Segregation in education is nothing new, it's just a matter of mediocrity

Friday, October 28, 2016
Edward Burrell


Read the original article at Generation Conservative

The announced possible revocation of the grammar school ban has caused the education sector to ignite in a fierce debate. The primary source of debate is the concern that the large wave of new grammar schools that will be created, will result in the segregation of our young people.

This view has been expressed loudly under Angela Rayner’s campaign entitled “Education not Segregation”. However, it is being forgotten that such segregation already exists.

What will never cease to occur is that students constantly segregate themselves into their own social circles similar to typical clichés used in literature and the media. The more intellectually gifted are still social outcasts to some extent and said individuals are discouraged from perusing their full potential due to fear of loneliness or even being bullied.

Many students in their final year of primary education would wish for nothing more than to attend the same school as their friends, but some parents frequently construct different plans for them.

These parents had the same logical and common thought process as a lot of MPs in parliament whose children attend grammar schools. A child should be attending a school that firstly encourages him/her to push themselves academically, catering to their specific strengths. Secondly, they should not be discouraged by other colleagues who don’t share such ambitions, to the extent they concede for being mediocre in their comfortable surroundings. Although, this implies only grammar school attendees are able to excel in whatever future they seek in and after secondary school life.

It should be mutually agreed by all political orientations that grammar schools should not over-power the rest of the educational sector. There is a common conception that grammar school students dominate at universities, as well as graduate jobs, in numbers implying that this already concerning. Theresa May must be careful in order not to worsen this already bleak image, however debatable it is.

Though, it must be acknowledged that grammar schools are designed to almost imprint onto their students the idea that they should not accept mediocrity for themselves. Sitting an 11+ exam and being hand-picked out of many applicants proves that such a student is above average. Nevertheless, this is not to say this isn’t true for students at comprehensive schools, they are simply just not presented with this idea at all.

A reality for some is articulated by Spectator writer Carola Binney: “For many boys like my father, failing to pass a test at eleven will have been more than a knock to their confidence: it will have shaped their lives for the following five decades.” These students who are still exceptionally gifted, but attended comprehensive schools, are often left to their own devices. Class ‘sets’ are often determined in many comprehensive schools such that one ‘set’ will not be taught the whole curriculum. Largely, this is because it is not required to scrape a C grade, thus boosting pass rate statistics. The much smaller ‘top set’ is not given the necessary attention, as teacher simply does not have the time, whilst the ‘bottom set’ are consequentially neglected, seen as students who will not be able to achieve pass grades. The imprints the idea in our youth that mediocrity is more than acceptable, as no one is being pushed to their full potential as an individual.  

Moreover, grammar school students tend to be stereotyped by other comprehensive school students in the area. This is one of the source of the mass social segregation we see amongst our young people. Yet, this does not mean all of those students do not have ambition, drive, natural talent or a hard working attitude, regardless of where they were educated. All students that have such attributes should never settle for mediocre.

Despite the true origin of this quote being unknown, young people, especially in secondary school, excel when they are “motivated by the fear of being average”.  Schools should be designed to help a child endorse this mantra and grammar schools are currently better at doing this. They teach a personal target can be achieved through academic success; however, this should not be where this ceases to be promoted in schools.

Free schools allow support for children to hold a religious belief or be purely artistically intelligent, for those who often have no interest in conventional subjects. They can attend a school where they are still understood and endorsed whether they are orientated around music and theatre or athletics and other sports.

Allowing diversity in the types of schools available will provide a catered service of education, in which students strive for self-improvement from secondary school and beyond. The segregation in education can be stopped if all students become similarly motivated, in spite and in celebration of their remarkable differences.