In areas (such as Kent) where there are grammars, are the overall results better than comprehensive areas?(70 Posts)
Do more kids get better results in grammar areas?
If you look at the GCSE results by local authority at the bottom of this article.
Kent is in about the middle with 60.6% A*- C (including english and maths) with lots of local authorities doing a lot better. I presume a fair number of the ones doing better don't have grammar schools or only have a small number of them.
It's impossible to say, I think. There are only two fully grammar counties. That's not a meaningful enough sample to be able to compare (stripping out other factors such as affluence/parental background etc) to either fully comprehensive or mixed areas.
There are massive variations in results of purely comprehensive areas/authorities with very similar levels of affluence/deprivation, the reasons for which are difficult to establish and are probably many.
Another important point is that the boundaries for different counties or education authorities are also very arbitrary so some may only include an inner city and some will be inner city plus surrounding affluent suburbs and of course the second will have better results. There's virtually no comparing of like with like possible.
I think if you google 'grammar Chris cook ft' you'll get a very full statistical analysis that suggests that no, they don't, especially when you also factor in that parents of some high achieving children esp move to grammar areas, also that they might go state while in other area they'd have gone private.
Of course to answer is so much more complex because it doesn't take account of the 2 different schools types in a grammar county
for example it is possible that the children in grammar school do better than their equivalents in the comprehensive system elsewhere
But that the children who missed out on grammar places do worse in their schools due to lower expectations etc
So the average may be worse.
Or it may be that individual schools results vary too much for the county's results to be relevant
Or it may be that the system doesn't work at all!
It is too simplistic to just look at the whole county's results
The whole of MN looks to the sky and wonders - where is seeker?
After talking to parents who had kids at the local comps we decided to put DS and later DD, in private selectives (we aren't in a GS area).
At the end of Year 7 a mum organised a get together for all the kids from DS's Year 6 primary school class. SATs-wise he was roughly equal to about 4 of the kids on leaving Year 6. Going by DS's conversation with his friends and mine with the mums, DS was a term and a half ahead of his mates. Now DS is probably about a year ahead in most subjects.
Yes I know about the hare and the tortoise story so for all I know, come GCSE time they might all end up with the same grades. But the point I am making is that IMO my DCs are doing better than had then gone to the local comprehensive. That is all one can day about comps versus GS/SM since as a poster has mentioned, there are just too many variables to compare whole counties and to draw conclusions. I will now step back and let anti GS posters compare whole counties and draw their conclusions
Gosh I really don't like the way that Seeker always comes under attack. Is she not allowed her opinion?
Anyway, here is the article to which I referred earlier. I am a little bit in love with Chris Cook. He can talk dirty stats to me any day.
And that is I think consistent with the Sutton Trust's survey (which also found no difference between comps and grammar areas).
The other difference is on the whole most schools in the top schools lists are in the South East which is ridiculous given that IQ ought to be evenly spread and this includes if you compare only private selective schools or even state comps in Hull v Inner London.
"The whole of MN looks to the sky and wonders - where is seeker?"
"Gosh I really don't like the way that Seeker always comes under attack. "
I made a lighthearted remark referencing the fact that seeker is always keen to contribute to such a thread. That is seeker coming under attack???
Of course, I recognise that individual chilmdren who go to grammar (or possibly private) can do better than if they go to a comprehensive. But that was not my question.
All things being equal, if a country has 10,000 children and 2000 go to a grammar, overall does that county get better results than the 10,000 in the neighbouring county with comprehensives?
Parents think their individual child will do better, but I would like to see proof that in counties where there are grammars, the overall results are better. If the grammar / secondary modern counties truly are producing vast swathes of kids with better exam results than comprehensives, that would be an argument in favour.
Your article looks interesting but is behind a paywall, can you c and p the main gist?
"Of course, I recognise that individual chilmdren who go to grammar (or possibly private) can do better than if they go to a comprehensive. But that was not my question.... All things being equal...."
I know that it wasn't your question but as another poster has said as well, all things are not equal. There are too many variables to make sense of any large scale comparisons.
