Vi­tal school les­son that we refuse to learn...

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News -

ONCE again The Sut­ton Trust does ex­cel­lent re­search on the ter­ri­ble state of our schools. Once again, driven by ide­ol­ogy, it misses the point. The rev­e­la­tion that eight ex­pen­sive pri­vate schools to­gether scored as many Oxbridge places as 2,894 state schools will de­light Leftwing fa­nat­ics, who will pre­tend it’s the re­sult of Oxbridge snob­bery.

In fact, the two great uni­ver­si­ties strive very hard to en­cour­age ap­pli­cants from poor back­grounds. But atro­cious, dis­or­derly state sec­on­daries don’t teach them well enough, and too many of their teach­ers, in the grip of in­verted snob­bery, sulk­ily refuse to en­cour­age chil­dren to ap­ply for top col­leges. That’s only the half of it. The Sut­ton fig­ures, read care­fully, show that aca­dem­i­cally se­lec­tive state gram­mar schools come close to match­ing the vastly ex­pen­sive pub­lic schools in gain­ing Oxbridge places.

Alas, there are hardly any of them. In the days when we had a na­tional net­work of state gram­mar schools, 64.6 per cent of their pupils came from work­ing class homes, ac­cord­ing to the Gur­neyDixon re­port of 1954. And most sur­vived into the sixth form, in those pre-ex­pan­sion days the equiv­a­lent of univer­sity. The Crowther Re­port of 1959 found more than 40 per cent of six­th­form­ers at gram­mar schools were work­ing class. What ‘out­stand­ing’ com­pre­hen­sive or academy can say that to­day?

By 1964, these bright boys and girls from work­ing class homes were storm­ing Ox­ford and Cam­bridge, beat­ing the ex­pen­sive pri­vate schools with­out any spe­cial help or con­ces­sions. Then that stopped, when all but a tiny rump of gram­mars were smashed up in the egal­i­tar­ian lu­nacy of the 1960s.

Watch­ing ‘ex­perts’ and politi­cians dis­cussing ed­u­ca­tion is like be­ing in a night­mare. In that aw­ful dream, I have to watch, pow­er­less, while a sur­geon kills a pa­tient be­cause he re­fuses to use the only pro­ce­dure which could have saved him.

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