It’s the Schools, Innit?

Grammar areas (filled) and individual and grou...
Image via Wikipedia

Not Many Grammar Schools Left – and Only UKIP Support Them

The Labour Party has attacked the Tories for auctioning internships at top financial institutions to raise party funds. And quite rightly so – whoever thought that was appropriate was crass in the extreme.

The government’s response has been to criticise Labour for failing to meddle enough to ensure poor people get into positions of power.

Nick Clegg said today that he wanted to end Whitehall “internships” being given on the basis of people meeting other people at golf clubs. Fair enough – except that this is the tip of an iceberg that the government has been happy to ignore.

We live in a country where, as the government’s Socialist mobility tsar, Alan Milburn, has just pointed out, if you are born poor, you often die poor. (Mr Milburn over-egged the pudding by claiming that if you are born poor, you invariably die poor, but still.)

The reasons for this are not hard to understand. People in poor homes often do not value education. They do not encourage their children to read, or to work hard at school. They do not spend time helping their children with their homework. They often struggled at school themselves, and hated the experience, and they transmit their negative attitude to school to their children. All too often, they fail to back teachers who try to instill discipline, or even verbally or sometimes physically attack teachers on their children’s behalf.

These are social problems, and are not easy to solve. What is more, no action of government will solve them. These problems are not about money, or who has the most money. They are cultural problems.

The other side of the coin is the education system, though, and that very much is in the hands of government. The sad truth is that too many schools in poor areas are themselves poor schools. So far the government has shown little sign of any progress on that issue.

As the BBC says:

The government claims Labour spent billions moving people above the poverty line without significantly changing their children’s opportunities.

It says that although just 7% of people attend independent schools, they make up 70% of High Court judges and 54% of CEOs of FTSE 100 companies.

So this allegedly Conservative government is criticising the previous government because people who went to independent schools went on getting into positions of power. The reasons for that are obvious – independent schools provide on average much better education than State schools, so ex-private school pupils tend to be better educated and therefore end up in those top professions. It is not because of bias in favour of independent school pupils. It is because the system is not biassed against them – and in general they are better educated.

The answer to that is not to stop people who went to independent schools getting into positions of power. The answer is to provide the same quality of education as those private schools provide, in the State sector.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that most of the remaining 30% of High Court judges went to grammar schools, and not to comprehensives. And this is really the nub of the matter here.

In 2007 David Cameron called grammar schools defenders “deluded”, and David Willetts said that grammar schools “entrench advantage”. The truth, of course, is the opposite – grammar schools have been a key driver of social mobility, and a key way for kids from poor backgrounds to move upwards.

The Tories have set their face against supporting grammar schools, and of the main parties, only UKIP now are unashamed defenders of grammar schools.

For the avoidance of doubt, UKIP policy is to

support new grammar schools.

Not just to defend the existing grammar schools, but to support the setting up of new ones.

The Tories have accepted the Socialist case that people should get ahead based on “fairness” rather than merit, instead of asking why it is that kids who go to the comprehensive schools end up failing afterwards.

The simple fact of the matter is this: most of our best State schools are grammar schools. They have in the past been a key driver of social mobility. The Labour governments of the 1960s that destroyed so many grammar schools were attacking social mobility. The Tories of today, under David Cameron, are not willing to support the remaining grammar schools, and certainly not willing to countenance the setting up of new ones.

If you want politicians who support grammar schools, as a bastion of high standards in our education system, you need to vote UKIP.

Enhanced by Zemanta
About these ads