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Co-founder, life-president Community Links Kevin Jenkins is against the return grammar schools

10:05 19 October 2016

Kevin Jenkins

As an individual who passionately believes the best and most effective ways to eradicate poverty and achieve equality for all is through education that leads to employment, I am dismayed that once again there is an attempt to introduce grammar schools which will be for the select few and not enable the social mobility the government would like you to believe.

I passed the 11-plus and went to East Ham Grammar School in 1969, which became Langdon Comprehensive School in 1972 so I have had personal experience of both systems.

Looking back over the past 30 years I believe the greatest achievement of successive councils from the mid-’80s onwards has been to turn around and sustain consistently improving educational experiences and achievements for all Newham’s young people, including those with disabilities and additional needs.

Back in the ’80s education in Newham was poor. Standards were appalling, aspirations were low and families moved out of Newham to avoid their children having to go to the borough’s secondary schools.

The legacy of Newham’s industrial past, when there was more than enough jobs available for everyone and getting a good education didn’t matter, still prevailed. Times have changed and so has Newham’s education.

The council, in partnership with governors, teachers, parents and students have turned this around and although we can and still need to do better, the vast majority, at both primary and secondary, are doing well and overall Newham is consistently achieving national averages or better in all attainment tables.

This change has been achieved because the council has consistently made the resources available and set the bar higher and higher. Everyone has met the challenges, parents demand the best and Newham’s young people have been able to develop and aspire to their full potential.

The return of grammar schools may help a few but there is a real risk that the 30 years of progress Newham has made will at best be halted and at worst we could return to the bad old days of the ’80s. More from Kevin

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