Genuine question - why do some people have a problem with the grammar school system

(1001 Posts)
englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 07:24:25

I went to one - my choice in part, parents would have preferred me to go to the Catholic secondary. As a teacher I have worked in two.
I know if I had gone to the Catholic school I would have coasted (even more than I did).
Some people seem to he very against the grammar school system and I'm not sure why. It was the making of my dad (miner's son from council estate in Scotland)and I think that all counties should have that provision. Surely it's just split site streaming in a way.

SatinSandals Thu 24-Oct-13 07:29:19

It would be OK if there was movement between the split site and those at the top of the secondary modern went up and those in the grammar school went down,but their opportunities are decided at the tender age of 11yrs. In the comprehensive they can change streams or sets.
It would have been a different story for your dad if he had suddenly blossomed at 13 years because it would have been too late. It is also just as well that he did it years ago, he wouldn't stand a change today against those who pay for tutors specifically to pass the exam.

Erebus Thu 24-Oct-13 07:30:54

Here we go again.

I went to A GS but I do not support them. They are divisive.

If you'd be prepared to go on a march declaring "Save our Grammar Schools!", you'd also have to be absolutely prepared to go on a march, shouting "Save our Secondary Moderns!".

Would you do that?

zumo Thu 24-Oct-13 07:31:44

Is it because they don't realise how much better it may be for there children?
Some see it as being a snob, I feel you just want the best for your kids

englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 07:32:51

I also went and wasn't tutored. We get non-tutored students every year. I agree it should be easier to transfer. There are places for Year 9 entry, but they tend not to be as well known.

Ladymuck Thu 24-Oct-13 07:38:23

Reread your OP and consider what would have happened if your dad had made a couple of mistakes on his 11 plus paper. How far would his life choices have changed if he had had an off say when he was 10 years old?

Of course a grammar school education is a huge advantage to those who get it. But it is the equivalent of saying only those children who pass a fitness test at the age of 10 will be entitled to free medical care for the rest of their life, and those who are less fit or less motivated can only access a restricted set of medical options for life (or of course pay to go private).

Pooka Thu 24-Oct-13 07:41:20

Because when we had the proper grammar/secondary modern split the results of one day of testing at age 10/11 could define your academic outcomes for the next decade.

My stepmother failed the 11+. Thankfully for her, her parents were able to send her to a private school. She then went on to oxford and a very successful career, which would have been unlikely had she been sent to a secondary modern which would have very different expectations of her.

My mother has friends who still remember very keenly the shame of failing and who did end up going to university and into professions, but following a very circuitous route. Everything was harder for them. All based on one bad test at age 10/11.

We are ncredibly lucky in our area that there is not a genuine two tier system. It means that the top slicing of the bright kids doesn't happen and that comprehensives are truly comprehensive. Children all have access to the same fundamental education, but obviously their academic success depends upon what they put into it. Setting across subjects is key to providing differentiation, but children who are late developers have the ability to move up sets and children who plateau may move down sets. They all have the same opportunities.

headoverheels Thu 24-Oct-13 07:44:11

Agree with the above comments. My brother was a late developer. He has dyslexia, but he's not stupid. 11 is too young to write someone off.

Pooka Thu 24-Oct-13 07:45:15

And actually, the nearest grammar to us 40mins journey) gets very similar results in terms of Oxbridge/Russell group university entrance, a levels and gcse results to the comprehensive 5 minutes up the road. The key for us is that we can access the excellent comprehensive because we live in an area without top slicing. If we lived in the grammar area and dd failed aged 10 (summer born), the local comprehensives are much less aspirational because the grammars exist.

SatinSandals Thu 24-Oct-13 07:48:34

I failed. I went to university but was a circuitous route and many fell by the wayside. So many highly successful and intelligent people failed.
Of course you were not tutored, englishteacher, we were not, but times have changed and tutoring is now the norm.
If the system was so good everyone would be saying 'bring back the secondary modern' but they never do. People want the grammar school, they want it for their child and they are not remotely bothered what happens to the rest.

JGBMum Thu 24-Oct-13 07:54:33

I think there is also the reality that even in areas with no Grammar schools, there are some very poor comprehensives.

However, when I read comments on MN like send to the Grammar, your child will coast at the comp, there'll be bad behaviour, etc I despair. There are a lot of truly excellent comprehensives that do not allow coasting, bad behaviour, bullying .....
But the perception is still there.
If you can access a great comp, then you don't need a Grammar school imvho.

englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 07:54:57

Would people still be so anti of it was a system with more room for transfer - like the German system?

englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 08:02:16

I think it's harsh to say people don't care about the rest. Both me and my dad have non-GS siblings. My dad and his siblings were all let down by a system unaware of dyslexia, his brothers left school at 16 and went on to be very successful. His sisters are another story (for the feminism threads!).
My sister is dyslexic, dyspraxic and may be on the Autustic spectrum. She went to the school I would have failed in. She went on to college and Uni.
You are not 'condemned' to CSEs instead of O Levels these days (at the moment) so to me it is about finding the right school for the child. I do think movement should be easier.

merrymouse Thu 24-Oct-13 08:02:32

Not sure how it works in Germany. However, switching children between schools from year to year is a much bigger deal than switching between streams.

Pooka Thu 24-Oct-13 08:02:38

Having read the German threads on mumsnet and the pressures faced by many of their kids at primary level and the rigidity of their system I would be wary of introducing a similar system here.

I think it's somewhat idealistic to expect that such a fluidity, allowing movement from grammar and into grammar would be practicable. So bright kids who had a bad day are moved into grammar. Movement in the opposite direction would surely be pretty soul destroying for the kids moving OUT of grammar in the opposite direction.

A true comprehensive system is more equitable and nurturing environment for children. A good comprehensive school can provide challenge and differentiation for kids and that's what we should be aspiring to and funding publically rather than the divisive two-tier system.

A friend recently moved to Cornwall and her experience of looking st local schools for secondary has been wholly different to my other friends living in grammar areas. There isn't the stress/tutoring/fear and worry.

Morgause Thu 24-Oct-13 08:07:10

I had 7 miserable years at a grammar school. No way would my DCs have gone to one. But fortunately comps arrived for them.

One has a PhD and the other a MSc. I got my degree despite the awful school.

southeastastra Thu 24-Oct-13 08:09:23

maybe as it's isn't a fair system across the UK so areas with the grammars attract people who can pay the higher house prices and the system of setting them up to help children from poorer families attain greater academic success just can't happen

englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 08:13:33

The fair access does frustrate me a bit. Worse at the first GS I worked in (boys, Berkshire). The student car park told an interesting tale. To me that argues reform of system not scrapping. Of course, growing up in Essex I haven't experienced or seen 'proper' comprehensive education.

Southeastastra, we don't have grammar schools in Scotland. We have some that are called, for example, Hamilton Grammar or Bearsden Academy, but that's just a hangover from previous generations. All out secondary schools are comprehensive and non-selective.

Seems to work well here.

TheAmyrlin Thu 24-Oct-13 08:21:34

In theory the grammar system is ok, the problem is what happens in real life. Children at normal state primaries have to be tutored to give them some kind of chance of passing, as an hour a week of private tutoring cannot compete against several years of private education. Where their main role seems to be making sure their pupils pass the local selective tests.
We are lucky in that the non selective schools are also very good. Just not as high achieving as the grammars!

UghughughFUCKER Thu 24-Oct-13 08:22:36

I think the grammar school system could be really good, except right now, it almost exclusively selects children whose parents can afford to have their children tutored for a couple of years.

Our local grammar school has become a middle class bubble, whose parents continue to have their struggling dc tutored to keep up with the expectations and pressure placed on them.

If a test could be found that genuinely selected the brightest children, regardless of hot housing parents, then the system would probably work better.

NulliusInBlurba Thu 24-Oct-13 08:23:15

"Would people still be so anti of it was a system with more room for transfer - like the German system?"

How much experience of the German system do you actually have? Because after having kids at school in Germany for the last 11 years, I can confirm that it (the practice of separating kids into one of three different schools after Year 4) is the most appallingly divisive system that quite simply doesn't work. My kids are personally doing well out of it because we have the education, resources and motivation to support them, but it is a system that very much maintains and reinforces the status quo. And the middle classes want to keep it that way, unsurprisingly.

- It's been proven that the school you end up at is largely determined by your parents' social and educational background (both directly through parental support at home and indirectly through teachers' expectations).
- It's been proven that there is a huge overlap in academic ability between schools (ie the top performers at the 'middle ability' school are way more capable than 'lower performers' at the grammar school) - which.
- It's been proven that there is relatively little movement within the system, and of that, it is almost all one way - downwards for those who who are academically struggling. I have never heard of a single case of a child who has moved up into a grammar school after doing well at a middle or lower school (Realschule or Hauptschule).
- In the 1999 PISA comparative test run by OECD, Germany did appallingly badly, particularly at the lower end, because of the tendency to 'write off' pupils in the least academic school form. This might have worked in the days where a huge pool of poorly educated manual workeds was needed, but nowadays ALL workers need higher skills than the divisive system is capable of providing.
- I regularly read one of the main German teaching union magazines - many teachers hate the divisive schools and are totally in favour of introducing a fairer, more comprehensive system. The ideal model would be the Finnish system, where all students are taught together until the age of 16 and which has a post-16 qualification (A-level equivalent) rate of 90%, I believe.

The only thing that does work well in Germany is that the decision for which school someone goes to is made on the basis of an entire school year's work rather than a single test day. And there is some room for flexibility if the teachers feel that someone has underperformed for their actual ability and potential - but again, this system favours MC children, because teachers are more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Pooka Thu 24-Oct-13 08:25:52

We looked round a local private school when ds was having some issues at school and they set aside pretty much a day a week from beginning of year 5 for selective tutoring. And start nvr/vr in year 4.

Their USP is to get kids through the tests.

How is that fair to kids in state schools?

daytoday Thu 24-Oct-13 08:32:54

I think the problem arises when there is a two tier system, like in Kent.

In London there are a few grammars but not enough to skew the whole system. Personally I think there is no one system that fits all. The more differentiated schools the better.

