The biggest political news story today is the government’s decision to allow the opening of a de facto new grammar school in Kent (it’s illegal to actually open a new grammar school, so technically it’s a second site for an existing grammar school in another town). Obviously it’s too early for there to be any polling in re-action to this, but it’s a long standing issue so there is plenty of past polling to look at.

On balance, the public tend to support the existence of current grammar schools – only around a quarter of people support the government ending selection in the remaining grammar schools and opening them to children of all abilities. In contrast, around 40% of people support allowing more selection by ability and the opening of new Grammar schools – the balance is made up of don’t knows and people who back what was the status quo of allowing the existing grammar schools to remain, but not allowing any new ones.

In May YouGov asked about the “loophole” that Nicky Morgan today approved – opening up an extension of an existing grammar school at a new campus in a different location. 51% of people approved of that idea, 18% disapproved, 30% didn’t know. So for what it’s worth, it appears to get the public’s thumbs up.

As an aside, whenever the issue of public attitudes towards grammar schools pops up on the agenda I see the same question. Polls that ask about grammar schools normally show the sort of results I’ve outlined above, and critics of grammar schools will normally counter with something along the lines of “Ah, but you only asked about grammar schools, if you’d asked do you want to bring back grammar schools for those who pass the test… and secondary moderns for those who don’t, then you would have got a different answer”.

That’s a reasonable point. So we tested it.

Back in February YouGov asked a question to two different samples. Half were asked if they’d like to bring back grammar schools across the whole of Great Britain – 53% said yes, 20% said no. The other half were asked if they’d like to bring back the system of an exam at 11, with 25% of children who passed going to grammar schools and the other 75% going to secondary moderns. Now 46% of people supported it, 34% of people were opposed.

People are, at first glance, pretty supportive of grammar schools. That support is undermined a little when people consider the other side of the coin – the majority of children who do not pass the exam – but grammar schools still have more supporters than detractors.


159 Responses to “What polls say about grammar schools”

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  1. I’m surprised at the public acceptance of grammar schools, which wasn’t the case 30-40 years ago when most of them went.

    I think the key point here, which relates to a number of other discussions is “aspiration”. Most people believe that their child would qualify for grammer school and therefore benefit at the expense of other children. Grammar schools are as much about defence of privilege as independent schools.

    Of course back in the 1970s it was the increasing number of middle class families who saw their children banished to secondary moderns who led the objections, and to whom the Conservatives paid attention (since a bit of arithmetic will show you that a majority of middle class children were sent to secondary moderns, even though over 80% of grammar school kids were middle class.).

    Public opinion is often strange – both short-sighted and ignorant. Who’d be a politician, or indeed anyone wanting to promote the public interest?

  2. @Colin

    We appear to be mostly in agreement – a shock to us both I’m sure ;)

    To clarify a couple of things; I don’t think chucking money at it will solve the problem (and I tend to be very dubious about such things ). My point about redistribution was more in lines with how it gives everyone a good starting point from the ancillary beneficial point of view: namely less stress, better access to good nutrition, toys and space to play etc. (yes, people having more money does not necessarily lead to these things, but on average it does improve chances) which all play a role. It’s significant in that children tend to be naturally curious, playful and quick learners – so even if the parents are not instilling the ‘right’ virtues, in a home environment where the child is not being curtailed they have a better chance of picking up such things from elsewhere.

    To a certain extent we can’t know whether government policy is good or not (or how well it compensates for this or that), but we can see that certain types of education instruction work better than others (and there is a great deal case-study and comparative work on this – though not without difficulty as education in each country has a different surrounding environment, so what works in one place might not work in another). Of course a bad educational policy might stymie an otherwise good parental influence just as much as vice versa. One thing for sure, though, is that consistency is always going to be good; unfortunately most governments can never seem to resist the temptation to tinker with systems, even when they’re working perfectly well (which is normally where the problems derive from). And as we are dealing with the potential futures of people I tend to sidle onto the ‘caution first’ approach.

