If you're in favour of a return to grammar schools (and secondary moderns) what percentages would you choose?

(95 Posts)
camilamoran Sun 09-Dec-12 21:06:05

Those of you who are in favour of return to grammar schools - what proportion would you have in your new grammar schools?

IIRC when I did the 11+ about 20% went to grammar school. At that time about 10% went to university. Getting into grammar school did not mean you were university material - it created the pool from which the university students were selected.

Now, we have more professional and white collar jobs than we did then. And also, more of those jobs now require a degree. So there are more of us going to university - about a third at the moment I think.

So if we brought in new grammars - would that be for 30% of children? 50%?

So would we end up with a non-elitist grammar school? Wouldn't that be pointless for people who want grammar schools back as an alternative to independents, or those who believe they help social mobility by picking up kids at 11 and inducting them into a higher social class?

Theas18 Sun 09-Dec-12 21:21:28

Not sure. Difficult as superselective grammars have been bril for my kids ..

Actually ,knowing a wide range of kids through work as well as the immediate mates of my 3 I might do it the other way round and spilt at year 9-10 into and academic and vocational ( maybe evn workplace based some of the time) stream. They can still have intensive literacy/Maths work - these kids are often struggling in these areas.

The non academic kids get disillusioned at 13/14, or esrlier If we have to keep these kids engaged in education till 18 ( rather than them truanting and parents bing prosecuted for it etc) we have to do something differently.

My elderly father used to teach the " remedial class" 1950s through to ealy 80s. He was sure that heavily academic expectations and trying to force his boys to do what the could do/didn't have any interest in was pointless ( this was in mixed 7-11 schools . Interesting his classes were almost all boys-they were probably ADHD he thinks.

Give the disillusioned kids an education that suits tem best, rather than trying to teach them French when they are still working on English might mean they get a better education and kids like one who need/ want an academic education are more able to learn too.

NulliusInBlurba Sun 09-Dec-12 21:29:57

We could maybe do a comparison with the German system, which is almost entirely selective at the age of 10 to 11 (but because children start school later, this is after year 4). Most of the federal states (which have independent education policies) have a three-tier system, and somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent would go to the grammar school equivalent, the Gymnasium. However, the first year is a trial year, and anyone whose grades are inadequate during that time can be sent to the middle, less academic school form. But this is fairly rare, and here in Berlin around 40 percent of children do go to grammar school and get their A-level equivalent - and the standard of education expected of my DD1 in year 9 is way above anything I was doing for O-level at the same age in the UK.
So if a percentage that high can cope with an academic syllabus in Germany, why would it not be possible in the UK?
And given that in Finland 90 percent of a year group go on to get the university entrance certificate (A-level equivalent), shouldn't we all be thinking of ways to make this possible instead of re-introducing inequality at a stupidly early age.

"inducting them into a higher social class" confused I want my children to get a good education so they can lead fulfilling, interesting, comfortable lives in the way that best suits them, not as a form of social climbing. Anyone who genuinely believes the 'social inducting' argument doesn't deserve to be taken seriously, surely?

NamingOfParts Sun 09-Dec-12 21:32:36

I'm not in favour of education going backwards. IMO there has never been a golden age of education.

If we had the chance to start again then we should really think about what we want education to achieve. In a simplistic sense then this means each year needs to turn out X number of butchers/bakers/plumbers/lawyers/accountants etc. Now of course these people arent going to tumble out of school and fall into these roles. Their education needs to leave them capable of taking on the training for these roles.

You need an education system which doesnt treat non-academic skills as failure. Equally you need a system which doesnt just applaud talent from the sidelines but actively nurtures it.

You need a system which doesnt pigeonhole. You need to avoid an 'all or nothing' exam at age 11. Some people develop much later. Some are early developers who then dont continue with that development.

You need a system which allows people who are learning trade skills to also study poetry and art (or whatever). You need a system which allows the academic to also show off their woodworking talents.

Please dont let us be dragged back to the 'know your place' tyranny of the past.

LittenTree Sun 09-Dec-12 21:38:51

Quite, naming.

GSs are great for those who 'get in'; SMs can damage a DC for life.

Until there is a sea-change in attitude regarding academia and non academia in this country, we cannot have a grown up discussion about it, really!

NamingOfParts Sun 09-Dec-12 21:54:32

Interesting LittenTree - my DH said exactly that - GS is great if you get in. I would add also if you fit in. My DM said that her parents argued and appealed her into GS but found that she simply couldnt deal with that academic level.

Comprehensive is the way forward, we just need to make it work. They need to stream for every subject and this needs to be active not passive. It needs to be possible for students to pass between groups as they struggle and succeed.

For those students who are heading more toward trade skills there needs to be support to ensure that literacy and numeracy skills are nailed on. There also needs to be talent spotting. We need to be looking out for those students who will be designers of the future.

MoreBeta Sun 09-Dec-12 22:00:15

I think 25% which is roughly the proportion we should have in University.

DS1 would pass 11+ but DS2 probably would not under that scheme. I think DS1 definitely should go to uni but DS2 I think should do a more vocational qualification.

My view is that having schools that are unashamedly academic for very bright children is just as important as having academy status schools for children who are gifted at sports or music or drama or art.

ReallyTired Sun 09-Dec-12 22:01:09

The school I want to send my son to has children complete keystage 3 in either 2, 3 or 4 years depending on levels of numeracy and literacy. Often low academic levels are caused by social problems rather than academic problems.

Vocational and academic courses should be open to all. If a child with low NC levels want to do an academic course at keystage 4 they may have to spend longer in key stage 3 getting to a suitable standard.

noblegiraffe Sun 09-Dec-12 22:10:05

Statistically, if you attempt to predict academic achievement at 16 by achievement on some sort of test at 11 (e.g. CATs which are considered one of the best predictors at about 0.7 correlation between achievement at age 11 and 16) and use the results of those tests to send the top 25% at 11 off to a grammar school, then 22% of students will end up in the wrong school. We cannot predict much more accurately than that who the top 25% at age 16 will be.

