Academically Selective Education

(984 Posts)
HelpOneAnother Fri 07-Dec-12 15:16:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OhDearConfused Fri 07-Dec-12 15:17:48

Oh Dear Not another one. You know where this will end.....

HelpOneAnother Fri 07-Dec-12 15:43:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CarlingBlackMabel Fri 07-Dec-12 15:52:58

The call for academic selection always seems to come from those who have, or imagine they have, children of high academic ability.

And yet it is possible that the children who could benefit most from selection and differentation are those in the middle, who need some care to help them learn in thier way, will not 'be ok wherever they go', and are more likely to suffer from disrution in the class than those in top streams. (which is not to say bright kids are not badly behaved, they may well be badly behaved, and more so if bored by being in a class with average ability kids).

11 is way too young to determine a path which could dictate a child's future.

Let's educate all children in true comprehensives, which have the capacity and flexibility to educate all young people in a way that best supports individual potential.

(I have a high achieving top-stream DC).

Muminwestlondon Fri 07-Dec-12 15:59:43

I have a child in a superselective and one in the top band of a comprehensive - we live in a non grammar area, where a substantial number of kids go to private schools (about 40%).

The superselective is full of clever middle class girls who would do well in any school.

In my opinion the comprehensive is the better school. Amazing facilities and the teachers try a lot harder. It is extremely well funded.

So OP, I don't think the UK would benefit from more selective schools. It would benefit from more investment in education.

HelpOneAnother Fri 07-Dec-12 16:00:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

camilamoran Fri 07-Dec-12 16:40:31

I quite like the idea of selection at 14. I would like to see better vocational education. There are a couple of examples already, I think, of specialist 14+ schools - I've heard of an engineering one and of course there is the BRIT school. If this sort of proper vocational education is to be done well, it is resource heavy and won't really fit in under a generalised academic school.

Everybody would go to high school at 12. They would be working towards competency tests in English, Maths, Science, and a foreign language. It would be accepted that some children would reach the competency level at 14 and some at 16. If they reach that level at 14, they can choose to go to an academic school or a vocational one. Vocational schools would specialise in different areas, including computing and art (like those art schools we used to have that educated Hockney and John Lennon) and some might need an audition or a portfolio to get in. You probably wouldn't need a test for academic school - by 14 a kid will know what their level of ability or motivation is.

Kids would have the opportunity of working in a serious way and achieving. The least able would be able to progress at their own speed in a focussed environment, rather than floundering around at the bottom of the class.

Oh, and the academic schools would be as little like grammar schools as possible.

dinkybinky Fri 07-Dec-12 16:48:27

I think we need to raise the standards in state schools to be more in line with GS and independent style education in primary years. Tutoring children for 2 years to pass a simple test at 11 it proves there is something seriously lacking in primary education in this country.

I also think some parents need to be taught how to help their children learn to read, maths etc. I say this because I just heard a parent telling her child that lungs were located in the stomach !! the mind boggles

camilamoran Fri 07-Dec-12 16:53:44

Dinkybinky, you don't tutor for 2 years because the state primary system isn't good enough. You tutor for 2 years because grammar school entry is hugely competitive. You will be competing with 6 other DC for each place and most of those DC will be intelligent enough to get in. So it becomes a matter of drilling on the tests to do them as fast as possible, and not be distracted by any unfamiliar questions.

CarlingBlackMabel Fri 07-Dec-12 16:59:53

"Tutoring children for 2 years to pass a simple test at 11 it proves there is something seriously lacking in primary education in this country. "

It proves nothing of the sort! It proves the level of competitiveness amongst parents determined to get their children into a school which has far more applicants than places and admits not on a standard pass score but on the highest pass marks.

If a child needs 2 years of tutoring simply to pass the 11+ then they probably are not grammar material. The vast majority of bright children will pass the 11+ after a few practice papers and familiarity with the form. But passing doesn't get you a place.

APMF Fri 07-Dec-12 17:45:47

If we have a selective system no matter where you draw the line there will be inequities.

If you draw the line at 5+ then the child with the proactive parent who reads to the child and does number games (educated MC mum?) will have the advantage.

At 7+ ditto the above.

At 13+, with gcse round the corner the school has no choice but to test subject knowledge. Prep school kid or child whose parents can afford tutoring will have the advantage.

At 14, ditto the above.

Selective education, no matter where you draw the line, will always be biased in favour of kids who have proactive and involved parents. Having well off parents also helps tremendously.

So IMO we either ban selective state education or stay with 11+ but make it as equitable as possible. After school tutor clubs for example, Council funded support groups maybe.

diabolo Fri 07-Dec-12 19:22:08

APMF absolutely - academically selective education accessible by all with ability - regardless of parental involvement / socio-economic background.

Like Grammar schools used to be in the 60's & 70's.

noblegiraffe Fri 07-Dec-12 19:31:49

Academic selection invariably ends up as social selection, however hard you try.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 07-Dec-12 19:37:40

ITA, diablo.

My 'probably yes' to the proposition that:

'it would it benefit the UK to have countrywide access to academically selective schools'

is based on DH's experience hiring people to technical positions in the sort of industry that actually makes money for the country. He found that most of his good applicants were products of GS; quite a from private schools; very few from comprehensives. Given that there are far more comprehensives than the other types, if they were serving able students well this shouldn't have been the case.
That's on the economic side; socially, grammar schools used to be widely recognised as the best vehicle for social mobility going.

If it was clear that comprehensives were doing an excellent job for the less academic children, I might have a different answer - but that doesn't seem to be the case.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 07-Dec-12 20:29:57


losingtrust Fri 07-Dec-12 23:57:43

I would agree at 18 and not with a single exam and more at the choice of the kids really and with limited involvement from parents. Children do tend to decide which type of path suits them at 14. For me ten is too young and an exam on one day is no basis for the decision.

losingtrust Fri 07-Dec-12 23:59:48

To all those who believe grammar schools were completely without social class leanings in the 60s and 70s it was not always the case. Much worse today though judging by fsm levels.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 00:00:18

Sorry meant 14 not 18.

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 00:03:39

"11 is way too young to determine a path which could dictate a child's future.

Let's educate all children in true comprehensives, which have the capacity and flexibility to educate all young people in a way that best supports individual potential."

Absolutely. And remember it's not even 11- children are 10 when they take the 11+.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 00:06:07

The university near us has started a science college for gifted science and engineering children from age 14 and are going into local comps to recruit. I do not see an issue at 14 as long as advantage is given to kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. We also need vocational colleges from 14 as at this age some kids who are not interested in the academic field lose interest and need somewhere else. I also think changing teachers at 14 is sometimes a good idea to chane preconceptions.

alcofrolic Sat 08-Dec-12 01:20:58

Over the last 15 years, in my county at least, the 11+ has become corrupt, and blatantly favours the middle class who can afford tutoring (i.e. parents with high aspirations and a big bank balance).

I agree that 14+ selection is a good option (academic vs practical), and a broader and more relevant-to-life 14+ curriculum would probably address some social issues. However, as our members of cabinet have jumped through a portal from Planet-1950, the likelihood of useful education of non-academic children remains a pipe-dream.

sashh Sat 08-Dec-12 03:08:31

I think we should scrap it an go for the system in Finland.

No formal school until age 7. But from early on until age 7 children are learning social skills and how to interact with others.

It means that ALL children arrive at school with the skills to learn. The things that a 5 year old with an engaged parent or two, plus possibly grandparents, who reads to their children, has books in the house and goes to museums has in this country.

And the things a child with a parent or two who are only interested in their next fix don't have.

Primary teachers have to try to teach both, and everyone in the middle not just to read and write, but how to behave in a classroom.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 08:33:39

A lot of children in the UK arrive at Reception barely able to read and write or to handle basic number tasks. And your solution is to have kids start school at 7

I know nothing about Finland so I'm not going to comment on why they top the table above the UK. So staying with the UK, we are told that MC children educationally do well because they have involved parents who nuture them. If we delay school until 7, those kids with parents who don't nuture them will be even future behind.

This 7 business works FOR the Finnish but it doesn't mean it will work oft us Brits.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 08:35:13

When I grew up selection was at 16. We had no grammars or sixth forms at the local schools and at 16. Exams dictated academic route at sixth form college, vocational at the tech or job/apprenticeship for those who needed to leave school. There was no snobbery, and those from the sixth form went to Oxbridge or rg but it was student with careers advice driven and not parent driven. Up to 16 everyone went to comp. no tutors, mixed bank balances mixing. I don't see how that failed any sector of child. By bringing this system forward by two years to 14 would keep the focus on strengths. Also agree with 7 starting point although have to play my hand here. Had two summer borns who would have benefitted. No interest in reading till 7 and suffered from poor teacher aspirations at infants but then shooting way ahead of peers after 7 like their very intelligent father who was remedial in in infants but Iq of 140 and went on to Physics at rg from a really rough comp.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 08:38:49

Absolutely no benefit trying to teach formally to many under 7s. Ask the teacher who has had a child with no schooling at 7 how quickly they catch up if they are bright. Those five year olds who can read going to school are soon caught up.

OneHandFlapping Sat 08-Dec-12 08:42:48

Oh this myth...

The superselective is full of clever middle class girls who would do well in any school.

It's just not true. I know plenty of examples of bright middle class children who have NOT achieved their full potential at comprehensive schools.

A child who comes out of school with eg 2 Bcs and a C at A level has not done well if they were capable of 3 As. Bright kids have as much right to an education that fulfils their intellectual potential as less academic kids.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 08:48:49

Do how would A'Level results be improved by selection in one exam at ten rather than selection based on exam results at 14 or even 16.

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 08:50:54

"It's just not true. I know plenty of examples of bright middle class children who have NOT achieved their full potential at comprehensive schools. "

I know plenty of bright middle class children who have not achieved their potential at all sorts of schools. I know one who did not achieve his potential at Winchester. The difference is that if a bright middle class child does not achieve their potential at a grammar- or at Winchester- everyone thinks it's the child's fault. If they don't achieve their potential at a comprehensive, everyone says it's the school's fault.

dashoflime Sat 08-Dec-12 09:03:44

I think you have to consider what selection is for. As in it's function for society.

I think the answer is usually to sort the Successes and the failures, and to limit further opportunity to the failures.

That's certainly what the old grammer schools were about. In my time we had the basic science gcse, in which it was impossible even with a 100% score to gain more than a D.

I think it's done on the assumption that some children are simply not capable of learning to a higher level and are destined for menial work.

This has always been a terrible unfair approach but is even worse now there are less meniel jobs to be had! As other people have said, we need higher expectations of our children to compete with e.g: China.

My Mum worked briefly as a maths tutor for the army. That was a bit of an eye opener. The army recruits have a huge spread of competancies when they join, including very low ability and the army gets them all up to a reasonable level of literacy and numeracy and an increadable level of fitness simply by providing as much help as needed to get each person up to the level required. No failures allowed.

The biggest challenge for my mum, as in all adult education, was undoing the negative messages that the men had recieved from school and building their confidence.

If the army can do it, then any institution in society could. There's no need to write people off at any stage.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 09:15:38

Putting aside the benefits argument for a mo, many families rely on two incomes. Going for 7yrs mean these families have either to live off one income for a few more years or spend money they can't spare on child care.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 09:17:05

Yep I would have been in that position but would still rather have done that.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 09:30:48

The 'experts' tell us that children from some households are left to fend for themselves because their moms leave them at home in front of the tv. Many don't have a healthy diet. Others are abused. To many children, the school is a safe island.

I accept that some children aren't ready for school at 5 and would benefit from staying at home with mom for another few years but that is hardly a reason for adopting this nationally. Particularly since so many argue that MC children has the advantage and that the school is the only chance to address the imbalance when it comes to children from a disadvantaged background.

Conclusion- Great idea in theory but sucks in practice.... unless you are Finnish :-)

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 09:33:55

dashoflime,Mabel,muminweatlondon-where have you been all my life? grin

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 09:33:56

Read the story of somebody called V

dashoflime Sat 08-Dec-12 09:44:58

"dashoflime,Mabel,muminweatlondon-where have you been all my life?"

Lurking grin

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 11:55:58


Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 12:04:15

APMF - many European countries with later school starting ages use a Kindergarten system that prepares the children for formal learning. My dd started "school" aged 2.5, and started Primary aged 6.5. She learnt to read (in French) from 0 - chapter books in one school year.

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 12:06:31

Kindergarten covers the social aspects of school, eating, sitting still, paying attention, toiletting, working on projects etc and in my experience, the older start means the children have levelled out a bit and are READY for the formal stuff.

MsAverage Sat 08-Dec-12 12:16:24

I happened to have a friend in Finland with two school aged kids. So, she is telling that the level hit by Finnish children in PISA are explained by quite boring, basic, no-silver-bullet stuff. Namely, by the considerable effort that the state put into full staffing, PE facilities, materials for lessons, regular re-training of teachers and so forth. No magic.

We also should keep in mind that PISA measures literacy and numeracy skills of an average school child. It is nothing to do with selectiveness and children with high academic needs. If one want to see selectiveness in action, it is better to look not at PISA, but in the results of international maths/programming/linguistics olympiads, where Finland is non-existent.

Jojobells1986 Sat 08-Dec-12 12:58:38

Rather than using academic ability as the criteria for selection, couldn't we (in our imaginary utopia) base schools on different learning styles? Some children learn best by experiencing things, others just like to be given lists of facts to learn by rote. Maybe we'd have more success in educating all children if each was primarily taught in the way that best suited them.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 13:01:10

Mind you could you imagine if there was no formal reading before 7. All those reading levels threads on mumsnet would be non-existence because everyone would be learning so quickly! Parents would not be fretting or gloating so much. My friend recently taught a child who was 8 when she started school and had not had the ability to read or use basic maths. However, the kid just absorbed everything given to her like a sponge and ended at 11 higher than most of the other kids. Ok this is only one incident but we do have an informal selection at 7 in this country which is ks2 Sats and I know these are no longer published but does form the expectations for the child in later years.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 13:03:28

Jojo that is a great point and very true. Kids and adults have different ways of learning and if one learning style predominates some children may struggle. Visual learners for instance have their own special way. A good teacher or school would use a mixture of ways of learning.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 13:06:41

An example is the abacus which I have found to very good for maths because it is good to learn maths by touching, doing, seeing and if the child speaks as they do it also aural. Do you remember sentence makers when you were kids. I loved using those and perfectly suited to different learning styles while speaking at the same time.

BackforGood Sat 08-Dec-12 13:12:48

I agree with all losingtrust has said on previous page about selection at 16. It used to be there was national selection of the brightest / most academic 10% at 18, to go to University, but then someone decided the country would benefit by there not being a rigorous selection procedure then, and 50% of the population could go to University. It comes back to the point about why you want to select people. It seems we have different thought about that on MN.

creamteas Sat 08-Dec-12 13:45:57

The reason that people support selection is that they are hoping that it will give their child an advantage over other people's children. This is not new, but the form it takes has changed.

When university places were restricted, all middle-classes could ensure access to the professions was reserved for them regardless of their children's intellectually abilities. You needed the right connections to get a place.

The expansion of universities from the 1960s onwards meant that to retain their class advantage they could no longer rely on the connections and thus exam success became the criteria. Hence the hysterical angst over secondary school places.

dashoflime Sat 08-Dec-12 13:56:02

Totally agree creamteas. And the more unequal wealth distribution gets, the higher the hysteria gets ramped up

noblegiraffe Sat 08-Dec-12 14:04:51

I think teaching according to learning style has been shown to be nonsense.

LynetteScavo Sat 08-Dec-12 14:14:49

As a parent of three children with differing needs (one top set, one middle set, one bottom set) I think comprehensive is they way forward.

I'm sure there are people out there who would love to see a three tier system, but I think that schools should be able to cater for DC of all abilities.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 14:20:36

A lot of people have anecdotes about someone they know who started formal learning late but roared ahead despite this late start. Proof that starting school at 7 is a good thing. But not all kids are like this.

Sure, if you nuture your kid, read to them play maths is fun type of games then when they get to school at 7 they will race ahead. But what about the kid that gets dumped in front of the tv until he goes to school at 7?

Sure, the naturally bright ones will soon get up to speed but what about the average ones? Various studies have shown that a lot of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds arrive at Reception already at an disadvantage and that it is a struggle for those who are plain average to catch up.

So my mind boggles that people are seriously discussing it.

Panto talked about kindergarten up to 7. That is a great option. All the children get to the same level by learning through fun activities and the serious stuff doesn't start until 7.

However, it's not an option I would like for my DCs. They went to a private nursery and they were doing the 'serious stuff' at aged 4. By the time they started Reception they were ahead of their classmates and they stayed that way for the duration of their time at their primary.

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 14:35:46

What is the advantage of starting at 4 though? Some will be ready, some won't. You can encourage learning in many other ways. If they start at 6 or 7 and reach the same point after one year as someone who started at 4? Isn't that years which could have been spent doing something else?

MsAverage Sat 08-Dec-12 14:57:20

But what about the kid that gets dumped in front of the tv until he goes to school at 7?

I would not be worried a lot about families wealthy enough to afford a sitting at home child carer. Those who I would be concerned of are working mothers, which will have to pay for kindergartens for 2-3 years longer.

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 15:14:23

Serious stuff at age 4. Do you know I looked at a private nursery that had children sitting at desks at 3. Ridiculous. Children need to be taught to love learning and kindergarten far better method. It would also allow for more children to learn how to explore. Nature walks, cooking, climbing trees, taking risks. As an employer this is one of the elements in graduates that I find weakest. The ability to try something new to see if it will work. Early exploration would have helped rather than spending unnecessary hours trying to teach reading to a massively different ability.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 15:27:40

Panto - There wasn't much 'serious learning' being done at our Years R and 1so is this any different from formally starting school at 7? Not really.

Re comment about the advantages of starting at 4, they weren't chained to the desks and their crying ignored while they recited from memory the periodic tables :-)

I often ask this question - why does it have to be either/or? There is nothing wrong with starting academic stuff at 4 IF there are equal measures of 'fun' stuff.

If a DC isn't coping then of course you back off but I think that if a parent pushes their child a little bit they might be pleasantly surprised.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 15:31:02

A lot of mums 'sit at home' because what they earn if they get a job isn't enough to pay for child care.

dinkybinky Sat 08-Dec-12 15:53:49

Why withhold a child from learning until 5 yet alone 7? I read to all my children whilst they were babies, they all read fluently by the time they were five and have a passion for reading to this day. There is plenty of time in the day for playing,painting socializing and learning.

MsAverage Sat 08-Dec-12 15:58:20

APMF, the cost of childcare is so goddamn high that even their dads have to sit at homes.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 16:04:08

It is obvious that you and I know the same dads smile

losingtrust Sat 08-Dec-12 16:08:05

I would never advocate not reading to your children. I still read to my 8 year old. Please don't confuse that with formal teaching to read.

MsAverage Sat 08-Dec-12 16:10:19

Going to school at 7 should not be viewed here as a main feature of Finnish education system and discussed as persistently as isolated(ly).

Kindergarten in Finland costs ~250 Euro per month max (down to 23 Euro for the poorest), starts at 9 months old and is provided by state to any mother which chooses to go to work. There are shortages of places in large cities, especially with recent birth rate growth, but the aim of the state is clear. If we are talking about schools at 7, shall we speak about adopting the rest of the package they go with?

MsAverage Sat 08-Dec-12 16:17:54

The dads constitute some enigma. If 40% of children in my borough live in the families where nobody works, how much of them are living with moms only? And the trickiest question - is it the same dads all over? I think it would be great for the country to know their heros.

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 16:37:03

"Why withhold a child from learning until 5 yet alone 7?"

You're not withholding a child from learning by not putting them in a formal school situation. If you give a child the opportunity, they can't help learning.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 19:35:10

What a lot of people are failing to realise is that for many children the alternative to a 'formal school situation' is NOT visits to the museums, a day trip to places of historical interest or even a parent reading to them.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 19:42:17

What a lot of people are failing to realise is that for many children the alternative to a 'formal school situation' is NOT visits to the museums, a day trip to places of historical interest or even a parent reading to them.

alcofrolic Sat 08-Dec-12 20:12:04

Finland has a population of about 5.5m. London alone has 3m more people!

About 1.7m Finns are under 14 years of age, compared to 21m in the UK!

I can't see how we can even think about using a Finnish model in this country as the demographics, the geography, the climate, the social structure and employment opportunities are SO different!

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 20:42:34

Kindergarten in Belgium is FREE from age 2.5, It has a 99% take up rate.

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 20:54:54

I don't think anyone is suggesting that children should stay at home til 7- the European countries that have a late start date for formal education tend to have very comprehensive pre school provision. Usually starting at about 3. It's the formal education setting that doesn't kick in til 7.

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 21:05:50

Exactly that Seeker. They receive education - a very comprehensive one to be told, by degree level staff. It is NOT childcare For example, one term dd learned about "wheat". So they went to the farm where it was grown, they went a mill where they milled the wheat, they went to the supermarket and bought flour and ingredients, they baked stuff at school, they brought in their own baked stuff, they drew pictures etc. This is 3 or 4 yr olds. They did similar on other topics like energy, or nature.

rabbitstew Sat 08-Dec-12 21:11:07

Blimey, I find myself agreeing with a lot of what APMF says.

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 21:17:20

I would be too, rqbbitstew, if the idea was leaving children "fallow" until 7. But as Portofino says, that's not what happens.

rabbitstew Sat 08-Dec-12 21:24:30

There seem to be quite a lot of children who have been left "fallow" in the UK until they start school.

rabbitstew Sat 08-Dec-12 21:26:56

There is nothing stopping primary state school reception classes in the UK doing cookery with the children, going on nature walks, even climbing trees - my dss' school does and/or allows all these things (the latter under considerable supervision, however). I don't get where this idea that the UK doesn't ever do this sort of thing with 4-year olds comes from.

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 21:27:08

And I think aged 6 or so, after 3 years of kindergarten - they have learnt how to sit still and pay attention, they are fully toilet trained, they don.t miss mum, they know how they are expected to behave in the classroom etc etc. 4 year olds in the UK are expected to cope with ALL this AND do reading and writing at the same time.

rabbitstew Sat 08-Dec-12 21:30:00

I do know, however, that my dss' school has noticed that year on year, a higher and higher proportion are arriving at school with speech and language delays, unreliable toilet training, unable to count and unable to sit still long enough to be read a story by the teacher. Sorry, I know 4-year olds may not want to sit still to practice phonics, but the majority ought to be able to enjoy sharing a short picture book by that age - that is a FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT, after all, not some cruel punishment.