  3. AU

    Thanks

    I can’t really see how redistrution helps unless the parents are engaged in the process. How do you ensure that the redistributed funds get spent on desirable outcomes for the children.

    And for me that was the lesson of progs. like Educating Cardiff.

    Some of our Schools seem to have become agencies of Social Care- I feel sorry for them trying to do this groundwork-and educate as well.

    Something seems lacking in the Social Service Provision.

  4. @Colin

    Wales desperately needs more English-only grammar schools.

  5. The biggest political news story today is the government’s decision to allow the opening of a de facto new grammar school in Kent (it’s illegal to actually open a new grammar school, so technically it’s a second site for an existing grammar school in another town).

    I’m wondering whether there might be legal challenges in the months or years to come. From disappointed parents perhaps?

  6. I am getting lots of adverts for Shur-gard & other storage firms. I have not been looking for storage so it’s not my cookies. The silly ad companies obviously think this is a storage blog site! Personally, I’m blaming Carfrew. ;-)

  7. @Colin

    Parent involvement is the tricky part, but this is why I think a lot of community support and action is often required – in the sense that it should be readily available (which is part of what I include under redistribution). Parents can be educated to be better parents (more involved, doing things better, tips and tricks etc) but that requires that there is somewhere they can go to get support if they’re struggling. As you say social service provision does seem to lack in areas and could do with more direction/resources (though exactly in what direction is tricky to say).

    I do believe that school can compensate though, but this again requires properly resourced schools (with enough teachers, good sized classrooms etc.) which, in poorer areas at least, are sadly often very rare and hard to come by.

  8. John Chanin – “I’m surprised at the public acceptance of grammar schools, which wasn’t the case 30-40 years ago when most of them went.”

    It’s always tricky finding issues polling from decades ago, but what I can find from the 70s and 80s at least (though of course, that’s a little too late) is still broadly supportive, albeit, much closer than the polls suggest today. The oldest data I can find, from 1974, had the balance of public opinion narrowly against grammar schools.

    The British Social Attitudes survey asked about whether we should have Grammar&Secondary Moderns or Comprehensives several times in the 1980s.

    1984 – 50% Grammar & Sec Mod, 40% Comprehensives
    1985 – 46% Grammar & Sec Mod, 45% Comprehensives
    1987 – 52% Grammar & Sec Mod, 41% Comprehensives
    1989 – 47% Grammar & Sec Mod, 46% Comprehensives

    The British Election Study asked a question in 1974 and 1979 on how important it was to replace Grammars with Comprehensives.

    1974 – 42% Important it SHOULD be done, 39% important it should NOT be done
    1979 – 33% important it SHOULD be done, 48% important it should NOT be done

    I find the suggest you make quite plausible – that when grammar schools were widespread there were plenty of middle class parents who disliked them because their kids didn’t get in; now where they don’t exist today’s middle class parents assume their offspring would get in.

  9. @ Colin

    Some of our Schools seem to have become agencies of Social Care- I feel sorry for them trying to do this groundwork-and educate as well.

    Something seems lacking in the Social Service Provision.

    Providing social services for children using their schools as the route to do so could bring significant savings & considerable benefits. But it needs to be properly structured & carefully implemented.

  10. AU

    Thanks-we are in large measure agreed.

    The Troubled Families program has, I understand been successful-but what we are discussing seems to be the next level down ( ? up) -a much larger cohort=much greater cost.

  11. @Colin/AU

    Even things like ability to defer gratification are fixed very early in life and are likely inherited. See the Stanford Marshmallow Test which was conducted on four to six year olds:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment

    That test predicted exam scores and success in life before the children had even set foot in a school.

    I know people want to believe that government can “fix” things, but they can’t. All this stuff is determined by the parents. And the key decision is the choice of spouse – do people choose someone steady and reliable or do they choose someone stupid and flaky. And the other question that follows is why are some women deciding there is no downside to choosing a flaky partner – is it because the state will step in and bail them out regardless?

