How do we ensure all UK children regardless of back ground/ability receive high quality education?

(645 Posts)
happygardening Fri 10-May-13 10:20:54

Contrary to what some may think I'm not anti state ed and as someone who works with disadvantaged children it really matters to me that they receive a high quality broad education and they fulfil their potential. But sadly in many cases they are not (there are I know exceptions) frequently their parents cannot assist them for a variety of reasons.
Is there an answer to this problem or are they condemned by their circumstances which are not of their own making to remain at the bottom of the heap?
No judgey DM comments please.

I think part of the issue is getting people to see education as a valuable end in itself. Its not just about grades and jobs but about developing yourself and your understanding of the world.

Some people who live in deprived areas will see education as a way out of poverty but I wouldn't be surprised if some young people see it as utterly irrelevant. If you live in an area where there is a shortage of work, zero hours contracts, NMW only then the "go to school, get good grades and get a good job" mantra sounds a bit hollow.

Additionally, lets start valuing vocational skills more. Not everyone is academically inclined and practical skills are valuable to the economy so lets acknowledge that.

Good post Chaz.

How do we do this? Obviously for most of these kids it won't come from parents or peers, and if they don't have that support, there's only so much schools can do. Maybe more needs to be done on the jobs front so that there is a viable and worthwhile alternative to going on benefits.

For the kids who are really at the bottom (I'm thinking of the ones you see in the news, usually after they have taken an accidental drugs overdose or been beaten to death by a boyfriend, who as toddlers are living in squalor, with totally chaotic home lives and incompetent parents) this probably isn't enough. More drastic early intervention?

GraduateofPoorComp Fri 10-May-13 10:51:26

I just joined to comment on a now full thread where someone was wondering if there really were able children who failed to reach their potential in some comprehensives. The poster clearly hadn't attended a poor comprehensive!

To OP there is the problem now one of resources being squeezed, any solutions would have to be cheap. The internet does provide fantastic opportunities for learning especially say mathematics but English needs the (expensive) personal touch.

As in all things some schools are run well and do fantastic things with the resources they have and others are badly managed- teaching and leadership are key.

Also do we need a massive propaganda campaign to promote learning? (As opposed to 5-a-day or "walk to school"! or is that too DM Op? ) I had a poorish secondary school experience BUT had a local library and fantastic TV programmes which inspired me.

There seems so much more consumerist trash to navigate my own children through. I feel my child's school opt into this by allowing golden time with tablets and Nintendo DS's! Why be embarrassed about saying school is for education?

Consumerist trash, yes Graduate! And many other kinds of trash!

When TV, papers, internet are full of Big Brother, How-I-Got-My-Boob-Job, celebrity tosh, youtube epic fails and other rubbish, more serious stuff gets pushed aside and seen as difficult or elitist. I'm feeling elitist now just saying this. confused

I think this has always been the case to some extent (e.g. choice of tabloid papers vs broadsheets being linked to class and education), but there has been such a huge explosion in media and TV channels.

Anyone see that programme with the boob-job addict mum and the serious daughter (a bit AbFab), with the daughter trying to study chemistry and the mum saying, "What a waste of time, that's an hour of your life you'll never get back."? Guess you can overcome your parents at any rate - but what if all the major influences in your life, other than school teachers, are like this?

The problem is it's difficult to improve things for the disadvantaged without inconveniencing the advantaged, and possibly meaning that some children don't have access to the better opportunities that aspirational parents want for them. So I doubt there will be much political will to change things.

One thing I'd say is a major problem in the English system is the idea of parents chosing a school - this means that parents who are able to will always get their child into a higher-achieving school, leaving those whose parents don't understand the system, or aren't interested, or don't have much in the way of travel options in the "sink schools", which then get a bad reputation, and spiral downwards in terms of achievement/reputation/morale.

Up here there is still much more of an assumption that you will send your child to their catchment school, and that the catchment school will have a place for them. I'm not saying that's perfect but it becomes the exception to pick a different schol, not something that parents obsess over.

I'd also increase provision for out-of-hours care, including homework clubs, so that those who would like to do better but don't have a good home environment or parents who can help will have an opportunity not to fall behind.

Oh and an option on properly-valued vocational/practical courses from 14 for those who are just not academic. Make sure they have literacy and numeracy skills for day-to-day life, then let them learn something more practical. But don't push them into that just because of where they live or what their parents do, give them a genuine chance to shine academically first.

happygardening Fri 10-May-13 11:28:18

"More drastic early intervention?"
This is what Surestart was meant to do but like everything else in the public sector experiencing huge cuts causing closure/massive reduction in services.
"More drastic early intervention?"
Of what nature? How do we fund this all those currently involved are stretched to their absolute maxim and leaving in droves. We are Im sure all familiar with the proverb "It takes an entire village to raise a child" but I am sceptical that this is nothing more than a dream, an ideal not achievable in our society because of the the way its organised/structured. When I read critical patronising comments about those on benefits etc in the DM i despair there are children involved in the situations cutting housing benefit, tax credits will have a negative impact on them.
I think the idea of valuing vocational skills is a good one but as my DH will cheerfully testify many actually require considerable academic ability especially in maths. Interestingly on the radio yesterday someone from Barrett homes was saying that there is and will be an increasing shortage of skilled tradesmen. But schools don't encourage this root its seen almost as a failure.

happygardening Fri 10-May-13 11:32:37

"The problem is it's difficult to improve things for the disadvantaged without inconveniencing the advantaged, and possibly meaning that some children don't have access to the better opportunities that aspirational parents want for them. So I doubt there will be much political will to change things."
AMumInScotland I think I know what you are saying but in what way will the advantaged be inconvenienced? Should we accept inconvenience to support the disadvantaged in our society? Or our we rich because they are poor?

I think parents will at least feel inconvenienced if their child has to attend the local school when it doesn't top the league tables. The fact that league tables say more about intake than teaching doesn't seem to deter parents from wanting "the best school" for their child, as seen on threads on here at this time of year in particular.

I don't exempt myself from this either - if someone was suggesting a change to the system that meant my DS had to go to a sink school where working hard was seen as a rarity, then I'd be worried about my delicate little flower too. (He's 19 now so no longer relevant, but I can still remember worrying about him when he started school...)

The ideal would be something which brought achievement up in the lowest-achieving schools without reducing it in high-achieving schools, but that is trickier than evening things out overall.

happygardening Fri 10-May-13 11:57:10

"feel inconvenienced"
I think thats an understatement of the century. I agree with you I too would worry/be cross/pay and of course in a "free society" that my right but I cant help but wonder if there's another way. Also will sending disadvantaged children to good schools really make any difference at our "well below average" numbers on free school meals local academy with "outstanding" results it appears the tiny handful of really disadvantaged children still don't do well.

Tingalingle Fri 10-May-13 12:02:25

Depends whether they are disadvantaged by circumstances alone, or by a combination of nature and nurture, perhaps, Happy?

Our local comp does top the (local) league tables BTW. DS still spectacularly failed to learn any GCSE maths there until we taught it to him at home. On the other hand, what it achieves for lower-ability intake and for its highest fliers is definitely outstanding.

happygardening Fri 10-May-13 12:11:27

I'm primarily talking about those disadvantaged by their circumstances eg extreme poverty/dysfunctional parenting not those with learning difficulties/complex needs.
Tingle of course these children may not be low ability just lower performers.

Thing is, if there was a simple answer it would have been done by now. It's not just the children involved who suffer from this, long-term it's society as a whole, so it's in everyone's interests to improve the situation.

creamteas Fri 10-May-13 20:06:20

Part of the problem is that you cannot separate out education from wider society. Inequalities in education are a result of wider socioeconomic conditions. Schools are only a small part of issue.

Issues such as poor housing, low-paid/insecure employment (currently being made worse by benefit cuts) lead to families under stress. Children living in poor homes, do not have the space to learn regardless of how caring their parents are.

The maintenance of middle-class privilege also requires poor children to do badly. Fear of falling in class terms means education is seen as a competition, and too often that means immoral behaviour is justified in the 'best interests of my child'. Those who can't play the game, loose out.

A good start to producing a level playing field would be to remove choice in schools. If we abolished all private, religious and selective schools, and assigned schools by catchments drawn up to take from different backgrounds. This would mean that there would be no acceptance of poor schools for the poor. It won't happen, but it would take something this radical to make a difference I believe.

BoffinMum Fri 10-May-13 20:11:56

Spend money equally on all types of children, and instead of vilifying failure, all muck in to help when children and schools do badly. Encourage extended schools, and give teachers enough headspace to care for the children they teach, and go the extra mile for them. Have lots of opportunities for all children to do interesting STEM activities taught be specialist teachers where possible, and encourage parents to come into school as much as possible to share extension activities. Praise people who speak more than one language. Praise people who can take things apart and rebuild them really well. Praise people who practise hard at things. Praise people who invent things and discover things.

That's pretty much it.

Happymum22 Fri 10-May-13 20:51:30

I know it is controversial but Teach First are working and campaigning for just that- no child's education success to be limited by their socio-economic background.
My DDs friend is training with them at the moment and it sounds like a really organised and committed organisation. My eldest DD tossed up between teaching and working for the NSPCC for ages, she looked into all the routes but back then TF was less established.
Basically they attract graduates from russell group universities, have a very tough assessment process and the graduates have a summer of intense training and then spend two years training on the job while getting their PGCE. They teach them specifically how to teach in disadvantaged schools and about the problems in the schools and the adversity that the children are experiencing in deprived areas.
After the two years half stay in teaching, half go into business/civil service/other areas but commit to continuing to address educational disadvantage. The idea being they will invest into education and have a real understanding of what the issue is which they take to other areas e.g. policy making.

I have worked with teach first students and they have all been extremely hard working, highly determined and committed. I really think the company is making an impact and is addressing the problem. They really stood out to me as teachers with so much drive and ambition to change things, and the understanding of exactly what is needed to address the problem.

BoffinMum Sat 11-May-13 00:02:04

That's all well and good but it means revolving doors for certain kids in deprived areas. And conventional PGCEs learn to cope with diversity and deprivation too, whilst committing for a longer period.

BoffinMum Sat 11-May-13 07:34:08

Also, happymum, TeachFirst is a tightly controlled PR and marketing machine. The only criticism it brooks of itself is via Government evaluations. Interestingly, Price Waterhouse Cooper found major problems with the scheme. But the leviathan rolls on.

A parallel would be getting drug companies to sponsor the training of nurses on the job, and getting those nurses to work for 24 months in deprived areas whilst preaching to them about their 'mission' and how wonderful it was that they were giving up two years of an otherwise highly paid career to dumb down and help da poor. Meanwhile you have other people committed enough to do this unpaid in the first instance, and continue in this career path for considerably longer. People with the same academic backgrounds.

I am a Teach First cynic and I am glad my children's education is not delivered in this way.

Xenia Sat 11-May-13 08:04:58

Teach first is one of the drivers behind inner London schools racing ahead of schools like Hull (most graduates from good universities with 2.1 want to work in London where their friends and parties are not hull). My son's friend AAA, RG 2/1, leading private school etc is I think doing a pretty good job in TF. It is one of the reasons the London pupils now get 2 grades higher in GCSE than Hull - good teachers from the right universities who are clever (and possibly a class issue too).

SignoraStronza Sat 11-May-13 08:09:30

Tax the private schools and remove their ridiculous 'charitable status' will go some way towards a. generating funds which can be spent on all state schools and b. perhaps meaning that fewer people will be able to afford private education and ensuring that the pushier parents are lending their support to state education.

soapboxqueen Sat 11-May-13 08:41:26

Money is what is needed. Lots and lots of money. Money to buy experienced and committed staff. Money to pay for those staff to have extra time to support those children who need it. Money to pay for specialist support whether educational, behavioural or medical. Money to pay for outreach workers to support families in difficult circumstances. Money to give disadvantaged children opportunities in school their parents can't or won't provide for them such as sports, music, arts and trips. Thus expanding their experiences of life and the work around them.

As an aside I think turning the education system on its head every 18 months (6 months if you are conservative) doesn't help.

I'm not a fan of teach first either as they have a low success rate and make the assumption that brighter person means better teaching. It's the x factor of teaching recruitment. It ticks boxes about what they think you need to be successful but rarely produces the talent that would have failed at the first hurdle if it had applied. I believe teachers are made not born but inspiring teachers, the ones we need to improve the aspirations of the most disadvantaged, have something in them that can't be given at any training course.

happygardening Sat 11-May-13 09:26:37

I listened to an interesting programme on the radio where it's was proposed that we should be looking more at the parents. Obviously providing them with proper literacy and numeracy skills but also looking at their work based skills teaching them a trade for example thus improving their income and may be raising their aspirations. I'm fully aware that this is not realistic for all parents but it makes sense to me that we're starting at the wrong end.
We have a primary school in this county that also has a GP surgery with a daily drop in surgery a dentist job centre council housing office and adult education centre based in it the head believes you have to start with the parents education is not in splendid glorious isolation to everything else and also make access to health care easy; to prevent children from taking a day off here and there with trivial minor illnesses or visits to the dentist because there parents don't bring them to school because they're doing the same thing.

soapboxqueen Sat 11-May-13 09:54:33

Interestingly enough happygardening I watched a piece from a documentary about a school in a deprived area of the US that looked at how they could show children that education was worth it. A gentlemen who himself had come from a deprived background but who had become very successful, sponsored the school to pay its pupils money for good grades. Now initially it sounds like a bad idea and that it sends the wrong message about education. However, their rationale was that in more affluent homes the parents had an education which allowed them to get better jobs. Therefore the children could see that education had a value. In deprived homes parents either had no jobs or low skilled ones that required no qualifications so the children did not have first hand experience of how education paid off in the long term. So by making education pay in the short term helped to bridge the gap.

Obviously there are some big generalisations happening here but it would be interesting to know the success rate of the program long term.

creamteas Sat 11-May-13 10:53:40

I hate arguments that poor educational achievement is because of low parental aspirations. It is basically over simplistic victim-blaming.

There is a large body of literature that demonstrates how poor people want the best for their children too, but that they lack the resources to be able to support their children in the same way.

For example, there is growing evidence that the current overzealous system of benefit sanctioning is having an adverse impact on children's education. It is not that the parents do not want to send their kids to school, but the extreme financial hardship it causes means a lack of money for things like transport & uniform which are necessary to enable kids to attend. For example, DS3's shoes fell apart this week, he only has one pair of shoes and trainers cannot be worn to school. I am in the privileged position to be able to replace school shoes without thinking about the cost, so he had a new pair the day he needed them. For families on low incomes, this problem could have led to being away from school whilst the money was found for shoes.

Poverty also leads to higher rates of depression and social isolation, so parents are less likely to be able to cope with day to day activities which again has an impact on school attendance.

Currently our society places a high value on class inequality, for example the pay disparity between the top and bottom is growing. This divide is reflected in the education system because it provides people to fill the jobs that others think are beneath them. But what is worse is that the class of people set up to fail are then blamed for having low aspirations. This places the fault in the individual not the system, and means that nothing has to change significantly in terms of the structures.

lljkk Sat 11-May-13 13:52:04

I dunno, Creamteas, sounds like you're lumping the problems of the poor together when they are a diverse group. There is a difference between poor & marginalised; eg., the marginalised by definition often don't buy into the premise that an education is worthwhile.

"For families on low incomes, this problem could have led to being away from school whilst the money was found for shoes."

At our school the kids would end up going to school in their trainers. Unless you're thinking that the school shoes are the only footwear.

One of my grandfathers went to school barefoot in the 1930s.

