Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blue language in the Grammar debate 

For a brief flashback in history of educational debates on Grammar Schools, take a look at Hansard for 2000 where various attitudes to grammars are paraded in a debate on selective education policy. What Official Tories say on grammars then and now may be of contemporary interest (hint, they are contrasting).

Milton Keynes has a particular interest in this debate on Grammars, as before we became an Unitary Authority we were part of Buckinghamshire – and Bucks ran and runs a Secondary Modern system. The Tories in control of Buckinghamshire tried to build a Grammar in MK. They spent something like three million pounds on this project in the period leading up to MK gaining its independence. This included organising no fewer that three referenda on the subject, each of which resulted in a vote against establishing a Grammar. nevertheless they tried to go ahead and took options on land for a central site for the proposed new school.

This was financed by cancelling (in 1991) the construction of a desperately needed new comprehensive in my area and diverting the funds to the Grammar chase. The whole matter became of interest to m'learned friends and the Grammar project was successfully delayed until independence intervened.

When MK became an Unitary its first vote on education was unanimously to declare MK a Comprehensive School area. However the new council was obliged to take on its books the debt incurred by Buckinghamshire in its 'Educational Development' work prior to the split. It took nearly ten years for the damage in my area to be overcome.

Hansard 27 June 2000 cols 758 to 787


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