Academic Selection....

Monday 12 September 2016

Valuing only that which can be measured.......

A few thoughts about grammar schools..........

Firstly I have to confess that I failed the 11+. I’m really pleased that I did because I got to attend a school surrounded by a range of talents and personalities.

Do I believe that Schools should be able to select children? Yes, I do. Schools are all very different and what is right for one child and their family may not be right for another. Do I think that academic selection is a good thing? Personally I do not. I can find no real evidence to suggest that children who have a high cognitive ability do better in an academically selective school as opposed to a mixed academic ability environment. The common mistake of course is to look at examination results. The results of an academically selective school always appear better than those who have children of mixed academic ability. The reason is obvious (!) but the number of times prospective parents (and even some of the dimmer politicians) compare the two and express surprise is pretty staggering.

My real concern with the current proposals is that they signal to young people that we value academic ability above all else. It’s the same signal that is shone by those who feel everyone should go to University. What we need is a society that values young people for who and what they are without assigning values to one particular trait or another.

We should be creating schools that have staff, resources and curricula that support, extend and enrich all children. Let’s value the singers, the dancers, the actors, the craftswomen and men, the carers and those who throw themselves into everything as much as the physicist, the mathematicians, the linguists and the chemists.

I am hope that those who pass the 11+ and go to grammar schools will enjoy school. I equally hope that those who do not see through a system that only seems to value that which can be measured.

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