A new poll has revealed the overwhelming popularity of selective education of the type all but outlawed in the last century in the United Kingdom, news which will surely worry Tory and UKIP strategists alike.
The YouGov poll, which recorded the answers of British adults on Monday and Tuesday this week found 54 percent were in favour of opening new grammars, while only 23 percent objected. An even greater proportion, two thirds of adults would send their children to a grammar despite not wishing to build more, reports The Times.
In a strange irony, the establishment of new grammar schools is more popular among Conservative voters (63 percent in favour) – despite the fact the party hasn’t campaigned for new selective schools since 1997 – than it is for UKIP voters (37 percent), for whom it is party policy.
The poll may cause concern for Conservative education strategists, who had hoped to silence debate by promoting academies, which take students of all abilities but receive their funding from central government instead of their Local Education Authority.
Making a clean break from the mistakes of the past century and escaping the postcode lottery of access to these top schools was the most popular option in the survey.
Grammar schools were well regarded by many for offering a ladder out of poverty for poor, but bright children. Many of Britain’s 20th century prime ministers, captains of industry, scientists and military officers were the products of grammar schools. With few exceptions, the grammar schools were wound up in the 1960’s and 70’s as selective education fell out of fashion.
A great many of the schools which were closed by the state in the late 20th century pre-existed the modern state, having been established by endowments, charities or the Church centuries before. Despite having survived hundreds of years before the state become involved in education, after a brief spell of government control they were stripped of their endowments and their existence as grammar schools ended.
The majority were converted to secondary modern or comprehensive schools, some elected to become independent schools, while a few survived in Conservative counties as Grammar schools which operate to this day.