Writings

Upcoming debates – part 1

I will be taking part in a few debates and discussions over the next few months.

First up – see below…..

MANCHESTER DEBATING UNION

This House Would Reintroduce Grammar Schools
February 5 @ 5:00 pm / 6:30 pm
This House Would Reintroduce Grammar Schools
Grammar schools, dominant in the UK until the 1960s, ran under a system of selective education. At age 11 all school students would be given a general intelligence exam. If a student passed they would gain entrance to a more academically based grammar school. If they failed they would be sent to a school focusing more on practical skills. There’s an increasing minority within the political establishment who argue that grammar schools should be reintroduced, including the resurgent UK Independence Party, believing that it offers an opportunity for the brightest students to thrive regardless of socioeconomic background. Critics argue that it creates segregation in our society, and only removes a few children from their troubled backgrounds rather than tacking the root causes of deprivation. This week the Manchester Debating Union asks: should we reintroduce grammar schools?

Facebook event page: www.facebook.com/events/1610632269165849/

Speakers:

– Proposition —

– Robert McCartney QC
Barrister and Former Leader of the UK Unionist Party and founder of the National Grammar Schools Association.
http://www.ngsa.org.uk/

– Graham Brady MP
Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, former Shadow Secretary for Europe and Chairman of the 1992 Committee.
http://www.grahambradymp.co.uk/

— Opposition —

– Melissa Benn
Journalist and author, founder of the Local Schools Network which campaigns in favour of a totally comprehensive schooling system.
http://melissabenn.com/

– Professor Bernard Barker

5 Responses to Upcoming debates – part 1

  1. It’s quite simple: selection at 11 and the crude division into grammar school versus not grammar school is a pernicious and intolerable system – because it generates failure.
    It is an ugly form of social engineering, that says to those who fail the test: You are not good enough; you are second best…
    And to commit this cruel joke on children at the age of 11 is even more unforgivable.

  2. I quite agree and I will be arguing along those lines. Selection also exacerbates social class divisions as most of the children who get into grammars come from relatively affluent homes. But – principally – as you say – it’s appalling to tell an eleven year old that they are not ‘clever’ enough for any school.

  3. You have to wonder why there are still people who want grammar schools. I can’t believe it has anything to do with a belief that they produce better results because the evidence on that is clear. The only reason I can see is that these people do not fundamentally believe that we are all human and therefore equal. Once you accept that simple fact the rest follows, doesn’t it?
    I hope it goes well for you, Melissa! I really admire your tenacity. A true ‘Daniel’.

  4. Thanks, Frank. There was a long period when the argument seemed to stay static; no government would touch the 164 grammar schools that remained – following nationwide moves to comprehensive education – but nor would they condone grammars. The recent moves to try and expand grammar schools – on the spurious grounds that this is merely an extension of existing good schools – is deeply worrying, as it threatens to take our country back to the post war era and divide the population between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ at puberty. Disastrous.

  5. Dear Melissa, thanks for your posts and for all your work. We’d like to invite you to a conference in Barcelona. If you can send me your email address to vmendes AT fbofill.cat I can send you further details. Kind regards, Val.

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