Why are there no grammar schools in Wales? They seem like a good idea?

(85 Posts)
Peppaismyhomegirl Tue 02-Feb-16 10:11:18

I've done a little bit of research, I don't know a lot about the subject but I think I like the idea of grammer schools. I've been having a look locally and discovered there are none in Wales! Is this right? Why?!

fleurdelacourt Tue 02-Feb-16 11:21:34

They were all converted into comprehensives in the 1970s - as were the majority of those in England.

AFAIK the only remaining ones escaped conversion because they were in conservative boroughs?

noblegiraffe Tue 02-Feb-16 11:25:47

There's also a law against opening new ones.

mouldycheesefan Tue 02-Feb-16 12:46:20

Would you still like the idea if your child would be unlikely to get a place at one and go to the 'secondary modern' instead? Grammars only take the top % of pupils, children are intensively tutors to get places often.

SevenOfNineTrue Tue 02-Feb-16 12:53:50

I think there was a law passed by the Labour Government in the last 60's requiring all schools to be converted to comprehensive. There was one where I grew up in Wales but it was converted. Not surprising as it was a Labour stronghold at the time.

noblegiraffe Tue 02-Feb-16 13:23:45

Margaret Thatcher closed more grammars than any other politician. You can't blame Labour!

Peppaismyhomegirl Tue 02-Feb-16 17:04:41

I wouldn't mind if they couldn't get in at all? If the alternative comp focused on their needs in a different learning environment than a grammer? School isn't one size fits all and it seems a better idea than paying for private where you get the education if you can afford the fees

SevenOfNineTrue Tue 02-Feb-16 18:12:25

Margaret Thatcher closed more grammars than any other politician. You can't blame Labour!

She tried to reverse the law but apparently many local authorities were too far down the process to stop. So yes, I do blame Labour.

annandale Tue 02-Feb-16 18:17:02

Of course it's Labours responsibility it was their policy. Bear in mind that there were so few grammar places in Wales that an absolutely tiny percentage got an academic education based on that one exam. One of the many arguments against the tripartite system was the huge variation in grammar and tech school provision across the UK.

Peppaismyhomegirl Tue 02-Feb-16 18:21:02

So would a modern version of it be good? Say grammer schools, comps and techs that all focus on different strengths and skills of the pupils. It just seems that the one school fits all fails the pupils who don't fit in the right box?

Blu Tue 02-Feb-16 18:31:01

Do you like the idea that a child's educational future is decided on one test, on one day, possibly when they are 10?
Do you like the idea that a child who is brilliant, gifted and talented in writing, or languages, cannot get into a Grammar because their maths is 'average'?
That a bright child from a chaotic background has a parent who does not think about the 11+, and is not willing to think about uniform etc, so the child gets no chance and goes to a 'high school'? (i.e a comp without the top sets)?
Because I know children who would have been excluded from Grammar on those grounds.

On the other hand:
Do you like the idea that a child can be educated according to ability in each subject?
That a child can be in the 'high flyers' gifted and talented set for Maths, (and eventually get an unconditional offer from Oxbridge to study maths) and a middle set for French?
That a summer born boy who takes time to develop academic confidence and maturity can start Yr 7 in middle sets and start GCSE years in top sets and taking the maximum number of GCSEs?
That a child from a chaotic background whose parents would not have thought about Grammar can be identified in Yr 8 as clever and put on a programme to extend and challenge - taken to work in Uni labs, taken on a day to a RG Uni, etc?

Because I know a young person in each of these circumstances that has flourished at DC's good comp.

Blu Tue 02-Feb-16 18:33:30

Comps have lots of 'boxes'. Small classes with extra support, fast pace 'accelarated' sets, vocational qualifications...they aren't all bunged in in one class dong the same subjects at the same speed.

The kids who are not catered for are those who don't thrive in a structured school environment of any kind. A Grammar is still a school, a high school / secondary modern is still a school.

annandale Tue 02-Feb-16 18:34:34

Why would it be better to separate children into completely different institutions based on tests at 5, 7, 11, 13? When will the tests be and what will you test for? How will you make sure that academic kids from deprived backgrounds aren't excluded from an academic education? Do you want academic kids who haven't learned English yet to be excluded from academic education? Will you allow movement between schools and how often?

annandale Tue 02-Feb-16 18:35:25

Or what blu said grin

titchy Tue 02-Feb-16 18:35:44

Hear hear blu.

bibbitybobbityyhat Tue 02-Feb-16 18:37:18

There are very few grammar schools in the UK now. Hooray!

