Grammar schools gave Mick and me a better chance in life

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Sioned-Mair Richards (The Star, July 14) questions the UKIP policy of a grammar school in every town.

As the son of a bricklayer, born in 1950 in a 100-year-old one-up, one-down house (which backed on to a cobbler’s shop on Langsett Road) and raised in a council house on the Foxhill estate, I can give Ms Richards a first-hand understanding of the benefits of grammar schools.

Like most of my classmates at Foxhill Junior School, I failed the 11-plus exam (by a whisker, according to headteacher Jim Hewitt) and found myself at Meynell Secondary Modern, bound for a life of toil.

However, by a stroke of luck I got a second chance, passing the Central Technical School entry exam at 13.

Thanks to this selective education, entry to which was based solely on the ability of its pupils, I have been able to build a career in commercial administration, then in sales and then in supporting small businesses.

My brother, being a product of Firth Park Grammar, did even better. He studied at Sheffield Polytechnic, passed his Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors exams, rose to become a senior surveyor within the Lord Chancellor’s Division of the High Court and retired to the Bedfordshire countryside on a full index-linked pension at the age of 55.

Not bad for two council house boys whose only privilege in life was being born a little bit brighter than the average.

Had it not been for the benefit of a selective education, that brightness would have quickly been dimmed by the most bog-standard of bog-standard educations at Meynell Secondary Modern. We would probably have been brickies like my dad.

The sooner we reinstate grammar schools, the sooner we give a proper chance to bright kids from poor backgrounds, like me and my brother Mick.

Neville Martin

Castledine Gardens, S9