Selective education – our resolution to the East of England Regional Conference

Members of the Rayleigh and Wickford CLP met and decided upon the following resolution to be presented at the upcoming East of England Labour Party Regional Conference in November. This important issue was constructively debated during our last CLP meeting (20th October) and we hope our members will continue the discussion online!


Selective education has its roots firmly set in the tripartite system of education introduced in the 1944 Education act it was believed that children could be selected for different roles in society at age eleven according to their ‘innate’ ability which would determine their future educational performance. This notion found favour with those who supported the class system and was ironically welcomed by many in the Labour Party who saw it as a route to social mobility for working class children and for some it was, for the majority who did not pass the exam it was the exact opposite labelling them as ‘failures’ and placing obstacles in the way of their progress.

The contention that a child’s future ‘ability’ of performance could be accurately predicted by a test at eleven was largely due to the Educational Psychologist Sir Cyril Burt who believed that a child’s ‘intelligence’ was innate and inherited from their parents. In support of the belief he produced research data in studies of identical twins that seemed to confirm this. However in 1974 he was revealed to be a fraud and cheat who simply made up his research to support his beliefs. Today there is no satisfactory definition of Intelligence or indeed the concept of IQ. Psychologists recognise that the debate over heredity versus environmental intelligence is confounded and of little value. It follows that the whole premise of selection by ability upon which selective education relies is a false one.

Educationalist believe that every child’s development should be ‘scaffolded’ by well trained and qualified teachers so that they can achieve to the maximum without any artificial impediments placed in their way and that testing only informs the ‘here and now’ of a child attainment and is no predictor of future performance.


Eastern Region Labour Party calls upon the next Labour Government to transform the fragmented education service within the UK so that all children are given access to a first class comprehensive system of education staffed by well qualified and trained teachers. All schools should be free from selection, existing Grammar schools should be assimilated into this comprehensive structure so that no child is selected upon the basis of false and self-determining social stereotypes and that all children should be given the maximum support to achieve their goals in life.


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