  12. Re polling on Grammar Schools.

    The key demographic are swing voters in marginal constituencies. If too many nice middle class kids get sent to secondary moderns then the system gets changed.

    I went to an average Comprehensive by the way and got to Oxford via Sixth Form College. I was not the only person in my Comprehensive year to reach Oxbridge.

  13. PETE B

    I would say that comparing the social effects of grammar schools today with that in their heyday is misleading. This is because in the days when every town had a grammar school (or equivalent, for Jocks), most parents aspired to get their children into one. Now that they are thin on the ground, wealthier parents have an advantage in gaining access (e.g. by moving house to a more expensive area).

    But grammar schools aren’t ‘thin on the ground’, because they’re not evenly spread. They’re still widely present in those counties that retained them (Kent[1], Lincs, Bucks and some other LAs) but completely absent or with only a few elsewhere[2]:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_grammar_schools_in_England

    This means that you can compare the effects of selective education in say Kent (which is particularly useful because of its size and comparative geographic isolation) with how things operate in other counties.

    [1] These are often the historic counties because of boundary changes, so they may also pop up in adjoining areas such as Bromley and Bexley.

    [2] Often as a convenient way of continuing to provide single-sex education. One of the amusing aspects of the fuss over various Muslim-influenced schools recently was the denunciation of separation into boys and girls for certain activities coming from people quite prepared to promote elsewhere the genders being separated for everything.

  14. What would, or will, be the polling when a Labour government nationalises the public schools and turns them into sixth form colleges offering the EU baccalauriat and paired in exchange programmes with French, German and Chinese schools?
    This would, I think be quite feasible, since it has happened with virtually the whole of the university system, and has been in no way revolutionary, except to open up the highest quality higher education to everyone.

  15. Roger Mexico
    “This means that you can compare the effects of selective education in say Kent (which is particularly useful because of its size and comparative geographic isolation) with how things operate in other counties.”

    It would be interesting to see the opinion poll results for those particular counties, but i suppose the cross-break sizes would be too small to be meaningful.

  16. Pedantic note: inherited characteristics are not necessarily genetic characteristics. Language, most obviously, is usually inherited from people’s parents but it is obviously cultural rather than genetic.

  17. @Candy
    “I know people want to believe that government can “fix” things, but they can’t. All this stuff is determined by the parents. And the key decision is the choice of spouse – do people choose someone steady and reliable or do they choose someone stupid and flaky. And the other question that follows is why are some women deciding there is no downside to choosing a flaky partner – is it because the state will step in and bail them out regardless?”

    Mate choice is a zero sum game. If women valued a man’s financial stability more than they do now then men with good, stable jobs would have hotter girlfriends, but someone would still end up with the losers. What’s more, women can also have bad traits – maybe the losers would end up together, resulting in assortative mating that would continually increase inequality over time.

    The policy outcome you are reaching towards is reducing the fertility rate of net tax consumers below the replacement rate. Any idea how to make it happen in a humane way?

    @John Pilgrim
    “What would, or will, be the polling when a Labour government nationalises the public schools and turns them into sixth form colleges offering the EU baccalauriat and paired in exchange programmes with French, German and Chinese schools?
    “This would, I think be quite feasible, since it has happened with virtually the whole of the university system, and has been in no way revolutionary, except to open up the highest quality higher education to everyone.”

    Our universities operate in an even more extreme variant of a grant-maintained grammar system. They are not just selective between two broad tiers, they are selective down to the last decimal point in their league table scores. I do agree with you that it is interesting how different the reaction would be to a system in which one applied to secondary school in direct competition with every other student in the country. I don’t understand why the reaction would be so much different, but I suspect finding out would tell us a lot about the irrationality of democratic voters.

  18. @ Candy

    Re the Marshmallow Test: Your theory that genetics are involved in the outcomes of the test has been comprehensively debunked.

    Here’s an article about one piece of research which disproved that genetics were a factor.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-10-17/what-does-the-marshmallow-test-actually-test

    In case you are unable to defer gratification until you’ve read to the end of the article, here’s the conclusion: A learned response based on trust & experience is the determining factor in whether a child defers gratification or not.

