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The Comprehensive Experiment Failed

The comprehensive experiment was bound to fail because it never was genuinely all-embracing, say the authors of a unique study comparing the selective and non-selective school systems. Where secondary moderns were abolished, the baby was thrown out with the bath water in a desperate attempt to bring in grammar schools for all.

In the mid-1990-s, a community in Wales partially reorganized its schools, leaving one-third of all pupils attending the old selective secondary modern and grammar schools and putting the rest in to the new "comprehensives".

Both groups were as near identical as possible on a wide range of social and academic measures, and the two systems ran in parallel for four years. The results make gloomy reading for the non-selective lobby. Not only did the comprehensives underachieve academically but they did particularly badly by comparison socially. Selective schools were superior on a range of measures from reading tests to A level attainment where they gained 10 % more passes, with twice the number at A grade.

Delinquency rates were doubled in comprehensive schools, where attendance figures also compared poorly. Average attendance rates were 68 % compared with 79 % in the selective schools. Greatest disaffection was shown by pupils in the bottom third of ability levels, whose attendance averages were 49 % compared with 83 %.

Indeed, it was the middle and lower ability pupils, who were alleged to be the losers under the selective system, that the comprehensives failed most consistently. Higher-ability students were catered roughly on a par with the most able in the selective system.

The rot set in with the short-sighted, elitist policies of the Labour Party, say the authors, who point out that it was not as though there were not due warnings from the education profession.

"Seeing that the system of election at 11 was both unpopular and discredited, knowing that grammar schools had status and respect in all sectors of the community, there were clear electoral advantages for the Labour Party to gain from embracing the notion of comprehensive schools as a grammar school for all.

But in the "grammar for all" comprehensive schools, pupils voted with their feet. Truancy was selective with best attendance on days with subjects such as metalwork, woodwork, bricklaying and motor mechanics.

Comprehensives were failing for many reasons: the schools had poor management methods for their large size, they lacked pupil involvement, pastoral care provision was inadequate, relationships with parents were poor, and strict rules put too great an emphasis on the academic at the expense of social development.

The answer, say the researchers, is to shift attention away from the top one-third of the ability range who have proved more than able to cope, and to care more, socially and academically, for the lower two­ thirds.

"Unless the schools manage to give all children the social development that parts of the education system have managed in the past, together with intellectual development that other parts of the education system have delivered, the future of the British society will in our view be bleak".

0 Alongside with abolishing Secondary Modern Schools, ___________

A authors of a unique study completed their research. B the system of selection at 11 was discredited.

C none of the mentioned above. D some crucial factors were overlooked.

11 Lack of attention to social aspects of education in comprehensive schools brought about ________

A general unpopularity of the Labour Party educational policy.

B numerous disadvantages for top-ability students.

C poor management methods.

D increase in crimes committed by pupils.

12 The Labour Party initiated the reform _________________

A though there had been objections from specialists. B though it had clear electoral advantages.

C as the educational system of the past had completely failed. D as pupils voted for it.

13 The comprehensive system turned out to have failed in educating

A all categories of pupils. B higher ability pupils.

C lower ability pupils. D middle and lower ability pupils.

14 According to the researchers, comprehensives ______________

A gave pupils a wide range of social and academic opportunities.

B were doomed from the start because they were not socially adequate.

C used to have a higher status in the British society.

D emphasized the importance of selective system in education.

15 The new type of grammar schools _______________

A envisaged more attention to pupils with poorer academic performance.

B focused on intellectual development.

C was supposed to become a new comprehensive alternative for pupils of various social backgrounds.

D none of the mentioned above.


Task 4 Read the text below. Match choices (A-H) to (16-20). There are two choices you do not need to use. Write your answers in the boxes. An example (0) has been done for you.

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