Lurkedforever1 Tue 02-Feb-16 18:41:17

On the other hand blu it's even more unfair if the child doesn't even get that one day chance, and they get a secondary modern school allocated based on where their parents live. With no chance to even appeal it because the secondary modern is supposedly a comprehensive. Because you do realise some comprehensives are as far or even further apart in what they offer compared to some grammars and sm?

Let's not pretend comprehensive allocation is any fairer, it's worse imo.

Peppaismyhomegirl Tue 02-Feb-16 19:00:30

Im to young to remember grammer schools so like I say I am no expert on this at all. But let's not pretand all comps are even and fair or give a good education if your not in the top sets. What lurked said.

If you can afford property in a catchment area for a good school, your more likely to get a shot in the dream comps you described. Anyone with a bit of hard work could prep for an entrance exam. Also, they are tested so much anyway in schools nowadays how is it different? My 3yr old is in "sets" in pre school!

Blu Tue 02-Feb-16 19:50:46

So, you could pay attention to bringing all comps up to standard and give everyone a good education, or you could pay attention to tearing the whole system apart building new separate schools to be grammars, and go back to a different way in which to under-educate some pupils!

And if you believe that it is bright kids who already get a good education in comps, then why is it grammars that are needed?

In a comp the best teachers get spread across ability bands - do the best teachers apply to secondary moderns? (I genuinely don't know). Do the best teachers apply for grammars, or do the teachers who only feel able to maintain classroom focus in a motivated achieveing class take refuge in grammars?

So many assumptions are made.

The VA scores suggest that the low and middle attainers in many schools do actually get a good education in relation to their potential.

And if the neighbouring grammar didn't suck up the top 25% perhaps the local 'comp' WOULD actually be a comp.

Good comps don't have to be in high house prices either. London proves that because the micro-climates in housing ensure that any catchment will have million pound private houses and high density LA housing. Though I do recognise that it is different outside London.

I'm not saying that there are no issues with getting a good education for all, but am not remotely convinced that 'bring back grammars' is the best way to solve the existing problems.

SevenOfNineTrue Tue 02-Feb-16 20:24:13

I hated my comprehensive education. We were set into streams that NEVER changed. I was at the top of my English class, leaps and bounds over the other students. However because I was classed as being in one 'stream', I was never allowed to move up to the next class. It resulted in me being denied any formal teachings of Shakespeare.

minifingerz Tue 02-Feb-16 20:48:40

"Anyone with a bit of hard work could prep for an entrance exam"

No, that's simply not true.

Children who come from private prep schools, where they have intensive 11+ 'booster sessions' in small classes of highly motivated children, children who have parents prepared to pay for 3 or more years of 11+ tutoring, children who have parents who are massively motivated (and well educated enough themselves) to tutor their kids at home, are disproportionately represented in the 11+ grammar intake.

In my area 11+ tutoring is HUGE business. Children start in year 3 or 4 (many start earlier than this) and the tutoring is specifically 11+ intake..

Lurkedforever1 Tue 02-Feb-16 20:53:41

blu everything you say also applies to comprehensives, including those in areas where none are lost to grammars. And London is not representative of the entire country. Much of the country is nowhere near as populated, so even in other big cities you won't get the same mixed catchment. The only difference is as I said, house price (or religion) rather than at least the chance of an exam. Given the choice, I can think of better solutions than the top 25% attending a grammar route. But I'd prefer that to the bottom financially being offered the parody of a secondary modern because of where they live.

Washediris Tue 02-Feb-16 21:07:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Owllady Tue 02-Feb-16 21:13:50

I completely agree with blu.

Sadik Tue 02-Feb-16 21:15:09

Where are you in Wales? Pragmatically speaking, welsh medium secondaries are often high achieving quasi grammars, since a lot of motivated parents encourage their dc to take this route because of the employment benefits. They're very much the equivalent of faith schools in many parts of England, I'd say (but without the requirement to pretend to be religious grin )

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