children who do not get into the grammar school is far higher than the national average.

The reason for this is because of the grammar schools, streaming off the top layer means that the education for ALL children can be more focused on their needs rather than teaching to the class average which can lead to the brightest getting bored and the lowest getting left behind. So the children in the grammar schools get an education that will educated to the higher levels that they can achieve and the children in the non-grammar schools will be educated to the levels that they can achieve.

Graham Brady had better join the rest of us in this century. Grammer Schools are a thing of the past. Better to abolish them all and move on. The site would be better named Back to the future!!!

We need Grammar Schools more than ever, throughout the country.

Jack. Did you mis-spell "grammar" to establish your proletarian credentials, or was it just to annoy "Toffs" who care about such things?

I hope that Grammer Schools are gone forever. Grammar schools on the other hand will outlive us all!

I live in a liberal, Lib Dem part of north London, with lots of young parents, and I can say that the promise of a grammar school in the borough would be a real attraction.

What next? Knee length skirts and rationing?

Abolishing grammar schools in most places was a disaster for bright children from poor backgrounds. Many of those children now have to attempt to learn while being constantly pestered by semi-thugs whose main aim is to make learning impossible for as many of their fellow pupils/students as possible.

"..we should avoid being sucked into the trap of focusing exclusively on selective education as Graham Brady often is. A national government must focus on raising standards in ALL sectors.."

SW at 09.22: I agree entirely with both points, though I would say that I have had the greatest difficulty in trying to initiate any debate on selection in education.

I believe that it is vital:
* to improve the quality of primary education and to reduce the 30%+ 11 year olds who cannot read write or count to an acceptable standard. If they do not have the basic attainments at 11, they cannot progress in secondary education and, if they are forced to stay in education until 18, they will be a nightmare for teachers.
* to improve class discipline (see above).
* to focus on the all-round education for the less academic child (including sports and other extra-curricular activities).
* to allow local authorities to convert good comprehensives into grammar schools, if parents so wish.
Finally, I agree with GB£.com in suggesting an anology between sporting and academic excellence. To excell, you must select.


To the thousands of pupils currently being educated at grammar schools and the parents desperate to get their children a grammar school place, Jack Stone's remark that grammar schools are a thing of the past,will seem ridiculous. But let's consider a moment, perhaps Mr Stone knows more than we think. Consider the present Labour policy of underfunding grammars and then pushing them towards consolidations and mergers. The agenda is not to take on the grammars openly but to make it very hard for grammars to operate unless they agree to merge either with each other or with local academies. Andrew Adonis who was liked and trusted by grammar heads has been moved and they are left to deal with Ed Balls who is hostile to grammars. Small wonder that 70 -odd grammar school heads from as far afield as Penrith and North Yorkshire made the journey to London for the friends of grammar school reception to meet with MPs and peers from across the political spectrum. Localism should mean freeing people to make a choice about schools but at the moment some of our best schools are facing extinction. Michael Gove has shown that he is prepared to listen to what works well for pupils and will be an excellent Secretary of State. The sooner he replaces Ed Balls, the better.

The rich could always afford Independent or even Public Schools for their children, the Grammar School was the ladder by which the bright and hard working child of working class parents could better themselves. Indeed many Labour MPs and even a Prime Minister, Wilson, advanced by that route.

Tony Blair (Fettes) condemned the "Bog Standard Comprehensives" and sent one of his children to a better school and many Labour MPs have done likewise.

BTW I don't see rationing returning, thank God, but many women these days do wear knee length skirts and smart they look too. This however has nothing to do with Grammar Schools and other systems of Education selected by ability,which concept I totally support

we are not thinking radically enough about selective education. The most salient objection concerns selection at 11 (for historic reasons) which is premature for boys in particular. We need to replicate our world class independent sector model, with age 4-8 for primary school, 8-13 for middle school and 13-18 for senior school. Selection for academic ability at 13 would be far more appropriate and would also address the problem of the 'lost years' age 11-14 in huge schools focussed on GCSEs which often fail this age group so badly that they go backwards in terms of educational attainment.

AT LAST SOM1 TO CHampion this cause i just wonder will he nw now agree thAT THE polytechnic upgrade was flawed

Grammar schools are elitist. They condemn the not so bright to a second class election just because they fail to pass an examine at eleven years of age.
I want to see excellent schools for all not just the few.These old fashioned elitist institutions should be abolished once and for all.

SW makes good points about lifting up the level of education for all. This will require the installation of a civic infrastructure of improved parenting so that bullying and disruption go down, funding of special schools to give more intensive education to those teachers cannot control, the ability for Police to act within schools, good learning centres (improved libraries + other facilities). At present that infrastructure is not there and makes the life of teachers a lot more difficult and their goals almost impossible to achieve, turning them ffrom educators to holding-pen managers.
I also agree the Polytechnics had a valuable role and making them Universities blurred the difference between vocational and academic to the detriment of all. One big falloff is the year's work experience which means the links between training and the workplace suffered a major setback.
Last is industry itself which does everything it can to avoid paying for training thus the reduced number of apprenticeships.
One thing people are agreed on is under the current pot of education policies social mobility is down and the native workforce is outshone by immigrant labour in hard skills and eaasily outshone in soft skills.

"Personally I'd happily set up the Conservative Friends of Quality Education for All, though I doubt it'd be so popular."

Sign me up! I would rather do that than watch while some concentrate on improving the lot of a few bright kids in an area, especially when I know that you can provide that quality education for everyone without them being segregated in this harmful way.

What nonsense Jack Stone

"Grammar schools are elitist. They condemn the not so bright to a second class election just because they fail to pass an examine at eleven years of age."

The Amersham School (where I live ) is an excellent school, far far better than th evast majority of comprehensives. However the Grammar schools: Dr Challoner's GS and HS, as well as those in Chesham, HighWycombe and Aylesbury are fabtastic school. On a par withall but the most exclusive private schools.

Comprehensive education, (of which I was a product), was a downgrading of everyone to a middleing level, and has been massively counterproductive.

"Grammar schools are elitist. They condemn the not so bright to a second class election just because they fail to pass an examine at eleven years of age.
I want to see excellent schools for all not just the few.These old fashioned elitist institutions should be abolished once and for all."

I think we can all guess that someone like Jock Stale never attended a grammAr school and envied those who did - "It's not fair, just because I'm thick".
Having said that, the even worse speller has turned up again.

The socialist and the elitist are actually on the same side of the argument when it comes to grammar schools.

The socialist fears the grammar kid breaking out above the ceiling socialism wishes to impose, and the elitist fears the grammar kid ascending to their giddy heights.

It is no surprise that Cameron and Brown would hate them.

If you look on the website they have a comparison of A levels results for the top 50 grammars versus the top 50 independents.

Firstly the grammars win.

On the independent side, Eton is mid-table, St Paul's scrape sin and there is no sign of Harrow, Rugby or Millfield.

Secondly many of the independents are ex-grammars and high schools.

From a previous socialist our children the chance of a grammar school education, where work is rewarded, behaviour is rewarded and the results that folloe speak for themselves.

Superbore. God knows where you get it from. I post under one name not two. As for the personal abuse just silly and very childish. I just think you ignore the point. The grammar school system condemn three quarters of children to an inferior education from the age of eleven. Do you think that`s fair? Of course you don`t. Fairness and Conservatism doesn`t really go hand in hand does it!!!

Jack Stone's comments are over 50 years out of date. It is now 50 years since Secondary Modern Schools started to offer education to 16 rather than leave at 15. Since then many children have gone onto Grammar Schools at 16 and thence onto University. The teachers at Secondary Modern Schools have risen to the challenge to give their charges that opportunity.

Jack Stone, I don't understand who the two names are he is referring to, I assume not me?

Anyway Jack, under the comprehensive system many more than 3/4s are getting a crap education, so grammars must be better than comprehensives.

I don't think you are 50 years out of date. My comprehensive annis horribilis was 1971, when the small catholic boys grammar, (~2 Oxbridge entrants each year), became part of a huge cathloic comprehensive, (AFAIK, no Oxbridge entrants since). IRMC

Unlike Tony Blair and Harriet Dromey, I didn't come from a background where my parents could afford to send me to public school. Labour-run Humberside Council had abolished the Grammar schools in my hometown, but luckily, I got into one in the adjoining (Tory) council.

I'll be joining this group and urge other ex-Grammar pupils to do the same.

Draper-Stone continues to abuse other people without reading their posts. The "even worse speller" referred to is James Cullis.

Back to the subject from which you are trying to distract people: Grammar schools gave clever children from humble backgrounds - eg Michael Howard - a better chance in life, that they could take advantage of but others couldn't.

PS Derek Conway drove into a river and walked away whilst his mistress drowned? I must have been on holiday that week.

With 2 daughters fortunate enough to be in Buckinghamshire grammar schools I am delighted to support this group. There is a direct correlation between the reduction in social mobility and the abolition of grammar schools. With Aylesbury Vale having to build 10,000 new homes over the next 15 years under the government's dictat I am looking forward to new grammar schools being built and opened in my area.