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 21:39:33

More reason - in my eyes - to start a kindergarten system in the UK. You don.t have to worry about free nursery places and WTC for children over that age. Invest in the fecking education system.

rabbitstew Sat 08-Dec-12 21:41:35

Although as a matter of interest, because I do think 4 is too young for formal school and just results in a stressful year for teachers trying to cope with toileting accidents and incomprehensible speech, etc, without the ratio of staff to children that pre-schools benefit from, when was "reception year" introduced? I didn't start school until I was 5 and I was the very youngest person in my year at school - it started at the equivalent of year 1.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 21:54:17

Brilliant idea. I'm sure the government will be keen to fund this 3 years of kindergarten scheme.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 22:21:30

My complaint was that Years R and 1 weren't academic enough but the other parents thought it was just right. Now some parents are saying even that is too much formal learning. Are your children that fragile?

My eye rolling primary school moms regarded me as pushy because I started my DS on the violin at aged 5. It's kind of nice knowing that there are moms out there rolling their eyes at these 'pushy' moms for wanting their DCs to be taught how to read, write and do basic adding at 5.

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 22:26:14

Loads of learning going on- just not in a formal setting.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 22:31:34

Anyone listening to you would think that all under 7s would be visiting museums and such stuff if only the government didn't insist on formal teaching starting with Reception.

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 22:42:12

APMF - but you ARE a pushy mum - all your posts decry that.

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 22:44:27

And yes - here under sevens go to museums and stuff and don't do formal learning,

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 22:52:22

??? @ panto - I wasn't aware that I was trying to convince anyone that I wasn't a pushy parent.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 22:55:01

panto - You obviously live in a bubble.

seeker Sat 08-Dec-12 22:56:45

I don't think she lives in a bubble- I think she lives in Belguim. Almost, but not quite the same thing............

Pantofino Sat 08-Dec-12 23:02:06

Yes I live in Belgium. My dd goes to state school, like pretty much all Belgians.

APMF Sat 08-Dec-12 23:09:11

Well, your museums must get pretty full with all those under sevens.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Dec-12 09:13:25

"I think we should scrap it an go for the system in Finland.

No formal school until age 7. But from early on until age 7 children are learning social skills and how to interact with others."

It really isn't possible to emulate Finland in the early years. Countries with languages that are easy to read and write (Finnish, Italian, Spanish) don't need to do nearly as much literacy groundwork with children as countries with languages that are difficult to read and write (English, French).

Also, according to many friends and acquaintances, many children get rather bored in countries where there is no proper schooling until 7.

APMF Sun 09-Dec-12 09:57:34

Lichtenstein has a lower crime rate than the UK but it doesn't prove that their legal system is superior.

Similarly yes, Finland does well educationally but it's not necessarily because of its education system.

breadandbutterfly Mon 10-Dec-12 18:01:12

I would only think comprehensives were suitable for the brightest kids where strict setting/streaming took place. I would not want my dd to spend another 7 years finishing her work half way through every class and being expected to act as an unpaid teacher to most of the rest of her class. Bright pupils deserve to have work set at an appropriate level of challenge.

Meanwhile I remain unconvinced that slightly above average ability pupils benefit most by never ever being able to reach the top sets as they are full of grammar-school type kids as would happen in a pure comp-only environment - does this not knock their confidence repeatedly in a way that wouldn't happen if there was a grammar school to educate these kids elsewhere? I can see that kids who are v good at one or two things but bad at others might do well under a comp system - but do not see this system as optimal for for either average or good all-rounders.

rabbitstew Mon 10-Dec-12 18:54:05

Sorry, but I don't see how removing the top sets to an entirely different school, so that no-one else can ever hope to join them, is better for morale in any way, breadandbutterfly. They are not out of sight, out of mind, as you really ought to have noticed by the amount of text the mention of grammar schools has always generated - even when they existed in large numbers throughout the country.

seeker Mon 10-Dec-12 19:16:03

And I know I bang on about this, but you really have to think about the impact on the community.

APMF Mon 10-Dec-12 19:19:28

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seeker Mon 10-Dec-12 19:38:39

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APMF Mon 10-Dec-12 20:25:47

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seeker Mon 10-Dec-12 20:47:27

Really? Promise? Phew.

APMF Mon 10-Dec-12 21:01:50

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breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 12:49:55

Totally agree with ONeHandFlapping's post above:

"It's just not true. I know plenty of examples of bright middle class children who have NOT achieved their full potential at comprehensive schools.

A child who comes out of school with eg 2 Bcs and a C at A level has not done well if they were capable of 3 As. Bright kids have as much right to an education that fulfils their intellectual potential as less academic kids. "

Certainly, in my experience, very bright kids are NOT served well enough at comps. This is partly my beef, as the parent of bright dcs. BUT also, from my experience, comps often fail the non-academic kids too - I know, because I teach numerous examples who were failed by their comps and end up at the 6th form college I teach at as complete acaemic failures, with zero confidence. This has nothing to do wioth the existence of grammars - i don't live in a grammar area. It is down to the comprehensive model basically failing lots of people, both those at the top AND the bottom. I think those who hate grammars with a passion and think comps are the 'solution' are either lucky enough to live in the catchment for exceptionally naice middle-class comps, or don't have kids at either end of the acaemic spectrum.

I know my dh was absolutely failed by his comp. I teach loads of kids failed by theirs. You can't blame that on grammars. This is an intrinsic failure of the comprehensive model.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 12:55:36

I don't think comprehensives are the ultimate solution- I just think that they are the least worst option we've got. It would be fantastic if someone could think of something better.

Amber2 Tue 11-Dec-12 13:05:23

Folk who point to Finland as an example are forgetting it is a much smaller, much more homogenous population, less class divide, wealth divide, less private sector, a much more even public sector education system etc. you should look at the original program Seven Up on You Tube, waht was depressing was how the seven year olds there were already formed as precursors of what they would be like as adults ...some (the prep school ones) being very articulate at seven others much less so, based largely on class/monied background...teh program may be a legacy of a different age but leaving school in the UK to the age of seven would really disavantage in my view, those children who had very little parental input to their education at home ...they would be even further behind their middle class peers who would already know how to read and write from their parents at that age

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 13:12:11

I agree with bread in that a good comprehensive works best for the Middlers but it seriously short changes the very clever children, and the really struggling children.

It creates a sort of Satisfactory Beige level of education. And people dismiss the needs of the really clever children with an airy 'Oh, well they'll do fine anyway, regardless'

So, the really clever children tend to be allowed to coast a bit. The top set in a comprehensive isn't comparable to the top set in a grammar school - it's going to contain more mixed ability (some exceptional pupils, but also quite a few just very good pupils). The grammar school top set will only contain the exceptional pupils - so the lesson moves faster.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 13:49:24

Quite. If you have had a child who could 'coast' at the top of an an average-good state primary and had watched them getting increasingly bored, frustrated and arrogant, you wouldn't say that all children are brilliantly served by identikit education.

My dd aged 6 was told to answer any spelling queries her classmates had, while the teacher was busy. I did not want her being expected to teach the whole class aged 14! She is so much happier and fulfilled at a selective school where she has to work really hard to be top of stuff, not where it is a given.

I think all children are different and identikit education only works for identikit children. If you have a child who is anything other than 'average', then comps are not the 'least worst' solution - there are better solutions and grammar schools are one of them. i am tired of being expected to sacrifice my bright dd's happiness, just so that another pupil will not feel 'bad' that she is cleverer. Someome will always be cleverer - learning how to deal with that is one of the most important things any of us will ever learn. Putting all the bright kids together ensures they can all this lesson too, instead of growing up imagining they are superior and that hard work is pointless.

CecilyP Tue 11-Dec-12 13:56:44

^BUT also, from my experience, comps often fail the non-academic kids too - I know, because I teach numerous examples who were failed by their comps and end up at the 6th form college I teach at as complete acaemic failures, with zero confidence. This has nothing to do wioth the existence of grammars - i don't live in a grammar area. It is down to the comprehensive model basically failing lots of people, both those at the top AND the bottom. ...
I know my dh was absolutely failed by his comp. I teach loads of kids failed by theirs. You can't blame that on grammars. This is an intrinsic failure of the comprehensive model.^

I don't really think you can blame the comprehensive model for your students academic failure or lack of confidence. Surely you would have to teach in a similar college somewhere like Kent and find no similar types of students to be able to justify that point of view.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 13:59:53

I feel a bit the same bread. My DD1 is clever but I think she would be equally happy at a good comp as at a GS (especially if the comp had a good art studio). I think she will easily get into GS, but I doubt she's top set material?

But my DD2 is seriously clever - her teachers always talk a good talk about 'how they're going to challenge her'. But to me, it sounds like she spends a goodly portion of her time acting as an unpaid TA hmm

I want her in a grammar school top set, where she will be challenged and pushed by equally clever, if not more so, girls (as you say, there is always someone more clever).

I don't want her coasting in the top set of a comprehensive, largely left to her own devices because 'Oh she'll be fine whatever, the A* is in the let's focus on the pupils who need some support to get that A*'

Why should my DD2 be overlooked, why shouldn't she be stimulated and challenged and given more work which will interest her?

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:01:40

I can blame the comp model as that was what these students experienced. What may or may not go on in Kent does not affect these students. They haven't experienced being at secondary moderns - they have experienced being at comps. Your statement is illogical, Cecily - if that was the case, then those blaming grammars for failures at secondary moderns would likewise have to meet the same high bar of proving that no pupil ever did badly in a purely comprehensive area. That is just silly.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 14:06:56

Children in the top set of a comp are not allowed to coast. I don't know where this idea comes from. A child who coasts in set 1 will go down to set 2. Take an area where there are no grammars and an intake of 200 children. There will be a minimum of six sets. For maths probably more. At my ds's school there are 8 so only the top few children will be in set 1 and therefore probably higher ability than some in a grammar school area that takes the top 25%. In his year that is a good level 7 and above in year 8. These kids are in an accelerated learning group and have to work damn hard. The top kids at the primary do not even bother trying to get into a superselectives in the neighboring city because the school will push these kids. There is a parental pressure here that if your child is not top stream ability they will sometimes go private. Therefore if anything at some of the schools here it is the average child that will not get as much support as the higher or lower ability children. I would think twice if I had a middle ability child. Admittedly there are comps around here who get better results for the middle ability child. They are all comps though and a child could go straight up through the streams and sets. I was a bright coaster at a comp. and as a result lost the top set spot to a child who worked harder. Good but of medicine.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:08:39

LaQueen - make sure she goes to a GS, or at least a comp with v strict streaming. I know how much happier my dd is being challenged - those with slightly above average kids that might have scraped iinto GS on a good day are right, in that their dcs probably are no worse off and may well be happier in a comp. But there are kids who for various reasons, ARE better off in selective schools - v bright kids, nerdy swottish ones, etc. The kind of kid who would be bored in 5 mins in a standard lesson and spemnd their time counting the errors their teachers make, or those who would get their head repeatedly flushed down the loo in a standard comp - both are better served by selective education.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:13:45

losingtrust - yes, there are some comps like the one you described - I know one (a faith comp, incidentally). But it is unusual - it has been assessed as the top comp in the UK in recent years. So I don't think your experience is typical of all comps. The reality is that there aren't enough v bright kids around to make the top sets as stretching as grammar classes in most schools. Maybe you live in a nice area or maybe the school's reputation ensures it attracts the v bright kids. But in most areas, esp in disadvantaged ones, the top set is NOT like you describe. My dh was in the top sets of his (good) comp but did absolutely fail to achieve his potential and got away with coasting - which is why he was v v keen his dcs would get the benefits of grammar schools where coasting was not an option.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 14:15:31

bread luckily we have GS here, although not super selctive ones, which I think would possibly suit DD2 even better? She's very bright, a real swot and possibly verging on nerdy (well, okay, I admit she is a nerd). I think the top set in a GS would be her natural environment in which she would really thrive.

And where her ability would be seen as a real asset, something to be admired - and not something that would get her mocked.

CaptainNancy Tue 11-Dec-12 14:16:08

Amber2 made the point I wanted to- people always hold up Finland as the ideal, but seem to overlook the fact that it is the most culturally homogeneous country in Europe (?the world perhaps too?)

It just couldn't transfer to the UK, particularly urban areas.

CecilyP Tue 11-Dec-12 14:19:16

I can blame the comp model as that was what these students experienced. What may or may not go on in Kent does not affect these students. They haven't experienced being at secondary moderns - they have experienced being at comps. Your statement is illogical, Cecily - if that was the case, then those blaming grammars for failures at secondary moderns would likewise have to meet the same high bar of proving that no pupil ever did badly in a purely comprehensive area. That is just silly.

breadandbutterfly, all you can say is that the these students were not particularly well served by the comprehensive schools that they actually attended - that the schools did not adequately meet their needs. You can't really blame the comprehensive system per se. You need to prove it was the presence of the ablest 20% of children in their schools that was the reason these particular students difficulties. For this, you need a control group which would comprise of students of similar backgrounds and difficulties/abilities who attended secondary modern schools. I would have thought Kent secondary moderns would provide the perfect control group.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 14:21:13

I would agree with the strict setting criteria and do have a dc that likes to pick up on any errors that the teachers make. I believe children are happier working in groups with a similar ability, I am against whole streaming for all subjects though due to some kids being brilliant at maths and not so hot in English. Some schools set for lots of subjects and have humanities or science bias. So if you are top set for English that makes you too set for history and geography. It could be that you read more and are better at essays. Most areas have more than one comp to choose from and then selection for me would be later at 16 certainly, is dinky at 14 to be able to offer better facilities and more options. Each comp could have a centre of excellence from then on with potential to move kids from one school to another depending upon bias. If you are a non-practical kid who is academic you may prefer a better library and greater support in science a levels that just staying at the same comp could provide.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:22:57

LaQueen - so true. One of the very wonderful things for me when my dd started grammar was that for the first time in her life she was made to feel good about being clever - not that it was some kind of social disadvantage. She had friends she could discuss 'big' issues with (as well as pop music, TV etc - she is still a normal teenager). But at primary, only 'effort' was awarded - as a child who never needed to apply any effort to be top, she never received any recognition for her abilities, or had work set that meant effort was actually required. She is now learning how to work - it is a challenge but am so glad she is learning this now, not waiting until she is at uni before discovering this.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 14:24:03

"For maths probably more. At my ds's school there are 8 so only the top few children will be in set 1 and therefore probably higher ability than some in a grammar school area that takes the top 25%."

Losing yes, there will be pupils in your comp's top set who are certainly equal to pupils in a grammar school.

But, the difference is that a GS has already creamed off the top 20%, and then further strictly streamed that 20%. So, the ability levels in the GS streams are (usually) more narrow and concentrated. Not always, but usually they are.

The top maths sets per year, at our local GS have only roughly 10-12 girls in them - despite it being a large GS. At our local equally large comprehensive (and it is a comp, because it's just over the border in a non-GS area) the top maths set has roughly 18-20 pupils in it.

Yet, this comp has an Outstanding Ofsted, and is considered one of the best in the county. But its top sets are nearly twice the size of the GS.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:26:39

Cecily - then to be fair, you need to prove that all pupils who fail at secondary moderns would achieve at comps, and that all pupils who achieve at grammars would achieve equivalently well at comps. I think you are setting up an impossible standard of proof.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 14:28:00

I lucky they are all good here but that is because we do not have much private or grammar uptake at secondary level. The faith school my ds goes to is not the best in the area with the school next door being one of the best in the country. However the area of good comps covers a large area and has been anti grammar for much longer than many other areas. I grew up with comps being normal and therefore never considered any other system and we just need to improve the setting and streaming in all comps and improve parental buy in of education.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 14:33:11

"But at primary, only 'effort' was awarded - as a child who never needed to apply any effort to be top, she never received any recognition for her abilities, or had work set that meant effort was actually required."

Oh that is soooooooooo true bread. DD2's Yr2 teacher totally upset shocked me by stating that 'she barely noticed she had DD2 in her class...and that, really DD2 wasn't deserving of any praise because it all came easily to her, anyway'.

Poor DD2 could never understand, that no matter how carefully she did her work, her Yr2 teacher never seemed to praise her. And she was unfortunately bullied a bit, because she was sent into a higher class to do work sad

It taught DD2 a hard lesson to learn, and now whenever the subject of lessons/reading books/homework comes up with friends I hate that DD2's face goes carefully blank and she doesn't comment.

catinhat Tue 11-Dec-12 14:35:40

I grew up with Comps being the norm. I like the system; you all go on to the same school (so no horrible year 6 worrying about 11+ exams).

I was always in a top set (we had ten sets). You couldn't coast, because if you did you would be put down a set.

The expectation was that the top 3 sets would get As and Bs at GCSE.

A-levels were taken at the local VI form college.

When I look back at how us top setters did, we've all done very well. GPs, Chartered Engineers, Head teachers, City Lawyers.

If we lived in a grammar school area, I would leave to a comp. area so that my children could have a good education without all the awful pressures at the age of 10.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:35:46

And also, Cecily, you state that:

"breadandbutterfly, all you can say is that the these students were not particularly well served by the comprehensive schools that they actually attended - that the schools did not adequately meet their needs. You can't really blame the comprehensive system per se. You need to prove it was the presence of the ablest 20% of children in their schools that was the reason these particular students difficulties."

But I don't think it is "the presence of the ablest 20% of children in their schools that was the reason these particular students [experience] difficulties" - I think it is the fact that the comp triesto be all things to all people and thus fails most of them (or certainly those at all out of the ordinary). I think many of the pupils I teach have failed for a range of different reasons - often undiagnosed special needs and esp a fundamental boredom with the academic focus of most schools - they would be much, much more motivated and engaged in a vocational setting and most have chosen 6th form courses that are more vocational in emphasis for this reason. Not all kids want to have academic stuff forced down their throats until they are 16 let alone 18 - these kids really would benefit from being able to access separate vocational amd/or technical achools at a much younger age - 11 or 13 at the latest. It is not kind to try to repeatedly try to force round pegs into square holes - it just makes many kids miserable. For every child who is undecided at age 11 there is another whose wishes and abilities are clear but under the current system cannot follow those interests.

I think grammar schools are part of the picture but not the whole picture. Kids who don't get into grammars or hae no interest at all in acaemic education should be able to access education that meets their needs - we need vocational, technical chools etc as well - centres of excellence, not 'second best' options, where we can train the great engineers, artists, or whatever.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 14:36:15

I agree lsoing if I thought the streaming at a good comprehensive was as stringent as at a GS, then I would be far happier about sending my DDs there.

Also, the comp would need to have as good a record for disciplione/truancy issues.

But, the problem is at any comp, even a good one, you are always going to get a segment of pupils (and their parents) who don't care less how they perform at school both academcially and behaviourally.

APMF Tue 11-Dec-12 14:40:47

losing: I love your blanket generalisation that bright children at comps aren't allowed to coast particularly since a number of parents have just said that this is what is happening to their DCs.

DS still keeps in touch with the kids he was top table with at primary school. Ok he was ahead of all of them in maths but that was mainly due to us tutoring him. In other subjects they were all about equal. Well despite the same starting point at 11 he is now well ahead of his top set comp mates and is set to take his iGCSEs at 15.

The mates aren't 'coasting' in that they aren't sitting around twiddling their fingers. But neither are they being pushed to their full potential.

There are a number of comp teachers on these threads and you only have to read their opinions on mix ability classes, getting As and homework to see that their kids aren't going to be pushed to the extent as a kid at a selective school.

So it's kind of naive to say that coasting isn't allowed to happen at comps.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 14:43:55

Have you seen how some of the top comps maintain discipline and standards though in some very deprived areas including parts of London with very good teachers. I agree parental involvement is an issue but there are examples and where there are examples of this being done it makes it possible.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:46:04

LaQueen, my dd is quite bolshy - instead of going quiet, to 'fit in' with others, this emphasis on effort just made her rude and arrogant - her reports endlessly said that she needed to work better in groups with others - basically, that despite the fact her ideas were better and she could do it all standing on her head on her own, she had to 'listen nicely' and include others. In short, the attitude towards bright pupils made her quite insufferable - one of my big jobs in preparing her for the 11+ was to 'unlearn' all this arrogance and regain a sense of humility, to understand she could get stuff wrong! Her current school would not take any of that arrogance nor encoyurage it - effort AND achievement are both monitored and valued and the former without the latter would be noted and commented on. But achievement is valued, as it is in the real world, so she diesn't feel penalised for finding some stuff easier than others.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 14:46:44

losing I agree it can be done. But an awful lot of comps don't/can't. For whatever reason.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 14:47:01

Apmf I agree to disagree and make no personal comment. Enough said.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:47:09

sorry, should read 'the latter without the former'

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:48:52

And yes, LaQueen, it is good to get this off my chest!

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 14:49:24

We need to look at why these schools are failing in the same sort of areas as those succeeding before trying to change the educational system again. Grammar schools have not resulted in increasing social cohesion and again fsm uptake is proof.

APMF Tue 11-Dec-12 14:49:32

.... as for the comment about how coasting can't happen because the kid would drop down a set, DS was coasting but his 'coasting' was still better than the kids in the next set down. So he was hardly in danger of being dropped down a set.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 14:51:23

AMPF I agree with you. On that other 11+ thread a few days ago, someone (can't remember who) stated that she was in the top maths set at her local good comp...however, she then went on to reveal that the top set would get a mixture of A*s through to Bs, and that the top set didn't take Maths GCSE a year early.

I just don't consider that a top set at least not in comparison to a GS one hmm

At DH's GS, and our local GS, the top maths set always take O Level/GCSE Maths a year early, and an A/A* was a forgone conclusion. They then went on to take A level Double Maths a year earlier too, again an A was pretty much guaranteed.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:53:12

I think at comps, it is about expectations. In a school that takes all comers, teachers are scared to insist on high expectations - because they don't want to make the non-academic child 'feel bad'. in a grammar school, high expectations can be and are standard. Hence bright kids are less likely ro get away with coasting there.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Tue 11-Dec-12 14:54:49

Poland has done very well with a divide at age 13.

Apparently it's improved results, and reversed the tendency they were seeing of kids dropping out at age 15 .

CecilyP Tue 11-Dec-12 14:56:59

breadandbutterfly, I don't disagree that some children will be more suited to more practical/vocational options, but comprehensive schools (and SMs for that matter) have to follow the national curriculum. The NC curtailed many of the more practical options that had previously been available in comprehensives.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 14:57:56

bread it's funny how it affects children differently.

