Friday, November 08, 2013

Chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association wins Snob of the Day

Here is Robert McCartney QC defending grammar schools against the finding of a Sutton Trust report that they are four times more likely to admit private school children than those on free school meals:
"Many, many parents from deprived areas, including what is generally called the dependency classes, are essentially not particularly interested in any form of academic education. Their interests are directed towards pop culture, sports."
Three quick points...

The case always made by those who support grammar schools is that they provide a way of bright children from poor families to make the most of their talents - something the conventional state system is not particularly good at. But this suggests grammar schools are not interest in that ideal after all.

I have not come across the phrase "dependency classes" before. If you google you get plenty of examples, but that largely because it is a technical term used by those writing scripts for websites. It seems the dependency classes are a malign fantasy of Mr McCartney's own.

And if he really does believe poor parents are interested only in pop culture and sports, isn't one of the justifications of grammar schools supposed to be that they raise the horizons of bright poor children above those of their parents. Again, Mr McCartney is a poor advocate for the cause he is suppose to be helping.

My only reason for hesitating is that is so much what the Guardian would want the chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association to say.

I am reminded of the time that the Guardian had to pay libel damages to the Black singer and would-be Conservative politician Patti Boulaye after quoting her as saying "this is a time to support apartheid" when what she had actually said was "this is a time to support a party". It wasn't bad shorthand or bad transcription: it was wishful thinking.

Still, maybe Mr McCartney really has been this silly.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you want to meddle with grammar schools to your politicl ends.
Back in 1950 I went to a grammar school (in Cardiff) and there were all sorts there.
The comkmon factor was that they were bright and quite keen on being educated.
You may be surprised that coal miners were very keen on their sons getting all the education they could.

Jonathan Calder said...

I would not be surprised at all. That is why I was appalled by McCartney's reported remarks.

Anonymous said...

Robert McCartney? If you knew more about Northern Irish politics, you would not be surprised at any idiocy attributed to him. He is just another dreadful example of an unthinking conservative.