Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Grammar Schools - "Kent Must Defend Its Choice" - MP

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has this morning said that Kent must continue to fight to defend the future of its grammar schools and of educational choice.

Speaking on Radio Kent the MP, himself a former grammar school pupil, said:

"Cameron`s policy not to introduce more grammar schools is not new. What is new is the astonishing suggestion, made by Shadow Education Secretary David Willetts, that because few grammar school children do not receive free school meals this means that children from poorer families do not benefit from grammar school education. The concept that only "middle class parents" are able to "play the system" to get their children into grammar schools is bizarre. There are still parents from all walks of life who regard the education of their children as of paramount importance and who are prepared to forego luxuries such as foreign holidays to pay for extra-curricular activities for their sons and daughters. Is that now a crime?

Kent has a strong tradition of defending its grammar schools and I trust that we shall continue to do so.

I also question Willett`s wisdom of nailing my party`s colours to the City Academy mast. The jury is still very much out on Blair`s creation and before we leap to endorse it and promise more it might be a good idea to ensure that this does not turn into yet another educational gimmick.

Finally, in this new spirit of egalitarianism, I trust that every member of the shadow cabinet that has endorsed Mr. Willett`s view will give a clear undertaking that they are not sending and will not send their own children or grandchildren to public schools which, because of New Labour`s abolition of the Assisted Places Scheme, children from the poorest families may no longer be educated!".


Anonymous said...

Ten years of Blairite wooly thinking has obviously affected the Conservative Party. The aim should be to make all our schools as similar to Independent and Grammar schools as we possibly can; smaller size,smaller classes, sports, games,wide range of extra-curricular activities, strong discipline, good uniform codes, and an ethos that supports every child to achieve in something whether it be sport, music, drama, art, practical skilss or academic rigour.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so now you are even blaming New Labour for the confused, contradictory, rudder-less state of your own Tory Party!

All this shows is that there is now a new issue - beyond Europe - which serves to divide the Tories, and that with such overt divisions, the blue rinsers are little further forward than you were in 1997 and are still wholly unfit for Government.

Go for it Gale; rock your apple cart.

James Maskell said...

The pledge by Cameron on "no more grammar schools" was his first one, literally days after his election as Leader in 2005, therefore the policy is hardly a new one. I didnt agree with it then and I dont agree with it now.

I suspect this isnt so much about the effectiveness of grammar schools as being about what grammar schools sound like to the public. They are seen to be part of the "old" education system and in some peoples opinions (BBC, Guardian etc) they are elitist. Unfortunately this is a bit of a fudge as far as a policy goes. If Grammar Schools are so ineffective and we want our nation's children to have the best education available, then why not pledge to abolish them outright?

Anonymous said...

If, James, it is not a new policy or pronouncement, why is your local MP making such a big thing of it now? You are attempting to play this down, but Gale is playing up.

On your later point, I agree. If grammar schools are not working, they should all go - ie existing ones too. Perhaps that's what your party will announce next. Or perhaps not, as it will upset the Shire Tories TOO much. Which demonstrates that this has nothing to do with sensible, logical education policy, but cheap political posturing.

Anonymous said...

Grammar schools should be abolished. Why do we have a two-tier education system that promotes elitism and alienates those that fail a test at 11 years old ? In a classless society there is no room for Grammar schools, either all children are educated equally, to the same high standards, or they are not. I went to grammar school myself and had I realised at the age of 11 that I would become alienated from the other kids on my housing estate I would have happily failed the test.
Going to grammar school did me no favours, all it did was plant a deep-seated hatred of the class system that thrives in this country.

Adem said...

I went to Grammar School, Chatham House in Ramsgate, and I come from a single-parent family. I enjoyed Grammar School and would certainly not baulk at sending my future children to a Grammar School.

As for getting rid of Grammar Schools, I don't agree. The standards there may be higher, and so shouldn't we instead we encouraging comprehensives to improve?

James Maskell said...

Im not trying to play it down. When Cameron announced the new policy, the announcement was simply "no more Grammar Schools". Today has seen more detail on that policy, and thus the reaction from Roger Gale.

Having a single tier system will actually do more harm than good. The only people that will benefit are those who would be classed as "average" since the weaker students will be pushed too hard and the stronger students will find it too easy.

The only classless society that ever existed was in Stalinist Russia...

Tony Beachcomber said...

I can never understand why education always gets peoples backs up.
Equally, polictions for decades seem to be going round in circles on the subject. After all does it really matter what type of school, children go to. As long as they are taught well and well resourced then so be it.
Personaly, I let my three boys choose the school they wanted to go to.They opted for chatham house, so they went there.

Mind you, Chatham House can do with a lick of paint.

Anonymous said...

12:11. Classless society! Get real. Just because you couldn't deal with your experiences at grammar school it makes perfect sense that you should deny anyone else's child a chance. I lived on an estate in London and some of my friends went to grammar school, some didn't. We stayed mates from then until today. No problem.

Anonymous said...

Having read all the comments about grammar schools my biggest problem is in understanding the introduction of Acadamies - am I naive in thinking that anyone with sufficient funds can either buy an existing school or have one built and then impose his or her own guide lines as to how that school is run? Surely something as important as the education of the future generations should not be left in the hands of businessmen should it? By the way I still think the grammar school system is a good one it gives the children of all classes an opportunity of a good education if the are bright enough.Eileen Cunnew