Considering move to East Kent but unsure how I feel about the selective school system

(100 Posts)
jeanniedeans Fri 22-Feb-13 09:39:37

We are lucky enough to be in a position to choose where we move to next (we are currently living in Scotland) although the decision is proving a little daunting. Top of my list of potential locations is Canterbury, Kent, although one major sticking point is the grammar school system they have there. My partner and I were both educated at state comprehensives and I confess to knowing very little about how the grammar school system works. Our kids are only 6 and 2, so this might seem a little premature, but we want to get this move right and feel very ill-informed right now. My main concerns are 1) if the kids were to get in to the local grammar school, would the school be very 'results' driven (ie focusing on academic subjects rather than giving the kids a more 'well-rounded' education, and 2) do the non-selective schools suffer as a result of being in an area where there are several selective state schools? Any advice people could give me on this would be much appreciated. Thank you.

racingheart Fri 22-Feb-13 10:21:29

Jeannie, I don't know Kent, but have been considering the same issues about academic schools. TBH, I wouldn't worry. Being in an academic environment doesn't in any way need to be at the expense of a rich life elsewhere. They just spend less time faffing around, and covering ground that bright children grasped weeks ago. As parents, we can make sure our children have lots of fun and variety outside school. What we can't do is govern how well-focused their school day is, except by choosing schools carefully.

mycatoscar Fri 22-Feb-13 10:29:29

I live in west Kent and went to grammar, there was definitely a social divide between my friends at year 7. The grammar was quite pressured but I was happy there. Fast forward 20 years and my younger sister in law is now at grammar and is under a lot of pressure to perform and take gcses early etc. if she gets lower than an a in an assignment then she is made to go to lunchtime lessons until she catches up. They are extremely focused on ffp targets and results. However, she is a bright girl and will come out with good results and get into a good uni I'm sure. She has given up almost all her hobbies to concentrate on school but seems happy.

With regards to targets and results, I think all schools are under huge pressure right now so it may not be a grammar thing as such. I'm a year 6 teacher and I find it sad that even at that age we have to have such ridiculously high expectations.

jeanniedeans Fri 22-Feb-13 18:43:24

Thanks for your comments. One of our other options (for a place to move to) is another part of the country where there is just one state comprehensive in the (much smaller) town, which got me thinking about the differences between the two systems. I like the sound of Canterbury in many ways, but I don't really like the idea of my kids having to sit a test at age 11 to determine where they go to school next. I realise that I don't have to make them do the test if I don't think it's right for them, but I feel unsure about the idea of sending them to a non-selective school in a selective area. Does anyone have any experience of this?

OutsideOverThere Fri 22-Feb-13 19:02:22

Hiya smile

Speaking as someone with a child in y5 (and some younger ones too) the selective system is particularly noticeable in this area.

if your child passes then all well and good. If not then the choice of schools is dreadful...not just me being a snob, they really are and it's common knowledge.

IME the grammars are very very good and not overtly pushy - a bit, of course, but there is well rounded stuff going down as well. Loads of art, music, sport.
the non selective schools are almost universally rough as heck. There's one or two with religious access (and for children not of any faith) but even these are far from great.

HTH a bit.

OutsideOverThere Fri 22-Feb-13 19:04:11

I can recommend you some of the better primaries if that would help too - PM me if you want smile

OutsideOverThere Fri 22-Feb-13 19:06:01

oh and the aforementioned is one reason I think ds will be taking the test - because basically if he doesn't, he's relegated to a very poor choice indeed. He may well not pass but it's got to be worth a try though I hate the test system.

When I took it, many years ago there was an instant divide in our class - resentment and guilt and sadness from all quarters. It's a very bad thing imo.

I think on 1) there are enough grammars that you could find one that suits you, but 2) is very definitely an issue.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Feb-13 19:07:39

I would avoid it-only 3% of the country have grammar schools, which leaves a choice of 97%.

muminlondon Fri 22-Feb-13 19:24:01

Good luck - I think Outsideoverthere summed up the dilemma although I don't live there. As far as I can see one-third of the schools get great results because they are grammars, the other two thirds are below national average on every measure. Although one comprehensive seems to get good Ebacc passes compared to the average. I was talking to a friend who told me that there are comprehensives in Kent which only take children who haven't taken the 11plus so check that out too you may not have a fallback if that is still the case.

jeanniedeans Fri 22-Feb-13 21:19:48

Thanks a lot everyone. This confirms my nagging doubts about the school system. My kids are too young for me to know if they are bright enough to get into a grammar school and I don't want them to be relegated to worse-than-average schooling if they don't get into the selective schools. The area sounds great in many other ways (I was born in Canterbury but left when I was a baby so don't know it, but have done a lot of research) but the education question is enough to put us off from moving there. I guess I was hoping that someone might say yes, the grammars are great, but there are some fab non-selective schools too (which concentrate on other things than academic ability, music, sport, art, vocational subjects etc). If that is not the case, then I think moving there might be too big a risk to take.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Feb-13 21:49:21

if you do not have to move to kent, save yourself the stress

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 07:30:02

Being bright isn't enough - the bright have tutors- it is highly competitive. How would you feel if one passed and the other didn't?

seeker Sat 23-Feb-13 07:45:52

Canterbury is a fantastic place to live, but you are right- the selective system is a disaster. The boy's grammar is changing to become a super-selective too, so will become even harder to get into. Happy to be ruthlessly frank about secondary schools in Canterbury and surrounding towns if you want! Feel free to PM me any question.