LittenTree Sun 09-Dec-12 22:21:01

See, beta- I don't get why 'the clever kids' need to be physically separated from the less clever. My DSs comp is 'unashamedly academic' in that it produces the best GCSE results (real ones, not equivalents!) in the county but it also does a very good BTEC (correct spelling?) in performing arts, for instance. They also reward good effort more conspicuously than high achievement!

The advantages of a good comp is that a DC can do Maths 'A' level at 12, but also be taught wood tech seriously by a chap who will also gets some kids into woodworking apprenticeships.

I think we have to get over that psychological barrier that 'less clever' automatically means 'less well behaved', and that somehow the more academic will be 'contaminated' by the vocational.

Your post sort of enhances what I said- that we cannot have an adult conversation about this in this country due to our blind bias in favour of 'the academic' over 'the non-academic/ vocational'.

As an aside, what we do need are bigger schools that can offer the widest range of subjects.

Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 22:41:24

I would go for 25%, but I would change the exam and move it to 13.

I did CE at 13 and won a place at a grammar school in Kent via that. CE has papers in all subjects - the VR I actually didn't realise we had sat as it just got shoved in as a 'quiz' one morning.

It meant that if you were crap at maths but outstanding at history, geography, English, French etc it could be taken into account. Likewise the mathematicians could let the English slide a bit. I still had to get 75% average across the board to win a place.

Obviously this would require a lot more work in terms of marking, and it wouldn't prevent people tutoring (I will hold my hands up and say that my parents paid for a hot-housing prep-school for 4 years because they couldn't afford an indie at secondary level and the local comps were truly dire).

It would also require an extra 2 years in primary schools.

The non-grammars should then cater for the full-range: top sets for those children who either didn't wish to sit for the grammar or those who didn't get a place but are still academic - could give many children who wouldn't otherwise have the chance the possibility of shining... which can only be good for confidence and inspiring greater effort and attainment.

There should be an option for children who score particularly well at GCSE to move at 16 to the grammar for A-levels should they so wish. And for those who aren't really thriving at the grammar to move the other way.

Perhaps there could be ways that certain subjects could be taught together - a bit like the all-girls indies sometimes pair up with the all-boys indies for some things.

For the less academic there should be intensive teaching on things like English and Maths, with the curriculum directed at the workplace... sod quadratic equations, lets just have the kind of skills you might need in an office or as a builder for example.

For those who are really unenamoured by school there should be lots of practical training.

Above all, lots of money into everything - and especially at the lower end.

The whole failure/success things is a British issue that just doesn't seem to happen in other countries to the same extent. No idea how to solve that, just seems a big shame and very sad.

Anyway... that is my idea for a good system that includes grammar schools.

noblegiraffe Sun 09-Dec-12 22:47:42

How could the non-grammars cater for the full range when the top 25% have been creamed off and sent elsewhere, Pyrrah? That does actually have an effect on the kids left behind. A top set of maths kids where they're all aiming for As and A*s is a very different atmosphere to a top set of maths kids where a couple of lonely kids are working towards the top grades on their own and there's a spread of the rest down to C grade.

noblegiraffe Sun 09-Dec-12 22:58:37

Anyway, talking about vocational subjects, James Dyson was in the news lately for donating a substantial sum of money to school technology departments to spend on the latest equipment in the hope of inspiring young engineers.

Engineering is vocational, but it's also not for the less academic. Would you have this money go to the secondary moderns, or to the grammars? Wouldn't it be better to have all students, both academically and practically minded (and the two aren't exclusive!) to benefit from this sort of initiative?

The problem with vocational education is that a lot of people see it as something for the less able. Yet you don't want an electrician or a plumber who can't do maths or science, or an aircraft engineer who isn't highly skilled in many areas.

NamingOfParts Sun 09-Dec-12 23:04:38

noblegiraffe I think you highlight the problem. I think that the creation of GS then creates the essential problem of small schools. By working on a comprehensive model you have a substantial community of students to call on for all classes. The top set for maths/english/history/woodwork contains the top whatever else they are doing. This means that the student who is truly excellent only at history can be in the top set for history even if they are in the bottom set for everything else.

I do not agree with separating students off from each other. By doing so there is a huge restriction on mobility. Even broad brush streaming can do this. In my school it was practically impossible to move between the academic stream and the vocational stream. Once your foot was set on a particular path then that was where you stayed.

teacherwith2kids Sun 09-Dec-12 23:33:17

The same proportion, or less, than currently go to SEN Special Schools - because the only argument for a 'school for the brightest' is a special educational one, that such schools are for those who are so far from the 'norm' that they cannot be educated in mainstream schools.

Actually, the proportion is probably even lower than for SEN Special Schools, because the latter cater for a wide variety of different SENs - visual impairment, mental handicap, behavuioural difficulties - whereas the SEN of 'being exceptionally intelligent' is equivalent to only 1 of these IYSWIM.

equally, the assessment of children to go to such schools should be by assessment and Statementing of special need in the same way as for SEN Special Schools. Exceptional intelligence - at the 1 in 10,000 sort of level defined in books such as 'Exceptionally Gifted Children' - IS a special educational need and needs special provision, but it is also exceptionally rare.

For children who are clever but remain educable in mainstream with appropriate differentiation, then mainstream provision in the form of comprehensive schools should be fine, in the same way as children with less acute SENs thrive in mainstream schools with appropriate differentiation and support.

teacherwith2kids Sun 09-Dec-12 23:41:24

Percentage of children in Special Schools is around 1% according to some figures I just found.

