We need to look back to 1868 – over 140 years ago. The Taunton Commission looked at 800 endowed grammar schools. At the time there were only thirteen schools for girls.
The commission recommended three types of school to serve three classes of society – with leaving ages at 14, 16 and 18. Each type of school would need to have its own curriculum.
Classics and Preparation for University. (For upper and upper middle class boys.)
Requirements of the army, professions and business. (Middle class boys.)
Rather more practical work. (Lower middle class boys.)
The Taunton Commission also undertook the first official comparison of girls and boys. The commission found that girls were more willing to learn – and learnt more than boys. “Girls come to learn and boys have to be driven” was one of the findings of the commission.
The Eleven Plus examinations, after the Second World War, were designed to allow children from all classes to have access to grammar schools. Thus children from the lower classes could gain access to education.
Today there must still be boys and girls unable to benefit from a grammar school education because entrance to a grammar school is highly prized among the middle class. The middle class can, to a degree, afford the fees of tutors, have access to the internet and can purchase a wide selection of eleven plus books and papers.
One hundred and forty years after the Taunton Commission:
Grammar schools still prepare children for university.
Girls still outperform boys.
Some bright children still are denied a place in the grammar school.