kids who do ks2 at state schools should have priority over prep school kids at 11+

(270 Posts)
marmitecat Sun 10-Nov-13 14:01:49

That would make grammar schools more attainable for poorer kids and those that can afford prep school don't need to take places away from normal families.

KwaziiCat Sun 10-Nov-13 14:17:42

I think it could make sense as Inknow quite a few prep school kids (through my job) who learn non/verbal reasoning, which is usually an integral part of the test and it's unfair to children in state schools in that regard.

AntlersInAllOfMyDecorating Sun 10-Nov-13 14:22:41

Or remove grammar schools.

MerylStrop Sun 10-Nov-13 14:23:25

Hmm, but then what about the kids who go to state primaries and then have private tuition?

Also I don't think access to grammar schools should be means-tested, which is the logical conclusion of what you're suggesting, if you play it through.

Abolish all selection on criteria of ability, faith and ability to pay, and then we might be getting somewhere

SanityClause Sun 10-Nov-13 14:29:47

Not all independent junior schools are hot houses preparing children for grammar schools, you know.

Also, you'll find lots of people send their DC to a prep, knowing that they can't afford to pay for private schooling throughout, so they invest in junior school to give the best chance of not having to pay for senior school. (I'm not saying this is necessarily a good thing, but just pointing out that just because you can afford a prep school doesn't mean you can afford a private senior school.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 14:38:39

I think it would be very wrong to penalise children based on their parents decisions.

Some parents only use private school because they don't have access to a good primary.

Either way, private school parents contribute to the tax system and their children have the same rights as any other children. You can't deny parents the use of a system that they actively contribute to.

You may as well state that higher rate tax payers should have priority for primary school places, which of course would be ridiculous. But it's no different to your proposal to penalise children because of their parents.

I think the paying field would be better levelled at 11+ by requiring prep schools to give free tuition to state school pupils in exchange for their charity status.

Bonsoir Sun 10-Nov-13 14:42:39

If you do that, you are on the way to a system where DC in state and DC in private school do not ever mix between the two. And that is dreadful, IMO.

Boaty Sun 10-Nov-13 14:44:23

My DS1 went to prep school...on a scholarship...we come from what would be termed underclass background! Under that proposal he would have been 'held' back as privileged.
DS2 and DD went to state primaries..preparation consisted of one lunchtime session, a week before the tests. Parents therefore had to do the preparation themselves or get tutors. Children of parents who don't have the means or education to do this are automatically at a disadvantage.
Opening more grammars would help as the clamour to get kids into them shows a demand. Regardless of opinions on private v state and grammar v comp there is a undeniable high level of competition for places.
Entries at 11, 12 and 13 even 14 up to GCSE choices time would allow for different childrens' development as would the tests in conjunction with reports and SAT levels.
Mine ended up instead on bursaries, having passed entry tests, to selective indies but failing 11+. They used verbal/non verbal reasoning as only part of the selection.

JackNoneReacher Sun 10-Nov-13 14:50:22

Penalise children for going to prep school? Where would it end? Children with tutors? Children with a teacher parent? A parent with a degree? Unfair and unworkable. (and there would be a huge influx of children to state school in yr 5)!

normal families for that alone YABU.

TwitTwooShoe Sun 10-Nov-13 15:29:19

But children at prep school aren't the average/the norm, are they? Only 7% of children under 16 are in an independent school, and the large majority are in secondary.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 15:30:47

Yanbu loooong over due.

An hour of week of tutoring is nothing compared to a private eduction particularly(small classes,no disruption,no NC restrictions)if it is in a prep school which teaches to the 11+.If your primary delivers shit literacy and numeracy there is fuck all a bit of tutoring will do.

I don't think we need worry re the poor little children missing out due to the decisions of their parents.Nobody cares re kids in shitty schools due to the decision of their parents.Those at private prep can go onto private secondary or they could go to state primary like everybody else and have a go at the 11+.

I think a ban on private entries would push up results in local state primaries too.

Bring it on!

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 15:36:23

It would easy to police too unlike tutoring which those unfortunate enough to be in the lesser primary schools actually need a bit of if they are to cover some of the content in time.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 15:40:07

No, not every child at private prep will go to private secondary. The increase in fees is huge when they get to secondary and lots of parents that could afford it for primary wont be able to afford it for secondary.

And what are you on about with 'nobody cares re kids in shitty schools? That's crap!

'Shitty' schools benefit from improvement plans and often high levels of pupil premium money, and people do care. None of us want the children of this country to be under educated or see anything be taken away from disadvantaged kids. But plenty want to take away from children that are perceived to have a little more in the way of financial support. It's horrible.

LegoStillSavesMyLife Sun 10-Nov-13 15:43:54

Loving the fact we are not a normal family. Just loving it.

Any school worth it's salt will take into account the child's educational background when making the decision.

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 15:44:30

Either way, private school parents contribute to the tax system and their children have the same rights as any other children. You can't deny parents the use of a system that they actively contribute to.

This. Although I'm more than happy to duck out of the state system completely as long as I don't have to contribute to it through my tax. If I contribute to it then my children have the right to use it.

TwitTwooShoe Sun 10-Nov-13 15:46:51

Lego but the fact is you aren't a normal (typical/average) family. 7% of children are educated privately. I am planning to privately educate at secondary and that is not in any way normal for the UK. As 93/100 kids will be going to a state school (or be home educated, I guess) then a normal family has children going to state school.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 15:47:31

Retropear Wow, you sound like you have a massive chip on your shoulder. You do know that children born into families who can afford private primary schools have no more choice in the matter than children born into families who cannot afford private primary schools?!

OP, YABvU. I had well educated, intelligent parents who dedicated huge amounts of time to promoting and supporting my education. My mum, in particular, spent many hours with me throughout my entire education. That put me at a massive advantage to some of my peers. I didn't go to a grammar school nor apply but do you see where I am going with this?

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 16:41:07

Brian you can use it,the idea is just not the local grammar after buying your way in.You're perfectly entitled to use the local comp like everybody else,nobody would be stopping you.

It's easy you send your kid to the local primary too and then get a bash at the 11+(on a level playing field). That way you get double the value for money.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 16:44:05

Candy errr no more choice, I think not.grinYou have the choice between private and state.The majority have only the choice of state and many have no choice in that either,not being able to afford to buy their way through property into the best state schools either .

No chip here just acknowledging the valid point of the op.

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 16:52:54

Yeah yeah Retro, I pay my taxes, my kids get to use the state schools or I make the choice to pay twice. You don't get to make that choice for me. I'm quite happy to have an exam based on logic and impossible to prep for though, to give everyone a fair chance. Because fwiw, if my children weren't up to the grammar school, I wouldn't actually want them to go anyway.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:02:34

But going to private gives you far more of an advantage than a bit of prep from a tutor.

Prepping is nothing compared to being pushed further during your primary years in tiny classes,with top teaching,no NC restrictions,no disruption,better resources etc and coming out more numerate and literate.

Prepping a bit of verbal reasoning will not get bright kids from the crappiest or even the average primaries into grammar. They won't cover the maths required for a start let alone VR and as for writing an essay in comparison to a child from a top prep- come on.It's nothing to do with intelligence.

That is why people like you pay to go private,it's hardly for the good of your health is it.grin

It has been said but it is worth repeating a lot of parents can afford private prep but not afford private secondary - for various reason:
- eg.
* change of family cercumstances
* that private secondary can be 2 or 3 times as expensive as an independent primary school.

Not all preps hot house for 11+ and many children in state schools do 1 or 2 years additional private tuition.
And there can be various reasons please choose independed prep school.

I think the better ideas are to get rid of the totally selective system that we have in KENT!
Places with less grammars have far better all inclusive (High) schools such as Balcarras in CHeltenham.

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 17:09:33

Its not for the good of my health no. But seeing as the choices open to me was a local school that was failing, or the private school, i took the private school. Not all state schools are equal you know. Where exactly do you draw the line with that. People move house to get near a good school. You don't think they should be penalized then? If your answer is no, then it will because you fall in to that category, or you already live near a good state. If i lived near a reasonable state primary we would use it. But we don't.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:11:15

They have a grammar in Cheltenham don't they and I'd love to know the house prices in the catchment area for Balcarras.

Also sorry no sympathy re private parents not being able to afford private secondary,the vast majority can't.If you want to send your kids to grammar that badly send them to a state primary like everybody else who can't afford the primary or secondary fees.

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 17:12:05

YABVU - firstly for the phrase "normal family".

If a grammar school is selective on an educational basis then the first 60 (or whatever number the intake is) past the post get in - that is the only fair way. Not to say "well if you pass the exam and you go to private school go to the back of the queue"

I'd just like to understand why my daughter would be penalised.....?

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:15:22

Oh for goodness sake parents up and down the land have to send their kids to substandard primaries and can't simply write a cheque.

Why should their kids be shat on twice?Crap primary followed by no grammar place because the rich parents hoovered up places many shouldn't even have(as the new Sutton report acknowledges).

That isn't what grammar schools were set up for.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:20:48

Fleta because money(spent on private and tutoring)buys places many in the first 60 shouldn't have.A bright kid in a crap primary with no access to tutoring may well be brighter than many in the top 60.

It's all outlined in the Sutton report. I wonder if it will lead to a ban,would be far easier to impose than anything else.It's impossible to being in an exam you can't tutor for and privately educated kids would still have an unfair advantage.

Would be totally fair as everybody bar those with SEN(valid exception)can send their kids to a state primary.

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 17:21:41

No answer about people writing a cheque to buy near a good school then? Are you one of those? What are your local schools like? Sink schools?

Fwiw, I don't want to send dc to a grammar that badly. A good comp would be my choice. But seeing as theres nothing like that where I am, then obviously if my dc get into the grammar, then thats where they will going. If they don't, then it will be HE instead.

CraftyBuddhist Sun 10-Nov-13 17:22:34

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Snoopingforsoup Sun 10-Nov-13 17:25:51

Err, prep school kids are rarely trained to pass state grammar exams. Private 11+ entry is a very different format.
Remove all the tutoring middle class state kids have to pass the 11+ for grammar, then we can start considering what's fair for poorer kids to have a proper crack at getting a place.
It's middle class tutoring that is depriving poorer kids of state grammar school places, not prep schools!

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 17:29:28

Thanks crafty.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:33:22

Not according to the report Snoop.

Yes heavy tutoring will have an impact but who can afford that at £30 an hour?Also at the end of the day the advantages of tutoring are limited.I can't afford to tutor and acknowledge that.The primary education my dc are getting(no top notch primary here Brian) will have more of an impact as my dc won't cover half of what he should in school.Families who can afford private are hoovering up places,it's cost effective if you have the money.

I have a friend who teaches to the 11+ in her prep primary(the parents demand it) and friends with kids in other schools who do and can afford hours of tutoring on top. Sutton says this happens.

Frankly my dc is stuffed.

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 17:37:38

And why should my child be stuffed because you have a giant chip on your shoulder?

We pay a substantial amount of tax - are you saying we shouldn't be eligible to the same services that others are?

Pah. No grammar schools in the entire North East. Obviously us lot are too thick. hmm

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 17:43:19

And actually my daughter has needs that the local state couldn't cater do you deal with people like that?

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 17:47:45

as my dc won't cover half of what he should in school.

Why can't you support him with work at home then if you don't think everything's going to be covered? Its a two way street, schools can't do it all by themselves, parents play a massive part in their child's learning. You might not have the choice of private, or a good state, or tutoring, but theres still loads you can do yourself.

difficultpickle Sun 10-Nov-13 17:48:43

If you did that then you'd also need to look closely at those who send their dcs to state school and can afford to live in very expensive catchment areas for those more desirable primary schools. I don't have a spare £1m so cannot afford to live in the catchment area of our local desirable primary school.

Dressingdown1 Sun 10-Nov-13 17:49:43

Surely we should be aiming for all primary schools to be good, not carping about people who choose to spend their own money on improving their DC's educational chances?

LegoStillSavesMyLife Sun 10-Nov-13 17:50:01

<sticks head briefly above parapet>.

I'm unconvinced of the educational difference between private and state in primary school. I think how motivated and able parents are to help their child makes a larger difference - at primary at least.

My dc don't go to a private school because I think it is better they go because ds1 would not cope in an open plan classroom with 80 children in in. I recognise that I am very fortunate to be able to solve that problem without moving house.

<ducks back again>

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:50:04

I pay a lot of tax too as does everybody,why should less wealthy children be excluded from a school because parents of kids who shouldn't be there and end up struggling buy up places.

No chip here,just annoyance that schools which were set up for poor,state,bright pupils are being hijacked by rich parents with average kids.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:51:47

Brian I can do that but it is much harder for him,many uneducated parents can't.

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 17:52:46

But what about those of use who don't have average children and are trying to find an education system to deal with that?

Moving catchment area is a far more expensive way of paying for a better education....should that be taken into consideration too?

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:53:32

Fleta many children have needs local state schools don't cater for,they have to suck it up.They shouldn't lose deserving grammar places on top.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:55:11

Fleta catchment is harder to regulate,private primary regulations would be piss easy whilst also having a huge impact.

I think it would be win,win all round.Better for all the kids involved and the local primaries.

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 17:58:15

Except it wouldn't be win, win all round would it-because each child who is at private prep would lose out.

So what you're actually saying is "down with the rich kids" - worse kind of inverse snobbery.

IMO it is far, far worse to play the system by either moving area, or attending church to get your child into an excellent faith school whilst you're not actually practising is far, far more damaging.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 17:59:44

Why would the rich kids lose out?They can go to private primary like everybody else.confused

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 18:00:45

You need to be rich to move area too- just sayin.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 18:01:12

Sorry state primary

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 18:01:29

We're discussing secondary not primary.

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 18:03:46

Yes you do - hence why it isn't as easy as saying "private primary are getting all the advantages"

There are areas where there ARE no private secondary -so what happens then?!

Putting in a blanket rule that states privately educated primary children miss out at 11 is utterly unworkable.

