Memo to the Daily Mail
I see the Daily Mail had a dig at two of this site’s founders yesterday morning. It was an article about our involvement with the campaigning group, Comprehensive Future, our opposition to selection and to the establishment of new grammar school “annexes” which we believe are really new selective schools. The reporter commented on my own education at a grammar school. He is correct that I went to a selective school, although worth noting that the same school is now a highly successful all ability school just like many other former grammar (now comprehensive) schools around the country. If he had bothered to ask me, I would have explained that my opposition to selection has deep roots and goes back to my own education. I remember only too well the impact selection had on my primary school class as some children got in to the grammars and others didn’t. Equally vivid is my recollection of the then secondary moderns being seen as second class institutions and the impact that had on the many less well off children who went to them. That is how I knew that I wanted something different for my own three children. We still live in the same part of the London where I grew up and they were lucky enough to go, along with most of their friends, to their local schools. All these schools are now comprehensive, successfully serve diverse communities and have far higher numbers of children eligible for free school meals than the national average. We love our local schools and know that the expansion of comprehensive education in the period between my secondary education and theirs has opened up opportunities for many young people that didn’t exist under the old bi-partite system. In the Daily Mail Mrs Shilling, one of the campaigners for the new grammar school that Secretary of State Nicky Morgan is planning in Kent, commented that she didn’t want a “bunch of North Londoners” de-railing their plans. Well we don’t want a bunch of parents in selective areas setting a precedent that could upset the well functioning ecology of our local schools. A brief look at the London map this morning revealed at least five selective schools within a ten mile radius of where I live. Any one of these could in theory now apply to open an annex in our local area since that is the distance between the Weald of Kent grammar school in Tonbridge Kent, and the alleged satellite annex in Sevenoaks that the Secretary of State has approved. The expansion of other grammar schools into non-selective areas is already being explored in the wake of the Sevenoaks decision, making a nonsense of Nicky Morgan’s claim that her decision will not “open the floodgates” So that is why we will continue to oppose these plans. We know from personal experience that selection is wrong and benefits a few children at the expense of the rest. My own grammar school education taught me that.