some questions from the grammar school argument

(48 Posts)
Random89 Tue 20-Sep-16 10:35:39

Read lots of post around the grammar school, I really have some questions. Why don't people dare to say that every child is different, I fully support that every child is equal, but they are different and have different need for education. Why we only need to think about the need for under achieving children. How about the bright children. To think this country as a whole, don't we need to get our bright children to release all their potentials, these children are going to be our country's top scienctist, doctors, economist, politicians etc. They are going to decide our country's future.

Some may query about the entry test, then improve the entry test, there aren't a test which is 100% fair, but if you test something that is taught in every primary school, then everyone will have a fair chance. Tutoring does improving the test result a bit, but for a really bright children, they would still pass without tutoring. At least, a poor bright child will have a chance. Not like now, if the child lives in a poor city, he won't have a chance.

And for the rest school, why can't these school still be improved without a few bright children. If the headmaster and SLT can be strong, have a good discipline in the school, deliver the message that education is important, get everyone studying hard. I can't see a school change just because a few bright students left. On the contrary, the teaching resource can be directed to the more demanding low achieving students.

However, I don't agree the current plan for schools to apply for selective, there should be a structure to make sure each town to have one, but not many.

dodobookends Tue 20-Sep-16 10:39:49

why can't these schools still be improved without a few bright children. Probably because the best teachers will leave and find employment at the new grammars as well.

BertrandRussell Tue 20-Sep-16 10:44:36

Random- there are loads of threads- several active at the moment- that answer your questions. Why not join one of them?

ReallyTired Tue 20-Sep-16 11:00:21

I failed a couple of entrance exams for private schools at the age of eleven and it really knocked my confidence. It felt like offical confirmation that I was thick as pig shit. The reality was that I had no hope of passing the exams as my parents put me in for those exams with zero prepation. I do not want any child to feel like how I did regardless of their IQ.

My daughter is deemed "gifted" by her school. She got a scale score of 115 in her reading and her maths key stage 1 SATs. However she is not that different to her classmates who did less well. I don't think that it has hurt her being in a class with less able children who are well behaved.

The biggest difference between dd and her classmates is that dd works like a trojan. She is more focussed than her lower achieving classmates. She listens better and is more independent. She doesn't need a specialist environment. She just needs somewhere quiet to work and suitable resources to read through.

The aim of educational policy should be that as many children as possible enjoy a high standard of education and achieve. Many working class white children and their parents do not believe that sucess is possible. Parents and children do not push themselves as they do not believe it will make a difference. They have a fixed mindset.

Its not just parents who are guilty, but society is not ambitious enough for low achieving children. We need research to understand how concentration skills develop. We need research into how to develop a growth mindset. Other countries have mixed ablity classes in comprehensive schools all the way up to 15/16. There isn't this great urge to label children as incapable at a tender age.

There are a tiny percentge of children who struggle in large classes. We need better provision for these children so they don't make teaching impossible.

Maybe we need better research. Would it be better to force an underachieving student to repeat a year than put them in a low ablity set? What skills does a child actually need to survive in secondary?

ReallyTired Tue 20-Sep-16 11:25:57

The problem with setting is that it puts a ceiling on a child's learning. There is also a tenancy for teachers to regard children in certain sets as incapable of learning. Grammar schools are an extreme form of setting where its hard to put mistakes right.

I believe that the difference between high achieving children is behaviour rather than innate ablity. The children of the rich do well as they value education and push their children. Private school children work harder in lessons and get more attention from qualified staff. PISA makes it hard to assess the affect of class size. A lot of asian children attend crammars where they are in tiny classes. Prehaps our children should be in a class of four for one hour a week with a qualified teacher regardless of ablity.

How do we get our children to sit down, focuss and work hard? How do we create a society that values hard work and education. How do we get our children to believe in themselves.

Random89 Tue 20-Sep-16 11:33:26

dodobookends, there was 1 post talking about giving Headteachers and teachers special allowance for improving standards in a failing school, this maybe a good idea.

