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

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 16:44:07

Locally, and through school children have try-outs for football, rugby, cricket, hockey and tennis clubs. They have tests for local orchestras and choirs, auditions for the local drama and gym clubs, try-outs for the local swim clubs...it's endless.

Many, many children fail to get in. That's life.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 06-Dec-12 16:45:25

But academic ability is not all there is in life.
Sport, Art, music, drama, travel are all things that enrich the learning experience
that and an understanding of the thought processes of those who are not academic

something that is SEVERELY lacking in our politicians who have never set foot outside a selective environment in their gilded lives
hence why they make such crap decisions about people they do not comprehend

it may be that the bottom of the top set at DCs comp are thick by your standards, but they seem to do pretty well at University and onwards.

Well surely the parents putting their children through the selection process know the success-failure rate.
If you choose to put your child into a process knowing that 75% of children don't make it, you can't possibly complain that the system makes them feel like failures.
Surely we all go into this with our eyes open and the correct info?

Ds2 will not be doing the selective process because the grammar is not a good fit and he would very much struggle to be in the top 25%
It's doesn't mean he is a failure.

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 16:51:00

Talkin I'm sure they do do well at university. I'm not convinced I would have been GS material, myself...but I got a good degree, anyway.

And, neither am I saying the bottom half a top comprehensive's set would be thick - far from it...I'm just saying they won't be of the very highest ability which you find in a top GS set. How can they be?

Marni23 Thu 06-Dec-12 16:51:12

That's an interesting pointLaQueen and I was thinking about it in relation to my own secondary education earlier today.
I went to a comprehensive, in quite a nice area. It was unusual in that it streamed quite rigidly and there were only 15 of us in the 'top' class (we did Latin grin.)
Even so, the outcomes in terms of OLevels differed a lot within the 15 of us. Some of us got 9, all/mostly As. Some got 6-7 mostly Cs and some Bs.
So there's no way that the class was equivalent to Grammar School.

I guess the next question is, does it matter? The top of the top set still got great results, so I'm not sure what difference going to a Grammar would have made

Marni23 Thu 06-Dec-12 16:52:56

Mind you, the teaching was pretty uninspiring

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 16:54:43

Exactly Tantrums ...there's simply no way on Earth I would be entering our DDs into the GS system if I didn't have an awful lot of confidence that they would thrive at a GS, backed-up by positive encouragement from their teachers.

I want my DD to enjoy going to school, and I'm confident that they would enjoy the educational environment at the GS smile

Personally, I don't think GS would have been ^ a good fit^ for me, actually. I was always gifted at English...but maths and the sciences? Meh...not so much. I was arty, and creative and thrived at my bohemian Steiner school, instead smile

Exactly, that's ds2. Creative, arty and I'm sure he will do well but not at a selective.
People cannot blame the process if they are still willing to take the chance, knowing that there's only a 25% success rate.

If you believe your dc is in the top 25%, and you believe in the grammar system then go for it.
But if in actual fact they do not pass, they certainley haven't become failures at 10.

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 17:02:22

Marni well, exactly...it's not exactly rocket science, is it...but, it's the elephant in the room on MN...we all have to pretend that the top set in a good comprehensive is the equal of the top set in a GS FFS...how the Hell can it be?

In a GS you're selecting the top 5% of an already academic elite of the top 25%...in a comp you're selecting the top 20% of everyone ...do the numbers, please hmm

My DH went to a GS. He was in the top set for maths, so the top 5%, of the already top 25%... everyone in his maths set took O Level Maths a year early, they all got As...the next year his top set took A Level Double Maths, they all sat the exam a year earlier than regular pupils...they all got an A.

This was absolutely expected and standard practice, year in and year out, for the top maths set at his GS. Every year at least 1, if not 2 pupils went up to Oxbridge a year early.

This doesn't happen in the top maths set in a comprehensive.

OhDearConfused Thu 06-Dec-12 17:29:44

Got a maths degree, but am confused by your maths LaQueen. smile I think you didn't mean top 5% of the top 25% - but in fact meant the top 25% of the top 25% (meaning the top 5% of the original cohort across the GS county).

Anyway, not convinced that is an elephant in the room that people are worried about (the spread of abilities in the top set). First I've heard of this concern on the many, many, many debates on MN on these issues.

OhDearConfused Thu 06-Dec-12 17:32:32

tantrums I'm not in a GS county, but it seems to me that if you do live in one you really don't have any choice but to go for a GS and risk the failure (and I do believe it will feel like a failure to a 10 yr old however you dress it up). Most people on here want to avoid the neanderthals mentioned (here or the original thread, can't remember), and it seems you need - if I understand people correctly - to get into a GS to avoid them!

