by Sam Freedman
"Government ministers keep telling us that adding selective schools to the mix will increase choice and diversity within the school system. But Conservatives of all people should understand that choice requires a functioning market and markets require fair competition. Selective schools destroy choice and competition because the odds are so rigged in their favour. By being able to choose their own customers, they inevitably make all the alternatives less attractive.
I have three young children. At the moment I can choose between three comprehensives for them. If one of those became selective, my choice would disappear. I’d have to enter them for the eleven-plus to try and get access to the school that has all the advantages of selection. And if, even after I’ve shelled out thousands of pounds for private tutors and gone through months of domestic stress, they didn’t make the cut I’d be left with no choice at all. The remaining comprehensives, which would become secondary moderns in all but name, are it, unless I could scrape enough money together to move or go private – which, of course, wouldn’t be an option for the vast majority of people. Rather than diversity, selection offers parents a gamble where the odds are on losing."