    And the concluding paragraph of the article says: “The descriptions of Mischel’s work have focused mainly on determination and grit, and many of the charter schools and educational researchers that have taken the marshmallow results to heart tend to see self-control as a unitary quality that can explain both our childhood decisions and our adult outcomes. In Kidd’s study, the willingness to wait is more of a situational trait. Rather than being engaged in a desperate struggle against their own appetites, the young subjects of her study were carefully calculating the likelihood that they would actually get a second marshmallow. Her work suggests that getting kids to be better at waiting—in the lab and in life—is a matter of persuading them that there’s something worth waiting for.”

  19. @ Candy

    Assuming you consider CEOs to be people who have succeeded (which, I’m happy to admit, is debatable) then explain to me why they always want an ‘executive summary’ at the beginning of presentations. Why do they want ‘immediate gratification’? Are they incapable of having the conclusion at the end, after the evidence has been presented? Or do they, sensibly, want a heads-up on whether it’s worth the effort of listening to the whole thing?

  20. @nedludd

    Your source supports the strong heritability of intelligence and the weak (and diminishing) effect of parental resources:

    “Findings from twin, adoption, and family studies are the most commonly cited forms of evidence for a biological theory of intelligence. These studies compare individuals with very similar DNA (identical twins or related family members) with biologically unrelated children growing up in the same home or with children and their adoptive parents. This method attempts to distinguish traits a person is born with from those influenced by his or her environment. Molecular biologist, Robert Plomin has utilized such studies to estimate the heritability of intelligence at around .50 (50%) of the variance [18]. Other studies utilizing g as a cognitive measure have arrived at similar estimates. Longitudinal studies show that these effects increase with age. The heritability of g appears to rise to about .75 (75%) by late adolescence. One explanation for this shift is that family influences on cognition are deemed to diminish throughout development. Also possible, explains Plomin, is that additional gene expression delayed during childhood may be triggered as cognitive processes develop.”

    The most it grants to your position is that genetic determinism isn’t yet proved to be the cause:

    “But do these studies provide evidence that intelligence is inherited? Causation has not been determined here.”

  21. @Colin & Amber

    Thanks. I’ll have to take a look at the troubled families program – it sounds like that kind of thing, but yes school support and other factors (whether a level down or up) or also important. The devil, of course, tends to be in the details and, where this stuff is concerned, there unfortunately tends to be a lot of details and a lot of devils…

    @Candy

    Right, this time the last word on it (because I’m well aware that anything I say will not shake the absolute conviction you have in what you assert but I’m miserably compelled to try…)

    Amber has already covered some of this ground, but its worth noting that the original experiment does not quite suggest what you think it does (Mischel, for one, was not actually testing whether delayed gratification led to success but what strategies children used to do it – it was the later studies that showed that it seemed to correlate with success, not something he actually predicted from the original test).

    Some additional points on this:

    1) The children used in the experiment were all primary school children – so they had already been exposed to a school environment alongside a parental one when they took the test (which would confound any easy link between parents and success on the test)

    2) The children were all children of Stanford students, faculty and graduates – people who you would think would have the right combination of genetics and habits to pass onto their children. On your terms all the participants in that test should have delayed gratification until the end – the fact that they did not should be an indication that there is something else going on.

    3) The test Amber points to demonstrates that with a mere 15-minutes of priming beforehand you can turn the children into people who either mostly delay gratification or mostly go for instant gratification. The fact that this can happen fairly kiboshes the idea that its fixed early on and is then unchangeable. The best that you could say is that, similarly to language, its easier to learn it when you’re young than when you’re older, but its not impossible (and neurosciences would also support this as the brain is still developing well into adult-hood).

    4) It’s also difficult to say that this is the one characteristic, or set of characteristics, that determines these outcomes. As I’ve already pointed to, certain accents are highly correlated with success as well but it’d be a brave person who would claim that accents are genetic and they determine success.