So the number of children NEEDING a Special School for the most able would be less than 1%, possibly as low as 0.1% - and it may be that most of those children would only need to attend for some lessons e.g. through being exceptionally able in one area of the curriculum such as Maths, but needing mainstream provision for other subjects.

teacherwith2kids Sun 09-Dec-12 23:45:31

(I should, perhaps, declare that I know one of those '1 in 10,000 or more' type children well, though I am not related to them. They are as clearly 'different' from the norm as a child who has a mental handicap that puts them at the 1 iin 10,000 group at the other end of the ability spectrum - and they are also clearly different from your averagely 'bright' child that a parent might see as 'benefitting from a grammar school education')

MoreBeta Mon 10-Dec-12 08:16:02

LittenTree - you ask a very fair question about why we need to physically segregate the academically able from the less academically able. We don't. We just need to stream.

In fact I think we could take a lot of the heat and the stigma out of the grammar school versus comprehensive debate by not physically segregating but just by aggressive streaming within schools.

My own children go to a private secondary school that is selective but takes its cohort of children from the academic ability range which is at the national average and above. In other words top 50% of the ability range. It does cater for SEN like dyslexia and dyscalcula as well. It has excellent sport, drama, music, art and extra curricular. It is not just about academic achievement but it does stream for Maths and English in Yr 7 and above and gradually streams other subjects like modern languages as children move up the year groups.

Dispruptive pupils are excluded though. It is absolutely forbidden for a single/few pupils to stop other children in the class learning by being disruptive.

In my view, my children's school is perhaps what a 'modern grammar school' should look like. Mildly selective, streamed and excludes children that are disruptive but not so overtly academic that it belittles the less academic. We dont have grammar school in our town but if we did I am sure that my children would be going to a grammar rather than private.

What kind of schooling we provide for the children who fall below the average in the academic ability range is another question and needs equal emphasis. We can't solve teh entuire problem in one type of schol but we dont need to create a grammar elite either.

crazymum53 Mon 10-Dec-12 08:55:18

Don't agree with the idea of returning to a grammar system BUT the idea of a percentage is wrong too. I think that ALL children who achieve the pass mark in the 11+ should be awarded a grammar school place.
It is possible for children at secondary modern schools to go onto university so the posters view that Getting into grammar school did not mean you were university material - it created the pool from which the university students were selected. is also incorrect. Even in the days when everybody took the 11+ exam, a small percentage of non-grammar pupils still went to university and obtained good degrees.

MoreBeta Mon 10-Dec-12 10:22:35

Theas18/Pyrrah - what you said about the transition at 13 yr old is very interesting.

It seems to me that 13+ is probably the age where the need for basic education in Maths and English naturally ends and children do then naturally make the transiton to either an academic or vocational syllabus.

I do wonder if the education system ought to be formally split at 13+ with children/parents choosing at that point to go either academic or vocational routes.

For purely practical purposes children going the vocational route are going to need to go to an educational establishment with more specialist technical facilities that are needed for courses up to NVQ/HND (eg workshops/kitchens) and a timetable that is built around allowing off site work place experience.

Meanwhile those children following the academic route will need more access to say language labs, science labs and only perhaps more limited DT workshops and art rooms.

Things like the type of staff, computer facilities and software will also be quite different in an academic versus vocational teaching facility. In that sense it does make sense to physically segregate academic versus vocational educational establishements.

mumsneedwine Mon 10-Dec-12 10:46:27

Good, proper comprehensives have always offered academic and vocational qualifications side by side (& then get pillared about it in the league tables as all their subjects are not academic !). My brother and I both went to Oxbridge from a big standard Essex comp (first in our family) & loads of my friends went to great Unis to do law etc. However, the richest ex school mate left with no O Levels and became a brickie - he now lives in one of his 5 houses and lets me ride his horses.
Being book clever is great but there is so much more to getting on and enjoying life & a true comp means I have school friends from all walks of life (v useful when you need a plumber at 1am).

ReallyTired Mon 10-Dec-12 10:47:27

"Meanwhile those children following the academic route will need more access to say language labs, science labs and only perhaps more limited DT workshops and art rooms."

Brain surgeons are good with their hands. People who are "good with their hands" aren't necessarily less academic.

I think its important to have good facilties on site for all children. It is the only way to give choice and flexiblity.

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 11:09:18

I'm not sure that outside of the London/SE bubble that most people want testing and an increase in GS. What they do want is a good education for their DC. If we invested properly in education instead of treating it as a political football, this would be possible without writing off the majority of the population through testing.

More why do you want to limit entrance to university to 25%? You do know that we have a lower percentage in HE than many other developed countries don't you?

It is true that many jobs ask for degrees when for previous generations they did not. But if you restrict university places within the UK, without changing the entry requirements for employers all that will happen is the jobs will only be open to graduates from other countries!

rabbitstew Mon 10-Dec-12 11:14:43

Quite a few people were let down at my grammar school because of the total lack of any proper outlet for their practical skills (right through from age 11 to age 18). Not all clever people who have passed the 11 plus and been sent to a grammar school actually want to be academic to the exclusion of all else... or even have particularly good academic skills: clever and academic are not synonymous. In fact, I've known quite a few people who are good academics but not exactly the fastest thinkers in the world...

MoreBeta Mon 10-Dec-12 11:34:47

creamteas - I do question whether we need so many people going to university. The fact that jobs ask for degrees now where they never did in the past probably just reflects the fact that more people go rather than an actual need for a degree to do the job.

In the old days, most clearing banks took a lot of people straight after A Level and put a lot of investment into training them - now they probably ask for people with degrees.

Pyrrah Mon 10-Dec-12 11:45:35

This thread shows why people still want GS and don't entirely trust a comprehensive school to cater for a bright child: http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/1633217-Mixed-ability-teaching

Why should teachers rely on the bright children pulling the not so bright up? Does harnessing a race-horse to a cart-horse really make them both achieve to the best of their abilities?

Children also don't need to learn about social inclusion in the middle of a maths, French or Latin class. They can do that out of school, in PSD or non-academic time.

