By Fiona Miller
The received wisdom in parts ofthe media is as follows:
- State schools are getting worse.
- The £37 billion spent on them (a 74% increase in real terms) since 1997 has been wasted.
- There was once a ‘golden age’ when grammar schools reigned supreme, giving poor children ladders out of poverty and into the best universities, and all our people were educated to a higher standard than they are today.
In 1959, at the height ofthe ‘golden age’:
- 9% of 16-year-olds got five O-levels.
- More than a third of grammar school pupils only got three O-levels.
- Fewer than 10% of the population went to university and most came from professional or managerial homes.
- Most children were failed by the 11-plus test and sent to secondary modern schools which often didn’t have sixth forms.
Fast forward to today:
- In 2010, 6