The British Prime Minister Theresa May’s idea of selective grammar schools has caught the attention of the main newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat. Leena Robertson, Associate Professor, at Middlesex University who is Finnish, gave an expert interview to the newspaper last week. The caption of the article refers to an example she gave, of 11+ testing, that was used to identify ‘intelligent’ and ‘academic’ children for grammar schools. For the question, ‘which is the odd one out: cat, dog or television’, the anticipated answer was ‘television’. But Leena Robertson warns, “a friend of mine, from a working class family, who failed the test, had answered ‘cat’ because a license is needed for a television and for a dog. And licenses cost money which her family did not have. Cats are free.” The majority of those who passed the test at the age of 11 and went to grammar schools were middle-class. The whole system was unfair and divisive, Robertson concludes, too much human potential was lost because of this system.
The full article can be read on the Helsingin Sanomat website.