NamingOfParts Mon 10-Dec-12 12:37:34

But Pyrrah Comprehensive does not have to mean mixed ability classes. A good sized Comp will have sufficient numbers of students to provide full setting from the most able to the least able in any subject.

A good Comp allows a student to excel at both academic and vocational subjects rather than forcing their parents to choose at the age of 11.

Why shouldnt the butcher/baker/plumber also excel at French?

A Comp should not be primarily about social inclusion, it should be about providing the best opportunities for all students in all subjects.

Surely it is highly inefficient to split off whole groups of students into a separate school so that they can be taught separately.

I think teacherwith2kids has nailed it precisely. Only separate out the children who need to be taught separately. Being better than average at a few subjects does not indicate that need.

jeee Mon 10-Dec-12 12:44:30

If your child is in the top 2%, you'll want a 5% grammar school. If your child is in the top 20%, you'll support a 25% grammar system.

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 12:46:20

Exactly naming very few people are equally good at all subjects.

Where you have separate schools, they can't easily cater for this. So if a GS selects for ability in English/Maths there might be very little help available to those who struggle with MFL . Likewise those gifted at MFL could not have access to similar peers if they are at the secondary modern and most of the other good linguists are at the GS.

A good comp that sets in all subjects will help everyone.

NamingOfParts Mon 10-Dec-12 13:02:41

I dont agree jeee, perhaps because I have never experienced GS for myself or my DCs. My oldest DD was able to achieve straight A/A*s at GCSE in her decidedly mediocre comp. I would have liked her to have better teaching but that isnt the same thing as saying I wanted her isolated in some sort of academic ivory tower. A well motivated student can do well wherever they are.

CarlingBlackMabel Mon 10-Dec-12 13:04:50

A comprehensive need not conduct any mixed ability teaching at all. I have never heard parents at Graveney, for example, complaining that the 'racehorses' ( hmm ) in the top streams are held back by the 'carthorses' ( double hmm) in the other streams.

In a comp which uses setting a maths genius can be in a top set for maths but not held back by not being good at English Composition, whereas that student migt not even get into a Gramma and could be left with unfulfilled maths potential in a secndary model. There is no flexibility for subject ability or for changes in a child's ability and potential in the grammar system.

Grammar schools seem an expensive way to pander to competitive parents - put the resources into good genuine comps.

jeee Mon 10-Dec-12 13:12:00

NamingOfParts, I live in Kent. I have found out that rabidly pro-GS parents will do a rapid u-turn if their child fails the 11+. The 'fantastic' educational system that we have in this county looks a little less bright when your child isn't going to the grammar school.

Most people only want grammar schools when their child is sure of a place.

NewFerry Mon 10-Dec-12 13:30:56

I am a great supporter of good comprehensive schools.
But I think we do need to address the needs of the disaffected and the disruptive. It only needs a few in a class to affect the learning in the whole class. I believe that most children are well behaved and are ready to learn, and will give to the best of their ability, but for those who will not, or cannot, then something different has to be provided.

But I don't know what. Certainly more time spent on subjects in which these students are interested and can achieve, but perhaps segregated from the main learning group if they are having a negative affect on the achievement of the majority?

breadandbutterfly Mon 10-Dec-12 14:49:09

I think a figure of about 10% or less would be about right - ie the top 2 or 3 in a class of 30. All the kids in my dcs' primary know/knew who those top pupils are/were and those who got into selective schools were those kids. The kids where it was less obvious that they were bright but just had pushy parents, failed. (And are now doing v well in top sets at comps instead.)

I know parents in grammar areas like Kent object to the figure there of 23% as it removes the top set effectively from other local schools, turning them into secondary moderns. A smaller number - 10% or 5% - would prevent that happening - more akin to what happens in superselective areas.

The downside might be that the very bright kids from more dsadvantaged homes might be less likely to scrape in? as happened routinely in the grammar system of the 1950s and 60s, where i believe 25%+ got places, and which provided an escape route for those kids, out of the poverty they had been born into.

Pyrrah Mon 10-Dec-12 19:01:56

The important thing is a 'good' comprehensive that is large enough to have proper ability setting.

The issues come with school such as those being discussed in the thread I linked to where setting is happening only in a couple of subjects and even then the sets are very mixed ability.

Looking at one of my nearest comprehensives (all girls so the results should be a few percentage points higher I believe), only just over 50% get 5 GCSE's including English and Maths. There are no grammars or selective schools in the area. Not a single student got all A

Pyrrah Mon 10-Dec-12 19:12:01

Not a single student got a run of A grades at GCSE.

Why, if my daughter turns out to follow my husband and I in terms of academic potential, would we want to send her to a school with such a low level of attainment when we went to schools where today 100% of students achieve 9 GCSE's and 75% of students achieve a minimum of 5 A*/A grades and a good handful go to Oxbridge every year (my GS).

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

I would very, very happily send DD to a comprehensive - and be prepared to say that the case of GS didn't exist if there was universal access to a wonderful comprehensive.

One thing I would add is that not all bright children will 'do well anywhere'. There are a fair number of very bright children who will tend to coast and do what they need to get by. Put these children in a high-paced, high-achieving class and they will still try and coast, but will have considerably better results than if they were allowed to coast in a lower achieving class.

seeker Mon 10-Dec-12 19:25:10

"Children also don't need to learn about social inclusion in the middle of a maths, French or Latin class. They can do that out of school, in PSD or non-academic time."

Which is why properly setted comprehensive schools are the way to go. In grammar school aras, the grammar school kids don't learn about social inclusion at all- they just mix with all the other middle class children of university educated parents that populate their classrooms!

Pantofino Mon 10-Dec-12 19:45:24

I went to Grammar School after passing the Kent Test as did my dsis, my dh and both my parents. I come from a totally working class background, and dh and I are a great example of the social mobility aspect that the GSs used to provide. Dh's parents nearly didn't send him due to the cost of the uniform/PE kit etc. My family, whilst poor, were sticklers for the importance of a good education. There was a great social mix when I was there. I had friends whose parents were doctors, solicitors, waitresses, miners etc etc. None of us ever cared. I am really grateful for the opportunity.

