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I'm a grammar school girl and here's what I think about the Rosie Duffield controversy

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It has recently emerged that anti-grammar school Labour MP, Rosie Duffield, sent both of her sons to selective schools, sparking debate over her intentions.

Throughout her election campaign newly appointed Labour MP for Canterbury, Rosie Duffield, maintained an adamantly anti-grammar school stance. Indeed, the MP was recorded as claiming that grammar schools are “not the way forward” and that the 11+, the admissions test for these selective schools, is a “horrible, divisive and stressful thing.”

The MP furthered her criticism of the institutions by noting that the conservative plan to create more grammar schools was simply a “vanity project” which only promised to “waste money”.

However, as it has since emerged that both of Duffield’s sons were sent by the MP to Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury, she was clearly happy to put her own children through a “horrible, devise and stressful” experience so long as it had the potential to advance their academic careers.

Indeed, it seems that although Miss Duffield has claimed that creating grammar schools would be of little importance to the education of thousands of other people’s children, the so called “vanity project” was chosen for her own.

Such revelation has created much debate, with some claiming Miss Duffield was simply choosing the best school available within the current system while others have slammed the MP as both hypocritical and self-serving. 

Ultimately, it is absolutely impossible to be anti-grammar schools in principle whilst exercising the ‘right’ to send your children to the same establishments. Either grammar schools are too cruel and backwards to send any child too, or they represent an excellent opportunity for the most gifted and talented students to advance their academic careers and should subsequently be available to those qualified.

Interestingly, the Labour Party recently attempted to support Miss Duffield’s troublesome position in a statement claiming that although an individual “can’t opt out of the system” they can still “disagree with it”, a statement which is neither true nor particularly useful.

If an individual is fundamentally against grammar schools, as Duffield repeatedly claimed to be during her election campaign, they are spectacularly easy to avoid sending your child to. For example, the 11+ exam is in no way mandatory, and as such those who know they wish to attend a non-selective secondary school are under no obligation to sit the examinations. Equally, in filling out their preferences for potential secondary schools no-one is forced to have a single grammar school on their list.

Personally, I am entirely in support of grammar schools as, unlike private schools, they provide excellent opportunities to stretch pupils based on talent, as opposed to bank balance. Indeed, I am acutely aware that many of the opportunities afforded to me have been due to my own grammar school education.

I am, of course, aware that grammar schools are, by their very nature, not for everyone. Indeed, even one of Duffield’s own children struggled with their place, having to be moved to another school after finding the institution “too competitive” whilst her elder son thrived.

However, separating or setting children based on academic ability occurs in every secondary school in the country, selective or otherwise, and is widely celebrated as a way of allowing children to work at a pace best suited to them, surrounded by those who think and work in the same way.

Indeed, we would never dream of suggesting that the less academically able students be denied extra help, yet stretching those at the other end of the spectrum through grammar schools is often denounced as elitist by the likes of Duffield.  

Of course, it is highly likely that Miss Duffield is acutely aware of the true advantages of grammar schools and that is the reason both of her children found themselves attending, regardless of their suitability. It is this desire to put her own children above the children of those she supposedly represents which not only makes her a hypocrite but also demonstrates the clear value of grammar schools.

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