Leading article: We can't be selective about grammars


Related Topics

Both friends and foes of grammar schools will be watching closely to see what signals emerge from the office of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, following our report on how some leading grammar school heads wish to rejoin the state sector if they can carry on selecting.

The Conservative MP Graham Brady, a trenchant supporter of grammars, says several schools have told him they would like to come back to the state fold if they can still choose pupils.

Therein lies the rub, because the selection question remains extraordinarily divisive in politics and the school system, with Labour firmly committed to non-selective admissions and the Tories in theory signed up to the same principle – but in practice seeking wriggle room.

Mr Brady's point is that the talk emanating from all parties about parental choice is empty and insincere if, in reality, it boils down to "only having a free school if it is not selective".

He is right to point to the ambivalent character of the message being sent to parents now, which appears to be that it is fine to opt for selection if you are rich enough to afford an independent school – but that if you are poor, dream on. Many people feel that there is an element of manifest hypocrisy in this approach, which is why Mr Gove is visibly straining at the leash, saying on the one hand that no new grammar schools will be created on his watch – but that the existing 164 schools are welcome to expand if they wish to.

But allowing surviving grammars to grow is not a solution to the selection argument, it is merely a means to avoid having to come down on one side or the other. It is unsatisfying, even as a provisional solution, because the surviving grammars are not evenly spread around the country; only a handful of education authorities, such as Kent, are fully selective. As a result, expanding the grammars will only confirm the existing differences between various educational authorities, which can't be a good idea.

If Mr Gove believes that grammars are a good thing, which he presumably does, hence their invitation to expand, it raises the question about why the bar is retained on the establishment of new ones.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page


Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments