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Grammar vs Comprehensive Schools!


You may have read about this in the news but I would like to break this down and hopefully simplify things about this topic, so please, sit down and get comfy, this article is about to begin!

On Friday 9th September 2017, Theresa May stated she intends to remove the ban on the creation of new grammar schools, with this ban having been in place since 1998. (For reference, there are 163 grammar schools in England, out of some 3,000 state comprehensive schools). In addition, she said that any state comprehensive or academy will be allowed to convert into a grammar school as long as they fulfil certain criteria. Some of these criteria are listed below:

  • taking a quota of pupils from poorer backgrounds

  • opening up a non-selective school to run alongside it

  • pupils only being accepted if they pass an entrance exam

Though we may think this has to be a good thing, it hasn’t come without some backlash. The chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw argued against “dividing children by academic ability at age 11”. Also, the education secretary under David Cameron until July, Nicky Morgan indicated the plans were “wrong” arguing they were at best a distraction. Other parties which have voiced their concerns of the plans are the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, trade unions and teaching organisations.

It does look like May has an uphill battle on her hands in terms of convincing other members in her cabinet that her plans are for the greater good and will not create a “division in class” like some say they will, but there are at present compelling cases for both sides of the argument. Some of these I will compile and list below. (Please note these are from my research only and are not influenced by personal opinion).

Grammar school


  • Generally strong exam results

  • Less disruption in classroom as all children are of similar ability so a strong work ethic


  • 11-plus system may be seen as unfair as those children who can afford and receive extra tutoring during primary school have a greater chance of admittance into grammar education.

  • Fosters inequality (pupils at grammar schools are four to five times more likely to come from independent prep schools than from disadvantaged backgrounds).

Comprehensive school


  • Favours late developers (those children whom grow in intelligence and ability after age 11)

  • Removes social-class barriers as different social groups mix


  • Varying abilities of students can hold-back the stronger learners as the weaker learners catch-up

  • As intake of pupils is larger, discipline is harder to achieve and is difficult for teachers to get to know pupils at an individual level

I welcome your opinions so please comment them below!

I hereby conclude by thanking you for reading all the way through this article and hope it makes you aware of how education is present in politics.

Until next time,