England used to have a very good and efficient state funded secondary school educational system. It was a selective in nature and attempted to stream children according to their ability, determined at aged eleven. Those deemed to be the most intellectually able and have strong academic skills went to Grammar Schools and those with a less scholastic vent went to Secondary Modern Schools. Those children who proved to be late developers academically could transfer to Grammar School on reassessment at thirteen years of age.
The outcomes of this system proved very advantageous both to the Country and to our children. Those at Grammar School tended to do well in their studies and often headed off later to higher education. Those at Secondary Modern Schools tended to develop life skills that set them up later for strong careers in industry & business regularly through apprenticeships – motor mechanics, nursing, engineering, carpentry, plumbing, eclectics, display, communications, retail, and dozens of others. You could say it was horses for courses. All ended up with talent orientated fulfilling work.
But that wasn’t good enough for our democratic zealots was it? It was deemed ‘unfair’ that children should be categorised by ability; everyone had to be treated the same you see, even if they weren’t the same – so sod their actual strengths and weaknesses. No they all had to go to the same type of school – a so called Comprehensive, one size fits all. But it doesn’t, does it? As a result we have subsequently created a set of failing massive & unwieldy schools, so they can accommodate all abilities, but then we have to stream the kids there by ability anyway, whence the academically able work together and the less capable work in lower groups. Adults may continue the pretence, but kids are not stupid, they know when they are top & bottom of the pile, don’t they?
Another bad thing is that all children have to take the same exams these days – for some reason you can’t have exams geared-up to the specific abilities you are trying to measure – so you force youngsters to get rubbish marks in unsuitable exams instead of good marks in exams that focus on their real skills. Strange that, eh?
The renowned politician and ex-Labour government education supremo for three years in the late 1970s , Shirley Williams’ name is in the frame as the architect and powerhouse of the comprehensive school system and the enthusiastically abolisher of grammar schools [but a politician who apparently cuckoo’d her own daughter with friends to get her into an independent school instead of a Comprehensive – strange?].
Labour & Tory big wigs provided a mixed bunch of other guilty (often privately-educated) men and women who helped get rid of our grammar schools – like Tony Crosland, Margaret Thatcher (grammar educated but the biggest hatchet merchant of them all) and even John Major and the likes of Tristram Hunt & Nick Clegg who denigrate them nowadays.
Political dogma, particularly from the Labour left side, in the nineteen seventies, got rid of grammar schools and as a consequence destroyed the opportunities for so many.
Those idiots who decimated our educational system are the same cretins who even promoted removal of competitive sport from our schools, on the basis that children should never learn to come second –good training for competitive adult life NOT, eh? By their philosophy the elite runners in the London Marathon would start not at the front but amongst the charity amateurs and have to fight their way to the head of the pack (and that is how our educational system now works).
[There used to be about fifteen hundred grammar schools and we still have about a hundred and sixty or so that have survived now].