What kind of idiot thinks "a return to academic selection" is a bad idea? Would you ask every child to wear the same size clothes? Would you ask every child to read the same books, listen to the same music or play the same sports? Would you treat every sick child with the same medicine? Why would it be different with their studies?
To get the maximum benefit from schooling, children need to work at a pace and a level consistent with their abilities. How do you do that without evaluating those abilities? That is all the 11-plus exam (or its equivalent in every civilised country) was ever designed to do. Having lived in ex-Communist countries, I can assure you they were never so daft, however Marxist they were in theory, as to destroy the educational opportunities of their working classes. But then they were never as Socialist as Britain is today.
To give children the same education regardless of ability is a waste of their time. To ask bright children to wait while slower ones keep up is boring. To ask slower ones to sit around while bright kids race ahead is just as boring. The "least able" (stupidest) member of our French class used to climb out of the window during our lessons. Who could blame him? He couldn't cope. Better that he ran away than disrupt our work. Better still that he spent the time learning something consistent with his abilities.
To ask anyone who has actually attended such a school to believe that any teacher is superhuman enough to tailor all lessons on an individual basis is about as plausible as the Marxist theories behind comprehensive education. To ask such a person to believe that streaming within a massive school full of bored anti-intellectuals (and that's just the teachers in many cases) can work as well as separate schools for academically-able and less able children is equally bizarre. Only someone as genuinely stupid as John Prescott, or as cut off from reality as Tony Blair can actually believe that.
Labour has only just succeeded in abolishing selection in Northern Ireland. That Province has enjoyed higher educational attainment because it retained grammar schools. What is Labour trying to do? Destroy embarrassing evidence?
Bright kids in comprehensives are under constant peer pressure not to progress. I was stoned by the ignorant chavs at mine, God rot them. If, like me, our hypocritical s.o.b. of a Prime Minister had actually attended a "bog standard comprehensive" (instead of Fettes, the "Scottish Eton") he would not hesitate openly to demand selection.
Every day I compare the marvellous education my children are getting at their private school and I regret all the time I wasted as a guinea pig for Marxist theory. We all suspect Blair's instincts on this are right. If "education, education, education" was ever more than a meaningless mantra to him, he should have the courage to let the Tories support him in genuine reform.
BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair defiant on education plans