Why The Ghost Of Grammar Schools Keeps On Haunting Us

 

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By Mike Finn in The Conversation.

 

So the cat is out of the bag, and months of rumour and speculation have borne fruit: grammar schools are back on the agenda. In her major speech on the subject, Theresa May went further than many had expected – and claimed that selection by ability might be adopted by any school in the state system.

Grammar schools – state secondary schools which select pupils by ability, traditionally using an entrance exam known as the 11+ – are the ghost which has never really been laid to rest in debates about contemporary British education. Institutions described as “grammar schools” have existed for centuries in the UK, but the version often remembered so fondly is the child of the 1944 Butler Education Act. These grammar schools, created by the Conservative Rab Butler in the wake of his 1944 Act were abolished in most parts of the country with the arrival of comprehensive education in the 1960s. New selective schools were then banned by law under the Labour government of 1998. But grammar schools never truly died and still remain in pockets around the UK such as Kent. So why the perennial cries for their resurrection?

 

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