DD2 definitely went quiet and learned to keep slightly under the radar. She's now careful about what book to read at Choosing Time, and has learned to downplay more. She's become clever at the art of fitting in more.

I think it will be quite a shock to her once she's at GS, and the whips start cracking - and there will be lots of little girl just as clever as her. I think it will take her some time to adjust, but it will be the making of her smile

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 15:01:34

I don't agree that coasting isn't allowed in comprehensives. What if a pupil's coasting still puts them in the top 5%...where do they go? They can't be sent down a set, surely? What would that achieve?

'Okay, so you're just easily coasting through this top set maths work, not really showing your full we're going to send you down a set where the work will be even less challenging for you.'

Yeah...that makes sense hmm

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 15:02:33

How do they divide the kids in Poland? Is it by teacher assessment, child choice or exams?

AnnIonicIsoTronic Tue 11-Dec-12 15:07:40

I'm not sure - we're not there - just researching it in case DHs job gets relocated there. AFAIK it's pretty vicious at that stage - but it's considered fairer as DC are more mature to make their own decisions & motivations, so there is a lower correlation background:success.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 15:13:33

I agree with an older age. For me the age of 10 is too young and has too much parental involvement. It is much harder to persuade a teenager to have a tutor. The biggest problem is the private preps that would have an impact in the UK and is part of the elitist grammar school problem. They would not to come to the bottom of the list for me if the state went more selective to allow for social integration,

APMF Tue 11-Dec-12 16:04:40

Like Finland, it is so easy to look at Poland and draw conclusions about the effectiveness of their education system.

Our former nanny was Polish. She was saying that the employment situation is such that even bank tellers have degrees. The equivalent of A levels is needed for even the most basic office job. So, unless you want to become brickie in the UK :-) you need to study hard.

Beyond this I claim no knowledge of what life is like in Poland. However if I were to guess I would say that this self drive to get a good education is what is responsible as opposed to whether selection is done at 11 or 13.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 16:09:28

Hang on, did someone say that the top maths set at their local grammar had 10 kids in it? Then nod approvingly about how they do maths early and all get A*s?

Bloody hell of course they do. I could probably do the same with my set 4 (aiming for Bs) if there were 10 of them. At my comp the top set get vast majority A*, double GCSE early etc and there's over 30 of them. How in god's name can people bang on about grammar schools being better than comps with that sort of ratio? How the bloody hell can a state funded school afford that level of staffing and it be fair?

APMF Tue 11-Dec-12 16:15:35

losing: That is quite a silly argument.

It's like saying that you have going to have an England team and you are going to give preference to First Div players and THEN you will consider Man U players. The result is a team that is less competitive but hey, at least it's not full of Man U players grin Classic post.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 16:22:56

Not the same argument at all!

APMF Tue 11-Dec-12 16:28:24

Where are all these fantastic comps? I mean, there is never a shortage of comp teachers telling us how many A*s they get and how loads get into Oxbridge. So what is so great about GSs and Indies they ask.

Let me know which comp you are teaching at and I'll take my kids out of indie and move to your catchment area.

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 16:55:59

Where are these fantastic comps you ask? Try my old school - which gets significantly better results than when it was a grammar school. I remember my headmistress boasting that 15 people had got 2 A levels the previous year. Compare that with its present results where 14 get three As or more. But, they are a comprehensive so they are just as willing to celebrate the success of those students who do well in Vocational exams - which are also outstanding.

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 16:57:11

I meant at least 3 grade As at A levels, just to clarify.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 17:18:49

LaVolcan - er...all schools get better results than in the past. That's grade inflation for you, nothing to do with change of status of schools.

When I was at the top state school in the country (in the very first league table, put together the year after I left), no more than a tiny handful of girls got three A's at A Level. 2 As and a B was very, very good and would get you into any top uni.

Now the girls at the same school, still at the top of the league tables, routinely get 3 A*s (or better - 4 A*s or more).

That's just grade inflation.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 17:19:58

noblegiraffe - calm down - my dd's grammar has 30 in the top set. Only the bottom maths set has small numbers.

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 17:30:23

er...all schools get better results than in the past. That's grade inflation for you, nothing to do with change of status of schools.

Is that right, breadandbuttefly? Or was it just because I showed you the results of a good (genuine) comprehensive? If that is the case then the next time a grammar school supporter boasts about their wonderful results we can all say that it's just grade inflation.

I know the school - I know that it's a damn sight better than it was as a grammar school.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 17:51:26

b&b and what sort of grades is that bottom maths grammar set aiming to achieve? How small is small? Because I suspect a bottom grammar set which consists of the top 25% of kids to start with is probably more similar to my set 4 B grade kids who are also in a class of 30 than our bottom set. So the kids at your grammar are still getting a better deal in terms of staffing than the kids at my comp.

Perhaps instead of saying we need more grammars what we actually need is for comps to be similarly funded so that we too can have cosy class sizes at the top end.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 17:55:29

At dd's grammar everyone got at least an A for maths. I think there were 6 in the bottom set, 30 odd in the top and the rest distributed between the other 5 sets. I reckon even I could get an A for maths if I had been taught in a set of 6 for 4 years.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 11-Dec-12 18:17:27

>Perhaps instead of saying we need more grammars what we actually need is for comps to be similarly funded so that we too can have cosy class sizes at the top end.

The last time I looked at the figures for various schools hereabouts, the grammars were less well funded than the other schools. They've subsequently become academies so I'm not sure how to get comparable figures now.

DDs school has 2 top maths sets with 30 and 2 lower with 26 each - I'm not sure whether this is more typical than seeker's example or not.

APMF Tue 11-Dec-12 19:14:33

LaVolcan: I followed the link. You are holding that up as a typical comp? grin I wonder how many MNetters comp look like that.

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 19:54:46

APMF: May I remind you what you asked: Where are all these fantastic comps? So I told you where there was one. It's a genuine comprehensive, it's in an area which hasn't had the 11+ for years, and there aren't any private schools particularly near.

Is it typical? I have no idea but I bet there are good comprehensives up and down the country which are its equal.

You wonder how many MNetters comps look like that? It's hard to work out how many MNetters are in reality talking about comprehensives. Those who are based in Kent aren't, whatever their schools call themselves.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 19:57:45

26 in a set of A grade kids is still pretty cushy. Teaching in a grammar school would appear to be a piece of piss, no wonder they get good results.

I looked at the funding per pupil for my school before it became an academy and compared it to some random grammar schools. My school appeared to be significantly underfunded in comparison, usually by more than £500 per pupil.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 19:57:59

For the avoidance of doubt, any school in a grammar school area is not a comprehensive. Many mumsnetters refer to the school where those not selected for grammar school go as comprehensive. They are not.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 20:02:12

Apologies noble it was me who said (erroneously) about the top maths set only containing 10 pupils...I checked with DH, and he'd been referring to the set he was in that went on to do S Level Maths blush

Average size of his top maths set going through GS was roughly 20-ish, he says.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 20:06:36

"26 in a set of A grade kids is still pretty cushy. Teaching in a grammar school would appear to be a piece of piss, no wonder they get good results."

Ah now...noble I will have to take you up on that statement.

My BIL and SIL have taught in comps and GSs. They both agree that teaching in the comps was harder because of discipline issues, and challenging bottom sets etc. But...but, they lessons were more straight forward, easier to plan, more like dot-2-dot. Basically just teaching to the test, so to speak.

At the GS teaching was easier in that there were few discipline issues etc. But...they suddenly felt they had to up their game, because they discovered that the children were much more widely read, were doing their own research, were asking more searching questions etc.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 20:08:15

There are some excellent comprehensives, that could give your average GS a run for its money, I'm sure.

But, they are few and far between, and I don't think they prove that the comprehensive model is the most successful model for all children.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 11-Dec-12 20:29:51

>"26 in a set of A grade kids is still pretty cushy. Teaching in a grammar school would appear to be a piece of piss, no wonder they get good results."

They're not necessarily all A grade (its a 'normal' selective not superselective) - but they do all get at least a C. However, I'd agree that while there may indeed be different challenges as LaQ says, it should be easier for a gs with a bunch of bright, usually motivated kids to get good results. To some extent that's the point of them ...and the reason why (probably wasn't clear in my post) I think GSs should need less funding than some other schools. Put the kids who are easily teachable in large groups and let them get on with it; put more effort into the rest who need it.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 21:36:05

There is something I can't get my head round. And LaQueen's recent post highlighted it for me.

If you have a county with grammar schools, the top whatever % go to the grammar school, the rest to the high school.

In a county without grammar schools, where are the %age that would have gone to grammar schools if they existed? LaQueen sqid her relations found tacking in a grammar more challenging because the kids asked more searching questions and so on, and it was more straightforward in a comprehensive because they only had to teach to the test.....Well, in the second county, where are those bright, questioning grammar school types? Or do they only exist in grammar school areas through some selective (pun intended) breeding programme?

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 21:38:02

I personally don't know whether good comprehensives are few and far between, but since that is the system which most of the country has it seems a sweeping assumption to make. I would suspect that there are plenty of good ones and a number of outstanding ones.

If you don't think it's the most successful model, what would you put in its place?

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 21:41:25

Seeker they are all in the top sets at comps in areas where there are no grammars.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 21:42:38

I was about to say, seeker, that we have bright, well-read questioning types in comps too! Like I said, our top set get mostly A*s, two maths GCSEs, school has a good record of Further Maths A-level and so on, so it's not like I'd be intimidated by a class of bright kids.

I find teaching top set invigorating, you can do so much with them. A bottom set is far less forgiving.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 21:51:23

I am glad to hear that- the top set in a comprehensive thing. I was getting worried about the lost generation!

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:20:37

noble fair enough if your top set gets mostly A*s. I think the break down at our GS is that the top set for maths get A* for GCSE, taken a year early as a matter of course. The A* and As are pretty much a given for most of Set Two, too.

Their record for Further A level Maths isn't just good - it's excellent and it is expected and not seen as something out of the ordinary.

And, I think that's the difference - the expectations in a GS are higher, right from the word go.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:24:52

No seeker - obviously the pupil ability range will be the same in GS and non GS counties.

It's just that in a comprehensive, the top sets will generally have a larger spread of ability. The spread of ability is more narrow, more concentrated in a GS.

In a GS maths top set you won't find a single pupil that doesn't get an A*, most typically taking the O Level/GCSE a year early. That is the expected and average standard of the top set.

I don't think that is the average standard of a top maths set in a comprehensive.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 22:30:08

I didn't realise it was a competition. Our set 2 also get 2 maths GCSEs and As and A*s. I suppose it's down to our high expectations. Or perhaps we've got lots of able children because they haven't all been creamed off to a local grammar school where superior teaching to smaller classes seems to achieve the same results.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 22:35:44

Thinking about it, my comp isn't competing with any local faith schools for the kids of the local middle classes either, and all the private schools are some distance away. So all the bright kids who might, in other areas, be split between various aspirational choices all get sent to the local comp, which does very well out of them.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 11-Dec-12 22:38:17

Laqueen I don't understand how you don't get this: you're saying again that a top set in a comprehensive won't have as high an average of ability as that in a comprehensive: ok. Then you say that it can't be as good because the results on average aren't as good. But that just doesn't work, as an argument, if the same children are getting the same results!

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:39:35

I wasn't being competetive noble I didn't go to a GS myself - and I don't actually think I would have been good GS material.

I was just stating the facts.

Obviously there are excellent comprehensives around...but for parents who want a stringently superb academic education for their children, then you're not going to find better than a GS/Independent. You're getting the academic excellence coupled with virtually zero discipline/truancy issues. All parents are very education-focused.

I don't think that's the standard at most comprehensives - when there will always be a segment of pupils and parents who couldn't care less about exams, or homework, or how they behave at school.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 22:41:19

"It's just that in a comprehensive, the top sets will generally have a larger spread of ability. The spread of ability is more narrow, more concentrated in a GS.

In a GS maths top set you won't find a single pupil that doesn't get an A*, most typically taking the O Level/GCSE a year early. That is the expected and average standard of the top set.

I don't think that is the average standard of a top maths set in a comprehensive."

Now, this is where I feel very stupid again. Why does this matter? If the A* people get their A*s, why does it matter if they get them in the company of others who get As or (gasp) Bs? And what is the advantage in doing exams early? apart from the "early stuff kudos" we were talking about earlier?

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:43:08

No nit what I'm saying is that the concentration of ability in a GS top set will be more concentrated, than that of a comprehensive top set. Because you've already creamed off the top 20% based on ability, and you then further stream them into 5 sets (or 6, or whatever).

At a comprehensive, you are streaming 100% of pupils, of very mixed ability, into 5 or 6 sets.

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 22:44:25

You make a lot of generalisations about comprehensives LaQueen. Since there are at least a couple of thousand of them, I doubt whether anyone is in a position to make an informed statement that the top sets will have a larger spread of ability than in those few remaining grammar schools. It's going to depend on the particular comprehensive, its ethos, where it's based, its intake etc..

In the same way that when the grammar/Sec Mod system was the norm in the UK there were some good grammar schools, some were pretty poor, some Secondary Mods were good, some were dire.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 22:45:15

But why does it matter? Presumably there aren't different sorts of A*s?

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:46:36

seeker it's nothing to do with early exam kudos.

It's to do with the pupil being properly challenged and stretched and achieving their full potential. It's about them being able to move swiftly onto further, more exacting levels of studying because they want to, and because they can.

It's about them getting their fair amount of input from their teacher, because they're not in a slightly mixed ability group. It's about them not just being allowed to coast along because the A* is already in the bag.

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 22:47:05

LaQueen you're being a little idyllic. Of course there are kids in top sets even in superselective grammars who don't get A*. Sometimes life or teenagerdom gets in the way. It's slightly gauche this stuff about oh it's a grammar so A*s across the board are the norm. They aren't. Even at the top achieving grammar in the UK. Check out the facts. A*s across the board are rare. A* and As across the board are great, ll credit. Bs happen. And Cs.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:48:29

Well, I must be more stupid than you seeker because you're going to have to explain to me again why you sent your DD to a grammar school and why you desperately tried to get your DS into one hmm

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 22:48:46

all credit.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:50:13

yellow I think the A*s are pretty much across the board in the top sets...not through out the entire GS, obviously.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 22:51:06

We've got 9 sets in maths which gives us a very narrow range of ability in each class (except at the very bottom end, funnily enough). And we get excellent results with bigger class sizes. Better value for money. wink

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 11-Dec-12 22:51:11

Yes, it will be more concentrated in a GS. But if my dd is happy and challenged and gets an a* (and it was me you were talking about a few pages back) what does it matter if some children in her class, who might not be in a grammar in a GS area, don't get that?

Leaving aside this sitting exams early business, about which we will have to disagree on whether it is always a good idea, I also resent your suggestion that I was being somehow deceptive by 'revealing' later that some of that class might get a B. they might, and I don't see it as a problem as long as that's at least what they'd have got somewhere else.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 22:54:56

Oh, ffs, LaQueen.
Because there are no comprehensives in the area where I live. And I didn't "desperately" try to get my ds into a grammar school. As everyone who has ever posted on a thread about selective education on mumsnet knows. I doubt if anyone is going to be amazed by your "revelation". They might just think you were being a bit of a prat for bringing my child into it. I did think better of you. But hey ho. That's the end of an interesting discussion.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:54:57

I think having 9 sets is fantastic noble. I have never worked in a comprehensive that had more than 4.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 22:57:13

It's a big school, LQ. Like I said before, I've got 30 in my set 4, so lots of sets doesn't mean small classes!

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:57:54

I don't think anyone would think me a prat for mentioning your child seeker. You have mentioned them on many threads on this very subject...and I can think of at least 3 other posters who curiously asked the exact same question as me, on a similar thread only 2 days ago hmm

And every time you get extremely snippy and defensive about the subject.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 22:58:44

How many pupils in your school noble?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 11-Dec-12 22:59:44

Well I've been around less than some, and I know seeker's answer on this by now, so I don't know where people have been who know where both her dc went to school and yet still don't get what the rationale was. I wish we could leave this one now!

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:02:05

By all means Nit smile

But I suspect that there's steam coming off seeker's keyboard, right now hmm

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 23:03:37

"And every time you get extremely snippy and defensive about the subject."

No I don't. Well, only after I have explained myself about 10 times, but still had people misrepresenting me.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:05:40

seeker But don't you accept that other parents might hold equally valid rationale (in their minds) for sending their child to a GS, just as you did?

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 23:06:37

No steam. It's just boring. The discussion gets interesting, then one of a select group of people decide it's time to break the news that everyone knows alreqdy, but in such a way that I have to correct them. And then before we know it, the thread is all about me. Now that does piss me off.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 11-Dec-12 23:06:57

Well I'm annoyed enough about the implication that I 'revealed later' that not everyone in dd's comprehensive top set would (i assume, not having been told all yne grade predictions, oddly enough) get a* in maths as though that was both dumb and dishonest, so I can only imagine how frustrated I'd be feeling if I kept being told other bollocks about myself and my children.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 23:08:14

LQ, 1400? Something like that anyway. It's not one of those new super massive federation schools, but bigger than most of our local schools.

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 23:09:32

Sorry LaQueen I have to trump you on this. Having seven kids at a superselective and all (and an eighth due to start). You said that in a grammar school maths top set you won't find a single pupil who doesn't get an A*, mostly taken a year early. Yes you will. And as for a 'stringently superb academic education': ouch! Excellent and academic maybe - but 'stringently' so? When your DD gets in, do give the teachers a break: they work very hard you know smile

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:11:56

Does it have the 9 streams because of its large size noble? Admittedly, I haven't worked in any comp that big, and the most they had was 4 streams.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:13:19

But we're only human seeker and sometimes just puncturing your little balloon is too tempting for some.

No offence - I like debating with you, you're articulate and passionate about what you believe in. As am I smile

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 23:14:05

8 kids at a super selective, Yellow? shock. You need to have some more, to, y'know, increase humanity's chances of curing cancer, the common cold, and for populating Mars. Good stock smile

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:14:09

8 ??? Blimey yellow you have been busy grin

How the hell do you afford the uniforms???

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 23:15:26

I genuinely believe that anyone who understands how they system works and who cares about more than the education of their own child cannot possibly think the grammar school system is equitable or beneficial for the society in which the school is located.

The discussion we were having before you unaccountably decided to derail it was very relevant to this. I was trying to understand why an A* child would be worse off getting the A* in a comprehensive, in the company of kids getting As, or even Bs then in a grammar where everyone, barring accidents, would get A*/A. It's still an A*. They still would have to have worked hard and been taught well. (well, that probably doesn't always apply to maths, does it, because of the maths wizzes who think in binomial theory. But any other subject). Can you tell me whwt the difference is? Or have I missed where you did?

QuickLookBusy Tue 11-Dec-12 23:15:56

I think certain people are in for a very big shock when their Dc starts at GS.

I'm sorry LaQueen, but some of the things you presume about Grammars make you sound very naive.

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 23:16:26

LaQueen, a quick 11+ test: what percentage of kids in a top superselective get A* across the board? (I ask because I think your view of results is overly rosy). And please answer off the top of you're head without scrambling for internet stats.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:18:25

Well QLB I have worked in my local GS...and my BIL and SIL work in 2 other GSs. DH went to a 4th GS (but obviously a long time ago).

Admittedly, that's only 4...but that's what I base my opinions on.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 23:20:31

Then why not debate, then, LaQueen- rather than indulging in juvenile point scoring? And if you want to "puncture my little balloon" (Jesus what a patronising phrase that is) maybe you could a) get your facts straight and b) wait for a time when I am not completely open about my circumstances, and where what you fondly imagine to be your little hand grenade won't refuse to explode.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:21:23

seeker I didn't try and de-rail the thread. Not even I, with my advanced de-raling skills can de-rail a thread with 100s of posts on it, with just two lines of text...I'm good, but not that good smile

But, you are amply displaying that you do over-react and get hissy, when the subject which dare not speak its name gets a brief 2 line, airing smile

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:22:26

Nope not remotely hissy seeker...

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:22:51

yellow I can't guess? And I havent cheated and checked?

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 23:23:55

Our uniforms are at least as cheap as the local comps and a fraction of the price of the indies. And then there's hand me downs LaQueensmile

Thanks noble. DC4 is reading Medicine at a research uni so has a chance at least of swinging in with that cure. That would be great. We go to Scotland for holidays though, not Mars. I don't think we'd care for Mars.

Sorry LaQ, I'm just concerned that your expectations are too high.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:24:00

yellow Is it more than 7 hmm

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:24:08

noblegiraffe - in my area, the grammar schools (well, semi-selectives here) are all underfunded compared to the true comps. I have no reason to believe that that situation is different across the country. Due to the pupil premium, I would imagine that grammar schools generaly receive considerably less fnding than comps.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:24:52

Are you in Kent yellow?

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:25:37

But you have 8 to buy, woman...???

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 23:30:34

bread the grammars on the whole are poorly funded, you're right.

No, not Kent. Miles from Kent. And four are at uni, so not eight to buy at a time. It works, just. And it would be not a penny cheaper at a comp.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:31:20

seeker - I think if you post publicly about your dc applying to a school and at the same time publicly about how much you hate the type of school he has applied to, you have to forgive people if they find those two statements inconsistent or at least puzzling. Most of us either live by our principles or if we can't, accept that maybe it's our principles rather than the world that may need revising.

As LaQueen says, it seems unfair that you are so hard on other parents who have made the same choices you yourself have made. Like you, they felt they were doing best by their children in making those choices. You are entitled to do one thing and believe another, but others who practice what they preach deserve the right to make those decisions for their own children. The problem with your preferred option - ending grammar schools - is it removes options from all other parents who do not think as you do.

LaQueen Tue 11-Dec-12 23:31:29

Oh, I thought only Lincs and Kent had the free GSs, still?

