I've been thinking of doing a post on Grammar Schools and as I have five minutes I thought I'd go for it. In 1970 (or whatever year it was) I sat the 11 plus. I have the vaguest memories of it. Some kid had seen the chairs and desks were arranged differently (I think we did it in the classroom not the hall - I can't remember if there was more than one separate session). My parents had spoken about it to me and my mother had bought me non-verbal reasoning tests so I was familiar with them. Up until that point I had always wondered if I was thick or clever (I then held to the theory that everyone is one or the other). My confusion arises from being quite good with words but hopeless with numbers.
Once I passed the 11-plus and got to the school of my choice I was confirmed in my notion that I was actually bright. I remember my mother's delight that I had done so well. I remember the post coming and making the choice from Croesyceiliog, our local, West Mon (boys only) and Abersychan (so far up the valley I'd never been there - and they wore brown uniforms). The choice was not hard as I had no wish to travel on a bus daily. I did get my first choice but what we seemed to be unaware of was that Croesy would no longer be a Grammar by the time I got there. I do remember being treated like a Grammar kid at the beginning, however. We were left in no doubt that we were special, and considering there were kids from as far up the valley as Blaenavon it was believable.
I pretty much remember which school most of my class and the one next door went to, even kids I never saw again. A lot is made of how damaging it is to label kids failures at the tender age of 11. In my case the problem was labelling me clever when in fact I was pretty average. I worked it out, eventually, of course.
The basic flaw with the Grammar idea is that you cannot take a child at 11 and know what sort of career lies ahead for it. It's nonsense. I'm not a strong advocate of Comprehensives but for most of us that is the most likely way to make progress.