Equality, Division and Opportunity in the Education System

Theresa May has only been Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since July, yet she has already managed to anger many with her plans to relax the long-standing ban on new grammar schools. Nowadays a large percentage of state-educated students attend a comprehensive school over a grammar, yet still very few grow to become influential members of society.

Whilst it may be argued that the grammar school system offers a greater education for the society as a whole, it must be noted that a large proportion of those in attendance are from middle-class backgrounds. To pass the eleven plus many students need tutoring to be able to follow both the verbal and non-verbal reasoning aspect that is not taught on the national curriculum. This therefore gives an unfair advantage for those who come from wealth because many cannot afford the high cost that comes with just passing the eleven plus.

With the increase of grammar schools comes an increase of mental health issues. For students today the pressures of the education systems have driven the rise of health issues such as bulimia and other forms of self-harm. Nonetheless, the pressure at grammar schools is increased with the constant strive to be part of the elite. Students are left feeling degraded unless they achieve top grades at both GCSE and A Level; with there being a greater number of subjects taken within a grammar school compared to a comprehensive.

Yet, without grammar schools, many young students are faced with no better choices in education. In deprived and poorer areas, local comprehensive schools are most likely to be graded poor or inadequate by Ofsted. Many from affluent backgrounds are able to relocate to better areas to ensure better quality education; and so for many from less financially stable homes are only left with the option of grammar school in order to have a decent education. The increase of grammar schools will mean that many underprivileged students who are bright enough will be able to afford the travel costs to school.

However, entry to grammar school will still pose as a blocker for many who cannot afford the tuition to gain access to the ‘better education.’ So many comprehensive schools are lacking funding to improve the quality of education for their students whilst grammar schools are able to fund so much more in comparison. Should we really make children feel inadequate for not giving them options to face if they are not academically gifted? The money spent on creating and improving grammar schools is redirected from the schools who need it most; to help children with learning difficulties or to help inspire a young child to attend Oxbridge equivalent universities-whose parents were just unable to afford to tutor their child through the eleven plus.

The views and opinions outlined in this piece belong entirely to the author, and are not reflective of the views of the wider Editorial team, nor Concrete as a whole.


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September 2021
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