Last night I watched a programme about Grammar Schools on TV. I am the product of a Grammar School myself. They were really good for social mobility. Much better than Comprehensives. In the old days, you took an exam and if you did well enough you went to a Grammar School where you had an academic education. If you did not do as well, you went to a Secondary Modern, where the education was less academic.
Now it seems to me that there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone is not academic and not everyone can benefit from such an education. In fact, I think many people are turned off education by the Comprehensive system, where everyone is pushed through GCSEs regardless of their ability to succeed. GCSEs are essentially academic.
The Grammar Schools took pupils from all walks of life, and from different areas of a town. Nowadays, children go to their local school and do not 'get away' from their local culture. This is not desirable if it is an unambitious culture as many are. Also, it is not easy to get away from a bad school!
If one did not get a Grammar School place, it was not the end of everything. Pupils could, and did, transfer from Secondary Modern Schools to Grammar Schools. Many of my friends did so, and were very successful.
The biggest argument against Grammar Schools, as I see it, is the exam and the perceived 'failure' of pupils who were not awarded a Grammar School place. If this could have somehow been sorted, then there is nothing wrong with the system.
The best boys' school in the country was Manchester Grammar School. When Comprehensive education came about, it went independent. Now the best schools can only be accessed by those who can pay. How is this a better system? It entrenches the class differences surely!