Inertia Thu 24-Oct-13 08:39:17

Having someone 's entire future decided on the basis of an exam on one day when they are 10 or 11 is ridiculous. It isn't an example of streaming, because streaming within a school gives lots of room for movement.

I used to teach in a comprehensive, and saw how levels of academic achievement can change over time. In a comprehensive school those changes can be accommodated, but a late developer isn't going to be moved from a secondary modern to a grammar school at 14.

Top-slicing the most able students means that any non-GS school doesn't actually have a comprehensive intake, so no fair comparison can be made.

SatinSandals Thu 24-Oct-13 08:49:26

Even streaming isn't a good idea, you need setting because someone who is top in English can be bottom in Maths.

DontmindifIdo Thu 24-Oct-13 08:53:16

I tend to think the people who are anti-grammer school haven't really thought through what it takes for comps to stream correctly - they either don't, or they have to be very very large schools to make sure they have enough pupils of hte different levels to teach groups according to ability.

I went to one of the very big schools that can stream correctly. They did get great results (still do), however it was at the cost of the pastoral care. I didn't actually speak to the head or the deputy at any point I was at secondary school, not even a 'hello' or anything - I think can't actually remember talking to head of years - I didn't even know the names of half the teaching staff. At university and got chatting to a boy who it turns out had been to my school in my year, yet I'd never met him before. (he recognised me, but only because he'd fancied my mate! We'd not been in a shared class and we had never had form rooms near each other, so we just didn't meet). Other people who'd been to smaller schools thought this was insane, but then those who'd been to smaller comps talked about being taught with other pupils who'd not been able to keep up with subjects, because the school hadn't the numbers to properly stream.

Personally, I like the grammer system, because it forces smaller schools. It's not a small school trying to stream a large range of abilities, they are trying to stream only the top 23%. My bigger issue round here is the non-grammer schools are huge, I'd be happy for DS to be sent to a non-grammer if that's the level that he's at academically, but I'd hate him to go to a very big school where it's easy for quiet DCs to be lost.

WhatWillSantaBring Thu 24-Oct-13 08:56:23

Thank you - I know I wasn't the OP but this is a question i have genuinely wanted to understand for years. I was "fortunate" enough to be privately educated, but at a school that was entirely wrong for me, so I understand that it is not a one system fits all approach but have limited experience/knowledge of the state sector.

What struck me in the early years of my career (highly academic but also very traditional) is that my only state educated contempories were products of GS. There was not a single comprehensively educated person in my intake of 60. I'm not sure whether the middle class domination of GS's would have started by then (school years in the '90s) so that could have been a factor.

What I do wish is that ALL schools had higher expectations for their brightest pupils and a change in culture where academic excellence is celebrated*, not mocked. How on earth one can get that is beyond me.

* I realise that academic excellence is not the only thing, but it its not "cool" to be clever and I think that is such a shame.

Another genuine question (or 3) - do kids in comprehensives AND GS get setted/streamed from the day the arrive at secondary school? If not, why not? And do kids do annual (internal) exams to allow them to move up/down sets? If not, how do kids get put into the right sets?

Preciousbane Thu 24-Oct-13 09:02:31

DS would do well in a grammar school but they do not exsist in my area. It is obvious that it gives an advantage and pigeon holes people from a young age.

DH went to a private school and I went to a comp that streamed. DS is at a comp that has individual sets for all subjects, even PE.

I'm glad that there are no grammar schools in my area as the thought of getting sucked in to the absolute madness of application that I have read about on here would not be for me nor my DS.

I agree very much with the post by TheAmrylin

difficultpickle Thu 24-Oct-13 09:21:20

I went to GS but back in the day when there was no tutoring and it didn't matter whether you passed or failed, it was simply a test to decide which school you went to after primary. I wouldn't send ds to GS mainly because of all the ridiculous tutoring that seems to be required these days. We are in catchment for Bucks and they had a new 11+ exam this year that was supposed to be tutor proof. I don't know anyone who took the exam that was not tutored so that seems to make a mockery of Bucks CC's claims.

NoComet Thu 24-Oct-13 09:33:51

It isn't just the cost of tutoring for a couple of years it's a £1000 for bus fare plus £350 in petrol to get to the bus stop.

And that means me being tied to the equivalent of my old school run, even if at more work friendly times for the next 7 years.

Comp bus is free and goes from our gate.

NoComet Thu 24-Oct-13 09:42:10

I should add that this is a public bus, so DCs have to hang about in an evening, homework still to do, because the return service isn't timed for school.

Also given how awful our local public transport is many, many DCs will be in the same or worse circumstances.

Is it any surprise that three out of the four DCs I know who go to grammar here (and that literally is it) have parents who commute in that direction.

Level playing field it is not!

Blu Thu 24-Oct-13 09:47:51

Because it divides children out at 11, or some may only be 10, when they take the test
Because it even divides out a particular kind of bright child - those who do well across a range of tests - not those who may be geniuses at maths but not at language, who will then be left in something more like a secondary modern in full grammar areas
Because a well-run comp enables top sets to be challenged and extended, just like in a grammar, whilst also allowing for a child to be in less advanced sets for particular subjects
Because whilst in a good comp there is plenty of room for adjustment - move a late-maturing summer child up a set when they are ready, move a grammar child doiwn a set for the subjects they find hard (or when they are found to be burnt out and tutored to the test and need more help in MFL, for example)
Because nowadays a well run comp is now more likely to offer the equality of opportunity and a good education for economically disadvantaged children than a Grammar - you can't compare the lives of our working-class- parents-made-good with children nowadays because in our parents / grandparents days comps didn't exist - it was Grammar or Secondary Mod - and secondary mod dictated that you took CSEs, vocational classes and left at 15.
Because a full grammar system precludes the benefits of a proper comp system for bright kids who do need to be amongst peers within a set or stream.

I do think that comps need to make sure they are good for all kids - I like the more detailed breakdown of stats that now show how a school perfomrs across a range of abilities, which hopefully precludeds the temptation to focus only on the middlings to get them over the precious C grade threshold in pursuit of overall good stats.

(I went to a selective school, my Dad was a first generation Grammar school boy frm a mining village - his father worked in the pit - my DS is in the top stream of a good comp)

tiggytape Thu 24-Oct-13 09:56:24

The people who are against it in London object because it isn't like it used to be:

- No catchment areas. The grammars in some areas take children from miles and miles away with no priority for local children. This makes the school place shortage even worse and local children who pass the 11+ can end up not getting into grammar school (if they score 1 or 2 points less than someone living 50 miles away)

- Test Expectations - With so many applicants, the standard needed to pass goes up and up. Being a level 5 in Year 5 just doesn't cut it. The tests are taken at the start of Year 6 yet the child will be tested on the whole KS2 curriculum (where maths is tested) so at the very least they need parental input to teach them this.

- Tutoring Culture - At some schools there are 10 - 12 applicants for each place. Mainly top group children take the tests and people only opt-in if they expect their child can manage them. The difference between a pass and a fail (or a pass with an offer versus a pass with no offer) is increasingly down to technique and speed. Every point counts. A few years ago tuition in Year 5 was pretty common. Now people up the ante all the time and start in Year 4 or Year 3 just to gain an edge.

- Effect on Other Schools - In London only the top 2 - 8% of children are skimmed off so the other schools don't suffer a brain-drain. They have lots of top group ability children all starting on level 5's and 6's and get good results.
In other regions the top 25 - 30% are skimmed off and this creates other schools which might not be able to cater for a bright child who fails the test (and anyone can have a bad day).
In London the effect is more that local children who pass the test still cannot get a grammar place if they are narrowly beaten on score and so all the other local schools get clogged up causing problems for people who don't even want a grammar school place.

Old Ethos Diminished - Grammar schools aren't particularly small anymore. In London 180 per year (with plans to expand) isn't abnormal for a grammar school. Classes aren't any smaller either because they have the same funding concerns as all other schools. They no longer focus on taking bright but disadvantaged children since some form of tuition or preparation is so vital to passing the exams (in London at least). A lot of things that people fondly remember about their own grammar days have gone

PottyLotty Thu 24-Oct-13 10:10:13

I would send my childen to a Grammar School if there was one locally.

I believe they help the brightest students reach their 'full' potential rather than just 'doing well' in a comprehensive school.

If more students went to GS's the comprehensive schools would have smaller class sizes so those who need the extra help will get it because the staff have less students and more time. Everyone wins. The option at year 10 to transfer to a GS if the students show the ability should be available though.

My DD would pass an entry exam for a Grammar School however my DS would not and I would not object to one going to a GS and one who did not.

ClifftopCafe Thu 24-Oct-13 10:18:42

Why don't the primary schools raise their game in terms of the 3Rs and academic focus so the playing field is more level? We are consistently told that a few familiarisation sessions are all that's needed if applying to selective schools or the local Grammars.

Recent literacy homework involved drawing pictures (even top group) to illustrate characters in a story they'd read etc. A bit more to it than that but lots of emphasis on ICT and speaking and listening skills. Lots of posters etc. Those I know in the Prep are working on a comprehension on Mansfield Park currently and picking out literacy devices in the text which they are then told to use in composition & note in special books to remember. VR and NVR on the syllabus one way or another from Y3 and twice weekly at least from Y4. Who do you think is at an advantage when it comes to the exams?

In the Prep a clock is up on the whiteboard with the emphasis on countdown and working to time. In our primary writing is assessed over a much longer period and children will typically do a introduction one day, the middle the next and the ending another.

Our Primary is universally praised for it's creative and child led focus. We are told not to enter our children for the grammar or selective school if they need more than familiarisation with the test papers as they will be unsuited to the environment. Meanwhile I see those who are above average academically but certainly not the top 5 or 10% stroll into the Grammar and selective schools. We have to make up any short fall at home. Sometimes the children resent the extra work, especially if they are doing sport after school etc and frankly I can see their point. If you have a strong willed child who doesn't want to comply, what then? Or is the Primary correct and if we need to do the work with them at home they are simply not clever enough?