Saying all that, these days, with all the tutoring and effective "buying" of places, I think the whole ethos has changed and would prefer to see a decent comprehensive system in place. I don't agree that so many should go to Uni either - would prefer to see better investment in vocational training post 16 and more apprenticeships and in-company training schemes. You don't need a degree at all for a large proportion of jobs.

Pyrrah Mon 10-Dec-12 19:52:02

What is the situation in areas that don't have GS, and don't have selective indies, but do have a lot of faith secondaries?

I can see how comprehensives could work incredibly well in towns with only a couple of schools taking pupils from a wide area and hence equally wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and abilities . How would this work in some of the areas of London where high density of population could mean the cohorts don't have anything like as much of a range?

Or is it just a case that parents will opt for selection by postcode in ever increasing numbers?

(apologies for the lots of little posts - I must keeping pressing something that makes it post rather than move to a new line).

I don't know about GS at the moment, but there were a very large number of children at the GS I was at back in the mid-80's who were not very MC at all and who were the first in their family to go to anything but the local comp and definitely the first to go to University....

Has this helped fuel the desire for GS educations? A majority of the those who benefited in the 1970's and 1980's now wanting the same thing for their children - who are now of course the children of the middle-class graduates.

NamingOfParts Mon 10-Dec-12 20:40:09

I would be interested to see some statistics on how many students were genuinely lifted out of poverty by GS education. Both my and DH's parents knew of people who had been unwilling or unable to take up GS places whether because of not wanting to be parted from friends or not being able to afford the uniform, transport or the other 'extras'.

Comprehensive schools are much better positioned to avoid these simple pitfalls.

I dont see why comprehensives cant work in both city and small town settings. One of the problems that I see where there are a number of schools serving different communities is that some of the problems will be specific to the particular community and therefore the school. However I dont see why this has to be used as an excuse for providing people who live in poor areas with a poor education.

Why is there an obsession with segregation in education? I said upstream that well motivated students can do well anywhere (not will, can). If the student needs to be protected from all distractions so that they can perform academically then isnt there a risk that the student is simply being set up to fail further down the line?

TalkinPeace2 Mon 10-Dec-12 20:49:48

Outside the big cities, the only faith schools you get are Catholic, and not very many of them.
my city has a boys one and a girls one, both of which are more than half non Catholic kids (judging by the head gear at kicking out time)
The rest of the schools are comps.

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 20:49:59

Where I live there are no GS and few faith secondaries. The primary schools are all small so there is selection on postcode, but I would say almost all of the secondaries have a balanced w/c & m/c class intake, including most of the faith schools.

Admissions is based on catchment area for non-faith schools, and although there are some who don't attend their catchment school, this is a minority. For 3/4 faith schools priority is given to feeder faith primaries from both better off deprived areas. The other faith school selects on church attendance, but as it is the only one it doesn't really distort the comprehensive community schools intake.

The LEA next to us (which is really easy to get to on the bus) does have some GS but no one from our primary has ever gone there (and I had kids in the school for 14 years grin). To be honest, I have never even heard anyone discussing this as an option.

CecilyP Mon 10-Dec-12 21:57:59

FWIW, when I lived in Kingston in the days before the Greenwich ruling, they only allowed 15% of pupils to pass the the 11+, and all remaining grammar school places were offered to out of borough pupils. The reason being that they needed to keep enough bright pupils in their SM schools to make running O and A level courses in them viable. So, if this was the level of selection that they could allow in an affluent west London borough before it had a significant impact on other schools, in less favoured areas the percentage would have to be much lower.

Pyrrah Tue 11-Dec-12 00:24:48

I guess I'm very influenced by what I see/know of London and East Sussex/Kent.

camilamoran Tue 11-Dec-12 11:20:59

NamingofParts, I would also like to see the evidence for GS being better for social mobility than comprehensive. It's something people will state quite vehemently but never back up, beyond observing that grammar schools' heyday through the 50s and 60s coincided with a time of greater social mobility in this country. But that social mobility had many causes and happened in all western countries, whether they had selective or non-selective education systems.

I also know no evidence that comprehensives are better for social mobility or anything else.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 11:24:44

You only have to look qt the level of FSM at a grammar school to know that they have no impact at all on social mobility.

Or, for a more anecdotal slant, I could list the first names of all the people in my dd's year grin

camilamoran Tue 11-Dec-12 11:33:01

When I did the 11+ back in 1970, which I passed and my best friend 'failed', it was quite traumatic. I was grateful that my children would not have to go through it.

However, come year 6, they have to do SATS and this turns out to be if possible more traumatic than the 11+. In addiiton it turns out that half a dozen of our local comprehensives have entry tests. Tried not to get caught up in the madness but both my children still ended up sitting about three of them. So at this point the comprehensive system is not looking so much better after all.

At about this time, I noticed a number of kids, older brothers and sisters of my kids' friends, bright ambitious working class kids who were leaving school without the qualifications they needed for what they wanted to do, largely because of the low expectations and poor organisation of the schools they were at. It seemed to me these kids would have done better at a grammar school. However, it is equally true they would have done better at a decent comprehensive. And there is no guarantee they would have got into grammar schools.

So I'm on the fence. I would prefer my kids to go to a comp. But am I certain that that is the best overall system, the best outcome for all our kids? That I am not so certain about.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 11:39:41

Why are the SATs traumatic?

Oh, and I didn't think comprehensive schools were allowed to have entrance tests? I think some select 10% on sporting or musical ability or something like that, but not on academic ability, surely?