This Stone is a disgusting idiot. Selection, far from "condemning" anyone, offers a first rate education to all PRECISELY because it is tailored to the needs and aptitudes of its pupils. Reputable studies have demonstrated time and again that mixed ability classes sink everyone. The academic are bullied, intimidated and bored; the non-academic bewildered and resentful. Equally, it has been demonstrated that intellectually untalented pupils do better when competing against coevals of similar capacity. From Germany comes evidence that vocational courses for the non-academic, because they actually mean something to their pupils, stimulate them to succeed in those academic tasks which are attached to their curriculum.

Education, properly speaking, is the identification and cultivation of talent. Its social function arises from this calling.

The socialists, however, have turned the old educational ladder into a blunt instrument of social levelling.

They should hang their heads in perpetual shame for the intellects which they have dimmed and the lives which they have deliberately blighted.

@Robin Clash
The reason Eton is mid table is that it is a non selective comprehensive school (for the children of very rich parents) - unlike Westminster, which is a crammer for North London kids. There are plenty of staggeringly thick Etonians. Even the most casual contact with the Shadow Cabinet will reassure you on that point.

However, where Eton triumphs with its academically divergent pupils is that it sets in every subject in every year. And until four years ago, when socialist educational theory triumphed even there, it published an annual table so that every Etonian knew where he came in every subject out of 250. Oxford found these tables much more useful than A levels in assessing applicants. Gifted linguists were taught together and maths duffers were given extra support together. As few people do not have something they are good at and can excel at with proper coaching, this system helps everybody.

The Eton model could be imported into every sizeable comprehensive in the land. It is not necessary to hive off grammar schools of talented pupils and herd them into laagers. Setting in each subject independently rather than Grammars or streaming is the way forward. It is something that our leader should know only too well.

Robin Clash:

"If you look on the website they have a comparison of A levels results for the top 50 grammars versus the top 50 independents.

Firstly the grammars win.

On the independent side, Eton is mid-table, St Paul's scrape sin and there is no sign of Harrow, Rugby or Millfield".

I can assure you, Robin, that the best independents are among the best schools in the world, which makes it all the more depressing that this government doesn't try to have a proper educational dialogue with them.

One good reason why Eton etc might be down the A level list is because more and more independents are giving up on A level and GCSEs because they do not stretch the most able pupils. They have turned to the IB and international GCSEs, where the standards are higher.

At a school I was greatly involved with, last year over 120 IB candidates averaged the Oxbridge pass mark and 13 attained the maximum of 45 marks. Throughout the whole world, only about 60 or 70 pupils attain the maximum mark.

"I can assure you, Robin, that the best independents are among the best schools in the world, which makes it all the more depressing that this government doesn't try to have a proper educational dialogue with them."

.......... and, David Belchamber, Hapless Hattie could confirm this, speaking for herself and her children.

Had, in 1960, some malign genius devised a scheme for wrecking the state education system, he could not have imagined that his plan would have been bettered beyond his wildest expectations by the actions of successive governments.

The “nature versus nurture” argument, which provided one of the chief reasons for the abolition of grammar schools, has quietly been resolved in favour of people like the much vilified Hans Eysenck. Ed Balls tacitly admits this when he talks about bright children from poor backgrounds.

Unless the future of this country lies in taking in washing for the Chinese, something needs to be done to place intelligent children institutions where learning is cherished, not derided.

@David Belchamber


I am not attcaking independent schools, far from it, but I am supporting totally grammars and believe we should build more.

Aren't a lot of people forgetting something here? Grammar schools are a matter of choice within the state school system. The system is currently failing its 'customers' because demand far exceeds the supply, thanks to the blinkered views of too many politicians. Supporters of grammar schools simply want that choice. They would not deny the choice of a comprehensive school to those who want it. The comprehensive lobby, by contrast, are totalitarians. They want to abolish all choice (and competition) from the state system. Long-term they will try to abolish it from the private sector too. Perhaps some people need to ask themselves why?

"I am not attcaking independent schools, far from it, but I am supporting totally grammars and believe we should build more".

I understand you, Robin, and agree completely with your point of view. My own life owes so much to my father's brilliant grammar school education, so that, although he was unable to go to university, his three children were able to do so.

Education is far too important to be left in the hands of politicians (though I have great respect for Michael Gove with whom I have had a similar discussion), so it saddens me that this government does not harness the expertise of the independent sector. A number of Labour MPs are quite happy to take private advantage of it but do not concede that it has much to offer the state sector.

'A grammar school in every town' and the system working properly would indeed undo some of the reduction in social mobility brought about by the Labour Taliban over the years.
Matched by a real improvement in educational opportunity for those less academic, we might one day have the truly 'world class' system of education that NuLab - with a completely straight face - claim we already have..

Frank Skinner, not someone I have warmed to in the past, has written a relevant piece in today’s Times . His first few paragraphs illustrate why there needs to be an institution in each locality that caters for children of an academic bent.

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