Secondary moderns

(168 Posts)
CookieDoughKid Sun 18-Sep-16 11:05:02

There's a lot of talk about new grammar schools 'destroying' the existing comp schools or creating terrible secondary moderns.

I would like some help to understand this better. I would also prefer that people didn't relay their experiences on what happened 50 years ago as the education systems have changed a whole lot since then.

Remove the friendship issues of kids being separated at 11.

How is it we have to rely on the top 25% of students to think we are creating terrible non-grammar schools? And if the wealthier students are getting in to grammar per se, surely that means better funding for the non-grammar schools?

I think I'm missing something entirely. If we have dedicated resourcing and teaching for the non-grammar kids -how is that a bad thing? I believe in selective education not necessarily in different buildings. However if comprehensive schools insist on whole ability classes for all their subjects then I'm against that. Not all comps are the same. I just don't understand this issue about bad schools being created if we remove top 25% of kids.

sandyholme Sun 18-Sep-16 11:54:21

For a start drop the name 'Secondary Modern' that is a synonym for 'fail'.

yeOldeTrout Sun 18-Sep-16 12:26:12

It's early specialism, is actually what 'selective' means. It assumes (eg) 25% are academic & 75% are less academic. Their educational options are immediately limited by the results of a single IQ-type test.

Does this model serve well the grammar school kid who wants to become a hairdresser? (happened to someone I know, she was still annoyed she didn't get to explore the option, 15 yrs later!)

Does the specialism model serve well the kids whose parents want "to keep them close" regardless of school quality/facilities?

Does the specialism model serve well the kids who end up in the wrong stream, they get labeled 'a dunce' if they struggle in the GS (happened to my neighbour) or find they have nothing in common with most of their peers (happened to DH who was a very high achiever after failing the 11+) , or feel chippy and resentful of the kids who did pass the 11+ (story told by a guy at work who was under-challenged at his school after failing the 11+, but he didn't have the courage to risk failure by trying to transfer to the grammar, plus he already hated the whole system & resented the very existence of the grammar).

Selection divides. It's meant to be divisive.

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Sep-16 12:51:08

If we have dedicated resourcing and teaching for the non-grammar kids -how is that a bad thing?

If a grammar school selects the top 25% from the 11+ scores, then it is not a case of selecting some mysterious 'more able' kids who need a different education, it's selecting a group of kids who, if they were GCSE grades would be getting anything from an A*-B. The kids left behind will be not 'struggling non-academics' who need a different education, but a huge variety of kids, some of whom will do very well. The 11+ doesn't account for a spiky profile so someone who's amazing at maths but not at English will be put into a school that fits them for one subject but is a bad fit for the other.
In addition, the 11+ is not a magic test that can accurately separate out kids who will do well at GCSE and those who won't. The best tests we have would put 1 in 5 kids in the wrong school.

On top of that, grammar schools find recruitment and retention of staff much easier - they are more likely to be able to hire subject specialists and experienced staff, and be rated Ofsted Outstanding. Secondary moderns struggle to recruit, have a higher turnover of staff, are more likely to be rated Ofsted Requires Improvement or Inadequate.

TeenAndTween Sun 18-Sep-16 14:13:33

However if comprehensive schools insist on whole ability classes for all their subjects then I'm against that.

Generally these days the majority of comps stream and or set to some extent. Some don't, and some of those still get great results.

For me the issue is that by removing 20% of the top 25%, you may well reduce the numbers left in the 'comp' who want/are able to do certain options.

So for example at my DD's comp around 2 classes worth do triple science each year. So around 60 kids. If 45 of those kids had been separated off at 11, that only leaves 15 who want/are able to do triple. But 15 may be below the 'economic' number to have for a GCSE class, and so it doesn't run. So those 15 no longer get the option to do triple science.

Similarly MFLs are often seen as 'hard' and to be done by brighter kids. By removing a chunk of the top kids, you may well get below the critical number of kids interested in MFLs to be able to employ MFL teachers covering different languages. So whereas my DDs comp currently offers French and/or Spanish/German maybe its offering would drop to French only. So my B/C grade DD wouldn't have been able to do French & Spanish at GCSE, and then progress to Spanish A level.

In my town we have 2 very good comps. One of which gives off a strong impression it would love to be a grammar. If it does decide to select academically, then the other will have people who positively choose it, but also people who 'fail' the first. The upshot will be fewer high achiever kids and more lower ability. Which will impact the offering for the more able, but also the offering for the middle achievers too.

titchy Sun 18-Sep-16 14:16:48

You're assuming comprehensives teach all abilities in the same class. They don't. Comprehensives set according to ability. You don't get F/G grade GCSE kids being taught with A*/A kids.

Having those Astar/A sets available means that those who start in the B class have somewhere to move up to if they take off academically, which they often do. In a secondary modern type school there might only be a handful of kids who could gain Astar/A grades, so they won't be taught separately.

Easy mistake to make - Theresa May seems to think that's how comprehensives work like that too.

TeenAndTween Sun 18-Sep-16 14:17:04

Grammar schools give more choice to the more able kids.
They reduce choice for everyone else.

By the time you fail the 11+ and aren't religious, and maybe also can't afford bus fares to the next town, you have no choice.