    Aside from this I’m not really sure what you’re suggesting should do instead. You seem to be suggesting that we should ditch schools (because they’re a waste of money) and ditch government support (because it just encourages women to think they can [email protected] any caveman and get away with it) and pump all our money into improving dating apps instead. But would be a mental proposition so I doubt it’s that…

    The ghosts of Sir Cyril and Lysenko, and the disasters they respectively wreaked, should haunt anyone who claims that they have found the scientific key to producing success…

    @NedLudd

    I rather suspect Mr Cummings’ ejaculations are figuring prominently in this (alongside the work of Satoshi Kanazawa and Steven Pinker in his less cautious moments…)

    @Amber

    It is interesting to note that the characteristics that determine success are mostly the same characteristics that Weber identified as being inherent in Protestantism and which led to the development and rise of capitalism (because they had the right mindset to be entrepreneurial and bring it about).

    Weber’s thesis is, of course, [email protected] which should give some pause for thought when anyone proclaims that it’s ‘so simple, it’s just x’

  22. @Mico

    Yes, but if your read the successive paragraphs you’ll note that they start to talk about the problems with the studies that are cited to show that intelligence is genetic:

    “But do these studies provide evidence that intelligence is inherited? Causation has not been determined here. There are two significant problems associated with twin/adoption and family studies. First is the assumption that genetic effects can be separated from environmental effects. This position rests on the “equal environments assumption” (EEA), which posits that the environment of individuals in the same or different homes can be controlled for in such a way that genetic effects can be separated out. There have been serious critiques levied at EEA due to the way adoptive and non-adoptive environments are appraised as being different or alike [19]. Additionally, the idea that genetic and environmental effects are simply additive and work in isolation of one another is false.

    Second, a majority of these studies do not account for how IQ outcomes are affected by class differences. Eric Turkheimer, et al. utilized the twin/adoption and family method to show that socioeconomic status modifies heritability of IQ in young children [20]. The study found that in families who subsisted on incomes at or below the poverty line, the heritabilty effects on IQ were close to zero, whereas in affluent families, these effects were quite high. They also found that parental education levels modified both the effects of heritability and environment, increasing the former and decreasing the latter as years of education increased. In cases where adequate nutrition, access to education, protection from exposure to environmental toxins, and similar issues have affected the development of individuals, heritability estimates have been shown to be expressed quite differently.

    Another phenomenon that seems to refute current heritability estimates is the “Flynn effect [21],” which describes a steady worldwide rise in performance since testing began. A three-point rise in IQ per decade on average has been noted, even when tests have been re-standardized to account for these gains. The reasons for this rise are not known, but one explanation involves children’s need, and the need of people in general, to adapt to the increasing complexity of modern life. Obviously the rise cannot result from genetic mutation as the time frame is too narrow. Rather, the Flynn effect may demonstrate how flexible human cognitive development really is. As successive generations take in greater, and more complex, amounts of information from shifting sources such as television and radio, they learn to process the increase. The phenomenon calls into question the extent to which g is an inborn trait. Members of the American Psychological Association task force underscored in their 1995 report that: “…heritable traits can depend on learning and they may be subject to other environmental effects as well. The value of heritability can change if the distribution of environments (or genes) in the population is substantially altered [22].”

    An illustration of the benefits of delaying gratification :)

  23. It seems to me that a very large cohort study could, over time, solve the question of the degree of genetic heritability involved in, if not “intelligence” then at least in success.

    DNA profiling 100,000 newborns and then following their milestones for 30 years would do it.

    Of course, lots of people would be dead against this because lack of scientific evidence is the primary defence against the (morally/politically) unacceptable concept that stupid people have stupid children.

  24. @NedLudd

    What @Mico said. Your link disproves your rant.

    In a free society the government can’t control private behaviours which range from drinking during pregnancy to having children without a partner and income to support said child so they are brought up in an unstable environment, to shacking up with dullards who pass on bad genes.

