THE GREAT DEBATE: Grammar Schools in the United Kingdom  

What is “The Great Debate”?

The Great Debate is where I examine a topical modern day issue, and go over the different arguments that I have found for and against the topic during my research.  The links to where I found the information will be provided in the blog post.  The Great Debate will not be in favour of one side.  The Great Debate will not be reflective of personal opinion.



Theresa May’s Conservative Government is planning to lift the ban on Grammar Schools in the United Kingdom.  This is a controversial move as some people see Grammar Schools as divisive, but some sayb that it provides great educational benefits.

Grammar Schools operated under the system where a child would take a test at the age of 11, known as the 11+ Exam.  Based upon your results you would either attend the grammar school or the local secondary.  The Grammars would focus on a more academic route while the secondaries would focus on a vocational route.

Grammar Schools have since been scaled down and now the majority of schools in the UK are comprehensives, with no Grammar Schools operating in Scotland and Wales after the system was said to have caused class division. 

Now the Conservative Government is planning to re-introduce Grammar Schools and it has become a main issue for all political parties.

Because this is such a big issue.  I have decided to write the first segment of “The Great Debate” on Grammar Schools, and the debate around the issue.

Who supports it?

The main supporters of the policy are the Conservative Party, who support creating more Grammar Schools.

UKIP have support for the policy but oppose the 11+ exam.

Who opposes it?

The main opposition to the policy is the Labour Party who feel that more Grammar Schools will cause more divisions within society.

The Liberal Democrats oppose the policy and any reforms of this kind to education.

The Green Party oppose the creation of more Grammar Schools.


Arguments In Support of Grammar Schools

One of the biggest arguments in support of Grammar Schools is that they result in good academic achievement, and that they achieve better results than comprehensives and state secondaries.  So parents argue that their child would get a better education at a Grammar School.

Supporters of Grammar Schools claim that it allows children for lower-income backgrounds to be able to achieve a good quality education and increase their social mobility, further their education and achieve a successful career.

People who support the creation of Grammar Schools say that Grammar Schools offer a better classroom environment as the teacher can set a pace knowing the capability of every student in the classroom and set a teaching method that can focus on academic achievement.

Finally, it has been shown that parents support Grammar Schools.  This was shown in 2000 when parents were asked whether or not they wanted Ripon Grammar School should change to a Comprehensive or remain a Grammar.  1493 voted to keep the Grammar system and 747 voted to change the system.

Arguments Opposing Grammar Schools

People who oppose Grammar Schools see them as divisive.  They say that the motivation of those who fail the 11+ is damaged because the existence of Grammar Schools damages their aspirations.  It is also argued that not passing the 11+ at a young age brands people as failures.

Another argument against Grammar Schools is that the selection process is largely biased towards children from middle class backgrounds and this prevents social mobility as children from lower-income backgrounds are less likely to be selected, this can be shown when there is a lower amount of students recieving free school meals at Grammar Schools.

The 11+ exam is also used as one of the arguments against Grammar Schools.  People argue that testing young people at the age of 11+ is unrepresentative.  Because the test is conducted at the age of 11, it can negatively impact late developers, as they are ignored by the test.

The test can have an impact on Primary Teaching as they are put under pressure to achieve good overall results in the 11+ so they immediately start teaching to the 11+ exam which puts educational pressures on children at a young age.

Opponents of Grammar Schools say that pupils who do well in exams at Comprehensives are just as good as these pupils who do well at Grammar Schools.  They also argue that Grammar Schools have an impact of exam results of Comprehensives.


This was the first segment of “The Great Debate” where I looked at Grammar Schools in the United Kingdom.  Since this is the first segment there might be some changes in the next segment.

The next topic of “The Great Debate” is undecided but will be updated through social media.



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