To think that grammar schools should either be scrapped altogether or available in every county?

(1000 Posts)
Perriwinkle Sun 27-Jan-13 21:22:02

How can it possibly be fair or reasonable to have them only in certain counties?

I know that many people will say "how can a system that supposedly favours the brightest ten percent of children, ever be fair?" but personally, I've actually got no beef with that provided that the opportunity to attend these schools is available to the brightest children in all counties.

How can it be equitable that the brightest children who live in counties which do not have a grammar school system are routinely failed by the comprehensive system whilst those who live in certain counties are not because they are able to attend high performing State-funded grammar schools?

I think if you're anti grammar schools altogether you should probably hide this thread. This is not meant to be a thread about the pros and cons, relative merits, inequalities or shortcomings of either the grammar school system or the comprehensive system. It is a simply a question of wishing to hear any reasonable justification that may be put forward for the continued existence of the grammar school system in its current guise.

How can it be fair to continue restricting the opportunity to enjoy a priveliged grammar school education (akin to that which many people pay handsomely for in the private sector) only to children who live in certain parts of the country?

thegreylady Sun 27-Jan-13 21:28:17

It worked very well back in the day...
Bright children,whatever their background had the same academic opportunities that were available in the independent schools.I was a child from a council house in a NE pit village and my grammar school education gave me things I didnt know existed in terms of culture-art and music.
I know all the arguments about them being divisive but the fault is in perception-the German system works very well with schools aimed at differing aptitudes being equally valued.
I wish we had had the option of grammar shools when my dc were young.

MooMooSkit Sun 27-Jan-13 21:31:34

I think they should be scrapped tbh. Where I went to school we had none and luckily all the schools in my area were very good (though the catholic schools seemed to perform better than the others)

I don't think they are really needed anymore.

fridayfreedom Sun 27-Jan-13 21:33:55

Glad they don 't have them where we are. My DB has them where he is and the tales of the scramble to tutor and practice for the 11+ sounds hideous.
I went to a grammar as did my parents but they do not perform the role they were intended for now, so no, wouldn't want them everywhere.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 21:35:59

I live in grammar borough
One in grammar, one in secondary modern, one in comprehensive

I weep for what the comprehensive did to my child.

I fully believe in the grammar system

laluna Sun 27-Jan-13 21:38:48


We live in a county with 'super selective grammars' - entry is highly competitive with a very small number of places. Not all of the grammars have a catchment which means that our local one will admit the top 100 girls regardless of where they live. This results in pupils with a 2 hr one way commute to school. It peeves me slightly that our county school places are consumed by pupils from other counties and our county council end up paying because grammars are not universal.

BeanJuice Sun 27-Jan-13 21:39:14

HollyBerryBush what did it do? sad


discorabbit Sun 27-Jan-13 21:40:37

you weep?

i do think parents have got hysterical over schooling in the last 20 years or so

though i am a socialist who thinks society does best when children are schooled together, whatever their ability. My school was like that, we had really academic types who mixed with the working class and it worked.
the middle classes have ruined that as they do not want their children to go to school with the lower classes

such a shame as they all have to grow up and work together

the system i grew up in worked and it was only 20 years ago, i would be ashamed if i segretated my child on their ability

FlouncingMintyy Sun 27-Jan-13 21:42:29

They should definitely be scrapped altogether.

BeanJuice Sun 27-Jan-13 21:43:13

discorabbit what makes you think that the working class can't be those really academic types?

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 21:44:04

I do weep, it's a long story. I should have found this forum 7 years ago! It's all too late now.

musicmadness Sun 27-Jan-13 21:45:39

My area has a couple of "super selective" grammar schools, but doesn't run a full grammar system. I am so glad I got to go to a grammar school, and I'm grateful that I grew up in an area where that was still an option.
I was from a very working class family (coal miners etc), being academic and working class are not mutually exclusive!

The remaining grammars will not be closed unless everyone in the local area starts trying to get rid of them - which they probably won't as the majority of those that survived did so because of the public support for them in that area.

BeanJuice Sun 27-Jan-13 21:46:07

whatever happened, that's a shame sad

CloudsAndTrees Sun 27-Jan-13 21:48:12

I believe in grammar schools, and I strongly feel they should be available to everyone, but not all grammar schools are the same.

I don't think it's right in counties where the majority of children take the 11+ and you either have grammar schools or high schools. I think that in these areas the aim is to have roughly the top 25% of academic achievers in grammar schools, and the rest go to high schools. I think that type of system is divisive, and it creates schools where it is almost expected that academic achievement will be low.

It is much better in my opinion to have super selective grammar schools, where parents are able to choose to allow their children to take the 11+ based on whether they think it is the right type of education for their child, and not because they believe the standard of education is better. These schools aim to take roughly the top 5% of academic achievers, therefore truly comprehensive schools can exist in the same area, and children that go to them can still be expected to achieve highly in academic subjects.

Grammar schools are not like top sets in comprehensives, which is what I think some people believe. The education received at a SS GS is very different to that received at a comprehensive, because much more focus is given to traditionally academic subjects, and very little time is given to creative, practical or artistic subjects. Sometimes even very academically bright children will not suit this type of school, and would not want to be at this type of school, so I don't think their parents should be fooled into sending their children to GSs believing that they will get a better education. It's not better, it's different.

But I do think that this type of education should be available to every child that would benefit from it and who is of a high enough academic standard.

discorabbit Sun 27-Jan-13 21:48:59

i didn't say i didn't think they could be academic, my son is a case in point, i trusted the local school and he is at uni now, but i think it helps if all children of all abilities mix in the local schools and aren't bussed to selective schools

discorabbit Sun 27-Jan-13 21:51:15

any sort of school where parents choose is not desirable

am always so depressed at how mn view education

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 21:52:46

Clouds creativity (in all its manifestations) is highly prized in the best superselectives, as is Art.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 21:55:35

I'm in Bexley - which is very working class/pseudo middle class - the two single sex grammars always top the pile behind the inde schools.

I dont think grammar has anything to do with class - its about ethic. But the opportunities offered are so much enhanced - althoug h that is due in the main to pushy parenting (I am of the lax school of parenting, I guide not micro manage).

Here, grammar is the be-all-end-all, our primary children are automatically entered, wich I understand is unuaual? normally parents decide whether to enter in other parts of the country. the pressure here is horrible, that I dont agree with.

SanityClause Sun 27-Jan-13 21:56:24

I live fairly close to a comprehensive school which is very near the border of a grammar area. Parents choose to send their daughters to it, rather than a secondary modern in their "own" borough (which they have every right to do).

Naturally, there are also lots of parents in that borough that complain about grammar places taken by out of area children. They conveniently forget that it works both ways!

sausagesandwich34 Sun 27-Jan-13 21:56:34

the old grammar school system worked well for the children that got into the grammar school

the children that at 10 years old were told they weren't good enough didn't do too well

plus if you are a bright child through primary school then end up in the bottom of the grammar school sets -well, that's not much fun either

BelieveInPink Sun 27-Jan-13 21:56:38

My daughter is due to take the 11+ this year. Until now, I didn't even realise that the whole country didn't take the test! I assumed there were grammar schools in every county. Now I find there are only a select few.

I have to say I am hoping beyond hope that my daughter passes because the comprehensive in my town is horrendous. In all areas. I'm not a selective school snob, I was educated in a comprehensive and I got A*s and loved school throughout my time there. But if my daughter doesn't pass I really need to think hard about where she'll go.

I do think that there should be all or nothing. Either have all counties taking the test (I actually don't agree with one test judging the pupil on their ability to be at grammar school) or have all counties abolish it.

I do wonder if both ends of the spectrum have a risk of being failed if pupils of all abilities went to the same school.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 27-Jan-13 21:57:27

It doesn't seem to be in the one my son is at. Not at all compared to the way it is at the comprehensive that my other son goes to.

Which is fine for us, because my ds that goes to a SS is the least creative and artistic person I know, but the lack of creative stuff at that school is what put me off wanting my youngest ds to go there, despite the fact that he would have had a good chance at the 11+.

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 21:58:00

Dunno. Kids are/were at a superselective and flying. They may have done that in a true comprehensive but they couldn't in the local catchment area schools.

Me I resent my "comprehensive" education really. Late 1970s. Low expectation. Tiny 6th form. My mate and I largely taught ourselves in order to do 3 sciences and maths at A level. She was the first ever to Cambridge, I was the 1st into my highly competitive course/career. Poor school for bright kids, but no choice. That was how catchment worked when that was all there was.Lets not go back to that..

CloudsAndTrees Sun 27-Jan-13 21:58:04

That was in response to Yellowtip btw smile

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Sun 27-Jan-13 21:58:41

Grammar schools were a vehicle for social mobility in the past. I'm not in a grammar area now but it appears that they only now really serve sharp-elbowed middle-class parents.

Having said that, having experienced the comprehensive system myself I don't especially like that either.

BelieveInPink Sun 27-Jan-13 21:59:27

"the children that at 10 years old were told they weren't good enough didn't do too well" - kind of agree in principal with that but I failed my 11+ but never felt a failure. And I thrived at the local comp.

"plus if you are a bright child through primary school then end up in the bottom of the grammar school sets -well, that's not much fun either" - again I agree.

ReallyTired Sun 27-Jan-13 21:59:29

The school that my son will hopefully attend has four pathways depending on the academic apitude of the child. Each pathway has a slightly different curriculum. The children in the lower pathways have extra numeracy and literacy lessons where as the children in the top pathway start GCSEs a year early. The plan is for children in the lowest pathway to have the opportunity to do GCSE a year late or do a vocational course.

Unlike a traditional grammar school system there is flexiblity to move children between pathways in the first year of secondary. No child is thrown on the scrap heap. A child with literacy difficulites can do academic subjects once they have learnt to read.

Many children who under achieve at 11 have social issues rather than intelligence problems. They can achieve but might need a little longer to make up for being in challenging circumstances.

I want my children to be in a school where both vocational and academic subjects are respected. If an intelligent child wants to be plumber then that should be respected.

exoticfruits Sun 27-Jan-13 22:00:33

We are fully comprehensive and the very bright do very well at them. I am very glad that grammar schools are not everywhere- it gave me the chance to move out of a grammar school area before my DCs were of an age for secondary education. Given a choice I would scrap them all, but I can't see it happening- luckily there is also zero chance of them coming back to places they were abolished.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:00:51

Do any of you have 'banded' entry?

This is a second test allegedly to ensure school take in a percentage of each ability - it's skewed here in favour of the 'not quite pass the 11+' and they throw in a few SN to balance the books.

This really winds me up because a child has the potential to 'fail' twice in y6 sad - dont make the grammar school and you fail in the banded test too.

Perriwinkle Sun 27-Jan-13 22:02:44

I wholeheartedly agree that the German system with schools aimed at differing aptitudes being equally valued sounds like the ideal system. However, I don't think that Germany has the divisive class structure that we have here.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 22:03:28

Oh well of course I don't know which superselective you're talking about Clouds. All I can say is that in our superselective those things are prized.

sausage my rather laissez faire attitude with my DC has always been that it's better for them to be in the bottom set of the local superselective than the top set of the local comp. And so far I think this approach has borne fruit.

ReallyTired Sun 27-Jan-13 22:04:33

There are people who campaign to save grammar schools, but no one campaigns to save secondary moderns.

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:04:41

Oh and I passed "the exam" to the girls grammar in the next county at 13. Couldn't go as not in county so no bursary for fees.

My Mum born in 1928 was the product of a true grammar education that did what it was supposed to do. She worked hard, her miner father struggled to fund the uniform etc etc but they saw the value of education. She went to teacher training college and taught all her working life one of the few mums to use a childminder etc . Social mobility occurred. (My dad had a rather more portfolio career , retraining to teach in his 30's whilst Mum earned the family crust. That must have been a huge social issue in the 1950s!)

tropicalfish Sun 27-Jan-13 22:04:56

my dc goes to a superselective grammar and I think the key benefit is of the musical opportunities it offers in terms of the orchestras, choirs and other opportunities to collaborate musically and to a very high level. This enhances my dcs experience of school greatly and I am rather relieved that school is such a positive experience.
I think it leads to a higher level of enjoyment - so op from my pov - Yabu

thegreylady Sun 27-Jan-13 22:05:07

Ok [dons hard hat and mounts hobbyhorse]
Some of you decry selection by ability-those who do that are the ones who are saying you think academic ability is so very important that academic goals have to be the same for everyone.They aren't the same.You have to value all abilities in all fields equally.
Spend equal money to equip academic and non academic schools.Help all children to achieve their potential wherever their aptitudes lie.
In many comps there is a devaluing of academic excellence because not everyone can achieve that.Pupils who could get high marks are afraid of being mocked or worse by their fellows therefore they become demoralised.
Surely it is better to give all the children an environment where they can feel safe and happy.
An academic school isnt a better school than a fully comprehensive school;it is a different school.
In my day we had grammar schools,technical schools and secondary modern schools with the ability to change at 13 or 15 if appropriate.
I want the best for all children not just some of them.

ukatlast Sun 27-Jan-13 22:05:16

From memory I think the only reason Grammars survived was because certain Tory-controlled County Councils failed to implement the national legislation.
There was also something called a Direct Grant School (?) and a lot of these converted to full Independent status eventually.

mindnumbing Sun 27-Jan-13 22:06:04

Theas18 - that is how catchment still works in my area.

We have a choice of one bottom quarter comprehensive.

Phineyj Sun 27-Jan-13 22:07:21

Well, that's democracy, and fashions in education, unfortunately, isn't it? I understand the powers that be back in the 60s were influenced by what they saw as the wonders of the former USSR's education system. Funny how things change -- now all you hear about is how fabulous things are in Finland, education-wise. The central government guidance on comprehensive education in the UK was only ever a "recommendation" and the Kent MPs (and presumably the ones in Essex, Bucks, etc...don't know as I only looked up the Hansard debates for Kent) said "no thanks", based I guess on the opinions of their constituents.

I agree the rump of the grammar system is unfair and a historical relic, however, I don't think the way forward for the education system is to shut down schools that are good, while creations of more grammars is seen as political suicide. On the plus side, the new University Technical Colleges seem good. Also, better a state grammar which doesn't charge than a former grammar now charging private fees, I suppose?

Verycold Sun 27-Jan-13 22:07:35

It's not true that in Germany all schools are valued equally.

SanityClause Sun 27-Jan-13 22:07:43

Clouds, at DD1's super selective grammar, they are positively encouraged to take creative subjects. There is a core of 2 English, 2 Science, Maths, ICT, DT, and RE that they have to take at GCSE, and because that will set them up for any academic combination at A level/IB, they are encouraged to do creative subjects.

Subjects like Further Maths are only encouraged for those who will need the breadth of knowledge, so for example, if they want to go into Engineering.

There is also an enrichment option, which allows for an extended project, on any topic, equivalent to a GCSE and an AS level. The results of the project can be anything from a traditional essay, to a working model of an invention.

So, creative, and very useful when it comes to University, and employment situations.

DonderandBlitzen Sun 27-Jan-13 22:08:24

HollyBerryBush Obviously you don't want to go into too many details, but was the problem that your son found with the comp to do with social problems or academic problems? Or both? I'm just interested as i went to a GS myself, but now live in a county where there are no GSs, but where there are comps with good results/OFSTED etc. Not having any direct experience of comps I was wondering if I am being naive in thinking they would be fine for my dds.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:09:32

theas I agree about social mobility - my grammar boy can seemlessly pass through, dumbing down, talking up without looking out of place or appearing patronising - and his friends range from nouveau riche, to the sons of takeaway owners, to bog standard middle mangement like me and DH. He has no class or ethnic bias (or prejudice depending how you look at it)

It is an entirely different way of life.

sausagesandwich34 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:10:45


I grew up in an 11+ area (still is)

the whole of my year sat the 11+ in the school hall

I had friends that were considered bright at primary that did not get into the grammar and then spent the next 5 years trying to prove that they were capable of sitting 8 GCSEs rather than 4 and a Btec
some of them gave up the battle an regret it as adults

my brother made it to grammar but was in the bottom set for everything so spent the whole time thinking he wasn't good enough
he got 10 A-C GCSEs (A* didn't exist) but still felt like he was 'thick' his words

it takes a very confident child to be at the bottom and keep their self esteme

ConferencePear Sun 27-Jan-13 22:11:20

One or two posters have referred to their local grammar and comprehensive schools. You cannot have both in the same place. If you have a selective school then the other one cannot be a comprehensive; it's a secondary modern.

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:11:37

Perriwinkle I've no idea why we can't have equally valued academic and " technical" or what ever you'd call them schools like in Germany.

I have internet mates in other counties who have true comprehensive schools and they seem to work by being huge in size and heavily banded/streamed what ever you call it. If you have an 8 form intake of 30 pupils then you can really teach the whole ability range from high fliers to real special needs. No mean feat to timetable though.

DS school has an intake of 90, DDs is 120. The comps are not that much bigger really.

exoticfruits Sun 27-Jan-13 22:14:16

Exactly ConferencePear- I was trying to get my head around the fact that you could fail to get a grammar school place and yet be at your local comp. It can't be comprehensive if the brightest are not there.

BeanJuice Sun 27-Jan-13 22:14:23

discorabbit what's so scary and horible about choice? confused

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:15:53

Conferencepear I totally agree, if you have grammars then the other schools are " secondary moderns" but they don't style themselves as such because 11+ isn't compulsory- nor is it even encouraged by primary schools. tHey aren't even meant to advise on suitability - except in whispered " I didn't tell you" way- or that was how it was 8+yrs ago when the eldest was applying.

Our locality schools "should" educate the whole range of kids, in practice coming out with 10 A* in academic GCSEs is almost impossible.

exoticfruits Sun 27-Jan-13 22:17:08

All those who want grammar schools assume that their DC will get a place! They are not saying 'save our secondary moderns'! Lots of extremely bright DCs fail 11+.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:17:47

DonderandBlitzen more to do with his LDs, the fact they put all the 'challenging' and Lds in the same class, so he was in with the , the ADHDs,the EBDs, the I-hate-school mob - it was just awful - by Y8 he more or less had a breakdown, by Year 10 he was a school refuser. In actuality, he wasn't really deserving of that class, when they were set, he was in set 5 of 11, so middling average.

It was, still is, an horrendous school, too big (330 per year group) I live in Bexley, it is a predominantly white area with racist connotations as the BNP once plonked it's HQ here, so there was no ethnic mix in the school. It backed onto a council estate which was 3 votes short of returning the BNP candidate in the last elections.

it seemed like a good idea at the time, walking distance, new build, loads of money. Big mistake. I wanted to pull him out in Y8 but he refused. I begged the school to exclude him, but as he was intrinsically sweet and loving, they wouldnt.

Phineyj Sun 27-Jan-13 22:19:23

I think saying you can't have a comp in a grammar area isn't quite true -- where I work the (superselective) grammars draw from a very wide area of the SE and London borders, while the high school / all ability schools (it's been years since I've heard the term 'secondary modern' used, btw) draw mostly from the local population. So I think you can have both together.

PolkadotCircus Sun 27-Jan-13 22:19:31

You can.

We have 2 comps or the equivalent to choose from,the grammar is further away and many schools feed it. Some primaries won't have any going to it as many parents aren't interested others say 1 or 2.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:19:55

One or two posters have referred to their local grammar and comprehensive schools. You cannot have both in the same place. If you have a selective school then the other one cannot be a comprehensive; it's a secondary modern.

You can - they are bi-lateral (ie have official grammar streams and by default are comprehensive) as opposed to sec mods which just have grammar ability sets.

SanityClause Sun 27-Jan-13 22:20:00

Conference I live in a borough with two super selectives, and the rest are comprehensives. I live very close to a grammar area. There are some children who live near me who are choosing between a grammar, secondary modern or comprehensive.

discorabbit Sun 27-Jan-13 22:20:38

think choice is great but schooling should be focuseed on area

why should't it be? if an area is good enough to live in it should be good enough to be schooled in

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:21:18

Bromley ahs comprehnsives and superselectives, Bexley on the other hand has grammars, sec mods and one bi-lateral

DonderandBlitzen Sun 27-Jan-13 22:21:51

Sorry to hear about that Holly. It must have been very tough for him. I hope your son is getting on ok now.

pointythings Sun 27-Jan-13 22:21:54

I'm with you, greylady. We need schools where very academic children can thrive and be challenged. We need schools where children whose talents lie in the practical arena can thrive and become the engineers, mechanics, builders etc. of the future. And these schools need to be valued equally and funded properly.

What we have at the moment is some areas where parents who can afford tutoring can buy a selective education for their children - and in those areas, non-selective comprehensive schools struggle, because they just haven't got a balanced intake.

What we also need is the flexibility to move from one stream to another, because some children just will not come into their talents until they are older - selection at 11 is a very, very bad idea for many.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 22:22:41

ConferencePear in an area with a single selective taking kids from a fifty mile radius it's entirely accurate to label the local non selectives as comps. In an area such as kent maybe not.

sausage I've always subscribed to the little fish in a big pond theory, but that's just my preference. I think the difference in ethos is important and perhaps the lack of focus on self.

Phineyj Sun 27-Jan-13 22:23:31

discorabbit nice idea but across large swathes of London and the SE not many people can afford to live in the good enough areas! And if they can they can afford private school anyway...

CloudsAndTrees Sun 27-Jan-13 22:23:37

Yellowtip and Sanity I think the points you have both highlighted are part of the problem. Grammar schools vary so much, and I think there is a big misconception that they are always educationally better. At least, that's what it seems to be like in my area among parents of Y5/6 children. And it's just not like that. They can be great for the right child, but I don't think every child is suited to grammar school just because they are bright. Although that view is based mainly on the one GS I know well.

The SS I have a child at is all about academics and sport, very little is given to creativity.

I'm just glad I had the opportunity to find that out before I put my youngest child in for the test!

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:24:55

What we had, and I'm not that old, I was school in Bexley ....was the 11+ so you had grammars, but you also had a 14+ and children were resorted into technical schools (ie vocational schools) or stayed in sec moderns and were destined to be office fodder. Some did get sent down to the sec mods from grammar. The tripart system seems good to me. Academic, vocational, and office fodder! that is the way of the world (I was office fodder BTW grin)

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 22:28:05

You're quite right Clouds. The remaining grammars vary massively in almost every aspect.

Dereksmalls Sun 27-Jan-13 22:30:01

Hell no, keep them as far away from my DDs as possible. My friend lives in Kent, her DD isn't four yet and she is worrying about grammar school places already. It sounds like a complete mess and from what she's told me leads to parents sending their DCs to private primaries to try to boost their chances of getting into the grammar which completely invalidates the whole "pushing the brightest" intention.

Those keen to get DCs into the grammar because the alternative schools are so crap - don't you think those things might be related?

What is a "super selective" grammar school?

ReallyTired Sun 27-Jan-13 22:30:13

There are different types of comprehensive. A large comprehensive which uses setting/ banding can provide for the entire ablity range.

I feel that eleven years old is too young to decide if a child should follow an academic or vocational path. If a vocational path is going to be respected then it needs to be competitive to get into. It should not be the default option for a child who failed the 11+.

tethersend Sun 27-Jan-13 22:32:21

Which counties still have the 11+?

If it were reintroduced nationally, would all grammars get such good academic results, or is it more likely that some areas would be higher achieving than others?

Harriet35 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:33:02

Isn't there an intake to grammar schools at 13? That's how it worked when I was at school, although the school I went to wasn't strictly speaking a grammar school becausae anyone could go there. But all the classes were streamed and the upper streams were run like grammar school classes.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 27-Jan-13 22:37:08

Derek, a super selective is where the school takes the students with the highest marks in the test. So if they have say 150 places, they will take the students with the top 150 scores. If there are another 50 children who all scored highly enough that they are considered suitable for the school, they won't get a place.

Whereas in the Kent system like your friend is in, all the students that pass the exam will be found a place at a grammar school in the borough, even if its not the first choice grammar school. In these areas, the county sets the test, whereas at SSs, the individual school sets the test so they are much harder to get into.

I think that's how it works anyway, please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 22:37:46

A superselective has no catchment area as such so competition for places tends on the whole to be fiercer. Broadly speaking a superselective takes the top 5 to 10% of the ability range whereas a grammar in a fully grammar area will take the top 25%.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 22:38:19

Cross posted.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:42:14

Which counties still have the 11+?

LB Bexley
LB Bromley
LB Kingston

hang on - I'll get you a list!!!!

[hide] 1 North West England 1.1 Cumbria
1.2 Lancashire
1.3 Liverpool
1.4 Trafford
1.5 Wirral

2 Yorkshire and the Humber 2.1 Calderdale
2.2 Kirklees
2.3 North Yorkshire

3 East Midlands 3.1 Lincolnshire

4 West Midlands 4.1 Birmingham
4.2 Stoke-on-Trent
4.3 Telford and Wrekin
4.4 Walsall
4.5 Warwickshire
4.6 Wolverhampton

5 East of England 5.1 Essex
5.2 Southend-on-Sea

6 South East England 6.1 Buckinghamshire
6.2 Kent
6.3 Medway
6.4 Reading
6.5 Slough

7 South West England 7.1 Bournemouth
7.2 Devon
7.3 Gloucestershire
7.4 Plymouth
7.5 Poole
7.6 Torbay
7.7 Wiltshire

8 Greater London 8.1 Barnet
8.2 Bexley
8.3 Bromley
8.4 Enfield
8.5 Kingston upon Thames
8.6 Redbridge
8.7 Sutton

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sun 27-Jan-13 22:48:16

I'm glad I'm Scottish! Go to feeder primary, go to secondary done. Most people go to their catchment school and I think they have to give you a place if you are in catchment. They will try and fulfil placing requests, but there aren't that many - and certainly not this ridiculous scrabble for places in England.

Pilgit Sun 27-Jan-13 22:52:02

I went to a true comprehensive. I was in the top set for everything. Academic ability meant jack shit at my school - sport and sporting achievement was everything. I was also in the music crowd and did a lot of stuff for the school but there was never any acknowledgement from the school of what any of us did for it, the only people given any sort of approval or reward were the sports crowd. Schools should create an environment for every child to thrive and for every child to achieve to the best of their ability and each to be recognised as worthwhile. How that is achieved is a matter of debate and personally I am against mixed ability teaching (any experience I had of it was utterly dreadful)

bringnbuy Sun 27-Jan-13 22:53:46

seriously hard to get into grammar within walking distance to where we live. 20 years ago dd would have walked into that school as naturally clever however she doesn't stand a chance. i know someone who is a teacher there. the girls there are SERIOUSLY heavily tutored ie lots tutored more than once a week from year 2/3. about 1500 give or take apply even though only 130 places. apparently they have to have tutors there giving special tuition as there are a fair few pupils who have got in that aren't naturally clever enough, just got in by being geared up to sit the style of exams. i went to state school, i don't have a problem with state school, cannot afford private. the thing that always stands out in my mind that appears to be different when i look at the girls coming out of the grammar compared to the average girl i see coming out of two local state secondary schools is that the girls coming out of the grammar school look totally focused on achieving whilst an awful lot of the girls coming out of the two local state schools look like their main concerns are getting laid and what their hair looks like/landing a wealthy footballer to take care of them sad

seeker Sun 27-Jan-13 22:57:13

Thee is possibly an argument for super selectives- there may be children who are so very bright that their needs cannot be met in a comprhnsive school. But they are a very small %. Like the tiny % who are so talented in music or sport or whatever that they need specialist education whic accomodates them.

But apart from that, selective education is divisive, unfair and counterproductive.

tiggytape Sun 27-Jan-13 22:59:01

The Scottish system sounds wonderful but if they gave everyone who lived within a reasonable distance a place at their local school they'd have hundreds per year group in some London schools. It has densely packed areas with flats and hundreds of children of the same aged crammed into a mile or two. To limit it to 60 or 90 per year plus siblings, some schools cannot offer beyond 200m and some secondaries not beyond 1km despite taking nearly 300 pupils per year.

Grammars nearest us are super selective so only cream off about 2-8% of local children. Hundreds pass the test but places only go to the very top scorers - many who pass the 11+ and hundreds who are a little below that standard start at the local comps.
Top set at our local comps comprise level 5a and level 6 children all predicted straight A and A* at GCSE. All local comps send some children to Oxbridge and RG unis. From that point of view the limit on grammar places (nearly 2000 apply from all over London for just a few hundred places) is a good thing. It offers a grammar edication to a few truly exceptional children but has no negative impact on the comps who still offer separate sciences, get high grades, have a grammar stream for top pupils and serve the needs of clever children just as well as comps in areas far away from grammar schools. I am relieved that we don't have more of them I think - I prefer that children are set and reassessed all through school rather than set once and for all by a test at 11.

DonderandBlitzen Sun 27-Jan-13 23:05:22

I read that in Edinburgh one in four children go to private school. Is that right?

DonderandBlitzen Sun 27-Jan-13 23:06:45
cricketballs Sun 27-Jan-13 23:30:50

we have 1 selective grammar here; but they still can't get 100% GCSE 5 A*-C....

HollyBerryBush Mon 28-Jan-13 06:39:34

selective education is divisive, unfair and counterproductive.

In my experience, people only say that when they or their children missed the mark and didn't benefit from a different education that they know is superior and have a massive chip on their shoulder about it. . And it is a superior education. As the Head put it "by coming here, you are getting the best education money can't buy' - and he was right.

The funny thing about the grammars, the children know they are there by invitation, there are some right characters who would have been little sods in a non-selective school but they darent risk pushing the boundaries too far - the disgrace of being excluded and ending up with the masses is too awful to contemplate. The environment ensures they thrive. Self motivation and competition is promoted - which is neccessary for the real world of work. They encourage aspiration.They give you the tools to achieve - whether you do so is down to you.

I always wonder how the grammars can mange to offer such a varied curriculum with so few pupils when the budgets are the same.

sashh Mon 28-Jan-13 07:12:26


That list is wrong, I went to High School in Lancashire and the 11+ had been abolished, that was late 70s early 80s. There were still grammar schools but with entry at 13+ ad not in all of Lancashire.

Where I lived the local RC secondary schools were comps and the grammars only took 13+ so every one went to a comp for at least the first three years, the RC schools didn't send anyone to the grammars, all the other comps did.

BTW anyone in Kent etc, in Lancashire a high school was a girls' school. The local girls' grammar was called a high school.

I'm currently in Wolverhampton, there is only one grammar and it is all girls so only a few pupils take the test to get in.

Kirklees - I was at primary school, my brother went to middle school, there was no grammer and no 11+. I have cousins who have gone through the system in Kirklees more recently and again no 11+

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 07:18:02

*"selective education is divisive, unfair and counterproductive.

In my experience, people only say that when they or their children missed the mark and didn't benefit from a different education that they know is superior and have a massive chip on their shoulder about it."*

In my experience people only don't say this when they don't actually care what happens to the vast majority of children who are denied the "education they know is superior" by an unfair discriminatory test at the age of 10.

Fakebook Mon 28-Jan-13 07:20:28

Yanbu. We live 15 miles from a grammar school county and dh's side of the family live there. I'm pushing for us to move there by the time dd is 8 or 9 so she gets a better chance at education than she has now. Our catchment secondary school is not very good and we see pupils out and about in uniform all day swearing and drinking red bull hmm.

sausagesandwich34 Mon 28-Jan-13 07:24:24

With all due respect you are taking out of your backside IMO

'The threat of ending up with the masses'
Did you mean that to sound so rude?
You do realise that the vast majority have either no access to grammar school or don't get 'invited' to attend

You also might want to add the phrase 'some grammars' in your post somewhere
Some grammars don't produce 100% a-c or bac scores
Some grammars expel pupils and have teenage pregnancies

And some grammars produce self entitled,work shy youngsters who feel that certain things are beneath them because they have been told they are far superior to the oiks turned out by the school down the road

But I'm sure your children aren't like that

sausagesandwich34 Mon 28-Jan-13 07:27:56

Kirklees has 1 grammar in heckmondwike but it not super selective so you need to live quite close

Meglet Mon 28-Jan-13 07:41:26

Yanbu. TBH until I came on MN I didn't realise they still existed, because we don't have them in hampshire. So it's the choice of an average senior school in our town, or trying to get the kids into a 'nice' senior school in winchester and bus them in every day.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 07:46:42

seeker you don't hold a complete monopoly of the moral high ground on education you know. You simply don't accept any validity in the alternative view.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 07:48:09

Again with the accusations of 'not caring' Seeker. You know damn well this is not the case. As far as I'm concerned the fact that you continue to trot out your un-nuanced hackneyed old lines in this (neverending) argument demonstrates that you do not care one jot for the really bright kids. You want everyone to be the same, within one SD from the mean. But they aren't. Every time somebody mentions that you sound bitter, you trot out this old rubbish. I don't understand why it winds you up so much. I have a DS who is bright but wouldn't have passed the exam to DD1s school - and would have completely hated it there. I get annoyed when people imply he isn't having as good an education as DD1 but that's it. I don't get annoyed about the fact that my two, different, kids have different needs. I know some people are incredibly controlling and I know you can't do anything about that but you really need to accept that your kids are individuals.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 07:49:13

Holly that description probably only describes the very best of the grammars, which are varied beasts.

Weissdorn Mon 28-Jan-13 07:55:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 08:02:42

I was replying to a poster who asserted that only people whose children "missed out" think it is unfair divisive etc. I was saying this is not true. Only people who don't care about the remainder would say that the system is completely fair etc. there are many people whose children haven't missed out who have concerns about how it works on the ground, including you two, Mordion and yellow tips. The posted concerned then went on to say some very bizarre things about grammar schools, which indicated that she is one of the "devil take the hindmost brigade.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 08:05:09

Well tbf seeker I grew up in a fully grammar school/ secondary modern era and sat the 11+.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 08:05:58

Well, I don't want to see them around here, that's for sure.

Noone who has ever taught dd has doubted that she is among the 10% brightest, but she was ill for a long time in Yr 6 and unable to do herself justice in the SATS *(and hence no doubt in any 11+), so she would have ended up in the comprehensive away from all her gifted and ambitious peers.

Instead she is having her needs met in a school which also caters for the needs of the remaining 90%, she is learning to get on with people of different abilities (which may well prove useful in the workplace), and she does not feel that that traumatic period has decided her life.

Ds is as lazy as they come, so would be very pleased to subsidide in a school with lower expectations where he was not confronted with the spectacle of ambitious children who make the most of their educational opportunities. I am very pleased that this is not going to happen.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 08:06:38

Seeker - I think that the Kent system is nuts, yes. But that is just one of the issues I have with Kent, to be honest. I do not think that the system, as it is where I live, is wrong except that I think our school could be a bit bigger, I think there are probably at least another maybe 30 or so kids each year who don't get in but do 'belong there' and it could be fairly funded (at the moment, it isn't, our school gets significantly less funding per pupil than the comps do).

PatButchersEarring Mon 28-Jan-13 08:07:19

Not read the whole thread, so apologies if I'm repeating.

In my view, the comprehensive system is far more divisive than the Grammar. Rather than schools selecting on ability, the comprehensive system effectively divides children on the basis of their parents' wealth. Those areas with the better schools attract wealthier parents, effectively pushing up housing costs and out-pricing the less well off parents.

Thus meaning that the bright offspring of those parents from lower socio-economic groups are relegated to poor performing schools, regardless of academic ability.

I fail to see how a system which does this can be deemed as 'fair'.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 08:09:02

Seeker - although I grew up in the same borough as Yellow, because I'm one or two years younger, I didn't get to take the 11+. And I had the benefit of being at a former grammar school and seeing the benefits of a selective education for my best friend (one year older) and not getting some of those benefits for myself. I know which I prefer for kids like DD1 and like I was.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 08:09:54

@pat of course it not fAir. The only people you ever see defending the catchment selection system are the wealthy. MN is no different in that respect.

wordfactory Mon 28-Jan-13 08:14:05

My own view is that the comprehensive system is inefficient and in need of huge renovation. It has been tried and tested and is moderately successful at best. However, I remain onconvinced that the answer is the return to grammar schools.

Verycold Mon 28-Jan-13 08:18:38

Weissdorn I agree. The German system is far, far from perfect and in fact is widely criticized in Germany.

lotsofdogshere Mon 28-Jan-13 08:29:24

I don't know about Seeker, but I was in the age group that took the 11 plus, though I missed it as we were moving house when it was sat - and went to a secondary modern. I was lucky in that we had a head teacher with determination and a creative approach to education. The A stream sat O levels, and all the school were taken to the ballet, opera, art galleries and involved in all kinds of drama/speech productions. This didn't stop a student teacher telling us, age 11 that we were failures, never would achieve anything other than factory work - unlike the girls at the grammar across the road. I would never support a return to selective education at 11, it is divisive, unfair and reduces the opportunities for the majority of children. I went to university as a mature student, something that would be impossible for young mothers (as I was then) these days because of costs. Comprehensives can be excellent, inclusive and as others have said, they stream children in each subject to help them achieve the best they can. We need excellent education available for everyone, not a minority

harryhausen Mon 28-Jan-13 08:44:38

We have no grammar schools in our county. I wish we did. I would like the option.

However, I'm a supporter of the comprehensive system. I went to a comp in the early 80's. This seemed to be back in the day where there was either no option to 'choose' a school or that everyone literally chose the local school. Consequently, the comps were good with a huge range of abilities. Some people in my class went to Oxbridge, some went to prison! I think it gave me a great social education and I also did well academically.

My eldest dc is 8. She's absolutely flourishing in her 'satisfactory' ofsted local primary. I know she's still young but I currently have no worries.

As she gets older, I would like the option of a grammar though - purely because the comps here are not great.....because many of the middle classes choose an independent/private.

It's a vicious circle.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 08:46:38

Although there are comprehensives at both ends of the extreme - ones with a much more wealthy intake, and ones with a much less so - most schools, like most areas large enough to contain 800 or so 11-18 year olds, have children from a variety of backgrounds.

I certainly recoil from the grammar system on the whole, but agree with OP that it should either be everywhere or nowhere - I can't really fathom the rationale for having it in pockets of the country and not others.

Tailtwister Mon 28-Jan-13 08:50:56

We're in Scotland, so no grammar schools. I do wish we had them here and at least had the option. I do wonder though how much of the access is money based. That is, how many people go independent through primary and then coach their kids to get into the grammar. How much is success due to the right preparation for the exam rather than natural ability?

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 09:04:32

* I do wonder though how much of the access is money based*

A lot of it is money / parental input based (talking about super selectives where a score of over 90% is required). People either pay for tuition or tutor at home. And, I am not talkign about borderline cases of children who are 'bottom of the top group' and perhaps not up to it. I mean children who are in the top 2 or 3 of their whole school still have tuition because it is not enough just to pass. You have to pass aiming for 90-100% in the exams to actually get a place at many grammars. Nearly 2000 apply for 150 places - the competition is fierce!

A report by David Boyle this week said only children whose parents can afford coaching can pass the toughest exams and that this needs to be addressed.

iseenodust Mon 28-Jan-13 09:14:04

YANBU. It's supposed to be a national education service but like health there is an element of postcode lottery. (In this county it is comprehensives all the way.) You may also like to look at regional funding and the discrepancies there are in funding per pupil even after deprivation etc has been factored in.

NewFerry Mon 28-Jan-13 09:15:31

Earlier in the thread was a list if of counties with grammar schools. It includes wiltshire. In the interests of balance, can I just point out that there is effectively only 1 grammar school (well 1 for boys & 1 for girls, so only 1 chance per child of going there) in wiltshire. Based in the south of the county, in an area with poor public transport links to the rest of Wiltshire. therefore, in all practical ways, unless you live in Salisbury, wiltshire does not have grammar schools.

We have lovely comprehensives, and some un-lovely comps too. I would rather extra resources were put into those than in creating more grammar schools.

Thank-you, as you were......

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 09:16:55

Yes, Yorkshire and Humber were on there too, but as far as I know there is a little pocket in N Yorks and one in Lincolnshire with 11+, but the rest not.

SingySongy Mon 28-Jan-13 09:21:49

We live in a bit of a black hole zone. 3 miles in one direction from a grammar school catchment, and a few miles in the other direction from another. The comprehensives nearby are pretty poor. Our catchment one is in special measures.

It's pretty annoying [understatement].

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 09:24:23

But tiggy the article also quoted the CE of the GSHA (and former HT of a superselective) citing the Sutton Trust report of 2008 in support of the fact that grammars are often more socially diverse than the top 100 comps. He also emphasized just how big this whole issue is for grammar school heads; there's a big push on to do whatever can be done to negate the advantage of coaching.

CocoNutter Mon 28-Jan-13 09:25:19

If there are no grammars to cream off the brightest kids, comprehensives do better anyway. The important thing, I think, is to teach in ability sets within the comprehensive. That way the kids mix, so no class divide, no stigma about which school you went to, kids might be in the top set for one subject and bottom for another so it's more personalised, and funding is more equal (all the grammars round us have far better facilities than the comps). I could have gone to grammar, but only one person in my primary class chose to - the rest of us went to the comp, which was excellent, and did very well, as did my friends.

DadOnIce Mon 28-Jan-13 09:26:33

The reason there is such a "desperate scramble", with people employing tutors and so on, is simply that there are so few places compared to the demand. The answer is surely more grammar schools, not fewer. I went to a grammar school in the 80s and nobody's parents employed a tutor - it just wasn't necessary.

HelpOneAnother Mon 28-Jan-13 09:31:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelpOneAnother Mon 28-Jan-13 09:35:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JenaiMorris Mon 28-Jan-13 09:35:58

Just to re-emphasise what NewFerry said, we're almost into Wilts and ds does indeed go to a Wiltshire school. It would take 1hr 15mins to drive the 35+ miles to Salisbury from his Wiltshire comprehensive (assuming clear roads) so no, the grammar schools didn't feature even remotely!

Thank goodness tbh.

noblegiraffe Mon 28-Jan-13 09:41:53

People rhapsodising about the German system haven't done their research. It's been utterly condemned by the UN for perpetuating social inequality and there have been plenty of calls to scrap it and replace it with a fairer education system. Unfortunately I think that the middle classes in Germany are blocking this as they are keen to keep the Gymnasium which their privileged background means their kids are more likely to attend than the poor and the immigrant non-native German speakers.
Very much like the middle classes tutoring their way into the grammar system here and then saying that anyone who disagrees with the system simply wants a race to the bottom and academic children to be penalised.

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 09:43:30

discorabbit-we had really academic types who mixed with the working class and it worked.'

So 'the working class' or more accurately their children can't be academic?

Did you mean to be so offensive?

TheBigJessie Mon 28-Jan-13 09:44:12

I read this interesting article last week, and I think it depicts a rather less halcyon view of Grammar schools. I don't know the modern statistics for the grammars that are left, or course, but it's an interesting article, nevertheless.

Trills Mon 28-Jan-13 09:47:49

YABVU to think they should either be scrapped or be available everywhere.

Presumably if you have an opinion on grammar schools at all you have an opinion on whether they should be
a) scrapped
b) everywhere

Those are quite different things

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 09:49:16

And how about those who didn't 'tutor their way in' but simply got in and for whom the grammar system suits? Their parents' opinion has to be discounted too?

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 09:49:20

Interestingly there is no difference in the results of superselectrves a t GCSE and A level, to ordinary grammar schools.
In my job I go into all types of school and I have to say there is a whole different ethos in grammar schools.I am all for them being rolled out !

BelieveInPink Mon 28-Jan-13 09:49:57

That list doesn't include Lincolnshire, and we have the 11+ here.

It is accurate to call the non grammar school a comp. At least we do here, although it has literally just changed to an Academy so obviously not any more.

I know that in our area, whether I agree with the system or not, my DD would be suited to the GS. She is very academic and not into sports etc, so the non grammar school would be emphatic about the areas she is not keen on. My second DD though, the local comp (or secondary modern if you like) would be perfect for her. Even if she passed the 11+ I don't think a GS would be the best place for her.

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 09:52:34

Lincolnshire is on the list at 3.1!!!

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 09:53:44

'It is accurate to call the non grammar school a comp'

How can it be a comprehensive when the top x% are being creamed off ?

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 09:54:42

socharlotte I think you'd have to look at the results on a school by school basis before you can make that generalisation stand up.

BigJessie that bit at the end of the article prompts the question: what is the percentage of FSM students at the top 100 comps?

TheBigJessie Mon 28-Jan-13 09:56:09

No idea. Not even sure whether I can find it out through google, tbh!

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 09:57:40

Yellowtip - Super Selective Grammars aim to take the top 5% -8% of children regardless of background but fail to do so because it is not possible to pass the test with a high enough mark unless you have had tutoring / familiarisation.
Plenty of children could walk in cold and score 85% in a very challenging test because they are so exceptionally bright but that wouldn't be enough to secure them a place (they'd pass the test but not get an offer). Tutoring has become mandatory not to pass but to pass with the kind of score needed to actually get in.

Comps have their own challenges regarding admissions and are pulled up on things that are blatantly unfair. A London faith school has recently been banned from using parental involvement at church as a way of deciding who gets priority for example but, with most comps, it boils down to catchment areas. Some areas are addressing that as well though – some schools have fair banding and lottery style entrance.

I think the reason Grammars get more criticism is because they are supposed to be selecting on ability but, because they get so many bright children applying, an extra layer of selection comes into it: It is not enough to be clever and score well – you have to do exceptionally well in the tests which eventually means tutoring of some sort is a necessity (this is for for super selectives – I know not all grammars are this intense).

And the trouble with trying to counter this is that it is too expensive. To change the test format annually or offer tests that require more marking costs too much money when 1500 – 2000 pupils want to take each exam. I think it costs about £20 - £30 per child just to administer bog standard tests that can be read by a machine (and which are more open to being coached for) so there is limits to how this can change.
Even the Grammar School Heads acknowledge the need for preparation now: Gordon Ironside, head of Sutton Grammar said, “My biggest message to parents is that there is a lot they can do themselves...
If parents do not have the time or inclination to do this, or if the family situation makes it difficult, then no head teacher would have any argument with parents who pay for a dozen sessions with a tutor to do more or less the same thing."

Except tutors in London are £30 - £50 per hour so that's a minimum outlay of £360 - £600. Most parents spend a lot more just to make sure. That's too much money and not all parents are able to do it at home themselves.

BelieveInPink Mon 28-Jan-13 09:57:57

"Lincolnshire is on the list at 3.1!!!"

Doh! So it is.

The comp/grammar thing has already been explained.

FlouncingMintyy Mon 28-Jan-13 09:58:47

Interesting article TheBigJessie, thanks for linking.

TheBigJessie Mon 28-Jan-13 10:00:38

Five years ago [so in 2005], the Trust published a ground-breaking study which for the first time compared the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) - a basic measure of deprivation - at the top performing 200 secondary state schools, with the proportion of children on free school meals in the postcode areas in which the schools were sited. The findings revealed significant differences between the intakes of schools and their local communities: 3% of children at the schools were on free school meals, compared with 12.3% in local areas, and 14.3% nationally.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 10:04:24

Socharlotte, because when only a small minority go to the grammar school, and the students that go there come from such a wide area, you still have a comprehensive enough intake left for other schools to be comprehensive.

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 10:09:51

SoCharlotte - as CLouds said - when you have 150 children selected from a 20-30 mile radius, it has minimal impact on the intake of the hundreds of other schools within that area.
The other schools will still be comps, will have a top group of children expected to get high GCSE grades and eventually go on to top universities. Many in the top groups in fact will be children who passed the 11+ exam but did not meet the oversubscription criteria to get an offer at the grammar schools.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 10:12:01

While I can see it may be true that the majority of children at super selectives come from middle class families, it also has to be pointed out that all those children deserve their place there.

Even with tutoring, competition is still fierce to get into one of these schools, and I do not believe that a child who isn't bright would get in. Not when you have so many more children that have scored highly enough that they would be considered suitable for a place at the school who don't get a place because they are limited.

I think it's quite unfair how it can be implied that children from middle class families who may have had extra help either from parents or a tutor, don't deserve their place at a grammar school as much as a bright child from a working class family. If they have been tutored, they have still put in the work. They are still a child who deserves a good educations.

The problem isn't that parents coach, it's that there aren't enough GS places for every child that would benefit from one. If there were more grammar schools, enough so that every child who was bright enough could get a place, and that the standard of education at the alternative schools was still high, then there would be no need for tutoring. Parents shouldn't be blamed for trying to get their children into the school that suits them best. The government should be blamed for not creating a system where every child can have a school that suits their needs and where every child receives a high standard of education.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 10:12:54

Thanks Jessie. So the top comps are bastions of social exclusion as well.

Gordon Ironside is a single HT, not a spokesperson for grammar schools heads tiggy. I think you may be over generalising from the London experience, where clearly there's some madness going on.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 10:16:17

Clouds no social group should be excluded of course but if a better off kid gets the place which should on raw merit go to a less well off kid purely as a result of tutoring - that's wrong.

TheBigJessie Mon 28-Jan-13 10:18:39

So, today's grammar schools. Do any of them still send the poorest third of their intake out into the world without any A*-C GCSE passes?

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 10:20:18

By that, do you mean that the less well off child should get the place on raw merit over the more well off child, even if they have the same level of ability?

Genuine question, not a dig, just asking!

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 10:21:40

I agree Clouds - tutoring is an extra tier of selection. A child has to be bright in the first place but then add tuition (or home coaching) on top of that and they are more likely to achieve a qualifying mark.
I don't think anyone believes you can coach a child who is not bright to pass for a super selective - it just wouldn't be possible - the competition is incredible and every child who gets in of course deserves their place.
In our area, only the children in the top groups bother to enter for the exam and even the very brightest 'dead cert' child is still tutored because they know they are competing against hundreds of other top children from primary schools all over London for very few places.

The top groups at comps are at least half full of children who passed but didn't get a place (which is what makes them truly comprehensive with the full ability range). I am not sure this is a terrible thing though. It ensures those schools still cater for bright children (and they do) so that children who should be at grammar school along with those who are late bloomers do not have their opportunities limited.

Most parents do not have the option of getting a school that suits their child best whether that is based on academic ability / special needs / interests or personality. That just isn't the way the system works anymore. Catchments are so small that parents have no choice in many cases. Whilst I see the argument for parents of exceptionally bright children to have the choice for specialist provision, the norm now is that most children have absolutely no choice at all regardless of need.

JenaiMorris Mon 28-Jan-13 10:22:07

What is the point of grammar schools? The official one I mean. Surely good comprehensives are far preferable?

I find it hard to believe that a test sat at 10 is a fair arbiter of cleverness, tutored or otherwise, anyway.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 10:24:08

I haven't noticed anyone saying that here, noble. And not all the people supporting some form of grammar school provision are middle class.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 10:26:02

Socharlotte - well there is a bit of a difference. The grammar schools that top the tables are super selective.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 10:27:10

Jenai a lot of people think that bright children will be held back by less bright ones being in the same building, and can only really thrive in an atmosphere of exclusively (well, relatively) high achievement, I guess. I don't buy it, myself.

mollymole Mon 28-Jan-13 10:28:38

Having been through the Grammar School system my self - from a coal mining
yorkshire family, I count myself very lucky. I was introduced to so many different aspects of life. I had NO tutoring, bloody hell my parent's thought it was OK to keep me off primary school to look after my youngest brother - and had no interest at all in my education.

As an employer today I do often wonder at the standards of education that our
'work experience' kids come with, totally inadequate for their hopes, and more
worryingly their 'belief' in the standard of work that they are able to produce.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 10:30:32

Clouds it's a no brainer. The cleverest child should have the place. If there was an absolutely dead equal tie with all sorts of scientific tests run on both children and they were interviewed into the ground with no discernible difference even then, then I expect most grammar school heads would opt to give the place to the obviously less well off child (I would too).

hellsbells99 Mon 28-Jan-13 10:31:55

After reading all the above posts, I'm glad we don't live in a grammar area and we live 'up north'. We didn't have any of the presssure of 11+ and there is enough pressure later with the GCSEs. My 2 DCs go to the local comp which is very good and they are very happy there. There will be a mixed bag of results as it is not selective at all. 75% A*-C incl maths and English - some will be all A*s and most won't. They also do less academic qualifications for those who need them. The sports, art & music provision are all very good. 200 per year intake split between 8 classes (25 per class), set initially for maths (2 * set1s; 2 *set 2s; 2*set3 & 2*set4), and then for sciences, English etc. Plenty of movement around the sets. DD2 gets given extension work for maths even in set 1. I think the problem is not with having grammar schools but with not having enough good comps.

hellsbells99 Mon 28-Jan-13 10:33:18

p.s. forgot to say that my DCs school is only 2 miles away - whereas people seem to have to travel long distances when SS and Grammars are involved in the mix.

FlouncingMintyy Mon 28-Jan-13 10:37:30

But mollymole, with all respect, the grammar school education you had bears no resemblance to that which exists today.

Selective or super-selective, the vast majority of children who go to grammars are tutored. This simply makes a mockery of the "system".

BegoniaBampot Mon 28-Jan-13 10:39:08

Can understand why parents want to get their kids into grammars but if your child will only pass and get the necessary points for grammar through coaching and tuition, then surely it defeats the purpose and isn't really offering places to the brightest kids. Doesn't really sound like a level playing field for all.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 10:41:42

Hello, it's this old chestnut.

Firstly, I like some of the other posters on this thread am from a northern mining village with parents who left school at 14. I was the first person in my family to go to a grammar school and to get a degree. It was quite the norm in the 30s/40s/50s/60s/70s (right up until the point when grammar schools were turned into comprehensives or went private in most of the counties) for grammar schools to promote social mobility and I am a positive example of that.

I think the contentious issue is that the systems differ in different parts of the country and this causes a disparity in education which can have far reaching and adverse effects on many pupils.

I still believe ideologically that a good comprehensive with the right type of leadership can produce the best educational outcomes for all of its pupils. But that probably relies on a very school senior management team (and governors), flexibility in approach (which is presumably where the whole academy idea is attractive?) and a socially and culturally diverse intake of pupils. I can't quote statistics but I do wonder whether the best comprehensives outside London are in towns/large villages where the comprehensive caters for all the local children rather than specific demographics?

In some counties where all the children sit the 11+ and there is the perceived divide and associated stigma twixt grammars and secondary moderns/comprehensives, then there is an issue. And I can well see why people are disgruntled with the options. Fine and dandy if you have bright DCs but not if you don't....

In London boroughs you could argue that there is generally more flexibility and we potentially have the best of both worlds. Around where we live, are two of the best performing comprehensives in the Country, several good comprehensives with selective intakes and seven of the super-selective grammars. Also the non-selective comprehensives are up and coming generally.....

And yet looking at the an article in the Daily Telegraph earlier on this month, in SW London we have five or six of the most sought after (in terms of applicants per places) schools in the top twenty state schools in the UK. And bear in mind that this is a part of London where many children go to private schools too so are excluded from those numbers. I think that says something about the panic to secure places at the good schools and I'm sure it must be evident elsewhere in the UK too.

I have to admit that we did debate long and hard about school choices for our DS and although we did include three comprehensives in our list of six on the CAF he has gone to one of the super-selectives. For us the decision was about ensuring that our bright son does the best that he can and he himself was very keen on going to a grammar school. Even at nine/ten/eleven that was his goal.

And whilst we did practice papers with him in the lead up to the exams, he was not externally tutored (we couldn't really afford it and as graduates felt that we should have the right skill-set to help him ourselves). He passed all three 11+ exams he took. It seems from what he says that many of his peers are still being tutored - it is also very apparent that the teachers dislike it but what can they do to stop it?

It seems as if the grammar schools are actually trying year-on-year to alter the goalposts to reduce "the tutored effect" but I'm not sure if they will ever manage it...

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 10:45:11

Yellow, I agree with you with that the system the way it is at the moment, the cleverest child should have the place.

I very much don't agree that a poorer child who has the same level of ability as a well off child is automatically more deserving of the place. In a hypothetical situation where two children score exactly the same but one comes from a family with a higher income than the other, so many other things are important to consider. How much richer does one child have to be than the other to be considered less deserving off a place? An annual family income of a couple of thousand higher, or significantly more than that? What about social considerations, where maybe the less well off child is only one of two children and has both parents around for a decent amount of time after school each day, and the better off child is one of four children of a single parent? Or where the more well off child barely sees one parent because of the hours they have to work to bring in that income that is now working against them? What about considerations such as parents having caring responsibilities for another family member?

Financially less well off children can well be at a social advantage compared to a child whose parents are higher earners.

This is why there needs to be the right type of education available for every child, whether that be more academic, or more practical, or more artistic, or more able to cope with special needs. Children shouldn't be in competition with each other for their education.

JenaiMorris Mon 28-Jan-13 10:47:43

What happens when a child who was an early bloomer plateaus? I was clever at 10, average by 13. Do they get booted out and their place offered to a late bloomer, like my ds?

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 10:49:55

but if your child will only pass and get the necessary points for grammar through coaching and tuition, then surely it defeats the purpose and isn't really offering places to the brightest kids.

Not really, because the lack of grammar school places means competition is so high. Just because a child only gets in because they have been tutored, it doesn't mean they aren't extremely bright and worthy of a grammar school place. It means that they are up against other extremely bright children who are also worthy of a place, and there are more very academically intelligent children than there are grammar school places. So even the brightest children need tutoring to teach them the exam techniques, and how to make the most of the exam time they have available.

Grammar education shouldn't be just for the brightest children. It should be for every child who is best suited to that type of education.

Phineyj Mon 28-Jan-13 10:54:48

£600ish for tutoring is a heck of a lot less than moving house and/or £10k a term to go private!!

I love how on these threads the grammars always get a bashing for selecting by ability (or at least, ability and preparedness for the test) while those with sufficient money can simply bypass the whole issue.

As a teacher I am suspicious of the 'raw natural talent' argument too. The attitude of the family to education has so much to do with the child's success, and that's not something you can buy.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 10:57:53

It depends upon how you define children's backgrounds. A well-off child to some people would be a poor child to others, no? And are we assuming that being well-off is equivalent to being middle-class and being 'poor' is the preserve of the working-class? Not always. I am not sure that in London this is entirely reliable. Of the six children in DS's primary school class who got into grammar schools or selective comprehensives, four live in rented accommodation and two live in owned homes but not in desirable areas. On paper you might argue that these children actually came from far less affluent backgrounds than others in their class who went to the local comprehensives. However, look a bit further and you will find that every one of those six had at least one parent educated to degree level whereas many of the 'richer' children didn't...

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 11:02:01

Tiggy you are falling into seekers trap and assuming that something you know to be true where you live is true everywhere else. It is not impossible to get into all superselectives without tutoring. In the same way as its not impossible to get into a catholic school without 100% mass attendance. It depends where you live. London is horrible for school admission in many ways not limited to those eyeing up grammar or faith schools. It's a mistake to assume its the same everywhere.

My Dd1 was not tutored. Nor were her friends.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 11:02:36

Of course gazzalw. My response was broad brush. Which is why I said absolutely every other tiny thing in the world being equal, the place should go to the obviously less well off child. We are very, very deep into hypotheticals though!

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 11:06:49

Sorry, nightmare iphone performance there from me, with missing apostrophes. Luckily no extraneous apostrophes which would obviously be worse. But still. Poor show.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 11:08:45

Phineyj makes a good point about a families attitude to education having a big influence on a child's success.

I think many parents choose selective education (whether private or grammar) because they don't want their children to be negatively influenced by children whose families don't have a positive attitude towards education. Which IMO, is a fair reason.

It has been said on these grammar school threads before that a bright and motivated child will do well wherever they go, so grammar schools are not needed. I disagree with this too, because not all bright children are motivated. A child doesn't stop being worthy of the best education for them because they aren't particularly motivated at 10 or 11 years old.

BelieveInPink Mon 28-Jan-13 11:10:05

"As a teacher I am suspicious of the 'raw natural talent' argument too. The attitude of the family to education has so much to do with the child's success, and that's not something you can buy."

I really agree with this.

I am on the fence, in terms of this natural talent thing. On the one hand, I will not go down the tutor route for my DD, as I believe tutoring is not giving an accurate view of a child, and many grammar schools spend Year 7 trying to ascertain the actual level a child is at. I also won't have her taking daily tests.

On the other hand, I will (and have just started, as my DD will take the 11+ this year) help my child in the run up to the test. I can't tell her that I really want her to go to the local grammar school, and I can't put pressure on her, I can only tell her that as long as she tries her best, I will be proud of her whatever happens. But I will give her practice papers in the run up to the test so that she isn't bamboozled on the day, and that the papers are familiar to her. I want the 11+ to be "just another test" in a way, so she doesn't place so much pressure on herself.

I just can't be hands off about it. Sometimes she'll come across something she finds difficult, which she still hasn't grasped at school with the teacher. I go through it with her and the confidence she builds from grasping something she's struggled with is priceless. I try to build that confidence as much as teaching her "stuff".

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 11:10:16

Oh this is starting to give me brain ache....

What I do find interesting from my own observations is that in London quite often it is the non-UK born parents who view the grammar schools as the be-all and the end-all education-wise. Again in DS's class, of the same six now in some form of selective secondary education, five have both parents born outside the UK.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 11:15:23

gazzalw In my ds's non London GS a very large proportion of the pupils have parents born outside of the UK.

That's one if the reasons it makes me laugh when people argue against grammar schools by saying that they are full of white middle classes and the children should be mixing with people from all backgrounds. My ds's friends at the GS are far more diverse than my other ds's friends at the comp.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 11:25:48

CloudsAndTrees....yes I totally agree! I think that our closest school which is one of the very in-demand comprehensives has a far, far more affluent, white, middle-class intake despite being in the middle of a council estate, just because it is also next to one of the most affluent areas in SW London. Affluent middle-class families play the renting/moving to the catchment area game that some of us can't necessarily afford to do! We live just outside the catchment area (and I mean a matter of metres really) so it wasn't an automatic option for us. Ideally we would have been just as happy for DS to go there as to his super-selective!

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 11:28:22

What happens when a child who was an early bloomer plateaus? I was clever at 10, average by 13. Do they get booted out and their place offered to a late bloomer, like my ds?
That is why so many places use NVR (and VR) .It identifies potential rather than attainment.I don't think raw intelligence in comparison to your peer group, changes much
As a teacher I am suspicious of the 'raw natural talent' argument too

I don't agree with you there.Do you not think Mozart or Einstein were gifted?

As a teacher, you must have seen children who , neither them nor their parents engage with school, put in zero effort and then in tests whoop everyone else.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 11:32:32

But yes, he does get to be educated in a more interesting and diverse group as he did in his primary school.

I think at the end of the day most parents want their children to do the best that they are capable of at school and to be educated alongside a good mix of children from different social and cultural backgrounds. Mono-social/cultural education does nothing in my view to promote harmony and tolerance in our society....

I have said many times that if the powers-that-be incorporated selective streams into all comprehensives then all schools would have much broader appeal and provide a stimulating and fast-tracked environment for the most able pupils, regardless of background.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 11:39:57

"As a teacher, you must have seen children who , neither them nor their parents engage with school, put in zero effort and then in tests whoop everyone else."

Must she? I would be amazed if she's seen many.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 11:41:27

Streaming in comprehensives is great, and should obviously happen in all schools, but I don't think school is only about academia.

Some comprehensive schools are just too big for some children to be able to thrive because they are better suited to a smaller environment. There is also the point that not all academically able pupils will want to apply themselves to study if the option is there not to, which it can be in a school that has a significant number of pupils who aren't interested in their education.

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 11:42:35

I think at the end of the day most parents want their children ..... to be educated alongside a good mix of children from different social and cultural backgrounds.

Hmmm I am not sure you are right there.It is a nice sentiment to apply to other people's children.But peers have an enormous influence on a child, particularly at 11 and 12 and into their early teens. I think most people want their children to be influenced by children who have a similar set of values.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 11:44:20

I agree that a depressing amount of parents don't want their children to be educated alongside a good mix of children from different social and cultural backgrounds!

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 11:45:30

"I think at the end of the day most parents want their children ..... to be educated alongside a good mix of children from different social and cultural backgrounds. "

No, they don't!

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 11:45:32

I don't particularly want my children to be educated alongside children whose parents aren't interested in their education and who don't insist that they behave well, do their homework, allow them to play 18 rated computer games etc. I just don't. I'd be much happier if the only people my children came across in lessons were people that genuinely wanted to learn.

If that makes me a snob (which it could according to the bizarre unwritten MN rules) then so be it.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 11:48:10

I'd just rather all children genuinely wanted to learn; I'm not so exercised about hiding the ones that don't from my own.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 11:48:55

"I don't particularly want my children to be educated alongside children whose parents aren't interested in their education and who don't insist that they behave well, do their homework, allow them to play 18 rated computer games etc. I just don't. I'd be much happier if the only people my children came across in lessons were people that genuinely wanted to learn."

I think the key words here are "in lessons". That's what happens in a properly setted comprehensive school. It's the idea that you have to be in a separate school that's the sticking point.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 11:52:24

Most thinking parents don't give a damn about the backgrounds of the DC their children are at school with. They do, however, want DC who apply themselves, work hard and are nice to others.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 11:54:49

Well actually I do! But in some places it seems easier to find those schools/comprehensives than in other parts of the Country. But you are right that many don't, Seeker. But I think those people normally send their DCs to private schools, don't they? Or if they don't, they use their financial clout to move to the areas with the best schools.

Unfortunately, in London (and probably many other cities), it is often the case that many comprehensives, for whatever reason, are monocultural and don't have the same appeal to a broad-range of pupils/parents. And, of course, those are often the failing schools.

JenaiMorris Mon 28-Jan-13 11:55:54

Thinking is the operative word there though Bonsoir.

I wonder how many parents who are so keen on grammars and private schools are worried about their children catching common.

HelpOneAnother Mon 28-Jan-13 11:59:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wordfactory Mon 28-Jan-13 12:01:00

I'm not sure though, that you can seperate out what happens in lessons from the overall ethps of the school. The culture if you will.

Setting is simply not a panacea for a general culture. To get that, you have to have a critical mass of like minded people. It's the same in any institution.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 12:02:57

There is always a small minority, in every country, of dreadful snobs who only want their children to mix with families from a very narrowly defined behavioural/social/economic segment of the population.

Good luck to them!

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 12:04:45

IME, the biggest snobs are also the parvenus, not very secure that they themselves belong to the social set to which they aspire!

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:04:55

"Where I am the educational experts don't think the children should be setted, I think (and am only speculating) this is because it's deemed to be unfair and not in the interests of the majority. Separate classrooms are no more fair than separate buildings surely?"

That's unlikely to be the reason. There are some education theorists who believe (and there is some evidence to support this) that apart from the very top and bottom couple of %, mixed ability produces better outcomes for all abilities, counter intuitive as that seems. I think- and this is my speculation- that only applies in the classrooms of highly effective teachers.

The point of separate classrooms as opposed to separate buildings is that there is movement between classrooms. There isn't movement between buildings. And separate classrooms allows you to be good at some things and less good at others.

LaVolcan Mon 28-Jan-13 12:05:20

The TES article describes my mediocre girls grammar school to a T. Out of a year of 60 pupils half failed to get 5 O levels. My brother's boy's grammar was the same.

I can't help wondering if two separate issues are being conflated when it comes to social mobility and that the 1950s grammar schools are being given credit which they don't deserve. The enormous upheaval of WW2 brought social classes together; being called up brought opportunities and work to many and ended the appalling unemployment that many had suffered through the 1930s.

Immediately post war we had the implementation of the 1944 education act which brought in secondary education for all. Most local authorities chose to implement this by having a bipartite system of Grammars and Secondary Moderns.

Post war we had full (male) employment for 20 years. But given that the economy was strong and that many people had had their horizons widened in ways which had not been open to their parents' generation, would this social mobility have happened anyway, regardless of the schooling that people had received?

By the same token, is the lack of social mobility now not due to the comprehensive system but to do with a shrinking economy?

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 12:08:31

I think you will find that most of the DCs in grammar schools (and many in private schools too) have been at primary school with socially and culturally diverse communities of children. That is not really the issue.

I think the concern for most parents is that secondary education can make or break children's academic and career outcomes/trajectories. We all want the education for our children that will help them to reach their goals. So we will all do our utmost to ensure that our children end up at schools that will enable them academically rather than disable them.

Everyone should have those educational choices for their children but unfortunately it is not always the case that they do. Maybe that's less to do with the ideologies of secondary school types than to do with the inherent class system in this country which still underpins everything.

It is quite obvious looking at the league tables for primary and secondary schools that those with affluent, middle-class intakes generally do significantly better than those with less privileged pupils. It's not right but it's the reality in the UK.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:11:26

@JenaiMorris Well, I am common so I'm not worried about my kids catching it. They are already fatally infected with it from me. Hooray.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:15:26

One of these days I'm going to set a trap for you, mordion, which will prove once and for all that you're not "proper common"- just Nigel Kennedy common! grin

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 12:15:28

Personally I don't think 'common' has anything to do with social class it's attitude. I am working-class and proud of it but I'm certainly not common...

vertex Mon 28-Jan-13 12:16:10

Have a look at the latest rankings for Secondary schools,

and you will see that it is not always the Grammar Schools or the independents that come out on top in any particular Geographical location. Furthermore, where a Grammar does come top in its locale it is not always by a significant margin.

But education alone is not enough. Recent experiences, at fee paying school, have shown me that pastoral care is equally important and that just because one pays for education this does not always mean that one's child gets the best.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:19:07

I don't believe Nigel Kennedy grew up in council flats. I don't believe Nigel Kennedy has gypsy heritage. But I might be wrong.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:22:07

@gazz OK in that sense I'm not common. I'm unique. Which has its good points and its not so good points. You're right of course - while many people use common as a synonym for working class, actually, it's not.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:22:33

Although thinking about it, I swear a LOT which is pretty common.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:23:33

Vertex, the FT rankings are biased to make the posh schools look better. A much better measure is the DfES stats.

wordfactory Mon 28-Jan-13 12:24:07

You can't get much more common than me!
If I'm meant to be protecting my DC from common I'd better get them adopted by seeker grin.

For me, it makes perfect sense that people (adults and DC alike) are more comfortable with like minded folk. I remember a huge feeling of relief when I finally arrived at university. As if I'd found my long lost tribe. And in work I've always been happiest when everyone has similar goals.

I've recently begun lecturing in my most fave topic and it is a pleasure to be with others who love it as much as me. And want to atlk about it endlessly. And pass on stuff to one another...

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 12:26:09

Well I do too sometimes, MordionAgenos, but still not common. In fact my brothers (or their families) aren't either, although our Dad is still to be found in a shell-suit most days grin! Although, I would argue that the grammar school education has influenced that!

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:26:11

I was joking, mordion- sorry.

I agree, absolutely, that attitudes to education cross class boundaries. But it is just so much easier for the middle class and privileged. If I thought that selective state education benefitted anyone but the aforementioned already privileged, my attitude would be very different. But it doesn't. I don't know if it ever did, but it certainly doesn't now.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:28:14

"Although thinking about it, I swear a LOT which is pretty common."

Ah. Thinking that means you are proper common- posh people swear like troopers!

morethanpotatoprints Mon 28-Jan-13 12:29:10

Can somebody tell me a County that does not have a Grammar school, as OP suggested. We aren't exactly tripping over them in our County in the North West but we do have them. They are mostly attended by Muslims and Asians, but there are a high level of Muslim and Asian communities in the location.
I do agree there should be more and social mobility should be encouraged this way. For those not attaining entrance though there shouldn't be any stigma attached, after all everybody isn't academic.
I would never have got in, neither would 2 possibly all 3 of our dc. My dh went to Grammar school though, it didn't really provide any other benefits in life though, just because he attended.

JenaiMorris Mon 28-Jan-13 12:33:27

No grammars in Bath & NE Somerset, morethan.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:33:33

Seeker - nobody in the world swears more than me. sad DD1's first word was bollocks. I try to use made up swears these days though. With varying levels of success.

JenaiMorris Mon 28-Jan-13 12:35:20

I swear a lot, but I don't think I'm common. I'm not posh, either. Just a bit confused confused

I think I was probably meant to be very rich though. That would have suited me.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:36:01

Cornwall. Hampshire.

Sugarbeach Mon 28-Jan-13 12:36:05

Yabvu OP

Surely you can move house if you feel that strongly about it rather than expect the system to change around you?

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:36:09

The first word ds wrote on his blackboard was "urse".

We were so proud. His spelling has improved since......

hellsbells99 Mon 28-Jan-13 12:39:51

I am in Cheshire West and we don't have grammars here.
After reading all the above posts, I'm glad we don't live in a grammar area and we live 'up north'. We didn't have any of the presssure of 11+ and there is enough pressure later with the GCSEs. My 2 DCs go to the local comp which is very good and they are very happy there. There will be a mixed bag of results as it is not selective at all. 75% A*-C incl maths and English - some will be all A*s and most won't. They also do less academic qualifications for those who need them. The sports, art & music provision are all very good. 200 per year intake split between 8 classes (25 per class), set initially for maths (2 * set1s; 2 *set 2s; 2*set3 & 2*set4), and then for sciences, English etc. Plenty of movement around the sets. DD2 gets given extension work for maths even in set 1.
I think the problem is not with having grammar schools but with not having enough good comps.
Also my DCs school is only 2 miles away - whereas people seem to have to travel long distances when SS and Grammars are involved in the mix.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 12:40:04

I see where you're coming from Seeker....

However, you might argue that many of the children who are currently regarded as privileged and receiving selective state education are the children/ grandchildren or even great-grandchildren of less privileged DCs?

I know of plenty of people of our generation who come from ostensibly affluent, middle-class and educated backgrounds, but if you were to look at their parents/grandparents, you would find working-class roots. But their parents went to grammar school, then on to Uni and then became doctors, accountants, solicitors, teachers etc...Look at our future Queen for one!

I come from a staunchly working-class background (there is not one remotely middle-class ancestor anywhere in either my paternal or maternal family lines). I got a good, grammar school education, did a degree and have a fairly good career. However, we are not rich and although we own our own home it is not in a very nice area. Our DS got into a grammar school and I would say he did so on merit. We did not get a tutor for him because we felt if he wasn't capable of doing it on merit he shouldn't be at a grammar school. Would you regard him as privileged, or not? He is because he has educated parents who understand and appreciate the value of a good education, but in other ways he is not - we don't have a car, we don't have holidays abroad and our DCs think we are poor! I would actually say that he is the right type of child to receive the education that he is fortunate enough to be getting, but would you?

JenaiMorris Mon 28-Jan-13 12:40:37

Surely he was just practising his Latin, seeker?

BarbarianMum Mon 28-Jan-13 12:41:07

No Grammars here, or where I grew up. Guess what - the bright middle class kids were/are still bright, went off to uni etc. Amazing!

If you are poor and bright, or bright but have unsupportive parents, then you get far less of a crack at the educational whip. In any system. You only have to look at the differences in how children are 'prepared' for the 11+ to realise that it is hardly a level playing field (however it was originally conceived).

morethanpotatoprints Mon 28-Jan-13 12:41:37


My dd plays a violin and has proper Romany heritage, although only quarter. Does this mean she will be better than Nigel Kennedy smile.

elliejjtiny Mon 28-Jan-13 12:44:56

I think schools should be either all comprehensive or all grammar/secondary modern. Not sure which it should be though. I went to secondary modern where I muddled through and got 3 C's at GCSE but I was undiagnosed dyspraxic so would have probably had the same result in comprehensive. I was one of 4 in my year group of 240 who went to university. In 6th form I stayed at the SM and my sister transferred from the SM to the grammar. I think the SM was much more welcoming and friendly but the grammar had more facilities and more support with applying for university.

My DC's will be going to comprehensive. I only have 2 at school at the moment but I don't think either of them would pass the 11+ if they took it. I think the grammar/SM system is good for children who end up in the grammar schools but I think comprehensive schools are better than SM's

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:45:04

I think the issue is, gazzalw, that someone like you would probably not get into a grammar school now. And somebody like your son, with the parental support he has will do well wherever he goes.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 12:46:31

Know a family with father and DCs with Romany heritage but you would regard them as a very privileged family educationally and otherwise - both parents went to top-six-in-the-UK universities...

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 12:47:48

Surely he was just practising his Latin, seeker?"


Sadly not.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 12:56:27

Yes, you are probably right, Seeker, although I would argue that my parents were very anti me going to a grammar school and I very much motivated myself to practise for my 11+ papers. I think my attitude to my 11+ study was much more serious than DS's. But then he is naturally brighter than I was (but whether that's down to nurture rather than nature is another matter!).

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 12:57:39

Well, I went to the top 1 in the world university but that doesn't mean I didn't grow up on a council estate! grin I wouldn't describe my kids as anything other than middle class though. Unless I used the alternative terminology 'professional class'. However the aspects of their personalities they get from me and DH make them, I think, tougher in some ways, and far less expecting of privilege in the way they would define it. Of course, the things they see as normal (primarily music lessons) are what other kids would regard as privileged. And the things they see as privilege (foreign holidays, snazzy cars, branded clothing, Wiis and playstations etc - probably financed by debt) are quite often 'enjoyed' by people who are far less advantaged than them (in the things that matter).

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 13:01:23

I think (this is a bit of a thought ramble, forgive me) that the issue is that obviously children from less advantaged background or with no parental support could get into grammar schools. But it will be an order of magnitude harder for them, and they would have to be twice as bright and twice as committed as a similar child from a privileged background. And they would have to know it was an option in the first place. Which is a big as for anyone, particularly a 10 year old. Which is obviously unfair.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 13:04:22

Seeker you are right about the 'knowing it's an option' issue. Which, unfortunately, logically indicates that the Kent way is best (I don't believe it is though).

morethanpotatoprints Mon 28-Jan-13 13:07:14


I am really pleased to hear that about the Romany family, the real ones are just like you and I and when the laws changed about roaming, settled in houses. So glad they did well.
Whilst it is in my blood (half), I was brought up by other parents so can't help with the educational side myself, as I wander into nature v nurture. Which is another debate and another thread.
I do secretly hope that dd becomes a really good violinist though as one of our ancestors were Woods the famous violinists, lol. Only learned this recently though, complete coincidence honest gov.

Sugarbeach Mon 28-Jan-13 13:08:46

That's me seeker, 30 years ago, went to grammar school with no tutoring and no parental support, went to grammar school and onto uni.....the system and social mobility seemed to work then.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 13:13:32

Loads of people don't realize it's an option for their kids in Kent, mordion. And the more the grammar schools are taken over by the privileged (what am I saying- the takeover is complete!) the less they are going to think about whether it's for them.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 13:14:12

Sugarbeach- I can more or less guarantee that wouldn't happen these days.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 13:17:13

Seeker - don't all the kids take the kent test? The nieces and nephews all did. I got the impression it was compulsory. Isn't it? If it's voluntary then why did your kids take it?

IslaValargeone Mon 28-Jan-13 13:17:27

It's a shame if people get hung up on the 'class' argument surrounding Grammar schools, social or economic level or whatever, but to be honest I see no reason why a parent shouldn't have issues regarding wanting their child to mix with people whose behaviour is within certain confines.
If I can avoid having to educate my child in a class with a bunch of disruptive 'don't give a shit' kids then I will. Having experienced it at primary school I can only imagine how it is at some high schools.
Comparing it to 20 years ago "when it didn't do me any harm" is nonsense.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 13:19:28

Any relation to Ronnie Woods' family then, Morethanpotatoprints?

I think the thing is that so often it is about expectation. Children who have been brought up in ostensibly middle-class homes, despite having one or both parents from working class backgrounds, have a confidence and an expectation to succeed that is almost inherent, whereas the working-class ones don't necessarily have that.

However, interestingly, in the year below DS at primary school, where there is a larger percentage of middle-class children with UK-born parents, there was a greater expectation that their DCs would do and pass the 11+ exams but the results didn't back that up sad.

What I do know is that many of the DCs getting into grammar schools don't have British-born and bred parents so it can't be argued that they know how to play the system. How does one account for that? And their DCs may not have the first-language English advantage that many of our DCs have.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 13:21:42

No, the Kent Test is not compulsory.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 13:25:57

So you have a two-tier system in Kent which entirely favours the aspirant parents, Seeker? Is it the case that the more the grammar schools become the enclave of the middle-classes the less likely it is for working-class parents to want to put their children in for the tests....

Although as someone who comes from a working-class background, I do think I have the right to say that there's a lot of working-class inverted snobbery about 'the snobby ones who go to grammar schools' - I had that as a child, from other children on my council estate!

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 13:38:28

That sums it up beautifully, gazzalw. And the inverted snobbery is a problem too. But not as big a problem as the fact that the test is discriminatory and unfair, and if children from disadvantaged backgrounds actually take the test they are unlikely to pass.

Inertia Mon 28-Jan-13 13:56:35

Yes, you're right, they should be scrapped altogether.
Although that still leaves the selective faith schools, academies etc.

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 13:58:57

So Seeker, the system means that the top 25% in the Kent grammar schools are effectively only the top 25% of middle-class children - so many children are there who technically would not be if more working-class children took and passed the 11+ exam?

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 14:04:39

Well, unless you believe that working class/disadvantaged/poor children are intrinsically less bright than middle class/privileged/better off ones, then yes.

Mosman Mon 28-Jan-13 14:05:07

Mine passed the eleven plus, one went, one didn't I'd scrap the system actually and put a boot up the arse of the secondary modern/comprehensive schools.
Just because the children aren't going to leave with 10 GCSE's is not a reason to not educate them to their full potential or to instil discipline in them.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 14:05:46

The kent system is clearly nuts. I don't blame Seeker for being so vehemently opposed to it. If I lived in Kent I'd oppose it too.

higgle Mon 28-Jan-13 14:11:01

My father went to one, I went to one and fortunately my sons have been able to go to one too. We are very lucky here in Gloucestershire to have grammar schools, which are a haven for those who want to work and make progress. They have hardly any problems with homework not done at my sons' school, at the local comp they have detention for about 80 pupils a week, mainly as a result of missing homework. YANBU, there should be grammar schools everywhere.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 14:15:36

The Kent grammars are massively popular...

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 14:17:08

"We are very lucky here in Gloucestershire to have grammar schools, which are a haven for those who want to work and make progress."

So are the top sets of a good comprehnsive school.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 14:18:05

"The Kent grammars are massively popular..."

Are they? They are massively oversubscribed- is that the same thing?

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 14:18:12

@bonsoir In Kent they are. I don't think many of us with kids at superselectives outside Kent are wringing our hands wishing our kids were at Kent Grammars.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 14:20:31

I don't think the 77% of parents who's kids don't get in think very highly of them either. Or a significant chunk of the parents whose kids do get in, but who realize what a crap system it is for the majority.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 14:22:42

I would say that dd's Hampshire comprehensive is a haven for those who want to work and make progress- which definitely includes dd herself. If we had lived in a grammar school area, dd would have been excluded from any such haven due to her poor health.

The beauty of dd's school is that nobody sees any reason why it should not have high standards of discipline and behaviour; because the children (and parents) with those expectations have not been creamed off into a different system, there are enough of their numbers there to have an impact on the whole school.

This also benefits those children, like my ds, who do not have a natural interest in studies. If he was wholly surrounded by other low achievers he would not know there is an alternative.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 14:22:56

Actually, I don't wish my DS was at a Kent grammar either. I think that his comp is probably giving him a comparable experience except for not having a sixth form. I envy the yeomen (and women) of Kent that, I must admit.

ouryve Mon 28-Jan-13 14:27:15

I don't think any state school should be allowed to exclude half the population on the grounds of them not being bright enough. It's not fair to segregate children at the age of 11 and effectively write half of them off for being merely around or below average.

As for the idea that in the past, they gave children from poor backgrounds a better start in life, my dad passed his 11+, but his local grammar school didn't have enough places so he didn't get in, anyway. He ended up leaving school at 15 with no qualifications.

If all state schools in the past had been adequately resource and non-selective, my dad would have had a lot more chances in life.

There are superselectives in kent too, it is more like a three tier system really.

Chandon Mon 28-Jan-13 14:29:42

Cory, that sounds like Kings in Winchester, or a very similar school.

Not all comprehensives are like that though.

BarbarianMum Mon 28-Jan-13 14:29:57

<<Just because the children aren't going to leave with 10 GCSE's is not a reason to not educate them to their full potential or to instil discipline in them. >>

Nicely put.

Higgle, your grammar school education doesn't seem to be helping you put together a coherent argument in their favour. Who exactly would be helped by 'having them everywhere'? Who would be harmed? Why do you assume that only the children who get into grammar schools matter want to 'work and make progress'? What if your children hadn't got in, would you still support the system then?

I'm not saying there aren't arguments to be made in favour of Grammars but 'I'm alright Jack' isn't one of them.

socharlotte Mon 28-Jan-13 14:39:55

My niece's daughter is bright and she really wanted her to go to the grammar school.Practice test paper sare on sale in whsmiths for a few pounds, and I told DN that her dd needed to have some practice to familiarise herself with the style of questions and build up the speed necessary.
So she bought the books one week before!!!
Lots of her peers hadb't even seen a paper before the one familiarisation test that they all do.WHY?!
It's not a case of being middle class ,having lots of money.I genuinely can't understand why some parents allow their DC to sit the 11+ *(which they do by default if not withdrawn) without doing the minimal amount to give their kids a bit of help?

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 14:50:59

Chandon Mon 28-Jan-13 14:29:42
"Cory, that sounds like Kings in Winchester, or a very similar school.

Not all comprehensives are like that though. "

It is nowhere near as prestigious as that. It is an ordinary secondary in Southampton, modest results, very mixed intake, but a firm policy of supporting all students regardless of academic ability.

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 15:03:59

socharlotte - The 11+ systems are vastly different all around the country. Some 11+ areas involve all the primary schools, 25% of local children go to a grammar and if you are bright, you can get in.
Other grammars have open selection (so people from 20+ miles away have an equal chance of getting a place), the primary schools are in no way involved, there are no familiarisation tests at all and the only children who take the tests are the top set children who have to opt in. Their parents generally tutor anything from 1-4 years in advance because there are 12 applicants for every place (and every one of those applicants is bright or they wouldn't bother taking the test in the first place).
Other areas have a mix - some local grammars and some ridiculously competitive ones so the level of parental involvement needed depends very much on which area of the country you are in.

HSMM Mon 28-Jan-13 15:08:38

There should be more grammar schools. I have to say though, that my bright DD has been very well educated at her comprehensive school for the last 2.5 yrs.

higgle Mon 28-Jan-13 16:36:35

My sons went to prep achool because I didn't like the "play orientated" teaching methods in the local primaries at the time. They learned to sit in rows, concentrate and work hard. They also learned to do their homework immediately after school without being asked ( compulsory prep from age 6 at their prep school, done before they went home). I didn't want all that hard work and effort going to waste when they got to 11 and quite frankly the local comps, with the exception of over subscribed ones with limited catchment areas, have low standards and lack discipline. I didn't want them educated with children who come from backgrounds where effort and diligence were not qualities which were encouraged.

Yes, most of the grammar school entrants are coached/tutored for 11+ but this also indicates a willilngness to work and try your hardest. Both my sons have achieved exam results we are very proud of, and better than their prep school friends who went on to independent secondaries. I'm afraid to a certain extent this is an "|I'm alright Jack" sort of attitude, but it is the same for the parents of children at the two good local comps, who bought their way in by living in houses we could never afford. As a poor but bright hard working family we are very grateful for grammar schools, and wish all children had the opportunity to apply for one.

RattyRoland Mon 28-Jan-13 16:41:43

Yanbu. Bring back grammar schools. It's time to help our bright students achieve their best, rather than just helping the low achievers.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 16:45:17

How are you poor if you could afford prep school, higgle?

LaVolcan Mon 28-Jan-13 16:51:10

I didn't want them educated with children who come from backgrounds where effort and diligence were not qualities which were encouraged.

I would imagine that the majority of parents want to see diligence and effort rewarded. Why is that an argument that 25% have to be educated in a different building?

gazzalw Mon 28-Jan-13 16:51:38

It all comes back to notions of privilege (or not). I would say you would have to be reasonably well off to afford prep school for DCs (plural) but sure Higgle will argue that they are not...

Sorry, Higgle, not meaning to start an argument here but I would argue that DCs who get into grammar school from a prep school are probably automatically at an advantage compared with any (even affluent middle-class, privileged children) educated in the state sector.

I think at DS's super-selective we were quoted figures on the provenance of the pupils in the year above DS. I seem to recall that in a cohort of 120, the boys came from 70 different schools and I'm pretty sure around ten of those were prep schools.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 17:20:19

You are not a poor family if you have put two children through prep school.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 17:21:29

Yanbu. Bring back grammar schools. It's time to help our bright students achieve their best, rather than just helping the low achievers."

Nice well thought out contribution there!

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 17:31:15

There is a point in that post I think Seeker. The lowest achievers in a typical school do tend to have by far the most resources thrown at them. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have these resources, but with limited budgets and staffing constraints at most state schools, that is the way it is.

I do think it's quite common for average or bright children to miss out on reaching their full potential, because schools simply can't give the same level of input into every student, and the lower achievers are the ones that need the extra input the most.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 17:45:15

Oh, I don't know, you know - bright children attract quite a lot of funding and resources and attention - free G&T trips, ISSP events and so on.

EasyFromNowOn Mon 28-Jan-13 17:46:35

Stoke on Trent has one grammar school, and it is doubly selective, as it is also a Catholic school. If you pass the test, you then have to pass the faith requirements. It also has no catchment area.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 17:49:01

Nit - what are these free G&T trips? We have to pay (an excessive amount) for them. sad

Incidentally - there was a thread last week about 'Gondaling'. I was hoping you'd turn up at some point but you hadn't by the time I abandoned it. Nobody active in the thread got the references to either the 'real' Gondal or the Marlow's Gondal. Very disappointing so it was.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 17:52:32

I don't know what ISSP events are! But I do know that G&T stuff seems to have been scaled right back since Labour left government. That was one of their big things that just isn't being given the same attention any more, at least not in primary schools.

And even then, the only extra help given for G&T students was differentiation that should be given by teachers anyway. It was just to make sure that the teachers kept not and ensured those children were set appropriate work.

There were no extra lessons, no extra funding, no extra resources, all of which lower achievers get.

Which is why I don't really think it's completely unfair that the brightest children have schools which cater to their needs. No one ever suggests getting rid of PRUs, do they?

LaVolcan Mon 28-Jan-13 17:54:32

So Stoke on Trent's grammar is more akin then to the superselectives in London? I say this because my old school in N Staffs has become a very good comprehensive partly because it takes children from across the ability range.

IslaValargeone Mon 28-Jan-13 17:54:56

My dc had no extra help at primary, just shoved in a different class.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 17:55:13

Because there are no bright children in PRUs are there? hmm

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 17:56:10

Hang on, a gondaling thread and I missed it?????

thebody Mon 28-Jan-13 17:57:22

I went to a girls grammar school and dh to the boys.

I thank my lucky stars that my 4 have had the outstanding broad based mixed sex comprehensive education they enjoyed.

Much better than ours was and far far more suited to RL.

Oldest 2 successful graduates. Younger doing well.

We have grammars here, worcestershire,but wouldn't bother.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 17:57:35

Mordion funnily enough I started an AF thread last week and got NO REPLIES! shock

re. free trips - we've had a fair few, though obviously I realise it's school/LEA dependant. After one of them, the selected children returned to class sucking lollipops, which I thought was rather tactless....