ReallTired, I think there is more for a gifted child, they normally understand things quickly, can see the logic behind the complicated details easily. And good memory also counts.

Every child is different, in general, this country has done lots to provide a good education for everyone. I think there has been a massive improvement in secondary school in our city. The worst 2 secondary school was notorious for drug and fighting, and GCSE rate was around 30%, and these school has been improving since 2005, and now these school GCSE rate moved up to 50-60%, and the school is safe now, and MC family started to join the school.

However, I think it is not resource effective to provide differentiation education in the same class, or the same school. As I mentioned in our city there is no grammar school, the improved school had a fast track class to provide for their talented students, they do send a few children to Oxbridge every year. However, the teaching resource poured onto these few children are big. It would be more efficient to group these children together, then more attention can be given to each group children.

Some country may have mix abilities children together in same class, but they may already done the selection on school level, so the children don't need to be differentiated in the class.

Random89 Tue 20-Sep-16 11:40:50

From another culture, we do believe hard working can improve the result. I always tell my DC, an average intellegency child certainly can achieve more than a lazy bright child. And in this society, average intellegency and hard working can get you to anywhere.

However, you can't deny the natural abilities, it is the same with sports, I can expect my DC to earn a math Olympiad medal if he works hard, but no matter how hard he try, he won't be able to earn anything in sports field. But by practice hard, he would improve his sports skill massively compare to himself.

eyebrowsonfleek Tue 20-Sep-16 11:52:07

As I mentioned in our city there is no grammar school, the improved school had a fast track class to provide for their talented students, they do send a few children to Oxbridge every year. However, the teaching resource poured onto these few children are big. It would be more efficient to group these children together, then more attention can be given to each group children.

The fast track is often the top 10-20% of children. My children are in such a setting and they don't get any extra resources or lessons. If those children weren't there, the school would still need to employ a maths teacher to cover those lessons. My daughter is self-motivated, academic and well behaved so is taking less than 1/30 of the teacher's time. Her needs wouldn't be better met at a grammar.

The UK already provides excellent lawyers, economists and doctors. Despite what you say, under achieving children are not well looked after by the education system. Parents have to fight for help, schools have to fight for money and slots so that specialists like Educational Psychologists visit the school and children are at the mercy of luck. If there's extra money available, it needs to be spent on PRU spaces and dealing with people who live in admissions black holes.

yeOldeTrout Tue 20-Sep-16 12:03:02

Why don't people dare to say that every child is different

Because every child is different, why shoehorn all kids into just 2 narrow tracks: all round academic & not so all-round academic? Why assume there is no overlap or that bright kids shouldn't want to be builders? Why narrow their options based on a single test?

Why we only need to think about the need for under achieving children. How about the bright children.

This is where people speak from own experience, my kids may tick the bright box & they are doing fine at ordinary (nonselective) schools.

If you test something that is taught in every primary school, then everyone will have a fair chance.

I kind of agree on this; if SAT results were used for grammar school entry, that would be fairer than the 11+, because everyone gets school time preparing for SATs.

And for the rest school, why can't these school still be improved without a few bright children.

The word few = 2 or 3. did you mean 2 or 3%? Most grammars take 10-20%. I agree a 2-3% skimming off the most academic kids would not much change the system left behind. 2-3% would really only work in London, though, a percentage skim like that won't work outside a few big cities. Skimming 20% off in rural areas would have a massive impact on non-selected kids.

there should be a structure to make sure each town to have one

I'm back to confused about your numbers... Intake at each secondary in our local towns is 120-200 kids per yr. A separate secondary school with just 12-20 kids in each year group would struggle to be financially viable.

And boy would it be socially divisive. And narrow the options and opportunities for those in the 'selected' stream.

user1474361571 Tue 20-Sep-16 12:08:08

I can expect my DC to earn a math Olympiad medal if he works hard.

You can't expect this - very few people are capable of achieving Maths Olympiad medals, regardless of how hard they work. Nor can you expect him to get into a top university for maths and get a First, just because he works hard.

