YEP Community Forum: Should grammar schools return?

Theresa May's plans for a new generation of grammars will not mean a return to "sink schools" for children who miss out on selection at the age of 11, a senior Cabinet minister has insisted.

Theresa May's plans for a new generation of grammars will not mean a return to "sink schools" for children who miss out on selection at the age of 11, a senior Cabinet minister has insisted.

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Have your say

This week, we asked members of the YEP Community Forum to give their views on the government’s proposals to allow new selective grammar schools to open.

Martin Walker, 48, Horsforth

What we need are good schools that help develop our kids and help them to reach their potential - though parents need to take greater responsibility too. The type of school is unimportant, as it doesn’t seem that fee-paying schools are really THAT much better than state schools - they only offer more facilities.

James Kirk, 55, Middleton

Intellectual competition should never be discouraged. Many successful entrepreneurs failed the 11-Plus and used it as a catalyst to achieve greater things. Failure can define a person and encourage perseverance. Whilst aspiring polymaths can often be distracted by the disruptive behaviour of pupils who freely choose to neglect their education.

Joanne St Lawrence, 73, Wortley

I went to a grammar school and I am grateful for the excellent education I received. However, I feel a good comprehensive with monitored streaming is better. With good monitoring children could change streams according to ability and their stronger and weaker subjects, this would give them more incentive and confidence.

Golam Kibria, 37, Harehills

Yes, I think more grammar schools should be opened in England to meet the growing need. At the same time the government should be careful with the fact that the quality of grammar schools shouldn’t be compromised with the increased quantity.

Amy Green, 33, city centre

A good education is one of the most important things we can give our children and I believe the proposed reforms will allow us to add to our strong school system and continue to make sure every child realises their potential. We must however make sure we keep up the standard of education we have across our school systems. Every child matters.

Gordon Mayne, 68, Moortown

More grammar schools (providing that they are not exclusively for the privileged few) are a good idea providing that this does not inhibit the development and improvement in other schools, because they generally deliver good quality education and higher standards of behaviour.

Michael Askin, 71, Yeadon

Yes more grammar schools, it’s good for bright pupils to be given the opportunity to achieve accademically, then be given the chance to prove themselvs, and anyone not selected can achieve just as much in life with determination and enthusiasm. It is a win-win irregardless of grammar schools.

Sophie Mei Lan, 28, Wakefield

I believe the grammar school system divides children at a young age and doesn’t help social mobility. I think if more were to open then some primary schools will start to prepare pupils academically for the entrance exam. And primary education should be about play and enjoying learning, helping students of all backgrounds to flourish. Just look at the success of Finland’s education system where pupils don’t even start formal education until aged seven. In this country we’re too bothered about ranking children and ticking boxes. But we should be celebrating diversity and the strength of learning together whether children are academic or not.

James Lee, 46, Otley

Like root canal work, I fear grammar schools may be a necessary evil. As a comprehensive school teacher, I know that the provision students receive is differentiated according to their ability, for example most schools will have an academically more able cohort. However, the current educational system is failing many, especially white working-class boys. Perhaps boys’ grammar schools with a competitive ethos (and an IQ-based, uncoachable, meritocratic entrance exam) could help this particular demographic?

Hank Smith, 63, Woodhouse

I believe more grammar schools should be open. Giving bright youngsters a better chance. The same people who object to grammar schools have no compunction about those living in better off neighbourhoods sending their children to better state schools in those areas. Guaranteeing them a better education, which I find rather hypocritical.

Ian Dowd, 37, Roundhay

Grammar schools put some of the smartest children on par with those from private schools. Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson and Ted Heath all went to grammars and broke the trend of Prime Ministers coming from a small number of elite private schools. But what happens to the other 80 per cent of children who don’t go to grammar school?

Meryl Knapp, 75, Headingley

No. The evidence is that where grammars exist overall results are no better. Selection is divisive, impoverishes other schools and brands the many as ‘failures’ at 11. It seems London has achieved huge improvements for ALL within the current system. That should be our model.

Dennis Appleyard, 68, Crossgates

I cannot see the point in trying to create a non-competitive, non-selective society. But the key questions must be is 11 the right age to select? What happens to those not selected? And where is the evidence that grammars serve the majority of pupils both inside and outside them?

Denis Angood, 69, Bramley

Teachers and their ability to impart knowledge is what brings quality to any school but that has to be matched by the children. As a grammar school boy I am in favour but whether they provide better education is down to the attitudes of both teachers and pupils. That proviso will always remain.

Lyn Facey, 63, East End Park

I was disappointed when I heard of the plan to resurrect the grammar school system again. The claim that this time it will be different to before and available to children from disadvantaged groups is not really true. I think that it will only further segregate those children who need the most support. The education system does need a shake-up but the grammar school system isnt it. I also believe that moving children up to high school shouldn’t happen until the age of 13 when the children can be better prepared for forthcoming adulthood.