Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baird: My Grammar School Wasn't Good Even for the Type of Kid It Was Meant to Be Good For

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baird: My Grammar School Wasn't Good Even for the Type of Kid It Was Meant to Be Good For

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor jon.walker@trinitymirror.com jonwalker121

Tom Watson won hearty applause from the platform - but leader Jeremy Corbyn was more sparing - as were some members of the audience (below left) WINNING a grammar school place bought misery to Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

It set her apart from other people in the working class community where she grew up - and even caused divisions in her family.

Mrs Baird revealed the pain that a selective education system caused her when she spoke at a reception during the Labour conference in Liverpool.

Supporters of grammar schools argue that they help provide opportunities to working class children. But Mrs Baird, the former MP for Redcar, said her experience was very different as she spoke about her childhood in Oldham.

She said: "I passed the 11 plus and I went to a grammar school, and it wasn't good even for the type of kid it was meant to be good for."

She was teased because she spoke differently to middle class children, she said. "I was ridiculed by bank managers' daughters who thought I must be such a thick pleb that I couldn't even say things properly.

"And that didn't do anything for my self esteem or open me to the ability to learn. Grammar schools were so divisive. My brother went to a secondary modern and that did absolutely nothing for family harmony during my adolescence. "And in the community three or four of us went to the grammar school and all the rest went to the secondary modern with my brother, and they called us 'grammar school snobs' on the same street corner every day from then on."

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner pledged to fight against plans to expand grammar schools, in her conference speech.

She said: "Theresa May wants segregation, segregation, segregation. …

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