Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #2: Bring Back SelectionApril 24, 2007
This is the option that I most often hear from teachers. If our schools are hell-holes how about we get the good kids out of them? Under selection the most able twenty percent of the population were chosen at 11 to get an academic education in grammar schools while the majority went to secondary moderns. Modern advocates of selection will vary the formula: different percentages; new ideas about what secondary moderns should be like; changes in the age of selection, but the basic idea remains the same. Education is wasted on the swinish multitudes, reserve it for the elite.
Of course the teachers who suggest this aren’t volunteering to teach in the secondary moderns, nor are they volunteering to send their own children to them. They have simply given up on saving the education system, and instead wish to save a small part of it.
The reason I don’t accept this is a solution is because the majority of schools will remain pretty much the same as ever. The only difference is they will have lost some of their brightest students and most academically qualified staff. That clearly does not sound like a solution for most people, and while I have quite a lot of sympathy for how the brightest do lose out in the current system, I can’t think of any other public service where people would seriously suggest providing a decent quality of service to only a small elite. Imagine suggesting the police should concentrate their resources on investigating burglaries affecting the people who had most to steal. Or if the National Health Service declared that the best medicine should be provided only for those who were the best examples of physical fitness.
Rejecting the possibility of providing a worthwhile education for all is an idea that I genuinely believe would only be accepted in a society as class bound as England.