Brexit Britain needs more grammar schools

Social mobility is a key tenet of Conservatism – the policies of aspiration that allow people to progress, to provide for themselves and their families, to be self-reliant – not propped up by the state.  And for this to happen, we must provide more opportunities for educational excellence. 

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Building more grammar schools: Investing in Britain's future
Elizabeth-anderson
Elizabeth Anderson
On 22 October 2017 13:21

Education is arguably one of the most important gifts we can pass on to the next generation.  It is the foundation upon which children start their lives - it is what prepares them for adulthood.

 

Of course, children will take a variety of different paths.  Which is why we need multiple educational pathways that enable them to follow the route that is best for them.  Whilst only one option, grammar schools are an absolutely vital element of this. 

 

They provide a focus for academic excellence.  Whilst many would argue that exam results are not the be all and end all of a successful school career, they are surely one of the most important measures of the key purpose of a school based education, and where young people have the aptitude that can take them down this road, we surely have a duty to channel it.

 

Which is why I have highlighted within my chapter for the new book from Parliament Street, TrueBlue, the need for more state run grammar schools.  One finding I highlight is that in the by-gone days of state grammar schools, 64% of young people going to Oxbridge came from working classes – the ultimate aspirational story. 

 

A 2006 Freedom of Information request revealed that as at that year, it was just 20%. This is hardly a ringing endorsement for modern educational equality.

 

Social mobility is a key tenet of Conservatism – the policies of aspiration that allow people to progress, to provide for themselves and their families, to be self-reliant – not propped up by the state.  And for this to happen, we must provide more opportunities for educational excellence. 

 

I do not argue that grammar schools are right for everyone – quite the reverse, that we must cater for the different learning styles and academic abilities of children, which allow young people to move into the right career path for them.  Grammar schools are a part of this, key to the academic side. 

 

We must meet the demand of aspirational parents, who are likely to know their children best and what they can achieve.  A recent YouGov poll found that two thirds would encourage their children to attend grammar school if they passed the entrance examination, yet only 167,000 children are currently in grammar school education (according to the House of Commons Library), due to the restrictions on the opening of new schools.

 

If we want to build a country that can be resilient after Brexit, and has a workforce with the skills we need for the future, we must open more grammar schools across the whole country, and give children the chances and opportunities that they need.

 

Elizabeth Anderson is a director at the Parliament Street think tank 

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