Stories + Views
BBC documentary on grammar schools was one-sided, say Oxbridge academics
TES reports that the BBC has received a formal complaint about its documentary, “The Grammar School: A Secret History”.
The objectors, comprising Oxbridge academics, historians and educationalists said the BBC had a “statutory obligation” to present both points-of-view about selection particularly now that selective education is “back on the political agenda.”
The documentary, according to the academics, painted a rosy picture of grammar schools. It used “emotive and value-laden language… accompanied by romantic piano music” to elicit a positive response. It was “largely uncritical, factually careless and reliant upon unrepresentative personal testimony” which presented grammar schools as, according to the programme’s script, a “dream – the dream of giving the very best education to Britain’s brightest children.” This dream, according to the programme makers, was “swept away” in the 60s and 70s.
One of the objectors to the programme, Professor Richard Pring, Lead Director of the Nuffield Review of 14-19 education and director of education at Oxford from 1989-2003, told TES that the programme ignored research showing that selection at age 11 couldn’t be justified. This view is supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which found that high-performing schools systems tend to be those that don’t segregate pupils according to ability or geographically.
Michael Pyke, of the Campaign for State Education (CASE), told TES that he would like to see the BBC giving a “more balanced view of education”.