Inertia Thu 24-Oct-13 10:24:17

PottyLotty- you are sadly misguided if you think that having Grammar Schools take the most able students means that the resulting secondary-modern-equivalent would have smaller class sizes. They would have to do exactly what they do now, where staffing depends on pupil numbers. Fewer pupils means less money available to the school. In fact it would probably reduce their flexibility to have smaller class sizes , as many comprehensives have larger top and middle sets in order that the less able groups can be smaller.

Inertia Thu 24-Oct-13 10:26:27

CliffTop- I suspect that part of the answer to your question is that state schools have to follow the National Curriculum. Independent schools do not.

Inertia Thu 24-Oct-13 10:27:41

Satin, you're right- setting for individual subjects instead of across-the-board streaming is a much better system and I should have made my comment clearer to reflect that.

WireCat Thu 24-Oct-13 10:36:51

I'm not against them.
What I don't like is that children can come in from far & wide. From areas that have good schools. I believe the grammar schools should serve the area that they're in.
Am in Southend. We have 4 grammar schools. 2 girls, 2 boys.

My dd wouldn't have passed the 11+. My ds1 could have with tuition. Too early to see with ds2.

IMO there's schools should only take from the SS postcode.

Instead we have children coming in from London, Colchester, Chelmsford. Personally I think that's ridiculous.

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 10:41:19

Change the name to The secondary Modern System.

Still like it?

soundevenfruity Thu 24-Oct-13 10:52:41

It seems to be a question of opportunities which in the current system come quite infrequently. Your future can't be decided at 11 and you can't expect children to pick a profession when they choose their GCSEs. For me it's not about abolishing grammars (because there are children that are academic at 11) but about building in options for those that blossom later. Including something akin to International bacalauriat where you have to do all subjects; evening degrees at universities where people can study after work; tax breaks for employers that allow employees to do further education.

LittleSiouxieSue Thu 24-Oct-13 11:30:21

In Bucks all of the grammar schools are good, or outstanding, and although lots of parents engage a tutor, lots do not and work through relevant books with their children. A poster suggested Grammar schools are small. They are not. Many in Bucks are 1400. The costs are too great if you stay small and successful schools grow, especially when out of county children are desperate to get in. In a grammar school system, countywide, you have secondary moderns for the 70% of local children who do not get a grammar school place. In the last 15 years, the majority of Bucks secondary schools have been in special measures, some twice. There is a first division of secondary schools which have always been successful but some of the others have had numerous problems down the years. If you have no choice of secondary modern you can be stuck with an under performing school. If you look around a grammar school and compare with a secondary modern you will notice differences. Grammar schools appear smarter, better resourced and give more opportunities even for sport which should not be based on intelligence. One if mine got the 11+ and the other didn't take it as we sent her to an independent school. Had she attended our local secondary modern I felt the differences between the grammar and the secondary were too great. The grammar offered a myriad of learning opportunities but the secondary offered very limited experiences, poor results (being one of the lowest performing schools in the country), virtually no music or drama and was housed in scrappy buildings. These schools have been neglected for years and it amazes me that parents accept that their children are treated like second, or third, class citizens. Have grammar schools by all means, but the secondary's all need to be good too, and they are not.

TeenAndTween Thu 24-Oct-13 12:45:32

DD1 would not have passed a GS test. She has blossomed at secondary school, moving up sets rapidly for maths, top set for French etc.

Luckily we live in Hampshire with its excellent Comprehensive system.
Every child matters at her school. They monitor progress of all children, intervening where needed.
Options at GCSE allow for the very academic (eg triple science, 2 languages, + latin as an extra) , and the less so (eg construction or beauty).

Grammer schools
- don't allow for late bloomers
- are biased towards middle class parents who can pay for travel and tutoring
- often seem to go hand in hand with associated poor secondary modern schools
- put a great deal of stress on families from about age 9 upwards

A good comprehensive
- copes with academic and non academic children
- allows for brilliance in one subject and struggling in another
- has excellent behaviour
- has high aspirations for all children

Blu Thu 24-Oct-13 12:49:11

Tiggy, I am in London, and my comments on Grammar schools are based on my wider views of the education system as a whole, not my subjective experience or view as a London parent. The OP asked about the ‘Grammar School System’ and my problems are with the system wherever it is or not.
Within our education system I also have a problem with state funded faith schools. I have no beef at all with individual families choosing to send their children to faith or grammar schools. They are legal, provided as part of the system and parents who can and would like to opt for those schools should absolutely do so. My ‘problem’ (aka beliefs about how things should be instead) is with the system as a whole, not with anyone who chooses to take up a place in the school. No personal sniping at all.

Blu Thu 24-Oct-13 12:50:31

Sorry - post composed with an interruption - hence grammatical nonsense in the middle!

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 12:54:04

There isn't one single 'grammar school system' though, which is probably part of the problem. I expect I wouldn't like the way things are done in Kent, or South London. I think the way things are done where I live is excellent, although the proliferation of private schools does skew things somewhat.

ouryve Thu 24-Oct-13 12:56:55

My problem is about where kids like DS1 would fit. Exceptionally bright, but has ASD and ADHD and needs a lot of support. His difficulties are severe enough that I'll be taking him out of MS altogether for secondary, but there's plenty of kids not quite so severe who would stay in mainstream who might not be served well by a grammar school which might barely give a nod to SN.

ouryve Thu 24-Oct-13 13:01:20

Not usually one for pedantry, but hmm for people discussing what they see as the merits of grammEr schools.

davidjrmum Thu 24-Oct-13 13:07:15

Pottylotty - you say "My DD would pass an entry exam for a Grammar School however my DS would not and I would not object to one going to a GS and one who did not." but how would your children feel about that. My mum's sister passed her 11+ and went to a grammar school but my mum didn't. My mum is a really bright lady, she retired as a teacher a few years ago but I don't think she would share your view about it not mattering if one sibling got to GS and the other didn't.

stubbornstains Thu 24-Oct-13 13:13:34

Completely anecdotally, I have so much to thank the grammar school system for. I was a weird, spoddy child (almost definitely undiagnosed AS), and was bullied horribly by the boys at junior school ("Swot! Swot!" etc). I passed the 11+ way before anybody had thought of tutoring, and got into a girls' grammar, which was pretty much a paradise of weird, spoddy girls grin. I have so much to thank that school for. I didn't even thrive academically (8 A-Cs was very poor for that school!), but feel that it gave me the space to be me.

This was, of course, waay before tutoring, and was in S. Bucks (waves at *Siouxsie Sue*)It was (and is) a big school of over 1000, and at the time reflected the local demographic pretty well.

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 13:16:51

davidjrmum I have 2 DCs. DC1 is at a superselective. DS didn't want to even try to do the exam for the superselective, he wanted to go to the comp for which their primary school was/is a feeder school (that;s the system that operates round here, designated feeder schools). That was where his friends were going, that was where he wanted to go. DD2 has just passed the exam for the superselective and will go there next year - she was very firm she didn't want to go to the comp, she wanted to go to the grammar. DS doesn't have any problem with that at all (in fact he is rather relieved DD2 won't be going to his school). I think most kids realise that not everyone is the same and that people have different strengths and different preferences.

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 13:17:33

Aaargh. 3 DCs. I find it very difficult to type with my new talon like nails. Perhaps I need to go back to biting them incessantly.

Hatice Thu 24-Oct-13 13:27:45

Ouryve my DS year 10 has Aspergers and is in Grammar school (his choice). True he does not need 1:1 support. He has had many situations he has found difficult while he has been at secondary refusing to go to school at one point in year 9.
The school have been brilliant. The SEN support and pastoral care is great. He has made some really supportive friends who embrace his quirks. He struggled to make friends in primary. I feel he could have been bullied had he attended his local school. He was bullied in a state primary school. A friend withdrew her son from a local comprehensive because he was bullied in year 7.

MaddAddam Thu 24-Oct-13 13:37:03

I used to have an academic objection to grammar schools, on the basis that they divide children into academic successes and failures at 10. I really don't think it is feasible to say based on a set of tests at 10 which children are "academic" and which aren't.

I also used to have leftie egalitarian objections as I think they recruit predominantly from the middle classes. Even in their heyday there were many bright kids from working class backgrounds who couldn't sit the exam or take up the place, so I am not convinced they were working in that respect. I think the grammar school heyday coincided with a period of great social mobility and so lots of people "made it" into the middle classes, and attribute this to a grammar school education when actually I'd say it was probably due a demographic and economic shift - there were a lot more middle class jobs available at that point.

But since I've had children I am also heartily glad we aren't in a grammar area. DP and I were both very high academic achievers. But our dc, they're a mixed bag. One is highly academic in conventional terms. Tends to do very well indeed at exams and thrives on competition. Would be in a grammar school, absolutely no doubt. Another is very good in some subjects (good marks in maths and science, and in reading, excellent marks in art) but spectactularly poor in written English. Would have failed the 11+ and been in a secondary modern despite the fact she's in top groups for everything except English, and excelling in some subjects.

And the 3rd is only 9 still and it's hard to say but I really wouldn't bet on her passing an 11+. She'd probably be borderline. but she's improving all the time - she's changing quickly in academic terms.

So my children would have been divided into successes and failures if we were in an 11+ area. But there's only one of them who is clearly one one side of the Academic/not Academic divide. it woudl have been a horrible issue for our family if there were grammars and secondary moderns, and I think 2 of my 3 children would have been shortchanged by it.

ShoeWhore Thu 24-Oct-13 13:37:58

Supporters of grammar schools: just stop a second and imagine that your children don't have a hope of getting in. Still like the idea?

soul2000 Thu 24-Oct-13 13:45:23

English. I was wondering when one of these discussions was coming round again?

On this site people are always claiming grammar schools destroy the other schools around them, and that a fully selective system does not benefit the many.

One exception and proves if Kent/Bucks and Lincolnshire could get the organisation right is Trafford which is a fully selective system where up to
30% of pupils go to grammar schools. Trafford non selective schools
achieve up to 80% A* to C inc Maths and English and not one achieves less than 50% in these measures. Trafford is a great barometer as it has
some of the richest wards outside London interspersed with some of the poorest wards. It shows that properly managed schools can perform
above average for all schools even in fully selective areas.

