Covid-19 may expose the myth behind selection: Guardian’s Fiona Millar

How to manage the 11-plus in the middle of a pandemic, asks columnist Fiona Millar in today’s The Guardian.

Draft government guidance, yet to be published, suggests sensitivity to allegations of inequality in this antediluvian process, she says.

At a time when ministers are trying to create the impression that more poor children can be shoehorned into selective schools, they are likely to come down on the side of delay so children can have more time to prepare, she adds.

“But this is proof, if ever we needed it, that selection is not a test of fixed innate ability – and that such a thing doesn’t exist. If lost learning time makes it harder for pupils from certain backgrounds to pass the test, then more learning time – the norm for wealthy families in the most selective areas – must make it easier,” she continues.

She says there is a simple solution.

“The grammar schools could admit a comprehensive intake like everyone else. The sky wouldn’t fall in and there could be advantages. Some families might be pleasantly surprised by their local non-selective schools. The rest of us could see how apparently superior grammar school teaching coped with more diverse intakes,” she argues.

“Thousands of comprehensive schools in England are experts in the business of helping all young people achieve, regardless of their backgrounds. Let’s give grammar schools the chance to try,” she concludes.

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