GRAMMAR SCHOOLS: The Great Debate; EVENING MAIL SPECIAL ON THE EDUCATION ISSUE THAT HAS SWAMPED OUR POSTBAG

Birmingham Evening Mail (England), July 29, 1999 | Go to article overview

GRAMMAR SCHOOLS: The Great Debate; EVENING MAIL SPECIAL ON THE EDUCATION ISSUE THAT HAS SWAMPED OUR POSTBAG


A special Evening Mail feature on the battle for the city's grammar schools resulted in a flood of letters from readers on both sides of the education divide. Today we publish a selection of your views in the big debate.

FOR SELECTION

T S Chauhan, Halesowen: Being a parent exposed to both the grammar schools and comprehensive system in Birmingham, there is no doubt in my mind that we must not go down the route of abolishing our grammars.

I have been living in Birmingham for the past 35 years and I am very proud of the city. If you talk to people outside of the Midlands, they are envious of our grammar schools.

I applaud the comments made by Theresa May in the Evening Mail that good schools should not be closed down. They should be encouraged and, where appropriate, helped to expand.

Every parent has the right to make the choice. If grammars are abolished, people will have to send their children to the local comprehensive.

It's all very well if you live near the Tudor Granges of the world, but what if you have a gifted child but live in a deprived area with poor comprehensives?

The argument that the local school will benefit from a brighter intake is rubbish .

I am of Asian origin and was surprised how wrong anti selection campaigner Mr George Parfitt was in his comments. Grammar schools, in my view, are racially and religiously mixed.

I was pleasantly surprised to experience the level of mixed integration when my eldest child went to a grammar school.

From what I can see, CASE (the Campaign Against Selective Education) is a politically-backed organisation based in Wimbledon trying to tell us in Birmingham how to run our schools!

We should keep our grammars and develop the comprehensive system from the learnings of these schools by working alongside each other, rather than creating an 'us' and 'them' environment.

R Ward, Bournville: As only one of my three children went to grammar school and all are over the age of 21, I have no specific interest in the continuance of grammar schools.

But I feel they have an essential role to play in the future educational scene in Birmingham.

The Government has recently announced extra funding to cater for the educational needs of brighter pupils. That is precisely what grammar schools do!

There is no need to waste money on holding ballots. The fact that there are several thousands of applications each year for the few hundred places available speaks for itself.

I found the interview with anti-selection campaigner George Parfitt reported in the Evening Mail difficult to follow.

Firstly, he says he is opposed to grammar schools and then that he is not out to abolish them. He criticises the disproportionate intake from white middle classes.

Since entry is based upon the results of tests, and candidates are not asked to specify their colour or class, how does he suggest this alleged bias is achieved and what evidence does he have to support his claim?

Special needs

He also says grammar schools have little or nothing to do with special needs.

He should widen his thinking and accept, as the Government does, that there are "special needs" at both ends of the educational spectrum and grammar schools provide the required facilities for the upper end.

He indicates he would like grammar schools to be more readily available to everyone.

Does he really mean "everyone"? What nonsense! This would result in either low achievers being completely out of their depth or the grammar schools becoming comprehensives. Another of his criticisms is that they make no allowance for children who develop at different stages.

Does this mean he has no faith in the comprehensive schools? I do.

My daughter did not pass the grammar schools entrance exam, so she attended a comprehensive school, followed by a sixth form college, completing her education with a First Class Honours Degree in Mathematics from Lancaster University. …

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