Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Anti-Grammar Frenemies Must Put Quarrels Aside

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Anti-Grammar Frenemies Must Put Quarrels Aside

Article excerpt

Neo-traditionalist and progressive factions within the education system are coming together to fight the grammar-school revolution, writes TES head of content Ed Dorrell, but they must be careful not to let their clashing ideologies get in the way...

An improbably large and colourful cross-sector alliance is coming together to fight the imposition of more selection on the schools system.

This isn't simply a coalition of the progressive wing of the teaching profession. It's not just the NUT, the Institute of Education and the regular comprehensive campaigners. It now takes in Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Ark academy chain and the former Conservative education secretary, Nicky Morgan.

In the last week, I have appeared on two panels on the subject - one for the NUT and the ATL at the TUC conference (a more Old Blob affair it would be hard to find) and one at ResearchEd, the gathering of Tom Bennett and Nick Gibb's New Blob shock troops. Strikingly different the two camps may be, but they are similarly apoplectic about the prospect of more selection.

Of course, this latter group rose to prominence under the patronage of Michael Gove and the Era of the Tory Modernisers, who made it very clear that they strongly opposed selection at 11, not least of all because they wanted all children to study the new, robust curriculum, achieve the EBacc, and to learn the "best that has been thought and said".

This group even defined themselves by their rejection of selection at 11, with David Cameron once describing it as the territory of "right-wing debating societies".

So neo-trads and progs have come together on the side of the educational angels? Sort of.

The trouble is that behind this statement lies a near-intractable problem: I'm not sure there's much consensus about what they're defending.

Is it Gove's vision of robust, traditional Victorian schooling with times tables and kings and queens by rote? …

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