Discussion Forum

Education bill: selection

Posted by Pat McCarthy
Friday, March 3, 2006

MP Dave Chaytor (once a Parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley) is saying that if the Education Bill, currently going through Parliament, is going to outlaw selection by ability for admission to secondary schools, it should do so for existing schools. I totally agree. This may be a one time opportunity to finally end selection in Calderdale. We know that Crossley Heath and North Halifax grammars schools don't cream that many off from our area, but their existence continues to be a blight. Throughout Calderdale, hundreds of children are "failed" at the age of 11. It is unjust and unfair. Education in our area and the rest of Calderdale could only be improved by the ending of selection.

Posted by Andy M
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

If children are made to feel 'failures' because they haven't passed an entrance exam then that is largely the fault of the people - parents or teachers - who regard them as such, not the exam itself. Academic life and beyond is full of tests, exams and interviews and it is how failure or success at these is addressed that is the important life skill to be learned.

North Halifax, for one, is a positive, welcoming school and would, I imagine, be surpised to find itself labelled a 'blight'. Anyone can take the exam, but not all will get through. It may be a cliche but, that's life.

Posted by Pat McCarthy
Thursday, March 16, 2006

Andy, comprehensive education was introduced to the rest of the country for very good reasons. It was widely thought that the age of 11 was too young an age to make a decision about a child's potential. It was cruel to the child and it meant our society lost a vast amount of potential talent. The majority of children were not being educated to their full capability. Comprehensive education can only exist where all schools in the area are comprehensive. That is is why I think North Halifax High and Crossleys are a blight on education in our area. I am sure they are both very good schools, and my point is not to criticise them for doing their best. My point is that education in our whole area suffers because of the existence of these grammar schools. Only when they are made non-selective can education in our area really move forward.

Posted by Andy M
Thursday, March 16, 2006


OK so why can't education move forward until non-selective schools cease to exist?

You could argue that SATS tests stream kids into groups then tailor education for that group to realise their potential - that's selection too...for the benefit of all hopefully, and the exisitence of any one of those groups shouldn't prejudice the performance of the others (though having worked briefly as a teacher I appreciate how difficult it is to cater failry for all)

Posted by Miv
Thursday, March 16, 2006

An amazing statement! So North Halifax High and Crossleys are a blight on our education system because they are successful and get results. If your aim is to make all schools perform to the levels of the comprehensive system they I fear for the future of our children. If any schools system has been proven to be an unmitigated failure it?s the comprehensive one. As Andy says exams,tests and interviews are a fact of life sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.


Posted by Andy M
Friday, March 17, 2006

If selective schools get more than their fair share of resources, as paid for by the tax-payer, then yes - that is unacceptable. If their exisitence is of no material detriment to other schools then to want their cessation appears more a political ideal than a neccessary action.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Friday, March 17, 2006

Selection happens, and it happens because of ability. Whichever school system you use, you will select according to ability, because not all pupils are of the same ability.

I passed the 11-plus about 40 years ago, and went to a high school on North Tyneside. Some of my friends who failed and were sent to secondary modern schools passed the 12+ (second chance) exam, and came to my school. A few years later, our system went comprehensive, and I was one of the last couple of year groups to have a grammar school education in that school. I saw the streaming system in action in the year groups below me. Some groups were little better than remedial, others were more like the standard at which I'd been working for the previous few years. I think the ideological aim was to provide a fair chance for everyone to have the same standard of education. In fairness, it is easier to "gain promotion" to a higher ability group in the same building than in a different school. But I suspect the overall standard of the schools in the borough was adversely affected overall.

Whether that is the fault of the comprehensive system per se, I don't know. I'd also challenge the tinkering with O-level and A-levels. My children have all come through A-levels and university (in comprehensive schools), and I know that the A-levels they did are not as advanced as the ones I did in the same subjects in 1972.

I think there is a degree of confusion between the perfectly laudable aim that everyone should have the chance to get the best education they can, and the assumption that everyone can achieve in the same way - and the current obsession of getting 50% of students into university simply illustrates the failure to understand the problem.

Posted by Neil
Sunday, March 19, 2006

I just chanced upon your discussion here, but it struck a chord.

I live on the Wirral where selection still exists as well. Witnessing how this works in reality at my daughters school has rekindled my opposition to this 'divisive' (according to the education secretary) system.

On the Wirral we have 4 non secular grammar schools and 2 catholic ones. These schools (except the catholic boys school) are in the areas of Wirral which were under the control of Cheshire before the 1974 boundary changes. The rest of Wirral had turned comprehensive under Birkenhead and Wallasey boroughs. Post 1997 pupils from across the borough and beyond have been able to take the 11+ and apply for places at these school.

Admisions to these schools are made on the basis of where children (those who pass the 11+ that is) live, which gives the vast majority of the population of Wirral no chance, even if they have the ability. Needless to say, these schools are in the more affluent areas of the Borough where estate agents advertise properties as being close to the grammar schools. All in all, the system is a mess and I fail to see how supporters of selection can justify a system where access to grammar school education is only available within a particular area of the LEA.

Being born and living very close to two of the grammar schools, I am very concerned that this system has a great impact on the 'all ability' schools in the area (the former secondary moderns). With 40% of the 'brightest' pupils going to the grammer schools how can they possibly be all ability. The late developers very rarely get the chance to change schools, and the pressure on some children (11+ training starts for some at 8yrs) is in my mind inappropriate.

The goverment has stated its opposition to selective education very clearly during the passage of this bill (even the Tory leader is opposed from what I understand), but lacks the guts to act on this in the isolated areas where it still exists.

Overall the evidence points to areas where selection still exists performing worse in terms of exam results than comrehensive areas.