I know i will get some people telling me that Trafford for some reason
does not count.

A question: Who closed the most grammar schools as education secretary?

However despite this vandalism there was at least the assisted places
scheme in its place.

The idea that by destroying or closing good schools would somehow make the bad good is flawed.

The destruction of grammar schools or the assisted places scheme is one
of the reasons why the establishment is more dominated now with
public school toffs than 30 or 40 years ago.

As someone who if i had taken the 11= would have been lucky to have got 1 answer right i am able to comment.

However i am grateful that both my niece and nephew have benefited from Trafford's Grammar schools.

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 13:48:53

A question: Who closed the most grammar schools as education secretary?
I thought that was Mrs Thatcher - but am willing to be corrected.

So what is it that Trafford does, which Bucks most certainly does not do?

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 13:49:07

Shoe I have one child not at a grammar school. I still like the idea.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 13:57:37

For lots of the reasons that others have cited. For the record, I don't like streaming either: I like setting, which is probably more complicated to do in many ways, but means kids are actually less segregated and can work at appropriate levels in each subject.

I really wouldn't like my kids to be judged, at 11, 'non-academic' and siphoned off to a 'non-academic' school. And it is a genuine risk for my older daughter; judging by her secondary transfer grades, she would have got into a grammar in the days when you didn't have to be tutored for them, but would have needed a fair bit of maths coaching to be a shoo-in for it now. Two years on, she's now in the top maths set of what sounds like a fairly fiercely maths-ish year in a maths/science specialist comp.

BleedinEck Thu 24-Oct-13 13:58:28

I live in a GS area and my eldest is unlikely to pass without heavy tutoring (& even then nothing's guaranteed). The local comprehensive quotes a dismal 50% pass rate for maths & English GCSE hmm & we're not in a position to go private or consider the schools. I have no idea what to do bar move or hope we can magic up a place in a a marginally better comprehensive out of area. It's so sad to think a child's future is determined at 11 in part because of parental willingness to chest the system faith or finances.

GS is great for those that get in but in our area 'the system' fails many others.

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 14:00:33

"The local comprehensive quotes a dismal 50% pass rate for maths & English GCSE "

What's the intake like? How do the high achievers do?

soul2000 Thu 24-Oct-13 14:03:06

"CORRECT" La Volcan. Regarding Trafford, i think they are very succesfull
at Primary level. this would explain why they have relatively small number
of low attaining pupils entering even the non selective schools .
This can be seen on the Dept of Education Performance Tables....

With the exception of a few "NUTTERS" Passing or Failing does not seem
to be a Life or Death situation that it appears to be in "KENT".

MadeOfStarDust Thu 24-Oct-13 14:03:53

We are in an area with an excellent grammar school..... so it has become a middle class bubble - people pull their kids from far and wide to attend - a great deal having attended public prep schools.

They load the top end of the list of "qualifiers" because they have been tutored for the test. State schools round here do not even have a practise test...
Hence the view that a lot of the grammar school places around here can be "bought" - rather than earned by the children a grammar school was supposed to be for.....

The other (many) grammar schools in the county take off the top however many of the state school system... (though many are tutored to get there ) this then means that the top of the state comp system is lower than it should be. I guess this means that the state schools perform less were specifically because of grammar schools....

MadeOfStarDust Thu 24-Oct-13 14:04:53

*less well... not were

morethanpotatoprints Thu 24-Oct-13 14:10:43

None of my dc have been bright enough to plass 11+ and Grammar school was obviously out of the question.
If your child is bright they deserve to be in the grammar school if they pass the test, simple as that.
So what if some get tutored, my dd is tutored to have an advantage in gaining a place at a specialist music school. Should I not pay for her lessons now?
It strikes me that those who object want to spoil it for other dc because their own were incapable of passing the test.
We all want the best for our dc, at a level that suits them.

boschy Thu 24-Oct-13 14:13:16

I do love these debates... on a recent tour of a local GS, someone asked the head about SEN. he said "oh yes, we do have a few dyslexics".

I think that kind of sums up the approach really.

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 14:22:18

"It strikes me that those who object want to spoil it for other dc because their own were incapable of passing the test."

Oh, the old jealousy argument. <sigh>

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 14:24:46

boschy All my DC have SEN. Two of them have passed the 11+ and will both be at superselective next year (the younger one is in Y6). The SEN provision could definitely be better, I realise, having now some knowledge of what it's like at private schools - but the SEN provision at the comp is even worse. So, what can you do but try and improve things in both places (the course I have taken). Incidentally at our grammar there are to my certain knowledge kids with not just dyspexia but also dyspraxia, AS, ADHD and complex processing issues which don't fit easily into the more well known categorisations. Your local GS seems on the face of it to not be very good in that area but one throwaway comment doesn't necessarily tell the whole story...

CecilyP Thu 24-Oct-13 14:33:19

I have a problem with the selective system (not sure why you have called it the grammar school system, OP) because it is based on the assumption that children fit into one of 2 discrete groups - the academic and the non-academic - when children's abilities obviously fall on a continuum from the very dull to the genius. If you split them into 2 groups, regardless of where you make the split, the ability of the children either side of the split will be identical.

When grammar schools were first introduced, the school leaving age was 13, so perhaps 11 was the latest they could leave it. Now the school leaving age is 16 for everyone, there seems little point in selecting out a few at 11.

Would people still be so anti of it was a system with more room for transfer - like the German system?

To me that would make selection seem even more of a nonsense. One would assume that the selected children in their selective school, not held back by having to mingle with the dull, would be making such progress that they would leave even the brightest children in the non-selective school behind. (Actually I know this isn't true as I have known people who passed the 13+)

campion Thu 24-Oct-13 14:37:44

That's the point,potatoprints. Many parents look around their local comp and think it's not going to offer enough to their children but there's often no alternative. And there are many children languishing at the bottom of comprehensives, doing nothing worthwhile, yet being urged towards some false 'target' to improve the league tables when, in fact, they'd be better learning a skill or 2 and getting out of the classroom.

The comprehensive ideal has truly failed many children. It's fine if you live in an area where you can afford the inflated house prices which conveniently reduces the,er, more disaffected cohort, so you end up with a mono-cultural intake which isn't exactly comprehensive but whatever.

Grammar schools can and should offer more to the type of learner they're designed for than the average comprehensive. That's why parents will go to such lengths to secure a place. Unfortunately, there are too few.

CecilyP Thu 24-Oct-13 14:38:18

^A question: Who closed the most grammar schools as education secretary?
I thought that was Mrs Thatcher - but am willing to be corrected.^

People keep saying that but I don't know if it is true. Most places I have lived 'went comprehensive' between 1974 and 1979. Thatcher, as Education Secretary, allowed LEA's to do as they wished with regard to transfer at 11.

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 14:39:23

Would people be so anti if the transfer age was 14?

This selection happens, in practice, when children get put into GCSE sets, although they stay within the same school.

Just musing: I went to a mediocre grammar school, which is heaps better as a comprehensive, and my children went to comprehensives.

CecilyP Thu 24-Oct-13 14:42:23

Forteen would seem a more natural split in that children are choosing their options and they will be put in for exams at different levels, but I don't really see why that has to be in different schools.

campion Thu 24-Oct-13 14:42:33

I went to a very good grammar school, LaVolcan, which is now in special measures as a comprehensive.

merrymouse Thu 24-Oct-13 14:43:45

The funny thing about grammar schools is that in my experience they are almost all single sex. This might be completely anecdotal, but I heard that when grammar schools were the norm, many girls 'failed' to get a place at a grammar school, having scored better than boys who got in because of the distribution of places across the sexes.

Another issue is that Grammar schools date back to a time when it was assumed that a large part of the population would do manual work/be part of the typing pool/give up work on marriage - education really was differentiated according to what job you might do. Is the old grammar school/secondary modern model of education relevant now? When we had grammar schools 3% of children went to uni, now apparently 50% and rising are supposed to go.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 14:45:44

It's fine if you live in an area where you can afford the inflated house prices which conveniently reduces the,er, more disaffected cohort, so you end up with a mono-cultural intake which isn't exactly comprehensive but whatever.

Please, please, give this one a rest. Please. Or come and see my DD1's distinctly non-leafy comp, where large numbers of her friends are on FSM and whose multicultiness reflects its rather shabby Sarf Lunnon surroundings (and DD1's, come to that).

merrymouse Thu 24-Oct-13 14:46:26

However the most confusing thing about this thread is why the OP wouldn't have heard/thought of all the anti-grammar school arguments before.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 14:47:08

I know it's lovely and convenient to diss all good comps as obviously far more selective both economically and ethnically than any other form of education, but it's just not accurate.

Bunbaker Thu 24-Oct-13 14:50:21

I thought secondary moderns didn't exist any more. DD goes to the local comprehensive. They are set for the core subjects and PE from year 7 and there is a lot of movement between the sets to cater for underperforming students and students who excel.

After languishing for years as satisfactory they have just received a Good rating from ofsted. This year's GCSE results were 80% A - C grades including maths and English, The A level and AS level results were also up. I am happy with the school and so are most of the parents.

merrymouse Thu 24-Oct-13 14:52:00

They don't have secondary moderns, but if the top set is at a different school, then you aren't providing a comprehensive education either.

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 14:53:11

I thought secondary moderns didn't exist any more.

You can't live in Kent or Bucks then. Grammar schools and Sec Mods are the system there - although Bucks tries to dress the Sec Mods up under a different name.

One of the reasons we moved country when I was small was because my big sis had failed the 11+. DM was not prepared (as a teacher) to see her daughter fail.

DSIS is now eye-wateringly successful.

Bunbaker Thu 24-Oct-13 14:56:39

I live in South Yorkshire. The only grammar schools round here are independent fee paying schools. I think Heckmondwike Grammer is a state school, but the competition to get in is extremely fierce, and it is too far for us anyway. So the non grammar schools round here are proper comprehensive schools.

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 14:58:16

Not everyone tutors for the 11+. I find it mind boggling that people insist they do, despite schools insisting it isn't necessary. confused

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 15:01:46

I thought secondary moderns didn't exist any more.

