Following the announcement of Government approval for the new Sevenoaks grammar annexe, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Sun published lead articles hailing the news. The articles, which are reproduced below, were headlined “Hurrah For Sevenoaks’ New Grammar School”, “Now Allow Grammar Schools Nationwide”, and “Every Bright, Working-Class Kid Deserves Chance In Life Grammars Gave To Me”.
The Daily Telegraph
Hurrah For Sevenoaks’ New Grammar School
Socialists would prefer everyone to be mediocre rather than give some working-class children the chance to succeed.
Finally, sanity has prevailed in the long battle to build a new grammar school in Sevenoaks, Kent. Technically, it is only an “annexe” of the pre-existing Weald of Kent grammar in Tonbridge – but the symbolism of this new campus, taking up to 90 pupils per year, is enormous.
Its supporters had to fight 50 years of educational orthodoxy. This innocuous decision was met by the Labour Party with a tone of outrage normally reserved for proposals to reintroduce hanging. It is a “backwards step” for social mobility, warned Lucy Powell, the shadow education minister.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Britain enjoyed huge social mobility during the golden age of grammar schools. The system was imperfect, but it helped thousands of working-class children to advance. If today the handful of remaining grammars are dominated by the middle class then that is simply because richer parents invest in tuition to get their children into a smaller number of places. The more grammar schools there were, the more diverse they would become.
Few politicians would probably make a case for their reintroduction across the country, but this Government has sensibly acknowledged that diversity within the education system is good for everyone, and no one can deny that the existing grammars have contributed towards improving exam results. A new school in Sevenoaks fulfils a pressing need and, hopefully, will encourage other grammars to expand.
Of course, we expect the Left-wing establishment to howl in protest. Their approach to education is motivated by politics, not the best interests of the individual child. They would destroy excellence in order to make Britain more equally mediocre.
The Daily Mail
Now Allow Grammar Schools Nationwide
In fantastic news for children and parents, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan yesterday approved plans for a new 450-place grammar school campus.
The school in Kent took advantage of rules, introduced by Michael Gove, which state that existing grammars can expand into new campuses where demand for their excellent teaching and rigorous standards is high.
But while this flexibility is welcome – the new Sevenoaks site is seven miles from the main school in Tonbridge – it’s a great pity the Tories still refuse to scrap Labour’s spiteful, ideologically-driven ban on opening entirely new grammars.
We applaud ministers’ commitment to free schools and academies released from the dead hand of state control.
But, with a long way still to go to reverse the terrible damage caused by Labour, the Tories need to stop worrying about their image – and fully harness the potential of grammar schools to improve the academic achievements and social mobility of children across the entire country.
There are 164 across Britain; why shouldn’t there be dozens more?
Every Bright, Working-Class Kid Deserves Chance In Life Grammars Gave To Me
Sun columnist Tony Parsons backs 11-plus education
When I was 11 years old, I passed an exam and was sent to a grammar school, where there were children from every conceivable background — working-class kids like me but also children from far more affluent homes. And my parents were very happy because they knew that their only child — me — was growing up in a country that would not allow me to fail.
That country has gone now — the post-war Britain that my parents’ generation built, where social mobility was a basic human right, where working-class mothers and fathers knew the lives of their sons and daughters would be better than their own.
If you were bright enough, there were state schools that were at least the equal of the great private schools. These were the golden years of meritocracy when even kids from the wrong side of the tracks could grow up to be Prime Minister. And they did.
For 33 unbroken years, from 1964 to 1997, this country had prime ministers who were all educated at state schools — Wilson, Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher and Major. All of them, apart from Callaghan, educated at grammar schools.
When will we see a run like that ever again?
Not in our lifetimes. Social mobility has disappeared into the mists of history. If you want your child to have the kind of education I had for free, then you now have to send them to a private school where fees are, on average, around £12,000 a year. Fees rise to £34,434 if you fancy Eton.
So if you wonder why so many political leaders look the same, it is because they all went to the same kind of high-end school — David Cameron (Eton), Nick Clegg (Westminster) and Tony Blair (Fettes – the Eton of Scotland).
The private schools of this country have always been bastions of excellence. But there was a golden age when state schools competed with them. And won.