    There is nothing we can do about this, nothing at all. So the only recourse to the state is to limit the cost to the rest of us. If providing expensive remedial help to a child yields no better results than if they hadn’t bothered, then what’s the point of spending that money? They’ll still end up on minimum wage (or benefits because robots would be more efficient for the job). Or if you are Prince Harry, with an undeserved sinecure. But nothing, nothing can make a dull child clever. It’s set at birth.

    We’ve been trying for a century to solve this problem and we’ve frankly exhausted the “throw money at it” solution, the “grammar school method”, the “make teachers try harder” solution, the “testing the children at various ages” method, the school inspection method and probably a few other things as well. The problem is not the state and it’s not the schools or teachers – it’s the parents.

    People need to take responsibility for their own offspring, including looking at how they are contributing to reducing their children’s life chances. And if the state is actually incentivising people to behave in ways that hurt their own children, then we need to stop those incentives.

  25. Have I understood the modified marshmallow test correctly?
    If I wait 15mins I may get another marshmallow or not, depending on the trustworthiness of the tester? No-one takes away my first marshmallow?
    Then why not wait?

  26. @ Amber Star and AU

    You spared me from typing up all the debunking.

    Everybody knows (in psychology, except for the zealots) that the Marshmellow Test is tooth fairy science (you can do as many calculations and regressions as you want on the number of the tooth left under the pillow and the amount of money found in the following morning – it does not have any evidence for the phenomenon that it wants to prove, it confuses correlation with causality, and ignores size effects and concentrates on p value (thoroughly discussed during the elections here).

  27. @ Candy

    Just for your information: we know that Sir Cecil Burt was a fraud, so his arguments shouldn’t be used, and you using them discredits you, even if you picked up from secondary sources (or anecdotes which is not an alternative plural of data).

    Also if you want to know something about genes, you need to read about it, and you may want to start from “Not in our genes” (Rose is one of the authors), and then continue from what has been found since, rather than the social Darwinist prejudices.

  28. I don’t want to get involved, even if Anthony would allow it, in debate about the genetic and environmental bases of educational success.

    However, there are big issues concerning situations, far from confined to education, when overwhelming intellectual and academic evidence fails to shift political opinion. It would be nice to think that voters cast their ballots on the basis of the evidence; but there is a large amount of psephological research to show that they do not.

    Is perverse electoral behaviour, and pandering by politicians to such behaviour, the price of democracy? Many of us hate the idea of grammar schools, but we wouldn’t support a dictatorship in order to get rid of them.

  29. Candy

    Best post of the day on the subject, i totally agree with you. If only the poiticians did.

  30. @ Candy

    But nothing, nothing can make a dull child clever. It’s set at birth.

    Nothing which has been tried already has proved to be an infallible system for making all children who are not academic early in their life into successful academics.

    On the other hand, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that it is indeed possible.

    Regarding your characterisation of people who have a ‘loser’ as a father being, themselves, ‘losers’ – I am one of the many, many exceptions which disproves your rather silly theory.

  31. @ Neil A

    Of course, lots of people would be dead against this because lack of scientific evidence is the primary defence against the (morally/politically) unacceptable concept that stupid people have stupid children.

    Are you asserting that there’s a gene which determines levels of ‘stupidity’?

  32. It’s quite depressing to read so much from nominally smart people, that’s so judgemental of other people.

    Woe betide anyone who doesn’t fit what is ‘judged’ as clever by society at large, or who sees ‘success’ as something different to the ‘normal’ society.

    Woe betide anyone who has particular difficulties, perhaps by disability or accident.

    I have known academically gifted people who I wouldn’t trust to tie their boot laces.

    I’ve worked with people without a single qualification who have incredible humanity and the wisdom of Mother Earth herself. These folk are especially good at bursting pompous balloons, and see through nonsense like an Emperor’s new clothes.

  33. “It’s quite depressing to read so much from nominally smart people, that’s so judgemental of other people.”

    We are all judgmental of other people, we do it every day, its normal human behaviour. I am sure we can all agree with the examples you give, that’s not the point that Candy and others were making.

