Are Good Schools 'good' because they select?

(39 Posts)
Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 20:28:44

In one way or another.

This is following on from the 'Why are people down on grammar schools' thread.

By 'selection' I mean:
- via 11+ (note I haven't said 'intelligence'!)
- religion
- house price/catchment
- wealth
- leading to 'some sort of parental commitment'

If you can select your intake on just about any criteria- OK, within reason!- won't you by default get applicants from the motivated and none from the uninterested? Which'll give you a head start from Day One?

AnythingNotEverything Fri 25-Oct-13 20:32:56

So you basically mean because you have to jump through one more hoop than the standard application form you separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were?

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 21:31:58

define "good"

and the geography argument is a dead end because no country in the world has found a way round it

tiggytape Fri 25-Oct-13 22:41:10

Pretty much - yes.

If you are defining a good school purely as one that gets good results.
Schools that do well are often the ones with the easier intakes of children. Children who start school able to read, have parents who do loads of extras at home, who really care about education etc.

If they care about those things even before school age, they will be more likely to buy in catchment, go to church, employ a tutor or do whatever it takes to get into one of the "good" schools. And once at school they are more likely to help with homework, support school rules, assure good attendance, do extra work to supplement school work and all the other things that help a child achieve.

Somebody on MN once said if there were 2 schools in the same area and one selected pupils based on a parent's ability to juggle and the other was open to all, the juggling school would end up with the best results. All the parents who wanted the more elite option would go out of their way to win a place and by default the school would end up full of the children of parents who care a great deal about education.

If you are talking about good teaching, better rates of progress, ability to cater for gifted children or children with additional needs, willingness to tackle bullying, good leadership, school faciliites... then no. That depends on the Head, the staff, the ethos too.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 22:50:03

No. Good schools are schools that educate the children to achieve the best that they possibly can whatever their level of ability, give them a lifelong love of learning, support creative thinking, give them opportunities that they wouldn't get elsewhere, open their minds, challenge their beliefs, express themselves and equips them find a place in society that fulfils them. Or as much of that, and more, as is appropriate.

That isn't the same as good results expressed as an overall average of GCSE scores. It might be, but it often isn't.

Most people just like a good high results score, and get in a frenzy for a place at that school.

noblegiraffe Fri 25-Oct-13 22:52:48

A school can get the best state school results in the county and not be graded good by Ofsted.

If you have very bright kids and only get good results, the school is not doing its job.

Bonsoir Fri 25-Oct-13 22:53:48

The ability to select pupils is one, potent driver of a school's success.

But, to me, the definition of a good school is one which adds significant value to the education of each child. This is much harder to ascertain than measuring examination results versus other establishments.

Kenlee Sat 26-Oct-13 05:42:32

Anyway good GCSE mean nothing really apart from what A'levels you can study. Good A'levels mean nothing either apart from what RG uni you will attend. Your first or 2:1 degree also means nothing if all you bring is academia and the ability to study...

Employers nowadays are looking for people who are clever but also who are self motivated and able to solve problems.

I prefer to hire a 2:2 who can think than a first class degree holder who cant

I think schools should provide students an ability to learn abd think....not just to be exam machines .. To me that is a good school...

So parents hot housing and schools who rely on exams are doing no favours to the children.

Xoanon Sat 26-Oct-13 08:58:33

Kenlee - I'm involved in recruitment (in the city) some years (I don't have to be on the panel every year which is good because I hate it). My hubby is involved in Uni admissions for a competitive course that still interviews. GCSEs do matter, as do A levels.

As far as selection goes - for sme schools selection by size of wallet is irrelevant (to them) because they either operate in an environment where they are literally the only school, or where there is a feeder school system in place (that isn't to say the feeder schools can't select but the secondary school is powerful to influence it). Many religious schools also can't influence selection to the extent people marine, especially in an environment where there is only one school of a particular religion and there are generally fewer kids in that religion than places. Or, where a school is shared by two religions. The school can't determine who attends church, the school can't determine the references given by the priest, the school certainly can't determine who else applies. Where there are more members of the religion than places, then difficult criteria can be set - but not otherwise.

meditrina Sat 26-Oct-13 09:07:42

The "geography" argumentisn't a dead end, unless you are suggesting that every school in every other country is so good that parents do not request non-catchment placements, and the school preference angst is uniquely English.

The evidence from eg USA shows this most definitely not to be the case. The bussing programme was an attempt to rectify it, by deliberately assessing the social group of an intake and dividing it 'fairly' amongst schools.

There was also an article I read on BBC recently about how great school angst was, but how little difference school 'performance' made to outcome. The biggest factor was social factors affecting the family. So if your local geography means that 'richer' children tend to be close to one particular school, then it will be a good one.

Talkinpeace Sat 26-Oct-13 10:40:23

meditrina
In the USA you go to school in your school district - end of.
You want a different school, you move house.
You move house during school, you move school.
None of the renting / catchment boundaries etc etc that we have here
And what has happened?
Super Zips - pockets of wealth that then get great schools - because schools are funded out of property taxes.
And black holes where there is no money to pay teachers even if parents WERE motivated.

ElizabethJonesMartin Sat 26-Oct-13 10:50:39

Probably which is why most parents want those good schools. Plonk a child in a good school and it is likely to do better than inserted into a bad school.

Erebus Sat 26-Oct-13 11:48:02

But, wouldn't a 'good' school as in Blu's :"Good schools are schools that educate the children to achieve the best that they possibly can whatever their level of ability, give them a lifelong love of learning, support creative thinking, give them opportunities that they wouldn't get elsewhere, open their minds, challenge their beliefs, express themselves and equips them find a place in society that fulfils them. Or as much of that, and more, as is appropriate."- also be highly likely to produce better exam results if you could compare it to another school with a very similar intake who didn't necessarily do all those things? That the things you've listed go a fair way towards achieving exam success, too?

I am taking on board defining 'good', here!

Xoanon- but surely all the people or institutions in the chain that leads a DC to a particular school have a vested interest, if only reputational, to make sure the 'right' DC are selected? As in- if a priest continually provides glowing references to troubled DC with issues who aren't going to do well at the school it won't be long before the school discounts his references? And no, of course a school can't decide who will and who won't attend church for the requisite length of time, but the parents who won't go to that length won't get their DC into that school, will they? Regarding schools with a religious bent, it's just been my impression that they in general (but not of course, universally) tend to produce better results than secular schools- and my OP argument is that it's the selection that makes the difference.

bruffin Sat 26-Oct-13 12:07:48

I dont think results make a good school.my dcs scool comes out in top 40% for results. A comp which takes 10% on aptitude, but very mixed intake.It has a fantastic head and a lovely pastoral care. My dc have thrived there.
Girls school down the road gets great results and people move to get in there. One giirl told me quite happily how they bullied a teacher and made them cry. Its an exam factory with no pastoral care. I count my dcs school as a good school amd there is no way i would send my dd to the girls school.

tricot39 Sat 26-Oct-13 19:15:55

I would agree with Blu's definition of a good school but any form of selection at all will improve exam results (not necessarily make the school better). Requiring parents to, say, complete an extra form or do something extra to other admissions requiremebts and you have already started sorting the wheat from the chaff - the motivated interested parents will deal with the extras while the ambivalent or unaware will not. And i think i am right in saying that motivated, engaged and supportive parents lead to better exam results independent of wealth?

whendidyoulast Sat 26-Oct-13 20:22:37

Yes if you're talking about results (but there's likely to be a 2 way impact on behaviour, aspiration etc). It also creates a virtuous cycle in that the better the results the more oversubcribed the school becomes and the more selective (however covertly). The reverse is often true of schools that are not selective and undersubscribed.

WooWooOwl Sun 27-Oct-13 23:54:28

The majority of private, grammar and religious schools would fit that definition of good, but so do many comprehensives whose catchments include low income households.

I don't think selection is the common denominator that makes the difference. Parental involvement and encouragement is what makes the difference. Four out of five of your selection criteria have nothing to do with academic ability that should, in theory, be the main thing that affects results, which to me shows that it's parents that matter the most.

I disagree with the way you say that the motivated get a head start, as it implies that they are actively trying to get an advantage over others, rather than doing the best they can regardless of what everyone else does. I don't think the motivated are getting a head start, I think the uninterested are choosing to drop back.

bruffin Mon 28-Oct-13 02:23:46

What i forgot to say above is that just over 10 years ago dcs school was a sink school getting just 18% A-C gcse, the now get around 90%. The difference was a new head.

Kenlee Mon 28-Oct-13 05:31:52

xoanxan....what your saying to me that if a child has average gcse but worked his butt off and got really good A levels..Then it be worthless at your hubby university?.

As fir jobs I still say we dont entertain academia if they cant think. Academia should be left at University.... If you cant solve problems quickly and efficiently your not much use no matter how many Phd's you have.

As for selection its a good idea .. let the btight kids worj together... If what everyone is saying that comprehensive are just as good..Then failure to get in is not really a big problem except to the parents prestige.

losingtrust Wed 30-Oct-13 22:05:43

A 2:1 only matters for certain jobs. Our graduate scheme is more interested in verbal, numerical scores and psychometric results. It is amazing how many people with a 2:1 struggle to write a letter. We also consider school leavers if they can offer the same potential.
For me a good school is one that offers all children a chance both stretching the academic ones and helping the not so academic achieve their potential. Good pastoral care is also essential. Not all schools with good results offer good pastoral care or actually achieve as many As as they should.

losingtrust Wed 30-Oct-13 22:07:46

Certainly the examples I know off which are good schools do not select at all.

bebanjo Wed 30-Oct-13 23:34:34

No. Good schools are schools that educate the children to achieve the best that they possibly can whatever their level of ability, give them a lifelong love of learning, support creative thinking, give them opportunities that they wouldn't get elsewhere, open their minds, challenge their beliefs, express themselves and equips them find a place in society that fulfils them. Or as much of that, and more, as is appropriate.

That isn't the same as good results expressed as an overall average of GCSE scores. It might be, but it often isn't.

Most people just like a good high results score, and get in a frenzy for a place at that school.

I believe all children are born with a love of learning, so I don't see how a school can provide this, they can destroy it or promote it.
I would like to know what opportunities are available only in school, no where else?
Again opening minds, children are born with open minds, a school can only open something that is closed, if a child's mind is closed then someone has closed it.

Good parenting is what you are describing, school is just the child care.
It has been studied many times and the conclusion is, parental involvement is the most important factor in children's academic success.

Kenlee Wed 30-Oct-13 23:45:35

I have to concur that parents play a large role in determining if a child reaches their potential...

Some of course over reach and struggle some get it right. some parents don't bother and blame the school..

Is it not the parents responsibility to allow your childrento have the best start in llife? or is that because Im culturally different?..(Asian)

straggle Thu 31-Oct-13 08:27:31

I don't think parents get as much involved in secondary school (helping with homework, volunteering etc) as they do in primary. It's more a case of the pupils themselves wanting to learn. But there is definitely the effect whendidyoulast describes of 'the better the results the more oversubcribed the school becomes and the more selective' and children are sensitive to hierarchies and popularity.

But plenty of grammar schools and oversubscribed comps coast (like the grammar school in special measures and get very complacent. I think that's the tip of the iceberg because some haven't been inspected for five years.

I've seen other schools move from 'satisfactory' to 'outstanding' in two years yet prospective parents don't always see the changes that those with DCs at the school can see. So we can't always recognise 'good'. Communities do pass on anecdotal intelligence but everyone likes to big up their own choices so we're never sure if it is reliable.

curlew Thu 31-Oct-13 08:31:46

Schools that select either overtly or covertly tend to get better results and therefore tend to get better ofsteds. But by no means all good schools do this.

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