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 17:35:01

Like I said Ohdear I was always meh when it came to maths wink

Yes, I basically meant that - rather than in a comp, the top set being just taking 25% of everyone IYSWIM?

I've read many, many of these GS threads, and the observation that the top set in a comprehensive is comparable to the top set in a GS has oft been mentioned, honest wink

PlaySchool Thu 06-Dec-12 17:36:51

I'm just wondering why people think grammars are populated by nicer children. There are some pretty obnoxious rich, clever kids too.

seeker Thu 06-Dec-12 17:42:41

I'm puzzled. People are saying that the top set of a comprehensive is not the same as a grammar school.

In areas (the majority) where there are no grammars, where do the people who would have gone to the grammar school if there was one go? Presumably to the comprehensive school to populate the top set?

PlaySchool Thu 06-Dec-12 17:45:06

Seeker agreed. Totally illogical argument.

seeker Thu 06-Dec-12 17:45:17

Can I ask- have the people who are saying that children do not feel failures if they fail the 11+ ever seen a year 6 class on results day? Or live in a town where this "sorting" happens?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Dec-12 17:47:30

But so what if it isn't, laqueen, if the members of the comprehensive top set are still there doing what they would have, and some other people get to be in the top set who might have been set two in a grammar, who loses?

OhDearConfused Thu 06-Dec-12 17:49:32

LaQueen meh likewise for me too on the maths. Top 25% of top 25% is not 5 but the top 6.25% of the overall. wink

You might be right (ok, you are) but do people really care about the extra concentration / smaller spread of abilities? If the DCs are amongst bright kids, does it really matter if they are all as bright (as in the more concentrated streams in the GS) with a spread of say 2% "brightness" rather than some 10% brighter others 10% thicker not so bright.

Not sure I would care to be honest.

Once you get the behaviour sorted out of course so the culture of learning is there .... as pre the discussion at the end of the last thread.

OhDearConfused Thu 06-Dec-12 17:50:47

TOSN exactly!

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 17:55:27

Yep, seeker of course, what you say is true. In a comprehensive top maths set, you will find exactly the same pupils who would have been in the top maths set in a GS.

However - at the comprehensive they have all abilities to cater and stream for. This means that in the comprehensive top set they will have a mixture ranging between the exceptional to the very good.

In a GS you don't have to make that distinction between exceptional and just very good - in the top maths set you can just have the very top elite. So, the lesson can be directed faster and higher to cater for only them, no need to explain anything more than once for the pupils who are only good. IYSWIM?

gelo Thu 06-Dec-12 17:56:57

So in LaQueens example the top GS set is the top 5% of the entire cohort and in her comp it's the top 20%. So 4x bigger ability range in the comp which is noticeable, but not too bad, and actually it will be less than this since the ability spread in the top 5% is greater than for each of the half deciles below it (think of the shape of the bell curve).

In any case, all the GSs I've ever encountered don't set since they claim to already have a highly selective intake which leaves a class ability spread about the same as the comp, but without the ability to move the low performers down. Actually it will probably be much bigger in this GS, since they can't set by subject, so within the able overall cohort there will be some who are lower at maths or english, but got in on the strength of their other subjects.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Dec-12 17:57:00

Well, as someone with a child in top sets, at a comprehensive, I haven't found that to be the case. Maybe they could go faster, I suppose that's always possible, but I can't really see to what purpose.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Dec-12 17:58:17

Also, not all teaching is 'whole class teaching': you can differentiate so that the exceptional can move on whilst the merely very good thrive also.

Arisbottle Thu 06-Dec-12 18:00:18

I teach at a comprehensive and the top of our top sets are comparable to a grammar school , possibly because we are in the edge of the catchment and our parents seem to want a comprehensive . Last year we had students achieving top national marks in exams and every year we send students to Oxford and Cambridge . We also pick up some grammar students at A level and they are rarely at the top of our class .

So if parents value a comprehensive education it is simply wrong to say that it necessarily offers lower academic standards than a grammar.

LaQueen Thu 06-Dec-12 18:00:53

Because Nit the very highest achieving pupils in the top maths set will be pulled back (even if only slightly) by having lesser able (but still good ability) pupils in their set - the teacher has to repeat, has to explain more etc.

Look at the difference between the expected (and pretty much guaranteed) results in my DH's GS top maths set, and the results of your average top maths set in a comprehensive. They don't compare.

Now...maybe, my DH and his mates in his top maths set at GS would have done equally well in the top set of a comprehensive - but I'm not so sure. The lessons simply couldn't have been driven so fast, or so far, or so high because the teacher would have needed to cater for the pupils in the set who weren't quite as good.

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