Heffer’s Bad Grammar

January 16, 2010

Simon Heffer argues in the Telegraph today that as (white) working class children don’t seem to be enormously ambitious and aren’t all becoming wealthy and corpulent in today’s economy, what they really need is the return of the grammar school system. As the Heffer remarks, “If more children from poor areas were able to get to good universities, there would, in time, be fewer poor areas.”

Of course, it’s highly likely that said poor children would move to richer areas, buy bigger houses and whatnot, and poorer areas would be left to stew in their underachieving juices. The reason that grammar schools were replaced was that the system discriminated against poorer children – a charge that Heffer astonishingly now levels at the comprehensive system for, allegedly, “generally fail[ing] children of high ability.”

This is nonsense, and he knows it. While masquerading as a general appeal to lift poor people out of their apathy (and claiming to be racially neutral about this despite writing that “There is a large element within the white working class, and within those of Afro-Caribbean origin, that seems to lack ambition”) Heffer is writing in the service of the predominantly white middle classes who might benefit from being able to segregate their kids from those of the poor.

No. What working class children really need is not a “brutal 1917-style revolution here that sweeps it away and takes everyone down to a low level” but a very rational policy change which diverts money away from building city academies and subsidising faith schools (and the banking system) and away from murderous foreign wars, into communities where schools, local public services and small businesses are nurtured. This would, of course, entail capturing that segment of local product which evacuates to Tesco HQ or BP every day, but this should be routine. It is a question of redistrubution, and not of going back to outmoded educational systems, as if class doesn’t matter and all we need to do is aspire.

Get real Heffer.


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