    Why is it that when people who don’t like others views, words like “nonsense” and “silly” appear in posts. Depressing………………..

  34. @Frederic Stansfield

    There is actually a know curious psychological quirk called the ‘backlash effect’ whereby the more you demonstrate (factually, logically) that someone’s belief is wrong, the more it solidifies that belief.

    Us humans are very weird creatures…

  35. @Amber

    You are happy to believe that the tendency for diabetes and heart disease runs through families but intelligence does not? Why? What makes the genes that form the brain behave differently to the genes that form the rest of us?

  36. @Neil A

    “Of course, lots of people would be dead against this because lack of scientific evidence is the primary defence against the (morally/politically) unacceptable concept that stupid people have stupid children”

    And the morally/politically unacceptable concept that smart people have stupid children as well…

  37. Roger Mexico

    “[4] While there’s technically nothing wrong with the ‘whole of Great Britain’ wording (a hypothetical can suggest anything after all) I did wonder whether Anthony was trying to wind up OldNat at the time and has now chickened out by not linking the tables.”

    Thanks for the link to the tables.

    Of course, you are correct in that any geographic area could have been postulated, into which an antique form of English schooling (now only prevalent in remote areas such as Kent) could have been introduced .

    YG could have asked with equal technical validity, relevance, point and accuracy to “reintroducing” English Grammar Schools to the UK, the British Isles, Europe, the Empire (God Bless Her!) or even Kent.

    In Kellner’s mining of a worn-out seam, perhaps the most damning indictment of YG’s total incompetence in framing “explanations” for questions was this –

    Perhaps the most significant group are 25-39 year-olds—the generation with children either in secondary schools or heading there in years to come. They back “reintroducing grammar schools” by 45-17 per cent—but oppose “reintroducing the selective system” and the 11-plus exam by 41-35 per cent. This represents a 34-point shift, from a 28-point majority in favour of grammar schools to a six-point majority opposed to the 11-plus”

    There is an argument (though this is not the place for it) about selection to create teaching groups. It has always amazed me that there seems to be such enthusiasm in England to place such teaching groups in separate schools.

    Since many Scottish Secondary schools (including the two I attended in the late 50s/early 60s) accommodated different streams in the same school, separation clearly isn’t necessary.

    Many English folk remain obsessed with seperatism! :-(

    I blame La Manche, meself.

  38. @ Candy

    You are happy to believe that the tendency for diabetes and heart disease runs through families but intelligence does not? Why? What makes the genes that form the brain behave differently to the genes that form the rest of us?

    You have picked excellent examples. Do you believe that diabetes & heart disease are caused only by genetics & that nothing else contributes to those conditions? Do you believe that people with those conditions should receive no help from the state, or society, but should be ‘allowed’ to die of their ‘defect’ with society making no attempt to alleviate or cure the condition? After all, their mother has unwisely chosen to have a child when she &/or her partner may have genetic ‘defects’ because a tendency to these conditions is ‘in the family’.

    I suppose this will sound pompous – but I hope that you, through the very examples you, yourself, have given may be willing re-consider some of your positions.

  39. Pete B – by happy co-incidence, the Kent Messenger actually commissioned a proper poll of Kent voters before the election that did have grammar school question in it.

    http://www.kentonline.co.uk/sevenoaks/news/majority-of-kent-voters-want-35040/

    Sadly I can’t now find what the actual question was (have a google around, more details might have been there at the time), so very hard to judge how meaningful it was, but FWIW 75% of people in Kent were in favour of expanding Grammar schools in the country, 16% opposed.

    That. of course, is in the context of a county that is now heavily Conservative anyway.

  40. And on other matters, this has moved from a discussion about the science of IQ and heritability which was off-topic but perfectly civil (and very interesting in some cases), to one about how other people’s views are silly and heartless and nasty. I think it’s probably time to draw a line under it.

  41. @ Dave

    Have I understood the modified marshmallow test correctly?
    If I wait 15mins I may get another marshmallow or not, depending on the trustworthiness of the tester? No-one takes away my first marshmallow?
    Then why not wait?

