Ross Clark Ross Clark

Theresa May should ignore the privately-educated elite and press on with her grammar school plans

It has become customary in the great grammar school debate to declare where you went to school. I attended the boys’ grammar school in Canterbury, which was mentioned by Ysenda Maxtone Graham in her piece in this week’s magazine. Ysenda chose not to make such a declaration herself, so I will do it for her: she attended the King’s School, the poshest of the three public schools in Canterbury, which inhabits the precincts of the cathedral. I wouldn’t normally make an issue of someone’s schooling, but it is rather relevant in this case because Ysenda appears to be disturbed by what she sees as the social apartheid between Kent’s grammar school children and those who attend other state schools. She writes:

‘In my childhood home town of Sandwich, Kent, the two schools, Sir Roger Manwood’s grammar school and the Sandwich Technology School, have staggered going-home times to avoid the fights on the station platform that used to happen every afternoon… Self-conscious Manwood’s girls change out of their uniform as soon as they get home from school in order to avoid being mocked by ‘Techies’ in the Co-op.’

I can’t speak for Sandwich, but in seven years travelling to and from school in Canterbury – admittedly quite a long time ago now – I do not recall a single unpleasant incident involving children who went to different schools. That is in spite of my bus stop being directly across the road from the bus stop used by the secondary modern children. If Ysenda really thinks Kent’s schoolchildren have descended into the ‘Lord of the Flies’ as a result of selective education that is probably a sign of a sheltered upbringing. She should try visiting a few London comprehensives at chucking-out time.

By contrast, Ysenda seems to see not the slightest problem about the social apartheid which lies between state school children and those who go to private schools.

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