What should actually be happening is making the woeful state education system better - then there wouldn't be such a premium on places at "good grammars" if the standard at all schools was brought in line.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Sun 10-Nov-13 18:04:15

We have something like that in our area - a secondary academy (which does get very good results) has an entrance exam and takes 50% of its intake from those in the 5 poorest wards first before those in the rest of the wards (and now the same group has a primary in a ward just outside of the poorest 5 which is helping to boost results at those schools as well).

TheDoctrineOfWho Sun 10-Nov-13 18:05:22

But if someone takes their child out of private primary and puts them in state primary, then all the money they save on school fees can be spent on tutors. How does that help?

aciddrops Sun 10-Nov-13 18:07:27

The ONLY solution is that should not have grammar schools. Entry depends on the parents not just the children. Totally unfair and socially divisive.

Snoopingforsoup Sun 10-Nov-13 18:11:10

Retropear, I can only go on my experience which is that less than 1 child per academic year at DS prep go to state grammar.
The entrance procedure is completely different. I'll have a look at the report though thanks.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 18:11:20

As I said tutoring surely is less effective and solving some of the problem is better than doing nothing.

Fleta there will always be a state secondary alternative.

Sorry it would be perfectly workable,as it is as I understand it those in care quite rightly get pushed to the front of the queue with schools so it would just be an extension of that.

TheDoctrineOfWho Sun 10-Nov-13 18:14:59

And if there are lots of people using private primaries mainly for this reason so they all want to go into state, where are the places for them?

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 18:16:39

But if someone takes their child out of private primary and puts them in state primary, then all the money they save on school fees can be spent on tutors. How does that help?

Thats right. And aside from this, if parents cant use the grammar system unless they use a state primary, then obviously they will be moving into the catchment of good state schools. Meaning there will be even less good state school places. As well as topping up with classes / tutoring out of school. Or setting up little free schools wink

Fleta Sun 10-Nov-13 18:19:33

You know what would happen Retro if this was the case? Children in prep who wanted to go to a state grammar would leave, go to state primary for the last two years and still get into the grammar.....

What you actually want is an education system that gives you what YOU want for YOUR child and broadly dressing it up as "this would make the education system so much better". Whereas we accepted that the education system couldn't give us what our daughter needed so we opted out.

In a state education system paid for by taxes, you cannot say to a proportion of the tax payer that they cannot send their child to "x" school. Unless you bring in tax reductions for people in this position.

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 18:20:40

Well put fleta.

fairylightsintheautumn Sun 10-Nov-13 18:22:11

how about state primaries offer tuition on non verbal reasoning etc? Regardless of if individual heads approve of the 11+ system if they are a feeder school they should offer classes and who attends them should be a joint decision with teachers and parents. I am a teacher and appreciate the extra work this would entail but it seems the only way to mitigate the advantage prep school kids would have via their school - though as others have said, there is never a truly level playing field because parents differ wildly in their level of input.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 18:27:45

LOL Retro I think you have mistaken me for someone else.
"You have the choice between private and state.The majority have only the choice of state and many have no choice in that either,not being able to afford to buy their way through property into the best state schools either."

Private school for any offspring of mine will not be an option nor will buying property. I am in rented and will be for the foreseeable future, so try again! wink Me having bright and supportive parents has not meant I am super rich, just that I did well at school. grin

Reallynothappy Sun 10-Nov-13 18:30:14

My dd is in a super selective all girls grammar. It is always in the top 10, usually in top 5. Begins with "k". She is the only girl in her form who came from a prep school. The others all came from state primaries. However, they all had significant amounts of tutoring.
This came out when a teacher asked in one of their lessons.
How would your idea improve this situation? My dd would be penalised, but not the others.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 18:30:45

I agree with Fleta. I love these threads where you get certain parents with massive chips on their shoulders, proclaiming they want a fair education system, when they clearly only care about their children, fuck everyone else! grin

And no, I could never afford private for my children nor to buy property in a desirable place.

intitgrand Sun 10-Nov-13 18:43:35

Don't be ridiculous! Equal access for all!

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 18:45:22

I pay a lot of tax too as does everybody,why should less wealthy children be excluded from a school because parents of kids who shouldn't be there and end up struggling buy up places.

Less wealthy children shouldn't be excluded, but not should the wealthy ones. It's not ok for any child to be excluded from having access to a state education.

If you want to even the playing field, as I'm sure most people would agree is a good idea, then make the private schools give after school sessions to state pupils. Or make primary schools cover VR and NVR and all KS2 work before Y5 for their brightest pupils.

But don't do something that actively penalises children because of a valid choice their parents made in the best interests of their own children.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 18:47:56

Then make the private schools give after school sessions to state.

In theory good idea but a.) not all private schools are fantastic b.) who is going to fund this and c.) kids spent enough time in school as it is.

caroldecker Sun 10-Nov-13 18:56:17

why not have more grammer schools, say to cover 30% of the schools in an area?

bronya Sun 10-Nov-13 19:03:29

Has it occurred to ANYONE, that parents who can afford to pay for private prep schools, are usually well educated themselves (that's how they got the jobs that pay well enough for the private school fees). They are intelligent, and intelligence is a very heritable trait. So their children will (usually) be intelligent themselves, and therefore more likely to pass the 11+, which is (essentially) an intelligence test.

Along with them, passing that 11+, are the children from state education who are equally bright and well read.

To make it totally, equally fair, I'd be happier if the 11+ consisted of the Non-verbal reasoning test, plus a Maths paper, comprehension and a sample of writing. Then you're not discriminating based on how widely read one child is over another. Access to books with complex language, along with access to adults willing and able to help you understand the words used, isn't fair across the board, especially for children whose parents are not well educated themselves. The local library may contain those books, but someone needs to encourage the child to read them, and help them with new words.

foreverondiet Sun 10-Nov-13 19:04:03

Should be two different exams depending whether in state primary or prep school.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 19:06:25

If not all private schools are fantastic (which I wholeheartedly agree with having been to a couple!) then there isn't as much to fear from then as some people seem to think. The private schools would cover the cost themselves as a requirement of the charity status they all have.

Kids do spend enough time in school as it is, but if a child is going to be worthy of a superselective grammar school place, then having to work at a high academic level for a couple of extra hours a week isn't much to ask of them. If a child can't cope with the extra work, then they probably won't cope with grammar school.

Fwiw, I don't believe that there are many children in SS's that don't deserve their place. They will have passed the exam well above the pass mark, and if they've had to put in extra work to achieve that then I don't have a problem with it. Working hard should have benefits.

I appreciate it might not be the same in grammars schools in fully selective areas where a much higher percentage of children go to grammar schools, which I assume the Sutton report took into account.

Amandaclarke Sun 10-Nov-13 19:22:12

Retro - not one person I know in private education has put their child through the 11+ so in my part of the country these grammar places are not taken up by privately educated students. Independant schools don't take on the very bright, far from it despite the very dated opinion that they do, there is no more guarantee that those in private will get a place in grammar than those in state. Where you have the impression that the privately educated are buying their way into grammar somehow is not reality.

Whilst my daughter's school prepare them for the private secondary entrance exam (not 11+) it is still the parents that can help that process much the same as with those in state who want to try for grammar. There are 11+ test papers available online, in WH Smiths etc as well as examples of verbal reasoning - if you feel your child is capable of coping with Grammar you can simply and easily prepare them yourself - you don't need a £30 per hour tutor.

Mushypeasandchipstogo Sun 10-Nov-13 19:22:19

A lot of the grammar schools near here take a huge proportion of children from private prep schools and ,what's more ,many children who do not live in the county! IMO grammar schools are not cost effective and divisive. I would get rid of them tomorrow!

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 19:25:01

Should be two different exams depending whether in state primary or prep school.

It's as if equality never existed in the first place! grin Again, children who are born into families who are richer should not be punished or made to work harder. They no more ask for it than a child who isn't born into a rich family!

Mushypeasandchipstogo Sun 10-Nov-13 19:26:33

Forgot to add that I went to the local comp and although my spelling is pants I can still spell independent and grammar unlike some posters on this thread.

Boaty Sun 10-Nov-13 19:47:47

My experience of local indies was that those with age range up to 11 prepared for 11+. Those up to 13 prepared for CE.
DS1 was prepared for CE although he took a 13+ to a indie grammar with entry very similar to state grammars, it didn't use CE. All 3 DC went to indie secondaries on bursaries although we were on benefits and statistically deprived/poor.
A friends DS went from a indie prep to state grammar and although they were prepared he was very academic anyway. He spent the first year marking time while they concentrated on those who had been tutored solely to get into grammar but actually were nearer to average in terms of NC classwork. He ended up on a scholarship to a indie a year later after finding grammar frustrating.

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 19:56:22

Forgot to add that I went to the local comp and although my spelling is pants I can still spell independent and grammar unlike some posters on this thread

Oh good, super, well done confused

Amandaclarke Sun 10-Nov-13 20:03:35

Mushy, are you expecting a house point for your spelling abilities? I am not sure this is the place to receive one.....sorry

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 20:04:11

Amanda your experience isn't the norm,as pointed out in Sutton.They are concerned parents are buying places via private primaries and the kids then struggle.Private primary is clearly an unfair advantage or they wouldn't voice concerns.Parents pay because it gives advantages so let's be honest.

Many grammars do ask for an essay,maths,VR and non VR.Kids at private primaries will undoubtedly have an advantage as they are not beholden to the NC.They don't even do a lot of the maths required in state until after the exam let alone do the sort of essay required or VR.

It's nothing about having a chip(what a weak argument),I have an education and there are kids far worse off than mine.It's not about wanting something that just suits my dc, every child is at liberty to go to a state primary thus excluding no one.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 20:08:36

Retro No one is denying that the children may have an advantage but why should the children be penalised by having higher barriers to jump purely because their parents can afford private primary schooling?

soul2000 Sun 10-Nov-13 20:08:40

On You Tube there is a very relevant film about the Head of st Johns Catholic School in Gravesend speaking out about Grammar schools.

The film goes on to show that out of 150 admissions last year, Tonbridge Grammar gave 62 places to girls from prep schools.

The video is ( The Damage Grammar Schools do, a Head Teacher speaks out)

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 20:12:30

Children are already being penalised for having higher barriers to jump because their parents can't afford private education.If private applicants were banned or were allocated places after state the simple answer would be to go state.What exactly is the problem?State primary schools are good enough for the majority soooooo.......

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 20:16:46

Retro What about people like me? State school child given huge amounts of support and extra education by her parents. What if I had applied to a grammar school, I would have had a huge advantage...? Would I have been made to take a different test?

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 20:18:25

Retro, may parents pay for private primary not to gain an advantage, but to avoid a disadvantage. So may people don't have a hope in hell of getting the good state primary place they are entitled to, because there are too many underachieving primaries.

You are right that many state primaries don't cover all the work that will be needed to do as well as possible in the 11+. But there is so much available to parents for free that I don't really think it's as big a barrier as you seem to believe.

And every child is at liberty to go to a state primary school which is a good thing. So it figures that every child should have equal access to state secondary schools as well.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 20:20:58

You can't legislate for everything,sure there are plenty of privately educated kids,tutored to death with supportive parents too(I know a couple).

Banning or putting state kids at the front of the queue would be piss easy to do, would be fairer and would help hugely.Grammar schools were supposed to be for state children.

Mushypeasandchipstogo Sun 10-Nov-13 20:21:16

Amanda Please please please may I have a house point? Sorry if I offended anyone but why is it that posters who support Grammar and Independent schools are the ones who can't spell?

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 20:22:55

There are plenty of state educated kids,tutored to death with supportive parents too!

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 20:24:38

Well, i'm happy for that retro, as long as I don't have to pay towards it through my taxes. I'll take my cut back and put it towards private school. And you can have the grammar place. If your dc can compete against the middle class, tutored children that go to a good state school that is. Or will you start figuring out how to get rid of that group as well? And then any other privileged groups? Until all that is left is you.... wink

crunchybargalore Sun 10-Nov-13 20:24:38

On the tax issue I thought tax payers did pay for private schools in terms of where their teachers are trained and what about their pensions? Can someone please explain this?

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 20:26:21

Amanda Please please please may I have a house point? Sorry if I offended anyone but why is it that posters who support Grammar and Independent schools are the ones who can't spell?

I don't know. Why do you think that is?

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 20:27:23

Well yes Woo and the vast maj can't afford to buy their way out and have to suck it up.

If buying a few books from Smiths is so easy why the need for tutors or private primaries at all?Are you saying it's neither here nor there where kids go to school and a few sessions of chanting tables with mummy will solve everything?

No thought not.

Kids are knackered after school,many parents work,many parents have zero time and are clueless.By far the best option for any child is to have him prepared for the [11+ properly and thoroughly in his school day by those who know what they are doing.

The fact that less clever kids who shouldn't even be at grammar are doing this,getting in in big numbers and then struggling speaks volumes.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 20:30:06

Nope Brian you can't legislate for tutoring but I guess you could adjust for school ranking,they do that for age so not impossible.

SanityClause Sun 10-Nov-13 20:31:29

DD1 went to a private junior which didn't prepare at all for the 11+, as the school wanted them all to go to the senior part of the school, not move on elsewhere.

We did some work with her at home to familiarise her with the VR and NVR tests - as any state educated child's parents could do.

She had no advantage in the 11+ over a state educated child, and indeed, there are only 3 privately educated girls in her class at grammar. Of course, all the other girls are from leafy suburbs, and have had years of music lessons, dance lessons, sports classes and so on. But, as they were state educated, they obviously deserve their places more than my DD does. hmm

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 10-Nov-13 20:35:13

If your dc can compete against the middle class, tutored children that go to a good state school that is. Or will you start figuring out how to get rid of that group as well? And then any other privileged groups? Until all that is left is you....

This is what these threads always boil down to.

The vitriol that underpins some of these posts just proves that it's not about educational inequality but perceived personal inequalities.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 20:35:29

Banning or putting state kids at the front of the queue would be piss easy to do, would be fairer and would help hugely.Grammar schools were supposed to be for state children.

Just no, on so many levels!

It would not be fairer, it would just benefit the children you want it to. But those children are not more important or more entitled than any others.

What exactly would it help?

Grammar schools are there for children that are intelligent enough to benefit from that type of education. Not for children that come from a type of background that some deem to be more worthy.

