Monday, 13 August 2012

Shirley Williams' Legacy

Shirley Williams is a blinkered advocate of comprehensive education. Her motives for advocating this policy especially in the 1960's were wholly honourable. She thought that every pupil in state schools should have a chance to fulfil his or her potential.There should be no grammar schools or selection at eleven years old. The snag came from the declaration of equality. Those who took up her policy read into it that schools should no longer be competitive. Pupils should be taught in multi-ability classes. There must be no streaming or picking out those with the highest academic aptitude.
This was especially true of sport. Sport should be for the love of taking part not to find out who was best. Those who did not like sport could be excused. There was no pressure for everybody to reach their potential. All competitions even school sports days were to be banned. Inter school leagues withered. Mrs Thatcher enthusiastically took this up and started to sell off what she saw as surplus land ie sports fields.
Now we are reaping the consequences. While we bathe in the glow of gold medals and salute British sports men and women, the underlying trend is for most medals to be won by the products of private schools.
We as a nation have to bring back not only sport in schools but competitive sport. Life is not non competitive but there are competitive aspects to living. I know there is also the element of some influence in life. Some people get a leg up from their connections. Despite this we have to make sure that all state school pupils are made to take part in competitive sport.