Theresa May’s prejudice-based proposal to expand selective schools throughout England will probably fail in parliament. But it is worth recalling that in 1970, when I was an education correspondent and the Heath government was just elected, a group of Guardian reporters and I covered the pro-comprehensive lobbying of parents and teachers around the country.
Their efforts were so successful that many Conservative areas recognised the folly of continuing the 11-plus and, as Martin Kettle writes (May is going where Cameron and Thatcher feared to tread, 10 September), the education secretary, Margaret Thatcher, closed more grammar schools and opened more comprehensives than any minister before or since. The education scene has changed enormously, and the local education committees, which used to be responsible for schools in their areas, are no more. But MPs should be reminded of the weight of local opinion, from parents, teachers and grandparents, who would never vote for a return to the discredited past.
(Guardian education correspondent, 1968-72) London
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