Friday, 16 October 2015

One reason I am glad I grew up in Northern Ireland: The 11 plus and the Grammar school system.

One reason I am glad I grew up in Northern Ireland: The 11 plus and the Grammar school system.

  • The first Grammar school to open in England in 50 years has opened in Sevenoaks Kent.
  • Labour tried to ban Grammar schools through its 1998 legislation to bar any new schools adopting selective administration.
  • The school has found a loophole by stating that it is just an extension of a school in Tonbridge.

The 11 plus, that scary exam everyone in Northern Ireland use to take until the turn of the decade. You spent all of primary 6 doing practice tests and then over two days in November of Primary 7 your fate was sealed. At the time it seemed like the end of the world if you didn’t get a top grade, but for some failing the 11 plus made them.  
    Failing in life is character building - you are not going to be good at everything and you have to accept this at one point or another. At the age of 11 you had already possibly been rejected from: being in the school play; not winning a medal on sports day; getting to play a musical instrument; being the last chosen for a team in P.E or not getting invited to that birthday party everyone wanted to go to, so why not the 11 plus?
    I know several examples of people who did not get their 11 plus and I believe this strived them to achieve good results in their GCSE’s and A-Levels because they wanted to prove they weren't “stupid”. I believe if they hadn’t failed that exam, it would not of made them so determined to do well in more important exams. On the other hand I myself can personally say after getting an A without the help of a tutor, I was far too cocky and felt I didn’t need to study or do my homework in grammar school or university and only “pulled my socks up” in my final term of both.
    On top of this, quite simply put, some people just learn faster than others and therefore would get bored if they didn’t  learn at a faster speed. There is no point in holding the smarter children behind because the rest of the class cannot keep up with them. You certainly would not have an athlete run slower just so the rest of the athletics team can keep up, so why stall children from excelling academically for the same reason?

Why Grammar schooling is a necessary evil: The alternative to the Grammar school system and what actually happens.

In Northern Ireland after you took the transfer test the most academic children went on to grammar schools, however in some cases if the child did not succeed and the parents were affluent they sent their child to private school instead.  Similarly as a result of the comprehensive school system in England there has been a rise in private schools replacing the Grammar schools. Hence as a result the best schools end up not going to the most academic but the most privileged. Labour were acting with their heart and forgot about their head in their attempt to abolish grammar schools. Instead abolishing inequality, it has caused the opposite.

Whether you personally agree with grammar schooling or not, the attempt to abolish them has proven futile. The 1998 act stopped schools being created which were academically selective, however the new school in Sevenoaks is argued not actually to be a new school but to be an extension of another grammar school in Tonbridge.

The Grammar school system appears unfair, elitist and promoting inequality and to a certain extent it is, but attempts to abolish it has proven futile and the alternative appears to create greater inequality. It seems clear to me that the better of two evils is that the best education is reserved for the most academic and not the most privileged.

Adam Henry Magee

P.S. I have shown how not been academic is not necessarily a bad thing in my last blog post, it address's academic snobbery.

1 comment:

  1. Rare that you say something I agree with


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