About six months ago, our lovely neighbours moved about five streets down to a new house. This house was not much bigger than their old house in terms of square footage. It has the same number of beds and bathrooms; the garden was slightly bigger. A strange move you might think – to go to all that cost for not much more space. It is not so strange, however, when you understand that it was done in order to get closer to the very good ‘comprehensive’ secondary school for their kids.
These shenanigans are standard operating procedure down my way. This house, a three-bed pretty average town house, will cost you just under a million quid. A million (plus costs of sale); that is the price of entry to the local ‘all-ability, non-selective comprehensive’.
So when I hear the lefties out there bemoaning the return of ‘selection’ or academic apartheid or divisive education I tell them – now let me see what the is the technical term – to shut the hell up!
We already have selection in secondary schools in this country – and it is selection, as Prime Minister May pointed out, by house price. And it goes on all the time. In addition to selection by house price, we also have the rent and rent trick. This trick, also popular down my way, are those families who have the time, energy and means to rent their family home out (or sell) and then rent closer to the very good ‘comprehensive’ a year before admissions. Now tell me, how many working class families, or lower income middle-class families, can do this?
As far as I can tell, pretty much every critic of grammar schools either went to a grammar school themselves or went to private school or a faith school or send their own kids to one of the above. Witness the atheist Nick Clegg, who sends his eldest son to the Oratory, one of the most sought after Catholic secondary schools in London.
When these critics wax on about how great comprehensive education is I tell them – you had your chance. These same critics have opposed, more or less, all the improvements that have been made to the system so far. More rigorous discipline was frowned upon and many opposed academies and free schools.
They had their chance to give a ‘grammar school education to all’ and they failed to do so. They could have proposed academic streaming within schools; they could have proposed a knowledge-based curriculum; but they did not want any of these improvements.
I am convinced that many of these education wreckers/crusher of dreams opposed these changes because they know educated pupils and citizens are harder to manipulate and get votes from. They want to keep these students down and not let them get ahead of themselves for fear they might develop minds and opinions of their own.
Theresa May will have the fight of her life to get these reforms through Parliament. And we should watch, listen and shame all those who oppose opening more good schools for families who cannot afford a million quid house.
(Image: Ewan Munro)