The argument was that if we pulled down the grammar schools then there would be more social mobility. All educated together and in the same way and we’d do better:
The class composition of the senior ranks of the civil service has barely changed since 1967, research reveals, with civil servants from poorer backgrounds less likely to climb the “velvet drainpipe” to the top, and the vast majority of senior roles occupied by people from privileged backgrounds.
Oh, doesn’t seem to have worked all that well then:
The report used civil service workforce data and more than 100 interviews with officials to examine how representative the government was of wider society. It found that 18 per cent of senior civil servants were from working-class or low socio-economic backgrounds, compared with 19 per cent in 1967. The proportion from privileged backgrounds was even higher than it was 50 years ago, although the report said that direct comparisons were hard to draw because of shifting demographics and the shrinking working class.
That 1967 class of top civil servants would have been the produce of the school system from the 1920s onwards. That system of bog standards, grammars and public schools. The top civil servants of today will be the produce of the school system from around 1970 onwards, when those grammars had been largely – but not completely – excised from the system.
Yes, it’s entirely true that economies are complex places. One of the few things worse in its chaos is the English class system – chaotic because of the multifarious axes by which it can be and is measured – which does add to the complexity.
But it was insisted that the abolition of the grammars would increase social mobility. This hasn’t happened at least by this measure. At which point how many educationalists are going to start pondering whether the abolition of the grammars actually worked. And how many within that educational establishment are going to start screeching that we must plough on to reach that nirvana?