Grammars: an engine of social mobility

Eric Waugh argues that whilst other resources have been frittered away, Northern Ireland’s Grammar Schools remain the jewel in Northern Ireland’s educational crown. He argues that with educational policy facing a flux in a Blair/Cameron Britain, nothing should be rushed that forces the best of our schools to effectively move themselves outside the state sector.His primary reasoning arises from the record of Grammars in promoting kids from poor families to a good standard of education:

It is the grammar schools of Northern Ireland which have hoisted Queen’s University Belfast to top place as the UK university with the highest proportion of students from less affluent homes.

Before most of them were abolished in Great Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, the grammar schools provided nearly two entrants out of three to Oxford and Cambridge colleges – despite the undoubted advantages then enjoyed by specially-prepared rival candidates from the public schools.

Now, when universities face cuts in their funding if they fail to recruit enough state-educated pupils, and admissions officers strain to boost their intake, their proportion of the total has fallen below 50%.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty