Benefits of selective education?

(1000 Posts)
AmberTheCat Wed 19-Feb-14 12:41:31

I'm aware that I've been cluttering up the 11+ tutoring thread with discussions the OP said she didn't want, on the merits or otherwise of grammar schools in principle, so I'll stop doing that and start my own thread!

So, I genuinely don't get why so many people think separating children by ability (or potential, or however you try to do it) at 11 or even younger is a good thing. Why will they benefit more from that than from properly differentiated teaching in a comprehensive school? And what about the children who aren't selected? How does a selective system benefit them?

Genuine questions. I'm strongly in favour of comprehensive education, but would really like to better understand the arguments against.

duchesse Wed 19-Feb-14 14:26:22

Talk- DD2's school has 33 per year at 6th form. DD2 is in an AS/A2 class of 4 for greek, and will be the only one taking Greek next year. There is no economy of scale there whatsoever. I just thank our lucky stars she is able to study what she wants to study at all. The alternative was HE and self-directed study with tutors.

TheRaniOfYawn Wed 19-Feb-14 14:26:54

I grew up in a grammar school area, and went to a grammar school and far prefer the comprehensive system. The only advantage I can think of for selective education is that in order for a comprehensive school to work properly and be able to offer appropriate subjects for all the pupils it needs to have a lot of children attending. A grammar school or secondary modern can have a much smaller intake which can be better for some children. Having said that, good building design and a strong pastoral care system can make even a big school feel safe and nurturing without the disadvantages of selection.

Impatientismymiddlename Wed 19-Feb-14 14:27:24

All this proves is that the selective schools are taking pupils with higher maths ability....

That is very true, but if you had a child who was very good at maths wouldn't you prefer that he was with similar ability children if possible?

If the local non selective school didn't offer further maths because it didn't have enough pupils working at that level then would you feel annoyed that a higher ability child couldn't access the learning required to enable him to do further maths?

treaclesoda Wed 19-Feb-14 14:30:50

Hope I'm not being thick here, but are there grammar schools in Scotland and Wales?

morry1000 Wed 19-Feb-14 14:38:14

Why oh why did I not insist on my DD going to a Selective Prep school that would have prepared her for , entry to a Grammar in the Next county or to its own senior school. Instead I sent her to a Primary School ( Because of DH , You cant send one and not the other) and then she entered senior school at Level 3s due to lack of discipline and being motivated , and poor SENCOs who were unable to motivate her.

I am desperately hoping the Grammar School give her a chance in September despite her age and her Emotional problems . Her Emotional problems caused mainly by bad teaching and mixed ability classes .

TalkinPeace Wed 19-Feb-14 14:39:14

treaclesoda
nope

LaVolcan Wed 19-Feb-14 14:41:47

Bad teaching can unfortunately happen anywhere morry. Nor do you need to assume that comprehensive = mixed ability. In most cases, it doesn't.

As one who was rubbish at PE, I always wished that it was a subject in which they practised selection.

treaclesoda Wed 19-Feb-14 14:47:01

I didn't even know there were grammar schools in England until reading mumsnet.

I'm in N Ireland where there are very very few comprehensives. I like the grammar school system, but that's because in my area the non grammars (with one notable exception) are very good too, and they are not places where underachievers go to underachieve, they are good schools, with good results, and good discipline, which teach at a different pace to the grammar schools.

If the non grammars were terrible, and I didn't know anyone who had emerged from one with a decent education, then I would feel very differently.

soul2000 Wed 19-Feb-14 14:47:34

Treaclesoda. Scotland is a Socialist Utopia : Grammar Schools Your Having a Laugh only Tory Councils allow such things : Tories and Scotland don't mix .

Wales I don't know why the whole of Wales abolished them, after all
Northern Ireland has grammar Schools and is always near the top of academic achievement.

HavantGuard Wed 19-Feb-14 14:48:09

It's good for the children who are selected. When you have a group of bright children together they stretch each other. When it's easy for them to always come top they don't try as hard.

I tried to leave school to do my A Levels at a sixth form college. Less than a week before term was due to start I was told that .i couldn't do two of my subjects because they didn't have enough students signed up for them. These were traditional, academic subjects. I went back to my school. I feel sorry for those who didn't have that option. Those who aren't selected are let down.

treaclesoda Wed 19-Feb-14 14:51:53

I went to one of the big N Ireland grammars. There was huge peer pressure to do well, much more so than from parents and teachers, it was the other people in your year that put the most pressure on you to achieve. No such thing as other kids sneering at you for doing well. I think that's probably a good thing?

creamteas Wed 19-Feb-14 14:56:23

if you had a child who was very good at maths wouldn't you prefer that he was with similar ability children if possible?

My DS who is really good at Maths is being educated with others similar ability. He is also terrible at English (SEN reasons) and likewise is in a class that suits him. That is the beauty of comps.

