For someone like me who was a child in the 1950s living in the UK today is a lot like groundhog day.
Nowhere was this better demonstrated than Theresa May's class prejudiced decision to reintroduce Grammar Schools across the country.
These selective schools, far from being a glorious success the first time around were not only divisive, they put a brake on social mobility having consigned the majority of children to sink, or second class schools. Millions of school children were deemed a failure by the State before they were into their first pair of long trousers. It's impossible to describe adequately how the 11 plus system impacted detrimentally on a young persons ambition and place in life. To tell a child at eleven years old they will never amount to much is designed to anchor them into their current position in society. It's cruel nasty, bigoted and counter productive for the nation as a whole!
What is only rarely mentioned about the eleven plus is a majority of kids were not even put forward to take the exam. Selection was left mainly to individual headmaster's, hense girls were under represented in the grammars as were the sons of manual workers which in those days were the overwhelming majority of school students. I personally know of examples of the parents of bright working class lads who saw potential in their boy being talked out of putting their sons forward to take the exam by the headmaster on grounds of cost.
Does anyone truly believe Britain is any less class prejudiced today and this type of sleight of hand would not reoccur?
The evidence for the return of the Grammars is based on sand. One only has to see the vast improvement in the numbers of school leavers going on to university today under the comprehensive system, in which pupils of all abilities and aptitudes are taught together, with the numbers who attended prior to their establishment.
Today under the comprehensive system almost half of all young people go to university. Whereas in 1963 the Robbins report showed that of undergraduates born in 1940 only 6 % were children of semi-skilled manual workers, and only 1% of unskilled manual workers. The suggestion that is often made by their supporters that grammar schools encourage social mobility goes against all the data in the public domain.
Grammar schools were regarded by the middle classes as their very own educational fiefdom and they fought tooth and nail to keep it that way, as they will today. Once again the admissions procedures will be heavily prejudiced in favour of middle-class pupils.
Post WW2 grammar schools and the eleven plus failed the overwhelming majority of children, hence they were all but abolished; a few schools carried on in the private sector by claiming charitable status, the rest withered and died and good riddance most decent folk thought.
Yet in our groundhog world they are being regurgitated by a Tory government in an opportunist attempt to win middle classes votes. This has nothing to do with improving opportunities for working class kids and everything to do the Tory party and Ukip's wish to turn the clock back to the days when working class people rode in the back of the societal bus.