Not in name. But in areas where the top 25% are whisked off to grammar land the school that remains is a secondary modern whatever it's actually called.

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 15:03:26

Not in counties that aren't Kent, Essex or Bucks.

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 15:08:26

I have got conflicting feelings about grammar schools. On one hand, they provide a superior first-class education, completely free (to those who can get in). While passable or good comprehensives are a very rare commodity. And personally, I do not believe even good comprehensives come close to the calibre of education grammars provide. Granted, these schools are not called secondary moderns any more, but are they much better in real terms?

On the other hand, I see the argument of the opponents and that it is wrong that one day at the age of 10 can define somebody's whole life "without the right of appeal". This is wrong.

The system was wrong then and it is no better now, when lets be honest, the majority of population do not have the option to send their child to a good secondary. Primarily because these are typically found in prohibitively expensive areas where very few families with children can afford to live. So it is not fair either, is it?

At least grammars do not have the postcode element coming into it as much. A bright (and prepared) child can get in even if they do not live across the road from the said grammar.

Because sadly so many grammar have closed, we have ended up with the situation when a child now has to be tutored to get in. The kind of tests grammars put on are not passable if someone has not spent hours (or days, or weeks!) doing similar tests. Being bright is no longer sufficient.

With the closure of grammars, people from humbler backgrounds no longer have a chance for a decent education (a chance it was in those days!). They are unable to move into an expensive area with good schools. Neither are they able to pay for the tutoring to get their bright child into a grammar. So, on the balance, I think we have ended up with a worse system than there ever used to be...

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 15:09:49

Summerworld The kind of tests grammars put on are not passable if someone has not spent hours (or days, or weeks!) doing similar tests. Being bright is no longer sufficient.

That's not actually true (in all cases).

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 15:10:06

"While passable or good comprehensives are a very rare commodity. And personally, I do not believe even good comprehensives come close to the calibre of education grammars provide."

Why do you think either of these things?

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 15:13:41

curlew The poster is possibly reflecting their own experience? My experience is that the comp I went to, back in the day, was a better school then than the SSGS my DD1 goes to is today. However my old school while utterly superb, still, probably isn't a better school except in a couple of somewhat significant ways now. But it's still amazing (I have friends with kids there) and if I still lived where I belong I'd be deliriously happy for my girls to go there. I am aware though that it isn't like all comps. The ones available where I live are a decidedly mixed bunch and even the best one isn't in the same league as my old school let alone the same division.

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 15:14:28

It is perfectly possible to get into grammar school having done very minimal preperation.

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 15:19:16

Xoanon- she could only be reflecting her own experience in that statement if she had experienced all comprehensives and all grammars!

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 15:20:04

"It is perfectly possible to get into grammar school having done very minimal preperation."

Not for most children it isn't.

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 15:28:46

While passable or good comprehensives are a very rare commodity.
This depends where you live. I certainly think that in the UK as a whole good comprehensives are far from rare.

And personally, I do not believe even good comprehensives come close to the calibre of education grammars provide. Granted, these schools are not called secondary moderns any more, but are they much better in real terms?

Some of these good comprehensives were never secondary moderns but were an amalgam of a secondary modern and a grammar school.

However, some which were secondary moderns and not an amalgam, e.g. some of the ones in Oxfordshire, have a very good reputation as comprehensives.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 15:36:16

* passable or good comprehensives are a very rare commodity*

Please explain, with examples, precisely why you feel this generalisation is justified.

yy mother inferior. what a silly comment.

Overall effectiveness of schools
Overall effectiveness judgement (percentage of schools)
Type of school
Nursery schools
Primary schools
Secondary schools
Special schools
Pupil referral units
All schools
New school inspection arrangements have been introduced from 1 January 2012. This means that inspectors make judgements that were not made previously.
The data in the table above are for the period 1 September 2010 to 31 August 2011 and represent judgements that were made under the school inspection arrangements that were introduced on 1 September 2009. These data are consistent with the latest published official statistics about maintained school inspection outcomes (see
The sample of schools inspected during 2010/11 was not representative of all schools nationally, as weaker schools are inspected more frequently than good or outstanding schools.
Primary schools include primary academy converters. Secondary schools include secondary academy converters, sponsor-led academies and city technology colleges. Special schools include special academy converters and non-maintained special schools.
Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100.

This table, published by Ofsted in 2012 attached to my ds school report shows that on 8% of secondaries in the UK are considered by Osted to be inadequate.

Therefore 92% are considered to be satisfactory and above, 42% are considered to be satisfactory, 40% are considered to be good and 14% are considered to be outstanding.

If passable equates to satisfactory then I think we can safely assert that the majority of the secondary schools in this country are not only passable, but pretty good overall.

But lets not let the fact get in the way of a good prejudice.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 15:55:38

Incidentally, it's fairly obvious that in comprehensive areas (proper ones) some of the schools which are now comps will have started as secondary moderns; others as grammars; and some will have been purpose-built. My daughter's non-leafy comp started as a grammar, I note, but since it has been comprehensive since 1956 I can't see what that'll have to do with it.

Talkinpeace Thu 24-Oct-13 15:55:54

Grammar schools have a very narrow definition of excellence.
The 11+ does not test for sport, art, music, languages - all the things that make school more interesting.
So in a comp you get the academically slow fantastic athlete
in the same room as the academically brilliant two left foot person
in the same room as the kid with no real skills at all
that breadth and diversity is what any selective school lacks
and is part of the reason why our current political "class" are such twerps.

With setting and ambition, every child in a comp can reach their potential - be that at Imperial College as a lecturer or working in the canteen

seennotheard Thu 24-Oct-13 16:00:49


I'll tell you why most parents in my area pay for tuition to give their dc a fighting chance of passing the 11+:

A) If they didn't have tuition, most of the state school candidates would find that they were unable to answer a lot of the questions, as the material would not have been covered by the end of year 5.

B) The Comprehensives in this area are shit.

sad angry

ClifftopCafe Thu 24-Oct-13 16:04:05

Do people think things are going to get even more competitive? I imagine that Grammars will move towards 'untutorable' IQ tests in time. Totally mixing things up from year to year and throwing a few curve balls? I don't think the system will continue as it is, it doesn't seem sustainable or sensible. Also it seems to be that more (rather than less) are opting for selective independents these days despite the recession especially the top ones?? Does all this competition (especially if times get harder and alternative choices get worse) mean we'll move towards a culture that begins to prize education more highly in time?

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 16:07:29

seennotheard - are they comprehensives though, if you have the 11+?

It took me a longish time reading threads on MN to realise that my idea of a comprehensive i.e. one which took virtually all abilities (didn't take the ones in PRUs), wasn't the same as say Kent MNetters, for whom 'comprehensive' was another name for Secondary Modern.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 16:08:34

I know, LV, I mentioned to a boyfriend of mine a few years back that I'd been to a comp and he asked me if I'd failed the 11+.

Blu Thu 24-Oct-13 16:11:32

DS goes to a comp which is as unleafy as MI's DD's, and with a demography that I have often seen described on MN as to be avoided. (high ratio of FSM, EAL, etc) and the surrounding housing is predominantly social - not private with high rents or mortgages. It is an are which is considerably more 'affordable' than surrounding S London areas.

The top ability students have a higher A-C inc Maths and Eng % pass rate tat GCSE han the lowest performing Kent selectives. It has a higher value added score than most of the Kent selectives. The highest value added scores (i.e those which reflect the impact of the education that the students receive) amongst the Kent secondaries are not by any means focussed on the selective schools. In fact 4 selective schools don't even make it to the baseline 100 value added score - so are actually failing their pupils!

soul2000 Thu 24-Oct-13 16:17:07

People go on about comprehensives and selective education all the time.

I am just wondering what percentage of Gcse 5A* to C does a "SECONDARY MODERN" need to lose that classification.

I think "THORNHILL" in educating Yorkshire is more of what a "SECONDARY
MODERN" is than many high schools in selective areas.

CecilyP Thu 24-Oct-13 16:46:22

I have no idea who does the classification. Kingston, with 17% selective places open to all-comers refers to its non-selective schools as Secondary Moderns, while neighbouring Sutton, with 30% selective places, also open to all-comers, refers to its non-selectives as comprehensives, but I don't know who decides this and on what basis.

seennotheard Thu 24-Oct-13 16:46:27

Well, LV, i suppose they are comprehensive by definition, in that they don't select their intake on the basis of academic achievement.

When the selective system prevailed, the 11+ exam was universal. The default was that all children took the exam in their primary schools. It was just a fact of life, rather than a choice. There was, therefore, a much stricter demarcation between the Grammars = those who had passed the 11+, and Secondary Moderns = those who had failed.

Nowadays, I think the remaining Grammars are regarded as a bit of an aberration. The primary schools are not involved in the 11+ process at all. The onus is on parents to apply for their children to take the exam, which is held in the Grammar school itself. Many state primary schools which have a Grammar in their area, choose to largely ignore the fact, and act as though they are working within a truly comprehensive system. This is probably, and justifiably, in order to downplay the awful pass/fail stigma of the 11+ of years ago.

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 16:48:22

curlew ""It is perfectly possible to get into grammar school having done very minimal preperation."

Not for most children it isn't."

confused the nature of the "grammar school" selection is that it isn't aimed at "most children".

newgirl Thu 24-Oct-13 16:55:51

It's such an old-fashioned system that can divide families. So glad we live in an area with outstanding secondary schools that are no longer grammar.

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 16:57:04

MadameDefarge, personally, I would not call an "Ofsted Satisfactory" school a good school. Are you serious?

And I have a big problem with the criteria used until very recently to assess schools. Michael Gove made a lot of noise trying to introduce "proper" assessment criteria which is academic subjects like English, Maths and Sciences. Whilst before vocational subjects conveniently pushed some schools up the League Tables. Maybe it is how some comps got to be classed satisfactory or even good? Grammar do not subscribe to that, as it is totally against their ethos of academic achievement. They are simply not interested in enrolling their students onto a "cooking" class instead of another academic subject in order to get a better "average" result for the school.

