Readers' letters

Bad for social mobility

Thursday, 6th October 2016, 5:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 8:10 pm
Proposals for a rise in grammar schools will also lead to more secondary moderns says a reader. See letter

Re: Selective Schools. I am prompted to reply to the article, Calls to oppose new grammar schools (WEP October 4). Presentation in politics is very important. Theresa May talks of introducing more grammar schools. It also means the reintroduction of secondary moderns for most children. For presentation, she will call them something else. WS Gilbert wrote: “When everyone is somebody, then no one’s anybody” (The Gondoliers). He was talking about titles and meant, what status would being a Duke bring if all men were Dukes? So the necessary condition for a ‘select’ is to be a small and elite select.

Under May’s plans, expect only about 20 per cent of children to become an elite select attending grammars. One thing that baffles me is why she should ever want to go to the country promising 80 per cent of parents their children will feel a failure in their formative years. That is precisely what children who attended secondary moderns felt...a dreadful sense of having been consigned to the scrap heap.

How better to lower the self-esteem and ambitions of children? Yet how does May propose to sell selective schools? It’s by an inversion of the truth. It is to claim that the pay-off will be an increase in social mobility. The last thing the people at the top want is increased social mobility. The party for those people is the Tory party. This is the Tory party doing the bidding of its natural supporters.

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Innate talent is spread randomly throughout society. The same is true about bright children. The parents at the top of society have approximately equal propensities to have either bright or dull children, as do parents in all other levels of society. It may be true that through their means they may be more able to nourish the intellects of their children but some parents from the proletariat are good at doing that too. What a disaster if a bright child from the lowest level of society sails through comprehensive school, goes on to out-perform Gideon and Ursula at Oxbridge and secures a good career which had been presumed to be reserved for children originating from the upper classes!

Yet disasters occur the other way round too. A privileged boy made it all the way to Prime Minister primarily because the competition was unfair. But his paucity of judgement proved he was a misfit for the role. Because he only understood his own kind, he waged class war against society’s poorest people. Then he narrowly avoided the disintegration of the UK because he had offered Scots an independence referendum. His luck couldn’t hold though. One evening he was having dinner in Downing Street whilst he was awaiting a ‘remain’ result from the EU referendum he had organised. When it failed to arrive, the Tories took him down to Twickers and kicked him over the crossbar.

Comprehensive schools produce scores of brighter scholars than him. With equal access to that top job, one of them would have made a far better fist of it.

Let’s rule out restricting even further the development of children born into families of modest means. Let’s see straight through these proposals as standing for more secondary moderns rather than for more grammars. Let’s make sure that all of our children have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential. Let’s have no truck with Theresa May’s initiative.

Coun Michael McLoughlin


Wigan Central Ward


Tax to leave

So there we have it. Nissan in Sunderland are demanding compensation if tariffs are applied. Another tax to subsidise all those that voted Leave to keep their jobs.

Shaun McMurrough via email