If he was in a selective school area, he would be in the wrong school for one of the subjects....

Martorana Wed 19-Feb-14 14:57:41

"if you had a child who was very good at maths wouldn't you prefer that he was with similar ability children if possible?"

Ideally, yes. But not if it was at the expense of lots of other children......

soul2000 Wed 19-Feb-14 15:00:42

Treaclesoda. In Northern Ireland what in England would be public schools are in effect Voluntary Funded Grammar schools , Victoria College Belfast is probably the best state school in the United Kingdom offering a public school education and emphasis for a small Fee each year. Methodist college as well as others also offer the same standard.

People on this website should check out the system in Northern Ireland. The only reason I think Grammar Schools were not destroyed in Northern Ireland is because they never got round to it, due to having more pressing problems to deal with.

TalkinPeace Wed 19-Feb-14 15:02:05

cake for creamteas for empirical evidence of what I keep going on about

treaclesoda Wed 19-Feb-14 15:07:34

Yes, it was a voluntary grammar that I went to. Ironically in NI there is a level of elitism within the grammar school system, whereby a voluntary grammar is like a whole other level of grammar school to a mere controlled grammar wink

treaclesoda Wed 19-Feb-14 15:08:28

soul2000 from your posts, are you in/from NI too?

The grammar school system is certainly in a bit of a mess here now too...

motherinferior Wed 19-Feb-14 15:13:07

Thing is also, ability at 11 is not fixed. I really don't think you can look at a child at 10 or 11 and say "oh, s/he is Good At This and Bad At That". (I'm aware that I've been roundly reprimanded for this view, and told it is effectively my crappy parenting that makes it difficult for me to spot it.)

A child who is not terrific at maths at 10 may blossom at secondary and be in the top maths set (I'm looking at you, DD1). Other kids discover abilities for, and interests in, all kinds of subjects. And conversely, some bright little 11 year olds suddenly go off the boil and become distinctly average later on.

LaVolcan Wed 19-Feb-14 15:14:03

Treaclesoda - this sounds very much like the old direct grant grammar system and the local authority grammars of old.

I believe the direct grant schools had been independent, came into the state system as a result of the 1944 education act, and mostly went independent again once the push towards comprehensives came about. IMO they were the ones that people were thinking about when they extolled the wonders of grammars.

Now, schools like mine, a typical LA girls grammar: good in parts, but overall, not very hot academically, and very hot on silly rules. (But as I say upthread, this was as much as girls being educated to marry, not to have careers, or only a career which fitted in with marriage.)

LaVolcan Wed 19-Feb-14 15:16:43

And conversely, some bright little 11 year olds suddenly go off the boil and become distinctly average later on.

And also, some bright children can't be bothered and don't achieve their potential, whilst others, not blessed with the same ability, work their socks of and end up achieving more.

cory Wed 19-Feb-14 15:16:56

Impatientismymiddlename Wed 19-Feb-14 14:27:24

"That is very true, but if you had a child who was very good at maths wouldn't you prefer that he was with similar ability children if possible?"

Yes, but a large,well managed comprehensive would cater for that. As long as there were enough able children to fill a higher set with teaching at the right level, I would not feel any particular need for my child to be sheltered from also coming into contact with other children with less ability.

creamteas Wed 19-Feb-14 14:56:23

"My DS who is really good at Maths is being educated with others similar ability. He is also terrible at English (SEN reasons) and likewise is in a class that suits him. That is the beauty of comps.

If he was in a selective school area, he would be in the wrong school for one of the subjects...."

YES to this.

LaVolcan Wed 19-Feb-14 15:25:26

And no prizes for guessing which ability would be the one would suffer!

Martorana Wed 19-Feb-14 15:38:04

"And no prizes for guessing which ability would be the one would suffer!"

?

TheRaniOfYawn Wed 19-Feb-14 15:38:14

I went to a voluntary grammar in NI and the system was actually very biased in favour of middle class families. The grammars had fee-paying prep schools and lots of children were privately educated at primary school level to boost their 11+ chances. My school also took fee-paying boarders who didn't have to have passed their 11+ and the bottom stream of my school had quite a few wealthy but not terribly bright girls. For some reason their brothers seemed to get sent to independent boarding schools. There were also quite a few very very clever girls who failed their 11+ and whose families paid for them to board in the first year after which they had an academic review which allowed them to attend as non fee paying day pupils. I can think of 2 ofriend who started off as boarders for this reason, one of whom went to study medicine and one of whom went to Cambridge. If their parents hadnt paid for them to attend the school they would not have had the opportunities that they had.

soul2000 Wed 19-Feb-14 16:13:29

No Treaclesoda.I am from North west England , Grammar School areas Full Grammar system Trafford, Wirral and localised Grammar schools in Lancashire .....

I just read up on areas and how systems work in areas...

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