Ignoring the fact that 76% of the UK population probably believe in fairies, I'm completely in favour of schools selecting children by academic ability. I went to a Comprehensive and sat between Ashley and Einstein. Einstein got a 'C' when he could have got an 'A' in a better school and Ashley was made to read French when he could barely read English. If there had been someone to teach him car mechanics, building skills or plumbing, then maybe he wouldn't have dropped out to sniff glue.
If we look at both ends of the spectrum, we see that the Comprehensive System cannot cope.
In 1970 a bright but poor kid could pass the 11+ and had a higher chance than they do nowadays of achieving the Holy Grail of Learning- a place at Oxford or Cambridge University. In fact both institutions recently admitted that virtually all their State intake is now from just 165 schools (mainly Grammars) that can teach to the standard required.
At the other end of the scale, the completely non academic pupil is bored senseless by five years of stuff that is totally incomprehensible to them and which they will never, ever need. Funnily enough, they constantly misbehave and we breathe a sigh of relief when they leave at sixteen, unable to read, write or do simple sums.
So we ruin the chances of both the top and bottom of the academic ability range, even though they take up most of our time; to the detriment of those in the middle who just keep quiet and struggle on.
There are four types of teacher.
1) The very academic who could teach ‘A’ Level (and the old ‘S’ Level) without any difficulty.
2) The less academic who are very good with the naughty kids.
3) Those who can do (1) and (2) (rare, valuable but unrewarded)
4) Those who can do neither and should be sacked.(2% my estimate)
Just as we can hardly expect to find many of (2) or (4) teaching at Eton, neither can we expect to find many of (1) at your Inner City Hellhole Comprehensive, which is a bit of a blow if you happen to be the poor but exceptionally bright kid who needs them most.
We should admit that the present system has been a disaster and go back to selecting kids at 11 by academic ability. Use an exam or trust what their teachers think. That way every child could get the education that is best for them, rather than the 'one size fits all' mess that we have now.
No wonder everyone who can afford it (along with many who probably can't) pays for their kids to go to Private School.