The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
The Northern chemist.
Posted Monday, 28 May 2007 at 12:16

Graham Brady MP, a past shadow minister for schools, has broken ranks with the Conservative front bench today on the issue of grammar schools. He has evidence which proves that the existence of a grammar school within an area raises the standards of education in all schools in that area. Here are the facts;

 

In areas with no selection 42.6% of children attain GCSE at A* to C in subjects including English and Maths.

 

In partially selective areas that figure rises to 46%.

 

In wholly selective areas, those where children still sit the 11+, that figure rises to 49.8%.

 

We have comprehensive schools all over the country who stream, i.e., siphoning off the top 15% who are good at English and Maths and putting them into ‘top sets’. It works to a degree, but not well enough, as the results demonstrate.

 

Selection provides academic children from all backgrounds with the education they need in order to equip them to compete in the future labour market, with children who have been through the independent and public school system. Fact - Like it or hate it, loathe it or love it, it’s a fact.

 

The top players in any high earning sector in this country have been through through the independent or private sector. This is a situation which according to many has become worse since the demise of the grammar school, that is also a shocking fact.

 

The majority of kids whose parents are on the Conservative front bench, or indeed in the Labour government, have sat the common entrance exam at age 13. They will have been coached and schooled and put through a selective education system from their first day at school, to ensure that they are well equipped to continue this process.

 

Streaming in comprehensives is not the answer, partly as a result of the modern playground culture. Every school now has its ‘popular kids’. Every child wants to be the ‘popular kid’, or at least be in the friendship group which attaches itself to the ‘popular kid’.

 

A couple of episodes of 'Skins' and a viewing of the film ‘Mean Girls’ will explain this a whole lot better than I.

 

It’s not cool to be clever, especially not if you are a boy. ‘Popular girl’ is thin, pretty, and has all the latest clothes and accessories. She is confident, funny and gets on well and easily with all the boys in the school. She may actually be in some top streams; she isn’t quite as culturally or academically dumb as ‘popular boy’.

 

‘Popular boy’ is very sporty and will have had sex by the age of 15. He is confident, funny, smokes weed, drinks large quantities of alcohol, generally misbehaves, shouts a lot, is generally very loud, especially when walking down the street in the company of his acolytes, and always seems to have money.

 

You will never find popular boy in top sets’. You will however find him taunting the boys who are.

 

Do you remember the Northern chemist? He could be found in any path lab across the country. He was always from a rough council estate and always had a strong accent. He had been through a grammar school and was just so clever it was almost a curse. He was generally clumsy and always looking for his glasses, which were invariably on the top of his head. He was a known stereo type.

 

He is no more. There aren’t enough grammars to find him on the council estates any more.

 

The majority of students studying science in any university across the UK are overwhelmingly from the independent school sector.

 

I make my case again. I don’t necessarily want to see the return of grammars, however, if we are to embrace the untried and untested academy model, let’s have one for academics too – the academic academy.

 

One where children can mix with, and be comfortable with, other like minded children.

 

Let’s model our education system on the independent sector and introduce an exam at age 13, based on the common entrance exam. That way, we can begin to put our children from disadvantaged and just plain ordinary backgrounds, onto the same footing as those from more privileged backgrounds. Is there anything wrong with this aspiration?

 

My computer will be overheating today due to the excertions of my daughter attempting to complete her GCSE English coursework. She is good at English. She loves her English teachers, she is lucky. Mrs King and Mr Higgs, both absolute gems to be found in the comprehensive school system. Lucky school

 

Luck however, is a non-transferable commodity. In the Independent sector they don't leave anything to chance, neither should we. Basing our future education policy on untried and untested city academies is doing just that.

 

Streamlined Academies...?

 
 
 
david kendrick said:
Responded: Monday, 28 May 2007
The more selection you have, the more top university material is produced. Call it 'excellence'. Easy to show; shown above. But its not the way to maximise fairness. There is a trade-off between fairness and excellence. The more of one, the less of the other. In a healthy system, there is a 'happy medium' between these conflicting goals. The problem is that now, the balance within the public services is nowhere near the middle. It is at one extreme end---fairness is everything, and excellence can 'go hang'.
 
 
Ian said:
Responded: Monday, 28 May 2007
Your reasoning, as ever, well thought out.In hindsight, I always considered that the age of eleven to be too young an age to sit an exam which would determine your educational needs through your school years. Indeed, I didn't manage to get my brain into gear and enjoy learning until I was 13,( too late to avoid a secondary modern schooling) mainly due to the encouragement of the skilled teaching staff who recognised and nurchered my academic ability.Several of us consistantly achieved high grades in several subjects. Actually we did have what you call a Northern Chemist in my form (you missed out the acne though). He went on to be a highly respected research scientist. In fact several of my fellow pupils went on to be high achievers in various walks of life.I often wonder what we may have achieved if the exam had been taken at age 13. Maybe being classed as failures, the underdogs, spurred a few of us on further to do that much better, who knows.We need to give every child an equal opportunity to flourish, but those with the academic ability should be allowed to maximise their talent, otherwise the dreaded Macjob becomes their reality.Given your constistant high quality blogging, it is easy to see where your daughter gets her ability from with English.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Monday, 28 May 2007
Spot on our kid.
 
 
Robert McIlveen said:
Responded: Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Aren't the better results largely because the areas where thye still have grammar schools tend to be more middle-class? I wonder if we need ot look forwards (apologies for sounding New Labour!) and come up with a choice-driven school system which breaks the comprehensive trap without resurrecting a half-century old system of state control. School vouchers for deprived areas perhaps?
 
 
Victor NW Kent said:
Responded: Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Must be something wrong with me as I agree both with you and Graham Brady. But then I am prejudiced as I am a 73-year old ex-Grammar School Boy from a poor background. I have not joined my local Conservative Party so I have no fear that David Cameron will kick me out. Is there a Commonsense Party? I might join it.
 
 
Robin said:
Responded: Tuesday, 29 May 2007
"Academies for academics" - Who could think this policy is anything other than entirely reasonable? It must be sensible to look beyond the statistics at the evidence in the playground. Here is one sad story ... Last year when his parents moved to South London, a bright young boy started at his local comprehensive. The first question he was asked by his classmates was "what gang are you with?". He now is bullied by his mother to go to school and bullied by his classmates when he gets there. The headteacher's solution is "assertiveness training".
 
 
mike clarke said:
Responded: Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Ever considered leading the Conservative Party, Nadine? Seems to me that you have what the current leadership so conspicuously lacks; commonsense!
 
 
Paul, Flitwick said:
Responded: Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Robin, As someone who used to live in Streatham and went to school there, thats one of the reasons I moved to Flitwick (mid beds) - I didn't want to have children in south London and I pity those who do. I would rather boil my head in a pot with asparagus than live in south London again.
 
 
deborah said:
Responded: Thursday, 31 May 2007
Perfectly put, Nadine.
 
 
Nadine said:
Responded: Thursday, 31 May 2007
Why Asparagus Paul?
 
 
Paul,Flitwick said:
Responded: Thursday, 31 May 2007
Well, if I'm going to boil my head I might as well marinate it in something pleasant! Probably real reason it came into my head is that I have been harvesting asparagus from our allotment and then cooking and eating it within the hour for the last few weeks! After coming to Flitwick I discovered that Flitwick, like Streatham used to be a spa village and that streatham was historically owned by the Howland Family who subsequently married into the Bedford family (Duke of). Lord Howland is of course the title of the Grandson of the Duke of Bedford. One of the Dukes subsequently sold his land in Streatham which it is rather er..larger than flitwick......but roads and pubs still carry the Bedford name.
 
 
 
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at: nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

 
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