STRAIGHT TALK­ING Ed­u­ca­tion by abil­ity ...not wealth


Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

ON a re­cent trip to Is­tan­bul calami­tous Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel held out the prospect of Turkey’s ap­pli­ca­tion to join the Euro­pean Union be­ing fast tracked.

Not con­tent with telling ev­ery­one in Syria they can claim asy­lum in Ger­many and en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple from the Mid­dle East to make their way to Europe, she now wants the Turks to join the club.

Less than 10 per­cent of Turkey is ac­tu­ally in Europe – the rest falls into Asia.

It is also an ex­tremely poor coun­try with the av­er­age wage less than the equiv­a­lent of 400 eu­ros a month.

And its pop­u­la­tion of 70 mil­lion is made up of around 95% mus­lims – so it’s not even cul­tur­ally Euro­pean.

It also bor­ders with nice safe places like Iran, Iraq and Syria. You know, those coun­tries which want to blow us off the face of the planet.

So well done, Frau Merkel. In your stu­pid­ity, I reckon you’ve just helped push the UK nearer to the Exit door. LAST week the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Nicky Mor­gan an­nounced she will al­low Weald of Kent Girls’ Gram­mar in Ton­bridge to build a new ‘satel­lite’ school in Sevenoaks, some nine miles away.

Sounds all very sen­si­ble and un­con­tro­ver­sial to me.

How­ever, you’d think from the re­ac­tion of some in West­min­ster that Mor­gan had an­nounced we had de­cided to send ground troops to Syria or par­don Ji­hadi John.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, this is Labour – the party that hates so­cial mo­bil­ity – that has come out swing­ing the most and ac­cused the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary of sub­vert­ing the law.

Labour’s beef is that they claim it breaks the 1998 Ed­u­ca­tion Act which bans the set­ting up of new gram­mar schools.

But to be frank, it’s a bad law passed in the bad Blair years and it should be ripped up any­way.

Mor­gan, how­ever, has been forced to con­cede that this is merely an ‘an­nex’ to an ex­ist­ing gram­mar school and that this is an ex­cep­tion rather than a rule.

But she is weak and wrong to be so de­fen­sive.

Gram­mar schools were the great­est ve­hi­cle of so­cial mo­bil­ity that this coun­try has ever seen.

They al­lowed poor kids the op­por­tu­nity to break out of their com­mu­ni­ties and achieve things they could only have dreamt of in the past.

When we had gram­mar schools, we had more work­ing class kids at Oxbridge than any time be­fore – or since.

Now, the top seven pub­lic schools send more stu­dents to those il­lus­tri­ous uni­ver­si­ties than the bot­tom two thou­sand state schools put to­gether.

And as a re­sult of their clo­sure we have a so­ci­ety which is dom­i­nated by the rich in a way that we haven’t seen since the turn of the last cen­tury.

The ju­di­ciary, jour­nal­ism, the City and pol­i­tics are now dis­pro­por­tion­ately dom­i­nated by former pub­lic school pupils.

It al­ways gets my back up when I hear some­one who was priv­i­leged enough to go to pub­lic school telling peo­ple that gram­mar schools are “elit­ist”. You hear it all the time.

But there are only two rea­sons for op­pos­ing the cre­ation of new gram­mar schools.

One is that you want to keep work­ing-class peo­ple trapped – so they con­tinue to vote for your party.

This is of course what the Labour Party wants and why they op­pose gram­mars. It is I sus­pect one of the spite­ful rea­sons they passed the stupid 1998 act in the first place.

The sec­ond thing is that you want to main­tain the sta­tus quo and make sure that the peo­ple who have al­ways been at the top stay at the top.

This is why many in the Tories and the Es­tab­lish­ment don’t want to see a re­turn to gram­mar schools. Well, stuff them both. I want to see a so­ci­ety where clever work­ing class kids have the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as those born into the mid­dle class.

I want to see a coun­try where we have ed­u­ca­tion based on abil­ity and not wealth.

And I want to see a po­lit­i­cal class that is made up of peo­ple who are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pub­lic at large and not the seven per­cent who were lucky enough to go to a pub­lic school.

If we want to see a coun­try which is truly based on merit and not class and wealth, then let’s put a gram­mar school in ev­ery town.

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