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:01:10

It wasn't exactly gondaling. But it SO could have been if only the right people had become involved. The OP asked if anyone else in the world had an interior/imaginary/parallel life/lives (I'm paraphrasing a bit). Cue lots of people saying 'I thought I was the only one who did this!' and me saying 'wait a mo, what about the Brontes, what about the Marlows what about Neil Tennant etc etc'. Nobody picked up on the Bronte or Marlow references and the thread went off in a different direction so I drifted away. Not before putting the idea in several people's mind to be a womble when doing tidying up though. grin I feel I have quite possibly peaked as a MNer.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 18:01:24

You are missing the point Seeker. Whether there are bright children in PRUs or not is irrelevant. Children that go there have needs that aren't met in the comprehensive system. Their needs deserve to be met, the needs of low achievers deserve to be met, and the needs of high achievers deserve to be met.

It is simply not possible for one school to do all of these things in the best possible way for every child. They can meet the needs of the majority, but not all.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:02:45

Nit - well, either link now where there are at least two of us captive to your every whim. Or, alternatively, start another one.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 18:02:48

The only free trip my ds's primary offered to G&T students was provided by a very high fee paying and highly selective independent school!

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:06:01

We have never had a single free G&T activity offered to either of the girls. They all cost molto spondoolics. they also require things like a non working parent (to drive child to remote location of G&T activity)

ReallyTired Mon 28-Jan-13 18:08:07

"There were no extra lessons, no extra funding, no extra resources, all of which lower achievers get.

Which is why I don't really think it's completely unfair that the brightest children have schools which cater to their needs. No one ever suggests getting rid of PRUs, do they? "

CloudsAndTrees I think you fail to understand why low achievers do get extra resources. Able children tend to be self starters and don't need the same level of input. Giving children with special education needs the help they need improves the classroom for everyone. It would be bonkers not have pupil referal units as it would be impossible to expel the really badly behaved child. Plenty of people want special schools scrapped.

Actually my son did get a place at free science workshop, so gifted and talented activites still exist. Schools tend to keep these activites quiet so that the parents of children who don't get selected don't get jelous. (My son is not gifted so it came at quite a shock when he got selected)

We know a boy in year 5 who is having a maths tutor paid for by the school once a week as he is level 7 standard in maths at the age of nine. Last year my son's school had a maths club for more able children once a week after school. (Ironically the boy with level 7 in maths did not attend, the club was attended by children who were level 5 in year 5)

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 18:09:55

The needs of high achievers are met in a good comprehensive- in the top set.

They are the best things in terms of social mobility so I think scrapping them would do a Disservice to those they are helping.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:14:08

Really Tired - not all able children are self starters. Some are bullied to a greater or lessser extent in primary school. Many able children ned more input than 'the norm'. Being extremely able is a Special Educational Need in itself, but of course, able children often have additional SEN conditions.

Seeker - some of the needs of some high achievers are met in some good comps.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 18:15:29
seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 18:15:39

"They are the best things in terms of social mobility so I think scrapping them would do a Disservice to those they are helping."
Have you actually read the thread?

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 18:17:23

It is simply not possible for one school to do all of these things in the best possible way for every child. They can meet the needs of the majority, but not all.

But even grammar schools don't meet the needs of every child who attend. Just because a child does well on a test when they are 10 does not mean it is in their best interests to follow a largely academic curriculum or work at an advanced pace, study more languages or be in a school where all their peers are exceptionally able.

Grammar schools are not allowed to interview children. They know nothing about each child execpt the score they achieve on one test on one day when they were 10 years old.
They know nothing about a child's motivation, ambitions, ability to withstand pressure, confidence regarding being middling (within that school) and nolonger 'top' etc. Some grammar school children are 'managed out' of grammar school after GCSE and not allowed to stay on to do A Levels because it isn't the right environment for them and, in retrospect, may never have been.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 18:17:37

THIRTY POUNDS for a primary G&T day. Forget it. Bloody racket.

thebody Mon 28-Jan-13 18:18:54

A good school can meet the needs of all its children.

Our outstanding comp does although the teachers work bloody hard to do this.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 18:26:07

ReallyTired, I don't fail to understand why low achievers get extra resources at all. I work with children that get extra resources and I fully understand why they are needed and completely agree that they should be provided.

That wasn't the point I was making. I was just agreeing with another poster who said we should help the brightest children achieve their best, rather than just helping the low achievers. Who do, understandably, get more resources directed towards them.

GirlOutNumbered Mon 28-Jan-13 18:27:41

I teach in an outstanding secondary school which is 30 miles from where I live. Both my sons will be taking their 11+ as the schools in our catchment area are pretty poor. Failing that, I am hopeful that they will be allowed to attend the school at which I teach, I'm not sure how they feel about that!

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:27:52

Yellow - B was selected for a couple of residential ones (following on from a general one in the city) that cost well over £100. And, she did go on them, and they were really good to be fair. but still.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 18:29:06

A good school and a top set cannot meet the needs of all it's children if the needs of a child are a smaller school to be able to flourish in.

Some comprehensives are huge, and that in itself can be intimidating enough for a child to be able to feel unable to settle enough to learn to their full potential.

LaVolcan Mon 28-Jan-13 18:29:41

My children's comprehensives did put resources into the G & T children also. The ones who do miss out, I suspect, are the middling ones - especially if they are fairly quiet and keep their heads down.

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 18:35:39

I think it's often extremely healthy for a child who's always been 'top' in his primary school to get more perspective on where he is in a broader context tiggy. After all, only one person in the world can ever be properly top at any one time, so getting used to the fact that it's highly unlikely to be you is really quite a useful life lesson. And it's arguable that it's best to get that lesson learned at a relatively early stage in life.

Thank God no-one interviewed my kids and made enquiries about motivation, ambitions etc. Hideous thought.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 18:37:31

The trouble is that the school which is left when you've removed the top 23 % might not meet the needs of many of its pupils either.

More!people's needs are met in a comprehensive than in a grammar/high school system.

Maybe the best idea is a comprehensive school and a super super selective for those whose brightness constitutes something approaching a special educational need?

Yellowtip Mon 28-Jan-13 18:42:14

I disagree seeker. A superselective encompassing the top 5% or so of the ability range is about right socially, giving vital normality to those at the superselective as well as a very broad spread of ability at the comp. But super dooper selective would create a weird world at that age. Very unhealthy I'd have thought.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:43:36

Yellow - absolutely. DD1 hated being 'that kid' at her primary school. Hated it. She loves the anonymity of where she is now, and she's happy to still be 'that kid' in her chosen areas of super-power, and one of the herd in the rest (obviously French now a special case sad )

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 18:44:13

I agree that comprehensives and super selectives co existing are probably the best way, but I don't think the grammars should take less children, they should take more.

They could still leave enough children to form comprehensive schools while providing for more children than the SSs currently do.

Plenty of people will decide against GS for their bright children because of distance, because they prefer subjects on offer at the comp, or for lots of other reasons.

Why couldn't a school meet the needs of its pupils if it had the top 23% creamed off Seeker? I do think that is too high a percentage, but I don't see why a school couldn't meet the needs of its students just because other students weren't there.

thebody Mon 28-Jan-13 18:45:03

LaVolcan I do agree with you. The middle of the road ' quiet and good' kids can get overlooked.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 18:46:30

I do find this such an interesting debate. If only the weren't real life children involved and it was just an academic discussion!

I'm not sure we can have a system that caters for the vast majority and for the outliers as well. Can we?

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:46:34

Top 5% is good. Anything less than that and you'd have kids boarding etc - you'd have to - and it would be a whole other thing that many people (especially perhaps parents from a less posh background) wouldn't contemplate.

There are plans for a specialist maths school to open here. In conjunction with the university. For kids from 16-19, who will be able to board if they want to. Would I have been up for that at that age? Most emphatically NO. Yet, I'd have obviously been exactly the sort of kid they wanted. But I'd never have gone for it in a million years.

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 18:47:24

Yellow - I am not saying they should interview. I am saying that an excellent score in one test at age 10 does not equate with being only suited to a grammar school. It tells you little about how much a child will gain from the experience.

A very anxious child may find soul-destrying what others find motivating.
Grammars lean more towards continual assessments which many don't cope well with even if they are naturally clever. Some children worry that they are at the bottom of the heap despite knowing logically that they are still in the top 10% nationally. Not everyone's self confidence is boosted by feeling compelled to keep up with the top children or by worrying about being behind the only other children they see daily.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:49:06

There seems to be incredibly little assessment at our school. Tiggy. Very very few marks. They certainly have fewer tests than DS has had at the comp.

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 18:51:16

The grammars within commuting distance of us have very regular tests and pupils are told not only their own scores but how well they are doing compared to the rest of the class.
This sort of competitive / pressured approach would not suit all children even if they were very clever.

Goodadvice1980 Mon 28-Jan-13 18:51:30

Oh HollyBerryBush I think I know the school you're talking about - yes, truly awful sad

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:52:30

Seeker - I think we almost do where I live. I think if the superselective was allowed to expand by one class - so, 5 form entry instead of 4 form - it would be pretty much ideal. The area that people send kids from is about 50 sq miles, so a 5 form entry would be one form per 10 sq miles which sounds about right. It wouldn't materially damage the comps, some of them are good, some of them are ok some of them are poor, but the ones that are poor aren't poor because of the existence of one superselective grammar school. Obviously its not as great as the Croydon of my memories but few places could be. grin

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 18:53:30

Tiggy yes, well, that's your grammars. As I said, ours doesn't do that.

higgle Mon 28-Jan-13 18:59:11

Just to clarify - I have a lower paid job now than when DSs were at prep school, but even so it was good value because I had no child care expenses in the week and generally managed to get the services of one of the matrons in the summer who ran informal summer school for far less than any other form of child care would have been. I do agree prep school gives an advantage but more because of the firm discipline and formal learning environment than the quality of the teachers themselves.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 19:02:29

I actually think that reliance on salary (which can be frighteningly impermanent) and having some other form of comfort (aka Capital, most often inherited but sometimes saved) is one of the key differences between true middle class people and people who have forgotten their station like me. True middle class people can't conceive of not having money. People like me can remember it, and we know how transient it can be. And we have no nest egg or inheritance or prospects of either to fall back on. We also tend to be risk averse hence we often don't consider posh school even if we could, on paper, afford it.

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 19:05:44

I have said that my experience of grammars only covers London super selectives taking 2% - 8% of pupils. I am vaguely aware that there are other grammar systems that take the top 25% of all pupils, where everyone takes the test, where primary schools get involved, where Head teachers can appeal, and all sorts of other differences that are completely unheard of here. Here it is something that only clever children even try for, few pass, even fewer get a place and the rest seem happy with the alternatives.

I actually quite like our system in the sense that it does not encroach on anyone else. Hundreds pass the 11+ here but only a few hundred can get a place (at one Girls' School 700 got the pass mark but only about 200 will actually get an offer - many of the rest will end up in comps.). As such most of the comps are decent. You get the odd one which is awful but all comps have children destined for Oxbridge or RG unis, predicted staright A grades and in large enough numbers to be catered for. They aren't all sent elsewhere.

If we lived in an area where 25% or even 15% of pupils not only passed the test but actually got a place at grammar school, I think the impact on the rest would be a negative one. Most of us only know about our own areas and perhaps assume wrongly that all other 11+ areas are the same when they are not at all.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 19:07:23

Tiggy - our school is a superselective. It's quite a successful one.

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 19:17:14

Fair enough. As I say - I only know about the ones I have experience of directly or through friends with children there and on that basis judged that they wouldn't suit everyone even if they were very clever. I am sure lots of other equally good grammars have different methods and philosophies. Our view of the 11+ system as a whole is probably always coloured by local experience of it - unless you happen to have lived in several 11+ areas to see it in action - which I haven't.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 19:22:16

"Why couldn't a school meet the needs of its pupils if it had the top 23% creamed off Seeker? I do think that is too high a percentage, but I don't see why a school couldn't meet the needs of its students just because other students weren't there"

Well in our case:

because my dd who is very bright and ambitious would not have ended up in a grammar school due to her inability to perform in test in Yr 6.

because my ds who is lazy would take the relative absence of bright and ambitious students as proof that it is ambition is only for a few freaks.

MordionAgenos Mon 28-Jan-13 20:01:52

Cory the fact that you believe your DD wouldn't have passed the 11+ is not a good argument against grammar schools. It sounds as though you think it's fine for kids who might benefit more from a selective education to be denied that in order to further the interests of your DD. which is just another version of sharp elbows.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 20:05:38

I think what I don't understand in this debate is why people think children would benefit from selective education in a way that they wouldn't benefit from being in the top set of a properly setted comprehensive.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 20:27:33

Cory, how does the fact that your dd would have been unlikely to pass the 11+ mean that a non grammar school couldn't meet the needs of the children that do attend?

I'm thinking I worded that question badly! What I meant was, Seeker said that the school that was left after the top 23% had gone elsewhere, might not be able to meet the needs of its students. I wanted to know why she thinks that, because I don't understand why a school might not be able to meet the needs of children that are there because of other children who aren't there. I'd still like to know actually wink

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 20:37:29

I think my child benefits from a selective education in a way that he wouldn't benefit from a comprehensive education because

a) from the schools we have available, the GS is smaller. Class sizes are the same, but overall the school is smaller. I think that benefits him because the overall environment is less intimidating.
b) he benefits from being surrounded by people who want to learn. I am not the strict parent who makes him do work when his friends parents are allowing computer games. All the parents encourage education at this school, so there are no distractions and no excuses.
c) there is much less chance that my easily led child is going to be easily led into a a path I don't want him to be on.
d) I believe that a a comprehensive, my ds would be labeled as one of the geeks, or nerds or whatever they are calling it nowadays. I don't want him to have that label just because he is a bit geeky!
e) As a child who finds it hard to make friends, I believed it would be easier for him to find people he could be friends with in an environment where all the children are vaguely like minded. I think it would have taken him longer to find people he could click with if he had to meet so many other types of people first, and it would have been harder if he was in lessons with different people all day and the only consistency was his tutor group because everyone was in various sets here there and everywhere.

StickyFloor Mon 28-Jan-13 20:43:36

This point has already been made, but for me the importance of getting into the selective is about attitude as much as education. At our primary only 3/30 are likely to sit the exams, and the pervading atitude is inverted snobbery that we are stuck up and pushy and above ourselves for not wanting to go to the local comp which most of the kids will go to. There is a genuine feeling amongst the mums I mix with that education is something to be endured until 16 and my kids have already, in Y4, started to be teased for answering questions in class, doing their homework on time etc. I have aspirations and hopes for my kids and want them to have the opportunities that I had, and we are openly teased for thinking that way.

The local comp is situated on the edge of a well-known rough estate, has poor academic results, and is mostly known for bullying and violence. I don't know what our plan B is if the twins don't pass their exams, but they will not be going there come what may. i don't accept that bright kids will thrive anywhere etc. I don't want them dropped into an atmosphere where they are the exceptions for trying to work and make something of themselves.

Of course not all comps are like this, but sadly in our Borough, apart from the superselectives and 1 great comp whose catchment we miss, the rest are mostly a shockingly poor standard and bullying of academc kids etc is widely reported.

For me the problem is not the grammars, it is that the comps aren't good enough - they need to be dragged up so there isn't such a disparity between the selectives and the others.

LaQueen Mon 28-Jan-13 20:46:39

I strongly believe in the grammar system - and I speak as someone who was educated at a Steiner school, with its luffly bohemian ethos that focused on the inner child and far less on academic results hmm

We're very lucky in that we live on the Lincs/Lecis border, and our DDs attend a Lincolnshire school so they will (fingers crossed) go to the local girls grammar school- although they will have to pass highly because our house is out of catchment.

But, I do think GS should be available to all children.

I have worked in, and have relatives who currently work in comprehensive schools and I'm really not impressed by them. I think standards for both academic acheivement and student behaviour were depressingly low.

Both my DDs are at primary school, they're clever and have always been assessed at much higher than the national average (as are most of their friends).

So, I want them to attend a school which truly values academic ability and success, and where there are very few disciplinary/behavioural issues.

I don't give a monkey's about social class - I don't care if my DDs are sitting next to a window-cleaner's daughter (my own dad grew up in a council house, with both parents being factory workers, and he got to grammar school) so long as she's clever and doesn't disrupt the lesson.

BeanJuice Mon 28-Jan-13 21:35:38

StickyFloor Year 4 is incredibly young for teasing about being a hard worker to start already sad

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:00:20

It depends entirely on the comprehensive-in our area they have high academic standards and high expectations of student behaviour (and so do the parents).

ReallyTired Mon 28-Jan-13 22:08:26

Comprehensive can work, but there needs to be good social mix as well as a good academic mix. Many grammar schools have the wealthiest children rather than necessarily the brightest. Lots of children from poor families are put off by the cost of the school uniform and the bus fare.

Comprehensives fall apart when they have too many families on benefits/ free school meals. Ideally a top stream would have children with a mixture of backgrounds. The bright daughter of a cleaner would have a friend whose father is a doctor. Working class children would be exposed to children who have aspirations.

The grammar/ secondary modern system had huge problems. It is inflexible and many children end up at the wrong school. However it is fairer than selection by postcode.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:08:38

It helps enormously that there are no grammar schools and so the comprehensive has all the bright DCs who are very ambitious and aiming high.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 22:10:07

But, I do think GS should be available to all children.

But by its very nature it is not available to all children.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:13:36

I think that those who believe in the grammar school system have every expectation that their DC will be in the grammar school! I have yet to meet anyone who wants their DC in the secondary modern! (that is for the others-for some reason there is the odd idea that the less bright have to put up with lower standards of behaviour!!)

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:14:57

Available isn't the same as accessible.

GSs would be available to all children if all parents could reasonably choose to use one, not if every child was able to pass the 11+.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 22:15:52

I'm thinking I worded that question badly! What I meant was, Seeker said that the school that was left after the top 23% had gone elsewhere, might not be able to meet the needs of its students. I wanted to know why she thinks that, because I don't understand why a school might not be able to meet the needs of children that are there because of other children who aren't there. I'd still like to know actually

I would think that while such a school will have some able students, it may not have enough to form viable top sets. The difficulties won't be so great at KS3 but by the time it comes to GCSE's there may not be sufficient pupils to offer a wide range of subjects at the higher levels.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 22:18:17

Available isn't the same as accessible.

So just available for the majority to be rejected by?

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:20:31

Spot on Cecily-available in theory.

tiggytape Mon 28-Jan-13 22:22:17

So much depends on area and school. One comp in our area achieves over 85% A* - C grade GCSE results including English and Maths (and that's despite having a Grammar school within travelling distance), they are strict on uniform and behaviour, the children are set by ability, they do triple science and languages, they get kids into Oxbridge and RG unis and identify children who'd benefit from coaching for Oxbridge interviews, they expect good grades from everyone and work to ensure this happens, they involve parents, have good facilities, lots of sports, music well catered for and beat local independent schools on results despite having no selection process.... it is a mixed ability comp.