Random89 Tue 20-Sep-16 12:13:14

'The UK already provides excellent lawyers, economists and doctors'

Do you happened to missed excellent scientists? If you go to University to have a look, are there many British professor? Do you know it is very hard to find a british Science/Engineering PHD student candidate even you have funding to recruite one?

As for teaching resource, if you have to provide teaching resource to a few students, it sure is more expensive than provide it to a big group of students. Like I know a boy, he had finished his A level math in Y11 in that school, teacher has to find extra resource just for him. And at the same time , there are children can't manage a D or E in the same school, the top end and the bottom end, they have different need, I am not saying you can't do this in same school, but this certainly cost more.

user1474361571 Tue 20-Sep-16 12:19:55

One main reason why it is easy to find high quality foreign science PhD students is that we have a very short undergraduate phase relative to the rest of Europe. It is a reflection of the high quality of UK education that our STEM graduates manage to do well in PhDs after only 3 or 4 years of undergraduate education, when most European students have 5+ (3 Bachelors, 2 Masters). A second reason why there is a relative shortage of British PhD candidates in STEM is that they are very sort after for highly paid jobs in finance.

The vast majority of STEM professors in UK universities are British. Of course, the UK loses its very best professors to other countries which actually pay properly.

ReallyTired Tue 20-Sep-16 12:22:45

Some children have more energy, persevere more. My daughter is very good at problem solving in maths, but she is tenacious and doesn't give up. Possibly she is better at lateral thinking but it's her can do attitude that makes her successful.

I don't think that constantly comparing children to each other is constructive. Children need to be pushed to beat their personal best rather than be top of the class.

user1474361571 Tue 20-Sep-16 12:27:25

BTW countries with the strongest universities all recruit from international pools of applicants. Open recruitment always lifts standards. So just because we in the UK are open to recruiting foreign PhD students and academics doesn't mean that British born students and academics aren't good - we simply want the best we can get, chosen not from a pool of 60 million but from a pool of 7 billion. Even with open recruitment we still often end up picking a British applicant - indicating that the British applicant is indeed world class.

Random89 Tue 20-Sep-16 12:30:43

'You can't expect this - very few people are capable of achieving Maths Olympiad medals, regardless of how hard they work. Nor can you expect him to get into a top university for maths and get a First, just because he works hard.'
That's my point, you achieve the top via hard working only if you have the ability in that area. Of course you can't without hard working even if you have the ability. This was against the previous post who think achievement is only based on behaviour.
As for my DC, I know he can go to a top University if he keeps working hard at current level.He can't get an internation Math olympiad medal as he doesn't have the right support at the moment, and he is not a person who works really hard either.But I do believe he has the ability. But that's not relavant to this post.

ReallyTired Tue 20-Sep-16 12:35:55

The brain is a living organ and stimulation improves IQ. The right simulation can make a child more intelligent. Conversely child abuse can make a child have a low IQ. (I don't mean brain damage from physical abuse. I mean extreme neglect.)

IQ has increased over the years partly due to better feeding, but also better education. The brain is like a muscle in that if it is challenged it gains neutron connections. If an elderly person does not regularly use their brain they are bigger risk of dementia. Child's brain is still growing at eleven and it's a mistake to think that intellectual capacity does not change over time.

Most of us only use a fraction of our brains. If I have poor quality brain was 'proved' by a silly entrance test it hasn't stopped me from getting excellent qualifications with good teaching and hard work.

lordStrange Tue 20-Sep-16 12:38:33

I read this article from The graud today about the Finnish comprehensive system and the are supposedly the top brainiest in the world!

They don't compete, or select, they teach from a tiny age about tenacity and creativity through play. They don't start formal learning until 7.I honestly don't know why we can't do it here.
Here's the article Finnish education

Traalaa Tue 20-Sep-16 12:44:12

'At least, a poor bright child will have a chance. Not like now, if the child lives in a poor city, he won't have a chance.'