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:34:49

yellowtip - yes, my dd's uniform is way cheaper than our local comps - not only is it reasonable new, but they very kindly sell on second-hand stuff at the open days before girls start. So we rejoiced in a £3 blazer, skirts, jumpers, PE kit etc - £3 per item the lot! Doubt many comps can beat that. smile

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 23:35:40

Sorry LaQueen*, haven't answered the question about A* across the board. Maybe 8 to 10% in a very, very good year. As opposed to about 2% nationally. But to be too glib about it does diminish the achievements of those who do get these fabulous scores.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:36:12

LaWqueen - odd superselectives still dotted around elsewhere. You forget other big grammar areas too, BTW - eg Bucks, Essex, etc.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 23:42:41

Breqdandbutterfly, I have explained my situation so many times that I am pretty sure that everyone interested in selective education on mumsnet knows it. I have never hidden it, and I am always happy to explain if anyone is interested. What I find tedious is when people drop the fact that I have a child at grammar school into the discussion like a kid throwing a stink bomb. It's nothing to do with legitimate debate, it's just being malicious. And it's boring. If I concealed my situation even slightly, I could see the point. But I don't. And the people who do it always twist the facts slightly (or not so slightly) so that I can't just ignore them. It gets in the way of a fascinating discussion.

LaVolcan Tue 11-Dec-12 23:50:48

I wouldn't really say Essex was a big grammar area - two in Colchester, 2 in Chelmsford and 4 in the Southend area. In all cases they are single sex so any one child in the county would have 4 schools to choose from.

glaurung Tue 11-Dec-12 23:51:02

Some dc in non grammar school areas go private. I know several parents who have told me they wanted their dc to have a gs education similar to their own, so sent them to the private school. Often these dc get scholarships so the finance isn't quite as much of an issue.

So this could reduce the numbers of bright dc in the top sets of comps.

QuickLookBusy Tue 11-Dec-12 23:51:03

Thank you for those figures YellowTip. I hope I've got this right..

In an 11+ area, 20% will go to grammar.
So if there are 100 dc in Y6, 20 will go to a grammar.
10% of them will get all As, that is 2 children, out of that Y6 class.

In a comp area all 100 DC go to a comp
2% will get all As
That is 2 children, exactly the same as the grammar school.

So your dc has the same chance of getting all As at a comps as they do at a grammar. Thought so.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:52:01

As I said, it's unusual to have someone who so publicly did what they are telling everyone else not to do! I think a certain amount of stick is to be expected in that situation. It's like a mumwith a fag in her hand telling her kids not to smoke - you have to forgive the children if they, instead, choose to take up smoking themselves, in that situation...

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:52:30


breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:55:23

Quicklookbusy - where do the bright kids who went to private schiools in the comp area fit in?

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 23:57:55

QLB unfortunately it may be a bit more complex than that, not least because you've left the indies out of the count, with their disproportionately starry results.

Yellowtip Tue 11-Dec-12 23:58:48

Ha, cross-posted with b&b.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 23:59:14

I accept that people think I'm fair game- but every time? And always wrong?

As I am sure you know, I do not have a comprehensive school to send my children to. I had no choice but to participate in the selective process. It is that process which I would like to see scrapped- which would affect my children as much as it would anyone else's.

But here we are again. The thread being taken up with me explaining, to people who know already, my own circumstances!

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 23:59:30

x-post, yellowtip, except you said it much better. smile

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 00:02:43

But if you had your way, seeker, then my dcs would have no selective schools to go to. The system is as it is - your preferred option is not fairer. You want to be able to force your preferred system on others. That is why you are fair game. If you didn't want to deprive others of choices, I and others would not care what choices you made personally.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 00:04:03

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

QuickLookBusy Wed 12-Dec-12 00:06:58

Well I did say, I didn't know if they were correct.

What I will say is that in my local comp, there are at least 4 dc in the paper come results day with straight As. That's out of just over 100 dc. Maybe we are lucky, or maybe it's because we don't have many comps or many private schools around these parts.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 00:08:16

But the grammar school system deprives the 75% who don't pass of choices. It is obvious that a comprehensive system is fairer. Not perfect, but the least worst. And certainly fairer.

QuickLookBusy Wed 12-Dec-12 00:10:34

Gosh Seeker, I really don't know how you put up with all of this shit.

Seeker doesn't get personal with anyone, and I'm positive she would have plenty of things to get personal about.

Yellowtip Wed 12-Dec-12 00:10:40

seeker if instead of living in Kent your home was equidistant from a superselective in one direction, which both your DD and DS should fly into, and a good middle of the road comp in the other, which would you elect to send your own DC to in reality?

glaurung Wed 12-Dec-12 00:12:13

Are we talking straight A* or A*/A? I think yellow's figures were for A*

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 00:12:40

Does anyone know what % of candidates nationally get all As and A*s?

Yellowtip Wed 12-Dec-12 00:12:53

I don't want to do down any child's results QLB but I was restricting those stats to A*s. The stats for A*/ A are very much broader of course.

Yellowtip Wed 12-Dec-12 00:14:15

I do have a dreadful habit of being slow and wandering off and cross posting. Sorry. Yes glaurung is right.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 00:16:50

But it doesn't deprive the 75% of any significant choices. Your complaint that your DS's SM doesn't have a quality orchestra for DS to join is hardly something to blame on the GS system.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 00:16:51

I don't know, yellowtip- I'm at bit on the fence about super selectives. I think there might be a case for the really really top 1 or 2% overall needing a different sort of education. In the same way that an incredibly gifted musician or dancer might. But I can't imagine having a child who would fly into a superselectivez!

Yellowtip Wed 12-Dec-12 00:21:08

Tbh seeker I'm a bit on the fence about the Kent system too. I'm just glad I'm not there.

ravenAK Wed 12-Dec-12 00:22:22

If I happened to live in a GS area, my dc, like Seeker's dc, would be encouraged to apply to GSs because they are academically able & would be better served there than in a Secondary Modern.

Luckily for me, we live in an area where there are no GSs, & good comprehensives are the norm (I teach in one). So unlike Seeker, I don't have to worry about an unfair system. My dc can get their target grades in the top sets at the excellent comp to which their primary feeds. Job's a good 'un.

I really don't get why it's so hard for anyone to get their heads around the fact that someone might send their dc to the best school available despite the fact that they don't consider it the best school possible.

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 00:22:50

Independents do skew the results, in a comprehensive area like Oxfordshire where I live now, but not to the same extent as grammar areas. They don't take the whole 23% of the most academic children. Of those families that I know, or have known over the past few years, a good number of children have parents who are academics or research scientists. Their salaries didn't keep up with independent school fees and scholarships and bursaries are limited; some parents disagreed with independent schools on principle. So you do have children at comprehensives leaving with clutches of As & A*s who get into Oxbridge, Russell group universities, medical school etc. with no particular difficulty. e.g. Cherwell in north Oxford has some very very bright children there. The bonus is the ~£1200 pa fees per child saved each year.

Another category who go to the independent schools are the nice but dim types but they are not going to spoil the schools' A* results.

glaurung Wed 12-Dec-12 00:30:58

A quick look for percentage achieving all A*s wasn't that fruitful, but Ifound this which seems to suggest that less than 0.5% get the points equivalent of 10A or A* or more.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 07:35:58

I suppose plotting to share the rights to intermittent balloon bursting (sounds a bit like nasty year 9s to me) because you just can't help yourself does offer an easy way out of answering the questions put to you.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 07:38:22

raven: Parents should be happy with the best school available? Even if that school is the less crap?

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 07:42:57

Nasty year 9s??? What is that? I don't speak SMish.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 08:17:13

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TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 08:32:06

Didn't say yobbo, I was drawing on the obvious factual immaturity of year 9 girls (since they're not adults). And the sorts of conspiracy and unpleasantness for which MN suggests they are often well known in all kinds of schools.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 08:33:09

Your last post is more than usually nasty, APMF, so please stop it. Again.

Back to the actual conversation, anyone?

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 08:34:08

Hang on, I'm bit slow here. Seeker is being slated for sending her kid to a grammar school when she lives in Kent??? I'm not a fan of selective education either, but if you live in Kent, then that's what you've got, right? I'd be even less in favour of grammar schools if I lived in Kent because I'd have to subject my kids to the whole process.

I hate the Tories. My MP is a Tory. Does that mean that I shouldn't talk to him if I have a problem that needs an MP simply because I despise his party? Or should I work with what I've got while all the time voting against him?

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 08:34:32

"Sorry LaQueen*, haven't answered the question about A* across the board. Maybe 8 to 10% in a very, very good year."

Is there anyway to tell if those A*s across the board were pretty much garnered from the top sets?

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 08:37:13

QLB no, it doesn't break down that easily, I'm afraid. Your break down is far too simplistic, and black and white.

Yo haven't factored in private/independent/home-tutored children etc.

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 08:41:05

"But the grammar school system deprives the 75% who don't pass of choices."

But seeker it's not really a choice is it? 75% of pupils aren't capable of that level of academic work - so what are you depriving them of, exactly?

It would be like someone giving me the choice to do Further & Applied Maths...well, er...thanks very much and all that, but to be honest it's a bit of a non-starter grin

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 08:44:27

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noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 08:45:10

Based on the best predictive tests of academic ability at 16, sorting kids at 11 will put 22% of them in the wrong school. So, LQ, statistics say that 11% of the kids in your SM would be capable of the grammar school work at 16. And 11% in the grammar should really swap with them.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 08:48:31

So you don't think there's any chance, LaQ, that, say, the top 26, or 27, or 30, might ever be capable of making those choices and benefitting from them, then? Just the top 25?

You've said you're having your dd coached for the 11+, so I assume you know there's a chance that otherwise she might end up being denied those choices, right? So it's just the coaching, in some cases, that renders a child (not yours necessarily, but you obviously know its a possibility) unable to have those choices?

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 08:58:25

noblegiraffe - but that is a justification for reforming the sysem - giving kids a second bite at the cherry with a 13 plus, say, or even 14 plus - not a reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

What seeker is doing is saying that because not all dcs can benefit from a grammar school ed, none should. That is what annoys me. It's not as though grammar and secondary modern were the only two choices available across the country. Actually, the 23% / 77% breakdown does NOT apply. Most people who live in grammar school areas where it does have chosen to be there actively and participate in that process. Parents who do not want this have swathes of the country where they can live where there are no grammars and only comps. Those 77% are no more 'disadvantaged' than parents who actively wish to send their kids to grammars, but can't because there isn't one in their local area. They also lack 'choices'. Actually, those wanting grammars are at much more of a dosadvantage, as there are so few left. Whereas those wanting comps can live almost anywhere across the country and find what they want.

It's the would-be grammar kids who are deprived of choice under the current system.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 09:02:39

McQueen: You are going to sit on your hands today? Tag me! Tag me! smile

The only deprived choices that has been mentioned so far is a decent orchestra, triple science and two MFLs. The orchestra thing is so feeble that that I'm not even going to bother. Not everyone at GS gets to do triple science and, I'm guessing here, not everyone at a SM is denied the chance to do triple science. As for MFLs, I can see how your DCs lives can be ruined if they had a GCSE in only one MFL [inserts sarcasm emoticon].

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 09:14:55

No. What seemed is saying that a system which confers benefit on 23% of a cohort and is actively bad for the other 77% is not acceptable. Particularly when putting the same children in one school without a divisive selection process at 10 will make no difference at all to the outcome of he 23% but may well make a significant difference to the outcome of the 77%.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 09:18:25

That should read "what seeker is saying"

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 09:31:12

So you don't want those things for your children, APMF?

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:32:19

What you describe woud be bad, seeker - if it ere true or even approximating to the truth. The reality is that even in Kent, there are comps - it is not as simple as an either/or situation. Independents muddy the waters still further. And of course most places are not Kent. But more importantly, fundamentally, is that there is no evidence that the existence of grammar schools IS 'actively bad' for the 77%. That is your view but backed up by no more than anecdote. Even if true, the issue then is to resolve that by improving the education for the 77% - not ruining it for the 23% on the grounds that if education can't be good for all, then it should be good for no-one, which is your preferred option.

The ONLY justifiable reason for getting rid of grammar schools is because they are not serving the purpose for which they were created properly, which is to give a good education to bright pupils. But they ARE fulfilling that purpose - so well that they are massively oversubscribed, so well that rammar pupils are vastly over-represented at Oxbridge, top of league tables etc etc.

I do not think it is fair to sacrifice the education of those at grammars to satisfy a doctrine of dumbing down all to the same level. A doctrine which says that if I can't enjoy the enefits then no-one should. That is the politics of envy of the lowest, most mealy-mouthed kind.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 09:33:14

But what benefits apart from a superior orchestra is your DS being deprived off?

Other posters have said that GSs aren't as well funded as SM so it's not as if GSs have better lab equipment. Better teachers? The teachers here on MN might have an issue if that is what you think. Better sporting opportunities/ facilities? In an old thread you was quite scathing towards an indie mum who suggested state schools had inferior opportunities so I know it's not that.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:36:20

Basically. you would like my bright child to sacrifice another 7 years of unchallenging education - where the work is too easy, where she is expected to act as an unpaid teaching assistant to the other kids - just to make your dc not feel bad and to benefit from having my dd in the class. But you are very silent about what my dc is supposed to get out of this system.

I can tell you the answer - nothing. You don't care about how the brightest pupils fare.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 09:36:24

I would personally be disappointed if my children could only do one MFL. I think that's actually quite important.

And I take issue with this, Breadandb - if education can't be good for all, then it should be good for no-one, which is your preferred option

Nobody is saying that! I don't want anything 'dumbing down'.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:37:51

Which is unfair on the brightest pupils - and also rubbish for the country as a whole, which needs to compete internationally and will not do that by dumbing down.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Wed 12-Dec-12 09:37:54

Seeker -
"putting the same children in one school without a divisive selection process at 10 will make no difference at all to the outcome of he 23%"

Are you sure this is the case though? I'd like to believe it too, but I'm not convinced. It might be true of the green & leafy comps in affluent areas, but I'm not so sure it is elsewhere.

I have family living in a city with a high level of deprivation. Almost all the local children go to their local comprehensives. Most of them seem to be well rated by OFSTED. And yet, even the top set children come out with what I would consider miserly results. Yes, they all have a number of GCSEs including Maths and English grades A*-C - but they're usually nearer "C" end of that scale. I just can't believe the kids in this city are uniformly less clever or capable, I really can't.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 09:38:41

Not my experience of a bright child in a comprehensive, breadand, and I'm sorry if you think it would be yours, or it has been, but to suggest that that is actually a model being proposed by those in favour of comprehensive education is unfair.

Always be wary of posts which begin 'basically' and then sum up an exagerated/parodic version of someone else's argument!

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 09:39:06

"I do not think it is fair to sacrifice the education of those at grammars to satisfy a doctrine of dumbing down all to the same level. A doctrine which says that if I can't enjoy the enefits then no-one should. That is the politics of envy of the lowest, most mealy-mouthed kind."

But I'm not. The outcomes for the 23% will remain unchanged.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:39:42

TOSM - but that is what happens, in practice. If comps all got super results and stretched the brightest pupils, then fine. But they don't.

I am so glad that my dd is at a school where she can stretched. Not bored. Where expectations are high. I'm not saying no comps do this or that comps can't do this. But in praxtice, very, very few do.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:41:50

seeker - the outcomes for the 23% will not remain unchanged. For some of them, at good comps in nice areas, it might. Those who are self-motivated. But for those in non MC areas, that won't happen. They will go on being the only bright kid in the class, where it is not 'cool' to do well at school.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 09:41:57

But it isn't what happens, in practice, actually.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:44:34

Well said, Guinevere. I think seeker's views of comps and comp areas are far rosier than the reality. Her views on Kent may be spot on, for all I know. But she clearly has not a clue about the reality in the rest of the country.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 09:46:30

But I do, or at least a bit of it that isn't Kent and doesn't have the 11+, so why not listen to me, instead of making sweeping statements about what comprehensives are like? I know LaQueen thinks my daughter is being maleducated because she didn't sit Maths GCSE at 15, but other than that....

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 09:47:04

Nit: I did French. My DS is doing German and Spanish. Do I feel that I had less opportunities? Not really.

It's not as if anyone is saying that SMs only gives you options to do hairdressing and woodwork while the GS kids are doing software engineering

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 09:50:56

Since I was the one who raised triple science and two/three modern languages I think I am in a position to answer APMFs post of 09:02. I can't speak for what happens in Sec Mods in Kent/Bucks because I don't live there.

I can tell her that anyone needing triple science but not having the chance to take them can be severely disadvantaged career wise. If you don't have them at GCSE there is a good chance that you won't be allowed to take the three sciences at A level - you won't have been properly prepared. Medicine, veterinary science, engineering all require good grades at these subjects. I wouldn't say it would wholly scupper your chances of being a doctor or an engineer, but it's likely to make it much more difficult and require much more determination even to get to the starting blocks.

So yes, having the option to do triple science as opposed to just one general science is important.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 09:51:51

So basically people with kids at a grammar are saying that if their kid went to a comp they would get shit results?

And they are basing this on experiences at primary school which is an entirely different (and much smaller) kettle of fish to secondary, and by looking at other schools in their area which are not comps by virtue of the fact that they have had the brightest kids removed from their intake?

But if you look at my comp in a proper comp area where the bright kids aren't being creamed off either to grammars or private schools, the kids do just as well as in a grammar.

I'm simply not convinced that putting a bunch of bright kids in a properly funded and resourced comp will damage their exam results.

guin social deprivation counts for a lot when looking at exam results. You can't say those kids would thrive in a grammar school area because social deprivation means they wouldn't end up in a grammar in the first place. Academic selection = social selection.

QuickLookBusy Wed 12-Dec-12 09:52:54

Ffs can we stop peddling the misconception that bright kids at comps have to "hide" their intelligence. It's crap, there really are plenty of comps which do fantastic jobs for bright dc. These dc, mine included, never got picked on, bullied or made fun of, because they were in the top sets.

And to say Seekers view of the rest of the country isn't correct, makes me laugh. We have people whose dc go to grammars, telling everyone how bad comps are, when they have be over experienced one as a PARENT.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:53:11

TOSM - you haven't sent kids to all comps, presumably. Not denying there are some good comps out there, but it is nonsense to suggest that all comps are equal.

If they were, the popularity of grammarswould disappear - why bother with all the stress of 11 plus if the comp is better anyway?

They're not. The solution is to fix the comps - not remove the (few) grammars.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 09:57:09

So noblegiraffe, QLB etc - are you seriously saying ALL comps are brilliant? That you would happily send your dcs to ANY comp in the country, just stick a pin in? Bollocks you would - we both know that nearly all comps in non-mc areas are shit, have low expectations and get poor results. And lots in mc areas too.

Yes - there are SOME good comps out there. But not everyone lives in an area with one - whether there are grammar schools in the area or not.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 09:57:19

If they were, the popularity of grammarswould disappear - why bother with all the stress of 11 plus if the comp is better anyway?

Sigh. Because where you have the 11+ you don't have a comprehensive option.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 09:58:29

You can't 'fix' the comps for bright kids and at the same time send them elsewhere.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 10:00:22

TOSM. Plernty of parents move. What about superselectives? No, if the comps were that amazing, parents would be voting with their feet - at the moment, parents are doing just that and tutoring for the 11+, moving to grammar areas etc.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 10:01:07

I think it's bizarre, all this 'not cool to work' thing. Even aside from whether it's true, I don't want my children to be quite that pathetic anyway as to go with what any school decides is 'cool' - what if you sent them to private and they decided it wasn't cool to be poor? (and I'm sure that suggestion as a possibility of private school culture would be as strongly countered as the suggestion that 'it's not cool to be clever' in a comprehensive is repudiated by me). Or what if you send them to grammar school and they end up miserable because it's not cool not to get 11 A*s, and that's not achievable for them?

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 10:01:46

Good post noblegiraffe - shame there is no 'like' button.

But if you look at my comp in a proper comp area where the bright kids aren't being creamed off either to grammars or private schools, the kids do just as well as in a grammar.

I gave one such example and this was dismissed because it wasn't typical! Not that the detractors were in a position to say whether it was typical or not. (Nor had I been asked to furnish a typical example).

If they were, the popularity of grammarswould disappear - why bother with all the stress of 11 plus if the comp is better anyway?

But indeed this is exactly what has happened in most of the country.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 10:05:22

TOSM - but that is exactly what happens - in private schools, money is cool (why i wouldn't send my dcs to one), and in grammars, kids who just scrape in will feel shit.

Parents should be aware of these facts, just as that if they go to most comps, it is not 'cool' to work hard.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 10:05:31

No, I'm not saying all comps are brilliant. But you can't say a comp is shit because it doesn't get as good results as the grammar down the road, that's nonsense.

Look at Bristol, it's full of schools with terrible results. It's not a grammar school area, so why is that?
It's because when they scrapped grammars in the area, instead of becoming comps a lot of them became private schools. Bristol has a huge number of independent schools so essentially operates a two tier education system. Instead of paying a fortune for 11+ tutoring, Bristol MC parents save up for school fees.
It's a vicious circle, the schools get poor results because the bright kids and the kids with interested parents go private. The parents of bright kids and interested parents don't send their kids to the state schools because they get poor results.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 10:06:14

Forget about it not being 'cool' to be clever. Our kids will be taught by teachers who roll their eyes at the pushy patents who want homework for their kids. Worst still, they could be the teachers that hand out time wasting make a poster homework that so many MNetters talk about.

Selective schools do so well because they are pushy. The kids are encouraged to aim for straight As and Oxbridge. Compare that to the teachers posting here about how it is unhealthy to be so success driven. How can anyone who read the opinions of these teachers on education think that their GS dcs would receive the same education in a comp?

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 10:07:04

La Violcan - grammars were removed due to govt policy. No popular poll to remove a grammar has ever succeeded (and there have been attempts). It's very clear that grammars are extremely popular.

How many comps have 10 or 20 pupils applying for every place?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 10:10:37

breadandb just as you rightly pointed out that I haven't been in 'most comps', nor have you, so easy on the sweeping generalizations.

APMF my year 7 made a fair few posters in the first half term. My year 11 does not make posters. I would respectfully suggest there are all sorts of reasons teachers might roll their eyes at some parents, but wanting your child to do well and being supportive of that has never been one that I have found.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 10:10:50

noblegiraffe - correlation is not causation.

I've yet to see any proof presented that grammar schools bring down results elsewhere.

Look at my home turf for a counter example - the borough of Barnet in London. It is home to two of the country' top superselectives - HBS and QE Boys - yet also gets some of the top results across the board educationally. amd has lots of private schools too.

So how doesthat fit into your pet theory? hmm

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 10:14:23


No, if the comps were that amazing, parents would be voting with their feet .....

You say this, but in parts of the Bucks borders this is what happens. Parents can put their children's names down for the Oxfordshire comprehensives - seeming to prefer them to taking their chances with the Bucks system.