I can understand your feelings, I would probably have said exactly the same on the day I dropped my ds off to take the 11+ to his very high achieving grammar school. He was there in his primary school polo shirt and sweat shirt surrounded be children in stripy blazers and boater hats.

But it would be so much better to provide grammar school places to all the children that achieve the high pass mark rather than let some children push others out of the queue not because of the extra work they have put in, but because of the school their parents chose when they were four.

Snoopingforsoup Sun 10-Nov-13 20:39:08

Most people here are ignoring that grammar schools now have to be prepared for with tutoring.
If state schools provided preparation for state grammar, the wealthiest would still pay for extra tuition outside of school.
Whether people pay for independent school, or live in a verr nice area with a million quid house in a grammar catchment, until a grammar is actually plucking out the poor yet naturally bright kids along with the tutored average masses, they're not fit for purpose.
At least an independent school is honest and blatantly clear in why it exists and is not providing an exclusive education by stealth. Grammars are actually not fair.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 20:41:57

Woo you need to read the report.Yes grammar schools are there for children intelligent enough to benefit but many aren't at the moment as their parents have shoehorned them in by paying for private cramming schools and tutors and they then struggle.

Arguing against that isn't saying some backgrounds are more worthy,far from it.It's saying the right children are not getting into grammar schools so something needs to be done.The single most unfair thing parents choose is private education,this would be the easiest to legislate against.

And it's nothing to do with choice,how insulting.Parents don't choose to send their kids to shit primaries.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 20:54:09

Ok, I will go and have a look at the report. I only paid a little attention to it when it was in the news.

But at the moment I don't believe, based on my experience of my child's grammar school that the wrong children are there. If there are a few children that don't deserve to be based on their intelligence, then they are in a very tiny minority and the blame lies with their parents for making the wrong choices for them. But those children could have come from either private or state and it wouldn't make much difference.

The fact that virtually all children come out of that school with As and A*'s makes me believe that all those children deserve a place there.

The fact that so many more children pass the exam than actually get a place makes me believe that all those children deserve a place there.

Like I said earlier, things may be different in fully selective areas where you have much more chance of getting your child into grammar school than you do in areas that only have the odd superselective.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 20:59:54

Retro, do you have a link to the report please? I can only find the one that relates to pupils on FSM rather than all state school pupils, and I got directed to the FT which wants me to register.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 21:12:08

From what I can see, the Sutton trust agrees with my earlier suggestion that all children should be offered test preparation lessons to level the playing field, although whereas I suggested private prep schools should do it, the Sutton report suggests the grammar schools themselves should do it.

I can't see anything that indicates they think that state school children should have a priority when it comes to allocations, and they talk more of the lack of children on FSMs at grammar schools than the lack of state school pupils.

Do you think that children on FSMs should be prioritised over other state school children as well?

Amandaclarke Sun 10-Nov-13 21:15:51

Mushy - why is it that CEO's, CFO's and many people in leadership posts can't spell? errrmmmm perhaps because they have other skill sets. Are you basing education, achievement, success in life on spelling? If you are then I think you need to read a bit more, get out and experience life and get a job - that might bring you a little bit into reality and give you the gravitas to contribute to this thread.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 21:42:17

No they don't suggest prioritising state kids the op did but they highlight their concern re the issues mentioned.

Not sure about fsm as it's a teeny group in reality.

Tbh I think those strongly against the op are thinking only thinking of their own privileged children and not the majority.

bsc Sun 10-Nov-13 21:48:20

Lovely to see the OP engaging in debate hmm methinks you lot have written her article for her.

retro- you fail to address the crucial issue here, and that is that thousands of very able children are overlooked each year in the farce that is 11+ because they are poor. Perhaps their parents are immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees that have no idea how the English education system works, let alone heard of or could prepare their child for 11+, perhaps they live on an housing estate with extremely poor primary schools, and so have been disadvantaged since they began school, perhaps they are born to lone parents that must work every hour they can, meaning they cannot ferry them to 11+ tutors weekly (as none would dare set foot in the area they live in!)?

I live in an area with super-selective grammars, they are highly sought-after, 20 applicants sitting the entrance tests per place, pupils travel 20 miles or more to attend (highly urbanised area, not rural). The LA-maintained schools here refuse to prepare pupils for 11+, in fact they refuse to even let parents know whether or not their child would have a chance if they sat the entrance test hmm, they are not allowed to promote the grammar schools in any way... despite these super-selectives being state-maintained schools!

The grammars are colonised entirely by the middle classes- either those that don't fancy another 7 years of fees, or (and in majority) those that are hypocrites argue their principles would never let them go private, but are quite happy to pay for schooling through their mortgages, by purchasing homes in the enclaves around primaries with 80+% level 5 at KS2. FSM rates at these schools are >2% cf. LA average of 34%.

It is perfectly fine to have grammar schools, but all who are capable of attending should have a fair chance to gain a place.

And I see no way to account for, or remediate the first eleven years of their lives being spent in sub-standard schooling, sub-standard housing, being marginalised by the rest of society.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 21:57:57

Retro, I'm strongly against the OP, and if I were thinking only about my own children, I'd be all over this proposal like a rash.

If I'd have known my state educated child would have had priority over privately educated children, I wouldn't have been anywhere near as anxious for the four months we had to wait to find out if ds had a high enough pass to gain a place at the school we knew would be best for him.

You seem to be completely missing the point that private school versus state school isn't really the issue. The issue the Sutton trust raised is about tutoring, not private school.

How is prioritising state school children over private school children going to prevent tutoring?

How is it going to help children from low income families get into grammar school?

Don't you see that prioritising one group of children over another is just as likely if not more likely, to lead to children who can't keep up with the pace of work gaining places as the current system does.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:01:14

Bsc think I have addressed the issuehmm.I agree with the maj of what you've said but not sure of your point.

Actually given that children in the very poorest groups are already hugely behind at 2 I doubt sadly that thousands would glide in with tutoring.Poor kids didn't used to be overlooked as wealthy parents weren't interested.Many kids are being failed in primaries and can't afford tutoring.It's not just the poorest.

Many kids -poor,not wealthy,average,squeezed middle(not wealthy middle),everybody other than the wealthy are missing out for reasons I've mentioned and it does need to be sorted.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:06:06

Woo the article on the Sutton Trust page seems to mention prep schools and makes little reference to tutoring.

They had some good ideas like outreach to encourage poor and average programs etc.I simply think the op's suggestion would go even further.

marmitecat Sun 10-Nov-13 22:07:48

bsc thanks for the flattery, I'm not writing an article smile

People on this thread are arguing "what about the private school kids. They didn't have a choice that their parents sent them to private school, why should they miss out?". The point is that yes, private school kids don't have a choice any more than any kids really have a choice where they go to school. What they do have, is parents who can afford fees of several thousand pounds a term, or in a few cases, parents who can't afford such fees but are sufficiently hardnosed to negociate bursaries and scholarships for them. I.e. parents who take an active interest in their education, and can afford to invest in it, through time or money. If your parents are like this, you'll do fine - you probably don't need the extra boost that the grammar school would provide.

What a large number of children in state school do not have is similarly affluent and motivated parents. Why should average rich kids get past bright poor kids in the race to grammar school places? The grammars already give priority to kids in care, then kids on pupil premium. It's easy to prove you've been at state school from y3 to y6 - why not filter out a chunk of the rich average kids and open up more places to people where it would really make a difference?

bsc Sun 10-Nov-13 22:19:46

Grammars do not give priority to PPP here hmm and average children have no chance whatsoever of getting in.

Are you talking about grammars that take 30% of an LA's pupils?

retro "Many kids are being failed in primaries and can't afford tutoring.It's not just the poorest." really? Where are these children? Because I do think it is the poorest- those with any means do not leave their children being failed by their school- they move the child, or put in extra support. It is the poorest that cannot afford to do anything about it.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:25:16

Sorry disagree.

It's not that easy to move kids regardless of income.They go back 6 months,getting places,transport etc.

If it was that easy I would have done it.

The poorest get pp and schools/ heads are being judged on how they cater for this group so will bend over backwards to support them.Joe average can go hang.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:28:27

Also being poor doesn't mean you are witless and unable to support your child any less than those on low/ average incomes.The fact is all are vastly disadvantaged by those who privately educate and pay for tutoring.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 22:28:58

The grammars already give priority to kids in care, then kids on pupil premium.

I can assure you that the grammar school I use doesn't give priority to children who recieve the pupil premium either because they are in care or on FSMs.

OP, you are coming across as if you think that it is wrong for parents to influence their children's educational outcomes. There are some parents that disadvantage their children and there are some that try to massively advantage their children. I don't think it's parents that do their best for their children that should be held back here, it's the parents that aren't engaged enough with education that need to change.

Retro, I read news articles rather than the report itself, and they talk more of tutoring, and of FSM rather than state school children. Perhaps you could link directly to the report?

bsc Sun 10-Nov-13 22:31:51

But surely you have given your child(ren) extra support at home to remediate what is happening in school? That is not hard to do, and does not cost money, or at least very little.

I'm talking about real poverty- schools with 90-100% on PP. Do you think a PP child in those schools is anything special? Do you really think their teachers are treating any of them differently? No- their schools are already failing- lots have been forced to become academies, but they're not doing any better now they've converted.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:32:31

Woo I do my best thanks(probably more than those who simply write a cheque) but it simply won't be enough.

Crap at links,sorry.

bsc Sun 10-Nov-13 22:33:19

But retro you don't seem to be taking on board what people are saying on this thread- it isn't private school children that are being tutored- it is state-educated children with wealthier parents.

BrianTheMole Sun 10-Nov-13 22:36:18

Woo I do my best thanks(probably more than those who simply write a cheque) but it simply won't be enough.

Why probably more than those who write a cheque? confused

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:37:06

Bsc maybe they're failing because they're not using the pp wisely,not all schools in areas like this are failing.Doesn't make much odds as compared to privately educated kids they'll not stand a chance either way and neither will kids from average families who count too.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sun 10-Nov-13 22:37:18

I want my DD to go to Grammer school.

I am fully aware and prepared however to be doing lots of leg work and research myself, on what is needed to get her in.

I am going to be her tutor.

Its a few years off yet, but I have little confidence in the state system, so already I am geared up to fully support her learning anyway.

I think the information is going to be there when I want it, its there for everyone, millions of test papers, there will be tons of parents talking about it on line ( wink ), whats best to learn and say and all the rest....lots of practise on that type of exam.

If she fails, I will not feel in the slightest that we were disadvantaged by it being me, a non teacher with no clue on several subjects who was helping her.
If she fails she just wasn't good enough for that type of test, and therefore she should not take a place there.

But then I just don't have a defeatist attitude

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 22:37:25

The fact is all are vastly disadvantaged by those who privately educate and pay for tutoring.

I disagree with this. My children are not disadvantaged by those who privately educate or tutor any more than they are advantaged because of those who don't care about education. It's up to me to bring up my children to the best of my ability, and that isn't affected by anyone else.

The grades my dc get at school are as a result of what they do, and they have the same opportunity while they are at school as the children who come from traveller parents that never went to school themselves, and the children whose parents know I from day one that they are likely to send their children to independent secondary.

What I do as a parent isn't affected by what other parents do or don't do, and it's not as if there's a limited amount of As that are allowed to be given out at GCSE. Every child that earns one gets one.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sun 10-Nov-13 22:39:17

I always find threads like this odd, attacking the wrong place here, the attack should be aimed at rubbish schools.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sun 10-Nov-13 22:42:04

Agree with everything you say woo and put so beautifully too blush

Retro you make some good points but you sound defeated before you even start.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:42:23

Elf well when you've started doing it (as I have) and seen parents try and fail(like I have) come back then.

Tutoring your own knackered child after school isn't easy particularly when you are wading through treacle trying to shoehorn in stuff they should have done ages ago and would have done in an Outstanding or private school.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:44:25

Woo well if your kids are in a school that pushes and ensures your child is at 11+ level then fine and dandy.hmm

SanityClause Sun 10-Nov-13 22:45:38

Retro, the parents who "simply write a cheque" have to get the money from somewhere. We're not all independently wealthy, you know. Lots of women choose to work in order to allow their DC to be privately educated. Others choose not to work, in order to give their DC additional support with their education.

Which is more laudable? Or are they just different ways of achieving the same thing?

(incidentally, I am aware that there are also women who have no choice but to work, and still are not able to afford to pay school fees. But they don't tend to be the parents that are able to get their DC into grammar schools. The parents of grammar school children do tend to fall into the two categories mentioned above.)

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 22:47:00

Retro, you do sound very defeatist. Like I said, I could understand that feeling when my own ds was doing the 11+. But he got in because of what he is capable of with support from parents who didn't get an A level between them, and a state school.

He did stand a chance as does every other child with motivated parents.

The only children that have very little chance are those that are educationally neglected by their parents. The is only so much the state can do to compensate for that. Actively penalising every child who isn't neglected in some way crosses a line, and is not the solution to inactive parenting.

bsc Sun 10-Nov-13 22:47:52

retro has your child been failed by their school? How long ago did you realise this? You sound very bitter, and seem to be taking this very personally- this is not a criticism, I mean that it all sounds very raw for you.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:48:19

Very few parents would earn enough on two salaries to pay for 2 sets of fees,a mortgage,bills etc.

Most average families can barely pay their fuel bills.And fat lot of good having a sahp is when kids are at school all day.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 22:54:53

Yes I am bitter. My kids have been let down<shrugs> nothing new.

I've recently seen several worthy kids not get in through no fault of their own.It's quite scary and tbh I'm starting to wonder if there is any point putting my dc through it.The numbers applying are rocketing as families want to save on fees.It's only going to get worse.

I have friends with kids in private schools getting 11+ prep at school,masses of tutoring on top.One friend told me her dd's entire class were using their tutor- then there is my dc at a crap primary with zero tutoring.Not really fair putting him through it.I haven't even let him see the school.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Sun 10-Nov-13 22:59:40

Tutoring your own knackered child after school isn't easy particularly when you are wading through treacle trying to shoehorn in stuff they should have done ages ago and would have done in an Outstanding or private school.

We are at the starting gates Retro.

There will not be a last minuet rush to shoe horn here.

I will be following progress from the get go.

I am now already.

My worry is I cannot cover the Maths and science side very well, nor grammer ( shite primary). Already she seems far more competent than me in Maths and works things out much more quickly.

Retro, maybe Grammer isnt the right thing for you or your Dc if its bringing too much un happiness and angst.

In my wider family there was much disgust about the 11+ and how some siblings got it and the others did not, and felt scarred for life, then some of then went the other way and did not push their DC to do it at all. People have gone on to lead wonderful colourful lives, but have been burdened still fifty + years on by not getting that 11+.

WooWooOwl Sun 10-Nov-13 23:00:21

Are you in a fully selective area Retro?

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 23:08:42

No thankfully Woo.

Elf my DS goes on G&T courses for several things, I honestly think he'd be happier at grammar going by my comp experience.

He is year 5 so I'm not leaving it until the last minute.The essay worries the shit out of me.He has amazing Spag ability but I'm clueless re the format and how to mark it re ontent,then there is the maths.His primary just nowhere near covers the content or methods needed.He flies through VR but listening to what the tutors are doing with my friends with privately educated kids- it's scary.

They had record numbers do it this year,it's only going to get worse year on year.

Retropear Sun 10-Nov-13 23:12:12

I think doing it yourself was doable previously,not so sure now tbh.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 09:31:54

I feel for you Retro. The year leading up to 11+ is not a pleasant one in areas where competition is high, especially when you know that a certain school is the right one for your child. My ds at GS is only year 9, so I still feel very thankful and relieved that its not us going through it on 11+ day each year.

You are clearly doing your best for your ds, and that's all anyone can ask of you.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 09:38:09

It's the fact my best isn't good enough that hacks me off.That alongside the fact that 60 years on my ds has less chances than his dirt poor grandad who got into a top super selective a year early.

Social mobility my arse.John Major speaking a lot of sense today.

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 09:48:52

If we're going to have grammars, the best and fairest way to select students would be to ask every state primary school in the catchment area to nominate a handful of students they think would be best suited to this type of academic selective secondary schooling. I suppose that they could also admit a smaller number of bright children from private schools (proportionately, based on the percentage of local children in these schools).

Schools know which kids are really, really bright and would thrive in grammar.

This would cut out all the bollocks with tutoring, and would enable grammar schools to take in really disadvantaged children who have huge potential.

Anyone see any problem with this?

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 09:55:22

You don't know yet that your best isn't good enough.

I think the problem that needs to be focused on is that there aren't enough grammar school places for every child that would benefit from one.

I wouldn't want to be in a fully selective area, and I don't think separating the top 25% of children is a good thing at all. But for those of us that aim for a GS place in an area where roughly the top 5% of children get one, there should be enough places for all.

The work that parents like you and I put in isn't to get out child a pass. No doubt we wouldn't put ourselves or our children through it if we weren't fairly certain they could pass. It's about getting a high enough pass to get a place, which wouldn't be an issue if the pass mark was high and there were enough places for every child that passed.

I think more grammar places combined with improving all primary schools is the answer. Pushing some children to the front of the queue while forcing some to the back regardless of their ability is not the answer.

MrsMaybeMaybe Mon 11-Nov-13 09:58:35

I think only taxpayers' children should attend schools. Especially grammar schools. This is only fair IMHO.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 10:00:14

Noooo except I have twins(equal ability) but one oozes grammar material(confident,swotty etc). His twin is a mouse and got overlooked for years,'twas only last year that they started pushing him(after a lot of nagging by me)and they're both in near enough the same groups now.

Kids mature at different rates and often parents know their kids better.Often the kids that mature early,that are confident and vocal get picked for every thing and pushed more.Some kids will come into their own at secondary or at the latter end of primary.Teachers only have kids for a year and basically would be given the unenviable job of writing off potential candidates at the stroke of a pen.

The logistics re informing the parents of the chosen few would be unenviable and a nightmare.Could just imagine the fall out in the playground.grin

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 10:03:29

Agree re improving primary Woo big time.

My dad went to an amazing village primary(he still bangs on about). I have no doubt if he'd gone to my dc's school he wouldn't have gone.

If all state primaries prepped kids properly and gave private schools a run for their money there would be no need for his thread but until they do......

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 10:03:54

Mini, I think there is a lot of merit in that idea, but honestly, I don't think I would trust every school to make a good job of this. I've seen to many teachers have children they have soft spots for and children (and families) they don't particularly like.

I wouldn't want to trust my child's entire academic future to one or two teachers who may or may not be very good at their job.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 10:04:57

What Woo just said- with bells on!

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Mon 11-Nov-13 10:08:12


In your case, as you feel its soooo hopeless,

I would be meeting my local MP< putting everything you have said on here before them and ask them what they are going to do about your childs education.

That the primary school has failed your children, you have no money to compete with tutors, I would list all the things that you are trying to teach him now, that he was not taught at school as compared to your privately educated friends children and basically list all the differences and issues, and lay them at his door.

EXPLAIN why you want your DC to have a fair and equal chance of the Grammer and why the other school you feel wont be beneficial to them.

Put it all in a letter in writing, and request a clinic with them.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 10:13:27

At the moment I have enough on my hands with prepping for the 11+ and really if all parents who felt like me (11+ or not) across the land did what you suggest the queue would be down the road.Being hacked off with your kids primary is hardly big news.You just get on with it.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Mon 11-Nov-13 10:21:19

I disagree.

All the time you have been on here for instance you could be composing an email and sending it off.

The state has a duty of care to us, and its clearly failing you.

Who best to complain about this too, than someone who is in a better position to do something than lots of people on MN.

Not everyone does complain and there are no queues down the road.

Maybe thats the problem Retro. Maybe there should be?

JackNoneReacher Mon 11-Nov-13 10:24:59

Don't fancy that mini. The schools often recognise the loudest/most confident/clever kids and give them extra attention. Quieter (but equally able) ones get overlooked. There were a few surprises last year (at the school my children attend) when certain people got their grammar school place despite not being loud/know it alls. And they're managing very well at grammar school now.

Perhaps your quiet son will be one of these children Retro. I'm surprised to see your children haven't even started at secondary yet. You write as if they've already been failed at primary level and gone to the 'wrong' school. It might all work out for them perfectly.

Retro you've turned your attention to 'outstanding' state schools as well now. Do you think children who attend such schools should be held back from grammar places as well as those in private schools?

Normalisavariantofcrazy Mon 11-Nov-13 10:28:59

In the school I went to (a grammar) out of the 100 girls who joined 7 were state educated at primary level.

So considering that it's been mentioned 7% of primary school children attend private schools how is it fair only 7% of grammar school places go to state school children? That's not what the schools were designed for.

The schools are to educate the less well off to a high standard to mimic the opportunities afforded to private school pupils.

Entry to private pupils should be restricted to, say, 10% of the year group

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 10:29:54

I really don't envy you Retro, and I wish you and your sons all the luck on the world for the 11+.

It must be so hard doing it with twins. My two are two years apart, and we didn't put the younger one in for the 11+. His academic ability is only slightly less than his brothers, but the GS environment wouldn't have suited him, he didn't want to go there anyway, or do the extra work, and we are very lucky to have access to a good comp. plus it would have had more of a negative effect on him if he hadn't passed or got a place than it would have had on his brother, so GS just wasn't the best option for him. Even then though, I still worried that not opting in to the 11+ was going to be unfair on him.

This stuff is SO difficult.

Thank goodness they don't warn you about it when you are TTC!

hottiebottie Mon 11-Nov-13 10:30:19

Anyone doing DIY tutoring could do far worse than have a browse around Some great support on there for 11+ prep, as regards both the nitty gritty (what books should I get, etc.) and the system in general.

Normalisavariantofcrazy Mon 11-Nov-13 10:31:29

Also, at a risk of outing myself here, the grammars in this county have now restricted the intake to a 15 mile radius to keep the schools local for local children.

There were numerous children being sent in from parts of London and herts - so not even from the LEA - which was deemed unfair and had to stop.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 10:59:47

Woo won't be doing this with dd that's for sure,she doesn't want to do it although able and they have to want to do it themselves- a lot imvho.

Still not sure re the other two tbf. Not convinced re one anyway although he wants it.May well bale out with both.Putting them through a year of expectation with very little possibility in reality is rapidly starting to seem like a not very good idea.

Glad it all worked out for your DS

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 11:40:35

"Don't fancy that mini. The schools often recognise the loudest/most confident/clever kids and give them extra attention"

Schools would receive explicit guidance on how to do this. It would involve a panel of teachers and there would have to be evidence supporting the nomination - so IQ tests could be included, and a portfolio of work. Obviously children who would cope in a grammar environment would have to be achieving very highly at key stage 3. They could use a child's levels over the whole course of key stage 2 as a guide, so wouldn't be relying on anecdotal evidence from just one teacher.

Or it could be done by internal testing - like the 11+, but school by school in the catchment area for the grammar, with each school sending a proportionate number of their cleverest children. So you wouldn't be pitching state school pupils against private school pupils, or pupils at a state school in an affluent area against state schools in deprived areas.

It wouldn't put a stop to tutoring, but it would level the playing field a lot, and encourage pushy middle-class parents to consider the less popular schools.

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 11:49:50

"Obviously children who would cope in a grammar environment would have to be achieving very highly at key stage 3"

I mean Key Stage 2.

At the moment schools are selectively entering children for level 6 SATS. They could choose their grammar nominees from this cohort.

"I think more grammar places combined with improving all primary schools is the answer"

No it's not. Because in a system where there is widespread selection and a polarized system, the rich and the privileged parents will ALWAYS find a way to enable them to advantage their children above others. That's why in most areas where there are excellent state comprehensives which achieve fantastic results, there is still a thriving market for private schooling and selective state schooling. Parents who have money or the wherewithal to organize it WILL try to push their children ahead of other children. They'll also try and morally justify it by saying that the state sector is inadequate and that their children deserve better.

Middle-class parents in this country by and large want to separate their children off from the oiks. They want a polarized system. As long as their children are on the right pole.

They do NOT want a meritocracy if they are capable of buying better chances for their children.

Fleta Mon 11-Nov-13 11:56:15

Minifingers - wrong. I don't want a polarized system. I want a system where EQUAL opportunities are afforded to all.

But when the state system would have made my daughter very unhappy, I don't apologise for removing her.

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 12:09:08

"Minifingers - wrong. I don't want a polarized system. I want a system where EQUAL opportunities are afforded to all."

The Finnish school system is one of the best in the world. It is fully comprehensive up to the age of 16.

As long as money and social/educational nouse can buy you a private school/grammar school/church school place, or a house in the catchment area of a hugely popular school, we will NEVER have equal opportunities.

Because the system we've created has inequality built in to it. It results in all the most difficult to educate children being educated in the same institutions, which makes those places incredibly difficult places to teach and learn.

And as long as parents support this system by supporting selection then it will continue.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 12:12:04

Fleta my dd is very unhappy but private is out of the question.

Mini that would be a shed load of extra work for teachers and given how low the more able are re priority anyway I can't see it working.

Also what about the schools that don't get good KS 2 results,do those kids miss out then and just those in schools getting good results benefit?Ie the kids stuck in shitty primaries miss out twice.

MrsMaybeMaybe Mon 11-Nov-13 12:14:34

Minifingers, such system will push even more parents to try and find money to pay for a prep school where every child will get the same level of preparation and does not have to be the "chosen" one. Also, what about the home educated children? Who is going to "nominate" them?

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 12:22:14

"Mini that would be a shed load of extra work for teachers and given how low the more able are re priority anyway I can't see it working."

No - not much more work.

Identify what children are being entered for level 6 SATS.

Ask parents if they want these children to sit an 11+ type test at school.


It's the work of a weekend.

"Also, what about the home educated children? Who is going to "nominate" them?"

Grammar schools could directly select a number of HE children proportionate to the number being home educated in their area.

MrsMaybeMaybe Mon 11-Nov-13 12:32:36

I still don't understand how a grammar school could approach a selection of HE children? They are not allowed to interview and a HE child won't have a proven history of his previous achievements such as CAT/SATs scores.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 12:32:46

But if the school have routinely not pushed kids,rely on parents to make up the shortfall,focus on other groups and consequently have few getting level 6 many are going to miss out. As I said the kids in descent primaries will benefit- again.

Given that a lot of the level 6 work would be done after the 11+ anyway and kids need a year to prep(many may make amazing progress in that year) relying on level 6 would be unworkable.

You'd get loads of parents demanding their kids sit level 6.Also given how little our school knows two of my dc sorry I wouldn't trust them re choosing anything for my dc let alone their next school.

MrsMaybeMaybe Mon 11-Nov-13 12:43:02

Agree with Retropear. I had a (brief) experience of a state primary with DC1, and I won't trust his teacher's judgement. DS was in bottom sets for all subjects in his outstanding state school. I pulled him out and transferred him to a prep, he is at a grammar school now and doing very well. All his siblings are at the prep and I won't contemplate a state primary unless there is a drastic change in our finances.

tb Mon 11-Nov-13 12:46:55

Access to grammar schools is means-tested.

A similar house in Altrincham costs about £100k more than 1 in Knutsford ie 4 bed detached.

Altrincham has grammar schools.

Knutford has a comp that is used for the grammar school kids that are asked to leave.

NewBlueShoesToo Mon 11-Nov-13 12:53:01

Ultimately I think our grammar schools should be catering for our most academic pupils, regardless of where they come from. I think the tests need to be much less coachable. So they need to be changed every year, they need to measure IQ not experience and they need to assess a child's potential for learning. Independent senior schools are already testing like this, it is computerised and easy to run.
The reason I am pro grammar schools is because if a child is good at sport, gets in to the county team it is celebrated, if they are good at music it is celebrated so if they are academic they should have the chance to excel.

Devora Mon 11-Nov-13 12:56:09

What part of our education system do you think should be cut back in order to divert funding to private school parents?

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 12:56:15

How do you measure IQ though?

It would save a lot of angst but can't think of anything kids couldn't be coached for.

Fleta Mon 11-Nov-13 12:56:53

I agree Minifingers - the thing is, you have a vicious circle - who wants their child to be the experiment?