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Sep-16 14:21:15

It's not about parental choice, this is about schools choosing kids.

mathsmum314 Sun 18-Sep-16 16:13:10

So for example at my DD's comp around 2 classes worth do triple science each year. So around 60 kids. If 45 of those kids had been separated off at 11, that only leaves 15 who want/are able to do triple. But 15 may be below the 'economic' number to have for a GCSE class, and so it doesn't run. So those 15 no longer get the option to do triple science

So for example at my DS's comp around 2 classes worth do triple science each year. So around 60 kids. If 20 of them had been separated off at 11, that would leave 40 who want/are able to do triple.That is above the 'economic' number to have a GCSE class and so it does run.

So those 20 who have gone to the selective school join others with high academic abilities. The selective school is now able to offer classics, more MFL choice, computer science, addition maths, academic extra-curricular, a broader and higher academic offer. Those children can now access work that challenges and stretches them, something the comp couldn't do because it never had above the 'economic' number of children who were able to do these GCSEs classes!

Win Win.

5moreminutes Sun 18-Sep-16 16:18:14

mathsmum don't you mean win lose?

It's not win win - that would mean everybody wins and nobody loses.

The situation you describe is one where the ones going to the selective school win and the top ability left at the secondary modern lose because there are no longer enough children to be taught at top set level.

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Sep-16 16:21:38

If there are 40 triple scientists then 10 won't do it because you can only have 30 in a class. More losers.

5moreminutes Sun 18-Sep-16 16:23:01

If there have to be selective schools there should be more examination of other countries with selective systems resulting in considerable flexibility to move between schools at the end of every school year if grades are good (or poor).

In some school systems children will be asked to either repeat a year or leave the grammar equivalent if grades are poor, and the door is always open to children achieving top grades at the less academic school to switch to the grammar equivalent.

5moreminutes Sun 18-Sep-16 16:26:38

Many children are "late bloomers" who are fairly average achievers at 11 but top achievers by 16, if they are not written off too early. Same works in reverse - primary school prodigies are not always straight A GCSE and A level students and not always suited to rarefied academic study jyst because they were ahead at primary.

titchy Sun 18-Sep-16 16:33:51

So mathsmum out of a comprehensive intake of 240 kids you reckon the grammar will only take 20 of them - less than 10%?

I think that's highly unlikely - unless the grammars have very small intakes, which reduces subject choice, or one serves a very wide area, which is problematic itself, I imagine that out of the 240 that would have gone to the comprehensive at least 50 will be creamed off.

BertrandRussell Sun 18-Sep-16 16:36:11

Well, it's a "win win" if you don't care much what happens to all the other kids. Which, frankly, most grammar school supporters don't......

sandyholme Sun 18-Sep-16 16:58:01

My reasoning for having the top 40% admitted to grammar school is that it would encompass every student likely to average B (6) or above across their GCSEs. This therefore would allow for subjects to be available in the grammar school including vocational options. The other benefit is the High school would only be concerned with E,D and C .

A regular complaint is that schools are so focused turning D grades in to C grades. This therefore means both the high ability and the lowest attainers are far from the priority for a large no of secondary school.

Finally the biggest hurdle to achievement in the classroom , is disruption and this is likely to come from pupils that are bored or struggling.
Therefore why do you want students who are either unable to engage , through lack of interest or because the lesson 'is going on around them' in the mainstream environment.

These very pupils approx 10% would be better served for themselves and others in a school away from the middling 50% .

BertrandRussell Sun 18-Sep-16 17:05:53

Well if you're going to put 40% in grammar schools you're hardly going to get the intellectual elite that the fans are so very keen on.....

5moreminutes Sun 18-Sep-16 17:22:04

Sandy setting by ability from mid way through or at the end if year 7 (once school actually know the children, not based on whether their primary taught to the SATS test or they were tutored for a test) combined with scrapping league tables and scrapping anything and everything that causes a school and it's teachers to be rated/ paid/ funded according to number of C grade passes would better address all the problems you mention.

titchy Sun 18-Sep-16 17:30:45

Children that are disruptive because they're struggling simply get moved down a set in a comprehensive school. They don't get left in set 1 to disrupt the A graders ffs.

If you had a child at a secondary modern who took off academically would you genuinely be happy for them to be taught to a B grade and no more? Be honest now...

BertrandRussell Sun 18-Sep-16 17:33:13

But as I keep saying- it's important for schools to get their Ds To Cs- but it is vital for the kids to get their Cs. Vital and life changing.

sandyholme Sun 18-Sep-16 17:33:38

Bertrand it is not about 'elites' its about children who are above average academically getting an education that is correct for them.
Grammar schools or the concept should not be about any type of 'elite or'creme de la creme'.

A 40% model would allow for the bright child who had a disaster on their 11+ exam day.

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Sep-16 17:39:31

above average academically getting an education that is correct for them

What is this 'correct' education for this upper 40% and what is the 'correct' but different education for the other 60%?

sandyholme Sun 18-Sep-16 17:46:17

Grammar School curriculum :
Triple Science, Latin, two MFLs , Further Maths, Economics, Music E.TC.

CookieDoughKid Sun 18-Sep-16 17:47:54

Will read a bit more in depth later (cooking Sunday roast now grin) but just wanted to thank the posters who replied here. Food for thought indeed and helps me (and others I'm sure) gain a broader depth of knowledge on the whole grammar debate.

titchy Sun 18-Sep-16 17:50:58

How would the 40% model account for kids who bombed the 11+ - let's say they were the 41%?

I don't think it takes much to imagine a grammar curriculum - as you stated.

But what you haven't said is what is an appropriate education for the 60%?

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