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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Eleven Plus and Grammar Schools

The Headmaster of Watford Grammar wrote in 1953 that the `huge majority of those who leave after taking the ordinary level of the General Certificate have reached their academic ceiling, and to ask them to continue with sixth form would be a waste of time. There are very few potential graduates leaving the grammar school at sixteen.”

The Head was a Mr Ree in a letter to the Times Educational Supplement on the 16th of October 1953.

Mr Ree could hardly have been more experienced – or more wrong!

It would be very interesting to point the same point to the Heads of our present grammar schools.

It may equally be highly illuminating to check with the parents of aspiring eleven plus candidates about their reaction to their children leaving school at sixteen.

Those of us who did Henry the V1 Part Two at school, or read the book or saw the film, will remember the words:

“Thou hast most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school.” (Act 5 Scene 1) It will be proved to thy face that thou hast men about thee that usually talk of a noun and a verb and such abominable words as no Christian ear can endure to hear.”

These two examples suggest that we need to make up our own mind on the effectiveness of grammar schools. Not all grammar school children, however, will want to study in the 6th form or at university.

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