My first thought to answer OP was to ban private schools and divvy up school funding quite widely; suddenly the rich would be very invested in having good schools for all.

buckingfollocks Sat 11-May-13 14:01:36

I agree with mum in scotland. I think if it went back to how it used to be and people went to catchment area schools only, and catchments were re-drawn to be truly socially diverse, that would work.
The trouble with the parental choice aspect is that only certain types of family truly get the choice. Namely car drivers, and most of the time I guess people who are able to run 2 cars. In my town, the best schools are the ones which are on the edges of the town in the most affluent areas, areas in which hardly any young families live any more. Therefore, anyone who wants to go to the best ones has to be able to drive or be prepared to walk approx 2 miles from most parts in the town. They totally self select. And the whole cycle continues.

Bonsoir Sat 11-May-13 14:45:03

I agree with the sentiments expressed by other posters - wading through the piles of trash of consumerism is hardly conducive to learning. As a (reasonably well) educated parent, I spend far too much time (that could be better spent) ensuring my children are preserved from the consumerist crap that tries to invade our head space and physical environment at every opportunity. Only then, once I have cleared space, can they learn in peace. What hope is there for DC whose parents have fewer resources?

creamteas Sat 11-May-13 15:06:01

marginalised by definition often don't buy into the premise that an education is worthwhile

Most of the evidence I have read does not support this. Some may not think that the education on offer to their DC is worthwhile, but not that education itself is worthless.

This is a subtle but important difference.

The first requires changes to the educational system to make it more inclusive. However, rather than addressing this, instead there is a presumption that some parents have a 'problem'. This shifts the focus and allows individual blame.

Erebus Sat 11-May-13 15:06:08

I think one thing that may be overlooked in the 'equal access' argument is looking carefully at what a 'good' school is:

The generally accepted, and largely MN endorsed definition is 'One that produces a lot of high grade exam results'. Another might be 'One that helps each DC achieve their potential'. The latter is often far more expensive to run!

BUT the thing is, a 'good' school isn't necessarily just a bunch of buildings; it's a coming together of the famous Japanese 3-legged stool analogy: committed teachers, committed parents, committed pupils. Take one away and the whole edifice risks collapse.

SO, if there is a 'good' school, does it not risk becoming a 'less good school' if it expands its intake to include, for instance, less able pupils? Pupils from backgrounds that significantly increase their risk of bringing less-educationally desirable traits with them? I think any teacher might tell you that it takes only one or two properly disruptive pupils in a class to wreck the lesson for everyone (which is why I shock at the idea of spreading such miscreants across every school in the land).

We all say we want all the DC to go to a 'good' school but I genuinely believe that it's in our national psyche to, in the abstract 'want' this for 'everyone' but in the reality, the caveat is 'but providing it doesn't detract from my own DC's educational experience which I paid a lot of house-price money to get for him' or even 'as long as that DC doesn't get advantaged over and above mine when I have a) worked hard, and/or b) moved house and/or c) taken a forensic interest in my DC's education whereas his parent/s couldn't give a monkey's about his education yet he is getting far better facilities and teaching than my DC to compensate for his sub-optimal background'. In other words 'good' for that DC is fine as long as mine gets 'better'.... It is great to say 'We want all DC to get a high quality education' but we are, in my opinion naturally rather pissed off when we see people getting something we think is 'unfair', bearing in mind the educational pot of cash is only so big.

I am going to stick my neck out here and say that if one gerrymandered catchments, (assuming there were a government prepared to risk that!)- I'd be among the first to go private, though I could barely afford it. Sorry but one of the few things I have available to me is the ability to move into the catchment of a desirable school. Yes, it's unfortunate for those DC from families who wouldn't go to that much trouble- any trouble- for their DC, but the only way I'd be prepared to 'make that my problem' is if I were able to weigh in there and make those families take responsibility for the production of DC they aren't bothered about. And yes, there are council houses in my catchment, it isn't all MC idyll!

HamletsSister Sat 11-May-13 15:19:00

Local schools are far more the norm in Scotland, than in my reading of England from on here. You are guaranteed a place if you live in catchment and can only get a place out of catchment if one exists without the school having to employ extra teachers etc. Now I am very rural, and accept that this may be different in cities, but it means parents work with their local school rather than defecting down the road a this may not be an option.

Also, small schools and class sizes make for a much, much better social mix. No ghettoisation in schools or classes.

Xenia Sat 11-May-13 15:32:57

The FT Magazine has an article today about education. I believe it looked at this issue - is it morally right for a parent to do best for their child or should others take precedence? I would say the former is the laudable way to be, doing right by your child, not the latter - sacrificing your children whether over schooling, its own home life, its food etc for the better of the children of other families.

BoffinMum Sat 11-May-13 16:26:06

Xenia, London schools are funded at much higher levels than schools in E Yorks. It has little to do with Teach First - the numbers of TF graduates are tiny compared to the verbal numbers of PGCEs.

BoffinMum Sat 11-May-13 16:26:48

Overall, not verbal

creamteas Sat 11-May-13 16:39:50

is it morally right for a parent to do best for their child or should others take precedence? I would say the former is the laudable way to be, doing right by your child, not the latter

And that is what I find so wrong about our society. Of course I want my kids to do well, but not if it is at the expense of others. I would prefer a level playing field where the best, not the more wealthy, could shine and were valued at what they were good at whether it be waiting tables or running the country. And measuring success only in money is part of the problem.

Living in a societies which puts a higher emphasis on selfishness rather than community care is very depressing.

Bonsoir Sat 11-May-13 18:47:05

It is best for the community when all parents focus on the outcomes of their own child. Institutions should focus on the common good, and parents should be able to trust those institutions.

thesecretmusicteacher Sat 11-May-13 19:51:38

I've only worked with half a dozen "underprivileged" children so far. Their parents were varied, but absolutely all of them (including one who was abusive) were highly aspirational for their children. Most of them felt cut off from school after some awkward encounter with a teacher early on in the children's or the children's siblings' school career. They therefore had stopped communicating their aspirations to the staff and other professionals.

So when I read the Rowntree Trust reports saying poor families are aspirational, they just don't have the experience that leads to success, I believe it because it chimes with my own observations to date.

There are some children who are very very easy to help and if it's you that's helping them you don't mind them having the same or more advantages as your own kids so this helps overcome the "so long as he doesn't get more than my own kid" factor.....

Xenia Sat 11-May-13 21:17:18

cream, but that would mean you don't read your children stories at bed time, lave them and go and read them to under privileged children. It would mean feedings yours junk food whilst you took steak to the council estate. There is nothing wrong with doing the best you can for your child.

Talkinpeace Sat 11-May-13 23:20:26

just a slight antidote to the optimism up thread ....
overheard many years ago at the doctors

Mum 1 : Ooh are you sending Timmy to School A ?
Mum 2 : No, they make you work there, we are letting him go to school B.

Both A and B were dire failing schools that have been mereged into a dire failing sponsored academy
and as I drove past 20 mins after start of school the other morning, the kids were still drifting in (all live within walking distance)

I regularly see parents in pyjamas waving infant school kids off down the road to school - too effing lazy to get dressed, let alone walk them to school.

That kid could be Matilda, but the school will constantly be battling against the attitude from home.

Remember that 30% of UK households do not own any books (and I've visited some of those houses, they give me the creeps)

BoffinMum Sun 12-May-13 08:40:30

Talkinpeace, that's certainly part of the problem.

I taught in a reasonable comp with pretty hopeful parents in many cases, but the deferred gratification thing was a major problem for some, and that undermined the rest to a degree.

There was talk about becoming lawyers, teachers or whatever, but the families had no idea about the steps you go through to get there, nor the personal development required. We could tell the kids what they needed to do, but without seeing it up close at home, very few are going to work it out.

BoffinMum Sun 12-May-13 08:45:20

Wrt doing the best for your kids, that is great and how it should be. But you can extend the parental role beyond this to the benefit of all children by sitting on governing bodies of state schools, fundraising for local children's organisations and so on. Impacting people beyond your immediate family.

Bonsoir Sun 12-May-13 09:22:36

You impact beyond your own family by doing the best for your own DC and thereby contributing to raised average levels of attainment in your DCs' classroom. That is not the only way to contribute to the common good, but it is the one with the highest impact if everyone participates.

creamteas Sun 12-May-13 09:41:28

but that would mean you don't read your children stories at bed time, lave them and go and read them to under privileged children. It would mean feedings yours junk food whilst you took steak to the council estate

No it doesn't. It means that you read to both your own and other people's children because you can read. It means that both get fed a reasonable diet (so between junk food and steak perhaps).

It means that we should not accept that for some people to do very well, others have to live below the bottom. It does mean that the wealthy have to give up some of their wealth and power, but not that they would be impoverished.

The evidence shows that in more equal societies everyone is healthier, so the wealthy would also benefit in this way.

happygardening Sun 12-May-13 09:52:38

"I've only worked with half a dozen "underprivileged" children so far. Their parents were varied, but absolutely all of them (including one who was abusive) were highly aspirational for their children."
Its actually not these that worry me as much as those who aren't aspirational for their children there may be a variety of factors causing this and I don't have any right to judge them but we have to accept that these parents do exist. These are the underclasses I'm talking about and there chidlren continue to under acheive.

creamteas Sun 12-May-13 10:11:57

those who aren't aspirational for their children there may be a variety of factors causing this and I don't have any right to judge them but we have to accept that these parents do exist

But the evidence that they exist just isn't really there. All of the evidence says that even those deemed to be in the underclass are aspirational for their children. But their position mean that those aspirations do not necessarily translate into the current educational context.

For example, parents who allow their kids to miss school might facilitate this because they feel that their child's school is not the right place for them. This does not mean that they do not believe that education is beneficial. In that way they are no different from lots of middle-class mothers who negotiate school changes or even home educate. The point is that the strategies for dealing with a 'hostile' school, depend on the resources open to you.

Middle class parents have medically certified 'school-refusers'. Working class parents just have truants......

thecatfromjapan Sun 12-May-13 10:22:01

I'm amazed to see you write this, BoffinMum: "But you can extend the parental role beyond this to the benefit of all children by sitting on governing bodies of state schools, fundraising for local children's organisations and so on. Impacting people beyond your immediate family."

I know you can be shot down in flames for advancing some king of Victorian, top-down, philanthropic idea.

I really like it, though. I read it as asking for people to care in a radical way for others, and for a re-invigorated public sphere.

It strikes me that it is absolutely out of step with the ethos of our current times.

I was listening to the Gove going on about competition in a global age. The whole discourse seemed to be about individual parents grabbing, and teaching their children to grab, as much "education" as possible. The value of that "education" resided precisely in how much more of "it" one person had in relation to a (global) cohort.

It was really sad.

But realistically, BoffinMum, and I say this because I remember some of the comments you've written at other times, and have taken them on board, we'd have to have a huge cultural shift to have people putting in effort to widen the educational experience for the children of others, surely?

And isn't it too late to ask for all this effort, now that women are working for money, in structured employment, in ever-increasing numbers?

I pose these as real questions because I really emotionally and intellectually endorse the idea of people working for a common good in education.

(And I liked many of your other proposals. And the poster who said "money".)

lljkk Sun 12-May-13 10:26:10

What about Travellers or others who pull their girls out of school at 14-15, marry them off & expect a packload of children to follow with no further education? Often done with huge defensiveness about cultural traditions; how can you say they're aspirational for their kids? Or they are selectively aspirational, boys maybe but not the girls, only so far for the girls.

Never mind the Karen Matthews' types, who just don't imagine how to be aspirational in the first place, or whose aspirations are so distorted. You can't deny that there is an underclass who often struggle to even conceive of being aspirational, in the same way as mainstream society views aspiration, I mean.

yet a different type of situation: There's a 17yo neighbour (White British, not Karen Matthew's type family), but part of a large family who belong to a minority religious sect. The girl wanted to do A-levels but she's been told to put her plans on hold while she does caring duties for at least 3 other family members for the foreseeable future. Aside from caring duties, she gets to do a bit of cleaning for her brother's company. Aspirations completely put on hold. I grind my teeth about it.

That's what I mean about marginalised groups. Not merely poor, culturally marginalised in other ways, too.

creamteas Sun 12-May-13 11:06:21

Doesn't any parent want their children to have secure adult relationships. The fact that Travellers think it is appropriate at a different age that others, does not mean that it is not aspirational. The fact that schools are often incredibility hostile to Travellers, and they face obstruction, discrimination and bullying from a wide variety of organisations including educational ones, actually proves the point I was trying to make. That it is often the context that creates the barrier to educational achievement.

I am in contact with lots of families who for a variety of reasons have children have a difficult relationship or are not in school. Families who might be call 'Karen Matthews' types, although I think giving them this label is derogatory and a good example of how the barriers they face are created by others. They are often described as not aspirational or having children disaffected from school.

But they do want the best for their children and they do value education, but not necessarily the school system. Often what is described as lack of parental engagement, is them trying to protect their children from the threats that they see to their children from schools and the education system. They see their children written off by others as worthless, and can be can appear to be antagonistic because they want their children to know they are on their side.

In other words, what some see in them as a failure to engage and a lack of educational aspiration, they see as defending their children and helping them prepare for a hostile world.

Bonsoir Sun 12-May-13 11:09:01

We cannot as a society pander to the idiosyncrasies of every minority, particularly when those idiosyncrasies upset the smooth running of the lives of the community minded majority.

happygardening Sun 12-May-13 11:13:10

creamteas I dont know "evidence" your talking about but I'm talking about those who abuse alcohol and drugs, those with significant mental health problem or physical disabilities those in prison, prostitutes desperately trying to get money to feed a drugs habit etc. These people are parents as well and most love their children but their circumstances mean that they often aren't aspirational because frankly this is not their main priority their children will under achieve and so the cycle repeats itself. I find this unacceptable and short sighted in our affluent society that because through no fault of your own that you come from a disadvantaged home you are likely to under achieve at school and ultimately follow in your parents footsteps. We also need to accept that just because you come from a disadvantaged back ground doesn't mean your as thick as a brick and that a few D/E's at GCSE and a low skilled trade should be considered good enough. Most MC parents would settle for this.

stargirl1701 Sun 12-May-13 11:21:56

High quality teachers.

Low pupil/teacher ratios.

High quality support assistants.

Inspiring resources.

Access to outdoor spaces.

Meaningful pupil/teacher relationships.

Pedagogical rigour.

Formative assessment embedded.

Access to specialist provision if that is what suits the child/parents - nurture bases, conductive education, ASD appropriate education, etc.

Formal examination not undertaken until secondary school.

Early intervention.

Multi agency working teams.

A hell of a lot of money.

purits Sun 12-May-13 11:46:49

A lot of this talk is about "doing to" the underprivileged. It doesn't work unless they buy into the idea.
I used to do some "Victorian, top-down, philanthropy" in that I volunteered for the Princes Trust. On the one hand we had terribly naice, middle-aged, middle-class people wanting to do good. On the other hand we had clueless yoof who had missed the opportunities of school. It soon became clear that firstly there were more people willing to help than there were people asking for help (they were embarrassingly over subscribed by do-gooders) and secondly that there was a reason why these yoof were bottom of the pile (sorry, harsh but fair).

Forget inputs and outputs, we need to concentrate on effort. I also think that we should have a different system of 'promotion' - you don't go up to the next educational class simply because you are a year older, you have to earn it. We need more input from the children themselves instead of things being done to them. They need to see the correlation between effort and reward.

Talkinpeace Sun 12-May-13 11:52:59

I find the faith in parental aspiration touching - and proof that those posters have never spent time in a shitty area. Fourth generation unempkoyed (generations being 16 years by the way) - totally based on benefits but spensing money on fags booze phones and tv. The parents have NO concept of planning for tomorrow - let alone a career for their child.

creamteas Sun 12-May-13 12:34:46

Talkinpeace well the thing is I am from a shitty area, with parents on the breadline reliant on alcohol. I didn't go very much to secondary school, because I unfortunately passed the 11+ and went to a grammar school which made it very clear that I was not the sort of person who should be attending. So I often didn't bother. My parents knew how unhappy the school was making me, but couldn't fix it so they turned a blind eye.

When I went to an RG university it was as an adult single-parent whose kids had multiple-fathers none of which ever wanted, nor did I expect, a long term relationships with. This did not stop me, or them, having good lives at any point. Nor did it stop me getting the job I have now. Just because some people think the order should be education, career then family does not mean this order is universally right.

I now spent lots of my time working for various bodies (DoH, FoE, Councils etc) as a middle-class professional talking to families where there are drug and alcohol problems, in and out of prison and mental health issues etc. Some of these have lost their kids permanently, and many others are fearful of that happening. At that stage all professionals are a threat, and not engaging is often seen as less of a risk.

One of the major barriers I face is first to try to make research commissioners understand that white, middle-class values are just that. The values of a particular group of people, at a particular time and place. If they are promoted as a universal standard that everyone should sign it up to is just class prejudice (so similar to sexism, racism etc).

It is surprising that so many of the marginalised prefer not to engage with professionals or people that refuse to recognise any value in their lives? After all, they would only have to spend 5 mins on MN to work out that many people are so desperate to keep their kids away from them that they lying and cheating is commonplace and often condoned (for example feigning religion for school applications).

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 12:46:00

One of my friends came from a family where father abused the mother and kids so the mother stopped caring. House a mess, kids left to their own on the streets. No interest in their schooling and living off benefits. My friend now in late 20s got herself through school with not many qualifications, had a few drug issues but a good head on her shoulders. After leaving home at 16 and going to college she got herself sorted and later from the age of 18 fostered her three younger sisters. One of whom went to uni, the other good career, one drop out. Now my friend has a team of about 40 working for her and has just done her Maths Gcse. There is a way of breaking out and she enjoyed her inner city school so there will have been an influence there but what worked for her may not work for others. So proud of her now - it was in her first job that she meant the real mentors though and for me bringing back a lot of good apprenticeships from age 14 on would do a lot to level the playing fields and stop the fear that if children do not end up with good qualifications at 16 they will be on the scrap heap.

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 13:39:46

I think we might have to accept that education cannot provide any sort of social levelling.

All children who are well educated require a huge input from their parents. My DC attend fabulous schools, but the amount I have had to expend in terms of time, money and energy has been incredible.

Many parents simply won't do it.

Bonsoir Sun 12-May-13 13:55:43

"All children who are well educated require a huge input from their parents. My DC attend fabulous schools, but the amount I have had to expend in terms of time, money and energy has been incredible."

Yup. Being (U)MC ain't a walk in the park!

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 14:20:23

Maybe if we stopped thinking of kids as kids from a younger age and asked them to make the decisions instead of relying on parental support this would cut the parental link. When children take their options stop involving parents and let the school and professional help make the decisions. One of the issues with some MC parents is they do far too much for their kids to the extent I have witnessed the parents of 20 something's writing applications for law schools or actually helping them with paid work projects. This helps the child whose parents left them to take responsibility for themselves at an early age come into their own. Parents should not be invited to parents evenings from age 14/12 even to cut the influence and make the child look at their future as their own. If they mess it up they need to learn from it. If they do well it is because if themselves. At some schools they struggle to get parents in at all so let the child and school make the decisions. The baby boomers generation were on their own from 14 and they appeared to have done a good job. It is the parent ally involved 60s generation who seem to be making the biggest mess and I fall into this category. By losing the parents and making all children make their own decisions, they will become stronger as a result. If they want to get a job instead of staying on at school at 14 let them. No point trying to keep kids in school just to get a handful of GCSEs when they could be professing in a career or go back to school at a later age when they are ready. We need to get away from everything and a child's future being measured at 16, 18 or 21. How many children have done want their parents wanted, worked hard at school, got their degrees and then bummed around because they managed to tick all the correct boxes so job done or becoming demotivated because those high paid jobs their parents promised them are not out there. I would like my dcs to do all of the above but need to accept that it may not be the right route for each of my children and but out even though it is hot wired in to me to interfere.

Greythorne Sun 12-May-13 14:33:14

I know of parents who send their children to expensive prep schools but don't support their children's learning. These children are not thriving.

I think parental input is critical.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 14:39:08

Children do well because of parents but the point of the thread is to get good schooling for all and simply relying on parental in put is not working for all and sometimes there can be too much parental involvement. How many MC parents would push, push, push to get a child to follow the socially accepted at the expense to the child's future independence and happiness?

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 14:53:37

losing sorry, but I don't want to hand over my DC's future to the state.

Their education is my responsibility. Both in law and morally.

It has bot nothing to do with me pushing them to do my bidding and everyhting to do with my understanding of my duty to them!

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 14:55:26

grey that is true!

But the majority of the DC I've seen in the private school system are very well supported by their parents. TBH parental support is one of the pillars of a great school, particularly in the early years.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 12-May-13 14:56:29

happygarden, you mentioned that the drug-addicts, etc, do love their children. Perhaps by "aspirational" I just mean hopeful and tentatively excited when things go well, but lacking expectations that they will. I appreciate that addictions and mental health problems preoccupy the parent though....

You make a good point about the handful of disadvantaged children in outstanding schools still not doing well. We think a lot about this in our school. I like to think I have been a small part of the solution. It has to do with who you stand next to on the playground, with remembering what it felt like to come from a family that was different......good points were made above about do-gooding not being the answer.

Music is a small but not completely insignificant part of the answer. Because it fundamentally doesn't matter, you can fool around with it, change the curriculum, make up your own syllabus and put unqualified people like me in positions of responsibility - you can take risks with it. You can build up a provision that maps itself entirely around a family's tastes, desires, happy memories and aspirations. So in a funny way it can end up mattering after all smile. But I don't think we can import El Sistema into England wholesale. I think that's a bit too top down.

Greythorne Sun 12-May-13 15:06:34


I agree with you. But I do think there are swathes of MC, upper MC etc. parents who are very busy with their own concerns (careers, sport, hobbies) who think that by paying £10 - 20K in school fees, there children will be educated. I can think of several families in this situation and their children are not doing well academically or in other terms (their manners are appalling!).

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 15:11:13

You may be right grey.

But the parents at my DC's prep were not like that! They made me feel like an amateur!

TBF as the DC have got older, parental input has lessened. Not disappeared but eased off... thank goodness.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 15:17:09

Word. You do not need to worry about the State taking over your child's education as yours are private. The thread is about a good education for all not just for your kids. What do you suggest for the not so lucky children?

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 15:19:04

Funnily enough Grey the manners at our local top performing state school are really bad. The kids have a real sense of entitlement. That is from their teachers.

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 15:29:32

losing I feel very sorry indeed for DC without advantage, particularly as that was me in childhood!

However, I feel it is utterly wrong to try to leaven advantage by placing the state at the heart of what is a family matter.

You cannot and should not attempt to enrich the lives of the disadvanateg by impoverishing the lives of the advantaged.

Greythorne Sun 12-May-13 15:35:27

My former boss who is an incredible high flyer (think CEO of worldwide blue chip) simply does not have time for her children. She has four and they are all quite wild, horrible manners, struggling at their very expensive expatty schools. She is just banking on them going to boarding school to knock them into shape.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 15:36:43

We have to sign our children's diaries every week even now in Year 8. My ds needs to do his homework not me. I sign the book to stop him getting detention and look at his books every now again to see how he is getting on but he is now old enough to take responsibility himself. This over reliance on parental contracts serves no purpose other than to get kids in to detention if book not signed. What if parents big interested. Kid gets detention for parent not being interest enough soon. Great idea making those children at an instant disadvantage.

If you don't do your homework it should be detention not if parents have checked you did your homework. How is this going to help kids in the workplace. Are they going to ask parents to sign then. We are seeing the influence of parents fighting for their kids' rights in the workplace in HR. It is just ridiculous.

The other argument against it is that parental involvement can be negative. Don't bother with that subject this is much better even though child more likely to do better in the first subject. Do you think top public schools expect 14 year olds to get parents to take responsibility for prep. No. Therefore better preparing the kids than the State system.

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 15:37:02

What about their father grey does he work long hours too?

Greythorne Sun 12-May-13 15:40:41

I am not sure what he does but he is not very involved.

There's a certain abdication of parental duty, to my mind. I think it is shocking that the normal progression you expect, of children doing better than their parents because their parents strive to give them better opportunities eventually stalls when the parents are such high flyers that they don't have time to do the best for their children.

Might be a small subset of parents, but I know of at least two families in this category.

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 15:41:36

losing you're right about homework etc.

My DS attends a public school and I wouldn't be expected to help with homework in any way or sign anything. And he's never given any project type stuff that requires me to do owt. Though I would be informed about a detention.

But the options process very much involves the parents.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 12-May-13 15:41:49

can you explain a bit more word? You sounded a bit "let them eat cake" in your posts until I got to the bit where you said that you do feel very sorry for children without advantage esp. as that was you in childhood...

but I'm not quite clear on what you are for or against....? are you ok with the well-off paying tax to pay for universal schooling, thus impoverishing themselves, for instance?

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 15:41:54

Word I think the difference between State and Private is quite big in this. Parental contracts run until a child is 16 and is just foot tick box approach. I agree you do not want your child to lose out at the expense of the disadvantaged but I actually feel all children including the Mc kids in the State system are being disadvantaged in later life by this reliance on parental impact being so important and believe I am as bad as the rest.

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 15:48:27

thesecret just for context, I'm from one of the biggest and worst housing estates in Europe. Growing up I was very poor indeed!

My view is that parental input is one of the most enriching things in a child's life. Nothing to do with being rich or poor by the way.

But there do seem to moves afoot (and I htough this was what losing was supporting) to reduce parental input as much as possible to leaven the advanatge it gives those DC against those whose parents don't give as much input.

pofacedlemonsucker Sun 12-May-13 16:02:36

In order to hand over your child to state Ed and relinquish responsibility for their education to schools (ie for options etc) then you would have to have faith in the system.

If we are genuinely suggesting that parents in disadvantaged socio-economic areas are right to be disenfranchised with school, how on earth do you propose to convince a group of middle class parents that the school has their best interests at heart?

This would be a complete disaster, with the system able to pigeon hole child on definitive pathways merely by dint of their socio-economic status, and would lead to far less economic mobility.

I can't see it flying at all.

My kids are entirely stated educated. I have a son who is both extremely bright and ADHD. School are happy if he hands in a bit of homework every now and again - they removed him from his grade skip classes because although he aced the work, he wasn't confident enough about removing himself from his peer group and finding the other classroom. The school aren't concerned that he isn't meeting his potential at all.

I also have a dd with a physical disability. She is extremely bright, but has slow recording skills due to her disability. There isn't enough time or money to sort out a system whereby she can meet her potential, so she is grouped with the children with learning disabilities.

I have spent periods working in secondary schools. There are classes where the 'education' is crowd control, and a constant effort to inspire some sort of interest in the student body to no avail. I have worked with some of the most committed teachers, who work for hours to come up with something likely to stimulate interest in young teens. They turn up and chuck ink cartridges around for amusement.

I had to leave the learning support department for my own sanity. So understaffed and underfunded that the 'annual review' of a child's needs consisted of nothing other than a rubber stamp and continuation of the same (whether a child obviously needed more or less support) because there was just no time or money to do the job thoroughly. And where, if a child did not have interested and engaged parents, who were actively petitioning for action, then it was virtually impossible to get any changes in support for a sinking child.

I did the philanthropic thing. I forced the departmental hand on a number of occasions and we made changes towards enabling pupils to succeed with a different support. But it was so virtually impossible that the system made me weep.

Will I be handing decisions about my children's future to the school?


And these are nice middle class outstanding comprehensives, where people fight to get their kids in, move into catchment to secure a place etc.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 16:26:02

Is that why people from disadvantaged backgrounds do worse in mc areas though because they who shout the loudest get the best deals. In areas of deprivation disadvantaged children do better because they are not having to compete against the MC mafia. At my DD's school only the parents who continually keep in touch with the teachers get the support and I do it myself but this surely is wrong as it gives far more resource to those kids with engaged parents. If this level of parental input was reduced those children who needed the help most would get it. It would not please all parents but that combined with rearranging the catchment areas would mean more of a mix in schools. No matter what happens in schools engaged parents do influence their kids with private tutors etc. by not letting parents have so much control teachers who know the kids can maintain discipline better. What they say goes. Children cannot rely on their parents to fight their battles for them. Parents currently undermine teachers by their continual influence. A friend recently argued against a child's detention for not having done her homework and one. This in itself undermines discipline in the school and leads her child to expect her mom to find her battles for her. We are now seeing parents trying to fight disciplinaries for our employees. How can we not try and stop this. I understand your issues with SN but really schools should have more powers to enforce things otherwise the gal between state and private education will grow and all state educated children will lose out.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 16:33:52

Maybe this is where the feedback from private parents is useful. Discipline in private schools may be enforced at least partly due to the option of just asking for a child to be removed. State schools do not have this choice as it is difficult to exclude parents and if you drop a child into a lower set to lose the disruption for the other kids, parents complain and argue for the child to go back up ruining the chances for learning for the other kids. This is a big problem for discipline in schools. If parent not informed or actually shown evidence of the reasons for switching it is up to the kid to try and get him or herself back up.

For me this is a wider issue than schooling as we are beginning to see it in the workplace now too. Children relying on their parents too much.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 16:51:18

An example DD should move up a grouping as finding work too easy. Teacher agreed. Can we do anything about it no because it means another child would have to move down and ultimately although school not telling me parents would complain and easier just to give her extra work but keep her in same group. Utter tosh. I am arguing on her behalf but so would the parents of child going down. 'We can't upset the parents now can we so let's create more work for the over stretched teacher by now giving extra time and effort to my child because she is in the wrong group. No wonder teachers feel like quitting. This behaviour should be stamped out. Either don't set or just tell kids what groups they are in without having any due regard for the parents - harsh but ultimately better for all children. I am very pro state education but rapidly moving towards private for this parental pandering.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 12-May-13 17:04:11

"But there do seem to moves afoot (and I htough this was what losing was supporting) to reduce parental input as much as possible to leaven the advanatge it gives those DC against those whose parents don't give as much input."

Oh I see........ thank you for explaining. I had completely misunderstood you!

No, reducing parental input would be bonkers (how would they reduce parental input anyway? can you be more concrete?). My job as I see it is to increase parental input by the "side door" of music.

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 17:22:33

See I think that's the positive solution.

Find ways to engage disengaged parents, not try to disengage engaged ones IYSWIM.

Chandon Sun 12-May-13 17:29:15

Ok, here some feedback from a " private school parent".

I moved my children out of the state sector a year ago, and am now looking for secondary schools (state or private) for the next stage.

I am not into the whole status thing, old boys network or anything like that ( younknow, I would liek to think we are not that sort of parents).

We were disappointed with our state school, due to class size ( 36 in Y3), lack of SEN support ( they did not even want DS2 tested, due to cost?) , but mostly the ongoing low level disruption, which created an environment in which it was difficult to learn. I helped out in the classroom, as teacher was desperate and no TA in Y3, and I was happy to help.

It was an unexpected eye opener, it was just all so chaotic, noisy and kids constantly getting up and walking about and chatting.

What I am paying for now, is really " classical teaching", ie a teacher in front of the class, all pupils facing the teacher, the teacher removing unruly children to go and see the HT if needed. There is more time for learning as there is less of a need for crowd control.

Some would call this approach "old fashioned" though, and it is not at all n line with modern education theories of lots of group work, and teaching kids to cope with disruption etc. interestingly there are 5 children with SEN or SN in DS class, they get one on one support daily if needed and in classroom support. Some of these kids can be disruptive, the parenst then get involved.

It is not nirvana, just a bit less chaos and discipline, and most importantly, higher expectations of the children.

Low level disruption and low expectations ( being told after y2 sats that my Ds was bottom of the bottom set, and that in every class someone has to be bottom, yet refusing to assess him for SEN, telling us he would never get to level 4 by year 6) as well as lack of SEN support made us move.

For state schools to be more like this kind of private school, they would need more money and for parents to be really on board regards discipline. Neither are very likely to happen, sadly, due to lack of funds and a changing society where people think their kids do not need to respect the teachers.

pofacedlemonsucker Sun 12-May-13 17:31:51

Quite, word.

Anything else is farcical.

And actually, losing, parental pandering isn't the problem at all. No one was getting the support they needed, I hate the advocacy thing, but it is the ONLY way that anything sn gets done to the woefully inadequate system. This isn't a case of the parent ally unsupported kids falling through the cracks in the face of schools appeasing naice middle class parents - this is a case of nothing happening at all, ever, because there is no money or time to support it, and the more capable parents being forced to take legal advice, move schools, prepare for tribunals etc.

To dismiss it as middle class parents getting stuff and disadvantaging those from lower socio-economic groups is tosh.

Dd2 was working 5-7 years ahead of her peer group. We're a nice mc family. She still gets to spend her school days with the kids that can't read.

The system is pretty much failing kids everywhere, and I don't see it as anything to do with parental involvement. In most cases, parental involvement is propping up the damn thing and ensuring it isn't failing every kid.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 17:34:10

I get you Chandon and this is one of my concerns. Children losing all respect for teachers and anyone in authority.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 12-May-13 17:45:46

That is difficult Chandon.

I did the same stepping-in-as-helpful for an after-school sports club run by an external provider. If the lessons were like that it would be awful.

At our primary I am pleased to say the lessons are like at your private school. It's a pity you had to pay for that.

Perhaps it is not so much reducing parental input at secondary, more changing the nature of it?

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 17:53:32

Probably agree with you there Secret. Getting the parents to back the school and not fight it or have to take responsibility for their children following their decision to choose the school. Maybe as in some countries students and teachers working together to enforce discipline at secondary so if a child breaks the rules, discipline is enforced with no parental argument. The child should sign up to the rules not the parent.

pofacedlemonsucker Sun 12-May-13 18:01:08

This signing up to stuff is a nonsense though.

My youngest dd is 9. She had to sign a page long document that essentially said that there was to be no messing about in the changing rooms at school swimming lessons.

What on earth sort of crap society are we running where schools feel they need to get 9 yos to sign behaviour agreements of this nature?

What on earth happened to 'oi, you lot, there will be no messing about in the changing rooms!'

A complete waste of the head teachers time to draft the damn thing, the teachers time to circulate it, the child's time to ponder it and sign it, and my time. I have spent more time being pissed off about the damn thing that it is worth.

In fact, they hadn't even bothered to inform me how additional needs were going to be managed in the swimming lessons. It was apparently more important to circulate behaviour management contracts than ensure the safety of children with additional needs.

So, on the signing of crap documents, I agree. Burn them.

wordfactory Sun 12-May-13 18:09:30

I think the idea is that DC feel engaged in the process.

But really, do small DC think that way? Wouldn't they simply prefer reasonable boundaries that they can understand and comply with to be set?

As parents, don't we simply have expectations of certain behaviour? Non negotiable stuuf? Surely some of those non negotiable things transfer to the class room?

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 18:16:30

It is crap. The type of society where schools have to protect themselves against parental complaints that little Johnny was told off for messing about in the changing rooms. The system just gets perpetuated by lack of discipline. It is your fault Mr Smith that Johnny played up. No it is the school's fault. Back and forth like a tennis match meanwhile little Johnny has learnt that Dad will stick up for him and school will
Eventually back to down because Dad will employ a lawyer. There are 33 other little Johnny's in the class and that contract may just hold up in court as proof the rules were explained but it will never get that far because waste of LEA resources. Now see how hard it is to sack a disruptive employee Johnny in 11 years' time!

Talkinpeace Sun 12-May-13 18:20:48

state schools could never be like your private school for the simple reason that they have to accept all children.

the alternative is exclude all of the disruptive ones
and rely on Fagin and the Artful Dodger to pick up the slack

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 18:30:26

My friend was teaching a year 4 class and had angry parent storm in and verbally abuse her. The crime. She had the cheek to point out that the son should know to include capital letters in her writing.!

Bonsoir Sun 12-May-13 20:19:59

Greythorne - "I think it is shocking that the normal progression you expect, of children doing better than their parents because their parents strive to give them better opportunities eventually stalls when the parents are such high flyers that they don't have time to do the best for their children."

I agree with your observation. I think that dual-career couples often have a hard time making the decision to make the children's education a priority and rather hope for the best.

Greythorne Sun 12-May-13 21:11:51


Yes, and the ones I know don't just hope for the best, they assume that paying for private schools and tutors and after school activities is a substitute for parenting.

Bonsoir Sun 12-May-13 21:17:02

Yes. I remember a friend telling me in hushed tones that her SIL hadn't even met her DCs' tutors - she just called an agency and had them sent round to her home in the evenings shock.

There's a lot of it about, in certain circles. I think some dual-career couples aren't really aware of what parenting is.

Xenia Sun 12-May-13 22:15:17

Do people really think that if parents are not supportive and don't help children at home etc the answer is to ensure that those who are are stopped being so? That surely is communism at its worst - stopping the good things because others have them in some kind of jealous rage to ensure everyone does very badly but at least they all do it together and equally.

Xenia Sun 12-May-13 22:16:13 parent is not a verb.. A parent is a noun. This is not a grammar point. It is about parents thinking they do a job. They don't. It is just part of your life, not some kind of career task.

musicalfamily Sun 12-May-13 22:21:56

I agree with Xenia on both points. Being an absent parent in my opinion is a psychological condition rather than one of constant physical presence.

I could say I know many parents who are with their children all the time and fail to parent them. I also know parents who use work as an excuse not to parent.

Greythorne Sun 12-May-13 22:48:34

I am not arguing for constant physical presence as a prerequisite for good parenting.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sun 12-May-13 22:54:11

'to parent' is, very obviously, a verb. Just saying.

wonderstuff Sun 12-May-13 23:39:11

I think we as a society need to prioritise education and outcomes for young people. At the moment I feel the pursuit of wealth is seen as the upmost importance, education and learning are not up there.

The most vulnerable need more resources, at the moment those resources are being rationed heavily, children with needs have to fail for a significant period of time before extra support is made available. This is crazy. I spoke to parents last week whose child was on a goodness knows how long list for a hearing test. I was gobsmacked.

I think the widening gap between the rich and poor and the reduced social mobility which has taken place over the last 30 years is a big part of the problem. We seem to be taking from the poor and blaming them for their situation. People aren't stupid, they know that when they are in poorly paid work or on benefits and their children are going to a poor school the outcomes for their children are likely to be poor, education was, for the baby boomer generation a way of improving your lot (so long as you passed 11 +) but that simply isn't happening, of course parents disengage. We are giving a huge proportion of top jobs to a very small proportion of privately educated people. You can't look at the cabinet and really think they, in a country of 60 million are the best people for the jobs they hold?

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 07:18:48

(to parent does not exist as far as I know. It would always be marked with a big read cross if anyone wrote "I parent". It just shows they are not well educated. Obviously I agree language does change over time but you will find many people sharing my view - do a web search so if applying for jobs where English matters never use parent as a verb.)

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 07:29:00

Don't be so pedantic, Xenia. To parent is the gender neutral rendering of to mother. I thought you liked equal parenting.

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 07:42:19

(I am just making the point that many of us do not use it as a verb because it feels and sounds wrong grammatically and if there is a mumsnetter writing her CV or job application today and we save even one mother from writing "I parent my child" rather than "I am a parent of a child" then we will have helped that mother impress an employer rather than annoy an employer. It makes me wince whenever I hear someone write - I parent. I don't even allow shower in our home - you can go have a shower but "I will shower now" grates. Someone can probably find me something which shows people showering rather than having showers is fine, but it grates on me and feels wrong and we must of course all all costs keep Xenia happy.

I suppose it not inappropriate on a good education thread to discuss grammar. This is just another issue of advantage given to children, no different from their education. Their parents may well teach them to speak well or eat well and that is fine. I do not believe moral principle requires all children to be driven down to the lowest common denominator and nor do I believe that if a parent speaks well then its children should be removed every evening and subjected to conversation with a parent of low vocabulary to make things fair.)

Chandon Mon 13-May-13 07:44:46

Talkingpeace, I guess they do not "have to" accept all children, but like I said in DS class there are 5 children with sen or sn, ranging from dyslexia to autism and aspergers. One child needs almost full on one-to-one as he can be violent and does not understand consequences. This extra support is partly paid by the school ( everyone can get 5 hours extra help) and for the largest part by the parents.

I have seen quite a few state school children with similar levels of SN, who have had to fight toooth and nail to get any support for their child ( taking the LEA to court).

I have definitely seen kids with N so severe they shoudl be in special school rather than ordinary state school. The "inclusion policy" is just a money saving operation. Not all children can fit in with their local primary. In DS year was a boy so violent the class had to be evacuated once or twice a day, whilst the teacher tried to calm down this poor child. Not fair on the class, not fair on the teacher, not fair on the child. It is a scandal how underfunded state schools are when it comes to SN.

lljkk Mon 13-May-13 08:19:12

Genuine question, is there a politically correct way to refer to the
British white Underclass
Karen Matthews' types
High scorers on the IMD2010?

Because "poor" isn't remotely accurate, either.

I think a lot of this thread is talking about trying to make all schools above average, which is by definition impossible.

Average primary class sizes in England is only 26 or 27.

I am delighted that the English language is evolving and new uses for words emerge all the time; I try to parent my children to believe likewise.

wordfactory Mon 13-May-13 08:38:00

xenia langauge is a living thing. It develops. And yes, grammar develops.

The verb to parent, means somehting very different to be being a parent. The later is a state. It's what we are, even when our DC are 45, married and living in Tasmania. The former is the action we take. The conscious decisions we make on behlaf of our DC.

A bit like being a nurse is different from nursing. You're still a nurse when you're stood in the queue at Tescos, but when you're nursing you're actively engaged in your craft.

wordfactory Mon 13-May-13 08:40:41

lljk I think the disenfranchised or the chronically disadvantaged might sometimes be used, but actually neither really sums up what we mean by the underclass.

The underclass denotes not only how that group see themselves, but how others see them. And yes they are disenfranchised and chronically disadvantaged, but more than that as well...

purits Mon 13-May-13 09:12:37

There aren't many who are chronically disadvantaged. All get free education. Some cannot take advantage because of caring duties but many more choose not to take advantage.
We should go with the Chinese proverb: when the pupil is ready the teacher will appear. If the pupil does not want to engage then let them walk away - or even be 'sacked' if they disrupt others - but with the proviso that they can come back to education (to Level 2) at any age when they finally 'get it'.
You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

wordfactory Mon 13-May-13 09:40:39

I think having a SEN could be said to be a chronic disadvantage, couldn't it?

And SEN is seen at much greater rates in the 'underclass'.

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 10:04:43

to shower... to bathe... to wash...

to have a shower... to have a bath... to have a wash

to take a shower... to take a bath...

There are regional/national and perhaps socio-economic variations in usage of all of the above but none of them are incorrect English. You risk coming across as parochial and unacquainted with the globalised world if you condemn one or other as "wrong".

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 10:10:12

That is a fascinating issue. A lot of English which is used today by non-nationals (and many UK nationals) is not what many UK companies would regard as proper English. All I seek to do is to ensure those who speak foreign -English and colloquial English are aware of how some of those interviewing them will regard how they speak in a very competitive jobs market. Knowledge is power. Of course you can do plenty of jobs whilst also saying "to parent", for free, you was, haitch and all manner of other things but it is good to know what views others may have of you even if you decide - "good that is all the more reason I would never work there".

I don't say to "draw a bath" although I know there will be some on here who will say that's what you ought to say, not to run a bath..... To draw a bath is not often said these days. Any mumsnetters use that rather than run or have a bath.

Another one I hate is "I play guitar" rather than "I pay the guitar". Including the the says a lot about you.

purits Mon 13-May-13 10:13:31

So we need two different solutions to two different problems: inherent disadvantage (SEN etc) and transitory disadvantage (circumstances or state-of-mind, which are changeable). I know that there will be crossover to muddy the waters.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 10:15:32

How funny that xenia has turned a thread about 'how can we make things fair' into a thread about 'new and complicated reasons to despise people'!

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 10:17:08

Xenia as usual is stuck somewhere around 1979 and hasn't seen the world evolve.

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 13-May-13 10:19:05

there's no noun that can't be verbed........

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 13-May-13 10:23:53

Xenia "I play guitar" is correct American English I think.

It is richly communicative for a British person to say "I play guitar" rather than "I play the guitar". It tells you that the person does not merely have lessons, but that their music-making is tied in with a sense of ownership and self-expression.

I think it's ok to make a fuss about language if communication is being blocked (I don't like the way we are losing the word "disinterested" because there's no other word to take its place). But not if communication is becoming richer.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 10:26:26

I don't like the way 'disinterested' is used as though it means 'uninterested', and nor do I like 'impact on'. But is suspect I'm going to have to stop pulling students up for 'likely' rather than 'it is likely that', since all my American and Canadian colleagues use it!

BoffinMum Mon 13-May-13 10:33:13
thesecretmusicteacher Mon 13-May-13 10:39:07

naively, you'd think things would be far more equal nowadays because if you are in the "underclass" you tend to not be starving and have access to most of the world's ideas literature via the internet.

Theoretically, it ought not to matter a jot whether a house has paper books in it or not provided it has an internet connection. In 20 years' time, most houses won't. We'll cease to fetishise paper books.

I think those who have quite a sophisticated understanding of these things should explain the basics to me please. Presumably, in the old days, "access to books" didn't really mean "access to books" - it meant "a sense of possibility, of being singled out, of being special, of your efforts being rewarded, of being given access to scarce and precious resources.....". The anecdotes about children walking 10 miles to school in central Africa sharing one book between 60 seem to suggest this.

If we don't understand this, we're going to think we have done our bit by top-down volunteering as with the Princes' Trust volunteer post above. We'll think we've led a horse to water and it isn't drinking .... but we haven't actually led it to water, we've just done something that would have been leading it to water in the 19th century.

Chandon Mon 13-May-13 10:46:14

musicteacher, I was thinking of Bowie singing: "Ziggy plays guitaaaaaaar" and that sounds right. End of ;)

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 10:47:14

I was thinking of Ziggy too!

seeker Mon 13-May-13 10:59:02

Jilly Cooper and Evelyn Waugh read in parallel will provide a thorough grounding in U and Non U language. And behaviour actually- cf Rupert's reaction to Helen putting stuff in the cistern to turn the water in the lavatory blue.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 11:02:40

So far as I'm concerned, if you stand under a shower, you are not doing the work of the shower, so you are not showering - the shower is doing that. However, if you are bringing your child up and acting as their parent, then you are parenting... my Oxford English Reference dictionary agrees with me. If you were actively spitting on someone's head, you could of course, be showering them with spit... grin

wordfactory Mon 13-May-13 11:08:36

I think the idea that some language is right and some is wrong completely misses the point.

Language moves on. That's what is fabulous about it!

A human's ability to communicate in endlessly new and fascinating ways is what makes us so special.

wordfactory Mon 13-May-13 11:10:55

As for the shower example...well

I showered, I took a shower, I had a shower are all perfectly acceptable.
As a writer, I'd use a different phrase in the context of a particular sentence, but that would be as much for texture and resonance, as meaning.

seeker Mon 13-May-13 11:16:11

People who take the U- non U thing seriously are just perpetuating ways to judge other people- a secret club of gits who enjoy despising anyone who doesn't know what to say when someone says "how do you do" to them.

It's a good idea to know the "rules" though, just in case one of the aforementioned gits might be useful to you one day.

Donki Mon 13-May-13 11:18:01

An antidote to Gove - and a passionate believer in good education.
19 minutes of an inspirational amusing talk, well worth the 19 minutes.

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 11:18:10

If you are very hung up on pedantic usage, it can make it difficult to fit in at work in an international context.

wordfactory Mon 13-May-13 11:19:16

It's interesting that all this stuff is considered completely old fashioned at DS terribly old skool school.

And globalisation has all but killed it in business.

wordfactory Mon 13-May-13 11:20:38

True dat Bonsoir wink.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 11:50:51

Nope, sorry, I'm quite happy for others to say they were showering if they really want to, but so far as I'm concerned, when I stand under a shower, I am not showering, the shower is. Likewise, when I'm in a bath, I am not "bath-ing," because one bathes, not baths... There comes a point when turning nouns into verbs becomes weird. Or do the rest of you happily bath in your baths? grin

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 11:53:47

Multi-lingual people rarely bother with pedantry, though. It gets knocked out of them, as it does of other people for whom language-crafting is part and parcel of their livelihood.

Which doesn't mean that you never allow yourself to adapt your language to your audience if it might be to your advantage to do so!

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 11:55:32

To shower has long been a transitive verb. The intransitive usage is more recent in British English.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 12:27:29

But the shower itself is only called a shower through metonymic association. Which is why I always refer to it as 'the device which showers water through multiple jets', and would not allow anyone in my household to refer to it just by naming the action it undertakes. We say 'I am going to be showered with water in the room containing bath, loo and basin'.

It is as well to know these things.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 12:49:53

Give credit where credit is due. If the device which showers water through multiple jets is doing the showering, don't pretend it was you. grin

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 12:57:02

Still, it is all very modern - just as people these days think they are writing an essay when they copy someone else's work from the internet, they also think they are showering when they stand under a shower. grin

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 12:58:28

I only say it to help and as seeker says it does not harm to know what others (whose views you might despite) are thinking about the dodgy foreigner with the weird way of talking....

Plenty of people learn a variety of ways of talking. There was it Nick Clegg dropping his Ts to be cool recently ad most teenagers have a way they speak to their friends and another to their parents. It is when you keep getting rejected for jobs (employers often even ask to hear you on the telephone first sometimes these days or look at a video of you on youtube etc) that it might help to find out the reason (and it is equally as much the other way round - there was a time at the BBC when you could not obtain promotion if you spoke with received pronunciation - you had to have or adopt a regional accent to be promoted).

I am not sure I agree with Bonsoir. Often the foreigners speaking English who learned it well know better grammatical English than most English school leavers.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 12:58:30

Well, quite! Don't get me started on 'I cook supper'!

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 12:59:21

Yes, we would not say "I cook supper".

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 13:04:26

Ah, now we are getting on to the degree of control which someone has over the process.... I might think I was showering myself (but would NEVER admit to merely showering...) if I had a cheap shower attachment on my tap which I had to exert a lot of control over in order to get it to shower me rather than anything else. But since I wouldn't want to admit to having that kind of arrangement, I would rather attribute the showering action to the shower, which makes me sound posh. Likewise, I wouldn't want to admit that I was heating up a ready meal, where I could claim the merit for the heating up because I turned on the oven and paid the electricity/gas bill - I would want to imply I had been more active in the process than that and would therefore use the verb "to cook" which would imply considerable effort on my part in the preparation of the meal and avoidance of burning it... grin

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 13:05:17

Actually, I would "prepare" a meal.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 13:07:22

I assemble it, and then use appropriate kitchen appliances to heat it to a safe temperature.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 13:09:38

No, no, no. You do not assemble it. I refute that.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 13:11:04

Assembling does not give sufficient sense of the mixing involved in food preparation. grin

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 13:11:47

Now, can we go on to talk about scones - which rhyme with stones and cones?...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 13:17:50

Oh dear... Now I'm going to have to fall out with you.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 13:22:52

What a (s)con...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 13:24:47


rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 13:26:37

Is that S-controvversy, or S-contro-versey?

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 13:30:41

EFL learners often have correct grammar, but they are not pedants. I have a pedantometer in French - old-fashioned usage rings massive bells in my ears - because I wasn't accustomed to the usage of grandparents and parents as a child.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 13:56:51


MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 14:01:17

" fewer people will be able to afford private education and ensuring that the pushier parents are lending their support to state education"

While we are at it why not prevent developers from building houses in naice areas? That way those pushier garden centre loving MC parents will be forced to live in not so naice areas. They will then be motivated to make your areas naice as well.

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 14:31:28

I think that it is wishful thinking to imagine that the abolition of independent schools leads to parents insisting that state schools improve. In France, where there are practically no independent schools (although there are private schools, but they have to teach the NC), the big winner is private shadow education.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 15:03:26

In the UK, where there are quite a few independent schools, the big winner still appears to be private shadow education.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 15:07:17

MomOfTomStubby - I think you'll find it's the garden centre loving MC parents who are busy trying to prevent developers from building houses in naice areas, because too much housing in a naice area stops it being naice in the way garden centre lovers like (you do, after all, need a bit of a garden to love garden centres). grin

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 15:20:35

Interesting. It is an immigrant issue then - Bonsoir's own French is presumably really good, but can never be like a native speaker and the same with the many people in the UK who have learned English in homes in the UK where Hindi is spoken or Polish for that matter. Their children often work twice as hard as my lazy things and yet in spoken and written language mine can be very much better, because of the influence from the grave of my late mother in a sense drumming into us that you never say "for free" and about the 10,000 other rules she taught us and we teach our children. In other words you get to be in the club in a sense and presumably anyone can over a generation or two over time in any country or culture if they can bothered or if they want to. I certainly agree English changes. We have a good few words in English we slotted into our language from the days of the Raj even.. none coming to mind - tiffing? bungalow? Often I have no knowledge of the reason why something sounds wrong as I learned most of my grammar in French and German lessons not English, but you just kind of know.

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 15:37:46

That is one helluva generalisation Xenia.

Purely anecdotal but I have Indian friends where English was rarely spoken in the house given that they lived in households with a mum and grandma that spoke little English. I suspect that they would have wiped the floor with your 'lazy little things' when they were the same age.

lljkk Mon 13-May-13 16:15:16

"Socially excluded" was the "in phrase" for a while, but seems to have fallen out of favour. Low SES (socio-economic status) still makes the rounds. I like Underclass, says what it means.

Xenia, hijack a thread? No, never....

Bonsoir Mon 13-May-13 16:21:02

LOL Xenia you are getting a bit carried away. I write French a lot better than my 100% DP (who has all the sort of social credentials you seem to value so much!) and am always the one who writes joint correspondence, helps the children with their personal statements etc. Outdated clichés do not great language make...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 13-May-13 16:31:07

I'm surprised your intuitive sense of what's sloppy and what's not lets 'kind of' through, Xenia!

Talkinpeace Mon 13-May-13 16:46:59

Books are not just about pages of mashed up trees.
They are a symptom of curiosity and the desire to learn - or lack thereof.

When I got my first copy of Expedia on disk I loaded it up onto my Windows 95 PC and left it so my colleagues could have a look and went for lunch.
An hour later they had not clicked.
They had no curiosity or urge to learn.
THAT is why there is an underclass. Closed minds in the parents.
How does one open them?
(^and pedantry about finer points of grammar is an extra padlock by the way^)

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 17:11:43

Grammar helps people understand what others say and what words mean. It is certainly not a barrier to clear thought and communication.

Children whose parents do not want to learn and have no curiosity can be inspired by library books, the internet or teachers or friends.

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 19:00:28

Talkin - You judged and labelled your colleagues based on the fact that they weren't wowed by your new Encarta disk and preferred to enjoy their lunch break doing some like, you know, taking a break from 'brain' stuff?

Talkinpeace Mon 13-May-13 20:04:29

that was merely a symptom of their lack of curiosity about everything

Happymum22 Mon 13-May-13 20:11:25

Yes, I agree Teach First isn't perfect and is very well marketed but compared to a lot graduates coming off training courses, (a lot of unis have under subscribed BEds or PGCEs), they do have an edge.
It is not that they bring their better subject knowledge, but they are prepared to listen and take on advise, put in a lot of commitment and tailor their teaching to the fact they are in a deprived area.

The teach firsters I have met have all been primary and two stuck out. They had done education or child psych/childhood studies related undergrad degrees and all were highly committed and knowledgeable about working with children. Some of them saw teaching as their long term plan and had big ambitions. They made fab teachers. It is the (few) with the stereotypical attitude that it will launch them into the city jobs and be a fun start to their career that struggle, but I have seen Teach First filter them out. Friends DC who have applied who are arrogant, clearly not in it for the teaching/mission and not at all equipped for teaching, do not get a place.

Also, one final point(!) TF DO train their teachers a huge amount before putting them in the classroom. DDs best friend did a large number of essays and school experience time before the Summer Training, then 6 weeks of the residential summer training which was a lot of the content of a PGCE, with essays and tasks to do during the summer. Then when she started she was heavily supported, off on training evenings, weekends and days, and in the holidays had weeks of training.

Not saying it is at all perfect, but neither are the other routes.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Mon 13-May-13 20:19:00

The contention that forcing middle-class children out of private education would make stated education better is just hot air. Speaking as someone who has had to threaten her LEA with legal action on 3 separate occasions in the last 12 months to get them to do what they are legally obliged to do (and I'm as middle-class and sharp-elbowed as they come), I find it utterly laughable.

MomOfTomStubby Mon 13-May-13 21:06:47

On the one hand it's quite a compliment. On the other it's so patronising.

I'm of course referring to the often repeated argument that state education will only improve if we MC parents push aside the WC parents and take over the PTA and the board of governors. And of course the WC kids will now have our naice MC DCs as role models.

Xenia Mon 13-May-13 21:54:07

It certainly implied there is some kind hallowed golden gold dust on the private pupils and if the state ones were lucky to sit in a class with my 5 they would have rub off on to them the magic dust.,.. whereas the reality is that private school parents save the state a fortune and take a morally good course.

rabbitstew Mon 13-May-13 22:16:21

Xenia, high priestess of morality. grin

seeker Mon 13-May-13 22:23:58

grin at "we have to privately educate- it's out moral duty". Heard it all now!

exoticfruits Mon 13-May-13 22:27:43

We would get a good system if we could do the impossible and have it designed by someone who was going to come to Earth without knowing which strata of society they were going to belong to, how much money they would have, how intelligent they would be and how intelligent their children would be.grin

Talkinpeace Mon 13-May-13 22:58:18

No society in the world has cracked this nut by the way.
Because people like Xenia do not realise that people like Gove are narrow minded ill educated little ratbags.
You need to have travelled ALL OVER the UK and other countries and been to ALL types of school to even START getting a handle on the issues.
DH has spent 15 years doing that.
Most of the advisers at the Department for Education were still at prep school 15 years ago.
They think they have the answers
DH knows he doesn't

seeker Mon 13-May-13 23:18:15

What's his solution, talkin?

Very true, exotic!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 07:25:20

I don't think middle class children are made of gold dust or any such thing. I just think it would be better if education wasn't divided on the lines of wealth. I think it's an odd way to organise things, and not to anyone's advantage really.

An odd thing to say, but actually I think if my children and xenia's children were at school together, it would be better for all concerned! Would balance out the extremes that both their mothers come out with wink

seeker Tue 14-May-13 07:30:02

Just so long as the three of us aren't on the PTA committee.........!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 08:51:24


I don't say haitch, if it helps!

Xenia Tue 14-May-13 09:16:13

The reasons it is morally a better course as a woman to earn enough to pay school fees and you are less morally good if you take a state school space are:

1. You relieve the state of huge cost and accept your own responsibilities for your own, rather than leeching off an over burdened state in difficult times.

2. The private sector does things better than the state so you do better for your child which is one of your principal moral duties if you educate it privately. Better to support private sector capitalism than socialist state provision.

3. You have a duty to assist your own child. Paying school fees is one of the best ways to do the best thing for your child.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 09:20:13

Actually Xenia I would prefer it if the state relieved me of the 'huge cost' of privately educating my DC and give me a good (free) GS that is in my catchment.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 09:24:00

.... and even after that, and perhaps a bit because of it, I still think your children should go to school with mine Xenia grin

BoffinMum Tue 14-May-13 09:24:37

Ah, but Xenia, buying education is not without unintended consequences. In this case, by spending money on your own child and removing him or her from the state sector you are actually contributing to the development of quite expensive long term social and economic consequences for the country as a whole, mainly negative. So in actual fact, if a theoretical accountant was to sit down with the national accounts and look impartially at what money was being spent where, and what the outcome was, this fictional accountant would probably abolish independent schooling.

Now I am not advocating this, as the situation is a lot more complex and actually I like the fact there is a public/private tension to keep both sides on their toes. Plus I am largely independently educated myself, have worked in the independent sector, and one of my children went predominantly to independent schools. However we can't get away from the fact that spending 25% of the country's education dosh on 7% of the pupils has left some areas of the UK vastly undereducated and under skilled in comparison with their European counterparts. This is to everyone's detriment.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 09:30:47

Boffin - your spend 25% comment has left me confused

If you are talking about private education why does me paying £x in fees result in other people's children being under educated? It's not as if I get a tax rebate if I don't use my local state school.

Perhaps funds could be hypothecated for education. So the state allocates funds for my DSs education and if they are not educated in the state system then the money gets shared out into the general education pot.

I suspect what actually happens at the moment is that the state allocates a pot of money to education to cover the education of 93% of eligible children on the assumption that 7% will go private. The funds that would have covered the 7% are allocated to another Department entirely.

Chandon Tue 14-May-13 10:38:50

Boffin, does the government spend 25% of its education budget on Private Schools? I find that hard to believe, I thought parents paid?

Do private schools get any state funding at all? If this is true that is completely new to me, and seems wrong!

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 11:19:49

Private schools get funding for special cases. If local state schools can't satisfy say a SEN need for example but the private school can then the LEA sends the child there and foots the bill.

But I can't imagine that the above scenario is that common.

Xenia Tue 14-May-13 11:22:30

I can see that point but I don't agree. If parents did not pay fees they it is not the case that taxes would go up and what we would have spent on fees is then spent on raising the state education budget. Instead we would do with our money what state school parents do - buy shoes, cars, holidays, meals out. All that would happen is that state school costs would rise as our children were dumped on the state system but taxes would not go up so state school pupils would have less not more spent on them.

Also the argument is the same on other things too - if I choose to read to my children at night or buy them healthy foods not bad foods or correct them when they say "for free" or "on the weekend" or"I wil meet with them" rather than meet them I confer an advantage on my children and not on those of others. If I chose instead to buy the children processed food every day instead that does not mean other children whose parents already do so benefit. It just means instead of 80% of children having a bad deal 100% do.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 11:38:58

My children have taken to saying 'excited for'. They are doomed sad

moonbells Tue 14-May-13 11:48:36

Joining in a bit late, and sorry for long post as educational inequality is something I feel extremely strongly about. Might be going a bit back to the start...

I'll nail my colours to the mast first. I went to school in a mining village in the 70s/80s. Most of the other children were from mining families and very few boys cared about education because they were destined to go down t'pit and why on earth did they need to learn stuff first? Parents thought the same so didn't encourage. Girls didn't care either because they expected to marry early and have their menfolk provide for them and the kids. Housing was mostly council.

I was one of the few odd ones out, but from a white collar LMC household one generation up from WC labourers thanks to my mum going to grammar school to 16 and dad being a natural mathematician (but with no exam self-confidence: he became a bookkeeping apprentice at 14). I got mercilessly bullied for wanting to learn, from junior school on. So by the time these kids were 7, they'd turned off. Jesuit maxim anyone? So I have seen what happens if nobody at home cares, first hand. My primary teachers were brilliant but couldn't help in all cases because everything they taught was negated by the constant "What do you want to do that for? Only swots do that." from the families. Swots were bad things.

Of course 10 years later, no more pits and cue a lot of unemployed men and women with no qualifications. Nobody knows what's round the corner but you can never take away education. I came out of the state comps with good A levels and a RG uni offer and a determination that any kids of mine would not have to fight the system if I could bloody help it.

So I would focus everything on reading and writing and numeracy at a very early age. But above all, making it relevant and fun and importantly, getting parents especially mothers involved as a group and as teacher for their own children. Keep classes small for YR, Y1 and Y2 and have a couple of teachers in them. 30 is too big. 20 or less. It's the one-to-one attention that helps most. All the parenting books for early years say it's talking to babies and toddlers that improves vocab and helps hugely. I want the UK to have positive learning culture, not a negative one. Smart = good.

I am sure that the kids who most need the help are the ones with the parents who also think it's a dead loss so don't encourage. Kids are naturally curious, they just don't need it knocking out of them.

I would not change private schools in any way. It would cripple the already overburdened state sector if a flood of children from parents struggling to pay fees were released by their bills going up 20%. If people want to pay taxes and also fees, that surely is saving the economy some considerable money. Also, I believe strongly that striving for the best (should!) produce people who will be capable of helping the country as a whole stay afloat. We shouldn't snipe at those who can as they can look after themselves: we should direct resources to help those who can't or don't have the chance. We need everyone, or things will get (more) unbalanced.

(deep breath... presses post...)

rabbitstew Tue 14-May-13 11:50:00

Oh no, TOSN! It is entirely your fault. You have failed to realise that state education is actually immoral and leads to parents dumping their children on the state without wanting to pay for them via their tax bill.

Xenia Tue 14-May-13 11:57:02

Good for moonbells.
I do not see why it is more wrong to pay school fees than to pick one of the better state or religious schools or read and talk to your children and all the other things parents do to benefit their own child without benefiting others. It is not a moral wrong to do right by your child. Most of us do not have the resources to read bed time stories to every child in the village. Indeed if you pay fees as a woman you are likely to earn more money and then have more money available to help less fortunate people. Women who work hard in high paid work are better able to help those who need help than women who are uneducated and on the minimum wage.

Chaz will be right that the education budget is based on children in the state not private system. I would obvious like a voucher for the £5k a year state pupils cost to be used anywhere and topped up a bit like the age 3 and 4 vouchers which can be used at private schools which Labour introduced and always made me laugh - only political party who gave you an education voucher to set against school fees was Labour.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 12:49:07

moonbells - Substitute British Steel for coal mines and you have my life story.

With a lot of people Page 1 of their strategy is to get rid of private schools. Page 2 is what they would do afterwards but when you turn the page you see that the words 'we'll sort that out after we get rid of private schools'.

MNetters regularly post about the lack of school places. Imagine the problem compounded by x thousands of ex private school kids and kids that would have previously gone private.

Good thing that these armchair experts aren't in charge of education policy eh? smile

rabbitstew Tue 14-May-13 12:59:56

And current government policy is to remove Local Authorities from the equation, so that all schools become academies and free schools and can become their own admission authorities. The Local Authority will no longer collect all the figures on who is applying for state funded school places and where, because they will no longer be allocating places and schools don't have to opt in to give them the figures. When parents discover there aren't enough school places to go around, they can no longer legitimately complain to the Local Authority about it, but will be free to go through the extended process of applying to open up their own free school for their kids. What a good thing these experts are in charge of education policy, eh? hmm

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 13:05:51

Disadvantaged children under perform because of a whole list of problems that I won't bother rehashing. So lets solve the problem by getting rid of GSs that affect only a small proportion of the population.

What a good thing these 'experts' aren't in charge of education policy, eh?

creamteas Tue 14-May-13 16:41:43

MNetters regularly post about the lack of school places. Imagine the problem compounded by x thousands of ex private school kids and kids that would have previously gone private

Don't follow the logic, the buildings and teachers are still available, so you just convert them to state schools (we could even call in nationalisation to really really upset some people grin)

This is actually happening in some cases, a couple of small private schools I know of, are in the process of applying for free school status. My guess is that they weren't very attractive private schools and were/are financially in trouble, but I don't actually know much about it.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 17:29:47

You can call it whatever you want smile but it is going to cost the government money.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 17:31:00

.. money they don't have.

creamteas Tue 14-May-13 17:38:49

We could easily afford decent education on the money the government has now, with different priorities.

But even if they didn't, I would happily pay more taxes for good education for all, and if they are saving money on school fees, then lots others can pay more too smile

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 18:42:34

DH does not have THE answer.
But he would abolish all selection of any kind in State funded schools.
You want religious / sex / academic selection? Pay for it.
Also backtracking on some of Bliar's "parental choice" will mean more kids go to school locally (which would hit us directly)
But would mean that motivated parents might work on the weaker school rather than driving past it.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 18:48:06

Talkinpeace - how does your DH propose to abolish selection by postcode?

creamteas Tue 14-May-13 18:58:01

to abolish selection by postcode

That's easy. For example, you could use catchment areas designed with a mixed intact from richer and poorer areas or award places by lottery.

It would depend on population density and school size.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 19:21:38

Richer and poorer areas do not always sit side by side, do they?

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 19:23:47

You cant. No country has.
But get rid of the other forms first and then see which schools genuinrly need support.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 19:27:20

So when the only form of selection is postcode... what happens?

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 19:28:57

And when does selection kick in? Year 10? Y12?

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 19:29:13

Talkin - earlier you was quite scathing about the Young Turks who thought they had the answers. Unless they had been doing this for 15 years like your DH they couldn't even begin to understand the problems you said.

Did you just admit to seeker that your DH doesn't have a solution either? So the difference between your DH and those Young Turks is?

So you don't know what the solution is but you think that having parents like me at your school will improve it. How do you think that happen? I mean, I'll simply hire DS a tutor. How will that benefit the school?

Sorry talkin but it sounds like you don't have any well thought out answers

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 19:32:05

I believe Birmingham Lea tried to organise catchments so they gave a mix which meant we did not get into local school and had to go to a different Lea. The mix at that school was varied but it is still a great school. A bit annoying for us it was at the bottom of our road but actually if all Leas did this - it would lead to a greater mixture of families which would not necessarily dumb down the results because especially at primary (unless it is just mine) kids tend to very competitive and want to prove despite some parents and it should have an overall increase in effort and attitude especially with strong discipline. Even large class sizes can produce good results and in fact the reception at my Dcs outstanding school had 60 in the class but three teachers and three assistants giving more targeted assistance although all learning through play.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 19:32:32

"I'll simply hire DS a tutor"

and you could add: "and keep a shrink in business".

Because that is what happens when DC have no escape route from postcode catchments that play at social engineering.

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 19:35:16

It is at our outstanding mc school where everyone has a tutor.

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 19:36:36

The result of everyone having a tutor less pupil support.

BoffinMum Tue 14-May-13 19:41:57

Sorry, I should explain the arithmetic. The 25% is derived from the total spent on education in the UK including independent school fees, which is one theoretical way of looking at it.

An analogy might be the way total US healthcare spend exceeds that of the UK, but it has inferior infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy amortised over the whole population, so if you think about the total benefit to the population the value for money element looks poor. Even though people like me, with private insurance etc are probably able to access world class care when they want to.

So in this case, on the one hand, you are indeed providing an indirect subsidy for the state in not taking up a state school place, but on the other hand, there are other less positive indirect consequences to this action. It's complicated.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 19:51:00

Bonsoir - I don't understand the shrink comment. Unless you think that all children who are tutored are damaged children. If that is your point then there is a heck of a lot of damaged GS and Indie kids out there.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 19:52:25

No - it's not the tutor that damages the DC, but the über-heterogeneous classes.

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 19:53:45

All the children in my area are tutored for SATS and sometimes the school offers its own equivalent of tutoring. Blimey some kids are at kumon from age 3 and continue at Indy school.

wordfactory Tue 14-May-13 19:55:04

And won't it be really draining for DC to have tutors after a day at school? Presumably they'll have homework too!

When will they sing in choirs and play sport (and watch Friends and text their mates)...

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 19:58:00

I would hate my DD to have a tutor every day - I want her to do other things after school! As it is she has an English tutor (though this is not related to school) but we squeeze that in on Tuesday lunchtime.

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 19:59:01

They will not be allowed any of those activities. No less than Level 8 in piano plus several foreign languages will do first and then you get to play!!

choccyp1g Tue 14-May-13 20:01:30

Bit of blue sky thinking here...

Many of the private schools are it wouldn't cost anything to nationalise them as the government wouldn't have to pay any "owners" to take them over.

It would just be a case of changing their charter such that their admission rules were the same as all the other state schools.

Similar to what happened to many charitable hospitals when the NHS was started.

Private boarding schools could simply change their admissions to the same as the existing handul of state boarding schools.

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 20:02:37

Do agree with you on the over tutoring though. Mine is learning abacus one night a week with me going as well. That is her tutoring -she beat me tonight. Little Miss! We are enjoying it. My ds asked for tutoring because all his friends were having it in Year 5. He had not realised what was involved. 6 weeks was enough!

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 20:06:32

I'm not sure what you mean about "when does selection kick in"
Here in Hampshire, all of the non Catholic state schools are non selective till 16.
After 16 we have colleges that specialise (like Sparsholt)
Personally I'd rather there was academic 6th form at schools but that is what I grew up with.

I am deeply scathing of people who say they have the answer.
If it existed, it would have been adopted across the world by now.
What I am saying is that since "parental choice" kicked in, social mobility in the UK has declined (as per the ONS)

The US system is catchment only - and yes, the result is not equal
things like the Pupil Premium are really good, targeted ways to get the funding to where it is needed.

You have to remember that my catchment school was in the bottom 18 in the country for several years
which is why my kids do not go there
BUT 500 of their friends at the successful school also live in the dire catchment ....
if we all HAD to go to the local school it would not be so dire - not would their current school be as excellent.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 20:09:06

In all education systems, selection kicks in somewhere. In the French state system there is no selection (other than postcode) until 15. In the Netherlands there is selection at 12. Etc.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 20:12:36

My tutor remark was in response to the argument that my pushy-ness will improve the academics at a less then great state non selective.

Faced with minimal homework and sub standard teaching my solution would not be to hammer down the HT's door demanding action. Instead my solution would be to hire a tutor. Given the accelerated teaching that my DS currently gets having a tutor for a few hours a week is hardly going to make his brain explode from the so called pressure.

So can someone explain to me how having me at your school is going to improve it for your children+

losingtrust Tue 14-May-13 20:14:27

We had selection at 16 to no grammars. The schools were all streamed though. It worked well.

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 20:14:51

But do you mean exclusive or inclusive selection?

Spartsholt has no academic limits : but people move hundreds of miles to study there.
Totton College is non academic - but some of their courses have over 90% employment rates
Peter Symonds sets 5 A-C as its "selection" but that's no great shakes as the other colleges have already catered for the others

the point is that selection by a single exam is just daft.
selection by offering different routes is eminently sane.

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 20:18:50

My kids are at a comp.
Everything from future Oxbridge and Tory Leaders (he wishes, bless him) to tractor drivers.
And yes, my kids get little homework so I make them do extra.
But so do the parents of all the other kids in the top 60 in the year.
Meaning the teachers get a fillip and have the energy to teach the carrot crunchers.

In a school with only carrot crunchers, the good teachers will not be there.
In a school with only pushy parents, the transformational teachers may not be there.
Mix it up and give everybody an opportunity.
You'll save it later in your prison costs taxes.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 20:27:42

Selection means just that: instead of comprehensive schools, schools and pupils start to select.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 20:28:40

Tutoring of MC DC in comprehensive schools hugely disadvantages those DC who do not have tutors.

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 20:30:11

The USA does not do it till 18. Much of the UK ditto.
Sounds good to me.

Selection and compulsory education are incompatible with fairness.

Erebus Tue 14-May-13 20:31:58

Talkin "What I am saying is that since "parental choice" kicked in".
It never did. Parental preference did, mind.

How many DC does MB send to Oxbridge? via, PS, of course? Interested.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 20:32:16

The US has one of the worst high-school drop out rates of the developed world.

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 20:32:48

Tutoring of MC DC in comprehensive schools hugely disadvantages those DC who do not have tutors
It brings the whole standard of the school up.
Kids are in sets and streams anyway :
my kids are not tutored (other than nagged by me) and they are in the top 10 in their cohort of over 300.
If the top set is all tutored kids, that in NO WAY disadvantages the lower sets. It actually frees up more resources for them.

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 20:35:06

Oxbridge 5 or 6 a year and around 30 to RG.
PS takes around 60% of MB, BP another 30% and the other 10% do Sparsholt or leave school altogether.

Bonsoir Tue 14-May-13 20:36:48

Tutoring gives teachers a distorted view of the impact of their teaching. They think they need to do less than they really do in order for DC to progress. This is widely documented in France (where shadow education is massive).

FadedSapphire Tue 14-May-13 21:21:16

Shame ofsted can't see which schools coast on their home tutored children and pretend they have done all the work....
Shame potential parents can't see that outstanding results may have bugger all to do with the school....

seeker Tue 14-May-13 22:00:56

Do you think teachers don't know which of their class has been tutored?

FadedSapphire Tue 14-May-13 22:05:15

But do Ofsted take it into account....

FadedSapphire Tue 14-May-13 22:08:23

Rhetorical question...

Xenia Tue 14-May-13 22:09:16

Lots of homework isn't always a good thing. My daughter reminded me this weekend that at her school there was no weekend homework or holiday homework ever (school rule, top 1- 5 school in the UK). My son reminded me that at his school they had a rule of no homework in holidays ever. If these very good academic schools can manage that and certainly mind did not have tutoring (you shouldn't need it if the school is good and you're quite bright) others can manage. At the moment my sons are doing just about all homework in breaks at school. I am sure that is not ideal but it certainly makes the evenings rather lovely.

FadedSapphire Tue 14-May-13 22:17:18

A relative of mine sends her children to an 'outstanding' state primary. She has home tutoring as all the other parents do; they panic each other into doing it. Ofsted noted [seeming surprised] that although outstanding results no sign of outstanding teaching. Idiots if they do not see that this school is coasting and preening itself over results that are majorly influenced by private tutoring.
Xenia- I think your school's homework policy sounds healthy for weekends and holidays.

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 22:18:34

Mine get very little evening homework either.
The consensus view from their teachers (and from other teachers DH has spoken to) is that the huge amounts of homework at some private schools are more about fee justification to parents than pupil learning.

Evenings are for music, sport, dancing, and sideways learning (OK tonight it was Eurovision!)

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 22:19:19

It's the 'you was' that gives it away, isn't it?

FadedSapphire Tue 14-May-13 22:23:14

TOSN- this is the second thread today where you have confused me!
What is my tired little brain missing?!

Talkinpeace Tue 14-May-13 22:24:19

The NHS and the public schools are not really comparable : and charity Law has been tightened up in the last 20 years.

And frankly, fee paying schools are not the big problem : they are an excellent tax earner for the UK from overseas pupils, no country has ever managed to abolish private schools.

Its the disparity of opportunities within the schools paid for out of taxes
(eg all girl Jewish schools or all boy Muslim ones) that are not appropriate.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 22:26:03

I can't speak for other schools but homework at DS's private school isn't about fee justification. The school operates an university type tutorial model. The pupil's homework is to prepare for the lesson. That way the teacher can focus on teaching during lesson time as opposed to introducing facts for the first time to the students.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 22:31:58

Sorry, faded! I think there may be a revenant hanging around, that's all!

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 07:44:32

Agree. My children's state schools ESP the primary had a little homework policy and none over holidays. The school council created this policy which was in line with the head's view who have spent a lot of time in Norway. He is of the view that outdoor classrooms, music and enrichment such as forest school is more beneficial than lots of homework at primary. It is still a great performing school. The result some parents complained and moved theirs to private primary where they get lots of homework and exams from age 5. Whoopee.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 08:00:43

So we're suggesting that instead of a system where the brightest are taught elswhere, that we keep all DC together but the brightest have tutors in the evenings after school?

And this is fairer, how?

And this helps the other 90% how?

And this helps the top 10% how?

Seriously, I think that might be the worst suggestion I've ever heard!

lljkk Wed 15-May-13 08:01:18

I hope no one is saying that it's lack of selective education that causes the US to have a high school drop out rate. shock

no country has ever managed to abolish private schools.

Um, not even China, North Korea, ex-Soviet Union, ex-commie ones?

There is so much elitism revealed in this thread & in the defence of private ed as a morally superior choice (defend that as wanting to get the very best for your children if you like, but don't be ridiculous by pretending it's a nice thing to do to rest of society); and as for mass selection in state education, it's the most elitist maneuver of all. Say what you like against American society, but we haven't descended to that level yet, thankfully.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 08:02:04

There is a panic for tutoring due to early streaming at primary. Nobody wants their child in the bottom group. SATS at the age of 6/7 are the main cause of this and as many have said tutoring can lead to lazy schools. This seems to be all over now. It used to just be in 11+ areas but now there is pressure to get your child to level 5/6 at the end of primary to get into the top stream at the comp. It does bottle out at secondary though when the tutored kids start to move down. Some schools have parents who continue to tutor all the way through secondary and this for me is the problem with state education. It is very level driven and the round education that us oldies received is being sacrificed as a result but how to persuade parents not to tutor? It is the pressure to keep up that is more to do with the parents than the kids although my DS and DD have both asked for tutoring to get to the top table so some of this competition is coming from them too which is where it should come from buy if they just practiced off their own backs rather than having a Tutor that does them more credit. DD now 8 was writing out all her times tables last night off her own back to get into the 99 club at school. Maybe more challenges within school are the answer rather than parent driven and this is my issue with too much parental involvement not engagement in education.

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 08:11:10

losing - what works in Norway or Finland does not mean it will work here. It's like me arguing that Hong Kong proves that lots of homework is beneficial.

Various studies have shown that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds often receive no stimulation at home. No trips to museums, talks over the dining table about global warming, no trees to climb or forests to explore. Many start school barely literate.

In my/our leafy burb the Norway model might work but that would be because there is additional parental support. But in an environment where there is no/little support those kids will just fall further behind the kids from the leafy burbs.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 15-May-13 08:13:19

Nit - well, yes, but perhaps not quite so much as the initials?

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 08:14:58

So Mom. You take them to museums, on nature walks and get them talking. I grew up in a deprived area. No tutoring but my school did all of the above. No homework. The result I had an interesting and round education that made me want to continue learning rather than being switched off by education because I was not on top table at age 7. Tutoring happens if these areas too.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 08:16:46

Neither of my DCs could read when they started school. It never held th back because at their school they start formal teaching a bit later.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 08:20:22

And we let them demolish SureStart without a fight. Shame on us.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 08:21:32

I just googled the new word. grin

seeker Wed 15-May-13 08:22:48

"So we're suggesting that instead of a system where the brightest are taught elswhere, that we keep all DC together but the brightest have tutors in the evenings after school?

And this is fairer, how?

And this helps the other 90% how?

And this helps the top 10% how?

Seriously, I think that might be the worst suggestion I've ever heard!"


losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 08:25:24

There was a very interesting programme on education a couple of years ago that featured a primary in a deprived area of London. The head teacher got great results. As she said some of these children never left the estate or went to a park. Her job was to open their eyes to what was out there so they concentrated on enrichment and the result was that the school got really good results. The answer is to not just teach literacy to kids at primary but especially in deprived areas to make them want to learn for themselves. This would be a far better state than one that concentrates on mediocre exam results only which seems to be the focus. I was the first generation in my family to go to uni even though my parents did not believe in it because I had a good round education that made me want to learn.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 08:29:58

I grew up in depravation. One of the worst estates in Europe. High crime. High substance abuse. Horrendous levels of violence!

The vast vast majoirty of my peers are still there (though some are dead and some are enjoying accommodation provided by Her Majesty).

I am convinced that the difference for me was my Mum. She did all that opening my eyes stuff (within her means obviously) and she was pushy. Seriously pushy.

But how you roll that out on a macro level I don't know. Schools just can't have that level of involvment with every kid, can they? Teachers can't parent.

Bonsoir Wed 15-May-13 08:32:35

I hope you mean deprivation, wordfactory...

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 08:35:22

Ha. To add to my woes, I'm bloody dyslexic!!!!

If I were to tell you all the corkers my agent has found in my manuscripts grin. Oneof my main characters has a misspelt name because it looks right to me! But we've kept it, becausemy agent agreed it gave her an adge and was very 'me'.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 08:35:43

I took a teen from a really deprived area in London on a PGL many years ago. The council had paid and we went to Paris , Brussels and Germany. His lack of World knowledge was amazing. I am not saying we should take every child on a world trip but getting them away from their every day environment via schools can only help. Word you were lucky with your mom, what about the rest of your peers?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 08:39:12

I was lucky losing.

I think for many years I always believed that the changes to help children in poverty should be top down. Social policy stuff. I was completely behind Blair's education x3 poicies.

But now, I've come to accept that it's probably not the way. Perhaps it's better to give help to fewer, but help that will really galvanize change for them.

I guess that's why I'm not for aboliton of selective education, but for the widening of access for the disadvantaged into it.

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 08:45:15

losing - different things work for different children/countries.

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 08:47:29

.. all that I am saying is that we often cherry pick what education policy would be good for our kids and extend it as being good for other people's kids.

Chandon Wed 15-May-13 08:51:13

So true mom!

Like " my perfectly bright kid is top set in all subjects, without tutoring. Therefore setting is good, and tutoring should be banned"

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 08:51:47

And yet people with bright dc can be in favour of comprehensive education.... maybe it's because we'd be happier if they were just levelled down to the 'middle', eh?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 08:57:39

I think for me, it's not so much that I think education should mirror what has suited my DC, but that other kids should get the chance to experience what they have. That they should get the choice IYSWIM.

And as for what will most help disadvanaged DC, well I think of my own childhood and what is happening among my extended family now.

I think one of the main problems is that politicians (and pontificators on MN) haven't ever really expereinced it. And don't really know people expereincing it. And I mean really know, not a passing acquaintance with a fellow parent or summat.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 09:01:42

So what do you think will help those disadvantaged children who don't pass a test of academic ability, then? The ones who don't get to experience a highly academic education, or one in an environment where there aren't any disadvantaged children at all?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 09:05:27


First and foremost? Jobs!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 09:06:01

You're going to give them jobs?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 09:07:26

I mean, yes, of course employment levels in disadvantaged areas are going to make a difference to everyone - the 'Skint' programme the other night showed that - but we're talking about education, right? And if the answer is a widely available test that enables children who pass it to go to a different school, what is the answer for those who don't?

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:10:12

I agree with word. Abolishing tutoring or private education is not the way but concentrating in different areas on different things. Let the MC areas keep tutoring and pay less for these happens. This is the current reality but increase the links between schools and change the catchments. In really deprived areas with children who have no breakfast and are surrounded by adults who don't care we need to accept that these parents will never engage and therefore the children need a rich and varied education. It is not just about learning to read and write and getting to a certain level but they need mentors from business and inspiring teachers to teach them more than this. If they left school with a desire to broaden their experiences and entrepreneurial skills plus an interest in learning this would be better for them. After all what good is five GCSEs that have been spoonfed to you if you have no aspirations.

flanbase Wed 15-May-13 09:12:29

Easy answer is to get the parents to pull the plug on the electronic games and tv and computer. A useful guide to school success, imho, is how many books are in a house and by success I mean achievement at school both academic and non academic.

mummytime Wed 15-May-13 09:12:31

I am a parent of bright children who prefers Comprehensives.
Because: children are not necessarily bright in all areas, it can help them learn about mixing in the real world, there is more to life than academics, it is good to have a wide range of opportunities.
I also really, really dislike children being chosen for a path at 11.

It also probably doesn't help that: my mother passed the 11+ but left school at 14, I went to a comprehensive (as did DH) we both have 3 degrees including a doctorate; one of the brightest Maths teachers I ever met had failed her 11+; children from disadvantage/troubled backgrounds still drop out of Grammar schools. Some children from those types of backgrounds do better later in life. There is at least 1 Harvard professor who left school at 14.

I think we need to provide multiple routes through education, and not suddenly hit over 19 year olds or over 24 year olds with astronomical fees.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:14:17

By the way selective education only ever really helped children from engaged backgrounds so I don't believe this to be the solution. That is why it was abolished and it is only MC parents that want it back. Streaming in comps does the same thing but broadens the horizons for those that do not pass a test at 11.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:16:41

Agree totally Mommy. I am from the comp route and my mother lost all interest in education after she passed 11+ and was very anti when we were kids. She got no qualification. Dad went to sec modern and went on to do HND in later life.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 09:19:06

Easy answer is to get the parents to pull the plug on the electronic games and tv and computer

Oh yeah - simples!

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:22:29

True if Nit it is definitely a rose-coloured specs idea. Some parents spend all their time on games themselves.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 09:23:56

And some of them spend far too much time engaging in argy bargy online.... blush and wink

Xenia Wed 15-May-13 09:23:59

There was an item in yesterday's Times that people in the UK today are less bright than people in the Victorian age (apparently we are slower in reaction times, thinking times etc which shows lower IQ) because nowadays very bright people have hardly any children and those who have low IQs have a lot (which is the opposite of what we want). That also presumably has an impact on how children are at school.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:24:16

By the way the only bit of Skint I saw was a man showing his bollicks off. Nice!

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:27:27

Nearly brought up my popcorn that me and the kids scoffed during Eurovision.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:28:44

Well Xenia. I suggest you watch 16 and counting. Those parents are generally intelligent.

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 09:37:46

losingtrust - with programs like this the producers usually choose articulate people. Otherwise the program would be very boring if the participants can't string together a coherent sentence.

I am not agreeing with Xenia. I am merely pointing out that the people appearing on TV are cherry picked by the producers and if the producer wants to make the point that all benefit recepients are scroungers for example then that is who he will place in front of the camera.

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 09:44:22

Xenia - you mean back in Victorian times they had experts that went to the houses of the WC and gave their children tests under scientific conditions and that those same tests were applied today under the same conditions and sampling criteria?

Unfortunately The Times is behind a pay wall. Otherwise I love to read the details of this 'scientific' study.

Elibean Wed 15-May-13 10:02:00

I agree with mummytime, on the whole.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 10:21:09

Is it time we defined our terms? We're all talking about the "very bright"- who are they? And what about the other end of the scale? We all tend to have bright children- but the needs of the other end of the bell curve need to be thought about too.

Are we all agreed that 90% of children can be easily accommodated in a comprehensive school? Are we just talking about the to 10%? Or is it 80% with the bottom and the top 10% needing different provision?

Do we have any evidence (proper evidence, not anecdote) about what happens to that top 10 % in fully comprehensive areas?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 10:26:15

Well we know from the Sutton Trust that the bright but disadvanatged do better in selective education than in comprehensive education.

And we know that bright DC who attend selective education are far more likely to get to a top university...

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 10:28:32

Go back to the original point of the thread. It is about a good quality education for all regardless of background and ability. Your point about the too 10 seems to be leading to selective education and not he point of this thread. For what is worth. Fully comprehensive area and the top 10 per cent on the whole go to good quality universities.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 10:30:49

The disadvantaged on the whole do not get into selective education unless it is the top stream of a comp. GS dominated by private school and tutored children yes even in disadvantaged areas they exist. The day they bring this awful system back to the UK is the day I go private.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 10:32:14

Maybe have a look at the number of free schools in a GS if you think it will help truly disadvantaged children whose parents don't give a toss.

moonbells Wed 15-May-13 10:32:41
wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 10:33:31

Some of us are advocating changing that losing.

By the same token, Oxbridge has woefully small numbers of disadvanategd students. But we aint abolishing 'em.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 10:33:42

Losingtrust- I raised the top 10% thing because I actually believe that good comprehensive is the way forward for all but there are always people saying that it doesn't work for the very brightest. I thought it was worth defining the "very brightest"- and trying to identify why people think it doesn't work. And to find out what happens in the vast majority of the country which is fully comprehensive.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 10:39:10

Thanks Seeker. Apologies for that. Really detest the GS/comp debate which is always advocated by MC parents who have the wear with all to get their kids in and save on paying private fees.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 10:41:48

Oxbridge colleges are working with schools in inner city areas to try and change that. We need select universities to keep foreign money coming in like private schools but not for all good who see better career prospects from other universities depending on the course.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 10:42:45

Me too. As I've said before, there"s never a "bring back secondary moderns" campaign, is there?

Anyway- what need to happen to comprehensive schools to make sure they really do cater for all abilities?

moonbells Wed 15-May-13 10:48:45

What needs to happen to comps to cater for all abilities is they need to have decent facilities to encompass academic and vocational teaching and enough teachers so classes can be set/streamed properly. And we need cash and space to do this. Sadly, though sponsorship may find the cash, the loss of vast numbers of playing fields in the past 20 years cannot be reversed. So most schools don't have breathing room, or anywhere to put new buildings.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 10:55:47

What about building super schools linked up to try and cater for this? It must be so frustrating to not meet all needs just to expansion. I know it would mean kids travelling further to school but this may be worth it. Maybe breaking down schools into year groups is not the right answer and having a mix so someone who is good at Maths for example is taught in a higher age group.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 11:02:49

I don't think the Oxbridge parallel works, does it?

seeker Wed 15-May-13 11:04:14

"Maybe breaking down schools into year groups is not the right answer and having a mix so someone who is good at Maths for example is taught in a higher age group."
This was suggested on another thread and was rejected.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:09:28

At the local primary schools those kids who are gifted in year 6 start having lessons at the secondary schools for subjects such as Matgs to really challenge them and Year 7s and 8s take part in challenges to work together. Also our local universities which are very good take groups of talented children and work with them on engineering and science. Example DS has been going to Birmingham University from Year 7. If these types of experiences work now it does give provision for more talented children in the comp system. Industry can help to which would help on vocational courses although health and safety always an issue. When working for top 3 accountancy firm I went into schools to help with reading and teach presentation skills. This is happening now so expansion of this type of targeted subject specific intervention would really help in schools to motivate kids who would otherwise have parents who have no aspirations or who are too pushy in the wrong areas.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:10:36

Out of interest, why was it rejected seeker? Missed the other thread.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:13:24

Our years 5 and 6 are taught Maths and English in cross year group settings.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 11:14:59

I think because it wasn't considered appropriate for younger children to be working alongside older ones. I didn't really understand why, but I don't have a top 10% child!

I wonder whether some sort of vertical setting based entirely on ability not age could work? I can see it being good for the bright ones- maybe the no so bright might find it demotivating to work with much younger children, though.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:20:47

Understand seeker. My dd may be working with year 5 children for Maths when she is in year 6 but really she is only a couple of months older than that year herself and I think for self esteem it may be good get her and competition for the younger ones. The school is broken into early states which includes nursery, reception and year 1 which is essentially all learning through play. Then middle where more academic stuff starts and then upper stages Years 5 and 6 which have more ability rather than age teaching as the mix of abilities is so great within those years but it does allow children to move between groups and more targeted learning.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:22:27

It took me a while to get used to the concept but I think it would actually benefit the weaker ones to not necessarily always be in the bottom group based on age.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 15-May-13 11:22:35

Seeker, teacherwith2kids whose comments are always reflective and knowledgeable pointed out that the percentage which might really need teaching separately is the top one percent or fewer. It is a vanishingly small number.

The top ten percent is actually quite a number of children and contrary to what has been said, perhaps on another thread, i think it would make quite a difference to the school community. To say that moving the top ten percent makes no difference is to ignore the contribution these children make to the community.

Matthew Parris wrote recently of a visit to a JCB sponsored school which was very technically/vocationally oriented. It impressed him against his expectations and it sounded very well thought out.

There is no answer that is best for all. As Talkinpeace said somewhere, you can speak to top educationists in any country and nowhere will you find one who claims that given a tweak here and there, their country's as things broadly right.

Other countries have different social beliefs - one which believes in social cohesion will be less keen on elitism. (I think Scandanavia and The Netherlands come under that description). Some of those countries cited admiringly in our current concern with 'getting on' have clear hierarchies which I find saddening when i have actually lived among them.

I don't have an answer, but I don't think there is one.

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 11:23:47

Well, it's not going to do much for the self esteem of the older kids who are sharing a table with kids from a younger year group.

My DS was about a year ahead of his primary school peers maths-wise (he had an aptitude for maths which we nutured at home). His teachers would set him harder work and they would get him to help the other kids. That worked for us.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 15-May-13 11:27:03

Pragmatically I actually think it would be more helpful to the greater good to have the lowest ability children educated separately

Badvoc Wed 15-May-13 11:28:01

Lots of parents just don't value education.
They see it as free childcare.
Until education is seen by the children at home as something to aspire to then nothing will change.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:34:49

As mentioned Mom if done properly it will actually help those older kids working with the younger group as it means they are not seen as the dunce of their own class. Some children will have special needs and be taught with a teaching assistant in the group but this cross year teaching reduces the need for this. Your child may have been the only one working with the year 6 children in maths and then one of a select group in year 6 who could go to secondary for Maths coaching surely that would have helped you. As mentioned my DD may be working with the younger group and be top of that. It is only the parents who could make her feel inferior and that is where the problem lies. Get with it or take the child out of the school - that is the Head's view. It is a very oversubscribed school with big classes and double form entry but as a result has more teachers to challenge all abilities.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 11:37:35

losing I am one of the people completely against moving DC out of their peer group.

I just do not think it's appropriate for a 13 year old pre pubescent child to spend a large propertion of their day with 17/18 year olds!

seeker you claim not to be able to ubnderstand this? Really? Would you be happy for that t happen to your DS? I mean it would easily solve the prolem of his being at the top of his year, no?

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:38:20

The classes are not referred to as Year 5 or 6 classes but upper stages. In the same way that children are taught not to just form friendships with people in their own class but to think of all the classes as one grouping. The parents did moan when this and 60 in reception was introduced but now it has bedded in us working really well.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:40:54

But word you are talking about a large proportion of the day. I am talking about for a subject - they would still be in form and discuss issues such as civil liberties etc in their form group which is age appropriate. Not everyone is going to be top in Maths and English quite often it is one or the other.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:43:08

I would never move a child out of the year group completely but let's face it. Some people are better than others in certain subjects and the 11+ never solved that but just gave one group of children a different path to others at too young an age setting plus effort and work ethic was not tested.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 11:43:42

I imagine the 17 and 18 year olds don't spend the lesson swigging beer and talking about blow jobs though! (despite what one might hear about comprehensives...). In the case described, it wasn't 'a large proportion' of the child's day - wasn't it just for some maths lessons?

I don't know if it would be perfect for everyone to operate that way, but in the post mentioned, it seemed like a solution everyone was happy with.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:45:20

To be honest the blow jobs discussions tend to take place more in the 13 year old category!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 11:45:51

I was just thinking the same!

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 11:47:53

losing - I can't see how a kid that sees himself as a dunce in his class is going to feel any better having a younger child on his table. What will be going through his mind is that not only are his peers cleverer than him, so are kids from the younger form.

Yes, in Year 6 my DS would have held his own in a Year 7 maths class but I'm not that pushy smile The main thing was that he was sufficiently challenged and happy so I didn't see the need to push him any harder.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 11:48:27

Some children, in fact many children in the top 10%, are advanced in quite a number of subjects.

If my DC were at comp, he'd have to spend quite a bit of his day out of his year group if he were to be doing the work he's doing now!
So would all the boys in his school.

But that's okay is it?

I can kinda see now why russians got so pissed with seeker. It does smack of you guys not really wanting to accept that the top 10% need anyhting. That you don't actually give a shit so long as the majority are happy. Because from where I'm sitting, suggesting that these DC should not be allowed to have a normal childhood is very very cruel.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:51:03

Not to brag but they also have resident professional artist so my DD has really benefited as she is very good at that but just not a Maths bod which is strange from two mathematical parents!

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:56:13

Just to let you know. My DS in top 5 in the comp but far better at English than Maths and his school just put the kids in fasttrack groups where they go into far more depth in the subject as well as the NC but have the challenges cross year to get the working with the year above. Don't see it as an issue. Don't see the need to do this in every subject just science, Maths and English. I believe the timetable is far broader than this.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:57:37

Since when did anyone mention they would not have a proper childhood. Really!

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 11:59:12

The alternative is to keep 10% who were top at age 11 happy and not the other 90% including late developers but that is ok is it?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 11:59:30

So why not ive parents the choice?

Choice 1: a comp where we will provide for your bright child by putting him in the top set where appropriate and out of his year group where top set isn't adequate.

Choice 2: a selective school where your child can be taught with his peers.

Let the parents and DC choose whoch will be better for them! Why do you guys get to remove choice?

Yellowtip Wed 15-May-13 12:00:51

Like word I would also be deeply unhappy at any of my DC moving out of their cohort for individual lessons with much older DC, however close they are to the top percentile. Quite inappropriate socially. And socially normality matters enormously to the overwhelming majority of these kids. MN threads often give the impression that the DC in question are socially awkward and have no interest in life beyond maths. That's not my experience at all (leaving aside the fact that none of mine are amazing at maths). There's no good reason why the cleverest DC should be discriminated against. They should have an educational experience appropriate to their needs which allows them to achieve their potential but without being moved from their ordinary peer group.

In practical terms these fancy ideas wouldn't work timetable-wise. And they're all as divisive as selective education in any event.

In terms of a campaign to bring back secondary moderns I'd join. I think a great many DC would feel far more successful and have far greater self-esteem following a vocational path earlier rather than sitting in lessons they find dreary and with which they don't engage.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:01:08

losing I really cannot see how the remaining 90% will be detrimentally affected!

People keep saying these pupils have a huge impact on a school. How? What is it that they actually do?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 12:02:19

Oh Word, that is silly. Assuming I am one of the 'guys' who isn't interested in the top 10%. A 'normal childhood' sounded to me like what the child described on the other thread was having: doing maths with the sixth form was 'normal' for him, and he and his parents were happy with it - just and your ds and his parents are happy with the way things are working out for him.

It is ridiculously reductive and emotive to say that anyone is saying children shouldn't have a 'normal childhood', and even sillier to say that anyone is being 'cruel'.

One can care about, and even be the parent of, a child in the top 10% without necessarily thinking the same way about how he or she should be educated as everyone else.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 12:04:44

Out of interest Yellow you are advocating secondary moderns. Would your dcs be going and have you experience of people who spent their lives feeling failures because they failed the 11+. Bring it on and watch tutoring go through the roof!

Bonsoir Wed 15-May-13 12:04:50

The top 10% are those that have an IQ of 120 and above. Within that top 10% there is a huge range - IQs of 140 aren't that rare (1 in every couple of hundred people) and even IQs of 150 are pretty common in selective schools.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 12:05:33

Just as, not and sorry.

Bonsoir Wed 15-May-13 12:05:48

I'm not sure that DC that are able to outperform the curriculum by a substantial margin but not given the opportunity to do so have any useful impact on the rest of the group.

wonderingagain Wed 15-May-13 12:06:17

Coming late to this thread, only read first and last page, here is my tuppenceworth.

The sooner schools accept that parents won't or can't help at home, the better. Young children have a long school day as it is and all their learning should come from school within the school day and older children should be able to do their homework at school and have staff to help them if necessary. My dd's school has this but only for selected children. It works very well.

The disadvantaged are suffering from social segregation and that has created a massive imbalance in schools. This can be addressed by ensuring lottery placements where schools are oversubscribed.

Disadvantaged children will benefit from having vocational courses valued as highly as academic courses. A decent minimum wage based on qualifications will help students appreciate that their courses have value and that they are valued. Why do a 'business management' course when all it gets you is a job in McD's for the same wage as the completely unskilled untrained person?

All of this will hurt the advantaged, their house prices will go down, they will have to pay tradespeople more money, they will not gain an advantage by spending £££s on private tutors, because all children will have the equivalent, for free, in school.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:06:28

Well nit I think you just see what you wanna see and hear what you wanna hear!

You liked the sound of that kid doing maths with students older than him cos it fitted with your view of comprehnsive education.

Yes every time posters come on these threads and talk about themselves or their own DC (as opposed to some vague kid they once knew in a comp) you dismiss everything we say. Absolutely everything!!!!!

So I'm sorry, but that to me smacks of not caring and frankly it is effing cruel!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 12:06:56

That's a different kind of top 10% then, surely Bonsoir? I had been basing my responses on the top 10% of children out of the 100% of them in the specified area, and I think many of us were thinking on those lines.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 12:08:00

My Dcs both get the coach to school with children from reception to sixth form. This is for an hour a day. Is this cruel?? What about dcs doing music and extra curricular stuff with older kids. Is that inappropriate?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:08:24

losing a school that has some of the top 10% taken away (I say some because not all will want to go to a super selective) will not be a secondary modern!

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 12:09:17

losing - why is the flip side to keeping the 10% , not keeping the 90% happy. I don't understand that argument.

MomOfTomStubby Wed 15-May-13 12:09:56

.. keeping the 10% happy

Yellowtip Wed 15-May-13 12:11:09

I grew up under the full grammar system so of course I know people who went to secondary moderns. I'm quite happy to advocate the return of secondary moderns though obviously life has moved on and plenty of improvements and adaptations should be made. Surely we all fail and succeed at different things? Why does it matter? I think the overall sum of happiness and productivity would be met by re-introducing vocational schools instead of all kids being straitjacketed into one system and pretty much everyone at either end losing out.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 12:11:22

Well, I take offense at the idea that I don't care or am cruel.

I have no idea whether I'd like, or any putative maths whizz child of mine, would like that set-up, but the child described did and all concerned were happy. WHy does that concern you so much?

I do not think I have dismissed anyone's child - though I'm not drowning in examples of anyone engaging with anything I've said about my own, or my children's experiences (or perhaps we are the 'vague kids', I dunno). I'm sorry if I've seemed dismissive.

Everything I think about education is based on caring! It is not about my children. I presume we would all say the same thing - but this caring takes different forms, no? I still haven't seen you explain how the caring will extend to those children who don't pass a test if selective education were extended.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:12:35

losing going on a coach is a hell of a lot different to sitting with them in maths/english/science/french etc!

Why would you think a 13 year old would feel comfortable with that? Why would you think it a good idea?

Also, 17/18 year olds of course are devoting far more time to a subject than a 13 year old could, so how on earth could that work? How could you juggle that?

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 15-May-13 12:12:57

word Exactly. Cruel is a very good word. It's also worth noting that despite government manipulated stats, IME a significant non trivial proportion of the top 10% have some SEN conditions. Which bring their own challenges to the education environment.

seeker Wed 15-May-13 12:13:31

"seeker you claim not to be able to ubnderstand this? Really? Would you be happy for that t happen to your DS? I mean it would easily solve the prolem of his being at the top of his year, no?"

It doesn't need to happen at the moment. There is a wide range of abilities in his set, and so far the whole set is doing the same work but with different expectations. But if it needs to happen in the future, I wouldn't mind at all. I don't think it's good for children to be completely out of year, but I can't see a problem with him working with a higher year in English, for example, or Spanish.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:16:22

nit well why not try to imagine yourself a 13 year old. Or your DD when she was 13! It's not that big a stretch surely?

Or why not actually listen to what yellow or russians or happy have to say about their DC?

I have listened to what you have said about your DC. They are happy in comp. Good. Excellent. I'm pleased. Can you really really not even consider that might not work for all bright DC?

And as for the remaining 90%, I have repeatedly said I don't think it will have a detrimental impact. I keep asking what it is that these magical DC do?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:17:38

seeker well now imgine it for quiet a few subjects.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 12:18:32

I accept the system is going too far trying to get all children to go the academic route but selection at 11 does not solve this issue as it leads to the more switched on parent making damn sure their dcs get into grammar whether they deserve to or not. It also assumes that all those who have a high IQ are not going to prefer the vocational route or that they will have the work ethic to persevere at a grammar. These traits are often still not apparent at 11. It does not allow for the Maths whizz who is limited in English and the kids who is brilliant at English and then because of that good at history, politics and the associated subjects. You are advocating that that child should be best suited in a vocational environment. Why?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 12:18:35

Well, I am just about used to having bought a leafy house for a billion pounds which means I'm able to think there are good things about my children's school.
And to being wilfully blind to all the terrible things about state schools - which, apparently, is better evidenced by saying good things about them than it is by opting out of the system altogether confused
I'm used to being willing to settle for less, for accepting that my children will sink to the middle, blah blah blah.

I am not used to being 'effing cruel' in my belief that it would be better for children not to be segregated by wealth or intelligence, and I disagree that that is 'a good word' for anything I've ever said on the subject.

I need a bloody break!

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:19:51

A child in a school catering for 90% of the population is not going to be in a solely vocational environment.

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 12:23:18

I am sorry Word but I really do not see the difference between sitting on a coach and sitting in a Maths, English, French group. What is the difference and I was only talking one year so it would be Ann example a child born in September sitting with a child born in Feb of the same year. What is so magical about a September cut off making subjects within different year groups such a cruel concept?

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:24:22

Well nit when you come up with anything better than sticking these kids in the top set or making them study with the A level students (bearing in mind lots of schools don't even have a sixth form)...then let me know, and I'll reassess!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 15-May-13 12:24:46

I was responding to Yellowtip: I think the overall sum of happiness and productivity would be met by re-introducing vocational schools

A 'vocational school' sounds heavily geared toward the vocational to me.

wordfactory Wed 15-May-13 12:26:15

losing nothing wrong with slight adjustments. But that isn't what we're talking about here.

We're talking about secondary school. And we're atlking about DC who have exhausted the GCSE curriculum early.

The solution - stick 'em in with the A level students is a horrible one. And an impractical one at that!

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 12:26:28

A child in the top 10 would end up in a pretty much fully academic environment which may switch those with no interest other than my parents wanted me to go off education completely. We have an education authority that has superselectives and some kids were tutored to go. The comprehensives are still very good but one failed to get in to the superselectives and came in to scho

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 12:28:14

I never mentioned putting them with a level groups as mentioned the top group do the subject in more detail but still do GCSE at normal time which will help with A'Level. The only person to mention going from 13 to 17 was you.