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 12:25:30

So a person who misses out on the test by one percentage point in a very good cohort year should be relegated to a secondary mod whereas had they sat the test in another year with a less bright cohort they would have gone to a gs. How is that any good for a bright kid in a bright cohort to have less options? There is a lot of choice for comps here and people pay attention to which comp is the best at getting expected return for their ability child. This information is readily available and means less kids from the same postcode. This is certainly what I look at for my children as do others and the faith school has a higher level of fsm than the closest comp as it takes in from all areas. As somebody has mentioned how can grammar schools be good for social cohesion when their fsm figures are so low. The superselectives in the city near us are dominated by private prep kids. All of the preps publish and compete as to how many they get into the five or six grammars. So they benefit from the parent pound to get into a state secondary supposedly set up for social cohesion. In my view this is a very poor use of state education funding and the pupil premium in inner city comps with high levels of fsm should be much higher.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 12:30:41

^ In addiiton it turns out that half a dozen of our local comprehensives have entry tests.^
That is not legal
or they are not comps.
SATs are not traumatic. Your school are overegging it for you.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 12:32:25

Interesting that today's news shows that results across the board have been higher in key subjects - maths and and literacy - in N Ireland - the only part of the UK that still has a grammar school system as standard compared to England (separate results not given for Scotlnd and Wales). Which suggests that grammar school areas do outperform comprehensive areas - ie that the existence of grammar schools benefit all pupils not just those at grammar schools.


TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 12:34:16

EXCEPT that NI schools have almost no churn so are NOT comparable to those of say, London.
Also, all NI schools re segregated by religion - maybe that is the answer?

NamingOfParts Tue 11-Dec-12 12:42:54

My DCs are not averages, they are individuals. I want them to receive the teaching appropriate to their abilities in each subject. They are strong in some subjects and weaker in others. I dont want them streamed on the basis of a test they took when they were 11. They are not the people they were when they were that age.

I am happy for my DCs go to an average school (which is what a Comp should be). That average is made up of a spread of individual attainments.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 12:52:07

TalkinpEace - yes, you may well be right, as I do think faith schools offer harmony of expectations re discipline etc and a moral underpinning that do improve educational outcomes at those schools.

But I daresay you'd find the suggestion of increasing the numbers of faitrh schools as objectionable as increasing the numbers of grammars...

NamingOfParts Tue 11-Dec-12 13:06:06

I find governement funding of segregated schools objectionable. Personally I would have all faith schools (including C of E) returned either to their communities to be run as secular schools or returned to their faith organisations to be run as independantly funded private schools.

In my opinion segregation in schools is wrong unless a necessity for the child.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 13:06:28

faith schools offer harmony of expectations re discipline etc and a moral underpinning that do improve educational outcomes at those schools
what an IGNORANT comment about Northern Ireland.
These people burn each other's homes because of religion. Do you not watch the news?

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 13:19:55

My dc's went to a faith school but I do agree that there should not be faith schools run by local authority. They should be given over to communities to be run with small fees by parents to help with funding. Part of my family lives in Northern Ireland and there I strongly believe that all schools should be secular however if you have ever been to parts of Northern Ireland you will see that communities are split along religious grounds and therefore there would still be a preminantly catholic or Protestant school by virtue of the postcode and therefore there will be minority issues so I am afraid until the general social and political issues are resolved this will remain the case which is very sad and haven driven through the areas, the political views are very in your face particularly during the marching seasons. Some of my relatives go away for that period. One thing to bear in mind is that many faith schools in the uk are chosen by people not necessarily of the same faith but who want a general religious upbringing and some of these schools particularly have a predominant religion that is not the same as the community that helps the costs which is good. However if we moved to a true comprehensive system faith schools should go the same way as grammars either parents pay or they close.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 13:25:29

One proviso for me on closing faith schools though is that either the governors are split on religious grounds in terms of the clerical input as for instance our local community school has a place on the governing body for the local c of e vicar which seems at odds with it being a community school. The grammar schools are also Christian schools which again leads to a religious emphasis so therefore we either take Christianity out of all schools or ensure all schools have a mixed religious input. Personally I think the latter would be better.

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 13:39:20

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

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 13:48:42

Having looked at the survey that has been provided this is linked to primary achievement and not secondary and therefore does not compare the selective education. There is alot of negativity towards the grammar school system in Northern Ireland.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 13:53:52

The exams in Northern Ireland I believe also take place at the end of year 7 so slightly older and for me the older the better.

CecilyP Tue 11-Dec-12 14:07:33

Presumably they match up ages as far as possible, but in NI, children with July and August birthdays start school a year older than in England.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 14:14:44

Religious schools create feelings of separation - the last thing most societies need.
I'm not sure why NI were listed separately, when Scotland and Northern Ireland were not.
But as losingtrust so rightly said in their post at 13:19 - whatever the results of the NI school system today, they have a long way to go in making it the sort of place aspiring GS mums will leave London for.

Does anybody have the statistics for the age distribution of pupils at Grammar schools?
(as the mum of a late August son, provision for children like him is one of the reasons I like comps)

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 14:34:19

Summer born children here too!

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 14:49:53

I have summer born August children. 11+ tests are age standardised, by law, so there is no age bias.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 15:36:44

This is the only thing I could find on summer borns and grammar schools. The one thing I would say is that summer borns are less likely to do as well in KS2 SATS as these are not age-related and as most tutors will only recommend 11+ tutoring for those working at a certain level the summer borns may be less likely to be tutored and put in for the 11+. Parents may not think they are capable as sometimes they do not catch up until Year 5 or 6 and by this age parents may have already decided whether to put the kids in or not. It is not always the case as some summer borns are ahead straight away but others are not mature enough in infants and tend to be a bit dreamy up until a bit later in KS2.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 15:44:54

As neither of mine bothered with reading until late 6/7 (after KS1) SATs they were not really in the running at that time. I wonder whether a lot of the top set at comps are therefore summer born as a result!

