Middle class access to grammars via tutorproof 11+ part 2

(1000 Posts)
boschy Thu 06-Dec-12 13:27:32

May I do this? only there were some contrasting views at the end of the last thread which I found interesting.

One was mine (sorry!): "I think fear actually drives a lot of those parents who are desperate to get their child into GS, so they can be 'protected' from these gangs of feral teenagers who apparently run rampage through every non-selective school in the country.

Because clearly if you are not 11+ material you are a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who likes nothing better than beating up a geek before breakfast and then going to score behind the bike shed before chucking a chair at the maths teacher and making the lives of the nice but dim kids a misery."

And one was from gazzalw: "If you had the choice would you opt for a grammar school or a comprehensive that has gangs?"

Soooo, do people really think that all comprehensives have vicious gangs, and all GS children are angels? Or that only those of academic ability adequate enough to get them through the 11+ should not have to face behavioural disruption of any kind? If you are borderline, or struggling but still work hard, should you just have to put up with disruption because let's face it you're not academic?

PS, re the knuckle dragging Neanderthals I mention above, should have said - "and that's only the girls" grin

thezoobmeister Thu 06-Dec-12 13:35:29

Yes of course social class comes into it. This is Britain after all ...

Too often, I find those who didn't themselves go to a comp think children with working class accents = gangs. There is a lot of fear caused by ignorance. Actually my DH used to have this attitude until I enlightened him smile

Marni23 Thu 06-Dec-12 13:44:58

I don't think anyone thinks that 'all comprehensives have vicious gangs' and that's not what gazzalw said. But I suspect that gazzalw lives very close to me. And there are comprehensives in the area that most definitely do have gangs. And I wouldn't send my DC to some of them if you paid me. There are other comps in the area, however, that are very good.
That's the problem with this debate; we're not dealing with absolutes when it comes to educational choices, because the educational provision available to people varies so much in quality.

dashoflime Thu 06-Dec-12 13:46:52

Obviously most working class teenagers aren't in gangs.
There are some serious problems with school provision in London and the south east though. If someone from there tells me there are no decent comprehensives in their area, I generally believe them.

On mumsnet we tend to see the hand wringing middle classes desperately chasing grammer school places or considering private.

What we don't tend to see, but which also certainly exists are working class parents who have been offered no school place, or a school place miles and miles away that they cant afford transport to, or a place in a badly failing school and can do nothing about it.

Until a lot more investment is put into the comprehensive system, especially in densely populated areas, there will be this scramble to escape the worst options.

I agree that children of all abilities need a good learning environment.

boschy Thu 06-Dec-12 13:52:56

Hmmm, I didnt actually mention class in my OP! But yes, this is Britain...

There are no decent comps in my area of North London. Literally none.
My DCs are at selectives but my youngest (9) will not be going for a grammar school place, its not for him.
So he will be going to ds1 old school which is in cheshunt. We have to go out of london to find a comp we would even consider.

boschy Thu 06-Dec-12 13:55:14

But fair enough, it is in the title, which was carried forward from the previous thread.

I just dont think it is only the middle classes (whatever that means) who want and deserve a good education for their children via the state.

Pinning my 'truly comprehensive' system colours to the mast here I think.

Marni23 Thu 06-Dec-12 14:00:25

Of course not, I think most people want that. But unfortunately, unless you can access a good 'true' comprehensive (which I agree would be the best system) then the debate is academic and parents will understandably try to get the best education they can for their DC, including grammars and indies if they are available/affordable.

gazzalw Thu 06-Dec-12 14:07:41

Thanks for fighting my corner Marni 23 and if my memory serves me correctly we are 'close neighbours' in London termsgrin.

And no I didn't mean all children at comprehensives (or indeed hale from working class backgrounds) are in gangs. Honestly! I was one of those working class kids once and I was definitely not in a gang and I didn't ever get into any type of bother at all. There are lots of perfectly decent working class children in all schools just as there are nasty middle-class children too. I was not making any distinction along class lines at all and if you had read my comment you could not possibly believe that I would betray my class by birth in making such a sweeping and ignorant comment.

But there are two boys comprehensives that my DS could have applied to (quite apart from the mixed ones virtually on our doorstep about which I know little except by bad reputation, albeit word-of-mouth), one of which educated the gang member killed in Oxford Street last Christmas and the other of which is renowned for its gangs.

My DS is quite self-contained and to date has been lucky enough not to be bullied but put him near a load of overly street-wise kids and you can see him visibly cowering. For sure he would not have thrived in such a secondary school environment. This despite being happily educated in primary school amidst a real cross section of Society!

However that is not likely to be the scenario in other parts of the Country at all.

Having looked at the Secondary School State League Table published in The Sunday Times t'other week, there were some comprehensives which just missed the top 100 (including St Philomena's in Carshalton which is a true comprehensive except in religious terms) in the UK, beating some of the lesser grammar schools hands down....

dashoflime Thu 06-Dec-12 14:11:46

"I just dont think it is only the middle classes (whatever that means) who want and deserve a good education for their children via the state."

Yes, totally agree. I was responding to the mention of class in the thread title.

Also to the fact that mumsnet seems to see a lot of debate over the legitimacy of various "middle class" solutions to the problem e.g: spending money on tutors, private schooling, moving catchment area etc...

The wider issue of course, is the much larger numbers of children who's parents are unable to access these solutions. These children are really on the sharp end and it isn't fair sad

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Dec-12 14:22:49

Surely the correct punchline about knuckle-dragging neanderthals is 'and that's just the teachers aaaah' wink

Were I in a GS area, I am sure I wouldn't be happy about my children not passing the test: I can see how in that situation you'd want the better end of what the state was offering. What I wouldn't do based on that is think that the system was right, fair or equitable, or that clever children can't thrive near less clever ones.

boschy Thu 06-Dec-12 14:25:34

gazza I was unfair to quote you like that, because it was selective (ha!) so my apologies for that.

But I do get this feeling of drawbridges being raised, for protection against the 'thick' or the poorly behaved - and both those categories actually form a pretty small percentage of the population of most non-selective state schools.

boschy Thu 06-Dec-12 14:27:04

boom boom TOSN! Nah, the teachers are the ones doing the dealing behind the bike sheds, obv, coz they couldnt get a job in a GS innit?
(That is a JOKE before anyone tries to decapitate me).

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Dec-12 14:28:58

Some posters have repeatedly suggested that less academic children are prone to bully and threaten anyone who does well academically. I don't see this, to be honest - but I can see that if you fail a certain hurdle, and are educated in one place because of it, you may well become disaffected and resentful toward anyone who seems better at the thing you failed at, iyswim.

It's probably quite a human response: oh, stupid am I? well who wants to be clever anyway?

gelo Thu 06-Dec-12 14:31:34

I'm fairly sure there aren't gangs at my local comp. But a child starting there relatively recently witnessed a fight in the corridor, a child absconding down the street with a teacher in full pursuit and was given advice on how to shoplift lunch from the local supermarket without being caught - all on the first day there!

boschy Thu 06-Dec-12 14:44:44

TOSN you say "Were I in a GS area, I am sure I wouldn't be happy about my children not passing the test: I can see how in that situation you'd want the better end of what the state was offering".

I am in a GS area, and actually I dont think the GS are all that tbh. Much narrower curriculum; much more static teaching and less involving lessons; ongoing truly appalling behaviour at one (boys) GS in particular. Our SM results are on a par with and in some areas exceed the GS.

DD1 didnt do the 11+, there's no way she would have passed. DD2 did it because she wanted to, but we didnt tutor her or even spend much time looking at previous papers, and she did not pass. We were actually delighted - we knew that she would love the school she is at now, where DD1 is - and I was terrified that she would pass, want to go to the GS and that it was completely the wrong place for her personality and talents (even though she is pretty much top set in the SM).