QOD Sat 23-Feb-13 08:26:50

Canterbury has some fab non selective schools .....

Yes the High Schools (not comps, you don't get comps in a selective area) have much much lower results but that's mainly because you have the special educational needs children obviously gaining less and lower qualifications. However, you have the mid and top level ability there too who gain average and very good results.

Every area, selective or not, has schools you wouldn't like, with poor results, usually geographically located in lower income areas.
The good thing about selective is that the bright kids in poor areas DO get a chance of a good education.

My DD's friends (grammar) vary from wealthy to very very low income, with the majority average income and below.

I think people don't get it when they don't live in grammar areas. It's just how it is if you were born and bred here!!

FYI, some of the most financially successful adults I know who grew up round here, did NOT go to grammar.

thesnootyfox Sat 23-Feb-13 08:35:43

I'm not keen on Grammar schools for the reasons already given. If you want to keep your options open you could look at somewhere with good comprehensives like Hertfordshire, parts of Hertfordshire are close to the Buckinghamshire border and lots of children take the 11+. If they fail to get in they still have a good comprehensive to fall back on.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 08:37:58

This is the thing that riles me most of all - of course the bright kids in poor area deserve the chance of a good education - but so do all the rest!!! It is very much 'if you are bright you deserve a chance and leg up, but if you are not bright you must know your place and stay there'!!! I don't think it would go down well with middle class parents of a less bright child in a good area to be told ' we don't need to bother much with your child'.

Bigwuss Sat 23-Feb-13 08:38:11

There are some very good non grammar schools in kent, but they can be as hard to get in as the grammar schools as they can require regular church attendance.

I have children at both grammar and non grammar schools and they both suit the differing needs of the children. Both are very rounded schools and my non academic child wouldn't thrive in the grammar. Non selective schools often run a ' grammar stream' where the more able are pushed and will often achieve very good grades. Passing the 11+ is not the most important thing, finding the right school for your child is.

muminlondon Sat 23-Feb-13 10:06:43

The one I noticed with good Ebacc results requires church attendance. The other non-selectives/moderns get results below national average for middle and high attainers, apart from one small academy - but it may not be able to provide the full range of Ebacc subjects as well as BTECs and other equivalents for the rest average number of GCSEs is 3-4 or 5 for the brightest).

I hate the grammar school system and I'm in Kent. Friend is in Canterbury and has just appealed and moved her dc (not year 7) from non selec to grammar - tells you something?
One dc at a grammar - extremely pushy. One dc about to sit test as likelihood of getting non -selec secondary i like very slim.
I loathe the grammar school system, the additional costs of tuition some people incur, the conversations between the children, and the mainly 'posh' demographic at the current grammar - huge country houses with pools/ horses for lots of dc's friends.

muminlondon Sat 23-Feb-13 11:34:52

Do appeals ever work? The league tables give a lot of information and in couple of the grammars there are at least 20 in each who must only have gained level 4 in their primary SATs. Meanwhile there is a similar number who gained Level 5 and went to the comprehensives. Is that out of choice or is all of the primary assessment completely discounted by the grammars? The government takes its SATs seriously enough to force a takeover by academy chain.

seeker Sat 23-Feb-13 12:25:50

Appeals do occasionally work. But grammar school entry is based on the 11+ only-so there will be kids at grammar schools who got not brilliant SATs but passed the test. Not many of them though!

Hoopsadazy Sat 23-Feb-13 12:32:39

I grew up in Kent, went to a grammar school and it was a thoroughly fab experience. Would not have wanted to stay in the comp that I went to before the 13+ (all 11+ here now I think tho). However, there are good fully comp schools here that are fantastic.

But!!! We used to live in Scotland and now live back in Kent. Still wish we lived in Scotland though. Think s.e.r.i.o.u.s.l.y about what on earth you want to move to this overcrowded, underfunded NHS, stressy, expensive place for??? The weather, maybe, but please realise how lucky you are where you are. The kids will have a much better life in the fresh air and outdoor life of Scotland.

Bigwuss Sat 23-Feb-13 12:35:34

I have friends who got into grammar on appeal, but i think the school needs to have places for it to be successful. Depending on where you are in the county, not many have places.

Some of the non selective schools run a lot of vocational courses which I think are great as it gives more options.

exoticfruits Sat 23-Feb-13 14:18:07

You have to understand that with appeals there might be a lot of people appealing for only a couple of places. However good your appeal, it won't get anywhere if there are no places.

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