First Word on the Role of Grammar Schools
Over recent weeks there has been considerable discussion of the role of grammar schools in the 21st century. I certainly do not want to get involved in a discussion about the education policies of the major political parties. However, it might be helpful to outline why I believe that schools such as Lawrence Sheriff still have a place in a modern education system.
Central to the whole debate has been the issue of inclusion, with some arguing that grammar schools only serve the middle classes. Whatever the merits of this argument in general terms, in the specific case of Lawrence Sheriff this is not the case. A strong example of this is our non-selective post 16 admissions policy, which deliberately allows the school to cater for students from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Our criteria for admission to study either A-levels or vocational courses are actually less selective than many comprehensive schools.
Pre 16 the school continues to serve students from a wide variety of backgrounds. The governors’ vision for the school as a ‘community grammar school’ is widely known and something which has led us to engage with a wide range of community projects. Recent first word articles have demonstrated the range of community partnerships that the school is involved with.
All of the examples above demonstrate that Lawrence Sheriff is a genuine community grammar school that sees itself as serving all sectors within Rugby and the surrounding area. We are not interested in narrow elitism and take every opportunity to draw attention to the school’s broader set of values.
Ultimately, education is a matter for parental choice. I continue to believe that parents have the right to choose the type of school that is best suited to the particular needs of their child. That choice might lead to a school that specialises in a particular subject, a city academy, a conventional comprehensive school or a grammar school. Lots of people involved in education policy pay lip service to parental choice, but what they actually mean is that parents should be able to make choices that these same officials approve of. Parents are the people best placed to understand the educational needs of their children and they must be given the opportunity to choose the type of school that they are most suited to. If this does not happen there is real danger that genuine choice will only be offered to those who can afford to pay for it.