Anecdotes do not = data, I know...

seeker Thu 06-Dec-12 14:49:15

The bottom line for menus that in grammar school areas ( not in suprselective only areas, obviously) 75ish% of children AF publicly told they are failures at the age of 10. Nothing is worth doing that to a cohort of children.

gazzalw Thu 06-Dec-12 14:55:09

I don't think it is necessarily the less academic children who bully (DW was badly bullied - only it wasn't called that then it was teasing - at a grammar school) but I think most of us would probably admit that the few memorable bad eggs can do an enormous amount to harm the reputation of any school. But it does tend to be the disaffected ones with chips on their shoulders who are prone to pick on the 'good/clever/sporty' ones IMHO.

Plenty of DS's lovely classmates went to comprehensive schools but it's not without significance that virtually half the class elected to go out of Borough to super-selectives, steamed comps or better comprehensives with a more mixed intake than is possible locally.

Bonsoir Thu 06-Dec-12 15:00:17

My DSS1 was in his local state school, in a comfortable suburb very close to Paris, from age 3-15. We changed him to a private school for lycée, which he immediately found a hell of a lot more comfortable. But sadly a lot of damage has been done to his personal development by spending so long in a system where he was not stretched or challenged in any way.

dinkybinky Thu 06-Dec-12 15:05:17

In our area it’s the GS children who deal/smoke drugs at 14/15. There are also lots of children doing drugs at Private schools so it’s unfair to paint a bad picture of a child at state school.

dinkybinky Thu 06-Dec-12 15:09:19

75ish% of children AF publicly told they are failures at the age of 10. Nothing is worth doing that to a cohort of children.

There has to be a cut off somewhere

Its up to the parents to put their egos aside and decide whether GS is suitable for their child. Most children are not cut out for selective schools despite what the parents think. Personally I think it is more detrimental for a child to be tutored all through school just to keep up with the rest than fail one test at 10 years old.

OhDearConfused Thu 06-Dec-12 15:11:57

dinkybinky there is another alternative .....

TalkinPeace2 Thu 06-Dec-12 15:15:44

Those panicking about school entry have to remember that the London system is much more broken than the rest of the country.
In London, 1/3 of kids do not get their first choice school
elsewhere its as low as 5%

and at the school Carol service in the Abbey with the mayor and local bigwigs there, I saw no evidence of gangs at my kids comp grin

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 16:36:43

Look...I hate to be blunt, but the huge elephant in the corner of the room here, is that even if you have a comprehensive, that is setted for core subjects...the top set in the comprehensive still isn't going to compare with the top set in a grammar school.

Our local GS creams off the top 25% - and then has 5 sets for core subjects. This means that the top set in the GS is the top 5% of the hihest ability pupils.

The comprehensive doesn't cream off the top 25% ...so, even if it has 5 sets for core subjects, those 5 sets are going to have to incorporate 100% of the pupil range, regardless of their ability.

So...the top set at a comprehensive is going to have to contain a larger range of pupils, from the very high achievers to just farly high achievers. The top set at a comp would probably only be comparable to sets 1 & 2 (possibly with the top half of set 3 thrown in?) at your average GS.

In contrast the top set in a grammar school is only going to contain the very, very highest achievers - just the very top 5%, of the already top 25% of pupils selected for academic ability.

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 16:41:16

"The bottom line for menus that in grammar school areas ( not in suprselective only areas, obviously) 75ish% of children AF publicly told they are failures at the age of 10. Nothing is worth doing that to a cohort of children."

No...they are told they have failed a test for academic ability, that's all. It's not like they have been officially informed they have failed as human beings, or anything.

FFS 75% of pupils fail it...it's not like failing the 11+ is marking them out as outcasts, for goodness sake. They are actually part of the large majority which do fail it.

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