Grammar offers 10 places to those triggering "pupil premium"

(176 Posts)
legallady Fri 20-Dec-13 10:36:05

Forgive me if this is a regular occurrence at other grammars but for those on the recent grammar thread, I thought it was interesting that Nonsuch High ( highly selective grammar in S W London) has reserved it's first 10 places for girls who have triggered the pupil premium at their primary school at any time in the last six years.

I know it's only ten out of 180 but at least they have thought about it. It may well be that they're just after the additional money but I like to think that their motives are a little more altruistic than that!

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 22:20:25

But the unfairness is not actually built into the system.

So you want to help correct unfairness in another system by building some more unfairness into it in the way that Nonsuch are suggesting?

I disagree that there isn't any of the same unfairness in the comp system. There will always be unfairness unless schools stop allocating places by catchment and start funding every single NT child equally.

There are ways of levelling the playing field without using so called 'positive' discrimination.

Summer, I agree with what you say, and it's because I don't link poverty with lack of aspiration that I disagree with the way PP money is allocated. It follows that I disagree with another measure being put in place that assumes FSM families automatically need to be given an advantage in education over others who have just as many valid reasons to be deserving of the same.

summerends Tue 24-Dec-13 21:38:46

Woowoo you are absolutely right but children with supportive parents have that distraction and anti education ethos counteracted by the parents (of course not always successfully) plus the possibility of supplementation outside school. I also am very careful not to equate poverty with lack of aspiration.
LeVolcan it would only work if the eleven plus was IQ rather than attainement, perhaps using tests that were repeated a number of times over a couple of years in the primary school.

Mary1972 Tue 24-Dec-13 20:29:26

summerends writes it how it is. It is one reason I pay school fees for a very academic school so that the whole school tends to be hardworking and the children aren't able to drift towards a lazy low mean destined for non graduate jobs. The old grammar school system which got my parents out of poverty into university in the 1940s and was the making of them did that and they would be in an area where no parents would ever tutor and they were both very bright so did well in the 11+. That removed them from their peers and meant they got on to the extent we were all privately educated from age 4 as are all the grandchildren in the next generation. It was the state grammar system in a sense to which I owe so very much.

curlew Tue 24-Dec-13 18:49:35

"Do you believe that all children have an equal chance in a comprehensive system? "

No, I don't. But the unfairness is not actually built into the system.

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 18:45:07

It's not only children with little parental support that can get distracted by unmotivated peers. That is something that can and does happen to teenagers from all walks of life. There are not some children that deserve to be protected from that more than others.

And it's not only children on FSMs that have unsupportive parents anyway.

I realise that children with unsupportive parents aren't likely to be put forward for the 11+, but that is a reason to do something to improve parenting. It's not a reason for the state, or an individual school, to basically say that one child's education is more important than another's.

This idea from Nonsuch will do nothing to help children with uninterested parents, because children will still need to be put forward for the test and be prepared for it.

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 18:24:08

Do you believe that all children have an equal chance in a comprehensive system?

Because they don't you know.

I do think there is an element of choice actually, and that's not an opinion I have any reason to be ashamed of. And this is about children on FSMs, not all children who are disadvantaged. As has been pointed out numerous times, being on FSM doesn't automatically mean that parents are disengaged with education, or that children aren't as bright. Not being on FSMs isn't a guarantee of supportive parents and a stable home life.

It's not supporting disadvantaged children that I'm against, it's using FSMs and in turn the PP to decide who is and isn't disadvantaged and therefore who is and isn't worthy of extra help.

And again, just for the record, my experience is with a super selective, not a fully selective area. I'm fairly certain that I would very much dislike living in a fully selective area, despite the fact that if I was in one, both my children would go to GS.

LaVolcan Tue 24-Dec-13 18:14:28

It is therefore possible that selective education actually has the potential to benefit these disadvantaged children most.

Possibly, if they are able to overcome the influence of these same peers during the previous 7 years and pass the 11+.