We fell into the private system by accident. We wouldn't leave it now. If something happens meaning we couldn't afford it then I would home school.

I think the suggestion by the OP is not fair and not workable. But I do share similar concerns... esp as I live in Kent where the whole education system is selective.

The 11+ and GS is unfair.
The very fact of pass or fail a load of kids aged about 10 based on a one off test that has no resits.
The part played by those from independent prep schools is small to irrelevant.
Those same kids who went to a paid for school would probably have passed with the same results if they had been at state school.

There is research that does show tutoring for the 11+ does raise the result by a few points - but it is not going to move an average ability child into the accademic elite. As as far as I know almost all kids who pass are tutored in some way. Even if at home by parents. Realistically, children need that kind of self motivation, home environment and parental support if they are to stay in GS. My son is in our local GS and there is such a huge difference in expectations compared to what I see of the local so called "outstanding" comp.

BTW in my area (Ramsgate) ALL children who pass 11+ will get a place at our two local GS and if they get high marks they can be considered for a number of others.

I also have twins at a state primary school it is too early to think about extra tuition for them but I will do what I can to do them best for them. But The best is not necessarily private or GS.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 13:01:53

Fleta I'm considering that for dd although in all honesty I suspect we'd kill each other in the process, the only thing holding me back atm.grin

Worried3 Mon 11-Nov-13 13:04:49


Have you thought of trying for a bursary at a private school if not successful with grammar (assuming you would even consider this route)? or for your DD, who you say is very unhappy.

My DD is at a private prep school- she started on a bursary. I couldn't have afforded the full fees, but the bursary made it possible (although still a bit of a struggle). In the case of your DSs- perhaps a combination of scholarship and bursary? I know a number of senior schools in our area do this for bright kids whose parents still couldn't afford the fees even with a bursary. In some cases this has led to 100% of fees covered, in other cases 80-90%.

Something to consider, perhaps.

MrsMaybeMaybe Mon 11-Nov-13 13:05:56

When DS just started at the grammar, we had an open day for the new kids and their parents. There was a Chinese boy in very scruffy clothes, his parents hardly spoken any English and the head teacher said he is the first boy in the past 15 years who got into grammar from a very rough school. I think where is the will there is a way. A lot of people moan about 11+ and how the system discriminates against them, yet many foreigners from poor background manage to get their kids into top schools all over the country.

MrsMaybeMaybe Mon 11-Nov-13 13:06:55

I mean from a certain rough school...

Grennie Mon 11-Nov-13 13:14:23

I do think background should be taken into account. Not just primary school versus prep school. But families on a low income will not be able to afford any kind of tuition for 11 plus exams. The children from low income families who pass the ll plus, currently have to be more intelligent than those who get tutoring for the 11 plus exam.

aciddrops Mon 11-Nov-13 13:32:12

Knutford has a comp that is used for the grammar school kids that are asked to leave.

There is a child at my son's comp who was "asked to leave" a Trafford grammar school. I do wonder how the school managed to persuade him to leave as I thought it was extremely difficult to exclude a child these days. There was no problem with his behaviour - just academic performance.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Mon 11-Nov-13 13:57:10

I wonder if this is a new problem or that for decades it has been the case?

Maybe I agree where there is a will there is a way.

Having parents who are interested in education and want you to learn and provide a happy safe home back ground for you to do that, In my book already put lots of children out in front whatever school you are in.

I just do not get this sitting round moaning, going round in circles but taking no real pro active steps to change or do anything. Wanting someone else to sort out the problems for you.

My DF came from a "rough" working class background, and his parents had no interest in education at all.

I think he had one teacher at primary school who saw something in him and encouraged him to do the 11+.

When the results came through his parents hid them from him and did not want him to go to the grammer as they did not care nor understand it or the point of it. He was supposed to leave school, and get working to make money to bring into the home.

MrsMaybeMaybe Mon 11-Nov-13 14:48:12

Elf, this is horrible! Hope things turned out fine in the end and your dad managed to complete his education.

NewBlueShoesToo Mon 11-Nov-13 14:50:46

Devora. Private school parents are paying for state schools via taxes and then not taking the places. Without them the state sector would not cope with the extra children but no extra cash. This has been well publicised.

intitgrand Mon 11-Nov-13 16:14:40

Private school parents are paying for state schools via taxes and then not taking the places
The state are training the teachers and the private schools are getting the benefit

Devora Mon 11-Nov-13 17:05:44

The same is true of childless people, no? That is hoe general taxation works. Presumably most parents who pay for private education do so as an investment with anticipated returns. I don't see why they should get the returns AND the investment refunded.

candycoatedwaterdrops Mon 11-Nov-13 18:16:31

I do think there are huge inequalities in the education system but the idea being proposed here is not about creating equality for all children, it's for some children (the DC of people on here who agree with the OP funnily enough wink). True educational equality is as Minifingers said....

"As long as money and social/educational nouse can buy you a private school/grammar school/church school place, or a house in the catchment area of a hugely popular school, we will NEVER have equal opportunities."

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 18:45:22

The fact is a private ban would go a huge way to tackle this inequality.

Obviously the tiny minority with dc that benefit from private want to keep the status quo so are against it- funnily enough.hmm

BrianTheMole Mon 11-Nov-13 18:54:56

Obviously the tiny minority with dc that benefit from private want to keep the status quo so are against it- funnily enough.

Thats right. Because I pay into the system too. So funnily enough I am against something that I am expected to pay towards, but then according to you, should be banned from using. Funnily enough ....

Although, as I've said, i'm happy to be banned from using it, as long as I don't have to contribute towards it smile

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 18:55:14

It would tackle this particular inequality, but it would also create a whole new one at the same time.

You can't prevent taxpayers from using public services as fundamental to our society as education is.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 19:13:36

But they're not,millions of kids with tax paying parents are excluded from grammar schools.There are those who would never get in and those who could but don't because of parents with money as is discussed in Sutton.All use state alternatives.

Prioritising state perhaps would be fairer.That way both state and private are on a level playing field and both are jumping through hoops.Nobody is excluded.The fact is those at state schools will have had to work a lot harder for their place and if it's ok for them why not the private kids.

At the end of the day the lack of social mobility and the buying of education at secondary and uni level is a national disgrace.Many are concerned and something needs to be done.Whether it's sorting out grammar places or uni it's clear things will have to change unless we want the same families with all the top jobs forever more.

BrianTheMole Mon 11-Nov-13 19:36:32

Yes, and all those millions of dc with tax paying parents can remove the competition and compete amongst themselves. As long as they don't expect me to contribute towards something that my dc aren't allowed to compete for too.

candycoatedwaterdrops Mon 11-Nov-13 19:43:42

Obviously the tiny minority with dc that benefit from private want to keep the status quo so are against it- funnily enough.

I'm not one of those. wink You're only gunning for this because it would advantage your DC. It's silly to pretend you care oh so much about educational inequality.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 19:45:53

You would be able to if state were prioritised.

At the moment more and more state kids are getting excluded from something their parents pay for.By putting them at the top of the queue after passing the 11+ the private kids will simply have to work harder or go state-pretty much like posters have suggested that state kids should do.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 19:51:05

Candy my dc are average examples of the huge majority of kids in this country so don't get your beef.Any private child could have the same amazing advantage hmm in a flash so there is nothing to moan about.

If you care so much re equality I don't get the fervent need to protect a privileged few.

perfectstorm Mon 11-Nov-13 19:55:47

One of the top grammar schools in the country is near us. Some local preps actually advertise that they've never failed to get a child in, and apparently no child stands a chance without at least 2 years intensive coaching. I looked at the papers and they're the 11+ version of crossword puzzles - ridiculously teachable. It's screamingly unfair, yes, because kids with parents who can afford good coaching or a prep school have a massive advantage.

Fortunately the local comp has better results than most grammars do nationally, so I don't need to worry. But it's crappy for really bright kids from poor families near bad comps, who have no chance. And it's a shocking waste of tax money if grammar school places are, effectively, being bought as a cut-price private school option. I think the answer would be less teachable-to-the-test, trick-dependent exams, which vary year to year... and no available past papers. If you can't coach them, then you get a better idea of raw ability.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 19:58:37

I agree perfect but honestly don't think anything is uncoachable.

It would be interesting to know.

candycoatedwaterdrops Mon 11-Nov-13 20:01:12

If you care so much re equality I don't get the fervent need to protect a privileged few.

I'm not protecting anyone. confused I am against grammar schools full stop and the education system really needs looking at. I also think you're not understanding that children cannot help being born privileged anymore than they can be born unprivileged. It does not sit comfortably with me to purposely disadvantage one group of children to advantage another does not sit well with me.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 20:08:42

The private kids are working as hard as state school children though if they are being given more in the way of education. A grammar place doesn't just fall in their laps because they have parents that paid for their schooling. They do the same amount of study, just maybe in less time. Their lessons might be more intense.

Prioritising state school children would not prevent money having an influence on who gets a grammar place.

No one is excluded from grammar school because all can apply.

I agree with you that there needs to be more social mobility but I think success in life is available to everyone that works hard and perseveres. I don't believe that some people are prevented from being happy and successful because of what other people do for themselves.

perfectstorm Mon 11-Nov-13 20:16:42

Nothing is uncoachable, no, but if you give a child a few paragraphs and then ask some searching questions about what they've read - not bog standard verbal reasoning but some quite stretching, subtle ones - it's a damn sight harder to coach to that, than ut is a pair of sentences with similar but subtly differentiated vocab options, then telling them to use the correct choice, in a very time-pressured way. The latter doesn't test intelligence - the former arguably does. And the latter is a specific style of puzzle, while the former tests ability to think. You can still coach to it, sure, but you can also spend some time in most state schools in their G&T classes with the former without that totally wasting the time of the kids not applying to grammar, because what you'd be coaching would be critical thinking skills. Useful in any educational context. And exceptionally bright kids could make a good showing in that without any coaching at all - the puzzle-oriented/intensely time-pressured format, and they just can't. If I have time I might dig up examples of the two approaches, to show what I mean.

Obviously a more privileged start in life will often advantage a child at a level you can't ever begin to even out. But providing a system of exams that so blatantly advantages coaching, and doesn't even pretend to test innate ability is fairly whacked out when a major life chance is to be funded by the tax-payer. Another grammar school I know of became aware that the kids were comparing where they ranked in their intake cohort, and it was corrosive for yeargroup cohesion and morale, so they dug up data showing where past years were ranked when they left as opposed to arrived, and proved there was no link whatsoever. Which interested me, because why did nobody then start to wonder if that weren't prima facie evidence that their admission tests were unfit for purpose...? Seems it didn't. That would have been my first thought - it's not a subtle leap, is it?

The Sutton Trust is so concerned about the narrowing of class background for the intake of this school that they're funding efforts to widen it. That's a charity that usually focuses on widening admissions to top private schools. If state funded centres of excellence are increasingly the sole preserve of very privileged children, then there's a major problem.

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 20:17:01

"but I think success in life is available to everyone that works hard and perseveres"

So clearly the children of the rich and influential are just much harder working and more determined and possibly much more intelligent than the children of less rich people in the UK, as they have proportionately VASTLY more money and success in adulthood than their poorer peers?


MrsShortfuse Mon 11-Nov-13 20:21:16

No one is directly excluded from applying, true. But there's plenty of indirect exclusion. Like people who can't afford bus passes. In Birmingham, there are no transport subsidies to the grammar schools if there is a place at a nearer school. This is surely a massive disincentive for poorer families to apply. No wonder grammars are middle class enclaves angry

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 20:21:51

and the head teacher said he is the first boy in the past 15 years who got into grammar from a very rough school. I think where is the will there is a way.

I think it's funny that you've told a story which illustrates the exact opposite of the point you're trying to make.

I suspect the scruffy Chinese child had an IQ of 217 or something.


WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 20:23:59

It's not just about rich and influential versus the poor and disadvantaged. There are plenty of people in between that are the most likely to want a grammar school place anyway.

I stand by what I said. A poor person is not precluded from success because of wealthy people. They may be precluded from success because of their own circumstances, but that isn't affected by what other people do or don't do.

perfectstorm Mon 11-Nov-13 20:25:45

In Birmingham, there are no transport subsidies to the grammar schools if there is a place at a nearer school. This is surely a massive disincentive for poorer families to apply.

That's appalling.

Minifingers - always amuses me when people declare anyone can achieve anything if they work hard and are willing to learn. Certain irony in thus choosing to ignore the overwhelming weight of academic research that says precisely and exactly the opposite. A comforting ideology fpr many, the bootstraps one, but utter bollocks just the same.

zirca Mon 11-Nov-13 20:32:22

I don't get it - EVERYONE pays through their taxes for state education. Those who educate their children privately, choose not to use the money available to them for a state school place. If you were to deny those parents access to grammar schools, then you really need to give them their money back, especially as they will pay a higher rate of tax in the first place.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 20:36:23

always amuses me when people declare anyone can achieve anything if they work hard and are willing to learn

Can I make it clear that wasn't what I was saying. I clearly didn't convey what I mean very well. I don't think success is defined only be having an influential and very high paying career. I don't mean that anyone can achieve anything if they work hard, I mean that if someone has the potential to do well in life then that potential stays with them regardless of how well or how badly anyone else does.

The point I was badly trying to make is that one child's chances in life are not determined by what happens to another child. People are dependant on their own circumstances in most cases, not those belonging to someone else.

Children that don't get into grammar school still have valid educational opportunities.

MrsShortfuse Mon 11-Nov-13 20:39:59

No they don't Zirca. Some people pay no tax and never have done. By your logic should they be excluded then from everything that taxation pays for?

Oh yes, and the average person sees their GP 5.5 times a year. I haven't seen mine for 5 years. Can I have my money back from those 27.5 consultations?

Doesn't work like that.

Worried3 Mon 11-Nov-13 20:43:07

WooWooOwl talks much sense. I also believe that ultimately, your own graft, talents and dedication will get you far if you really want it.

I don't think it right to "punish" a child for their parents schooling preferences (and income), anymore than I think it fair to write off a child because of a low-income background. Disadvantaging a certain set of children (those of wealthy parents) in favour of others (those whose parents aren't wealthy) just tries to treat the result and not the root cause.