Other comps are more of a mixed bag - some are the same or similar whilst others are pretty poor and I agree a grammar is a better alternative to some of the comps described here where achievement is sneered at and bad behaviour is expected but that isn't true of all comps by any means. It depends what options you have when you come to apply.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 22:22:54

I don't give a monkey's about social class - I don't care if my DDs are sitting next to a window-cleaner's daughter (my own dad grew up in a council house, with both parents being factory workers, and he got to grammar school) so long as she's clever and doesn't disrupt the lesson.

That's incredibly magnanimous of you, LeQueen.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:24:32

That's a fair point that I hadn't thought of Cecily, but what's a 'viable' top set? Even if there's only five children in the top set, there's no reason for the top set not to exist.

And if the children at the school don't need subjects to be offered at GSCE at a higher level because those students aren't there, then the school can still meet the needs of the children it has got.

The grammars are either creaming off the top 23% (or less with SSs) or they are not. And if they are, then subjects don't need to be offered at the higher level. If they're not, then it's not a problem and there are enough students left to offer higher levels. Z

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:26:22

So just available for the majority to be rejected by?

No, available for the children that are suited to it. Children don't have to be rejected by it if they aren't forced to take the test. It should be optional, with good alternatives.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:27:16

Why should those who are not clever disrupt lessons?
DS2 is not in the least academic but he never disrupted lessons-he always tried his best. He had as much right to have lessons free of disruption as the very bright.

Wow, I didn't realise that Grammar schools were such a bone of contention.

I live in Colchester and went to the girl's Grammar here. It's a fantastic school and I'm happy I went. I went to a little village primary and was the only student to do the 11+ and the only one to pass in about 20 years [oops] (it was a tiny school there were around 20 students in my class/year).

My parent's put no pressure on me, it was more of a "take the test if you fancy and we'll see what happens", and they had the same attitude when I passed. My DD is only 2, so it's a long way off but I'd be chuffed if she could go there as well.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:29:13

At 11 yrs (10 yrs on many cases) many DCs have not shown their potential.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:29:55

in not on-sorry

DaisyDoodle Mon 28-Jan-13 22:31:02

I went to a great grammar school back in the day. You're right, either have a new system for everyone, everywhere or not at all.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:31:57

I think that you will find things have changed somewhat ScarletLady-if you want a place for your DD you will need to have a tutor or do lots of practise papers-the whole system is manipulated these days.

You're probably right, all the things mentioned on this thread are alien to me! I'm 29, so left the school in 2000.

I did do some practise papers, but only for fun (I was a big geek who loved maths and word puzzles).

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:33:42

You won't get the same everywhere. Grammar school areas will cling onto them and comprehensive areas are not going to go back-not when 75% of parents will then have DCs in a secondary modern. (the 75% who will be against)

ReallyTired Mon 28-Jan-13 22:35:10

"That's a fair point that I hadn't thought of Cecily, but what's a 'viable' top set? Even if there's only five children in the top set, there's no reason for the top set not to exist."

Comprehensives in rough areas often don't have enough children to run a "viable" top set. What's the difference between a level 6 child arriving at shitty inner city comp and a level 6 child arriving at a secondary modern.

Bright children being at shitty comprehensives because their parents can't afford a house in the catchment area of a good comp is why social mobiltiy is at all time low.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:35:14

He had as much right to have lessons free of disruption as the very bright.

Absolutely! Getting rid of grammar schools won't achieve this though. A lot more needs to be done in schools to make it clear that disruptive behaviour is unacceptable, and disruptive children simply shouldn't be allowed in lessons when they can't be bothered to make an effort. The problem is that they can't just be removed, because they are entitled to receive and education as well, no matter how detrimental they are to everyone else hmm

We're pretty well serviced by Grammar schools in Essex, I just assumed it was the same everywhere! There are a few good private schools as well from what I remember.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:36:24

If you read MN you find that people won't do the sensible thing and say 'my DC isn't suited to a grammar school' they will say 'Help-I must get a tutor from year 3 and drill him for 3 years so that he gets a place'! They miss the point that passing the 11+ isn't the end it is the start.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:37:27

What's a viable top set then? Surely in any cohort there will always be some nearer the top and some nearer the bottom?

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:37:53

Absolutely! Getting rid of grammar schools won't achieve this though. A lot more needs to be done in schools to make it clear that disruptive behaviour is unacceptable, and disruptive children simply shouldn't be allowed in lessons when they can't be bothered to make an effort. The problem is that they can't just be removed, because they are entitled to receive and education as well, no matter how detrimental they are to everyone else

Luckily that is exactly what happens in my area.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 22:39:45

I doubt if many state schools could afford to run classes of five. It is not that no children at such schools will want to access GCSE in a range of subjects at higher levels, it is that there will not be enough of them to make it viable to run classes within the usual economic restraints. The pupils' needs won't all be the same. Even a school which takes 77% of children will have a wide ability range. The grammar schools aren't creaming off the exact top 23% - academic selection at 10/11 is a fairly inexact science.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:40:06

I think that there are only about 164 grammar schools in the entire country ScarletLady and we have all this fuss when about 3% of DCs go to one!! There are more DCs in the private sector than in grammar schools. They are not available (even in theory) to most DCs.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:41:24

Since there are so few grammar schools it would make sense to concentrate on improving comprehensives and making it a fair system, whatever the catchment area.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:41:41

I don't think that's true exotic. There are plenty of parents I have spoken to that don't think the GS is the best option, even for their bright children.

I put my oldest in for the 11+ because I felt he was capable and that it was the best option for him. My youngest is very nearly as intelligent as his sibling and would have a good chance of getting a place at the GS. I didn't put him in for the test because it wouldn't be the right school for him. I'm not alone in feeling like this, and I've had the secondary school choices conversation with loads of parents.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:45:21

Even a school which takes 77% of children will have a wide ability range. The grammar schools aren't creaming off the exact top 23% - academic selection at 10/11 is a fairly inexact science.

Then why would the presence of a grammar school make it impossible for another school to provide for the children they have? If the science is that bad, there will be enough children to make a top set. And on the off chance that they can't, they can still provide differentiation like they are supposed to anyway. Or provide extension classes in the same way they would provide extra reading classes for those children that still struggle.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:45:37

True in RL but on MN people have a lot of angst and they do tutor from year 3.
When I say that I am not in a grammar school are-there is a super selective that you have to travel to and many of the brightest just elect to go to the comprehensive because they are good, they want to be with friends and they don't want to travel.

AmazingDisgrace Mon 28-Jan-13 22:46:39

FAO HollyBerryBush: My son is one of the "ADHD's" and in one of the most sought after Super Selectives. hmm

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:47:47

Full of mistakes tonight-sorry 'area'.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 22:48:30

That's what happens in my are too exotic, people choose the comp because its good, and because it offers a more varied curriculum.

I wish I could say that it was the same in that all disruptive children were removed though! They might be, but I should imagine that a fair amount of disruption would take place before that happens.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 22:48:45

Cloudsandtrees- that might be the case in areas where there are superselectives, which leaves a near as dammit comprehensive for the rest. But I don't think it's very common in areas where the school everyone else goes to is a secondary modern.

exoticfruits Mon 28-Jan-13 22:49:12

I have nothing against grammar schools taking the top 2%-but not more.

seeker Mon 28-Jan-13 22:51:43

I think people are accepting that you can tell at 10 what sort of education is suitable for a child at 14 or 15. And if you put that child into one sort of school at that age, then the chances are that child will conform to that schools's expectations. However in a school where movement is possibly- who knows what they might achieve.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 22:56:42

Clouds, the science is inexact; it is not so bad that the school which takes the 77% is effectively a comprehensive. Schools can provide differentiation up to a point but it does become harder by the time pupils are taking publicexams. I am not sure your analogy with extra reading classes works because pupils are only withdrawn for a few lessons a week and often these are with a TA.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 23:04:10

I take your point about extra reading lessons sometimes being with a TA rather than a teacher, but if a school can provide extra lessons for those children then it should be able to provide extra lessons for any child that needs it. If they can't, then that might be their fault, the head teachers fault, the LEAs fault, the governments fault. But it's not the Grammar school's fault.

EasyFromNowOn Mon 28-Jan-13 23:05:58

LaVolcan - you asked a few pages back about the Stoke grammar, yes I think it is like a SS in other parts of the country. It's not an option for the vast majority of children in the city, in any case.

CecilyP Mon 28-Jan-13 23:09:36

If money were no object, then they would be able to provide all subjects at all levels. As they have to work within budgets, it is not really anybodies fault. It is not exactly the grammar school's fault a such, other than that there is no flexibilty to be able to move between levels if pupils are in different schools

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 07:02:52

Not sure if this should be a new thread, but I am fascinated by the fact that there seems to be a near mumsnet consensus the tthe needs of the bright/very bright child should be met as a priority over the needs of the average or less bright. Does it look like that because mumsnetters are often the sort of people who are likely to have bright children, and it's just a pragmatic attitude, or is it a more widespread belief. And if the latter, why?

BeanJuice Tue 29-Jan-13 07:12:01

Who said it was a priority over average or less bright children?

Chandon Tue 29-Jan-13 07:40:58

Agree seeker, always wonder about that.

Especially as a mum of. 2 averagely bright children, who can go from average to high achieving with the right teachers.

I believe in teachers, I believe the right school can make the difference between my, and anyone's DC, doing o.k. or doing very well.

That is precisely why schools are so important, and such a hot potato on MN.

And also, the reason I moved my kids to private school as the local state school let them sink completely. I do not tink my kids need special education because they are bright, I believe they are completely average but STILL deserve a cracking education. All those extra super bright kids of MNers ( I think yours are very academic seeker?) will surely do well wherever they go.

To answer your question, I think it is an MN thing. Most MNers either have super bright kids, or they think they do ( did not mean that to sound bitchy....).

CloudsAndTrees Tue 29-Jan-13 07:54:08

No, Seeker, not as a priority over the needs of less bright children. Just that provision should be made for the bright children as well.

Not instead of, as well as.

Personally, I don't believe it's true that super bright kids will do well wherever they go. Do you really think that a super bright child will do as well as they possibly could in a school where they are in the vast minority, and where they are ridiculed for being studious Chandon? You don't think that being in an environment where they don't feel secure may be detrimental to their education? You don't think that there are ever bright children who waste their talents because they are teenagers who are easily influenced by other children?

There is more to success than being bright.

I went to a (mildly selective) private school where people actively downplayed their intelligence because it just wasn't 'cool' to be intelligent, and at that age, people cared more about fitting in with their peers than getting their homework done.

MordionAgenos Tue 29-Jan-13 08:18:27

@seeker who is saying bright kids should have priority? Not me. If I thought bright kids should have priority I'd be advocating that classes move at the pace of the brightest. Believe me, that isn't what happens now. And I would never advocate it either. What I want (and I suspect what others want too) is that all kids should be given an appropriate education and not made to feel like freaks for whatever reason.

In terms of monetary priorities, our grammar school gets rather less funding per pupil than the comps do. So clearly 'the rest' are getting the financial priority. But that's fine, I can live with that (I know some people think it's unfair but since I have a foot in both camps I can see both sides).

socharlotte Tue 29-Jan-13 08:36:44

The idea of grammar school system was equally to benefit those that don't end up in them.A school of say 800 pupils can only offer so many courses.The idea originally was that grammar school pupils follow an academic education preparing its pupils for university, and the secondary moderns could specialise in offering more vocational courses so that those who are not suited to academic education are not forced down a route where they are doomed for failure and the low self esteem this brings with it.

tiggytape Tue 29-Jan-13 08:55:27

socharlotte that is true but things are very different now:
Schools are far bigger. Generally 800 would be less than 3 year groups let alone a whole school. Comps are vast and cater widely for different ability groups.

Vocational options are no longer viable for this age group to pursue regardless of ability. Everybody is expected to get decent GCSEs (as we have seen today - nursery workers will now be expected to have A*-C in English and Maths). Once upon a time a C or above at O Level was seen as academic. Now, at GCSE level, it is seen as absolutely essential for everybody to have this. You cannot get on to purely vocational courses like catering unless you have good academic GCSEs now.

Ruling a child in or out of an academic path when they are just 10 years old (11+ rules mean all exams are taken by October of Year 6 now) is ridiculous if you then send them somewhere that they can never redeem themselves (assuming you concede that no single test is accurate or infallible and a lot of academic children will slip through the net). The small number of grammar schools also mean you'd be consigning about 98% of children to vocational courses quite apart from the fact that children who have had dyslexia, hearing problems in childhoood and all sorts of other early setbacks are often very academic late bloomers.

Abra1d Tue 29-Jan-13 09:12:04

I think the 'Not for us' attitude is a huge problem.

Our neighbour's eldest is a bright, bright boy. He would have been eligible for a very generous bursary at my son's school, possibly even 100% of the fees, as both parents are in low-paid work. Son's school is academically selective and very good at music (neighbour's son plays in several bands).

Our neighbour refused to apply because she says they would stick out as being different. They wouldn't. Parents rarely go in to the school apart from for parents' nights and occasionally concerts. Nobody really gives a damn where you come from. Her son is a lovely boy: gregarious and easy-going and would fit in anywhere.
He hasn't worked hard at the local comprehensive and hasn't been pushed. If he'd applied for a bursary at the selective school he probably would have achieved perfect grades across the board.

I don't know what you do to persuade people to take a leap into the unknown. If they won't apply for bursaries how are schools to get them to do so? Our previous primary head was ideologically opposed to private schools and even when the heads of the private schools came out to meet her and explain their bursary scheme, refused to encourage Y6s to apply. I think if she had done so, it might have encouraged one or two more children of working-class background to apply.

socharlotte Tue 29-Jan-13 09:25:14

If you have not been a poor person in a 'rich people' environment, you will not have the slightest clue how that feels.You think there is no feeling of being isolated, looked down upon, because you haven't been there!!
Even the uniform and incidental costs are beyond the reach of some families.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 09:39:07

Another thing- it's interesting that people always say "oh, it doesn't matter what class you are or how rich you are or what your background is, you'll fit in at our private school". And your're a reverse snob if you don't agree. But those same parents don't want their child in the same school as all the " disadvantaged" children.........grin

gazzalw Tue 29-Jan-13 09:41:46

I certainly know that when I fought with my parents for my right to take up my grammar school place, the issue was the school uniform. Even though they got some type of uniform allowance for me (I was a FSM child even though my Dad was never without a job) it was still very expensive and they were very reluctant to have to pay the extra bit.... But my determination won out in the end.

You are right though that generally the middle classes punctuate every discussion of their children with the "of course he/she is G&T" but not all middle-class children are, surely?

I sometimes wonder, Tiggytape, whether all the children applying for the super-selectives are of the right standard, though? It's generally only a third or so who pass, isn't it? I wouldn't have said all DS's primary school classmates, who elected to take the exams, were necessarily, but the middle-class parents definitely got caught up in the competitive side of it grin.

But isn't it the case that as parents, those of us who are interested in our children's education, will fight the corner for the type of schools which suit them? For DS a grammar school was the right environment based on his ability etc..but our all-singing, all-dancing, switched on but less obviously academic DD would probably suit a comprehensive that would nurture her dramatic side!

What I want for my children is schools that bring out the best of them academically and socially in an environment that is nurturing. Some comprehensives do this probably better than either many of the grammars or private schools but many don't, particularly if you live in large cities with school-age gang cultures. Just imagine having to send your children to the Academy in that Estate in Pimlico where that poor 16 year old boy was stabbed to death yesterday? And this may be why you find that London-based parents and Mumsnetters are more pro the grammars.

LaQueen Tue 29-Jan-13 09:54:24

"DS2 is not in the least academic but he never disrupted lessons-he always tried his best. He had as much right to have lessons free of disruption as the very bright."

Of course he does exotic.

Which is why all comprehensives should insist on, and maintain, the levels of discipline/respect/good behaviour that occur in grammar schools.

LaQueen Tue 29-Jan-13 09:59:51

"Especially as a mum of. 2 averagely bright children, who can go from average to high achieving with the right teachers."

Yes Chandon that probably would happen. But, at the same time, if you place very clever children with these same excellent teachers then they will still be streets ahead. You are always going to get that differentiation.

Mosman Tue 29-Jan-13 10:09:10

I think people piut far too much trust/empathise on the school when it comes to the success of their DC. The bottom line is you can pay £20,000 a year for a school but if you the parent aren't there to encourage opening the books to complete homework, supporting the revision, keeping up the motivation then you are wasting your money.
Grammar and private schools expect kids to keep up at quite a pace and if that's not your learning style you're stuffed. They expect that the children come to school with the right uniform, the right equipment, there will be no issues at home and no issues in school. And if there are they expect that you won't bother them with them.
I can totally understand why some parents wouldn't apply thinking they aren't for the likes of them, they aren't IME.

socharlotte Tue 29-Jan-13 10:21:07

I have never got involved with my DCs homework or revision(unless they have specifically asked for help), they have learned self motivation by mixing with children of the same mindset.
Schools and particularly schoolmates are immensely influential
There is and old saying along the lines of

'tis the schoolmaster i pay, but the schoolboy who educates my son'

tiggytape Tue 29-Jan-13 10:21:40

I sometimes wonder, Tiggytape, whether all the children applying for the super-selectives are of the right standard, though

You may be right gazzalw.
At our school only a few children (top of the top set) sit the 11+ test and the same is true for other local primaries. I have a feeling this is because the catchment comps are good (they have better GCSE pass rates than some grammar schools in other parts of the country) and are very well resourced and well thought of, have good discipline etc.
People who live in neighbouring boroughs don't always have such an appealing comp to apply to so may be tempted to enter a child for the 11+ who has less chance of passing simply because it is their only hope of avoiding a school they really don't want.

I think the other factor for low pass rates is that the tests are very hard - far harder than many reasonably bright 10 year olds can contend with. One grammar school said that as long as your child is a Level 5 by the end of Year 5, then they should pass. Others admitted that the tests include Year 6 work which won't have been covered in school - tests are taken right at the start of Year 6. And finally, the tests now lean more towards wanting both English and Maths at a high level (lots of schools have introduced an essay or comprehension paper). Many children who fail may be 3 years ahead in maths but 'only' 1 year ahead in English. It isn't that they aren't bright, it is just that they aren't good enough allrounders to pass the test. I know a lot of people who wanted to appeal had children who had scored virtually full marks in one or two elements but had messed up one paper - their children were very definitely bright but just not in the prescribed way needed for that particular test.

gazzalw Tue 29-Jan-13 10:26:13

I have a feeling, Tiggytape, that you are virtually a Borough neighbour....We have less desirable comprehensive options and interestingly about 50% of DS's classmates are now at secondary school in Sutton Borough....that's for a reason methinks!

