A Revolution Betrayed: How Egalitarians Wrecked the British Education System

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A Revolution Betrayed: How Egalitarians Wrecked the British Education System

A Revolution Betrayed: How Egalitarians Wrecked the British Education System

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i) than those admitted from grammar schools and that the latter, so far from not “doing too much damage” to overall standards, actually outperform the privately educated. That is unless it is assumed that the privileged will maintain their advantage in the face of such selection, which would totally undermine the claim that grammar schools had the potential to seriously challenge educational inequalities. For example, in relation to higher education, ‘the growth in numbers attending universities was done at the expense of quality, a fact nobody can seriously deny’ (pp.

Mail on Sunday columnist Hitchens ( The Abolition of Britain) contends in this cranky screed that efforts to level the playing field in British education have backfired.

It is a world that, despite the undoubted challenges and inequalities of our current educational reality, I am deeply thankful not to inhabit. In 1966, coming from a working class background, to my surprise, as I was never coached for the 11+, having recently changed schools, I, unwittingly, sat, and passed the test, so went to Enfield Grammar School, whereas many of my friends who didn't "pass," nor expected to, were content to go, as I would have been, "across the road" to Winchmore Hill Secondary Modern, where some were pleased, if not to say proud, to be selected for the 'X' and 'Y,' grammar school, streams of that Secondary School, where they went on to take and pass GCE O' Levels and CSE's, alongside the fun of metal work and car maintenance; experiences denied to us Grammar School boys. For a short while, grammar schools offered the best education imaginable by selecting for prepubescent academic ability.

Instead, driven by the hypocrisies and bad faith of ‘the left’ and ‘egalitarians’, and the timidity and cowardice of the conservatives, this revolution was trampled under a communist approach to schooling: the comprehensives. Hitchens also fails to acknowledge that Sir Samuel Gurney- Dixon himself advises in his introduction to the report that its description of the social backgrounds of grammar school pupils should be treated with caution, being derived entirely from information supplied by the head teachers of the 10% sample of grammar schools on which the report is based. For students of post-war education, Hitchens provides a useful chronology of secondary education, and refers to the tension between idealism and practice. The unapologetic method used to describe selective education could bring about a conversation on the structure of the modern educational system. He has published six books, including The Abolition of Britain, The Rage Against God, and The War We Never Fought.Hitchens refers to politicians who, although appearing to support comprehensive education, either send their children to out-of-area high achieving schools, or to schools in the private sector. A disappointing, and most depressing, conclusion, but, thanks to this book, I was able to arrive at it. He is a former revolutionary Marxist who now describes himself as a socially conservative Social Democrat.

Next week, HEPI will be running a second review of the same book by a grammar school teacher that takes a different perspective on the arguments. It is suggested that much of the egalitarians’ hatred of grammar schools came from a fear of ordinary people having access to schools that were conservative, hierarchical and Christian. To anyone familiar with the weekly column written by Peter Hitchens for The Mail on Sunday this latest jeremiad will contain no surprises.Hitchens asserts that the 163 selective grammar schools that have survived in England are no longer allowed to be the sort of schools that they once were (whatever that may mean). In other places, it seems to be the size of schools that is key, with both grammars and secondary moderns being seen as successful because they were much smaller than comprehensives.

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