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Grammar Schools: Pros and Cons

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Grammar schools are the state educational establishments in the UK. The characteristic feature of grammar schools is the process of selection. Pupils in such schools are selected on the basis of their educational achievements after passing an exam at the end of the last year of primary school. This exam is known as 11-plus and is aimed at determining which students will get a place in the grammar school. Nowadays, the debate over such selective education still continues. The following essay will discuss the merits and drawbacks of grammar schools in the United Kingdom. It needs to be noted that grammar schools are known to be successful due to the fact that students get a number of privileges while studying in this type of schools. Let us first discuss the pros of grammar schools.

                Pros:

  • The first advantage of grammar schools is the individual success that can be achieved in this type of educational establishments. Back in 2006, students in grammar schools reached more than a half of the overall number of A-level compared to the pupils studying in comprehensive schools. Therefore, the merit of grammar schools is the high performance of students at the examinations and during the classes.
  • Another argument in support of grammar schools is the fact that this type of school gives pupils from low-income families an opportunity to beat poverty and achieve a high standard of learning without the necessity to pay much money for the education. This leads to an assumption that grammar schools undermine privilege and contribute to social equality.
  • One more argument in favor of grammar school system is that it helps the talented students from working class to achieve success in education. Grammar schools contribute to social mobility more than any other educational institution across the country. If grammar schools are abolished, it might be seen as an attempt to impose only one type of education on the region.
  • Furthermore, favorable school environment is also an advantage of grammar schools. Nowadays, school authorities across the UK and worldwide are concerned about the discipline of students in the classroom. It is suggested that comprehensive schools discourage educational achievements of students, as most pupils in such schools suffer from bullying if they try to do well in the classroom. That is why comprehensive schools do not foster the discipline during the learning process, while grammar schools provide a much safer learning environment for students. It is suggested that grammar schools encourage the culture of great achievements, which is undoubtedly a great advantage of such kind of educational system.
  • One more argument in favor of grammar schools is the fact that these schools are greatly valued by parents, which is a direct indication that such schools have a right to exist.

Cons:

  • As for the arguments against grammar schools, it is suggested by some people that grammar school system of education is rather divisive. It is assumed that such system results in the waste of talents among those students who pass an exam at the age of 11 years. It is often argued that there is a harmful psychological effect of such schools on students who fail to pass the exam at the designated age. Consequently, talented students are not allowed to continue their education, if they fail at the exam, which is definitely a considerable disadvantage of the grammar schools.
  • One more disadvantage of grammar schools is the threat of class stereotypes. Many people are against grammar school system because they consider that grammar schools contribute to social leveling. Such people think that this kind of schools does not increase the level of social mobility, but rather leads to the opposite. This is evidenced by the decreased number of pupils who receive free meals in grammar schools. It is also argued that the above-mentioned benefits of grammar schools are in many ways misleading. For instance, it is proved by the statistics that not all students from middle class families can afford paying for the 11 plus examination, and this is definitely a significant disadvantage of this type of education.
  • Furthermore, regional and gender differentiation based on opportunities provided to students is another disadvantage of grammar schools. Various historical and political issues have led to the differentiation of students attending grammar schools in England. At the same time, the number of places in grammar schools offered to girls and boys are also different based on the results of 11 plus examination. In reality, girls are given greater priority over boys, and older students are favored compared to younger ones. That is why such differentiation may also lead to the waste of talented students who are discouraged to continue their education in grammar schools.
  • It is suggested by some research studies that the closure of grammar schools will lead to the improvement of exam results. It is assumed that the performance of talented students in comprehensive schools is at the same level as that of the talented students who go to grammar schools. Therefore, it can be suggested that the existence of grammar schools greatly diminishes the overall performance of students in the UK.
  • Finally, there is a debate regarding the interrelation between the exam results and students’ IQ level. It is suggested that the cognitive development of children continues after the age of eleven years, so the 11-plus examination excludes the possibility of late development among school children. The grammar school system is also criticized for the presumably negative impact on the primary school education. It is assumed that this kind of schools is negatively affected by the pressure to educate children after the 11 plus test.

To conclude, the debate over the existence of grammar school in the UK is likely to continue in future. There are a number of pros and cons of grammar schools, which should be taken into account by the government in order to decide whether grammar schools should be abolished or not. The above essay has shown that although grammar schools have a lot of beneficial sides, they also have a negative impact on the performance of students and should therefore be either reformed or cancelled.

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