Grammar Schooling: Tripartite education bringing apartheid into the classroom

Six months ago I discussed a seminar I had the good fortune to attend on the state of the education system in Japan and I drew a comparison between the political machinations that were driving Japan’s seeming slide towards a tripartite form of education and Britain’s political conditions. I aired my concern that we could be heading for a return to the tripartite system of education that we abandoned in favour of comprehensive education.

Six months on and the Tories are looking to drag Britain back to a system of education long since discredited.

Two old chestnuts are brought out to support the reintroduction of selective education. Grammar schools are a boost to social mobility.

Chestnut One: Social mobility exists in any meaningful sense.

Chestnut Two: Grammar schools were a conduit for social mobility.

I discuss here in great length why Chestnut One is a fallacy, which leads us to Chestnut Two. Something cannot be a conduit for something else if that something else does not exist in any meaningful sense.

Do grammar schools assist/educate those children who attend them? Yes, in most cases they do. Is selective education better at assisting/educating most children than comprehensive education? No.

The point of selective education is that it is exclusionary. There is no value in selective education if everyone can enjoy it, then it becomes comprehensive education. To make selective education selective you must provide fewer places than could be necessary for education purposes, that allows for competition and selection. So, for selective education to exist there must be a capacity for discrimination within the system, which means that there must be people who will become the victims of that discrimination. Tripartite education brings apartheid into the classroom.

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