The ongoing battle of words between Piers Morgan and Virender Sehwag seems to be reaching new heights, at least as far as Piers Morgan is concerned. The man may be quick to admonish anyone who doesn’t ‘dot their I’s or cross their T’s but his insistence on grammatical sentencing and spelling is not going down well with a lot of people. The poor ‘bard’ must be literally shaking in his grave!
English is a funny language, we have heard many say. And indeed it is through its nuances of sounds and spellings that can throw even the most seasoned off-guard. But without doubt English is one of the most widely spoken languages and easily the most popular for communication at international levels.
The new British Prime Minister, Theresa May recently announced a huge reform to the UK education policy by calling for a new generation of selective schools. She has vowed to bring in legislation to overturn the ban on new grammar schools, a policy which has been in effect since 1998. Grammar schools have had a dubious distinction of taking up for the higher echelons of society.
But first, let’s understand what a ‘Grammar School’ is.
A grammar school is that which selects its students through an examination called the ’11-plus’, which means that children of that age take the exam. By virtue of this, it attains a special status. Under the system, a child who passes the exam is eligible to attend the local grammar school while a child who fails goes to the ‘secondary modern school’. In certain boroughs and counties in the UK there are no grammar schools which are non-selective with no special status although they bear the name of a grammar school.
The modern school was made effective through the Education Act of 1944 although the concept of these schools goes way back to the 16th century. Secondary Education was reorganized into two types namely grammar school education and secondary schools. Through the former it was assumed that pupils would move on to higher studies by focusing on academics while the latter was meant for those children who would take up a trade or technical jobs. It basically segregated those that would go on to university studies and celebrated professions and those who seemed more suitable for lesser jobs.
The selection for grammar school put the students through the ’11-plus’ which is taken by them during the final year of primary school. The entrance exams consist of all or some of the following categories –
• Verbal reasoning
• Non-verbal reasoning
• Numerical reasoning
• English comprehension and grammar
• Creative writing
Most parents pay for expensive tutors in order that their children pass the exams and get a better education; facts point out that those kids who have been intensively tutored do fare very well.