I think DS was very, very, very lucky and is a lot brighter than his laziness (still a work in progress!) gives many to believe, luckily for him!

Abra1d Tue 29-Jan-13 10:43:04

socharlotte the uniform is available either secondhand through a very good and well organised and advertised secondhand shop, or at M&S. It is not fancy stuff. We never buy new sports kit. Nor do most of our friends.

Abra1d Tue 29-Jan-13 10:46:00

seeker 'But those same parents don't want their child in the same school as all the " disadvantaged" children.........'

Erm, yes we do. That's why I told my neighbour about the bursaries.

tiggytape Tue 29-Jan-13 10:47:22

I think we must be gazzalw. It is certainly a strange area with some really good schools but also very unpopular ones all grouped fairly close together. You like us probably have the added excitement that catchments are so tiny that, even if your nearest school is a good one, you won't necessarily get a place and could get allocated a bad one or one in another borough altogether!

I think the 11+ for many is seen as a ticket out of all that allocation angst because distance is no object for grammar schools as long as the child passes with one of the highest scores.
Ditto schools like Graveney, Glenthorne and Kingsdale who attract lots of applicants because partial selection or random allocation offers hope to families who are too far from the good comps to get a place when distance is the only qualifying factor.
Some people sitting the tests have less of an eye on which school they are aiming at than on which schools they are actively hoping to avoid. And that's understandable - the difference between good and poor schools within a relatively small area is vast - unfairly so really but that's a whole other issue!

Mosman Tue 29-Jan-13 10:50:54

*There is and old saying along the lines of

'tis the schoolmaster i pay, but the schoolboy who educates my son'*

There is an old saying spare the rod ruin the child but we don't take any notice of that old bollox any more either.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 10:51:57

"seeker 'But those same parents don't want their child in the same school as all the " disadvantaged" children.........'

Erm, yes we do. That's why I told my neighbour about the bursaries."


gazzalw Tue 29-Jan-13 10:58:21

Well we have three comprehensives on our doorstep which we wouldn't touch with a barge-pole for our DCs... Fine and dandy for DS as he got into a super-selective. But we are already getting nervous for DD (who is one of the babyboom years) - firstly there is going to be significantly more competition to get into any/all of the secondary schools and if she doesn't get into a grammar school (or selective stream of Greenshaw/Graveney), where we live might not even be in catchment (by then) for the girls' comp we have our eye on....

For what it's worth, I don't think disadvantaged children are the issue in themselves. I guess I would have been regarded as such when I was a child, but none of us ever got into trouble, all did well at school and all went on to get degrees. Being disadvantaged might predispose to certain behavioural and academic stumbling blocks but there are loads of perfectly decent children out there who are not the rough diamonds or scallywags that they may be labelled as by all and sundry....

All schools have their issues with bullying, bad behaviour, drugs etc....these issues are not solely the preserve of the "disadvantaged" It is naive to think that getting into a grammar or a private school will enable your DCs to totally avoid deviant teenage behaviour!

Abra1d Tue 29-Jan-13 11:02:39

Sorry, seeker, I'm not reading you. I want bright children in my children's schools, regardless of where they come from. Why is that so risible? So unbelievable?

Mosman Tue 29-Jan-13 11:05:47

Why does your DS need a fag ? grin

Seriously, most parents in private schools don't want any Tom Dick or Harry in their child's class they are paying for exclusivity it's a bit annoying to find you haven't got it I'd imagine.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 11:07:15

It's just that it's a one way street, isn't it? You're happy to have a couple of the deserving poor in your child's school, but you wouldn't want your child in theirs.

"Which is why all comprehensives should insist on, and maintain, the levels of discipline/respect/good behaviour that occur in grammar schools."

Take the five hardest working and brightest children from every class and put them in a group together. You will find that on the whole they are very respectful and well behaved. It's not teachers or schools that are responsible for excellent standards of behaviour in grammar schools. It's the fact that they're stuffed with intelligent, well behaved children.

IMO as long as grammar schools select a disproportionate number of their intake from private primaries, then I can't support their existence.

Intakes should reflect the social make up of the area the school is in. If 90% of the children in the area attend state schools then the grammar should have 90% of its intake coming from state schools.

Unless of course you're going to argue that private schools have a higher proportion of intrinsically intelligent children?......... (as opposed to high achieving children).

Abra1d Tue 29-Jan-13 11:12:21

seeker too right, I definitely wouldn't want my children in their school. According to friends who are parents of boys and girls there, there are too many very bright children with C in GCSEs when they could have got A/A+. It's a very leafy comprehensive, btw, in a market town in the South, with few social problems. Most of the feeder primaries (ours among them) are excellent.

tiggytape Tue 29-Jan-13 11:31:13

I'm not sure that I agree that very bright = very well behaved. The very bright children and grammar school children I can think of range from painfully shy, bright but lazy, generally very good right through to boisterous, cocky, totally disrespectful and disruptive. A very challenging boy who briefly attended DC’s primary is now at a super selective grammar school (even the teachers pulled a 'bloody hell' face when they heard where he was going) Being clever doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with any other personality traits at all.

What may be different though is the expectation of very bright children to behave. Grammar schools certainly seem to have very high expectations of behaviour and challenge any deviation from this. Some comps do the same and Year 7 can be a very steep learning curve and uncomfortable time for some pupils coming from more lenient and laid back primary schools.
Other comps fail miserably at discipline, uniform enforcement, stretching able students – the lot. This is a failing of those schools but isn't a natural consequence of having mixed academic abilities all under one roof.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 12:07:57

Another Mumsnet trope.

Very bright means excusable bad behaviour at Primary School
Very bright means preternatural good behaviour and therefore requiring segregation at Secondary School.

I generalise wildly, natch.

gazzalw Tue 29-Jan-13 12:20:37

There certainly seems to be a boy in DS's year who is handy with his fists... not in DS's form though...

socharlotte Tue 29-Jan-13 12:22:51

There is an old saying spare the rod ruin the child ...

Red sky at night, shepherds delight....
An apple a day keeps the doctor away

what's that got to do with anything??

KevinFoley Tue 29-Jan-13 13:10:36

I dunno, can see both sides. Am from working class single parent council estate blue collar jobs no family went to school after 15yrs background. 2 of us in my year passed the 11 plus and gained entry (30 years ago) to the one grammar school left in 2 counties. Mum turned down my place because of needing bus journey/i'd be better off going with friends/not getting above ourselves, etc.

Comp for me was hell. Despite my doing alright socially and the classes being streamed there was a strong culture among the kids (bright and otherwise) for not attaining and playing up. Worst thing in the world to be a boffin or achieve top place in tests over and again, the bullying culture was rife and frightening. A sense of self preservation stopped me attaining what I could have. The other kid who passed went to the grammar, Cambridge and is now a politician! Hmm... not sure that last bit gives any weight to my argument.

So for me I should have gone to grammar, as fulfilling my academic potential in the hell hell that was my comp was never going to happen. Having said that I don't think grammars achieve what they set out to do anymore (sharp elbowed middle class tutored dominance as evidenced further up thread). But to work comps need to be properly resourced in order to have high expectations for pupils and thorough surveillance for problems with behaviour, achievement, effort in pupils. They need the very best teachers to manage all the abilities, backgrounds and other variables which comes with a diverse intake. Plus a very good career advice programme. Realistically this isn't the case is it with most comps so I can't blame parents who live in areas where the comps routinely have 1. poor results 2. behaviour and attendance problems 3. no sixth form 4. high turnover of staff, for doing their best to avoid damning their kids to a second best education.

exoticfruits Tue 29-Jan-13 18:00:20

I would love it if people could say 'bring back our secondary moderns' - 'save our secondary moderns' but it is always, always, always 'bring back our grammar schools' - 'save our grammar schools' because those saying it make the assumption (a foolish thing to do, because the brightest of DCs can fail) that their DC will be in the grammar school and they don't need to worry about the 75%. ( it is also a foolish assumption that all grammar school pupils are well behaved!)

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 18:15:19

exotic championing grammars doesn't mean one has to champion secondary moderns as well. I personally would like to see the return of more grammars nationwide, with admissions test which negate the effects of tutoring, taking perhaps the top 10% to 15%. But I wouldn't want that unless the alternatives were absolutely fit for purpose too: different, not worse.

The theory is easy of course, always has been.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 29-Jan-13 18:15:46

Maybe people don't call for secondary moderns because they are closer to comprehensives than grammar schools are, so there is no need for them to be brought back.

People do call for more vocational and practical subjects to be taught in comprehensives, which is pretty much the same thing isn't it?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 18:27:49

Do they say, let's have an environment for our children where the very brightest aren't in the way, spoiling things? I want my children to be able to thrive in an environment where there isn't anyone much cleverer than him? Why should my non academic child have to have lessons spoilt by academic children? I haven't heard them.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 18:33:39

Nit - actually, sometimes mothers (in particular) can get really arsey about high achieving kids. Especially in primary school. Really, seriously, nastily arsey. This was one of the things that decided me that DD1 might as well try for the grammar school, actually.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 18:33:42

"Maybe people don't call for secondary moderns because they are closer to comprehensives than grammar schools are, so there is no need for them to be brought back."

The fact that people can actually say things like this makes me despair. You really have no idea at all, have you?

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 18:36:00

Seeker - some comps (not particularly the one my DS goes to, but others that I know quite well) do offer more vocational subjects, which was supposed to be one of the good things about sec mods. So in that sense, we do still have schools which offer similar things (in a good way). We also have comps that are hugely academic (eg my old school). And every point in between, really. People call for grammars for all sorts of reasons and some of them are bad reasons and some of them are mad reasons. But that doesn't mean there aren't some good reasons too.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 29-Jan-13 18:42:22

Perhaps you would like to tell me where I'm going wrong Seeker?

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 18:45:47

Seeker, while I can understand your frustration to a certain extent, and I think your support of comps is admirable in a way - you never went to one and neither of your children go to one so it is actually possible that other people (who perhaps went to a comp, have a child at a comp, or both) actually do have more of an idea about them than you do. Just a thought.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 29-Jan-13 18:47:02

I agree with that Russian. I recall primary school parents being quite arsey about the bright kids. They would complain about extension work being given because in their minds, it wasn't the bright kids that needed any extra time spent on them.

There was definitely an attitude problem amongst some parents about the brighter children, especially the ones that were on the G&T list or who were taking the 11+. And those attitudes rub off on their children. So why would I want my child to be surrounded by that?

exoticfruits Tue 29-Jan-13 18:51:43

It makes me despair too! I went to a secondary modern and it was nothing like my DCs comprehensive! We didn't have a sixth form, we didn't send DCs to Oxbridge- or even university. The whole point is that the comprehensive has the grammar and the secondary modern under the same roof and they can change direction easily. The fact that people think that comprehensives and secondary moderns are similar shows the problem! Those with the best public exam results are printed in the local paper with photos- they are seen as the 'cool' ones.

gelo Tue 29-Jan-13 18:53:24

Grammars have both advantages and disadvantages. I'm not a huge fan of some aspects of them myself, but I know plenty are. It seems to me that having them in some parts of the country and not others at least allows those people who are able to move area to have a choice. I know this isn't fair to those who can't move, but not much in education is fair to be frank - even without grammars there would be fantastic and dire catchment areas and state and private divisions, so I don't mind having them in some places and not others. It's far more important to identify and improve schools of all types that are failing and to strive towards providing a good standard of education for all regardless of how it is delivered.

GrowSomeCress Tue 29-Jan-13 18:53:41

^ being printed in the local paper does NOT make people the 'cool ones' in a school! in some cases more the opposite!!

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 18:57:35

@Grow - exactly. The naivety of some people is astounding. Also - not all comps have 6th forms. It depends where you live. Not all comps send kids to Oxbridge. But some do - some are better in every way than some grammar schools. And others aren't. Blanket generalisations are not terribly helpful.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 29-Jan-13 18:58:45

Exotic, surely you can see a similarity in that vocational subjects were offered at secondary moderns, and increasingly, more and more of them are being offered at comprehensives?

People don't call for secondary moderns, but they do call for the return of apprenticeships, and for practical subjects to be on offer.

There are colleges that offer sixth forms and vocational courses, so I don't think it matters if a school doesn't have a sixth form as long as the students have access to the courses they want to take in another institution.

exoticfruits Tue 29-Jan-13 19:10:05

being printed in the local paper does NOT make people the 'cool ones' in a school! in some cases more the opposite!!

I can assure you that in our area they are the 'cool' ones-they are the winners with the great futures-there may be some who don't see it this way, but since they are the minority and the 'losers' -why would anyone take any notice?! Nearly all the local DCs go because it it comprehensive and they are very ambitious (and so are their parents!)
The are only called boffins etc if there are not enough at the top end.

Of course apprenticeships and practical subjects are good for the majority (far more as people see the pointlessness of a lot of university courses) but why do they need to be under a different roof? What is the 11+ failure who has every intention of going to Oxbridge supposed to do- be channelled down a practical path because they failed a test at 10 year old?! hmm

exoticfruits Tue 29-Jan-13 19:13:18

I also don't see why my DSs can't go to the same school-just because one went to a RG university and one had an apprenticeship-why on earth do they need to be in a different place? Luckily they went to the same school and it catered for both.

E320 Tue 29-Jan-13 19:44:15
This is my old school. It was a direct-grant grammar school and pupils came from all backgrounds. However, it went independent when the LABOUR government did away with grammar schools in the 70s and Devon did not join in.
I just wish that the system had continued. High academic standards, but also COMPULSORY cookery and sewing.
Big social mix. Much bigger than when I did my teaching practice near Oxford in the 1980s.
What is so wrong with promoting an academic education for ALL children, who could benefit, regardless of their "social" background?

LaVolcan Tue 29-Jan-13 19:54:45

E320 I think you will find that Mrs Thatcher did away with more grammar schools when she was Education Secretary. Why? Votes - people did not like it when their children failed - sorry were selected - for a non academic education.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 20:08:08

E320 Exeter's state grammar schools were Hele school for boys and bishop Blackall for girls. The Maynard was always a posh school, it had some direct grant places available. Devon county council took over control of all the state schools in Devon in 1973 when Heath was prime minister and when DCC was under Tory control (as it usually is). That was when grammar schools except for colyton were abolished and the direct grant scheme was stopped.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 21:14:56

E320 grammars and direct grant schools were not the same. My own school, also direct grant, had no domestic science at all. But I think you're correct in saying that the social mix at direct grants was 'big'. It was more polarised than at grammars. And what was interesting, looking back, was that the friendship groups cut right across boundaries - social, economic and geographical (our catchment was wide). I wouldn't want to have sent my DDs to Maynard as it is now: very restricted socially and tiny classes in some subjects at A level - far too small with no scope for decent interaction or discussion at all (I shouldn't have thought).

LaQueen Tue 29-Jan-13 21:27:01

Totally off-topic, but gives E320 a kiss...long time, no see, Sweetie smile

ohnoherewego Tue 29-Jan-13 21:31:40

I went to a direct grant. The social mix was narrower than at my DSis' grammar school because at my school two thirds of pupils had paying places and one third had funded places. It was one of the few schools in the country which opted not to become independent when the direct grant system was abolished because it was a church school and was founded on the principle of education for all. Ironically although it is now a comp the social demographic is no wider (and may be narrower) as the entrance criteria is a high level of church attendance so it's really swamped by people "on their knees to save the fees."

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 21:47:27

"Perhaps you would like to tell me where I'm going wrong Seeker?"

Well, in this case, not knowing the difference between a comprehensive school and a secondary modern.

Russiansonthespree- not having been to and/or not having a child in a secondary modern school doesn't soon to be a bar to people having opinions about them....I don't think my not having been to or not having a child in a comprehensive school should be a bar to me expressing my opinion that they are the least worst option currently available.

CecilyP Tue 29-Jan-13 21:53:41

The Maynard School was a Direct Grant school, so always a private school but one that took a proportion of state funded pupils. E320 is correct that it was the labour government of 1974 - 79 which abolished this system.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 21:57:29

But incorrect in stating that it was a grammar school.

CecilyP Tue 29-Jan-13 22:04:48

I guess it's to do with people's understanding of the term grammar school. As many of the Direct Grant schools had 'Grammar School' in their name and children awarded state-funded places in them had passed the 11+, they could still be regarded as grammar schools.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 22:08:20

herewego perhaps my Direct Grant school was unusual then. A lot must have turned on geography and the moment in time. It remains a fact that a school at the edge of South London in the 1960s and 70s able to offer a free education to a large number of bright children of immigrants (mostly wartime refugees) and longtime indigenous poor whilst drawing fee paying students from the middle classes in the immediate area of the school and the upper middle classes in the stockbroker belt of the Surrey hinterland was a very mixed school indeed. And all the better for it. I think the school I attended was almost the perfect social mix, an experiment almost, which worked extraordinarily well. Not that I was conscious of it at the time, which of course is how it should be, or have been.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 22:09:37

No, sorry CecilyP, semantic part of me kicking in. They weren't grammars in the sense of this thread.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 22:14:27

I do think it's important not to cloud the definitions. Whatever a grammar school might or might not have been, now a state grammar school is one which is wholly selective.

seeker Tue 29-Jan-13 22:15:02

Sorry, a^secondary ^ school hitch is wholly selective.

CecilyP Tue 29-Jan-13 22:17:16

That's OK, I think you are probably right about that.

Yellowtip Tue 29-Jan-13 22:25:34

Even more retentively semantic now but all Direct Grants were 'selective'. Just how selective they were about the fee paying contingent of the school will have varied from school to school.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 29-Jan-13 22:27:27

Seeker you are of course entitled to your opinion wrong though it is. However when those of us who did attend comps and do have kids at comps express the opinion that they are not the least worst option, please do not tell us we really have no idea at all. Since that evaluation is more suited to you than to some of us. smile

LaVolcan Tue 29-Jan-13 22:29:56

You need to know where people live to decode what they are saying.

If they live in Kent/Bucks then a 'Comprehensive' is a Secondary Modern. It seems that if you live in a London Borough it seems to depend on the individual school as to whether it really is comprehensive. Then there are parts of the country where a comprehensive really is a comprehensive because it takes all the loc