Criticisms of grammar schools: Unhealthy Operation Mode and Selective System

Customary to regard, grammar schools’ reputation and education quality has always gathered students who are either from privileged backgrounds or demonstrated outstanding achievements. Yet, the seemingly ideal schooling environment of grammar schools has recently became the victim of criticism. The odds have been fulminating its operation mode and schooling productivity. In light of such circumstances, the following would discuss and explain three of the heated criticisms.



First and foremost, grammar schools put students into unbearable workload in order to secure its reputation and ranking. The high rankings and achievements of grammar schools have always been their biggest capital in attracting talents of the country. To acquire satisfactory academic or extracurricular results, teachers train students to become “result oriented machines” by giving them innumerable assessments, homework and exams. At the same time, students are required to participate actively in after-school trainings. Such hectic schedule exhausts students and often put them under great pressure, not to mention that some students need extra tutoring to keep up with schools’ standard. With such daily workload, students are severely stressed and have no time for entertainment. Consequently, anxiety and depression may result from pressure in grammar schools.



In addition, grammar schools are inevitably perpetuating class differences, hence leading to a more divisive society. While most of the students, if not all, are from wealthy family background, not only could they afford exorbitant school tuition fee, but they could also manage to have extra tutoring lessons. The less privileged ones, however, may not even be able to afford paying for the tuition of grammar schools, not to mention extra tutorial classes. They are hence excluded from a shorthanded “better” learning environment. Given the rich ones always have a leg up for grammar schools' admissions, grammar schools are criticised as a threat of class stereotypes for undermining social mobility, thus contributing to social levelling.



Another justification deserving our attention is the negative psychological effect of the secondary school admission exam on students. Grammar schools adopt academic selection system to filter more advance students through the 11 plus exam. However, on one hand, this exam has been well-known for its blunt and inaccurate accessibility, thus resulting in wrong placements of students’ intellectual development. Parents and students, in this sense, suffered from great stress in coping with the 11 plus standards in order to get in grammar schools. On the other hand, with this selective-based system, students sheer hard work and volume to meet the requirements of grammar schools. Disappointingly, society defines students’ success based on whether they could get into grammar schools, the ones who failed would hence suffer from severe low self-esteem and would lead to psychological harm. Critics also contend that many of the children at the age for 11 plus is still developing their cognitive skills, and hence are not ready for the exam. The selection system therefore totally ignores the late developers. At such, the academic-oriented selective basis of grammar schools hindered student's mental health and encouraged an imprecise filtering of talents.


All things considered, provided the criticisms of grammar schools, it is hoped that the government and grammar schools could put heads together to help create a more friendly, equal, and encouraging schooling system, thusly providing the ideal environment for students to develop holistically.


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