Bollocks you would - we both know that nearly all comps in non-mc areas are shit, have low expectations and get poor results. And lots in mc areas too.

''We" don't know anything of the sort. I gave you an example of a very good comprehensive from an area which isn't particularly middle-class. It was a textile town which was hit badly by competition from oversees, surrounded by an extensive rural area, where there is a lot of hidden poverty.

That happens to be the example I know, but hey, why bother with real examples?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 10:15:19

'nearly all comps in non-mc areas are shit' - this is the sort of comment that makes debate very difficult.

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 10:22:18

@bandb grammars were removed due to govt policy. Sigh. Government works in a vacuum does it? Remind yourself about the poll tax and its deep unpopularity. Ask yourself why grammar schools did disappear from most of the country - without any protest.

How many comps have 10 or 20 people applying for a place. No idea, although the one I instanced is I believe oversubscribed. Let me ask you another question - how many of your Sec Mods get 10 or 20 people applying for a place?

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 10:23:12

Ds is at a comprehensive school which has extremely high expectations of all its pupils. It's not in a nice posh suburb, but the catchment covers a wide area of Glasgow including inner city tenements, high rise flats in the Gorbals and a few leafier areas, as well as a wide range of nationalities (a high proportion of Asians, as well as Polish, Arab, asylum seekers etc).

The success of the school is down to its culture. The culture here expects that you make an effort.

School gets good exam results, with many going on to RG Unis (including Oxford and Cambridge) - but more importantly, it has good results in reducing the number of "Neets".

It does set for English and Maths in S1 (Y7): Maths after a few weeks and English after a couple of months.

Anecdotally, both ds and I "failed" to get into selective schools aged 4 because we weren't crammed, despite the respective schools claiming to be assessing potential - yet I went on the get 6 "A"s at Higher and ds (age 12) is currently shining in the top sets for both English and Maths (with the scary English teacher saying they are already working at S4 Level).

Different people develop at different rates: a well run comprehensive allows children to work to and develop their strengths without pigeonholing and constraining them.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 10:24:40

Erm, isn't it simply obvious that grammar schools will bring down results at neighbouring schools? If you took my school's top two sets and stuck them in a different school, then set 3 wouldn't suddenly step up and start getting A*s in their absence, would they? So my school's results would go down.

I don't know enough about Barnet to comment, tbh. I don't think superselectives cause as many problems for neighbouring schools because they don't take from the same catchment but a much wider area?
I've had a look at the league tables for Barnet and it is interesting to see that the comps with the best results (ignoring faith schools which also select) seem to have a relatively low proportion of low attainers joining the school and the vast majority of their intakes are middle or high attainers. So despite the selectives and independents, there are still quite a few bright kids going to the comps, and doing well. So Barnet would seem to have an over abundance of high attainers in the first place. Is it a nice area?

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 10:25:27

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QuickLookBusy Wed 12-Dec-12 10:25:36

'nearly all comps in non-mc areas are shit' - this is the sort of comment that makes debate very difficult. yes TheOrigional, along with all the other naive misconceptions.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 10:28:00

I think I missed the post where Noble said she wanted all - or indeed any - children to go to a failing school - could you c&p it, AP?

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 10:33:44

Thanks, TOSN. I am very much against failing schools!

I don't think you can describe a school as failing based on raw results completely ignoring its intake, just as you can't describe a school as good based on its results. If those results are because the school is stuffed with bright kids in classes of 6, then what do you expect?

Marni23 Wed 12-Dec-12 10:34:09

Isn't the problem the patchiness of the current comprehensive system though? Obviously there are many great comps out there, and if you're lucky enough (or well-off enough, or organised enough) to live near one then you'd be a fool to pay for private or tutor like mad for a super-selective grammar.

But not everyone has access to a great comp, and some of us would be stuck with truly dire ones if we didn't go down the indie or super-selective route.

If all comps were as good as the best ones, this discussion might get somewhere. But as it is the reality of what's available to us and our DC differs so wildly that having a productive discussion is impossible.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 10:35:42

"If they were, the popularity of grammarswould disappear - why bother with all the stress of 11 plus if the comp is better anyway?"
Because in grammar school areas there are no comprehensive schools.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 10:37:13

What I would like to say in response to that point, Marni, is that I think the biggest majority of all in this country - though that doesn't seem to be reflected on MN - send their child to the nearest school even though they don't necessarily perceive it to be 'great', because that's the available option. And do not then find that it's 'shit'.

HelpOneAnother Wed 12-Dec-12 10:45:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 10:50:12

If a school took kids that were near illiterate upon entry in Year 7 and graduated then with good GCSEs 16 then that is a great success but how does that help the bright kid that is coasting?

Ofsted sang the praises of my primary school. It did excellent work with SEN and most/all left year 6 with KS level 4 or better. But I still regard it as having failed my DS because he was left to coast year 6.

So you can 'mine' all the data that you want and do calculations to give you value added figures etc but the bottom line is that if YOUR dc, not the one with illiterate parents who is thriving, is not getting an education that challenges them then that school will have failed THAT child.

HelpOneAnother Wed 12-Dec-12 10:54:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 11:28:26

HelpOneAnother Some of them no doubt are - I wouldn't know, as ds is only in S1. However, we are not in the West End or in one of the suburbs outside Glasgow, which is where most of the Uni lecturers live (an outrageous generalisation wink but also speaking as the daughter of a doctor who lived in one of said suburbs outside the boundary). The "leafy" areas really are a tiny part of the overall catchment - and in fact, the "leafy" area I live in is outside the catchment: we put in a placing request (ds has to walk 5 extra minutes to get to school) as dh's condition for ds going to state school was to find one that played rugby from S1 hmm (and coincidentally but fortuitously the school was in the process of applying to the SRU to become a "School of Rugby" so ds is in the "Rugby Class" which do extra sessions of rugby and rugby related activity - which this term means he misses a period of English and Maths every week).

I know that ds' friends (some new, some he knew already from his rugby) seem to be from a range of backgrounds and live in a variety of types of housing (if you're going to use that as a differentiator).

The school also has an "Achievement" Fund (used to be called a "Hardship" Fund) which it uses to ensure that all kids have equal access to opportunities - it takes that very seriously. So if a child is, say, having difficulty in getting the kit for rugby or gymnastics, or to go the Maths Weekend, then it would be used for that. The Parent Council contributes to the Fund and the school then matches that funding from its own budget.

To this day, I still argue that my school - a comprehensive in a leafy suburb outside the boundary (Glasgow has very few leafy suburbs within the boundary - they are almost all outside) - was not as good a school as the one my mum taught at in Clydebank with a more varied demographic. My school was great if you were clever (and I was/am grin) and it poured resources on to you but dumped the "rest" hmm (my mum had to tutor a friend's daughter as they weren't going to let her sit her English Higher as they though she might fail - she entered privately and got a "B"). My mum's school taught all the kids and expected them to reach their fullest potential, whatever that might be! smile (That included the Wet, Wet, Wet band members - Mum was apparently Marti Pellow's favourite teacher grin)

HelpOneAnother Wed 12-Dec-12 11:53:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

breadandbutterfly Wed 12-Dec-12 12:26:50

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seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 12:38:29

Please, before you go, tell me which of my arguments have been proved groundless?

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 12:41:43

I'm not saying that all schools in Glasgow are good wink - there are many people who move/put in placing requests to the schools across the boundary in the leafy suburbs.

However, when you do the research with an open mind you'll find that most of the schools in Glasgow are doing the best by their kids. There are differences - after all, we've chosen to do a placing request for ds and not send him to his catchment school (although I'm sure he'd have been fine - for the reason that you intimate: we, as his parents, wouldn't let him not do well grin). The head teacher can make a massive difference in the ethos and therefore the achievements of the school.

Both ds' school and the one he should have gone to have a higher than average number of FSMs. The difference (apart from the rugby wink) is that there is an even higher proportion of Asians at the catchment school, which causes the headmaster some problems in maintaining school attendances (as many of the pupils have extended absences to Pakistan?). Ds' school probably has a similar proportion of "non ethnic British" pupils but from a wider range of backgrounds, although the highest proportion will still be Scottish Asian.

The school puts great emphasis on developing rounded individuals: as well as academic subjects, in S1 all pupils get involved with the John Muir Trust (a conservancy organisation) and in later years, they are encouraged to do Duke of Edinburgh, all the way up to Gold.

Through the rugby club, I've got to know parents with kids at many different secondary schools in the Glasgow area: they are all keen to see their kids succeed and appear to be happy with their kids' schools. I have come across one parent on MN who wasn't happy with the school that ds is now at, but I've talked with many parents who have been very pleased with the school.

I suppose, going back to your OP, is that it's not down to selection per se: it's up to the headteacher, his/her staff, and the ethos that they encourage in the pupils and their parents. With some kids, their parents will already be very pushy supportive, with others, the school has to put more effort into the kids as the home environment isn't as conducive to success (but who defines success?).

As a former pupil of my mum's wrote to me recently, having found out that mum had died, "A teacher affects eternity, for they can never tell where their influence ends! And this was true of her."

HelpOneAnother Wed 12-Dec-12 13:04:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 13:06:47

... no, you'd need to buy thermals too! wink

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 13:11:48

Well Seeker, obviously your points are going to seem groundless and stupid, once it has been 'decided' that your points are 'all children should have to go to failing schools'. Sometimes there's not a lot you can do...

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 13:21:48

Oh, of course. Silly me.

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 13:45:03

"I know LaQueen thinks my daughter is being maleducated because she didn't sit Maths GCSE at 15, but other than that.... "

Nit I have obviously hit a really raw nerve with that?

I don't think anyone is being poorly educated just because they didn't sit Maths GCSE a year early. I made the point to demonstrate that in the maths top set at DH's GS they routinely took O Level Maths a year early, and a grade A was basically in the bag. This was very much expected and the norm. Then can stretch their ability further and sooner than more average students.

I then compared this system to the top maths sets in comprehensives (well, the ones I have worked in and know of) where they don't routinely sit Maths GCSE a year early...

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 13:53:34

Until such time as all comprehensives can demonstrate excellent exam results, virtually zero discipline/truancy issues and a pupil/parent population who all actively value/support academic study and achievement...then I'm going to remain grateful that we do have access to a GS system here smile

I have worked as a TA at the top performing comprehensive in Nottinghamshire (which doesn't have GSs) and it's in a leafy suburb. It was good, I'll certainly say that...but the GS I have worked in was better.

And, I want that better for my DDs.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 13:54:12

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 13:54:58

Why is sitting maths GCSE early a good idea? I'm not saying it's a bad idea- I suppose getting a GCSEnout of the way could be useful. But why is it a positive good thing?

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 13:57:28

H. I think I see the problem. Obviously, I haven't expressed myself in short enough words. Leaving aside the fact that I am not unhappy with ds's school, I am not saying that everyone should go to a high school. I am saying that everyone should go to a school which is the grammar school and the high school combined. A comprehensive, in other words.

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 13:59:22

I think the underlying premis here is that the very clever children should be removed from the GS/Independent system and kinda parachuted into all comprehensives in order to set a good example, and improve exam results and general ethos.

That way makes it more fair to the lesser able children struggling in comprehensives system.

Possibly not too bad for the very clever kid who ends up in the leafy, top-peforming comp offering 3 MFLs, orchestra and 3 hard sciences at GCSE...but it's pretty shit for the very clever kid who ends up in the inner-city challenging comprehensive hmm

But, hey, it might somehow cheer up the lesser ability kids and give them something to aspire to...[doubtful, as I have worked in these type schools...and frankly I think it would be like throwing a lamb in with tigers...but hey ho]

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 14:00:34

seeker because it means they won't get bored and can move onto higher qualifications and stretch their minds more, sooner.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 14:04:21

"just so her DS feels better about not getting into the GS"

And please stop saying things like that. You ^know that's not how it is.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 14:10:59

I'll stop saying it when you stop generalizing about how kids are damaged by seeing their friends go onto the GS.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Wed 12-Dec-12 14:13:13

Seeker. I think it's important for the mathematically minded to be have the opportunity to sit maths GCSE a year early. I sat maths GCSE a year early, which meant I could sit AO Maths (advanced o'level, it was a bit of an exam anomaly with the advent of GCSEs, but...). The AO maths covered some of the A'level maths work, meaning that the syllabus for Maths A level was completed in the L6 year. Further Maths A'level could then be done in the U6, meaning that there was plenty of time in the timetable for other subjects.

glaurung Wed 12-Dec-12 14:13:19

There's a news item today here that warns rushing through maths isn't a good idea for able mathematicians. Yesterday, we were found to be in the top 10 countries in the world for maths by another respected survey, so perhaps we're not doing as badly as everyone seems to think. There's always room for improvement of course, but it's not all doom and gloom.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 14:16:36

Why on earth would they get bored? So they've done all the maths. So start on Mandarin. Or Economics. Or if they are the maths-y type, something like politics to challenge the other side of their brain.

And it really isn't about parachuting in bright kids to mentor the others. Nobody has said anything like that. Ever.

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 14:16:54

but it's pretty shit for the very clever kid who ends up in the inner-city challenging comprehensive. .. who probably lives in the inner city also.

But of course, silly me, such children are flocking to the grammar schools in Kent, crowding out the local children who have to go the Secondary Moderns.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 14:18:19

AMPF- so you're going to keep telling lies because you don't agree with me?

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 14:18:40

This is why you keep getting picked on. You come on here and go on about how GSs make 10 year olds feel like failures when they don't get in. You go on about how great the GS is, what with the orchestra and triple science and MFL opportunities.

Are you seriously telling me that in the seeker household your feeling of the SM being second best doesn't get passed on?

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 14:20:43

I repeat, you are going to carry on telling lies because you don't agree with me?

And it is really only you and possibly one other who are picking on me. Other people disagree like grown ups.

OhDearConfused Wed 12-Dec-12 14:25:24

LaQueen Doesn't everyone on both sides of the debate recognise that behaviour needs to be good in whatever school (including comprehensives) so that everyone can thrive to the best of the ability?

And if it is not, why should those not capable of passing the 11+ (either because of lack of ability or because they had an off day or because they are on the margin and some fall above and others fall below) be disadvantaged by challenging comprehensives.

Selection is either social or its academic. Arguing the way you have put it makes it sound as if you are concerned not so much about acedemic excellence but by the former but for a need to avoid a social problem. [MC class school anyone?]

I and others on here simply say that there shouldn't be an arbitrary age (11) at which future possibilities are set. Especially, but not only, when the testing/selection process is skewed to those who have been tutored (which does not then measure inate ability).

Yes, there might be a knock-on benefit (although in your experience you never saw it) by encouraging some to try and get into a top set etc and improve, but that's not the main argument of those that want to see an end to selection. And no-one is arguing that the more gifted should be disadvanged by an end to selection.

Set, differentiate, stream, by all means within a well run and disciplined comprehensive. The gifted are catered for, so are the midllings, and so are not-so-gifted, and there can be movement ...

What's not to like?

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 14:38:48

What I don't understand is why somepeople in England are so obsessed with sitting exams early. There is nothing stopping a good teacher teaching an able class extension work even if they're not sitting the exam.

Ds (on S1) is about to start doing Shakespeare as the teacher thinks the class is capable of it and needs to be challenged. She's starting them on curriculum work from S3 and S4. Personally I have a concern that in her desire to stretch them and her excitement at a particularly able cohort, she might end up putting kids off English - even if they might pass an exam early with flying colours. Education is for life, not just the exams.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 14:56:49

Its not an obsession, at least not with me. The whole exam timetable culminating in exams at 16 thing is aimed at the average kid. Some selective schools progress at a pace that challenges their pupils so by the time they are 15 they will have finished the syllabus.

In my youth the GS kids would spend the final year doing nothing but exam prep. These days it is commonplace to just take the exam at 15.

So its not something that is done for bragging rights.

LittenTree Wed 12-Dec-12 15:21:17

Confused- in this, you are definitely not confused. Good post.

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 15:39:26

Maybe the reason I can't fully understand the issues is because there are no grammar schools in Scotland.

So the onus is on us to make sure that all the schools perform well.

HelpOneAnother Wed 12-Dec-12 16:00:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelpOneAnother Wed 12-Dec-12 16:04:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 16:04:04

Laqueen - hit a raw nerve

I dunno.... maybe so. I do think you slightly moved the goalposts in the discussion so that sitting it early became the key measure of whether anyone was being failed!

What I'm thinking of when I talk about this is, I remember seeing a Maths admission guy from Cambridge on a programme recently (and yes I know that sounds vague, but I wasn't taking notes at the time) warning some parents not to see early exams as the main goal, and that what 'they' really wanted to see was a love of maths and an enthusiasm, so there might be other things you could be doing which an admissions tutor would consider favourably. And I remember reading years ago a lengthy article about the tendency to push promising maths students into early GCSEs and it often turning out quite badly - and I remember thinking yes, Mum and Dad, think on because that's what you did to my brother! I didn't go to Cambridge but DP did and doesn't remember those who'd done their A levels early as having a particularly happy time of it, either.

If dd gets her 12, and she gets her maths a*, and does Maths A level, as she wants to, at 18, I can't see anyone's going to be too fussed about when she sat it.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 16:30:51

OhDear: 11 is not an arbitrary age.

A lot of the private schools have a 13+ entry point. GCSE is round the corner so they need to test your subject knowledge as opposed to natural ability.

With VR and Non VR at 11+ my state school non pro tutored DCs stood a chance but at 13 ....

A 13+ entry point will give the prep school kid or those with tutors an advantage. 11 is not a perfect age since, as many people have pointed out, some kids are late developers but its as fair as it is going to get.

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 16:38:06

HelpOneAnother - although I am in favour of both setting and streaming (having benefitted from both), interestingly, my mum, who was an excellent teacher, wasn't so much in favour. I can't remember the detail of how she argued it - but it was something along the lines of how having to explain or justify things could actually deepen a student's understanding. She did say it was difficult though. I wish I'd talked to her more about it.

But then, she was a scary teacher who made sure the class knew who was in control. Didn't stop pupils enjoying her classes though: as one other former pupil who recently got in touch with me, said "Your mum taught me English and I enjoyed her sense of humour!(.....) I was also just a little scared of her too though - she didn't take any shit! I think of her often and have fond memories of her classes. Your mum was great."

Discipline, academic rigour and enjoyment of the subject are not mutually exclusive, but you do need good teachers.

OhDearConfused Wed 12-Dec-12 16:38:25

Fairer would be not to split arbitrarily. Given there is a difference in GS areas between what is available, why should one mark below mean you get a worst deal, one mark above mean you get the full deal?

As I say, what's not to like with proper differentiation, etc, if the "social" problems mentioned by La Queen are sorted out. (And if they are not, why should those that don't make the cut be subject to them when those above the cut are not?)

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 16:40:45

<Wonders if AMPF knows what arbitrary means>

camilamoran Wed 12-Dec-12 17:10:39

Does anyone know why 11 was chosen in the first place, back in 1946 or whenever it was? Was the choice based on any educational or child development theory?

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 17:20:45

I know not the most reliable of sources but from Wikipedia, "In particular, the Hadow report of 1926 called for the division of primary and secondary education, to take place on the cusp of adolescence at 11 or 12. The implementation of this break by the Butler Act seemed to offer an ideal opportunity to implement streaming, since all children would be changing school anyway. Thus testing at 11 emerged largely as an historical accident, without other specific reasons for testing at that age."

From a non-Wikipedia site, some more history here the 11 plus webiste

Looks like it was a purely historical "accident", resulting from the extension of education to 15 back in 1944 and based on the fact that 11 was when they were going to change school anyway.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 17:48:55

I think the underlying premis here is that the very clever children should be removed from the GS/Independent system and kinda parachuted into all comprehensives in order to set a good example, and improve exam results and general ethos.

That might be how you see it because you're starting from the premise that grammar schools exist and trying to argue that they should exist. For the vast majority of the country they don't exist. Instead of arguing that kids should be removed from the grammar system (which most aren't in) those in favour of grammars are instead suggesting that in the rest of the country those poor able kids should be rescued from the horror that is a comprehensive and given a socially segregated education (because that's what it is, however you want to argue it, the international evidence is very clear ) elsewhere. You have said many times that you don't want your kids to mix with the kids whose parents don't give a crap. Well, in that case, pay for it. Because the state certainly shouldn't fund your snobbery under the guise of 'academic' selection.

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 17:51:13

Didn't children leave at 12 or 13 back in the 1920s anyway? Those that weren't 'scholarship' material, that is. So why not make the transfer age 13?

Thus testing at 11 emerged largely as an historical accident, without other specific reasons for testing at that age."

I particularly liked that sentence which IMO makes something of a mockery of those people getting their knickers in a twist steamed up about why there must be selection at age 11,(but in practice 10)

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 17:55:20

On the subject of accelerating maths education, there is a problem that eventually the student runs out of qualifications to sit early. There have been situations where students who have sat A-level maths and Further maths early end up in Y13 not doing any maths because they've done all that was on offer. Sure, that gives them time to concentrate on other subjects. But what if they want to study maths at uni? They get to uni and they haven't done it in so long they're rusty and struggle. Or, it's been so long since they did maths that they decide not to study it at uni, although if they'd sat everything at the appropriate time they may well have selected it. It's a real issue.

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 18:06:41

At the school I was at, rather than sitting exams early, we just did more subjects. But the Scottish system has always been broader based than the English system. So instead of 5 Highers in S5 (Y11), which was the norm, a group of us did 6 Highers, and a few of my classmates did 7 plus an "O" grade showing my age blush (I didn't do more as I was still "catching up" after having been abroad for 2 years just before my "O" grades).

You were positively discouraged from specialising into Arts or Sciences too early.

I often used to wonder what the English used to spend their time doing in 6th form, as the 6 months we had to study Highers in (allowing for revision for Prelims) resulted in a qualification that was at least 2/3 of an A-level - for which the English not only had 18 months to study but also fewer subjects. But that's a whole separate debate grin

LaVolcan Wed 12-Dec-12 18:10:49

This site also offers interesting historical background.

You may notice that the 23% figure rears its head again, but it's talking about those 16-18 year olds who chose not to stay in education.

I see that I was wrong about the school leaving age being 12/13 in the 1920s, but not very far out.

Xenia Wed 12-Dec-12 18:18:33

I like that boys' prep schools often do a transfer at 13+ as boys of 11 and 12 get top be at the top of the school rather than squashed with huge older boys and boys mature younger than girls so I think it's a lovely system for boys.

