- The 11+ exam is as fair as the Olympic or premier league selection process.....those with ability are picked for further training. No one cries foul when the fastest runners are coached to compete for Team GB. Indeed nothing BUT ability is important - you don't need to be posh or have dosh. So shouldn't tomorrow's surgeons and engineers be selected on their academic ability?
- Future music and sports champions spend hours on their craft and often receive additional support outside their family and school. No one thinks this is unreasonable. Extra coaching is absolutely essential to become a concert pianist or Wimbledon champion. Yet many think it 'unfair' when a child receives extra help to pass the 11+ exam. What's the difference?
- Grammar schools should remain the gateway for ordinary families to realise their children'sacademic aspirations. The secondary modern schools need to become REAL specialists in other fields (creative subjects, sports, trades) so that this debate about whether the 11+ is fair or not, ceases once and for all. I owe my career to the 11+ exam, and was the first in my family to go to university. My brother went to a poly and is a rich builder. He looks down on me because I can't lay a patio and I tease him for knowing nothing about the Neolothic Revolution. My sister has a thriving business as a cleaner and scrubs my floors in exchange for marketing services and financial management.
Our oldest grammar school, Aylesbury Grammar, was founded in 1598 by Sir Henry Lee for poor children to get a good education, free of charge, so that they could move up the social ladder. Today's middle classes can trace their rise from grammar schools. Many a professor or accountant is just two or even one generation away from working class stock. Without grammar schools, there would be far less diversity in the professional and political classes. Famous grammar school pupils include Sir Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Diane Abbott, William Hague, Mrs Thatcher, Mick Jagger, and my favourite, Tim Berners Lee (inventor of the world wide web).
I am proud to sponsor extra tuition for disadvantaged children in our school. One is a seriously bright boy who hates football and dreams about being the prime minister. He is the same age as my highly talented nephew who hates maths and dreams about playing for Manchester United. Fast forward to 2034..... I intend to help both boys realize their dreams.