A lot of the stats is what you choose to believe IMO.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 16:59:43

Ah, yes, another convenient one, along with the leafy catchment areas! Yes, that's right, our kids are getting As in maths and English but the other three GCSEs are all cooking and textiles, you know.

seennotheard Thu 24-Oct-13 17:03:38

zzzzz But in areas where the 11+ is curriculum-based, with Maths and English papers, even those children it is aimed at, are going to be pretty hard pushed to pass without tutoring, if they have not yet covered all the relevant material.

In our area, children need to be confident in all aspects of the KS2 curriculum for Maths and English (i.e. end of year 6) by the end of year 5. In most state primaries, this just isn't going to happen.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 17:04:27

I really don't know why it's so threatening to accept that a lot of comps are delivering perfectly good education. It seems to be a point of fierce debate - 'oh well you live in a posh area' 'oh well they're all cramming the results with cookery and textiles' etc....Quite a lot of comprehensives are educating our lovely kids just fine. Get over it.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 24-Oct-13 17:05:13

Cooking class. Of course.

Look at the OP. why don't people like the grammar system? My dad went to a grammar school and it was great!

How obtuse can you get! confused

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 17:06:08

Well, LV, i suppose they are comprehensive by definition, in that they don't select their intake on the basis of academic achievement.

But the old secondary moderns didn't select either, but it didn't make them comprehensive. Some of them would certainly have had children who were of grammar school standard.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 17:07:43

Yes, they did select! They took the kids who'd failed the exam, by definition. Some of those kids turned out to be pretty bright...but they also took all the kids who wouldn't have had a hope in hell of ever passing.

Which bit of 'entrance exam' means 'non-selective'?

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 17:07:53

and no, this is not prejudice. In the area where we could afford to buy and where we used to live, my DCs had ZERO chance of a good education, either primary or even more so, secondary. The schools there are not great (althoughsome are "satisfactory" or "good" on paper).

But jumping through a few hoops and moving 40 minutes away to an area where we will never afford to buy, my DCs now go to a good primary and they have a fair chance of getting into a good secondary. Are those schools accessible? Oh no. They are very very difficult to get into. At least with a grammar you get some sort of chance if you are bright. With the current system if you have not got a fat wad to buy a house next door to a good school, your children got no chance whatsoever, however bright. I do not think it is any fairer.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 17:08:23

You passed, you went to the grammar. You failed, you went to the secondary modern.

It's really easy to understand.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 17:09:21

I do not have a fat wad

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 17:10:07

My wad is in fact of quite small proportions. A wad of slender insufficiency.

englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 17:12:41

I'm not being obtuse. I benefitted from the grammar system. I have spent the last 11 years teaching in grammar schools. I have seen a lot of strident comments (from both sides) and wanted an alternative view. It seems it's one of those areas where we can't discuss properly as people make it too personal.

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 17:14:13

Quite a lot of comprehensives are educating our lovely kids just fine. Get over it.

Yep, a lot are doing a good job and the parents and children are happy with the system.

I suspect that it is partly to do with the catchment area e.g. my old school is in a rural area, and its intake covers a wide spectrum of income and social class, except the real extremes of sink estates and the phenomenally wealthy are absent. The phenomenally wealthy wouldn't send their children to any state school anyway.

And yes, it's leafy because it's rural, but don't forget that rural areas can have lots of hidden poverty.

seennotheard Thu 24-Oct-13 17:16:34

I am not pro-selection, btw. I think it is divisive and, imo, militates against breadth of choice, and diversity in the range of subjects offered by both types of school in a selective system.....But if you have to choose between one of the best schools in the country and a sink poorly performing 'comprehensive', I think most parents would try their damnedest to give their dc a fighting chance in the 11+.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 24-Oct-13 17:17:30

I could link to lots of houses of much cheapness in catchment for schools with Ofsted outstanding, but I'm smart these days and I know that then someone can just say 'oh well, a so-called outstanding so-called school is meaningless these days' grin. Then I could link to GCSE results, and they could say 'ah but they are probably all in GCSE Cookery Class.' then I could say no they aren't, and they could say, 'ah but so-called GCSEs are so easy these days that any state school oaf can get 15 a*s'.

I may have been on too many of these threads grin

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 17:19:13

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 16:59:43
Ah, yes, another convenient one, along with the leafy catchment areas! Yes, that's right, our kids are getting As in maths and English but the other three GCSEs are all cooking and textiles, you know.

It is not a convenient argument, it is a fact of life. This is precisely why there has been such an uproar against Mr Gove's suggestions. A lot of schools would be exposed for what they really are! Secondary moderns with a vocational slant. If a school was doing well in academic subjects why would it protest against the Baccalaureat? Because very few state comps do.

Coupon Thu 24-Oct-13 17:21:00

I agree with selection by ability. At the moment, the main method of selection is by money.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 24-Oct-13 17:21:12

englishteacher. you went to grammar school. You think it's a good thing you did because, even being the exact same 11 year old you were, you know you would have coasted had you not gone to grammar school.

So because you didn't happen to just miss the mark, as you easily could have, and thus condemn yourself to coasting and underachievement, you think more people should get to go to grammar school. Do you understand my issue here?

englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 17:21:14

We've had students who wouldn't have got the Ebacc as they didn't do Geography or History instead choosing Ancient Greek and Latin. But that's a story for another thread.

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 17:21:16

Yes, they [Sec Mods] did select!

Well, not really - you were never asked about your woodworking or sewing or running skills, but you were supposed to be more vocationally orientated. As you say, some children were pretty bright (and would easily have held their own in the grammar school) and others had no hope whatever of passing. It must have been pretty shitty for those others. I went to a couple of junior schools - they streamed rigidly and no-one in the B stream passed. It was worse than 11+ really: if you got into the B stream at 7, the chances were that there you stayed.

Viviennemary Thu 24-Oct-13 17:23:05

I don't like grammar schools either. Agree with the poster who said to have somebody's life decided at the age of 11 from one exam is beyond mad. Not to mention all the coaching that people have to get their DC's into the grammar school. And divisive if one sibling gets in and the other doesn't. Give me a good comprehensive any day.

englishteacher78 Thu 24-Oct-13 17:23:29

I don't see why people seem to be, in a more general way as well, against elitism in academia when it's accepted in other areas. But I'm willing to agree to disagree.

motherinferior Thu 24-Oct-13 17:25:03

I have nothing against excellence in academia (I have, for the record, a perfectly good degree from a posh university). I object to picking out kids at 11 and telling one bunch they're clever and the other bunch they're better at vocational subjects, ie thick.

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 17:28:29

seennotheard. All the children are the same age (well within 12 months). They won't all have the same school experience but I think it is a relatively fair test. It irritates me that it assumed all the children are tutored now by parents when it isn't the case. If it was why are we repeatedly hearing that the teaching staff "can tell which children have been tutored to get in"? Surely this implies they have a bench. Mark of children who aren't.

I see very little difference between the provision of SS for children who struggle academically and the provision of grammar schools for those who can cope with a more accelerated curriculum.

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 17:29:31

may i just add that i do get the 'non-academic person' argument. My DH is not academic, not at all. But it does not prevent him having and running a successful business. He was not interested in a grammar education, he would have failed the 11- if he took it.

But being non-academic does not presclude someone from being successful in life. It is doing something which suits. At the moment, too many comps are failing bright kids who are grammar material due to the reasons cited above by several posters. This is a terrible waste. Anybody should be able to sit the 11+ and at least get that chance of a good education because of ability and not parenal socio-economic background.

seennotheard Thu 24-Oct-13 17:37:30

LV The old Secondary Moderns didn't select as such, but the selection was done for them, in effect, in that every child took the 11+, and only those that failed went to the Sec. Mods. The same doesn't apply nowadays, even in areas where the Grammars survive, it is much more a matter of individual choice than it used to be. Some people opt for good comprehensives, even in an area which retains selection, as a matter of principle, or suitability for their child, regardless of academic ability. I wish we had that choice in our area.

LaVolcan Thu 24-Oct-13 17:41:27

Not quite true seennot - people could and did turn down GS places, usually because they couldn't afford the silly expensive uniform, or a parent who didn't hold with book learning. I'll grant that it didn't happen much, I only knew one such case in my year, but then the Sec Mod took them.

seennotheard Thu 24-Oct-13 17:44:59

zzzz But surely it is not so much their age, as that they are expected to be at a certain standard, which the private schools will ensure, as most of them teach to the 11+. Those at state schools will not have reached that standard, mainly because they will not have covered the necessary topics. I doubt many state schools will be ensuring that their Yr 5s are familiar with Yr 6 work, which is essential in our area. State schools barely acknowledge the 11+. I can guarantee that a vast majority of the state school children in our area who pass the 11+ will have had tuition.

Blu Thu 24-Oct-13 17:55:09

OP - what on this thread leads you to suggest that anyone is against academic elitism? (if by that you mean supporting an academic elite to do well)?

davidjrmum Thu 24-Oct-13 18:00:16

"DC1 is at a superselective. DS didn't want to even try to do the exam for the superselective, he wanted to go to the comp for which their primary school was/is a feeder school".
I think that is a completely different scenario from the one I was talking about. What if both of your children wanted to go to the superselective but one of them didn't get in. How would they feel then? My mum and her sister both took the 11 plus and both were expected to pass. My mum didn't and effectively felt written off academically from the age of 11.

campion Thu 24-Oct-13 18:11:16

I think you'll find there is no GCSE in Cookery,SteamingNit and others hmm

MaddAddam Thu 24-Oct-13 18:13:40

I am also a fan of excellence in academia. I'm an academic in a Russell Group uni. We're quite keen on high academic standards. But I consider that very different in post-18 education. By 18 children have had lots of time to develop, change, discover for themselves what their relative skills and interests are. Post-18 educational choices are a mixture of interest and ability, and generally student-driven, which is very different, IMO, to being selected or not at 10.

Talkinpeace Thu 24-Oct-13 18:17:54

Various people have described the comprehensives in their 11+ area as being bad.
Rather a poor grasp of the statistics by those posters.