I am not a fan of doing exams early particularly. I think it can look comprehensive school like if you have 16 GCSEs picked off over several years rather than a core 8 or 9 done all at once and loads of time for interesting hobbies .

CecilyP Wed 12-Dec-12 18:43:49

Does anyone know why 11 was chosen in the first place, back in 1946 or whenever it was? Was the choice based on any educational or child development theory?

Probably not! But the beginnings of state provision of secondary education, were introduced in the 1902 Education Act - the Act which also transferred responsibility for schools from school boards to local authorities. The Act also allowed local authorities to establish secondary and technical schools. At the time, the school leaving age was 13 and the majority of children would have stayed at a single elementary school for their entire schooling. For the brightest, there was the opportunity to take a scholarship exam at 11 and, if passed, transfer to the secondary/technical school where they could remain until 16 or even 18. Only half the places were allocated in this way with the rest being fee-paying. I don't know why the age of 11, rather than 13, was chosen for transfer though.

The 1944 Education Act made secondary education available to all children, raised the school leaving age to 15 and was the enabling legislation for raising it again to 16 at a later date.

APMF Wed 12-Dec-12 19:25:48

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

seeker Wed 12-Dec-12 19:45:42

True. I leave the forum trash talk to the experts.

So just out of interest, why isn't 11 an arbitrary age?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 20:06:12

Eight or nine GCSEs doesn't really seem a lot, once you've counted: eng lit and lang, maths, an MFL, three sciences and a humanity!

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 20:14:55

"I think it's important for the mathematically minded to be have the opportunity to sit maths GCSE a year early. I sat maths GCSE a year early, which meant I could sit AO Maths (advanced o'level, it was a bit of an exam anomaly with the advent of GCSEs, but...). The AO maths covered some of the A'level maths work, meaning that the syllabus for Maths A level was completed in the L6 year. Further Maths A'level could then be done in the U6, meaning that there was plenty of time in the timetable for other subjects."

Guinevere this was pretty much DH's experience. He took O Level Maths a year early, and so could then proceed to take A Level Double Maths a year early - which allowed him to fit into his timetable, S Level Maths (which they no longer offer) which was like a Foundation year of a Maths degree.

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 20:22:55

"Why on earth would they get bored? So they've done all the maths. So start on Mandarin. Or Economics. Or if they are the maths-y type, something like politics to challenge the other side of their brain."

But that's just silly seeker. They 'haven't^ done all the maths that's available to them...if DH's experience (and his BF's) is anything to go by, they could have easily sat O level Maths when they were 14 - and they'd already been sort of kicking their heels mathematically for months until they could take the exam, already a year earlier than most.

They completed Maths O Level a year early, which allowed them to move onto A level earlier, which left room in their timetable for further studying.

If maths is their gifted passion why on Earth shouldn't they study it faster, and take more exams sooner...rather than taking Mandarin, or what ever hmm

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 20:24:13

Or the mathematically minded could do this

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 20:34:32

"Laqueen - hit a raw nerve

I dunno.... maybe so. I do think you slightly moved the goalposts in the discussion so that sitting it early became the key measure of whether anyone was being failed!"

No, I never moved the goal-posts Nit I just stated what happened in my DH's top maths set, and what happens in our local GS's top maths set, that's all.

I never once said that taking the exam a year early was any measure of success/failure - I just said it is (and should be) an option for those capable of doing so.

And, further to your research into the detrimental affects of taking exams early...I actually think it perfectly possible for those who are mathematically gifted to sit exams early and retain a love of their subject in the process.

To be honest Nit I think I just hit a raw nerve with you, and you've taken umbrage on your DD's behalf - which is pointless because I couldn't give a moneky's whether your DD is/isn't gifted at maths, or whether she does/doesn't take it a year early.

Pantofino Wed 12-Dec-12 20:37:54

i was proud to have 9 o'levels. Why is especially good to have more? Surely you have to study more subjects at a lower level to get 11 or more GSCEs?

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 20:40:11

Nit Your link looks like it could be very similar to the AO Maths/English that used to be offered before GCSEs - it was a bridge between O Level and full A Levels.

But to be honest I don't really see the point - because if a pupil is gifted at Maths then they might as well just sod the GCSE entirely, do the IGCSE a year early - and then proceed straight to A Level.

I think that for some gifted pupils maths just makes perfect (and easy sense) and they reach a point that they can pretty much breeze anything you throw at them.

Personally, I wouldn't stand a chance of tackling any of it grin

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 20:42:17

Panto I dunno? I think it's very different now.

At DH's GS the average number of O Levels was 8, with the gifted ones taking 11/12?

Nowadays, pupils seem to be walking out with 14/15 GCSEs? And, I'm just thinking 'WTAF are you studying?'

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Wed 12-Dec-12 20:43:36

I can't imagine anything worse than being forced to study Mandarin, economics or politics instead of maths! I absolutely adored maths, especially after we'd got past the rather dull GCSE stuff. There's no other subject like it, there really isn't. I needed my Maths. In fact it was a lovely way to wind down from my other more writing intensive subjects.

But equally, I do think it helped me to be fast-tracked early in maths as it meant I could do the higher level stuff, but still have lots of time for other subjects.

Pantofino Wed 12-Dec-12 20:44:35

8 was standard at my GS. I did an extra one (Russian) in the the 6th form.

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 20:47:31

Personally I can't agree Guin as I'm shit at maths (DH kinda looks at me in despair mixed with pity when I try and tackle anything to do with numbers grin )

But I know DH would agree with you. In the end he didn't take a Maths degree, and studied Computer Science instead. But he's impressive maths background meant he could take maths as his subsid...not attend a single maths lecture in his first year (leaving him free for vitally important drinking time)...and still ace his maths exam at the end of his first year grin

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 20:50:05

But to be serious...if a pupil is gifted at maths and is passionate about their subject, then they should be allowed to fly as high and has fast as they want.

I was gifted at English...and it would have been like someone only allowing me to read one volume of Eliot's poetry, and then saying 'Nope, that's enough have to learn a bit about geography instead'

Why? Why?

themottledlizard Wed 12-Dec-12 20:53:53

Can't be bothered to read whole thread BUT I just have to say LaQueen, a) I do sincerely hope your children do get in to your local grammar school and b) I hope you are not going to be terribly disappointed....

It entirely depends on the individual child how they do in their grammar schools. I have had 3 at a 'superselective' grammar school.

One underperformed magnificently at GCSE but did better at A level. Another, in the bottom set for Maths got A* at GCSE, but even he agrees he wouldn't be capable of doing Maths A level!!You really just don't know how they are going to end upsmile

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Wed 12-Dec-12 20:54:29

Incidentally, I definitely don't favour early exams in order to get them out of the way. My nephew's comp gets the top sets doing all of them a year early. The idea seems to be that then they can spend 3 years doing their A'levels confused. I think that's disastrous. They end up with a grade C in them, when with a year's further study they might have got a B, or even an A. Probably saves the schools a fortune in teachers though, as the children have a less full syllabus in the sixth form. [cynical emoticon]

GrimmaTheNome Wed 12-Dec-12 21:00:07

>i was proud to have 9 o'levels. Why is especially good to have more? Surely you have to study more subjects at a lower level to get 11 or more GSCEs?

Back when I was at they dropped from 9 to 8 (we were the first 'bilateral' year on the way to becoming comp from GS ). 8 was severely limiting even though back then the range of subjects was less than you can do now. I could quite easily have done more. DDs school they all do 11 and get better average results than the selective half of my school did. I wish I'd been able to do computer science and electronics and a 'fun' subject (drama, art, music ) in addition to the rather dry essentials I was limited to.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 21:00:09

I take umbrage at the illogical nature of the arguments about comprehensive schools, and at your suggestion yesterday that I was being somehow sneaky or silly in 'going on to reveal' that not all the top set in a comprehensive will get a*. All Our children are hazy things on MN and that is why it is generally a bit daft to get into heated debates about what any other poster thinks of the sound of any other poster's child (cf seekers ds, Jabed's ds, xenia's children....)

I think you're quite offensive about comprehensives and the children in them, and I think that's even more annoying because it's based on a lot of assumptions and bias. I mean, it's lovely to hear what your DH did in maths in the past, and well done him, but....?

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 21:00:38

WTF would you need to spend 3 years doing an A Level? You'd be poking your eyes out with pins with boredom.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 21:01:14

Re: numbers of GCSEs....But even with just one humanity and one MFL, you're up to eight, in most scenarios I can see: is that all we want?

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 21:07:06

Nit I really have touched a raw nerve haven't I? Now, you just seem to want to throw everything and the kitchen sink at me. Fair enough, this is an open forum.

I didn't imply that you had been sneaky not revealing that everyone in your DD's top maths set didn't get an A*. I was just comparing the results in the top maths set in my DH's time (back in the day) and at our we had been discussing that a top set in a leafy comp was the same as the top set in a GS, supposedly (with lots of agree/disagree).

Now, you just seem to want to throw everything and the kitchen sink at me. Fair enough, this is an open forum.

I've cited my DH's experience of I have also cited my experience of working in one, and the experiences of my two relatives who work in them... because we're talking about the grammar school system.

I think you've taken umbrage because you think I have disparaged your DD, and her maths ability. In actual fact, I can promise you that your DD's maths ability will be far superior to mine grin

LaQueen Wed 12-Dec-12 21:10:06

What was the general O Level selection back in the day? I'm thinking

Maths, Eng Lit, Eng Lang, two languages, RE and two sciences, yes? So 8...weren't they the standard subjects?

Pretty limiting now I think of it.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 12-Dec-12 21:12:20

>Re: numbers of GCSEs....But even with just one humanity and one MFL, you're up to eight, in most scenarios I can see: is that all we want?

That was exactly my position - 2 eng, maths, 3 science, french, geography. Ridiculously narrow at that age. We're so glad DD can do most of the subjects she wantsgrin (which they do all together in year 11, none of this messing around doing them early)

GrimmaTheNome Wed 12-Dec-12 21:18:04

LaQ - you missed geography and history, and Art was a possibility - ou t of the question to squander a choice on that if you wanted to be a scientist, alas.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 21:22:43

If I was as sure as you that I'd touched a raw nerve, I'd probably be feeling rather bad!

I commented yesterday that I thought your precis of what I'd said on a different thread was a little unfair, but it probably got lost along the way. I must add that I've never said my girls' school is 'leafy' - it isn't - and that's not my memory of what that conversation was about.

Nobody said the top set in a comprehensive was the same as that in a grammar school: only that there was no reason the ones who would have gone to grammar wouldn't do just as well.

However. I care not what you, or anyone else, thinks of dd's maths ability as my main perspective on dd at this moment is that she's a mardy little bugger and I've about had enough of her for one day....

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Wed 12-Dec-12 21:28:27

LaQueen - I too didn't do a maths degree either! Much as I loved (still love) maths, I could never have spent 100% of my time on the subject.

Returning to the subject of selective education.

I hate the thought of the 11+. We nearly moved to Kent because of the fast commute and cheaper (than here!) house prices. But I chickened out because I really wasn't confident enough that our kids would pass the wretched 11+. Our local comp wins against a secondary modern any day.

That said, I think a difficulty with comprehensive schools is having a large enough number of true "top set" children in order to provide them all with the same level of education as in a grammar school. For a multitude of different reasons there are many comps that completely fail to do this. I love confused's utopian ideal of comprehensives. It's utterly seductive in its simplicity. I just wish I could truly believe in it.

You also have to remember that at some point all children will follow different academic paths. Deciding this path at 11 is almost certainly too early. But equally, maybe 18, or even 16 is too late? I wonder if maybe selection at 14 would be the ideal age. However, as that would mean dismantling our entire school system it's never going to happen so probably not even worth considering.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 21:30:45

The DfE specifically advises against blanket early entry of students (so a whole class) for GCSEs as the evidence clearly shows that they don't do as well in them as students who are entered at the end of Y11, even with the opportunity to resit. Students who get an A when entered early rarely get the chance to resit for an A* as an A is seen as good enough, yet this damages their chances at A-level. Although where an A* is guaranteed, I see no problem with bridging the gap to A-level (which catches a lot of students out) with a free standing maths qualification, but not starting A-level early (causes all sorts of problems).

But I expect that to be ignored, just like the caution against working your way through all the qualifications as quickly as possible so there's nothing to do at the end of sixth form.

It's such a shame that maths is seen as a set of exams to pass, it's so much more of a rewarding subject than that. To the poster who said 'why restrict someone who likes English to reading one book', that's a silly comparison, because reading a book is about broadening horizons and doing English for pleasure, whereas sitting tonnes of maths exams is simply about collecting trophies. Maths is about pattern spotting, logical thinking and solving problems; how tedious to think that for the bright student it should be reduced to solving harder and harder integration questions as the exam system provides. Much better to do maths for pleasure. That, however, takes more imagination, and is probably less easy for parents to show off about.

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 21:32:14

That's why I liked the breadth of Scottish Highers but I agree with the restrictions at the lower level can be frustrating. I did 8 O grades - but no "fun" ones.

But at least at Higher I was able to keep my options open, by doing Maths, Physics, Chemistry, English, French, Latin.

Plenty to stretch any able student, even (especially) in a comprehensive system. grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 12-Dec-12 21:35:15

Once again, a 'like' for noblegiraffe

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Wed 12-Dec-12 21:42:41

Trouble is, noblegiraffe, there's precious little opportunity for pattern spotting, logical thinking and problem solving at GCSE level maths. It was full of dreadful things like bus timetables in my day... I can also assure you that solving ever harder integration questions takes quite a degree of problem solving ability!

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 21:46:22

Interesting what you say about Maths noblegiraffe

It mirrors my concern about ds' new English teacher (top set): that in her eagerness to stretch and to challenge the children, she forgets the need, nay her duty to enthuse them and embue them with an ongoing love of English. hmm

Ds started this year loving English and talking about how great his teacher was and how much fun English could be. Since he changed class after they set, he is now complaining about how he doesn't like English sad. I am doing my best to keep him enthused and to encourage his free reading.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 21:59:44

Guin, I agree, maths GCSE is dreadful. It fails the top end by being too formulaic and with too little hard content (the problem with having to cater for a large ability range in a 2 hour paper), and it fails the lower end by forcing kids who simply need to prove their numeracy (don't knock bus timetables, v useful skill) into rote-learning abstract algebraic methods simply to scrape extra marks in the hope of getting a C, which doesn't actually mean what employers want it to mean. For the bottom end it's a complete waste of time. Scrap it and replace it with two qualifications, one for numeracy and real life problem solving (and don't make the mistake of thinking this is just for the lower end) and the other for abstract maths.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 22:10:06

I like teaching the kids about the history of maths (my pet). They bloody love hearing about how maths drives you mad and sends you to an early grave. Or I might waffle on about how parallel lines can meet, how science isn't as good as maths, imaginary numbers or infinity. Another teacher in my department is really creative (I'm hopeless) and gets them building all sorts of stuff. Another is practical and will get them outside measuring the heights of buildings with a protractor.

But there is distressingly little room in the curriculum for this sort of stuff, especially once they get to Y10, so it mainly happens at KS3, and mainly with the top sets. If they were being accelerated from exam to exam, it probably couldn't happen at all.

prettybird Wed 12-Dec-12 22:10:46

In Scotland we used to have two separate "O" grades: Arithmetic and Mathematics. Unfortunately, I think we lost that useful distinction when we changed to Standard grades.

Now that we're moving to Curriculum for Excellence, I don't even know what the exam will be called! shock

(On the other hand, we've only ever had a straight English exam, which incorporates both English Language and Literature)

MordionAgenos Thu 13-Dec-12 09:11:10

@Yellow I know the comp yours would be in isn't the one DS goes to - but certainly for us the uniform was way more expensive for the comp. Had DD1 been forced to do rugby next term then that would have been v expensive but that has, as you predicted, nicely gone away. grin

APMF Thu 13-Dec-12 09:38:43

losing: I suggest that you leave your bubble and read the MN posts from teachers who have to deal with Year R pupils who turn up with no basic literacy or numbers skills.

Then go to the various reports that go on about the shocking number of kids that leave Primary with very basic literacy and maths skills.

If your DCs and mine start school at 7 I don't doubt that they will race ahead and soon be at the same level had they started at 5. But it's naive of you to think that most children will easily make up for the missing 2 years of formal education.

APMF Thu 13-Dec-12 09:43:24

... Oops. I meant to post on the thread about starting school at aged 7 blush

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 15:16:56

"That said, I think a difficulty with comprehensive schools is having a large enough number of true "top set" children in order to provide them all with the same level of education as in a grammar school."

Yes Guin this is my main beef with comprehensives, even supposedly good ones. It's my experience in comps that their 'top set' comprises a mix of GCSE A*- B students - and I just don't think that's good enough. neither do they tend to take Maths GCSE a year early, freeing up their time -table for further maths.

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 15:21:43

"Although where an A* is guaranteed, I see no problem with bridging the gap to A-level (which catches a lot of students out) with a free standing maths qualification, but not starting A-level early (causes all sorts of problems)."

But noble if you aren't very confident of getting that GCSE A* a year early, then you shouldn't be put in for the exam. It's only the top set at DH's GS that does this routinely - because the A is in the bag for them.

I'm also a bit hmm at your premis that pupils who can whip through maths swiftly and early are somehow being hothoused and not being allowed to enjoy their subject or to explore it fully.

I think it perfectly possible for a gifted maths student to do both. Infact, I think that the piss-easy, dreary nuts and bolts of GCSE (to them) is best gotten out the way as soon as possible, allowing them to explore higher maths and exercise their passion smile

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Dec-12 15:51:21

Laqueen, ACME have just released a report that says exactly that is happening to able mathematicians, acceleration rather than enrichment and a chance to explore the subject fully. So no need to hmm at my premise as it is evidence-based.

Like I said, maths exams are about collecting trophies, they're not particularly inspiring. Even at A-level you barely scratch the surface of what maths is actually about as a subject. It really isn't about simply doing harder and harder sums. GH Hardy said about maths 'Beauty is the first test, there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics'. Any mathematician would know what he means by that, I suspect anyone who has only experienced the high school maths curriculum wouldn't have a clue.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Dec-12 16:05:24

Incidentally, if there is anyone left reading this thread(!) who is looking for maths inspiration for their child, then The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger is beautiful for younger children/teenagers (although the language of the original German is nicer if you are German!) and for older teenagers, Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis is a brilliant introduction to pure mathematics, and separates it from mere calculations. Christmas is coming! wink

GrimmaTheNome Thu 13-Dec-12 16:14:48

I'm no mathematician (2 good A levels does not a mathematician make!) but Euler's identity gives me a clue as to the beauty of maths. smile

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 16:18:13

noble so is it some intrinsically morally better for a pupil to take their time, and fully explore maths myriad wonders...and sit the GCSE at 16, and get a B, say?

As opposed to really enjoying it, finding it pretty effortless and taking it a year early and getting an A* - is that somehow less worthy then hmm

Xenia Thu 13-Dec-12 16:25:56

If they pick them off year by year it is less of an achievement than being to get 8 or 9 good GCSEs when taking them all in the same few weeks may be. Also it's rather nice not to have public exams most years and just have them all at one go so they aren't a constant threat thing hanging over your head year after year.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Dec-12 16:26:07

Why would an able mathematician get a B? confused I'm not sure why you think properly exploring maths would make them worse at it. Unless you are in favour of the rote procedural learning that leads to shallow understanding despite good results that ACME warns against in its report?

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 16:29:59

"I think it perfectly possible for a gifted maths student to do both. Infact, I think that the piss-easy, dreary nuts and bolts of GCSE (to them) is best gotten out the way as soon as possible, allowing them to explore higher maths and exercise their passion"

How many kids are we talking about, roughly?

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 16:41:50

I may have misunderstood your stance noble but I thought you were implying that gifted students were being somehow potetially damaged by doing too much, too soon...and that their ability to get an A* a year early could lead to them not fully exploring or understanding their subject, yes?

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 16:42:36

I think we're talking about 37 seeker or it could possibly be 38?

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 16:44:22

Also noble if they can easily get an A* a year earlier...what's the point in them exploring GCSE Maths for a further year, and getting the A* a year later, instead?

prettybird Thu 13-Dec-12 16:52:38

At ds' (good) comprehensive, they strongly advise against pupils spreading their Highers over two years. Universities want to see that you are capable of doing the required standard and quantity of work in one sitting.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Dec-12 16:53:15

I'm saying, LQ that relentless acceleration to jump through hoops early leads to a crappy rush through the curriculum. To get an A* at GCSE you can learn to pass the test by learning procedures without properly understanding what you are doing and why.

As a very basic example there are a few ways of learning to add fractions. One involves finding the lowest common denominator, converting to equivalent fractions and adding. There's also a method where you draw a grid, put the fractions on the outside, multiply the numbers on the inside, add a couple of squares and hey presto you have successfully added the fractions. Now I can teach a bottom set to use the grid method and they can add fractions and get the answers right but they don't have a clue what they are doing.

There are many more examples like that in maths, and if you've got a test approaching, it is very tempting to say 'ok, here's what you do to get the right answer, don't worry about why'. It's not their ability to get an A* early that's the problem, it's how they're being taught to get that A* a year early.

Asinine Thu 13-Dec-12 16:58:39


I much prefer the Scottish system, I can't believe that it's considered normal here in England to drop Maths or English after GCSEs, or all the sciences, even if you're able. It seems narrow at such a young age. I'm also glad to hear other experiences of good comps. They do exist (our dcs are at one) and they would be more common without grammars and private schools.

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 17:00:00

Ah, I see what you're saying noble.

But, I think there's a difference between a pupil who has just been taught to the test who could potentially get an A* a year early, and a pupil who has a genuine and intuative gift for maths.

I think it's quite rare that pupils take many other GCSEs early (possibly English?) - but I wonder if that is because maths is one of those disciplines that some people just get and they find it effortless.

I know my DH finds maths effortless easy (infuriatingly) as does his BF. And my friend's DD is exactly the same. And it was a gift they had from a very early age.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Thu 13-Dec-12 17:03:46

"How many kids are we talking about, roughly?". Oh, it's a tiny number. And yes, I get your implied point that on a national scale it's going to be statistically insignificant.

However, to dismiss why it is even being discussed here would be foolhardy. If the very top aren't catered for within our comprehensive education system then they won't be in it. Either they'll be moved to the private sector, a grammar school area; or worse still, never have the opportunity to realise their true potential. That doesn't help the group of children sitting just below them in ability level, so a similar pattern will emerge with them. And so on. And the result can be a school system churning out mediocrity.

Apart from anything else, how many aspirational parents do you know that make a point of telling you that their children are thick? Everyone wants to believe that their children can be at the top of those top sets with the right support. Hell, I myself haven't given up yet on one of my dc who has quite significant SEN...

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 17:09:22

"And the result can be a school system churning out mediocrity."

Guin I think some people confuse mediocrity with being more fair unfortunately.

You are totally right of course, by the way smile

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 17:37:20

But why will it mean mediocrity. If grammar schools and high schools were merged to make a comprehensive, why is everyone assuming it will be a mediocre comprehensive?

And I agree that the gifted, like the mathematicians LaQueen is talking about of course have to be catered for and nurtured, but it seems to be to be a bit odd to want to maintain a system which is bad for 77% of the cohort in order to possibly serve that <1%. I say possibly serve, because I have heard that an ordinary grammar isn't brilliant for the very gifted either. Surely there must be a better way to help the very gifted achieve their potential which isn't bad for ordinary mortals at the same time?

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 17:47:42

It's strange but by and large the ones going on about fairness seem to be the pro-grammar posters. It's unfair that they should lose their grammar schools. A phrase my father used to use springs to mind: "Pull up the ladder Jack, I'm on board."

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 17:57:26

Why is a GS system bad for 77% of the cohort.

The GSs just provide a style/level of study that isn't appropriate/accessible for 77% of pupils.

Are children's orchestras, local sport's teams, swimming clubs, drama clubs etc, etc bad for the high percentage of children who audition/try out and don't get in?

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 17:59:38

Equally LaVolcan there are those who protest it's not fair that some children are deemed clever enough and can experience the ethos/surroundings of a selective education.

The phrase sour grapes springs to mind hmm

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 18:05:37

As somebody has just sqid on another thread, the number of children who are so gifted that they neednto be educated differently is probably about 1-2% at the most. So surely the solution is to cater for them like gifted dancers and musicians , then the remaining 98% can go to properly setted comprehensives?

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 18:09:11

You're probably right seeker just so long as the properly setted comprehensives have equally few problems with behaviour/discipline/truancy as a GS does smile

If that t'were the case I would happily send my DD1...however I reserve the right to send my DD2 to the super selective 5% grammar/academy/whatever smile

MordionAgenos Thu 13-Dec-12 18:12:14

@noble It's not their ability to get an A early that's the problem, it's how they're being taught to get that A* a year early.*

I completely agree in principle. In practice, at DD1's superselective they do all their GCSEs a year early. And they aren't taught quick fix/no understanding methods.

I could easily have taken my maths O level 2 years early - but we weren't allowed to do that in my school (comp. but only recently transformed from a grammar so still with a grammar MO in many ways). My friend's brother who went to the posh boys school down the road was a year younger than us (well, he still is grin and he did his maths O level a year earlier than us, his maths A level a year earlier than we did ours, further maths the year we did our A levels and S level maths the year after. Then he joined us both at cambridge (he went to Trinity) and did not only the normal maths tripos but Part III too. and then went off to become some kind of computer whizz. this was obviously a long time ago but the best maths people have always done their exams early. Most of the people I knew at cambridge (I did maths) had done their O and A levels early and then done S level in the upper 6th. I was one of the very few whose school had made them stick to the pace of everyone else. It wasn't a drawback but I don't think it was in any way an advantage. And not having done S level was a bit of a hindrance.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 18:15:49

Most objections are to the sorting at age 10 by a one day test. The other statements that we make are that there are good comprehensives, which do absolutely fine by the children in them, but you and others seem unwilling to believe that they exist.

Sour grapes? Not for me personally - I think of children I know who have gone on to be a hospital consultant, an academic at harvard, a senior civil servant, a director of a research lab, to think of just 4 off the top of my head who were all comprehensive educated.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Dec-12 18:16:00

LQ you don't need to tell me about these naturally gifted mathematicians who just get it at school, I was one. Got an A at A level and didn't even bother revising, decided to study it at uni because it was easy. Certainly you don't need to be a gifted mathematician as you describe to get an A* in maths GCSE, not even a year early.

I think it's a great shame that you think the best thing for students like me would be to just shovel exams down our throats until we are so ahead of our peer groups there's nothing left to do but mark time until we can go to uni, when there is so much maths out there that isn't on the school curriculum that can be fascinating, I left school with next to no idea of it and was very surprised to find out maths at uni is completely different. The ones who are good at maths should get a chance to be taught it properly (sin, cos and tan aren't just calculator buttons) instead of rushing ahead, and the very able should be given enrichment around maths. People don't tend to enter early for English because there's a level of maturity that helps with the exam, but the more able would be encouraged to read widely. Mathematicians are usually told to turn to the next page in the textbook.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Thu 13-Dec-12 18:16:08

Grammar schools are almost certainly not unfair for 77% of the cohort, assuming that appropriate funding for the secondary moderns is in place (which according to historical evidence often wasn't the case.)

The children it is unfair to is the 10-20% of the cohort (purely a guess, I've no data to back this assertion up) that likely ended up in the wrong school.

The question for me is whether the benefit for society and those who are lucky enough to end up in the grammar outweighs the inherent difficulty of trying to ascertain who the most able truly are at the age of only 10-11.

It's also worth pointing out that although children can and do move up and down sets in comprehensives, very few are going to go from a bottom set in yr7 to a top one at the end of yr11.

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 18:16:14

The top set of the comprehensive will have exactly the same standard of behqviour, truancy and so on as the grammar school because it will contain the same children!

By the way, when your dd goes to the grammar school, I do hope you aren't disappointed by the behaviour, level of truancy and so on..........!

And I said 1-2%, not 5%. Top 5% isn't SEN clever. Top 1- possibly 2% is.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 18:30:47

LaQueen Since you are so sure that
The GSs just provide a style/level of study that isn't appropriate/accessible for 77% of pupils.
what would you say to this poster over on the Secondary Education thread? Would failing by two marks really make this girl unsuitable for GS? The OP doesn't think so, but it seems that the authorities in her county including her daughter's head do. If she were in a county with a good comprehensive system this would be a non-issue - the chances are that the daughter would get into the top sets for most subjects.

wigglybeezer Thu 13-Dec-12 18:40:14

I am going to be pedantic here but don't say the UK and mention "the whole" country, mentioning grammar schools etc.

Education has always been a devolved matter in Scotland,please leave us out of your discussions about selective education, no grammar schools up here, thank goodness ( and no GSCEs or pesky A-levels either).

Lecture over grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 13-Dec-12 18:51:10

If I were to have sour grapes, it would have to be over the fact that we don't have grammar schools here at all! But I'm very pleased about that.

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 19:03:29

LaVolcan I agree that the GS system can be unfair for the ones who very almost get there, and who might well have done in another year when the pass mark was lower etc.

But, there has to be a benchmark. And, I don't think you can sacrifice the needs/abilities of all the ones who do pass, and pass comfortably for the sake of the ones who just don't quite make it.

My SIL has recently qualified as a midwife, she's both very academic with 3 strong science A levels, and very good at the practical side/patient focused stuff too.

Her friend also training was incredibly hard working, very studious, put her heart and soul into the course (far more so than my SIL) endless revision, but she couldn't quite cut the mustard when it came to the exams. She was allowed a couple of re-sits, and then the following year appealed and it went to adjudication, and through several procedures. She was allowed to continue, but when she failed the next lot of exams unfortunately she had to leave.

Very sad, because she was passionate about her work, very commited but she didn't quite have what it took.

You could argue that it was very unfair, when she so very nearly passed and was so keen and passionate.

But, there has to be a benchmark, otherwise it isn't fair on the trainee midvies who can and do make the grade.

prettybird Thu 13-Dec-12 19:06:14

Thank you wigglybeezer - I've been singing the praises of my experience of the Scottish (comprehensive) education system - but it helps to spell it out smile

Re Maths, ds (in his top set at his comprehensive school) has been enjoying doing a bit of History of Maths smile Unfortunately, he's now missing most of that, as that was what the teacher is doing when he is away at his Rugby class. I suppose it makes sense - it means he's not missing out on Maths building blocks but he is missing out on some of the wider knowledge. sad

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 13-Dec-12 19:06:28

But, if we agree on all that ^, surely you can't say the 77% aren't missing anything because they're just simply not capable of appreciating or utilising the opportunities of a GS education? Especially if an uncoached child loses out to a coached child!

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 19:08:22

seeker I'm sure that the top set at a properly setted comprehensive would have virtually zero behaviour/discipline issues...

But, what about the school as a whole ?

You know, when the pupils are doing shared lessons such as PE/Art/sports etc. Or when they're at break times, or queing in the cafe or using the library etc, etc. Or just using the loos or walking between lessons.

Because at the properly setted comprehensive you are going to have the pupils who don't give a toss about their schooling, or doing homework, or passing exams. There will be pupils for whom studying, working hard, behaving properly in the school environs is seen as crap and nerdy and pathetic.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 19:12:20

I agree that the GS system can be unfair for the ones who very almost get there, and who might well have done in another year when the pass mark was lower etc.

And this was why they got rid of Sec Mods in most parts of the country. For much of the country the discussion isn't about GS/Sec Mod, it's the quality of the local comprehensive. The best ones are extremely good indeed, the question is how do the others get brought up to the same standard.

And yes, it's interesting about your SIL and her friend. I would suggest that there is a very real difference between an adult having to accept that they can't quite make the grade, after a couple of resits and appeals and continuing until the next set of exams, and a 10 year old and a 1 day test.

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 19:17:28

LaVolcan here it's actually 2 different days of tests one VR and one NVR.

And then there's the chance to sit the 12+ and 13+, if you're a late bloomer (or very, very closely failed the 11+).

That system mops up some of the ones who very nearly got through.

I agree that all (well most, I'm not that opmtistic) comprehensives should be hugely improved. But, I think it's going to be a herculean task...because with the best will in the world, and even with the best teachers and loads of funding...and hey, even parachuting the cleverest GS kids (let's pretend they got rid of GSs) into the mix...there will always be pupils/parents who don't give a toss, who just don't care and who don't value education.

MordionAgenos Thu 13-Dec-12 19:33:01

Anyone who thinks there will be no behaviour/discipline problems at a GS and no kids who don't give a toss about their education (or have any compunction about titting around with the education of others) is likely to be sorely disappointed.

Asinine Thu 13-Dec-12 19:45:26


..there will always be pupils/parents who don't give a toss, who just don't care and who don't value education'

Yes, but equality of educational opportunity is a good strategy to help those children whose parents don't give a toss.

There will always be people who don't look after their health, or that of their children, but that doesn't support a two tier health care system.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 19:46:00

So two days of tests for a 10 year old; it still doesn't quite compare with an adult having about a term or more having to come to terms with not being able to make the grade.

And how many do come in at 12+ or 13+? None, one, two? I recall from my own grammar school days that 1 person came at 12 which I suspect was pretty typical. A few more were struggling and should have been asked to leave but weren't. A few more were perfectly capable but bone idle, and telling them that they either pulled their socks up or they would be out, wouldn't have been a bad idea, but didn't happen.

Iincidentally I didn't say that all (or most) comprehensives need to be improved, I think you might have put your own slant on it here. Some will need improving and others will be giving your grammar schools a run for their money. However I do believe that all schools (and that includes your grammar schools) should strive for continual improvement.

There will always be parents and children who don't give a toss, who don't value education, but they are by no means the majority in comprehensives.

prettybird Thu 13-Dec-12 19:52:56

A fellow MNer (I've not actually seen her on this thread although she does often contribute to Education threads) has observed that at the supermarket close to her home, which is midway between the apparently good well-regarded private school and the state school that ds is at, in the majority of cases, the wee little shits are the ones from the private school and the well-behaved ones are from the state school.

She has also marked exam papers from both "systems" (State and private) and believes that many parents are wasting their money....

I know that the discussion here is not State versus Private - but that is the closest we get to the "creaming off" effect of Grammar Schools in Scotland.

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 20:12:15

Mordian of course there will be pupils at a GS who don't especially value education. But, it will be far less than those in a comprehensive.

The majority of pupils at a GS are from backgrounds which really value education, and where the pupil is expected to achieve academically and to behave appropriately at school - their parents are fully supportive of their education etc, etc.

Mintberry Thu 13-Dec-12 20:16:27

I think kids who are more suited to vocational training should get it, and kids who need to be pushed should get pushed. If selective schools provide that, then so be it.

I went to a pretty good comprehensive, but even there there was a tendency to just try and push everyone to get Cs in their GCSEs. On one end of the spectrum, there were teens who would still have benefitted from improving their basic grammar and reading comprehension skills who were unhelpfully being taught how to pass exams on Shakespeare, while there were other kids who could go on to do well and go to good universities who were being ignored as long as they were getting Cs.
I've heard the same complaint from a friend and my BIL who were teachers.

All children are different, and if you try to make one big catch-all system, some are going to get left behind. I think you need different schools for different needs, to produce adults more suited for what they end up doing in the workplace.

LaQueen Thu 13-Dec-12 20:27:02

I agree mint I think in far too many comps the huge emphasis is to pull as many pupils as possible up to a C, because that is what they're assessed on.

I think the higher ability pupils are kinda left to float along because their box has already been ticked.

It's an interesting point you've raised about pupils being taught Shakespeare. I worked as a TA and Cover Supervisor in quite a few comprehensives and was always saddened to see 14/15 year olds being fed Shakespeare-Lite (design an outfit for the 3 witches in a DVD of the play...role play the opening scene) - basically anything and everything rather than actually read the play

This was because their literacy levels simply weren't up to the job. These pupils were still struggling to write full sentences that had at least a nod towards decent grammar/punctuation.

They weren't being failed by the teachers...they had been failed years and years before at primary school sad

losingtrust Thu 13-Dec-12 20:36:52

All those talking about kids just getting a C forget that schools are rated on added value and getting a high ability child to just a C would be rated very badly. Schools show a position of how many high, middle and low ability children they have at outset and they then publish the average grade for each of these categories.

glaurung Thu 13-Dec-12 20:51:04

but that is a very recent (and long overdue) change losing, and the % getting 5A*-C is still the most important measure if you want to avoid being forced to become an academy I think.

QuickLookBusy Thu 13-Dec-12 21:00:19

Glaurung Many comps actually choose to become an academy as they get more control over finances.

Also LaQueen to suggest that "higher ability pupils are kinda left to float around" is utter rubbish. Try telling that to the dc at comps, who work their bloody socks off to achieve As and A*.
To suggest these dc just float along, belittles the hard work of these dc and their teachers.

glaurung Thu 13-Dec-12 21:16:05

QLB I know, but schools that get below 40% 5A*-C (I think) get forced into it and with much less control over the process (change of management usually required). It's something they go to great lengths to avoid.

Asinine Thu 13-Dec-12 21:20:56

The comps people talk about on here bear no resemblance to the one I went to, or the one my dcs are at. I would not send my dcs to a school where they were aiming for Cs for dcs who have demonstrated high learning potential at CATS. The targets they are given reflect their performance in SATS, CATS, year exams, assessments, there is no way they are not being stretched.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 21:25:22

I just love the way that LaQueen generalises about how comprehensives don't do this and that, usually, if not always putting them down, when there are something like 2500-3000 of them or more in the England,Wales and Scotland. How can she possibly know what they do? I do wonder if she is actually talking about Kent 'Comprehensives' which aren't, as we know.

I doubt if she knows what the 164 grammar schools are like either. Even here there seem to be two categories -the Bucks/Kent Grammars and the 'Super-selectives', which you would expect to be different in character and results.

glaurung Thu 13-Dec-12 21:28:19

Ah, for the avoidance of doubt, I'm not saying that comps don't have higher goals for more able pupils, just that there are not quite the same pressures on them to achieve them than there are for the C/D borderliners. I've never heard of schools taking children off timetable except for C/D borderline for example.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 21:28:54

Ah but you see Asinine, as far as the (Kent) grammar school supporters go, if your child is getting good results at a comprehensive it's either not typical, or else it's grade inflation. They just don't seem to be able to comprehend that there are good comprehensives up and down the land, serving children very well.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Dec-12 21:33:55

The league table breakdown for high, middle and low achieving students is new, but that doesn't mean schools have got away with not pushing able students to higher than a C in the past. My friend's school only got a satisfactory Ofsted a few years ago precisely because progress (not results which were in fact very high in the league tables) wasn't good enough. And of course these days satisfactory is 'requires improvement'.

prettybird Thu 13-Dec-12 21:36:15

LaVolcan - remember, all State schools in Scotland are comprehensive, with only the private schools to cream off some of the apparently more motivated kids. We also have fixed and not variable catchment areas.

But even here, we still get prejudice preconceptions about certain schools where people assume that kids are not stretched and that a placing request/moving/going private is required, yet if people actually visited the school and did the research, they would find that the school does expect and achieve all they want for their child.

Xenia Thu 13-Dec-12 21:37:31

I'd like to see some statistics comparing say the North East which has had no grammar schools since about 1970 and Buckinghamshire (or find me a county with grammars which is not rich if you can as that would be better) compare in how many children from state schools of all kinds get into the best universities. That would help to show if the better children do better in selective or comprehensive schools.

When the 7% of children at free paying schools do not do extra orindarily better than th 93% at all forms of state school then you might thinking perhaps paying fees is not worth it but instead they get 50% of the best university places and grammar schools getting a good % of the rest. They make up 50% of the cabinet even, 70% of judges etc etc. There is little you can do better for a child as a mother than picking work which enables you to pay school fees.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 21:50:36

I don't know Scotland all that well prettybird, I was just trying to make it clear I wasn't only talking about England. It does sound as though we could learn a lot from Scotland.

We have the same situation in Oxfordshire with the private schools. Some people insist that the local comprehensives are no good without ever setting foot in them, and that their child(ren) must go private. I have on occasion been slightly bemused when these same parents' circumstances have changed e.g. through divorce or redundancy, and private schooling ceases to be an option. They then find that a local comprehensive serves their children perfectly well - the children still get the As and A* and go off to good universities/get good jobs.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 13-Dec-12 21:59:58

So are we back from the idea that children in comprehensives who are good at maths don't do maths a year early, to the idea that children in comprehensives shouldn't have to walk down a corridor near children who aren't as clever as them on the way to PE?

In the world, my children will have to deal with people who are both cleverer and less clever than them. As do I, and as does everyone else, except the very cleverest and the very least clever. School is a good place to get used to that.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 22:07:05

So are we back from the idea that children in comprehensives who are good at maths don't do maths a year early,

Some did at my childrens' comprehensives.

prettybird Thu 13-Dec-12 22:10:10

Here, here Nit smile

School isn't just about educating for academic subjects, it's about educating for life . And surprisingly hmm, clever children will have to live in the real world too! wink

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 13-Dec-12 22:24:25

laV, but not as a matter of course, maybe?

Essentially there is not going to be any agreement on this. My perspective as the parent of a child near the end of a comprehensive education though is that the rough with the smooth is worth having, and is a good thing, and need not have any adverse effect on grades or achievement. I'm not denying the rough, and I would never be cavalier about my children being in an unpleasant or unsafe environment. But near the end, I think the mardy kids not wanting to do PE, and the kids who teased her for saying GRARSS and GLARSS, were all part of a very real and valuable experience, and I have a happy child who's doing just fine and dandy at the other side. Lucky I bought that million pound house in the catchment of a leafy comp, eh! (note: I did not).

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 22:34:26

TOSN. Not as a matter of course no. I am talking about two different schools here but in both cases it very much depended on whether they thought it to the child's advantage to do maths a year early. In my opinion that is a much better approach than just being entered early in an 'exam factory' as a friend who teaches in a Bucks grammar described her school.

wigglybeezer Thu 13-Dec-12 22:39:46

Hi, prettybird, I actually meant to post my missive further up the thread but got called away before hitting the post message button, it is rather out of place.

I was interested to hear about your son and the rugby school, I got caught out by that; got DS1 into an out of catchment school with a superior reputation, and then the school we rejected got made into a rugby school. DS1 has turned out to not be an academic high flyer but is naturally talented at rugby, hindsight is a marvellous thing.

I don't know why we bother going on these threads, very few actually want to hear about real, tested alternatives, just have their own opinions validated. They prefer to ignore us up here in the "wilds" ...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 13-Dec-12 22:43:34

I agree LaV

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 22:46:38

"I agree mint I think in far too many comps the huge emphasis is to pull as many pupils as possible up to a C, because that is what they're assessed on."

No they aren't. They are assessed on the progress each individual child makes. Even my ds's high school ( not even comprhnsive) would be judged by OFsTED to have failed him if he only got Cs

prettybird Thu 13-Dec-12 22:50:52

grin. Never let real experience get in the way of prejudice! hmm

To be fair, ds' school already had a good reputation if people bothered to look and we were already going to put in a placing request; the fact that it was in the process of becoming a School of Rugby was an added bonus.

He got his School of Rugby training kit finally yesterday. He's very proud of it. smile

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 22:56:14

*"seeker I'm sure that the top set at a properly setted comprehensive would have virtually zero behaviour/discipline issues...

But, what about the school as a whole ?

You know, when the pupils are doing shared lessons such as PE/Art/sports etc. Or when they're at break times, or queing in the cafe or using the library etc, etc. Or just using the loos or walking between lessons.

Because at the properly setted comprehensive you are going to have the pupils who don't give a toss about their schooling, or doing homework, or passing exams. There will be pupils for whom studying, working hard, behaving properly in the school environs is seen as crap and nerdy and pathetic.*

And there we have it. The reason people want grammar schools is to keep their children away from the plebs. Thank God for some honesty at last.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 23:02:29

What age do they transfer to secondary prettybird?

Increasingly our comprehensives are becoming specialist schools - languages, technology etc. but in my opinion the age of 10/11 is too soon to decide which option would best suit your child. E.g. my son is an engineer, but I wouldn't have known that was the way he was going to go at age 10. I think you could say by the age of 14 that it was clear this was where his abilities lay, so we would want to look for a school which was particularly strong in science and maths.