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 15:58:30

In our comp, the age range in the top sets is normal distribution by year 8 - as the kids get moved up and down and sideways

it kinda explains the silly stories about summer babies doing worse - if they were excluded from selective schools in grammar areas no wonder they did worse!

breadandbutterfly Tue 11-Dec-12 17:12:52

losingtrust - your article does not show summer borns do worse when applying for grammars - as the article points out, the tests are adjusted for age SO THERE IS NO BIAS POSSIBLE ON AGE. in fact, younger children need lower marks to get in - so you could argue it is actually easier for them!

All the article suggests is that summer-born children may be less likely to apply to grammar schools. Clearly, if children don't apply, they won't get in...

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 17:32:59

I Agree with that summary and in fact it was noticed recently at my friend's primary that she teaches at. They had a child who was September had always been top and she failed to get in. Must point out we are talking one of the best grammars in the country so very superselectives whereas a child with average levels but born in July got in because the exam is age-related. The point of the article is that as the majority of summer borns are perceived to be low achieves at the start of school they are not pereived to be grammar school material and therefore not entered. Hence leaving those that have been top since day one with the majority being older seen to be better academically at primary. It is a perception but if you had a late developer young child you would not risk going for the 11+ due to the worry that they would fail as not yet reached their potential and this distorts the figures. I would never have lived in a grammar area with my ds in infants in all the supported groups as I had no idea how well he would eventually have done. Your dd was an exception. I would not take the risk. As it is he took off at the end of year 5 and increased levels to get high ones in year 6 after school enrollment. He would now more than hold his own in a gs. Maybe at 16 he may choose to go to an academic school as in all honesty he has exactly the same chance as getting all A* where he is. I know this is anacdotal but a reason why an exam at the age of ten is too young.

Did no one else go to the kind of bog standard comprehensive in th 80s that they would move heaven and earth NOT to send their dc to? Mine was rural, no huge behaviour issues, average fsm, very low eal, but basically crap. No real provision for the academic child. Therefore my dc are at a grammar, and if I lived elsewhere I would pay, pray or live in a flat to get a decent academic school. You can't stop people doing that, however you cut it. Idealogically I agree with many of you, in real life I don't always stick to my principles!

Pyrrah Tue 11-Dec-12 17:42:27

Another reason for the 13+.

I was an August baby and went to GS, but definitely better that I went at 13.

fiftyval Tue 11-Dec-12 17:42:40

At risk of taking things off at a slight tangent, I think age adjusting is extremely unfair on prematurely born children. Many have to do alot of catching up anyway but this is not taken into account.
I also think it is unfair to adjust so that eg an April-born gets given 'more' marks than a December born when they have had exactly the same amount of education. This happened to a friend whose son didn't get in to chosen school but his friend did and simply on account of the extra marks he got for being 4 months younger.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 17:53:26

I went to a nice gels private selective school
and from there to a retake crammer .....

DH went to a London comp.

If we could have easily afforded private I would have done so, but have been lucky enough to live near enough to some fab comps that my kids both got in.

That makes sense- I'm in Kent so it's grammar or sec mod, no comps. Dh went to an inner city comp and is also pro grammar - it's hard not to let your own experiences colour your position.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 18:06:33

I went to two comps. One inner city all girls. Streamed from day one for the same class in all subjects. Behavior in my class very good. Awful experience for me and yes in top stream but then moved to mixed comp that just set for subjects and realized how far behind my maths was even though top of my previous form. Ended up in set 2. The kids were just brighter and I always work better in mixed group as I love to compete and I do think I did better as a result. The behavior was worse but over a third went on to sixth form college and most to some form of higher Ed. However behavior only affects some children more than others. Never affected me but I was quite vocal. May not have suited a quiet child.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 18:10:12

My ex went to really rough comp. talked about kid wanking off openly at the back of the classroom during a lesson. i was quite shocked by that. He did well though. Also a vocal person and strongly in Fabius of comps so perhaps if you are loud you do well if not you need an academic school.

NamingOfParts Tue 11-Dec-12 20:11:19

Comp doesnt automatically mean rough. On the whole Comps arent as effete as Grammars and not as rough as Secondary Moderns. In many areas before the comps came in the Secondary Moderns were underfunded compared to the GS. Bring back GS and you can bet your bottom dollar that will happen again with a minority of students enjoying better funded schools and the majority enjoying worse funded schools than they attend now.

Schools have changed hugely since I was there. The school my DCs attend to GCSE now is rough in a small town rather than inner city way. Now having recognised that it had a bullying problem it has strict discipline. This means that my quiet DCs are not bullied and are able to focus on their studies. The school rewards good behaviour and effort at whatever level.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:17:29

DH was at a school in London : among the bedding at the front of the school were some splendid cannabis plants. It's a selective.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 21:00:54

And I bet they were widely used. When I was a kid it was the grammar schools in the neighbouring town that had the drug problem.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 21:57:02

"That makes sense- I'm in Kent so it's grammar or sec mod, no comps. Dh went to an inner city comp and is also pro grammar - it's hard not to let your own experiences colour your position."

Is he also pro Secondqry modern?

Yes, you can't be pro grammar and anti sec mod! But going to a crap comp tends to bias you against them. I lean towards the German system myself.

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 22:20:15

The German system has been utterly slated by the UN for perpetuating social inequality. They sent a special ambassador out to condemn it and everything.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 22:20:27

how did the German system do in the recent league tables ....
Hmm, I'll stick to the UK system
yup, definitely

sashh Wed 12-Dec-12 07:45:34

Grammer schools were not set up to benefit children of any background. They were a model of social engineering.

The upper classes needed some better educated people to be managers / supervisors / secretaries etc.

The number needed was calculated and that is the number of grammer places created. The exam score was moderated, otherwise there would be more girls than boys.

The leaving age was 14, raised to 15 but grammer school students were expected to stay on and do O Levels.

If you consider this 'elite' were expected to pass only 5 O Levels it doesn't seem such a brilliant system.

