October 31, 2013

Lindsay Allen on the 11-plus

Lindsay Allen said in a November 2009 episode of BBC Hearts and Minds:
"I’m nothing exceptional. I grew up in a working class housing estate in East Belfast. My father was a storeman in the Aircraft Factory, my mother was a part time school dinner lady. I went to the primary school which was literally at the bottom of our street. 
So forgive me if I appear sceptical when I hear the 11 plus described as a socially divisive mechanism for ensuring that the privileged sons and daughters of the middle classes are given an unfair advantage in life! None of the guys I went to school with felt that they had been born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Maybe some of the homes they came from, didn’t have spoons! 
On the contrary, it gave working class kids of my generation a real shot at the sort of careers that up to that point had only been open to the sons and daughters of the middle classes, and what was wrong with that? 
There is a problem with the 11 plus, but it’s not that it is attempting to assess the academic potential of children.  
It’s that politicians with an ideology to grind have convinced parents and children that the “Transfer Test” is their child’s once in a lifetime shot at success, “miss the boat at eleven and you’ve missed it for life”! And this scaremongering exerts enormous pressure on both parents and children who are terrified of being branded as failures! 
Ms. Ruane’s answer, is to slam the door of opportunity in the child’s face! This Left Wing commitment to mediocrity in education means that in order to achieve an equality of performance across all schools, you not only have to try and lift the worst schools up, you also have drag the best schools down!  
The result of this misguided ideology is the sort of scandalous and shambolic debacle we have at present where last Saturday anxious children and worried parents jumped through multiple hoops in an attempt to get into a school with a reputation for academic excellence.  
And I ask again, “What’s wrong with wanting that?"
Andrew Sullivan, editor of the Dish and esteemed political blogging attributed the destruction of the grammar school in England and Wales as the reason for him becoming a conservative. He said:
"When the left destroyed this unique avenue of social mobility, in favour of the cult of equality of outcomes, it made me a conservative"
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