And blaming good comps on just being in leafy areas smacks of pure jealousy to me.
The multimillionaires at DCs school see it as just a really good school.

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 18:32:16

I absolutely love excellence!

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 18:40:56

I don't see why it is different post 18. If you are a very academic top percentiles child it is infinitely more interesting, rewarding and challengeing to be educated with other children of a similar bent. Kicking your heals at the back of the class for years waiting for everyone else to catch up is a total waste and utterly soul destroying.

Blu Thu 24-Oct-13 18:45:09

You can't judge how well a school does on it's overall average GCSE pass rate. You can only judge it (if at all) in respect of the achievements of individual kids in relation to their potential, and maybe whether Ofsted reports that the quality of teaching is good and that the kids are happy and safe.

A school with a 42% pass rate may be an excellent schol in terms of the way it supports a large ratio of low ability children to meet their potential and more, while also challenging a small group of high ability kids to get wall to wall A*. Meanwhile a selective school, or one in an area of high achieving pupils may actually merely reflect the intake and not be offering a value added quality in the education at all. But you can bet your bottom dollar that everyone wil flock to the second school.

DS is in a school with excellent educational achievement in a grimy, non-glamorous, non expensive area, with a v high ratio of FSM. The school does well by a very wide range of kids - including an academic elite, kids with SEN, middle ability. They can do EBac, BTecs, various 'tecnologies', 2 MFL, triple science, and play in a brilliant orchestra.

DownstairsMixUp Thu 24-Oct-13 18:47:39

I don't like the idea of it being so young, IF they had to stay, I'd say at least up the age it's taken to around 14. 10/11 is wayyy too young. As I've said before, I have now moved to a grammar school area (Kent) and most of the friends I've made, including my DP went to these amazing grammar schools but only one of them actually is in a well paid job and only one went to uni, most got all C's in their gcse's though so did well. I went to a catholic school, the borough in London I am from there wasn't ANY grammar schools and the nearest one was milless away so I didn't even take an 11 plus. I did really well at school and excelled at university to. Sadly still in a poo job though grin

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 18:52:20

But 11 isn't that young, in the context of you having been in school for over half a decade with a mixed ability group of children.

DownstairsMixUp Thu 24-Oct-13 18:57:12

Hmm i just think it's not the right age. I will never know if I would of but I know my confidence really went up in myself in about year 8, I was a very shy and unsure of myself child in primary school but I def was bright as I proved! Then you have complete opposite children like my lovely other half, he was as bright as a button and passed his 11 + but his mum said he lost all confidence in his abilities, got lazy and just scrapped through everything, i do think 14, year nine, seems a good age if they HAVE to but a lot of places don't really have grammar schools anymore and seem to get a long fine! I will support my son whatever school he goes to anyway, think this will probably still be an ongoing thing even by the time he starts and he was only born in 2009!

DownstairsMixUp Thu 24-Oct-13 18:58:09

meant to put when he hit his teens! all though he got c's in everything bar french which he failed so he still did well really.

LittleSiouxieSue Thu 24-Oct-13 18:58:39

Seennotheard ... There are no comprehensives in Bucks. It is grammar or secondary modern. To suggest that the majority of secondary moderns are anything like the grammars is nonsense. The majority of secondary schools here have at least one failed Ofsted and it is not just that the curriculum is taken more slowly. Although this should not be the case as the top secondary children are better than the bottom tier at the grammar schools in many cases. The problem is lack of extra opportunities at many secondary with few sports teams because Saturday morning sports matches are not organised, no school orchestra, few learning instruments, no school play, no decent school trips, the local MP being too busy to turn up on speech day (again), lack of parental income from the PTA, crumbling buildings, less outstanding teaching (sometimes virtually none) etc etc etc. there are some notable exceptions but no wonder there is such a parental frenzy to avoid some schools. Grammar schools are great, so long as you get to one!

curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 19:01:26

"If you are a very academic top percentiles child it is infinitely more interesting, rewarding and challengeing to be educated with other children of a similar bent"

I agree. That's why you should be in the top set of a comprehensive school.

crazymum53 Thu 24-Oct-13 19:01:28

What about the dcs in the "bottom" set at grammar school who are really average - the grammar school experience isn't great for them? Perhaps these dcs would have done better being in a "middle" set at a comprehensive.
If grammar schools are that great then why aren't areas like Kent at the top of the league tables for GCSEs?
What's wrong with vocational GCSEs if it gives students a chance to show what they are good at. Surely GCSEs in subjects such as Catering, Engineering and childcare are very useful for everyday life?

Xoanon Thu 24-Oct-13 19:03:43

While I do not agree that all comps are poor - far from it - I do not understand why it is so threatening to accept that some kids from state primaries are working at level 6 at the end of Y5. My DD2 was. And her primary is currently (unfairly in my view) in special measures. OFSTED is very far from being infallible.

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 19:04:44

I get a distinct impression that people in favour of scrapping grammars and going comprehensive all the way live in those rare places where there are good comprehensives and their child has a reasonable alternative to a grammar-style education.

If they were in the position like our family (and a lot of others) where my bright DC had a fate of going to a dump primary and then a dump secondary thanks to the postcode we lived in, they might have a very different view on the matter?

Try and get your child into a good school if you live out of area. We failed spectacularly and had to move. These days you might end up with the same outcome even if you live a few streets away from the said school. Sometimes I wonder if the opponents of grammar schools have really seen the "alternative" available to a lot of parents, those of us who cannot afford to send a child to an independent school. Short of winning the lottery to buy in the "right area", grammar school is the only plausible chance for my DC to get a good education and therefore, a head start in life.

soul2000 Thu 24-Oct-13 19:09:26

Little Sio. Why are there no sport matches, orchestra's and poor buildings.
Why do all the Upper schools have terrible inspection reports.
All the secondary (Non Grammar schools ) in Trafford are good or outstanding , they all have quality 6th forms .. They are even some pupils
from these schools getting to RG Unis. The secondary schools have brand new buildings (BETTER FACILITIES) than the grammar schools.

Can someone explain why one fully selective area can and one otherarea
cant give a relevant and quality education.

soul2000 Thu 24-Oct-13 19:10:03


curlew Thu 24-Oct-13 19:12:48

Constantly amazed at how many mumsnetters live next to failing/shit/rubbish/useless comprehensive schools. Considering that there aren't that many in that category, it's quite a coincidence...........

impecuniousmarmoset Thu 24-Oct-13 19:16:18

My dad - poor South London boy- failed his 11+. Little wonder - no preparation, no expectation any of the working class kids in his school would pass, not even an explanation of what the stakes were. They just plonked the test down one day with no explanation then everyone forgot about it. He's one of the brightest people I know. Had he been born in a different class he'd have been off to Oxbridge.

That's why grammar schools are a disgrace. Some working class kids might find a way out through them, but many many of the brightest don't.

Phineyj Thu 24-Oct-13 19:26:20

I think in some cases it's because the independent sector is out of reach for them, so if they're not in a grammar area or they are and their DC don't get in, they feel angry that their DC aren't getting an academic education that they think they would benefit from and yet they can't afford to pay either.

The whole system is terribly unfair but grammar schools are hardly the unfairest part, seeing as they are free(ish).

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 19:31:31

My working class FIL declined his place at a grammar school, although he passed the 11+. He is very bright and went on to have a middle class occupation and all that comes with it. I still cannot get my head round how his parents chose to send him to a local state school instead of the grammar (which is no longer here today BTW). Maybe in those days state schools were not what they are today, maybe the expense of the uniform, maybe they could not see beyond the usual "leave school at 16 and start bringing money in" mentality. I just think what a waste. He could have done so much better if he had gone to the grammar. In those days everybody took the 11+, he did not have any coaching coming from a working class background, but he passed and threw it away, or rather his parents did... sad

CecilyP Thu 24-Oct-13 19:37:01

In my case your distinct impression is wrong, summerworld, as while I wouldn't be so rude as to refer to DS's secondary as a dump, it was a low achieving school that many people (particularly those who read league tables like gambing odds) would seek to avoid. While I think DS, now grown, is bright, I don't think he is in the top 25% of the ability range so his school would have been even less attractive with those brighter children taken out. And even in schools like this that don't look all that great on paper, some of the ablest children do do amazingly well. I would love for there to be a way that every school's intake to be more representative, but it is a fact of life that schools are likely to reflect their location.

As for DS, he seems to have done better that Downstair's DH in his grammar school (though with a similarly poor showing for French!).

CecilyP Thu 24-Oct-13 19:39:21

^Can someone explain why one fully selective area can and one otherarea
cant give a relevant and quality education.^

Is it because the people of TRAFFORD are pure dead brilliant? If so, it rather begs the question why they need to separate one lot of brilliant kids from all the other brilliant kids at the age of 11.

soul2000 Thu 24-Oct-13 19:44:00

I must be saying something right, because it has taken 6 hours for p*
Taking to start......

seennotheard Thu 24-Oct-13 20:23:23

LittleSiouxieSue I didn't suggest that the majority of secondary moderns are anything like the grammars. confused

LittleSiouxieSue Thu 24-Oct-13 20:40:14

Oo oops.... Misread thread. It was zzzzzz I should have flagged up! Apologies.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 24-Oct-13 20:49:54

i know there's no GCSE in cookery. Perhaps it helps that I have any experience of actual comprehensives.

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 21:15:21

I'm confused LittleS

Talkinpeace Thu 24-Oct-13 21:40:24

Fee paying parents hate schools like Thornden, Kings Winchester and Bohunt

nearly as much as parents who have spent shed loads on tuition to get into Grammar schools

I was sent to private
my kids are gettimg much better than I had
even my boarding school sister is wavering because she can see how high the comps aim with bright kids

maybe thats why so many parents pull their kids out of fee paying and selective schools to send them to Peter Symonds
and "leaves" are not the excuse once you look at the bus routes BTW

inclusive education done well beats the rest into a cocked hat

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Oct-13 22:20:35

I am in favour of a system in which the vast majority - possibly 98% or so - of children are taught in comprehensive schools, and Special Schools exist for the very tiny percentage at BOTH ENDS of the spectrum who cannot be efficiently or effectively educated in mainstream.