I've seen enough of these threads to know that the usual suspects will turn up and posts the same links and make the same arguments. My kids are doing better at their selective. That is all I have to contribute to this thread so excuse me while I bow out.
I took two things from the chris cook blog
Grammar school areas have more children with very good results but more children with very poor results.
On average there is no real difference
The relationship beween income and perfromance is sharper for grammar school areas. So children from poorer backgrounds do worse and children from richer backgrounds do better
It's not a paywall but you do have to register. Not sure how it will come out as it's stats and tables etc. But anyway it's as follows:
There is an iron law in English education: as any given argument about any problem with schools progresses, the probability that someone will claim grammar schools are the solution rapidly tends towards 1.
I thought I would set out the data on the grammar counties, where children are sorted at the age of 11 according to an academic test.
To do this, I have defined a new region of England: Selectivia. I have removed the biggest selective counties Kent, Lincolnshire, Medway and Buckinghamshire from their geographical regions and shoved them together into one new region*. So what is it like? First, you can see that this region is quite well off, compared to most regions, especially London.
East of England0.1689.2%
Showing 1 to 10 of 11 entries
The columns here are two measures of poverty. At left, the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) score for each regions 16 year-olds. This is a score based on the number of poor households in an area. At right is the FSM score, which records the proportion of children who are eligible for free school meals an indicator of poverty among school-age children. In both cases, higher scores mean poorer areas.
So we would expect grammar school areas to do a bit better than average because they are wealthier. Here is how they do on the FT points score. We give pupils 8 points for an A* in any full GCSE down to 1 point for a G, and add up the scores they get in English, maths and their three best other subjects.
East of England25.6
Showing 1 to 10 of 11 entries
We can unpack a bit more detail than that. Below is a type of graph of results on the FT score. The line shows the distribution of grades from zero (no passes) to 40 (five A*s). Ignore the bumpiness: the higher the line is at any given point, the greater the share of the population is at or around that point.
So you can see that fewer children get scores in the high 20s in selective areas than in the rest of the country, and more get them in the high 30s and in the ultra-low scores. This is broadly as you would expect, from a system that deliberately divides children at the age of 11 into sheep and goats.
So is this trade-off efficient or good? It is impossible to tell if you do not know the underlying condition of the children. We would, after all, expect more high performers in these areas due to the wealth of the children.
To work out the aggregate effect, you can build a simple regression that links up performance to primary school performance, poverty, ethnicity, special needs, age and other stuff. Then you can ask it to draw out the expected change in grades you can expect if a child is in Selectivia, or if they are in another region.
Here are the results.
East of England0.631
Showing 1 to 10 of 11 entries
What this table gives you is the expected difference in GCSE points (1 point = 1 grade better in one subject) between a given child in the East Midlands** and a similar child in the other places, once we have taken account of background.
You can see that the score is positive: the selective region is better than the East Midlands, but not by much. As far as we can tell, introducing selection is not good at raising school productivity. In fact, the region is actually a bit of a laggard.
So what about the commonly made claim that grammars boost social mobility? Maybe they do not increase everyones results, but do they close the rich-poor gap? Well, here is the average score attained by FSM-eligible children.
East of England19.8
Showing 1 to 10 of 12 entries
And the attainment graph for FSM-eligible children:
You can see that poor children do dramatically worse in selective areas.
There is an idea out there in the ether that grammar schools are better for propelling poor children to the very top of the tree. But, again, that is not true. Poor children are less likely to score very highly at GCSE in grammar areas than the rest. The blue line is below the red on the very right hand side of the graph.
Indeed, I think this whole story is neatly encapsulated by one graph to follow. If you plot how well children do on average by household deprivation for selective conditions and the rest of the country, you can see that the net effect of grammar schools is to disadvantage poor children and help the rich.
At the left hand side of the graph, where poor childrens results are, you can see selective areas do much worse. At the very right, you can see a few very rich children do better. This is all driven by the process of selection itself: poor children are more likely to be behind at the age of 11, and less likely to get places in grammars.
