The Grammar School Debate

Theresa May wants to make it possible for new grammar schools to be opened in England. And people are angry.

Most of those people didn’t go to a grammar school or live in an area where there is one.

I am in an interesting position; because I did go to a grammar school (the top state school in the country, no less) and I hated it. I came out with 9 GCSEs (4 A*s and 5 As) and 3 As at A level, getting me into my top choice uni, and I made lifelong friends there, but I can’t say I’m a big fan of the school or the way it’s run.


Our last day of Year 13 in our old uniforms, ft. the school entrance covered in post-it notes – one of our ‘end-of-year pranks’.

However, whilst I am on the fence over the issue of whether creating new ones is the right way to go, I do not believe that grammar schools are evil; like many people who are against them seem to believe.

Firstly, the notion that only ‘privileged’ kids get to go to these schools and they’re basically just free private schools is quite frankly, complete bollocks. When did being eligible for free school meals become the only measure of ‘poor’ children? I live in an area that on the whole is relatively well-off, so it’s unsurprising that lots of people that went to my school lived in big houses and mummy and daddy bought them cars for their 17th birthday etc. Assuming that’s what we mean by ‘privileged’.

My parents don’t have that kind of money, but I consider myself privileged because I’ve always felt loved and encouraged when it comes to learning and schoolwork, without being pressured or pushed too hard.

Yes, I had a tutor to help when it came to the 11+ and the entrance exam to my grammar school. Yes, I may not have passed without him, but I think that’s a fault with the test itself, which is a totally different point.

My brother had the same tutor, for the same amount of time as me, and he passed the 11+, but didn’t get into the grammar school. And he got a first in his Chemistry undergraduate and Masters from Leeds Uni, and is currently doing a phd at Liverpool. Basically, he’s pretty clever.

He didn’t go to a grammar school but thrived in academic subjects at a really good school, which is arguably so good because it has had to keep up, like other high schools in the area, with the achievements of all of the surrounding, high-achieving grammar schools.

Is it a coincidence that Trafford, one of the top areas for good schools and excellent results across all schools – grammar schools, high schools, faith and secular, single-sex and mixed –  in the country, also has one of the highest number of grammar schools? Personally, I don’t think so.

Do your own research before spouting things about grammar schools “entrenching inequality” and dividing rich from poor. Grammar schools aren’t private schools. It’s the insistence on this belief that divides people – if you live life with a chip on your shoulder, acknowledging barriers that aren’t really there, there’s no way we’re going to break down the ones that are there.


AGGS Year 11 yearbook 2010 – this post prompted much nostalgia

I know this is probably really controversial, and I could talk about this forever; but what do you think? Did you go to a grammar school and love/hate it? Let me know I’m honestly so intrigued.

Thanks for reading! 🙂



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