The Head of the Grammar Schools Heads’ Association has announced that he thinks children from poor backgrounds should be given priority over the middle-classes in admission to grammar schools. He has also said that the 11+ should be scraped in favour of an exam that benefits the lower classes.
This is a clear example of positive discrimination and a ‘dumbing-down’ of education. I agree with the view that the 11+ needs modernizing, at 11 children are too young to take high pressure exams which can have a huge outcome on their futures. There is no doubting the Middle-class education machine where parents are willing and able to spend on private tutoring and coaching. I have invigilated 11+ exams where children are distraught that they cannot answer any questions whilst their parents have imposed so much pressure upon them. But parents are not to blame for wanting the best for their children.
The blame lies with the poor standards of education that state schools currently provide. Parents and children are often faced with the choice of a grammar school or a comprehensive with little variation or scope for individual needs. If the education system was opened up and individual schools were given greater autonomy, pupils would be able to choose a school that could cater to their needs and offer a more tailored education.
Clearly the solution to the poor education standards is not to positively discriminate against middle class students. Instead we need to be offering pupils greater choice and opportunity and provide schools with greater incentives to raise standards across the board, not just for one section of society.