    Because there is inherent uncertainty in the testing process. There is now a risk that there could be a third tester who will take away your only mallow & you will get nothing. The children no longer trust the testing process to deliver a specific outcome.

  42. @ Anthony Wells

    Sorry for the ‘silly’ comment which I made about Candy’s theory. I took Candy’s comment personally due to my own family history; I shouldn’t have taken offence, if none was intended by Candy.

  43. Anthony

    “I think it’s probably time to draw a line under it.”

    Your clever [1] wheeze of moving swiftly on from the YG Scottish poll thread, seems to have come unstuck.

    [1] Whether your cleverness is more nature than nurture, or vice versa, will remain forever a mystery. :-)

  44. @Amber

    Last word on this because AW wants us to stop,

    How people look (physical features) is hereditary. Eye colour is hereditary. Blood type is hereditary. You can’t get cystic fibrosis unless both your parents have the gene. In other words it’s hereditary.

    Are we to assume that the brain alone is exempt from this? Or do you believe that it’s all perfectly random and we should stop doctors taking family medical histories because they’re casting “judgements” on the people they’re treating?

    People inherit intelligence. And the sooner we acknowledge this the sooner we allocate scare resources more productively. We need to acknowledge that “trying harder/studying harder/working harder” doesn’t always yield results because of basic abilities. Perhaps the people at the bottom will always need financial support from the state because no amount of “effort” can change the way they are. If we stop wasting our time and money on fanciful utopias maybe we could afford to provide the safety net for the bottom. Think about the money spent on remedial education to no measurable improvement. We may as well save the money as we’ll have to pay it out in benefits anyway.

  45. @Anthony

    Apologies if I contributed to the lack of civility, but thank you for allowing the discussion to run even though it was off topic.

    It has, after all, given me an advanced look at what the circle of Hell I’m going to be pitched into will be like when I croak it… ;)

  46. “It has, after all, given me an advanced look at what the circle of Hell I’m going to be pitched into will be like when I croak it”

    ——–

    Yes, a world without storage, or coffee, and everything is subject to automod…

  47. @ Candy

    I believe that people’s brains can adapt & change themselves or be changed.

    Here is one example: I have read that Parkinsons, a disease of the brain, may be caused by an infection from the stomach which travels along or affects a particular nerve so that the effects of Parkinsons appear to come from the brain. Cauterising the nerve may prevent, arrest & perhaps even lead to the reversal of Parkinsons disease. Not very long ago, it was considered that a diagnosis of Parkinsons meant inevitable deterioration; there was no hope for the patient.

    So I believe that people with ‘defective’ brains should not be written off. There may well be a systematic solution to the problem – we just haven’t found it yet. And shouldn’t we be very, very careful about who decides that a brain is ‘defective’? I certainly do not feel qualified to make such a judgement or decree that there is no hope for change.

  48. Scottish EU poll (via Britain Elects)

    Remain: 51% (-1)
    Leave: 31% (+2)
    (via YouGov / 09 – 13 Oct)

  49. Omnishambles

    Thanks for that. YG have now released tables for other questions in the Full Scottish poll.

    Trident
    Replace with equivalent – 25% (+1)
    Keep WMD but cheaper & less powerful – 29% (-2)
    Giove up WMD – 37% (=)

    GM crops

    Support ban – 37% (+2)
    Oppose ban -32% (-2)

    National Reading/Writing test for Primary

    Support 66%
    Oppose17%

    Minimum Alohol pricing

    Support – 48%
    Oppose – 41%

    Allow fracking in Scotland?

    Yes 23%
    No 59%

    Party leader ratings (doing well or badly) – Well : Badly : DK

    Cameron – 30% : 63% : 6%
    Sturgeon – 67% : 28% : 5%
    Dugdale – 20% : 35% : 45%
    Davidson – 38% : 38% : 25%

  50. “Giove up WMD”

    Obvious typo – strapping Gove to a WMD would be hugely popular :-)

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