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 23:14:08

Anyway. I can't cope with any more of this. I am just too miserable about it all since going to the grammar school Carol Service in a beautiful cathedral with chamber choir, vocal ensemble, string quartet, local dignitaries reading in the lessons and a huge sense of entitlement, and knowing that because of how they performed on two days in September when they were 10, 77% of those children's peers will never have the opportunity to do anything like that. They'll sing a few carols in the hall. Because that's good enough for them. They are mostly working class, many of them are poor- what's the point of broadening their horizons, they'll only keep coal in them. Much better to keep th fine things of life for the privileged, they appreciqte them so much more.
Goodnight all.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 13-Dec-12 23:14:34

May the lord protect us from the cafe queue kids .... Sicking up like something out of Little Britain here.

exoticfruits Thu 13-Dec-12 23:15:11

It would make sense at 14 to separate into academic, practical, technical, vocational etc but I can't see why it wouldn't all be in the same school.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 13-Dec-12 23:15:48

Oh seeker that is crap. I'm really sorry: bear in mind perhaps that carol services are bastardly emotive at the best of times x

exoticfruits Thu 13-Dec-12 23:17:21

I think that the carol service shows exactly what is wrong with selective education.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 23:23:33

And indeed Seeker, how does a VR and an NVR test at 10 show whether your child will have a good voice or be able to play an instument?

prettybird Thu 13-Dec-12 23:24:15

Roughly the same age as in England - after 7 years in Primary (but our first year is the equivalent of Reception). The only difference is that our cut-off date is March and not September and you also have the opportunity to properly defer if your not-yet-5-year old is not ready for school yet (as in, the only start in P1 the following year and end up being the oldest in their class. (In practice, only January/February and maybe December babies are deferred).

So ds, although he is a September baby and technically right in the "middle" of the year, is actually at the younger end of the year. He is 12 and is in S1 - so directly equivalent to the English system.

Secondary is 6 years but you do have the option of going to Uni after 5th year (now called S5) - as I did. But Scottish Honours degrees are 4 years (although at the Uni I went to, you got an MA for your efforts smile)

exoticfruits Thu 13-Dec-12 23:29:45

Why don't the secondary modern get to go to the cathedral with all the dignitaries? They could at least take turns alternate years but I suspect it will be exactly the same next year, and the one after. Strange that if you pass an academic exam you have a better singing voice!

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Dec-12 23:31:39

Why isn't it a joint carol service? That would be the obvious solution and a much less 'us and them' atmosphere in the area.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 23:33:49

prettybird - there does seem to be much that we could learn from the Scottish system. I suspect that it's a case of 'not invented here' which stops us from doing so.

MordionAgenos Thu 13-Dec-12 23:34:23

@seeker Sorry, but that doesn't wash. Once again you are taking a situation completely and utterly personal to you and trying to make it a universal truth. DSs school - a comp - had its carol service in the cathedral last week. 4 diffent choirs, an orchestra and a jazz band. Lots of readings, the bishop. Yada yada yada. DD1's school (grammar) will have a carol service in it's very small local church next week. Church so small that not only can parents not attend but neither can the whole school either. Dd1 will be there since in choir. I won't be. I've never been to a carol service at her school and I never will unless things change. Which is gutting for me since I'm all about Xmas and I'm all about the music. And her school sings decent carols whereas we don't at our church and they don't at DSs school and they don't at DD2's school (carol service took place in school, we missed it since she was sick).

Anyway, to sum up. Not all grammar schools get to do their carol services in cathedrals. Some comps do. There is no universal rule.

Pyrrah Thu 13-Dec-12 23:37:56

Why can the SM organise a carol service in the Cathedral?

What is so special about GS teachers that they can organise it and SM teachers can't?

Pyrrah Thu 13-Dec-12 23:38:28

Why CAN'T...

seeker Thu 13-Dec-12 23:38:42

I made the mistake of looking qt this again before I went to bed.

"Anyway, to sum up. Not all grammar schools get to do their carol services in cathedrals. Some comps do. There is no universal rule"
You make my case for me. Grammars and comprehensives might. But find me a Secondary modern that does.

MordionAgenos Thu 13-Dec-12 23:44:57

Well, like I said, DD1s grammar DOESN'T have a carol service in a cathedral. sad

And while DSs school is called a comp, since it is 11-16 and there are huge numbers of private schools in the city in which we live, I don't think it is by any means a true comp.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 23:45:08

The problem here seeker is that most of us don't know where MordionAgenos is based, so we don't know whether she is talking of a comprehensive or a Kent 'comprehensive'.

exoticfruits Thu 13-Dec-12 23:45:16

It would make sense to make it a joint effort with the musical DCs from both schools.

LaVolcan Thu 13-Dec-12 23:45:53


MordionAgenos Thu 13-Dec-12 23:46:11

@seeker the only case you are making - which you have done very successfully, I'll grant you, is that your DSs school is really crap. But that doesn't say anything about selective education. All it says is that the SMT and governors at your DSs school should be shown the door.

Pyrrah Thu 13-Dec-12 23:50:38

But the sad thing is that the SM's are failing their children by not doing this.

It is purely a lack of interest at the level of the HT.

Unfortunately a lot of the Kent SM's seem to think that they can just say 'woe is us, all our bright kids have been nabbed by the grammars so we will resign ourselves to being 2nd rate at everything', instead of realising that actually they have got plenty of bright DCs including the just-misseds and those who didn't sit the 11+ for political/philosophical reasons.

Plenty of kids who wouldn't even nearly pass the 11+ are exceptionally gifted at singing, dancing, acting, sports etc. All you need for a choir is an interested staff member and a group of keen kids, you don't need expensive instruments even. Very, very wrong that they are not being provided for.

I hope you will be going in to find out from the HT why they are not more aspirational for their pupils? Perhaps a letter to the governors? I am not joking here btw, I am deadly serious - because if I was in your shoes and saw the difference in provision for my children with something that did not depend on a large cohort with superior academic ability then I would be furious as well as sad.

APMF Fri 14-Dec-12 01:49:14

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seeker Fri 14-Dec-12 07:05:07

The trouble is that unless you have actually experienced it you can have no idea of the impact of dividing children up like this at 10. I use music as an example because it happens to be our family's "thing"
You walk into a year 7 assembly at the grammar school and say "Anyone with grade 3 or above and wants to be in an orchestra come to B block at lunchtime." then they pick the one's with grade 5 and above for the chamber group, and the rest are the yeqr 7 orchestra. Other kids hear them practicing and want to join so they ask their parents for music lessons, and their parents can afford to pay for them. Other kids think "I hate that sort of music, but I wonder if someone will help me form a rock band/barber's shop/skiffle band/pop group" all the music staff has to put in is expertise and time. Which they do, in spades- but they have the material to work with. And if they ask for help from parents, there's a wealth of talent and expertise to call on.

Ask the same question at the high school, and you get 3 kids. Yes, there will be loads with talent, but very few who've had the opportunity to do anything with that talent. And there is a BIG difference between starting an orchestra or a choir with a substantial core of people who've done it before, and doing it with a group of absolute beginners. Particularly absolute beginners who have no idea what people their age can do, because there is no year 8 rock band or string quartet of recorder ensemble playing at assembly. It can be done, of course, but it's a huge undertaking. And frankly, I wouldn't blame a teacher who didn't want to put the commitment of their own time unpaid into doing it.

So I repeat. I think my son's school is an excellent one^of it's type^ I think my daughter's school is an excellent one- of it's type. I just think they are destructive and inequitable types. The Carol concert last night really crystallised my view. We are a town with significant social deprivation. The congregation, readers and other participants were most definitely the town's "Upstairs". No "Downstairs" in sight. Unless you count my ds- and he was in disguise, so nobody would have known! (For the avoidance of doubt, I have thought this every year at the Carol concert, but now I am living the divide, not just observing it)

And yes I will be challenging ds's school about it's music and drama- I thought I'd let ds get his feet under the table and gather my facts first. But this is not primarily an issue about the individual school- which is fighting hard to raise its image in the town, and had improved its exam results exponentially in the last couple of years. It is an issue about the system. I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that this is something you just can't understand unless you have experienced it. And posts last night about canteen queues reinforce that belief.

It would be really nice if the phrases "sour grapes" "you just want to dumb down education for everyone", "you obviously hate your ds's school" your want to take away other people's choices because your ds is unhappy" (he isn't) aren't used in any replies people feel like posting. Because they aren't true.

Anyway. Sorry for the essay. I won't be around much today, so it's not because I'm not prepared to field the brickbats. I'll do that this evening.

APMF Fri 14-Dec-12 07:29:18

seeker: I sympathise with you. Music is our 'family thing' as well. Both DCs are in the senior orchestra where the standard is G5 minimum. Last night we went to the school carol service at a certain cathedral which was attended by the mayor. As a parent I can understand why you want your DS to have these experiences. [takes off Be Nice To Seeker t-shirt]

But your motivation seems to be that you are not happy being in school with lots of poor as opposed to campaigning for equality in society. You want to get your kid into the rich school while at the same time having a go at GS parents for deserting the SM.

APMF Fri 14-Dec-12 07:50:19

... elsewhere you hinted at the fact that you can afford to go private but you don't because of your principles. Well, why don't you take that money and move houses? Your principles remain intact. Problem solved.

MordionAgenos Fri 14-Dec-12 07:57:11

Seeker, as I keep trying to explain to you, this particular gripe of yours, which I can completely understand because I'm having slightly similar issues from the other direction, is NOT due to the system it's due to the individual schools in your town. The music at DSs comp (and at least one of the other comps in the city which is in practically every other way atrocious) is miles better than the music at the grammar. Certainly in breadth of opportunity and importance attached to it within the school. The drama is exponentially better. The music at the grammar is far from bad. It's good. But the music at the comps is great, it really is (and of course some of the peris are the same). Not so sure about the drama comparison, But given that the poor grammar kids got half a term of it before choosing their options, compared to it being a fully timetabled subject from Y7 with several school plays open to anyone (by audition) each year at the comp, I have my suspicions.

I was at the sixth form choices evening at the grammar recently (Dd1 will be choosing her A level options soon). After the third person had characterised music as a good 4th or 5th A level for someone wanting to be a doctor (and of no other conceivable worth) I very nearly Said Something. One day I will Say Something but it will probably be on my last day as a parent at the school.

But ultimately, this is something I've been aware of all my life practically, ever since I realised that my own school had quite an influx into the 6th form every years of non catholic, former posh school girls wanting to do music A level. Some schools are great at music and some schools just aren't and it isn't to do with the system they are in (posh, comp, grammar, even SM) it's to do with the enthusiasm of the head (not the music staff, they will always be enthusiastic) and the governors. And the non music staff.

It really is a shame that your DS isn't getting the opportunities to do the thing he loves though, but are there no county ensembles/music schools he can go to? I think you should definitely Say Something though, and perhaps become a governor and take it on as your thing. It would be a tremendously worthwhile way to improve the school. It would be a brilliant thing to do really.

Asinine Fri 14-Dec-12 08:01:03

For the nnnnnth time, stop generalising.

Our comp and its feeder primary has excellent music provision. They have orchestra twice a week, (junior and senior) junior and senior bands, wind and brass ensembles, choirs, staff choir, subsidised tuition (free if you're doing GCSE/Alevel), rock school, recitals every term for all pupils learning an instrument, Saturday music centre which itself has lots of orchestras, ensembles and bands. The staff are dedicated, we have a beautiful carol concert in church, with readings. I could go on, but you get the idea. My own comp as a child had a Cathedral carol concert, again a high standard of music, I was mentored by a fantastic comp teacher and played in adult chamber orchestras and university orchestras as a child. There are no limits at a good comp.

It can be done. As I have said on other threads, Waterloo Road is a drama, not a model of comprehensive education.

Asinine Fri 14-Dec-12 08:09:55

Great post Mordion

Some of the academically brightest in our dcs school go on to music colleges; it is considered a serious subject. At my own comp, they steered you into Medicine if you had 6As.

As I said, you can't generalise.

MordionAgenos Fri 14-Dec-12 08:10:44

@Asinine that sounds much like DSs comp and the comp I attended too (although we always did our Xmas concert in the Fairfield Halls. There's no cathedral in Croydon. Also, even if there had been, we prob wouldn't have been allowed in since we were a catholic school).

One major difference - my own music lessons were always free (Croydon had a thing aout music, I think that eventually fees for lessons were introduced when I was in the 3rd or 4th year at secondary but we never had to pay, the school covered my lessons because well, my parents would never have been able to pay). But neither DS nor either of the DDs get their music lessons for free sad The assisted purchase scheme is quite handy though (DD1 just got a conservatoire standard flute and the VAT on something at that end of the price range is worth getting back,oh yes).

APMF Fri 14-Dec-12 08:38:55

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Asinine Fri 14-Dec-12 08:47:46

It was at Seeker, sorry if not clear.

77% of children will never...etc etc...

seeker Fri 14-Dec-12 09:54:41

Briefly back - responses in mo particular order.

I was aware as I ranted that the fact that I was using music as an example would be a distraction. The important point of my post was the "Upstairs Downstairs" element of the evening. Which was underlined by the poster who basically said they didn't want their child in the canteen queue with the sort of people who go to my ds's school.

I am not generalising about comprehensives, because I am not talking about a comprehensive. I am talking about a high school. Last year it had around 10 kids in around 160 year 7s with any 5s at SATS at al. That is not comprehensive.

A personal point. We cannot move for reasons which I won't go into. And yes, my ds's musical and other cultural needs are being met elsewhere- usually, but not always willingly! Because we know how to do this. Many don't.

But the thing which I find most depressing and soul destroying about this debate is that people find it impossible to believe that for me it is not about my son. He is, so far, being well served academically by the school. And we can provide him with all the other opportunities he needs. But the school is full of children who don't have his advantages. It is those children I am talking about. My child will be fine. Many of the others have been dealt a crap hand in life and failing the 11+ is just one more reason for them to believe they deserve no better.

It's not all about looking after Number One.

And I wasn't actually going to pick out individual comments, but I didn't know whether to laugh or cry or both at - "But your motivation seems to be that you are not happy being in school with lots of poor as opposed to campaigning for equality in society. You want to get your kid into the rich school while at the same time having a go at GS parents for deserting the SM." How anyone can read anything I have ever posted about anything and think that was my motivation makes me despair. And want to howl with frustration and rrqge.

MordionAgenos Fri 14-Dec-12 10:12:36

Seeker I do not believe that it's not now 100% about your son for you. The reason I do not believe this is that you continually being your son into the discussion. There are opponents of grammar schools who are disinterested. You are not disinterested. It's not surprising and I don't in any way think it's wrong. But your continued refusal to consider aspects of the GS system that are not 'Kent' makes it very clear to me that it is all about your son for you. If it was about GSs in general you wouldn't only focus on Kent.

I still take issue with you claiming that your son's SM is so very different from my sons comp, too. While it is true that the SSGS has only 'taken' 5 or fewer pupils away from the comp, the huge number of local independents (many of which are chucking money at low income bright kids to go there to bump up their results) and the fact that there are 11-18 comps in two neighbouring towns means that the kids in the city comps top sets probably aren't that different from the kids in your DS's school top sets.

The situation in your town does sound awful and it sounds to me as if the education system in that town has been co-opted into an already existing rigid social geographical framework. It sounds like there is a lot more wrong with where you live than just the education system (and lack of decent football team). In my city, there is no defined 'good bit' or 'bad bit'. All the communities are mixed. The posh bits are outside the city, posh villages, and I don't know about them. But in the city there really are no areas or even individual roads which are 100% posh. This is partly because of being bombed in the war, partly because of lunatic redevelopment and mainly because it's a university city and practically every single road has HMOs. I think this makes a difference to attitudes - in a good way.

seeker Fri 14-Dec-12 10:23:21

mordion- I can't win, really. If I didn't use my children as examples, then people would rightly say "What the hell do you know about it?" You may have noticed that when I don't mention my children somebody else does!

I don't know as much about the system outside Kent, so I can't make informed comments on it. However, I have been persuaded that there might be an argument for the super super selecives, so I'm not as rigid as you think. I don't "refuse" to consider grammar schools outside Kent- I try not to comment on things don't know anything about.

Out of interest, how many year 7s at level 5 does your ds's school have?

pickledsiblings Fri 14-Dec-12 10:30:17

seeker, at our local comprehensive even the work that the top set were doing was ridiculously low level compared to what my DD is doing at her academically selective school.

MordionAgenos Fri 14-Dec-12 10:37:53

@seeker it's not about winning. There's nothing wrong with being concerned about something because it affects you directly.I might well care less about the provision for kids like DD1 (highly academic, top 1% on IQ testing but with serious SEN issues which mean that she would have a much less good outcome if she went to the comp, despite the fact that they seem to value performing arts a bit more than her own school) if I didn't actually see at first hand the challenges she faces. The only thing that is a bit dodgy is continually claiming you aren't biased and you are disinterested, when you are clearly neither. I have a lot of sympathy with your own situation, and I don't think that the system in Kent is either sensible or fair. FWIW. I do object to you repeatedly claiming that those of us who support some sort of GS provision 'don't care' about 'the 77%'.

As for DSs school - I have no idea. I do know that he is top set maths and he got a 4A in his Y6 SATs. He should have easily got a 5 in terms of his maths ability but his SEN issues make written tests quite challenging for him, even though he did get extra time. He is second set English and he got a 4B in English overall but his writing was 3A (the school reckoned the person marking couldn't read his handwriting, he had been predicted a 4B for that element )- while his speaking and listening or whatever they call it was 5B. Like DD1, DS has been through a barrage of testing connected with his SEN issues and all the results are the same - top 1% of ability. But his issues have hindered him far more than hers have and I could do a big hair tearing shirt rending thing about how unfair it all is that he isn't getting identical opportunities to her - but he isn't her. He's doing really well at his own school, despite missing so much time with whooping cough last year and he is happy. And he feels like he is doing well. Increased confidence has lead to improved performance - there's currently a virtuous circle effect going on. I think it's very important that he never for one moment believed we thought that the comp was some kind of bad alternative to the GS - he wanted to go there, he knew DD1 was different but that didn't make him feel bad. He is however definitely now thriving from being in an environment where all the teachers don't compare him to his sister.

Yellowtip Fri 14-Dec-12 10:52:45

I think the attitude towards Music at A2 has to be separated from the quality of the extra curricular musical life of a school though Mordion. I don't think the A Level thing necessarily denotes a lack of interest at all. More a glum acceptance of the status quo for university entrance. Of course if music generally is languishing at a school then that clearly means more. If you look at schools which are renowned for being fabulously musical but academic with highly aspirational students and parents, both in the independent sector as well as state, you'll see that very, very few take Music at A Level or Pre-U. Thus Winchester only had 7 taking Music Pre-U in 2012. Tiffin Girls' had 6. Etc. I agree it's a very great shame. But of course the talented musicians will be pursuing their music alongside their A Level stuff.

DD2 was clear that she wanted Art to be one of only 3 A2s. She's in the gifted category I'd say but had no intention of going to Art college or pursuing it as a career. Nevertheless she loved it, it was time consuming and she wanted the time to do it properly. We were warned that it was a risky strategy because we had to be warned - but she was adamant and I was completely in agreement that for her it was right. That meant we then took on the risk. As it happened her Art proved a real bonus in her applications, partly because of the way she approached it, but I can see that the school couldn't reasonably foresee how things would shape up and were right to flag up the risk.

MordionAgenos Fri 14-Dec-12 11:03:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MordionAgenos Fri 14-Dec-12 11:06:16

Actually, I'm not going to say any more about this because its not relevant to the thread really.

APMF Fri 14-Dec-12 12:45:32

Re parent in the canteen line, some MC people can be prats, some WC people can be prats. It doesn't mean ALL MC/WC people are prats. Being a prat knows no socio economical boundaries.

A lot of the problems you've described is down to the fact that you live in a deprived area (your words) as opposed to an inherent problem with the GS system. I don't doubt other SMs have a thriving music scene. I don't doubt they had carol service at the local church. All of this has nothing to do with your DS being at a SM.

If your rant was about social inequality and how the rich are getting richer and how we, as a country, aren't doing enough to help the poor then that would be a valid argument. But that has little to do with GSs.

If your rant was about how DS was getting an inferior education then that would be a valid argument. But since you said that you are happy with his progress, that is not an issue.

What you seem to be saying is that the MC families should merge with your school just so that your DS isn't the one in a sea of non-musical WC children. It's hardly a case for depriving people the right to choose a selective education.

MordionAgenos Fri 14-Dec-12 12:48:49

Musicality isn't actually confined to class. Opportunity is a different matter, but even then, I come from a very musical working class family who were able to take advantage of opportunity and know of many many other similar families. I also know of many completely tin eared WC and MC families. And some really properly posh ones too.

APMF Fri 14-Dec-12 13:11:13

seeker: We spend about £25k a year on school fees. We spend another £7k on school trips, music courses, sport activities etc. This is more than the gross income of many of the families at your school. In this respect, some of the kids are dealt 'a crap hand' in that they aren't born into a family that can afford to nurture their music/sport interests like we do.

However, I don't accept that going to a SM is by default being 'dealt a crap hand'. In your case, you was singing the school's praises and went on about how the school dramatically improved the literacy of the many year 7 kids that were 2 years behind at the start. In what way is this being dealt a crap hand?

In their parents minds not having a carol service at a posh church is not a crap hand. Neither is not having music lessons a crap hand.

This thing about the children feeling like failures is, I suspect, more of a reflection of what is going on inside your head than an accurate assessment of what goes on in others. Frankly, if I could barely read, do I really care that I'm bring illiterate at a SM and not at a comp?

Xenia Fri 14-Dec-12 13:23:12

It is interesting how many of us are into music - it is our family's thing too and we have those into music on the thread who like me have had / have three sons at academic selective private schools with music scholarships, comps and grammars and secondary moderns.

Obviously some women choose careers which mean they cannot afford school fees and thus damage their children etc arguably or the opposite argument - you could afford fees but choose not to pay them because your precious darlings so improve the state system than their rosy glow rubs off on the less well off children (an argument I never understood).

I think I posted last Christmas about the absolutely ludicrous joint music even between our prep school and 3 local state schools who came together in the streets. It was just absolutely embarrassingly disgustingly useless every single item the state school did - why can't poor children sing proper music. This is not about money. It is about putting in work and ensuring that the state school teachers are prepared to tolerate classical music. This is not about instruments or paying for lessons. It's about voice. There is no reason on earth our local state school children cannot sing in parts in latin except for low expectations and totally dumbing down in the state sector (in that example last Christmas, obviously not in all schools and Bucks and other bits near London have some of the best grammars in the country).

rabbitstew Fri 14-Dec-12 13:25:13

I guess my issue with the grammar school system in Kent is that, as o