I thought that even in the days when the 11+ was the norm that there had been research to show that working class children did less well, even at grammar school.

curlew Tue 24-Dec-13 17:29:15

"The fact that fewer working class or those out of work (not sure how to word that to reflect parents that live solely on benefits) parents choose to enter their children for the 11+ is no ones choice but their own. As you say, they have the option, they are just choosing not to take it"

Well, if you really, truly, genuinely think it's just a simple matter of choice, then there is absolutely no point talking about it. But I have to say it's the most extraordinarily blinkered, selfish, I'm all right Jack attitude I've heard in a long time. Just so long as your kids get what you want them to have, sod everyone else. But I don't actually think you really think that. People who support selective education have to believe impossible things- like everyone has an equal chance- or they wouldn't be able to live with themselves.

summerends Tue 24-Dec-13 17:19:52

Ok, I'm going to be a bit controversial here (Christmas Eve and I'm still working so what the heck).
Theoretically children with high IQ but no parental support can with work achieve well. However they need to work hard and will probably start in lower sets (if in the comprehensive system) until they are able to show their potential. However in these lower / middle sets they may be surrounded by their friends from a similar parental background (of not valuing education) who discourage them from working hard and, succumbing to peer pressure, lose the inclination to be aspirational. It is therefore possible that selective education actually has the potential to benefit these disadvantaged children most. With a fair non tutorable IQ test (aided by primary input). these children, separated from their lazier, disruptive friends and surrounded by equally bright children, could actually achieve their potential. You would have to do that at 10/11 or they would be less likely to catch up.

HurstMum Tue 24-Dec-13 16:32:08

what WooWooOwl said.

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 16:18:46

That ^should be the case- but it isn't. Grammar schools, while technically open to anyone, select in a way that positively discriminates in favour of the educated, "privileged" middle classes.

It's the 'technically' bit that counts here I think. The grammar schools are open to anyone, and places are allocated purely on ability so there is no active discrimination happening. If some spaces are saved for certain children then that is active discrimination, which is not something I think any school should have any part it, positive or not. It's not going to be positive for the children who miss out on a place they deserve for the mark they achieved.

The fact that fewer working class or those out of work (not sure how to word that to reflect parents that live solely on benefits) parents choose to enter their children for the 11+ is no ones choice but their own. As you say, they have the option, they are just choosing not to take it.

I think primary schools should be allowed to support parents if they are interested in the 11+, as they aren't in my area so parents have to do all the research themselves which could disadvantage them. SS Grammar schools could offer familiarisation papers to all children so that no child goes into the test completely unprepared.

But ultimately children are a parents responsibility, and it's up to them to do what needs to be done for their children to have the best chance possible.

Maybe even study those mysterious ultra-curricular subjects woo-woo's son studies...... None of this is possible if the top set is sent off to another school at the at of 10.

My responses are about super selective schools, not grammar schools in fully selective areas because that's what I was asked about, so no top set has been sent anywhere in the experience I am speaking of.

Mary1972 Tue 24-Dec-13 15:33:37

Most areas of the country have no grammar schools at all. It is very inconsistent. What is so special about the genes of children in Bucks which means the state thinks they can have grammar schools whereas the North East has not had any for nearly 50 years?
There should be the same state education all over the country and yes nothing wrong with giving preference to very high IQ poor children at all in state schools. We need that. However they need to work hard and keep their place otherwise they should lose it to someone who will work hard.

curlew Tue 24-Dec-13 15:14:39

"There is no proposal by any school to do that though, so it's irrelevant. Governments, LAs and schools shouldn't actively be giving any child an advantage over another, they are there to serve all children equally. Any advantage or disadvantage a child has is down to their parents or unavoidable acts of God, not a state system that we pay for."

That ^should be the case- but it isn't. Grammar schools, while technically open to anyone, select in a way that positively discriminates in favour of the educated, "privileged" middle classes. In a comprehensive school, such children are still advantaged, but children who don't have that background can still get into the top sets by hard work and determination. Maybe even study those mysterious ultra-curricular subjects woo-woo's son studies...... None of this is possible if the top set is sent off to another school at the at of 10.

Onesleeptillwembley Tue 24-Dec-13 13:18:37

That's discriminatory. It's wrong.

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 12:48:07

GoldenPond, I can't answer that for everyone who has chosen to use a SS grammar school, but in our case it was about my child wanting to learn the subjects that were part of the normal curriculum at the GS that aren't offered by the comp.

In pretty much the same way as our other child showed a definite preference for the comp because of the subjects offered as a normal part of the curriculum that aren't on offer at the GS.

Different children are suited to different learning environments in much the same way as different adults are suited to different jobs. I feel very fortunate that we have different options for our different children available from the state we pay taxes for, and I'm sorry that every family doesn't have the same.

summerends Tue 24-Dec-13 11:00:27

straggle I think you have a point. The top stream of comprehensives and grammar schools are full of the children of the budget conscious but educated or aspirational middle classes. These, as curlew says, by default offer a huge advantage to their children compared to those children whose parents have little aspirations for them or do not have the "sharp elbows" or cannot afford the "sharp elbows" (love this metaphor smile). Some of these budget conscious middle classes in the past might have availed themselves in the past of the then more affordable private education and therefore freed up "top stream places".

OnGoldenPond Tue 24-Dec-13 10:59:32

So if the education is not better what is the point?

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 10:46:26

No, I don't believe they offer a better education.

I believe they offer a different type of education and as that type of eduction suits some children extremely well, then they are a good thing to society. I have a child at a super selective and one at a good comp, and I genuinely don't think one is better than another. They are just different.

There is no disputing that super selectives serve the children that attend them very well, and as they do not take enough children to make a difference to the standard of education that a child in a surrounding comprehensive receives, then I can't see why anyone would have a problem with them.

I think there is a misconception that a grammar education is like a private education paid for by the state but in my experience, it really isn't.

OnGoldenPond Tue 24-Dec-13 10:36:45

Why are superselectives a good thing? Do you believe they offer a fundamentally better education to this who attend or do they just group together bright kids with the surprising result that they then achieve good exam results?

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 10:27:27

Surely that's better than giving advantaged children more advantage over disadvantaged ones?

There is no proposal by any school to do that though, so it's irrelevant. Governments, LAs and schools shouldn't actively be giving any child an advantage over another, they are there to serve all children equally. Any advantage or disadvantage a child has is down to their parents or unavoidable acts of God, not a state system that we pay for.

I agree that selection is unfair in fully selective areas, but I think having super selective schools are a good thing for children and a good thing for society. There should be more of them.

curlew Tue 24-Dec-13 10:04:43

And anyway, the bottom line is that selective state education is inherently unfair and just shouldn't happen. I honestly don't think anyone could or convincingly does argue against that. The point is whether you accept that unfairness or not. I don't. Others do.

curlew Tue 24-Dec-13 10:01:29

"Without wanting to sound like a school child myself, it's just not fair. And while we should be striving to make education fairer, using PP to give some disadvantaged children an extra advantage over other disadvantaged children is never going to help that happen"

Surely that's better than giving advantaged children more advantage over disadvantaged ones?

WooWooOwl Tue 24-Dec-13 09:08:10

I disagree with that curlew.

Life is complicated and it takes more than a basic standard of living and enough money to scrape by to create advantage. There are so many other things that can affect family life, having just about enough money isn't enough of an advantage for it to be right to positively discriminate against a child in that position.

FSM is just too blunt a tool to use for something as fundamental as education, especially if it is going to give a child that receives them an advantage over a child who doesn't.

I don't think it's up to the state and it's educational policies to compensate for parental choices, especially when those are already financially compensated through the welfare system.

Being in real poverty is a disadvantage in life, that is true, but so is SEN, or having a sibling with SEN, or having a parent with health issues, or having a close relative die when you are in education, or not having somewhere safe to store your things away from siblings in a home your parents own, or having your parents go through a messy divorce, or having your own health issues.

None of the above disadvantages are enough to trigger the PP and the benefits that brings, so why do we think that having a low enough income that is then topped up is enough to create state provided advantage of one family over another.

Without wanting to sound like a school child myself, it's just not fair. And while we should be striving to make education fairer, using PP to give some disadvantaged children an extra advantage over other disadvantaged children is never going to help that happen.

curlew Tue 24-Dec-13 08:29:09

And by privileged, I don't mean mega rich or helipads. Or even rich at all. Just not poor. Not overcrowded. Enough good food to eat. Parents who aren't desperate with anxiety about where to find a couple of quid for the electricity key. Clean clothes for school. A quiet space for homework. Somewhere to put your things where they will be safe from siblings. And so on.

curlew Tue 24-Dec-13 08:26:09

If you're middle class and privileged, you don't have to be sharp elbowed. Your children are just automatically advantaged. Which is why doing things to help children who don't have that automatic advantage is just evening things out a bit.

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