It seems to me the root cause is complex. Some (many?) state schools are letting children down- especially bright ones. There is a drive to mediocrity (e.g. aiming for 5 A-Cs and if you can achieve that, then fewer resources are aimed at you than at those on that C-D borderline. I have heard this from a deputy head). My DD is at a fee paying school and they are constantly trying to stretch her academically- without this she'd be bored- and no doubt her behaviour in class wouldn't be great as a result. I know from experience that our local state school does not seem interested in/are unable to do this.

Other schools are doing a heroic job, but working against the tide of poor behaviour, low expectations (from children and their parents), lack of interest in education (again children and their parents) and poor home environments. There really is poverty of ambition, and much as poverty of ambition in many areas. That is not to say that children from poorer backgrounds don't have more hurdles to jump.

Worried3 Mon 11-Nov-13 20:44:36

sorry that should read "there really is poverty of ambition, and this is as much a problem as poverty of opportunity in some areas"

MrsShortfuse Mon 11-Nov-13 20:51:08

Of course this is a much wider issue than just grammar schools. The odds are stacked against poor children whatever type of school they're in. Even at comps with a very mixed intakes, it will be the middle classes that dominate the top sets, that have music lessons, that star in sports events, plays and productions. This will be to do partly with aspirations and parental influence but also because of practical issues - no buses, don't want to walk in the dark, parents have no car - and GCSE revision sessions, sports events and rehearsals are all after school.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 20:53:29

Woo Sutton are saying the private kids are having an adverse impact on state kids.They are over tutoring in private schools and with tutors so average kids are taking places meant for bright state kids.

There are only so many places. An average kid taught and tutored in the 11+ syllabus by professionals in tiny private classes for months/ years during his school day will get better marks and thus have more of a chance of getting in than a bright state kid who doesn't get pushed and doesn't cover the syllabus at school let alone after with a tutor.

This is happening.

Worried3 Mon 11-Nov-13 21:02:50

But retropear the places are not "meant" for bright state school kids. They are meant for the brightest children of any background.

I agree that tutored children with coaching may well do better than those of their non-coached counterparts. The solution to that is not to disadvantage the children of wealthier parents. The solution is to change the test- or improve the education available to children in state schools. Or both. Your argument treats the symptom, but makes no attempt to get at the root cause.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 21:04:17

Retro, you keep taking about the Sutton report, but I asked you to link to it more than once and you didn't so I still haven't read it in full. From what I can see, Sutton is not recommending that system school pupils be given priority for grammar places anyway.

They suggest measures I would agree with, such as doing everything possible to limit the effect of tutoring, and making the grammar schools give all pupils 10 hours of preparation sessions leading up to the 11+.

Either way, they are only a think tank. I don't have to base my opinions around what they say.

We are close to going round in circles now, because I'm again feeling the need to say that private pupils that have achieved the same as state pupils are equally deserving of a place at a state school. They are still this country's children, and they are still entitled to an education.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 21:10:50

But I'm not so sure changing the test would work,doubts were mentioned in some article I read.Years ago the 11+ was held up as a reliable test.

On both the tutoring sites I can't afford both say if the exam changes they will make sure their clients are prepared.

I don't think adjusting places like they do with age but instead re state ie allocating state places first would disadvantage private kids as they're not excluded from anything- a state education is available for every single child in this country.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 21:13:25

You can Google it Woo,it's pretty recent.Can't link.As I said Sutton didn't op did and I agree.I think it is a reasonable suggestion- sorry.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 21:24:09

I have googled but I keep wondering if I'm missing something because the report I can see is focused on children on FSMs, not state school children, and it just talks about the fact that there are many more children at grammar schools from the independent sector than there are from families on FSMs. Like that's a surprise to anyone!

scarletandblack Mon 11-Nov-13 21:31:27

The grammar schools were first introduced to allow bright children from any background to access a free academic education. That is simply not the case any more.

In my day [ wizened face emoticon ] everyone took the 11+ in school. Practice papers were done in school, so the big business that is tutoring didn't exist. That was the great leveller - the state primaries were integral in the administration of the 11+.

Nowadays, where the grammars are often 'out on a limb' in a largely comprehensive system, state primaries have completely distanced themselves from the whole process, and do not see it as within their remit to prepare children for the exam. (Even 'good' state primary schools will not undertake to cover the entire KS2 syllabus by the beginning of year 6, which is what is necessary to stand a fighting chance in the 11+).

Into the void have come private schools teaching to the exam, and tutors plugging the gaps, thus rendering the Grammars pretty much the sole preserve of those who can afford to pay.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 21:33:10

Hmm I keeps cutting to various news articles.Yesterday or whenever it was I'm sure they had their own summary on there.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 21:36:24

I don't think adjusting places like they do with age but instead re state ie allocating state places first would disadvantage private kids as they're not excluded from anything- a state education is available for every single child in this country.

You are contradicting yourself. You're saying that private kids aren't excluded as if you agree with that, but then say that you think they should be excluded.

It's one thing for children to be at a disadvantage because of the circumstances of their own parents and the lives their parents chose to bring them into. It's another thing entirely for the state that most of us pay for to actively disadvantage and discriminate against children.

Would you also be happy for all those families that you think we should discriminate against to have a massive reduction in their tax bill, what with them being disallowed equal access to state services?

If you think that children are currently getting places at grammar school that they don't deserve, which may be a fair point, can't you see that picking children for grammar school places based on their parents income would do exactly the same thing, except in a much bigger way?

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 21:41:12

You're contradicting yourself.

You don't mind state kids being pushed out of grammar or expected to work harder but you do mind private kids being treated the same.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 21:41:31

It was doing that to me when I looked yesterday Retro, but I managed to find it today!


And it does actually have a suggestion about prioritising children, but only those on FSMs.

Schools could consider giving preference – as the new admissions code allows – to all pupils entitled to the pupil premium who reach a threshold on grammar entrance exams.

Tbh, that just makes my opinion of the credibility of the Sutton Trust go decidedly downhill.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 21:54:46

Oh well done,I gave up.

Yes what about those just over fsm or the squeezed lower middle?

They would be expected to reach a threshold but considering by 2 those in poverty are already behind I doubt many would so it wouldn't help many.

Retropear Mon 11-Nov-13 21:55:11

Those other ideas were good.

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 22:04:59

It might help some, but it would seriously disadvantage others, and that's just wrong when it's directly within the states control. It would automatically make it even harder for the majority of state school children to get in.

perfectstorm Mon 11-Nov-13 23:07:40

It's one thing for children to be at a disadvantage because of the circumstances of their own parents and the lives their parents chose to bring them into. It's another thing entirely for the state that most of us pay for to actively disadvantage and discriminate against children.

In your view. Another view would be that it actually doesn't matter where the discrimination comes from or what causes it - accident of birth or social engineering - what matters is trying to redress the imbalance a tiny, little, small bit. Because most kids on receipt of free school meals won't ever reach that minimum threshold, anyway, because it will need to be sufficiently high to ensure they do well enough to benefit from a place. Poverty is too tightly linked to low attainment.

Privately educated kids who don't get into grammar schools aren't, on the whole, thereby disadvantaged, because their parents can afford to continue to have them privately educated, or at worst privately coached in addition to state education at a decent school which family income could buy them into, via catchments. Their parents are being financially disadvantaged, by having to choose to pay all the way through... or go state from day one, of course. But let's not pretend the children will miss out: those missing out will be parents unable to access a private school secondary education at tax payer's expense, if they've demonstrated means and desire to offer their kids a private primary education at their own.

What is being complained about is, in effect, positive discrimination. But it depends how you view it. It's easy to argue for symmetrical equality - that everyone should have the same chance. But when it comes to kids and opportunity, that argument is disingenuous and automatically favours the privileged, because they have a massive head start. Arguably it's about as reasonable as saying track athletes should all start in a straight line, despite the fact that those closer inside to the bends run less far. Privileged kids have to run less far to get the same entrance scores than a very underprivileged one. I really can't see that trying to redress that - to acknowledge that a child from a very poor household attaining high academic standards, and doing so without heavy coaching, is likely to have more natural talent and potential than a child who has benefited from such - is unfair. confused

WooWooOwl Mon 11-Nov-13 23:29:57

Academic achievement isn't just about natural talent though. Natural talent can only do so much to compensate for a disrupted home life. If a child does have a disrupted home life, which can in no way be assumed just because of the pupil premium, then they are likely to struggle at grammar school anyway.

It takes motivation and the opportunity to focus as well as natural talent to do well in a very academic environment.

what matters is trying to redress the imbalance a tiny, little, small bit

The pupil premium is supposed to do that. And it does in well run primary schools.

Worried3 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:34:10


"to acknowledge that a child from a very poor household attaining high academic standards, and doing so without heavy coaching, is likely to have more natural talent and potential than a child who has benefited from such - is unfair"

On the face of it, you seem to have a point. A child from a poor background attaining high academic standards is likely to be very bright- and motivated. Quite possibly more so than their peers, from whatever background.

However, you are making one massive assumption- you don't know that the child from the wealthier background is vastly less talented than the one from the very poor household (and only achieved academically because of all the extra coaching).

It is perfectly possible that the wealthy pupil is either pretty average intellectually, but a good education has allowed him/her to maximise this (although I still think to get top grades would require some degree of intelligence and hard work on the individuals part).

It is also perfectly possible that the good education they have received has allowed them to maximise their natural talent and potential- which may be every bit as great as the child from the poor background.

It's lazy generalisations like this which annoy me. How would you have the bright children from a wealthy background "prove themselves worthy" of a place? After all, if they are bright and have a good education it is likely they will be getting top grades (I'm not just referring to grammar school entrance here, BTW). If a pupil is getting all A*'s, and therefore cannot obtain a higher grade- what more would you need this pupil to do to be considered equally?

I think if you had said that you felt that as the options for bright children from poor backgrounds were fewer, and that this is a reason for choosing this type of pupil over a more advantaged pupil, then I might not wholeheartedly agreed with you, but it would be more palatable. You imply that it's actually because, in reality, all privately educated children are not very bright (or at least not as bright as clever poor children)- it's just that they are well trained. I don't see how this is any worse than assuming all children from sink-estate schools or poor backgrounds should be rightly regarded as a bit thick, poorly behaved etc.

Worried3 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:35:07

should be "any better than assuming" not "any worse" in last paragraph

perfectstorm Tue 12-Nov-13 01:13:21

You're making a straw man argument there. I've not said that, and nor do I think it; I was responding to and quoting from a suggestion in the Sutton report, comparing the bottom end of kids qualifying for grammar school admission - the tail end - with the small number of children from very seriously deprived backgrounds who would be likely qualify via threshold, but who would otherwise not be so far below the more privileged. Those are the only ones who would be affected, and therefore my statement is perfectly accurate. Deprived and uncoached children achieving only slightly below very privileged and heavily coached ones have done better, when relative starting points are factored in (provided of course you believe the tests to be valid in assessment). Perhaps you might want to read what people say before, what was it - making lazy generalisations and massive assumptions? wink

I'm actually privately educated: plenty of kids at my school were extremely bright, and really flew with the additional advantages such an education afforded them. Same thing at university, where a large number of students came from private schools (and there was a very active conversation about factoring in overall attainment at their schools of origin to assess quality of support in gaining the necessary A level grades - there was an understanding that the system was not fair as it stood, because a private education doesn't surgically remove conscience). I really don't need anyone to tell me that kids at private school are as varied and able as any others - just a damn sight more privileged. I'm fully aware. And I have never suggested that kids from private schools should be prevented from attending grammar schools, either. Others on this thread have, but not me. My points have solely related to addressing how very teachable the tests currently are which entrenches yet further the privilege of the privately educated/coached; that I think suggesting a threshold entry for kids from the very poorest backgrounds, rather than the ranked system applied to everyone else, is a good idea; and that arguing that privately educated kids would miss out educationally if denied grammar school places is fallacious. They wouldn't. That doesn't mean to say I think it would be fair, or should be done. Plenty of children at good state schools are only there because their parents can afford stratospheric house prices in that catchment and then sit happily on capital gains while benefitting from an excellent education, while some who can't afford to buy their way into a top comp, and faced with a sink school, send their kids privately by taking second jobs - each - borrowing, and scrimping every penny they can. Others are sent privately because they're horribly bullied and there isn't another option within the local state system. I don't think a state/private cutoff works, personally. But nor do I think it's true to say the children will be deprived - they won't, their parents will. Their parents have already demonstrated a fierce determination to ensure their kids will have the very best education they can possibly provide. It's a disingenuous way to appeal to sentiment, saying "think of the children!" when their parents are already doing that very thoroughly indeed. In reality, two groups are competing for additional benefit at state expense, and it's perfectly legitimate to argue as to how best to award that benefit.

Back to the main point: if the small number of kids from very poor backgrounds (admittedly the extent and persistence of that poverty is always a guess anyway, because some confounding factors might well be present - parental relationship breakdown suddenly affecting family income, or unexpected redundancy) are offered places ahead of kids from private schools, then the only kids to miss out will be those on the tail-end of the admitted places, because you'd need a fairly high qualifying threshold for the educational opportunities to be ones everyone could benefit from reasonably equally, so bluntly very few of the very poorest would gain admission even under those new rules, anyway. The nature of the ranked admissions system should mean that those kids at the very bottom end of the admissions cut-off are likely to be the intensively coached but average children (of course, that's always assuming you think the current tests are valid as an assessment of potential/intelligence, which I actually very much do not, but let's leave that for now) which means, yes, that a child from a deprived background has done better to reach that stage unassisted, and would probably benefit more from the place.

Honestly, I don't think anyone is listening to anyone else on this thread. It's a bunch of entrenched positions and easy targets. I think the exams should be adjusted so they're harder to coach for - nothing is uncoachable, but by the same token expecting coaching agencies to talk down what they could contribute under an amended system is turkeys and Christmas and positive changes could be made - and would allow the very bright to shine irrespective of coaching. I think the very poorest should have a lower threshold, but it would still need to be a very meaningful one to ensure the child in question didn't struggle. And there could be more done to seek out innate talent and weed out coaching, which actually is a bit unfair on the less able who can't keep up, as well as the more able who don't get in. That's all I've actually said.

