Parent group campaigns to ban 11-plus

THE BATTLE over grammar schools, cause of some of the bitterest educational disputes since the war, begins again in earnest this week.

A national campaign, designed to use new legislation to end selection for secondary schools, starts on Saturday. The Campaign for State Education, a parents' pressure group, hopes to force at least some of the remaining 161 grammar schools to stop selecting pupils at 11.

New regulations to be announced shortly by the Government will allow parents to petition for a ballot over the future of the 11-plus and selective state schools.

Ministers have stopped short of abolishing grammar schools and said that they will leave it to parents to vote locally on their fate. They argue that it is more important to raise standards in all state schools than to worry about a few grammar schools.

Parents in parts of the country which retain grammar schools - including Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire, the Wirral and Birmingham - disagree. Already, action groups are forming both to support and to oppose selection.

In Kent, which has around a quarter of the remaining grammar schools, John Mayne is a member of the Stop the Eleven-Plus campaign. He remembers vividly his eldest daughter Sarah's disappointment when she failed the 11-plus. As friends at her Kent primary school talked eagerly about going to grammar school, she felt rejected and insecure.

Seven years later, after a successful career at a comprehensive school, including an A and two B grades at A-level, she has just begun a degree course in psychology at Southampton University.

Mr Mayne, whose second daughter, Emily, passed the exam, now regrets he put his children through the ordeal. "It remained a stain on her memory for some time and it could have knocked her confidence."

But Michael Noons, who has a daughter, Claire, at Tiffin Girls' Grammar School in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, feels equally strongly that bright pupils should be educated in selective schools.

He says: "Grammar schools are a way of educating these people to their full potential. I think people sometimes complain they are elitist because their children have not got in."

The opposition is also dusting down its arguments. Eric Hammond, the former trade union leader, is chairman of governors at Gravesend Grammar School and chairman of the Support Kent Schools campaign. "There is nothing socialist about opposing selection," he says "I speak as a Labour party member for 51 years. If you abandon grammar schools, there will be a mushrooming of fee-paying schools. Instead of selection by merit you will have selection by the purse."

Action groups will need to secure signatures of 20 per cent of "eligible parents" before a ballot can be held. In places which have only one or two grammar schools, those are expected to be defined as parents of pupils at state and private primary schools that regularly send children to the grammar schools. In areas such as Kent, all parents will have a vote.

In Birmingham, grammar schools are confident parents will back them. The city has eight, five of which belong to the King Edward VI Foundation. Its secretary, Dr Steven Grainger, says four MORI polls in the past decade have shown that 95 per cent of parents back grammars. "We can't all play football for England and people realise that," he says. "Children are more robust than we give them credit for."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference