I have spoken to plenty of people who dislike the grammar school system. Most feel disgruntled, but decide there’s nothing they can do. They are right I suppose. It’s not an election issue, so we have no power to vote for any change. And the grammar school ballot is given an ‘unwinnable’ review by the government’s own education committee. A few protest groups tried it and then they faded away.
Kent is a Conservative county, and even though selective education is not Conservative policy there is a feeling that it is supported by the right. Perhaps this is way we believe nothing will change, or why no one makes a fuss? Perhaps we should just grin and bear it and accept that we will never have a say? That doesn’t feel like good democracy.
I’m actually a Conservative voter and one of the reasons I support the government is because I like policies that empower local people. I believe our government supports communities, and encourages people to take responsibility for their local area. In general this philosophy shapes education policy. Communities can open free schools, and parents are treated as education consumers. But I don’t think this applies to Kent, where there is a lack of influence for parents on either side of the selective education debate.
Parents who favour grammar schools can’t get new schools build because the government allows no new secondary schools.
Parents who dislike grammar schools have no way to change the system because there is no procedure for a long term switch to comprehensive education.
So we are in limbo, with neither side happy.
It is disappointing for left, right, and indifferent voters, and for those who love grammar schools or hate them; but here in Kent we have no say in something as important as our school system.
I don’t believe there is apathy in Kent about selective education. It is debated by every parent who makes a decision on their child’s eleven plus entry. Parents have a right to choose whether to enter their child for the exam, but they have no say in secondary education beyond that, or for the county as a whole.
I think there is a feeling that nothing can be done, and that nothing will change. I think people feel they have no influence to change this. This makes me sad.
I am not a radical grammar school hater, I do not want to abolish good schools overnight, change the system, and upset children and parents with my view of the ‘right way’. I do prefer comprehensive education, but I would like to look for a way for all views to be considered, and a chance of slow change not a quick fix. This is why I would never support the unsubtle approach of a grammar school ballot, this forced hand approach is confrontational and parents are bound to vote against it.
I believe there should be a fair school system, and choice in the education method used in Kent. I think it even goes beyond parents, our county is defined by this education system and our children are our community of the future. So I’d like future parents to have a right to share their education philosophy, and former pupils to share views on how the selective system shaped them too. My ideal solution would be an education referendum in Kent. Though I think we may be a long way away from that when selective education isn’t even on people’s radar!
I am upset by the lack of influence the people of Kent have over something so important. Education effects everyone, it shapes the communities of Kent and it’s bigger than a ballot at any one school. I hope there is some way to start a debate about education in our county, and find a way to give people a say in our school system.