NulliusInBlurba Wed 12-Dec-12 07:59:23

"The German system has been utterly slated by the UN for perpetuating social inequality. They sent a special ambassador out to condemn it and everything."

When I mentioned the German system upthread, I was just doing so as an example of a system where grammar schools are used throughout the country. It's absolutely right that German education is in turmoil right now, as a result of the 1999 PISA test when the country performed dreadfully. One of the key criticisms was precisely the EARLY division into three categories - the decision is made in only the fourth year of schooling, which obviously favours those whose parents give them most help at home. Poorer children and immigrants arrive at school and spend the whole first year learning to read, or in some cases learn German, and then they never catch up with those who have had a better early-years education.
There has since been a move away from selective education, and in fact in Berlin the three school tiers have been changed to two, as in the UK, but there is a traditional, influential, privileged band of parents who refuse to let go of the grammar schools because that is what has perpetuated their social advantage over the years.
The main teaching union in Germany favours an abolition of selective education.
So do I, as it happens, although we had no choice but to send DD1 to a grammar school. I did very well from my streamed comprehensive. My mother was 'dumped' in a secondary modern in the late 1940s because she was too nervous to even take the 11plus, and they spent several years missing lessons for choir practice, simply because the head was a choir fanatic - she had a shit education.

NulliusInBlurba Wed 12-Dec-12 08:01:20

"I lean towards the German system myself.". Not a great idea - even most of the Germans are currently leaning against their own system.

letseatgrandma Wed 12-Dec-12 12:53:40

The 11+ certainly isn't age standardised everywhere! In Essex it isn't.

camilamoran Wed 12-Dec-12 14:52:51

Seeker: at that time, 5 or 6 years ago, four local comps had entry by test for either 10 or 15 % of intake. They can do it because they are specialist schools. Two of the tests are supposedly aptitude tests. The other two are straightforward 11+ style tests. One other school has a large catchment area, everyone who applies sits a test, and then they have a lottery for who gets in, using the test results to make sure they have a spread of ability.

So, where we live, we have three schools we can get into without testing. One is not bad, one is pretty bad, and one is miles away. If you want to get into our nearest school, or one that's popular with a lot of my neighbours, or the one that offers the most different languages, you have the option of having a go at their test. So you don't have to do any tests at all, but if you do, you have more parental choice.

And I do think SATS make year 6 as traumatic as the 11+ did in our day, and stretched out for a longer period. Loads of revising and nagging by the teachers and being told how important it all is. Kids losing interest in school or bursting into tears. That may or may not be worth it, but the point is that it isn't any different.

LittenTree Wed 12-Dec-12 14:59:21

'Only' 5 'O' level used, once upon a time, to be a measure of a good, solid, general level of education sashh. Back in 1978 one needed 6 to get into my GS 6th form. It's only in recent years that 13 A*s has become 'average' grin.


Why do some favour the retention or further creation of grammar schools?:

- Rose tinted spectacles, harking back to a golden age when all was right in the world.
- The absolute belief that their own DC would definitely get in (you see that on MN, the assumption that if they weren't private, Hugo and Jocasta would obviously be at a GS).
- Fear of their DC mixing with the lower social orders/less intelligent/people not like us.
- Plain, simple snobbery, the ability to be able to throw ££ at it (prep school/tutoring) and maybe push an average DC over that magic line.
- They can afford private if all else fails. They don't have to also campaign in favour of secondary moderns.


-the fact that GSs have fewer discipline problems because the DC know they can be selected out in the same way they were selected in and by and large, DC 'clever' enough to get in are generally bright enough to recognise by 13 at the latest that their exam success or failure is up to them.
- the belief that it's impossible for one school to cater for low IQ SEN and the Oxbridge bound at one campus.

LittenTree Wed 12-Dec-12 15:02:16

camil you need to bear in mind that you're taling to people who had done or have DC who have experienced:

Old style 11+
New style heavily tutored for, make or break, years of private tutoring 11+

SO you can't really generalise that SATS are 'as bad as the 11+'- esp bearing in mind that, in general, one's SATS result won't influence the rest of one's life like the 11+ certainly could!

TalkinPeace2 Wed 12-Dec-12 15:25:15

At my GDST school, we took 8 O levels (9 for the exceptional)
on the basis that the O level of an A level subject did not could forwards
and Universities required 3 A levels and 5 O levels
out of the 40 of us in the 6th form, 30 went on to Universties, including Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial.

Sats are NOTHING like the 11+
DD was bored preparing for her Sats so I got her the 11+ books - that woke her up.

camilamoran Wed 12-Dec-12 15:25:41

Litten - yes, I would agree that new style, years of private tutoring, massively competitive 11+, is indisputably far more traumatic than anything we had to put up with.

And I agree that SATS are not as evil as 11+, in that they don't affect the kids' futures. Kids seem to think they do though. I spent 2 years saying 'They're not testing you, they're testing the school' on an endless loop.

I suppose what I'm really trying to say is that I have realised that the gut-level aversion I have to selective education has a lot to do with my emotions when I was 11, and that I needed to think about it in a more rational way.

LittenTree Wed 12-Dec-12 18:54:14

OK, camil, I see what you're saying but your SATS experience was highly likely not to have been 'typical'. My DSs knew their SATS were tests not to muck about in but I don't think they distort a modern DCs life to anything like the extent that the modern 11+ for most non-county GSs do (by 'county' I mean counties- Kent? Bucks?- that retain enough GSs so the top 20 odd % of all the local DCs go, not the hyper-tutored, hyper-pressured such as appears to happen in London).

See, thing is, if all the DC are in the same educational establishment, exactly the same thing can happen, as in the brightest are taught alongside their equally able peers in that subject BUT they've not been 'selected', they've been set. I'm perfectly happy for my DC to be set but not 'selected'- because if DC are so completely, irreversibly, separate-school 'selected', someone has been deselected across the board.

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