Sometimes people point to the fact that we select pupils for stage school or choir schools, as a reason to suggest we need grammar schools. They argue that children have separate schools for a great many specialisms, so why not offer grammar schools for academic specialists?
There is an important difference between specialist schools for various talents and grammar schools. In music, stage or singing schools the pupils will be given lessons in their focus areas with additional time allocated to their special talent, and they will have teachers aware of their need to take time out of lessons to attend performances. When children are selected for grammar schools the ‘special talent’ is simply excelling at regular school work, no additional time needs to be given to support this, because it is a core activity of every school. There is no need for specialist academic schools because all schools are focussed on academic skills.
Laura McInerney, former editor of Schools Week, wrote about this and said, “Performing arts schools help solve two problems: squeezed time, by having training on site, and a flexible leadership team that understands the strain pupils are under…None of these practical constraints is analogous for academically top-performing kids, as they are good at the very thing schools are forced to focus on: academic attainment.”
It is true that children have many talents and they deserve to be supported through our education system, but having excellence in curriculum subjects is already well supported through regular lessons.
Read more from our grammar school myths series HERE.