I think there needs to be a discussion on how you level out educational opportunity in this country, and I think people should leave their pet prejudices aside if it's to be constructive - but none of us are capable of that. It's just human nature. So I think at least we could seek to tinker at the edges, as suggested above.

Academic achievement isn't just about natural talent though. Natural talent can only do so much to compensate for a disrupted home life. If a child does have a disrupted home life, which can in no way be assumed just because of the pupil premium, then they are likely to struggle at grammar school anyway.

It takes motivation and the opportunity to focus as well as natural talent to do well in a very academic environment.

It isn't about a "disrupted home life" if you read the report I linked to - the assumption you refer to there isn't mine but your own. There's a straightforward, statistical link with poverty itself, even after you account for other factors. The pupil premium very much does track that. If you're seriously arguing that kids without coaching and from poor families, who are statistically likely to do far worse academically, haven't demonstrated their suitability for academic study as well as their "motivation and ability to focus" by passing a rigorous entrance test, without coaching, when almost every child they compete against has been intensively and expensively coached, then I'm afraid I don't think we have much more of interest to say to one another.

Retropear Tue 12-Nov-13 06:28:06

Interesting points perfect but in reality those getting fsm are very few and those just above and above that will be the ones to lose out(fewer places so somebody has to),not those at the top from private schools being tutored on top.

Tutoring can improve results by 30%. If you're higher due to private education(state schools do not teach 11+ content until after the exam,if at all)that 30% will have a massive cashe.

Personally I think allocating state places first is the way to go to rectify this as it is an option private parents can still access if they so wish(have changed my mind re an outright private ban)but agree we're going round in circles which I'm guilty of as much as everybody else.

DamnBamboo Tue 12-Nov-13 06:37:45


My two boys go to our local state primary, small semi-rural school, high SES status families, small class sizes etct.. My husband and I have 8 degrees between us and I spend time (every day wihtout fail - mabe one or two days off) going over literacy, spelling, times tables, maths etc...

My boy is one of the most advantaged you there is - so how do you account for that?

Of yes, of course you can't....

Retropear Tue 12-Nov-13 06:40:07

Considering how many private kids compared to state get in by putting state first(they'd still have to get through a threshold) would mean there would still be many places left which would go to only the very best private applicants thus giving the truly deserving places.

Sutton were concerned in a piece I read that over tutoring at private school and by tutors were leading to kids getting in who shouldn't,who then struggle.

Surely if these private applicants have the bar raised amongst only them the truly deserving would be more likely to get a place.

DamnBamboo Tue 12-Nov-13 06:40:45

Privately educated kids who don't get into grammar schools aren't, on the whole, thereby disadvantaged, because their parents can afford to continue to have them privately educated, or at worst privately coached in addition to state education at a decent school which family income could buy them into, via catchments

I think you are making a lot of assumptions here.

I don't disagree with the fact that the poorest children will suffer more, but surely more help during primary is needed to remedy this?!

Retropear Tue 12-Nov-13 06:42:35

Damn many private families will have the same- with a private education on top which will buy advantages regardless of grammar places.

A state child is more deserving from a social mobility viewpoint.Sadly all the advantages you give will do diddly squat as regards social mobility.

DamnBamboo Tue 12-Nov-13 06:48:57

Do diddly squat for who? I'm a little confused here. I'm simply saying that KS2 kids in state primaries aren't all the same. Our primary is not at all representative in terms of attainment when compared with most other and certainly very different when compared with the national average.

DamnBamboo Tue 12-Nov-13 06:49:24


<need to go and get coffee, too many typos>

WooWooOwl Tue 12-Nov-13 08:23:43

Kids that recieve the pupil premium aren't all the same either.

FSM is a very very blunt tool to use to ascertain which children are living in poverty, and I'd say that many children who recieve it aren't in poverty. They really aren't. Therefore the majority of them do not deserve easier access to grammar school any more than any other state school children.

There are plenty of circumstances that don't attract the pupil premium that can affect a child's educational outcomes, how do you measure those? What about the children who recieve pupil premium at the same time as receiving more than adequate maintenance payments from a non resident parent?

I think giving PP children a lower pass mark would create all sorts of problems. People would artificially keep their income low, I know I wouldn't have bothered going back to work after having children if it was going to actively disadvantage my children's education.

intitgrand Tue 12-Nov-13 08:59:58

' I'd say that many children who recieve it aren't in poverty. They really aren't'

on what are you basing this?

perfectstorm Tue 12-Nov-13 20:44:38

Firstly this may be incoherent - long day, DS ill so little sleep, and heavily pregnant! Apologies in advance.

Retro, simply saying "state educated" doesn't seem reasonable to me, for reasons stated. But affording wider access opportunities to poorer kids, who are still attaining well enough (overall, there are 500 places in the county at grammars, and you can select several choices, so the just under 2000 who apply have a 1 in 4 shot of a place at a grammar. You don't have to be a genius) would be a big improvement. They do actually offer a threshold preference ranking system for pupil premium applicants to the top performing grammar now, I've found out today after checking the website for updated info, but the threshold isn't that much below the normal entry, which IMO for kids that low-income could be extended without serious academic impact. And I think that the preference ranking system could be expanded, say to those with parents in receipt of Working Tax Credits, or with a household income below £20,000 instead of the current £16,000. The Rowntree report says that even small increases above the poverty line have measurable impact on performance, so it would be interesting to see if that extension increased the uptake of places by poorer children? It would also be good to see schools have a pupil premium bonus perhaps if they got entitled kids to perform really well in the 11+. Though I think extending the early years interventions throughout primary would be the best way forward. The thing I find most frustrating about the annual politicians' manufactured outrage over Oxbridge admissions is that they're attacking people dealing with the education system's own failings. By the time a kid is 18, you're largely dealing with the educational level they present with. At primary level you can still make worthwhile interventions to raise standards.

The test is very hard to perform well in unless very familiar with the format - so you have an arms race, in which parents who want their kids to have any sort of a shot find the money to get them tutored to the point they can answer in their sleep. (When I say privately tutored, I don't necessarily mean privately educated, I mean private tuition aimed at teaching to that specific test. A prep school that didn't prepare for it could be as wonderful as you like in genuinely academic terms; the kids would still do relatively poorly at the 11+.) That's one of the reasons I think altering the test needs to be imperative. All test outcomes can be improved by good tuition, but to varying degrees. The ones they use at the moment genuinely shocked me, because getting stellar marks so obviously relies upon highly teachable techniques. That should change if social mobility/equity is at all a concern. It's basically setting up a system where you need to know what extras to provide and then have the means to provide them to have a really good chance of success, which for access to state-funded educational opportunity isn't really acceptable.

I think the assumption that making a simple state/private division will prevent privilege weighting the scales is also very misplaced. I honestly don't see why my son should be ahead of anyone in the race for grammar schools, even though he's in the maintained sector. He's not remotely deprived; in actual fact he's getting every bit as good an education as most prep schools could dish out, between home and his Outstanding state primary. If reducing social inequality is the aim, then helping children from the very poorest families is surely the way forward - not giving upper-middle class kids in the state system a head start over their private school peers. I do think if your aim is genuinely to widen access, then state/private is far too broad a brush. 93% of the population are state educated. It is just unreasonable to treat that number as an amorphous group - if you want to boost the chances of bright kids from underprivileged backgrounds, which I applaud, then you need to at least try to identify who they might be, and "state educated" alone isn't going to do that. Privilege is not just about whether education is in the independent or the maintained sector, and I don't see why privileged kids in excellent state primaries should not themselves have to step aside, so a few more kids from really deprived backgrounds had at least a shot at it. I'm not that fussed about kids with very involved, engaged and educated parents - kids with lots of cultural capital. They'll thrive wherever they go. I'm a lot more bothered about kids who start the academic race with their feet tied together. Given poverty alone has been clearly shown to do that, then it seems a pretty good place to start widening access.

Damn I honestly don't understand the point you're trying to make? blush (I've had almost no sleep - DS isn't well). My point is that kids who apply to grammar from prep schools either have parents who can afford to continue educating them privately, or who have amply proven that they're willing to make huge sacrifices for their children's education. I wasn't arguing that state schools with comprehensive intakes are bad, in fact I said in an earlier post that we've decided not to apply to the local grammar at all, despite being pretty sure we could coach DS in, because I'd rather he went to the very, very good state comp near us. I'd rather he went through primary without that level of anxiety on his shoulders - can't see how 2 years of tuition for an exam 90% of kids fail at the tender age of 11 can be ideal for any of them, and nor is the atmosphere in a school that pressured for entry likely to be healthy for many, perhaps even most, kids. I do though very much agree with your point that 11 is way too old to start worrying about equality of educational opportunity. I think interventions need to be made a great deal earlier and a great deal more concertedly. It was one of the things that always bugged me about political outrage over Oxbridge admissions - there is an extent to which Oxbridge pick up the pieces of educational policy, and they can't socially engineer that much when faced with half the qualified kids coming from 7% of the schools. The politicans love that target, because it's the very first point in the system where access/equality of opportunity is out of their hands! It's just too late. I do think extending preschool provision to 2 year olds, if good enough quality, would be a great idea, as well as targeting extra support at infants level. (No idea to what extent that's already happening - perhaps a teacher on MN could talk about that?)

I'd say that many children who recieve it aren't in poverty. They really aren't.

Household income has to be below £16,000 a year to qualify for FSM, or you need to be in receipt of means-tested benefits such as Income Support. The national average wage is £26,000 a year - they live below the poverty line. If you think someone with a child on 16k isn't poor, and that jobless people on benefits aren't poor, then I really don't know what to say to you. confused You're flying in the face of all the statistics and all the data with that statement - both in terms of relative poverty, and outcomes for the children themselves. People getting FSM for their kids are poor, unless they're fraudsters.

perfectstorm Tue 12-Nov-13 20:48:51

What about the children who recieve pupil premium at the same time as receiving more than adequate maintenance payments from a non resident parent?

That would be fraud.

AuntieUrsula Tue 12-Nov-13 22:41:51

Surely if you ban private school kids from taking the 11+, what will happen is that those parents will send their kids to state schools and then tutor them through it? After all, the poor but bright kids will still be competing against those same privileged kids, no matter where the latter go to school. I think the huge demand for grammar school places is an indication that we actually need more grammar schools. There's none near us.

The local independent secondary school does not release its past entrance papers because it says it does not want pupils to be coached for it - 50% of their intake is from the state sector and they want as level a playing field as possible so they get the kids with the best learning potential. Grammar schools also need an entrance exam that is as hard to coach for as possible.

And surely not all private school kids are average and over-tutored. Some of them are quite bright.

candycoatedwaterdrops Wed 13-Nov-13 08:04:17

Surely if you ban private school kids from taking the 11+, what will happen is that those parents will send their kids to state schools and then tutor them through it? After all, the poor but bright kids will still be competing against those same privileged kids, no matter where the latter go to school. I think the huge demand for grammar school places is an indication that we actually need more grammar schools. There's none near us.

I agree with this. There are no grammar schools near us either. Pushing private educated children to back to the queue is not equality. Not all bright state educated children will get an opportunity to go the grammar schools purely because of their parents' choice of home. confused The only advantaged children will be those lucky enough to live in commuting distance of a grammar, so for those who think that would be fair, think again. (I bet those in support of this live in commuting distance of a grammar!)

WooWooOwl Wed 13-Nov-13 08:15:20

Intitgrand - I base it on my experience of families I know who receive FSMs.

Perfect - it would not be fraud. It's completely legal, because maintenance payments are not considered at all for eligibility for benefits.

aciddrops Wed 13-Nov-13 11:33:23

*What about the children who recieve pupil premium at the same time as receiving more than adequate maintenance payments from a non resident parent?

That would be fraud.*

Actually, no it wouldn't. Maintenance is not taken into account when applying for benefits.

aciddrops Wed 13-Nov-13 11:34:58

Sorry, just noticed previous post.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 15:52:01

Perfect - it would not be fraud. It's completely legal, because maintenance payments are not considered at all for eligibility for benefits.

They aren't counted where working person's benefits are concerned - but you aren't entitled to free school meals if you work unless household income is below £16k a year. If maintenance doesn't lift a family above that threshold then they're poor.

Maintenance is considered when calculating out-of-work benefits. That was the primary reason for the Child Support Act, in fact.

Always useful, facts.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 15:57:48

Surely if you ban private school kids from taking the 11+, what will happen is that those parents will send their kids to state schools and then tutor them through it? After all, the poor but bright kids will still be competing against those same privileged kids, no matter where the latter go to school. I think the huge demand for grammar school places is an indication that we actually need more grammar schools. There's none near us.

A poster below pointed out that families who would send their kids privately are ones that care a lot about their kids' education, and as such tend to be very involved in PTAs and in supplementing educational opportunities. So it's certainly arguable that state schools would benefit from this, too.

I think making the tests far harder to coach for, and refusing to provide past papers or to allow kids to remove them when they left the examination hall, would be a best first option, together with an income threshold higher than 16k as a queue-jumping mechanism, though. Because treating 93% of kids as all equally privileged or otherwise makes no sense to me.

Do prep schools not usually prepare children for CE rather than the 11+?

WooWooOwl Wed 13-Nov-13 16:10:00

You're right, facts are useful.

If you're not working and your household income is less than just over £16k, you are entitled to child tax credits, which will bring your income over £16k. You would still be entitled to free school meals and maintenance payments are not taken into account.



Housing benefit and council tax reduction are also available to people both in and out of work, and child maintenance payments are disregarded for these benefits too.


Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 16:35:55

And surely not all private school kids are average and over-tutored. Some of them are quite bright.

This is my daughter except she isn't "quite bright" - she's outstanding. Across the board. And I do admit that I would have concerns as to how this would be addressed in the state system

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 16:39:42

But perfect what about somebody on £17 k?

As I said the places for the under £16 would come from the lowest end(those who can't afford private or a tutor) not the richest end.

I hate the constant Tory empty gesture of help for anybody on fsm only.It's the same with uni help etc.