Not true in a lot of deprived areas of London. Results are leading the country as mostly v.good.

ReallyTired Tue 20-Sep-16 12:56:50

Deprived parts of London are filled with immigrants who have a can do culture. The question is how can be export this can do culture to other parts of the U.K.?

The olympics have shown that the British can do well in support with the right support and funding. Surely the same is true with academics. No, I am not suggesting focussing on academic superstars, but making sure that no area of the country or school is left behind.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Tue 20-Sep-16 13:11:55

The 11 plus is divisive. I have one dc who works far harder than the others but it is not rewarded due to probable dyslexia. She is very able in many areas and with the right support I believe will do well. She wants to go into STEM - exactly the sort of child who should be encouraged, however because she was later reading and her spelling is poor she is likely not to pass the 11+ and so while the rest of the 'top' 25% waltz off to grammar school she can't. Long term her reading is good enough, although at Uni she is likely to be able to access talking books anyway, she will probably be dependant on spell check and word processing but I think that most professionals use these tools now.

At a secondary modern she won't have the intellectual stimulation of her friends because of her disability. Some subjects she will exceed the abilities of those given a place, other subjects if she passed then she wouldn't have access to a SENCO who is used to working as much with children with dyslexia. In any other realm it would not be acceptable but in school selection it is fine to discriminate on the basis of sex, faith and disability.

I have less of a problem with setting as then some children can get more help than others but they can all mix together and work at their strengths. I have also seen how crushing it can be when I was at a grammar school and children didn't do as well as their peers, they couldn't just be moved next door to Mrs Jones's second set, they had to stay and struggle or leave and start over at a different school.

user1474361571 Tue 20-Sep-16 13:12:52

We have a large number of UK universities in the world top 100. UK higher education is very highly valued, worldwide. This whole grammar school debate seems to be framed around the premiss that there is something fundamentally wrong with our education system and that bright kids aren't getting a good deal. This just doesn't stand up to any scrutiny - the top UK universities outperform universities in Finland, many or most of the students at these universities come from non-selective state schools etc.

(On the topic of Olympics and funding, though, the principle of the Olympic funding is to focus on potential superstars at the expense of sports facilities for all - the analogue academically would be to concentrate resources at the top. I certainly don't think this is what we should be doing at school age. To support our world leading universities, more funding for STEM research would of course always be welcome. We spend around 1.5% of GDP, cf 2-3% in most other developed countries.)

shouldwestayorshouldwego Tue 20-Sep-16 13:15:31

likely not to pass the 11+

Apologies for the poor grammar, but I find it hard to write that my clever, articulate, funny, talented little girl will most likely fail. Oh well, good practice for failing and retaking SATs probably.

Random89 Tue 20-Sep-16 13:22:24

The reason I don't agree with PM that allow secondary school to apply to select is I think there need be a careful plan to set up how many grammar school based on how many students. In the town, that only has 1 secondary, of course you can't just set up another grammar. Maybe a few town combine together to set up 1?

Also, I don't think grammar school should have better facilities, the only difference should be the teaching pace and more challenge tasks. And at the same time, we should still keep improving our normal school.

Random89 Tue 20-Sep-16 13:37:12

user1474361571, I think bright kids don't have a good deal in the city like we live,there are no grammar school, the best school in our city only has a GCSE rate 50-60%(that's after massive improvement), but the comprehensive school in our neighbouring town has a GCSE rate of 90%. Of course , not all the bright kids suffer, rich family send their DC to private school, move to the catchment of that outstanding one.

I do respect the teachers in our 2 improved secondary school, they did a lot, and I don't think they will work less hard just because there is a new grammar school in the city. If they keep their hard work, the school won't change much even if the bright students has gone to another school.

The fear that the current school will be worse will only happen if govement pour more fund into the grammar school and pull the fund from the normal school.

BertrandRussell Tue 20-Sep-16 13:42:36

"the best school in our city only has a GCSE rate 50-60%"

The thing is that could be excellent. It depends on the cohort.

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