Grammar schools are a part of many peoples identities: having won admission to a selective state school plays an important role in the story of their life, especially if they came from a less privileged family. But, as a way to raise standards or to close the gaps between rich and poor, it is hard to find evidence that they are effective.
there are three grammar counties (Kent, Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire) but Kent is the one people focus on because its shape means parents cannot go "over the boundary" as they do in Bucks and Lincs is much smaller demographically
To Paraphrase habbadabbadoo
"I've seen enough of these threads to know that the usual suspects will turn up and posts the same links and make the same arguments. My kids are doing better at their
selective [replaces as appropriate] comprehensive than their cousins at highly selectives. That is all I have to contribute to this thread so excuse me while I bow out.
<sticks head in to see if my prediction came true> Yup, the usual suspects.
NewFerry - feel free to post the name of the comp and the 'highly selective'.
Agree with NewFerry.
Habba post yours. Note your statistical study of the matter. Very rigorous.
Am I a usual suspect?
I had no idea, I just pointed op in direction of some statistics that seemed to address her specific question.
What do you expect me to post? I'm not asserting anything.
Habba, posting the names of the schools would not matter as I am referring to my DC, not the whole school population. I would hope and expect that a highly selective school has overall better GCSE results than a comp. otherwise, why on earth would you put your DC through the misery and stress of the 11+ exams!
So your point is that your kids are cleverer than their cousins. I'm not sure why you chose to tell us that but I was clearly wrong to assume that you was making the point that your comp had better exam results. As you were
Habba - you quoted that your kids "were doing better at their selective"
Better than what? Or better than whom?
You didn't say.
I paraphrased you and replaced selective with comprehensive, but decided to finish the sentence by clarifying that they were doing better than their cousins at a highly selective.
I'm sorry if I confused you.
I didn't realise you were going to assume I meant that the overall results at a comprehensive would be better than the overall results of a selective school, as you were talking about your kids,and I was talking about mine.
Mine are doing better at the local rural comp than their cousins at their city grammar school.
What was your patronising finish? Oh yes, as you were
That was me being patronising? I thought that I inserted a smiley. I must have inserted a patronising emoticon by mistake (looked like smiley to me )
Just did a swift number crunch based on the data set linked above
sort by %age Free School Meals : gives a hint of demographic
pick out kent and the LEAS on either side of it
Northampton, Somerset, Derbyshire, Worcestershire and Havering
then sort by 5a-C inc Eng & Maths 2011
and Kent beat each except Havering
which also highlights the current ofsted research about the London Challenge
on value added, Kent is as per its FSM figures : so progress is not being made much greater than would be expected if the schools were mixed
I'll do Lincs and bucks in a sec
Talkinpeace - are you just picking a few counties at random? Northampton, Somerset, Derbyshire, Worcestershire are nowhere near Kent, which seemed to be what you implied.
No, I sorted by FSM to pick up counties with comparable demographics.
I was working on a set of accounts at the time, otherwise would have also moderated for LEA size.
Proximity is a poor indicator in comparability.
Are those four counties really comparable to Kent though, even if the numbers of FSM are the same? None of them are within the commuter belt for London which much of Kent is. Does this lead to a difference in mindset? I see this in my own extended family, where the ones who live in Cumbria/Northumbria have a quite different outlook than the ones who live in London. (Basically the ones who are going to work on the family farm don't see the same need for exam results as the Londoners.)
I'd be interested to see how the comparisons for Derbyshire/Lincolnshire and Northampton/Bucks compare.
download the data from the guardian link and play with it : I copied and pasted the whole lot into an open office sheet and then played with the sort function ....
Worcestershire, btw, also has a 3-tier structure in many areas, which makes comparability with areas with a 2-tier structure tricky.
So if you say that Kent is doing better than Worcestershire [or whatever] then you cannot eliminate the possibility that this is due to 2 tier (selective or non-selective) being better than 3 tier, rather than anything to do with grammar schools.
How do you mean 3 tier?
no sign of state selectives here?
Or do you mean the split between lower, middle and upper schools.
friend's dd got 5 A's and 5 A*'s at Hampshire comp - easily asgood as esults from my dd's Medway grammar.
Hampshire & Kent are often compared becaurse similar demographic
Also I am in awe of the genius statistical analysis on here
you are v. intelligent, you lot
F.S.M Take up is not the be all and end all regarding who is deprived or not therefore,it is not as simple as comparing F.S.M take up in non selective and selective areas and then coming out and saying that kids with F.S.M in non selective areas perform better than kids with F.S.M in selective areas you would need to have figures up to say 50k pa family income that would take it up to the goverment declaration for single earners to lose child benefit, so could be assumed to be a sensible amount to declare relative affluence, and until you could do that the statistics will not tell the whole story.
numbers of families earning over £50 k = pretty irrelevant when you recognise that the median family income in the UK is £26k
therefore less than 25% of families are affected by it
as I said up thread, I'm in the middle of trying to get stuff ready for my deadline at the end of the month : otherwise I'd have sorted by numbers of pupils as well
FSM being the only deprivation factor in the data set
all things being equal, the bright child of a recidivist pauper should be given the same academic chances as that of a duke.
I have to admit, I knew that the selective system did not benefit the whole of Kent but did not expect my data trawl to find that the penalty on the 11+ failures was less than I thought (seeker take heart)
"I have to admit, I knew that the selective system did not benefit the whole of Kent but did not expect my data trawl to find that the penalty on the 11+ failures was less than I thought (seeker take heart)"
Does this not just mean that the gap between comps and secondary moderns is closing (if it was ever there in the first place)?
Talkinpeace. Are you saying then that in the uk the average family income is the same as the average uk wage ,you are therefore saying in the average uk family only 1 person works. Because the average uk wage is about 26kpa, so is it stretching credibilty to suggest 2 working parents on average wages would by about 50k pa. So if you had two parents on average wages they would be well above average in terms of family income.
its to do with the possible levels of education at Sec Mods because the calibre of curriculum and teaching will be limited by the lack of top 25% students
clearly what is happening is a serious dose of "we'll show them"
but within the reources available
the grammars would never let the gap close ....
and the gap is HUGE
Wage statistics .....
the average (mean) wage is around £26,000 - because the minimum is £0 and the maximum is (hedgefund / football / royalty) multimulti millions
and the "mean" is affected by every number within it, the skew caused by one or two outliers - and they will always be high, not low - is significant.
The median (half the population earns more, half less) income for an individual in the UK is around £18,000
the "median" household income is around £26,000 : ie half the country has less than that, half has more
some have a very great deal more, skewing the "mean"
but the least income a family can have is xero
Havering beat Kent?! I didn't even know Havering HAD grammar schools! I'm in Kent fwiw though and even though it's years off the school I'd love my LO to go to is non grammar, it's an acadamy and the best in our area!
Havering doesn't - it just has almost identical FSM to Kent.
I do wish people would read the statistical protocol I posted before jumping to the "answers"
Thank you Talkinpeace. You are probably right about income in familys. That is a real eye opener to me i would have thought average family income would have been about ,35 to 40k pa. It just goes to show that a lot of these working familys who dont get F.S.M or other benefits really are struggling then. Regarding High Schools in Selective areas as i have said on other threads, in some areas the High Schools out perform Comprehensives, in nearby non selective areas but i have been told because kids from other areas can access these Grammar Schools the effect is not has bad as say kent, to me this sounds like "DOUBLE SPEAK" . Maybe the High Schools in kent need to reach higher but realistic targets and your report would suggest they have started to do this.
those sort of stats are very much my "thing" - demographics
and skewed data sets are often very hard to grasp.
Gove certainly does not understand the difference between 'mean' 'median' and 'mode'
and many of the exam result sets are capped skewed sets which are even more fun.
sad numbers geek? moi?
the net effect of grammar schools is to disadvantage poor children and help the rich but that may be an artefact of the few counties where grammars remain in any number being affluent ones? As well as requiring certain test scores, as far as I know most grammars also have a geographical component to their admissions, so being able to buy a house in the right area definitely helps. The truly rich send their kids to independents anyway...politicians excepted.
As regards the FT data, a large percentage of students get A/A* at GCSE nowadays (many more than when I took GCSEs back in the 80s) so it is difficult for grammars to show much 'value added' in their GCSE results e.g. you can't distinguish a student with 80% (A) from one with 89% (A) and likewise for A*. A comparison of sixth form data and university admissions would be more enlightening. I haven't looked at the site yet. Maybe it does look at that, although I doubt it because then you get into the complication of different qualifications and so on.
I expect a detailed analysis would also show more grammars offering I-GCSE, single sciences etc, so there may be some apples and oranges comparison going on. In other words, the results & value added may be similar but the subjects and therefore progression to what the Russell Group describe as 'facilitating subjects' at A level may be different.
In the light of the discussion this week in the press about school standards I'd be really interested to see research into how students in grammar counties actually feel about their education e.g. do the more gifted or academic feel more encouraged to achieve (or not) in a grammar, do they get more chance to make friends with similar interests (or not), do they get the right amount of pressure, too much, too little...I would like to know that as well as exam statistics.
but there are only three fully grammar counties, one of which is miniscule
and the difference between East (of Stone street) and West Kent is far, far greater than between the average of Kent and that of Surrey
beatback it's not doublespeak in the town where I teach (at a grammar school). Some of the students attending the grammars travel up to 60 miles round trip from their homes (obviously not all of them, some are local) while the students at the high schools mostly come from the town and surrounding areas. The high schools are good as far as I know, too - the nearest one to my school is heavily oversubscribed.
Phineyj. I are you netural or pro Selective Education.
3 tier - first, muddle, upper. So in comparing stats for worcestershire, differences have 2 possible explanations:
- the fact that there are no selectives
- the fact that there is a 3-tier system
You could argue, for exaple, that having 2 transitions is a disadvantage that those in Kent or, say Herefordshire, do not have.
Talkin, do you have any familiarity with Suffolk schools?
Apologies for Friday Night spelling.
I think it must be 80s comprehensive spelling friday. They did not teach me to spell read or write. "FIVE YEARS OF A PRISION SENTENCE" that is what it was for me. Not relevant i know but i had to say it.
beatback I don't know, because I went to a grammar school and also teach in one, so to be honest I don't have the breadth of experience to take a position on which is better. However, my DH was educated at a comprehensive and did very well (and his teachers seems to have taken much more personal interest in him than mine did in me -- possibly he stood out more).
There were a couple of documentaries on BBC 4 a while back called 'The Secret Life of the Grammar School' (or something like that) and I found them really interesting as I hadn't known about the political background to the destruction of the national grammar system in the 60s and 70s.
I would say though that we would consider it quite mad if music or sport (for instance) weren't 'selective'. I do think there is a 'high performing team' effect when you get a group of bright kids together, but that could equally well be in a comprehensive as in a grammar. It is also more likely that some subjects are going to be offered/taken up in highly academic settings. For instance, a large proportion of the small number of girls taking Physics A level are in grammars and independents.
On other hand 10 years old is very young for such an important test and the stress around 11+ now is unreal (I think the galloping fees at independents have something to do with that as well, however).
What do you think of streaming -- is it better to stream within a school than to separate children into different schools?
Thank you phineyj for you honest and reasoned views,. It probably goes down to your own experiences of certain schools my experience in the 80s were horrible ,whereas my niece and newphew"s experiences of their Grammar Schools have been great and have enabled niece to achieve 4A"S at A level and study French and business studies at a Russell Group University. I remember watching " The secret life of the Grammar School on BBC 4" it was very enlightining and most of the people admit they owed their success to the Grammar Schools they attended.
Hmm, I don't know. The talk is always of the better grammar schools but they weren't all like that. I went to a girl's grammar and the most charitable description of it would be that it was mediocre. Physics A level - well a bit of a joke considering that they only taught 'Physics with Chemistry' as one O level. Oxbridge entrants? Non in the seven years I was there. Medical school? Same as Oxbridge. Most girls went into primary school teaching.
As a comprehensive it's a million times better - some get to Oxbridge, some medical school. They also managed an olympic medallist last year. It would all have been completely unimaginable in my day. Yes, they still do produce primary school teachers, but it's not the default option as it was then.
I also think everyone even the most ardent Non selective people that bright kids should be in with kids of similar abilty, so in all schools they has to be streaming not necessary in all subjects but certainaly in maths english and science subjects. a one of the unpleasent things about the 11+ is that some kids who are bright will fail by a small margain and that does create tension and nerves. Even though we were confident both niece and newphew would pass we were still nervous until informed they had both passed.
There were quite a few who seemed to have been traumatised by their grammar school experiences on those documentaries too .
I am really sorry your school experiences were so horrible but am glad your DNiece is doing so well.
One thing I have noticed is that the schools I've been in seem to be much better at pastoral care than I remember being the case in the 1980s. They take a lot of care to support students with family problems, illness etc. There's a surprising amount of horrible family situations even in our 'leafy' area.
I honestly had no idea of the whole debate around selective education until I went to university. I must have been very sheltered...
I am a governor in a Kent non selective - so, effectively a sec mod in a GS area. on average, our students outperform their targets by a level of 2 grades, while the grammars get them to their grades on average.
Therefore, I would say that the grammars do a fair bit of resting on their laurels... not much added value really is there?!
Even the most ardent Non selective people agree that bright kids should be in with kids of similar abilty.
LaVolcan, I also found the teaching I experienced in a grammar in the 80s was mediocre, at least in some subjects, however, we were expected to achieve high grades and mostly we did (after teaching ourselves from textbooks we generally had to buy ourselves). But as I said above as I didn't attend a comprehensive in the 80s I have no idea if the teaching was normal for the time or not.
However, with the reference to Physics I was talking about a specific issue at the moment, which is that the UK is really lacking in students with advanced Maths & Physics and not enough girls are taking the subject because (apparently) they are discouraged from taking it in mixed environments, and in some schools it's not offered anyway.
Phineyj. Thank you for you kind words. I went to a Comprehensive School in the 80s and i do believe i would have had a better education at a Secondary School, i understand everything is different now and we should not hark back to how things were.
Phineyj: There is unfortunately this tendancy for people to boast that they are no good at maths - and physics requires a decent facility with maths. People wouldn't dream of boasting that they couldn't read. I don't know what the solution is, but I suspect that it goes deeper than just which school you attend. Then of course, it tends to be self perpetuating. There is a lack of physics and maths graduates, so fewer to go into teaching, hence the subjects being taught by non-specialists, and on.
boschy but if your target is an A* and you get an A*...how is the school going to show added value? In some of the classes I taught last year, half the students were predicted A*.
LaVolcan that is all true but the evidence does seem to show that single sex schools, grammars and independents do better in encouraging take up of those subjects. Fwiw the teaching of those subjects seems so much more interesting now and there are so many good resources.
You are right though that people don't seem to think it matters that they 'don't do maths' and it makes my DH so . You can probably guess his subjects!
Phineyj - I really couldn't say if that is the case. I did a Maths PGCE 17 years ago, (but never taught as it happens), and did two of my teaching practices in Comprehensives and one in an SM. In all cases it seemed to be the boys who clustered in the bottom sets and the girls who went on to get As (no A*s then). Maybe this was because they had women in charge of the Maths departments, so had good role models?
Suffolk schools - no family, past life or friends there and DH has not done much work there. But I can data mine if you'd like.
Talkin, I will probably do the mining myself, but thanks for the offer.
One thing I noticed which is not so easy to spot is that a school in town that came amongst the top comps in the country (not just the county) really did so because of some super bright twins in the sixth form that got 5A* each (or something stella like that) at A level and that seems to have majorly skewed their results. It gives people a false impression that something great is going on at this school compared to the other two schools in town (well it did me) when that it not necessarily the case. I know you shouldn't choose a school based on just results but I would encourage everyone who has an interest in results and using them to compare schools to look very closely and dig deeply.
yup, they got pretty stellar grades in their 2010 GCSE's as well so the school had to justify the negatives in their 2011 KS4 data and will have to again this year for their KS5 : assuming you are talking about St B's in B
Correct Talkin !They've been downgraded from Outstanding to Good and are trying to justify it in terms of the Ebacc .
Which just goes to show the insanity of the current statistics regime.
The variation is well within the "confidence interval" for the county, inside it for the number of kids in the town and not much outside it for the number in the school.
But the people who write headlines and policy do not understand statistics or analytical review of variances.
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