They know full well it doesn't actually do much,makes them look like they care about social mobility and the less well off(they don't) and keeps the lower squeezed middle who they loathe at arms length and kept in check.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 16:41:36

Fleta loads of outstandingly bright state children have to get on with it and miss out on grammar places later on.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 16:45:01

If you can afford private primary at least somebody like you could send them to state primary and then private secondary after if they don't get a grammar place.

Most children not so privileged have to suck up state x 2 and no grammar as routine.They survive even though the loss of grammar places is incredibly unfair.

DamnBamboo Wed 13-Nov-13 17:42:15

Perfect - the point I'm trying to make is my son should have no extra opportunity versus prep school kids, just simply because he is in state school. Given the quality of his school, the additional support and learning environment he is exposed to (and there will be plenty more like him) - he is not disadvantaged and so the blanket rule as in OP makes no sense.

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 17:42:21

Retro - I'd be interested to see comparisons actually (that reads antagonistically, but I mean I genuinely would be) of children at a similar level to DD and how they get supported in the state system.

I don't understand the point of your second post - are you saying I should be sending private for secondary not for primary so as not to take someone else's place at grammar? No can do, I was simply not prepared to send DD to the school she was given.

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 17:43:26

Not really sure of the point of the "somebody like you" - given you know nothing about my/our circumstances other than we're sending DD privately for primary at the moment

DamnBamboo Wed 13-Nov-13 17:43:38

Sorry Perfect I answered the wrong question. Will go back and read your post and comment on that specifically

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 17:48:20

Woo, I apologise; you're correct and the law changed in April 2010, so benefits aren't affected by child maintenance. Quite surprised by that as it was the driving aim behind the CSA in the first place (in fact originally, claimant parent cases queue-jumped the non-claimant as a result).

Having said that, given the cap on child maintenance, average earning levels in the country, and the fact that the income levels otherwise are very low, a family getting benefit and maintenance is still pretty likely to be poor. I suppose very high earners whose exes can claim additional sums through the Children Act might be coining it, but that will be a vanishingly small minority overall. It's a loophole for a few.

The problem is that I'm pretty sure there will be one or two such cases represented in the 0.8% FSM kids attending the top-ranked grammar near us, because family income and attainment are so closely linked and so the chances are such families will be statistically over-represented to the nth degree. It's an unfair advantage to those kids, so I'd agree a better measure would be to require full disclosure of all income, wherever originating and then set a threshold limit (and I'd set it higher than the benefits level ,too - a family can be poor and not entitled to much help at all). I can see why the government wanted to boost the life chances of kids from single parent homes, and to encourage NRP to pay, knowing the money would actually benefit their children. But if that were translated into a head start at grammar school admissions time, then the small minority who do well from the changes are likely to be over-represented that an alternative route needs to be found. The core principle though - that children from very low income homes deserve a boost at the admissions stage - is sound I think.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 17:51:30

DamnBamboo I completely agree; made the same point about my own child. He's at a state school, but it's Outstanding and both parents spend a lot of time encouraging him educationally, having been lucky enough to be well educated themselves. He's not remotely deprived and shouldn't really be able to jump the queue ahead of anyone. Though given I don't want him to apply to the grammar, and at 5 he's too small for it to be an issue anyway, it's easy for me to say. grin

I do think there should be a boost for kids from poorer homes. I just don't think a state/private divide is the way to achieve that, because stacks of kids in state schools are very privileged.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:52:59

And those just over or in the middle who can't afford tuition,private,G&T courses,uni help- those kids can go hang whilst going even further down the 11+ pass list?So just the very rich and the poorest get places?hmm

Fleta didn't mean "someone like you"

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Wed 13-Nov-13 17:54:00

ooh this word privileged.Retro can you please give me a break down of what you think privileged means?

I will tell you what I think it means, to me it means old money.

It means very old money passed on from generation to generation like the Goldsmiths or Rothschilds.

I know people who send their children to private school and do not look at them with nasty green eyes either and they work fucking hard for their money, they made choices and took advantage of anything they could to get where they are, which isn't privileged or amazingly rich.

They do not go on fancy holidays, or have sky and the rest of it,

They do not have rich backgrounds, not all of them went to grammer school just your usual comp and not special comps either.

We are on an income of 18k a year, are we privileged too retro?

Do you know what, we could leave our house and go and live in a caravan like my father and mother when they got married and we could spend all our money on tutors or private school.

People do exist and live in one rooms, large families all over the world.

Do you live in one room?

Because if you really really really wanted to do something about your situation you could.

I cannot stand this victim mentality.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:54:28

Lucky you perfect with your Outstanding school.What about those not so fortunate?

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 17:55:07

Apologies Retro - a bit touchy there blush

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:58:32

Oh get off your over dramatic high horse the vast maj of people work hard and could never dream of affording private fees- ever.

Oh and pointing out unfairness in a discussion isn't victim mentality.Sorry.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:59:31

Sorry that was to Elf.

Fleta in mainstream your dd would get sfa.grin

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 18:01:28

But perfect what about somebody on £17 k?

As I said the places for the under £16 would come from the lowest end(those who can't afford private or a tutor) not the richest end.

I agree; I've already said I think the admissions cut-off for a boost needs to be higher than DSM (at least I think I have - baby brain plus sleep deprivation plus ramblings at such length may mean I never got round to it! grin) It's what I believe. Right now people use FSM because it's a readily available and easily-acessed guage, but I'd support its extension because a lot of people, especially families on minimum wage for example, are pretty poor but don't qualify. (Actually I also support extending FSM to more low income families, too, because it's a great way of ensuring tax money goes straight into poorer kids' tummies, but that's a whole other thread.)

My basic belief is there should be the same sort of assessments private schools operate when handing out bursaries: they want a flat statement of all income from all sources and then if you fall below it, you're eligible for the boost. Hard cheese for those £100 pa above, I agree, but that will always happen where there's a cut-off. And asking for a completed statement similar to that you need for student loans/grants would be pretty straightforward to administer - after all, not that many applicants would even be eligible. Only 2k families applied for grammars in the county last year, so if the LA only need to process a couple of hundred claim forms, that's not the end of the council tax payer's world.

Sorry to repeat post so much - very scattergun brain at this point in the week. Plusthere's a star wars i-Pad game pew-pewing away to my left. When it's not Imperial Death March-ing sonorously. Not great for concentration!

drwitch Wed 13-Nov-13 18:02:11

I think the easiest answer would be to set a different exam based on the assumption that children at prep schools are taught more intensively.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:08:52


perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 18:10:51

Retro, I've covered that in my statement that some of the people who can afford to live in the catchment of an Outstanding school are entirely possibly every bit as privileged as those who send privately, and hence shouldn't get a jump on grammar school admissions. I'm all for helping people from less privileged backgrounds have fair and equal access to elite educational opportunity and very interested in ensuring that happens. What I'm not interested in is people like me trying to elbow out private school opposition, solely so our little darlings can proceed into Eton for Free unchallenged. If you make it a straightforward case of state school first, privileged kids in the maintained sector will still force out bright disadvantaged ones, and that's a worry. If you look at income thresholds based on money coming in to a family from any and all sources, then you have a shot at at least a little more educational equality of opportunity.

I know a woman who works at a minimum wage job every hour she gets - she has two - so her kid can go to private prep. She and her husband live on his really rather low income to make that possible. They live near a failing school and they're in negative equity. I don't think she should have her child banned from applying to grammar, when she can't begin to look at moving into the catchment of a good secondary - least of all if that same rule allowed my kids to apply, without competition from any private school ones. All I'm saying is that if you want to boost the odds of disadvantaged kids, which I do, then let's try to find a system that does that.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:18:04

Thing is unless the threshold was high say £100k as you suggest the same old lot in the middle that miss out on everything would on this too.

Also it doesn't solve the problem of private schools free of the NC getting kids in who shouldn't be there(and who later struggle)by teaching to the 11+ which seemed to be a concern for Sutton.

I guess the bottom line is there is no answer hence the problem.Perhaps that is why they've just suggested what they have.

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 18:25:02

Playing devil's advocate, supposing there was a harder exam for privately educated children, what happens if STILL more are getting in?

Interestingly, I only know of one older child so far in DD's school that has left the private system and they've gone to the local comp.

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 18:26:09

Another idea - apologies if it has been mentioned.

How about private preps earning their charitable status by providing free tutoring for non-pupils for those that want to take it up?

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 18:28:53

There were a fair few such private kids at my uni, actually. I knew someone who worked for the counselling service and she said they had a number who were in that boat - actually, they were drowning. I felt so sorry for them. And I think the preparation levels for grammar school admissions are actually toxic for the kids who attend because the level of competitiveness is so off the scale that they're all pretty obsessed by grades and achievement, as well as those who fail to secure places after years of coaching - imagine how that must feel, at just 11? Knowing you weren't good enough, and your parents have spent all that money? It makes me flinch. There is so much wrong with the current admissions system, even leaving aside how effective it is as a tool for assessing ability. I do think a discussion could usefully be had on how to address the admissions process so it works better for all the kids involved, whether they get in or not.

We decided quite early on not to apply for DS, though the grammar is one of the top 5 in the country and as far as you can tell at this early stage he's a bright boy, because of what we hear of the pressures on the children concerned. If they aren't in the top 30% or so, they feel failures. And these are kids who are very bright, for the most part at least. It affects the achievers under most normal criteria as well as the over-prepared, because they're thrown in amongst bright children with Tiger parents, by definition. They're children, and I would hope learning because it's fun shouldn't be crushed out of them so completely at such an early stage. If the new baby has a very different personality to DS I may have a rethink, but they'll need to be a complete Type A personality to benefit from being educated in a pressure cooker, I think.

I suppose that's the reason I can be relaxed about all this, though. It doesn't directly affect my child, because we're lucky enough to have positive alternatives.

WooWooOwl Wed 13-Nov-13 18:46:59

Perfect, thanks for the apology smile

We are lucky to have very positive alternatives to the grammar school too, I have one at GS and one at an outstanding comp, (didnt put him in for the 11+ because we have a great alternative) but the outstanding comp has plenty of disadvantaged families in its catchment as well as families who are comfortably off. With an intake of 200 each year, there are children from all backgrounds, and we happen to live in an area with a lot of travellers. Many of them are settled but not all, and among them few of their parents even completed secondary education.

This is pretty much the same story for all of the primary schools as well, although with smaller numbers of each kind of family.

In your post at 18.10, you make it sound like if you live in a catchment to an outstanding school, then you must be reasonably privileged, and that's just not the case.

It seems to me like all these problems that are being brought up because of the grammar admissions system would disappear if

1) Every primary school was outstanding - or at least good with outstanding features

2) There were enough grammar school places for every child that was found to be academically able enough whose parents decided that type of education would suit them.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:47:08

I'm wrestling with the whether that environment is healthy thing.I agree good alternatives would help massively- Outstanding schools with great facilities and buildings. Kind of a tall order though.

IndiansOnTheRailroad Wed 13-Nov-13 18:49:24

Our Grammar is also one of the top 5 in the country (well, it was last year, and the year before, etc etc). AFAIA the kids not in the top 30% (and DD1 certainly wasn't for some subjects) don't feel like failures. DD1 certainly didn't. And she certainly isn't a Type A personality. Nor is DD2 and she has just achieved an 11+ result that will get her in. She's fiercer than DD1 but not assertive on an absolute scale.

People really do have some strange ideas of what Grammar schools are like. In my experience, they aren't that different to other state schools. Except in the speed at which the lessons are conducted and the amount of self motivation the kids have.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:51:20

Firmly believe that focusing on primaries is crucial.If all kids had more of an equal op in the first place at doing the 11+ ie had primary education on a par to private and Outstanding schools there wouldn't be so much beef and more kids there who should be.

Not only that better primaries would boost standards at secondary.Makes me so angry hearing about kids who leave primary unable to read and write.They don't stand a chance at secondary.

WooWooOwl Wed 13-Nov-13 18:56:22

I also think it's worth pointing out that grammar schools are not like private schools in most ways. The facilities are nowhere near comparable, and as the grammar schools have always had good results, they have never benefitted for the injection of funds that many other state schools have.

The GS we use only has the facilities (still not great, and nowhere near as good as those in local private schools) it does because parents who could have afforded to use private schools make large donations. Parents who have something to give professionally do so, be it in careers advice to older students or work work experience placements etc.

If you took all that cash and all those parents away from the school, I doubt it would get the results it does. Then the state school children would end up with even more disadvantage compared to their private school counterparts, because all those resources would remain in the private sector.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 19:03:44

I agree it depends on where you live - the thing is, where I live, which is also a town with one of the top grammars in the country, the best comp is in a catchment that is for the most part privileged, and increasingly so now the primary is also Outstanding and the catchment for the comp more clearly defined by distance, as more and more families try to buy their way in. The premium on houses locally is big if they're in the catchment. The stats on free school meals (again!) show that low income families are very under-represented indeed. There is also an Outstanding primary a couple of miles away in a very deprived area, but that score's down to value-added. The kids leave at average attainment levels which is wonderful when their relative starting points are considered, but you couldn't call them privileged on that basis, no. And most of their best performing kids wouldn't make it into a grammar unless they had a leg-up, though I'd imagine they might well thrive.

The state/private divide is just too broad a brush for admissions.

I don't really know what the answer is, because if there were enough places for all kids able enough you'd end up with people like me sending them as the competitiveness would be less toxic, and then you'd end up with a two-tier system, with secondary moderns and grammars again. Which was hard as hell on late bloomers. And I don't think we'll ever be able to achieve universal excellence at primary level, at least without the kind of financial investment the Finnish government make. Which is not likely, politically.

Maybe old fashioned streaming, with more movement between the streams and the top streams very academic and pushed indeed, might be an answer, too? No idea how workable that is, or if it's even workable at all, but I'm reluctant to throw so many on the discard pile as not academic, QED, at 11.

My DH is the working class immigrant result of a grammar school, incidentally. Neither parent is that academic, and they certainly aren't privileged at all. But the coaching culture didn't really exist to the same extent when he applied, and his grammar was a lot less competitive than ours because it isn't in a hugely affluent London borough. The results were still stellar, though. Maybe the question should be, why are we not offering that level of education to all our kids, instead of quarreling about a tiny pie available to the lucky few? Aaaaand then we're back at the Finland/taxation point.

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