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Tradition suggests that the left is ideological, driven by theories and ideas, while the right is practical, pragmatic, even functional. Supposedly the left does what it believes in while the right does what works!

But look for a moment at the Conservative commitment to bring back grammar schools, not because they work – they don’t – but because of ideology, in this case the Conservative commitment to selection. It is sinful to relegate the majority of kids to second-class status at eleven. Especially by using a test that doesn’t select accurately or appropriately.

When grammar schools were abolished, a major factor was the demonstration by academics including the eminent educational psychologist and head of the education school at Leicester University Professor Brian Simon that the 11+ test was neither valid nor reliable. It did not test for what it said it did, it did not separate appropriate sheep from goats.

It also did not give the same result over time for the same person (it did not have test-retest reliability). Things have not changed: it remains true that we don’t have valid and reliable methods for judging the suitability of children at eleven, for selecting people for selective schools. This will be re-discovered a few years from now, by which time thousands of youngsters will have had their lives blighted by inaccurate and cruel methods.




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