In this vision, a small number of state-funded special schools, for those so able that they need a totally different type and level of curriculum, would exist - possibly in exisiting school buildings, perhaps in units attached to mainstream schools (as is common for 'other end of the spectrum' special schools, especially as it aids integration for some lessons for those who are exceptionally able or disabled in a limited range of areas).

Assessment would be in the same way as for existing 'SEN' special schools - ed psych report and a battery of specialised tests.

There ARE some children who are so exceptionally able that a comprehensive is an unsuitable educational envrionment - if you think of a bell curve, the 'tails' at both ends are very long and the top o.5% covers a big range of very high abilities [the range over these top fractions of 1% is as big as that covering 80-90% of other children]. But they are VERY rare. I do know a child who would fit into that category - and their equally able parent - and know that they totally different from my 'normally able' DCs. My 'normally able' DCs - both grammar school passers, though not grammar school attenders - thrive in a good comprehensive. The child in the top fraction of 1% needed university level maths at 9.

So I am not against 'selective education' - just I mean something different by it. I mean 'selection for unsuitability for mainstream', by means of full ed psych assessment.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Oct-13 22:32:07

(I should also say, btw, that the 98% of so in 'mainstream comprehensives' is a guess. The number in exisitng special schools is, as far as I can remember around 2-3ish %, but that will include schools which cater for disabilities or difficulties that are not directly to do with academic ability: children with EBD, for example, can be from any ability group. Which is why I think that the % of children for whom mainstream comprehensive is actively impossible / totally unsuitable as an educational setting due to their exceptional ability is significantly less than 1%.)

allyfe Thu 24-Oct-13 22:45:04

I'm quite surprised by this thread. Honestly, OP it seems to me that you didn't really ask the question out of a desire think about the responses. Your suggestion that people are simply against elitism in education totally goes against the basic point which is that the selection processes, particularly at the age of 11, are at best divisive and at worst damaging. I have a very mixed view of comprehensives. I went to one which did not stream. It was all taught as mixed ability. It didn't work for me or any of my high ability friends. But it didn't work for me because I was dyslexic, and 25 years ago I'm not sure anything would have worked. BUT I would not have got into a grammar school. And I cannot imagine how destructive it would have been for me to be in a secondary school if all my friends (who would have gotten in) had been in a different school. Now, with my PhD and my lectureship, I count as one of the academic elite. I would have been an 11+ failure. I think if I had been an 11+ failure my life might have been very very different. But, I think I am happy with the notion of the super-selectives. They feel like they take those few children who are hyper academic (which isn't necessarily hyper intelligent). If my children don't get into one of those, then there are still very good schools. But I am very glad we are not deep into the Kent system.

zzzzz Thu 24-Oct-13 22:50:28

teacher I think I would like to see more of those "tails" in specialist schools. 5% at each end, and even more focused education for 2e (twice exceptional) children, and of course SS are needed for children with disabilities that are not related to academic ability.

cory Fri 25-Oct-13 00:18:52

SatinSandals Thu 24-Oct-13 07:29:19
"It would be OK if there was movement between the split site and those at the top of the secondary modern went up and those in the grammar school went down,but their opportunities are decided at the tender age of 11yrs."


My highly academic dd was ill during the last year in primary: there is no way she would have passed an 11+. So she would have been separated from all her other gifted and motivated friends and sent to a school with lower expectations. Instead she was supported throughout secondary and is now doing academic subjects at A-level.

My ds is a late developer: he was in lower sets in primary and had very low self esteem which he tried to cover up by being as lazy as possible. We suspect dyspraxia or something similar. Attending a comprehensive has forced him to mix with children with different abilities and different levels of motivation: it has made him realise that hard work pays off and that he is not actually less intelligent than the boys who could hold a pen better and write more accurately at primary. He is now working hard to catch up as he has started thinking he might want to go to university. In a grammar system he would have been shunted sideways into vocational subjects for which he has absolutely no aptitude. Any aptitude he has ime is far more academic and analytical- but that really wasn't apparent when he was 10.

cory Fri 25-Oct-13 00:24:53

Interesting to see allyfe's point. As a university lecturer I regularly meet highly gifted students with dyslexia who have not been diagnosed until college or even university. These are precisely the students who underperform until they get to an educational institution that can offer proper enabling services- and that is not most primary schools. We don't want to miss out on this potential by shunting people into vocational paths for which they may not at all be suited.

cory Fri 25-Oct-13 00:27:48

Summerworld Thu 24-Oct-13 19:04:44

"If they were in the position like our family (and a lot of others) where my bright DC had a fate of going to a dump primary and then a dump secondary thanks to the postcode we lived in, they might have a very different view on the matter?"

But that would have been the fate of my bright dd under a grammar school system.

And for other bright students who were late developers or unfortunate enough to go through a period of illness or bereavement just before the 11+

At least in the comprehensive system a bright student like this isn't separated from all the other bright students and told they have failed.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 00:31:22

cory if you suspect dyspraxia you should get him diagnosed. However speaking as a dyspraxic mother of two dyspraxic daughters - you'd know. Handwriting is the least of a dyspraxic person's problems. sad

englishteacher78 Fri 25-Oct-13 05:51:54

Maybe I got prickly last night sorry.
With regards my elitism comment probably a badly thought out way of expressing what I meant as I was responding quickly.
I do indeed think ALL children should be challenged and all teachers should have high expectations. I got into trouble for this on my PGCE. We were asked to write a scheme of work on Oliver Twist. I dared to make it about the whole text rather than the film of the musical (which misses half the plot). I was told I was being unrealistic as I had gone to a grammar school. My first placement school in West London was fab and had similar high expectations of what all sets would cover. My second placement school in Surrey (a very popular girls' school) was crap. I will admit to having in the words of my PGCE lecturer 'too much grammar school experience' and to being frustrated at the bullying I have experienced on some teacher training days when the delegates find out where I teach. I was wondering where the vitriol comes from I now know. I think the system in my county could be improved but, I don't think the GS system is inherently wrong. The other schools locally do a good job as well. I have taught many of their students when they come to us at A level.

englishteacher78 Fri 25-Oct-13 05:54:27

In my own GS btw we have SEN as well. Dyspraxia and ASD probably the most common but several students have had diagnoses of dyslexia whilst at our school as well and we often have EAL students as well. We seem to be just as diverse as the other local schools in many ways which is a very good thing in my opinion.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 06:34:34

But English, is it honestly a surprise to you to learn that People oppose the grammar school system because:

1) Entrance to a grammar school depends on a test on one day.
2) The grammar school system does not allow for children who mature later.
3) Getting into a grammar school is heavily dependent on having parents who both understand the process and can prepare their child for the exams.

I don't think this is vitriol, these are valid objections. I think you are being a little disingenuous.

englishteacher78 Fri 25-Oct-13 06:53:17

We do accept people later. I have seen people get what I would call vitriolic about it.
Looks like as I said earlier we need to agree to disagree. I think GSs are a valuable part of the education system. But then, having been to one I would. My own family and friends had a balanced attitude to the whole thing and I can give many examples of siblings attending different schools not causing a problem in the slightest.
I repeat again sorry for any offence caused.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 07:20:50

We do accept people later.

I don't believe you think that this efficiently accommodates all children in your area who have the ability to attend your school but either failed or failed to take the 11+.

I went to a private school, and while I am sure all my teacher's had made their own peace with their decision to teach there/thought on balance that private schools were a good thing; I can't believe that any of them wouldn't have been fully acquainted with the reasons that people are against private schools and had some sympathy for them.

A lack of familiarity and understanding of these arguments wouldn't have implied anything good about their academic abilities.

englishteacher78 Fri 25-Oct-13 07:28:54

Thankyou for calling me unintelligent. I think grammar schools are a good thing. I also don't think private/public school teachers start guilt ridden and come to terms with it. I knew many people on my PGCE course who only applied to the private sector.
Having said two or three times now that the thread isn't really achieving anything and apologising for how some of my posts may have come across I don't feel there is anything to be achieved. I'm about to head to work now. I hope everyone's DCs achieve at their highest possible level and are encouraged to achieve their best. smile

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 07:31:34

I think an important point from your OP is when you say it's "split site streaming"

It may well be, but I, and many others, think that streaming is a bad idea too.

Setting, on the other hand is, I think, a very good idea- but is impossile to do properly if 23 % of the cohort is in a different school.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 07:56:53

I didn't call you unintelligent. I said you were pretending to be less intelligent than you presumably are if your profession is English teacher at a grammar school.

I don't think my teachers were guilt ridden. I do think they would have been familiar with arguments about selective education and would have been able to understand the anti-private school point of view. It is possible to understand or even agree with somebody's point of view while on balance feeling that somebody else makes a stronger case.

SatinSandals Fri 25-Oct-13 08:00:50

Very few people get in later. I sat the 12+ , I don't know how many of us but the hall was full for the exam and we were all put forward as being suited to grammar school after one year in a secondary modern, and it transpired that we were competing for 2 places!
There was no other opportunity until 6 th form, which was when I finally got in.
The system is unfair. It depends on numbers. Had I been a boy my marks would have got me in because they had more places in the boy's grammar, had we lived in the next town my marks would have got me in, there were more places.
My best friend at the time failed because she was weak in Maths, she was weak in Maths because her father was in the Forces and she went to at least 6 primary schools and had huge gaps or did some things over and over again.
My BIL failed because he was in and out of hospital until he was about 7 yrs and didn't catch up in time.
My brother failed because he was a late developer and didn't 'take off' until he was 13yrs.
There are lots of reasons, which are not a problem in the comprehensive because you can rise at any point. In the secondary modern they hit a ceiling where they can have outperformed everyone in the school ,and be far advanced of many in the grammar school, but they are stuck until 16 yrs
I can think of many children who are not 'all rounders' and they wouldn't pass if they were fantastic in English but couldn't pass on Maths.
The name should tell you what is wrong with it. A secondary modern was 'modern' in 1944 but we are almost at the 70th anniversary and it is such an antiquated term that areas try to use terms like 'High' School instead. That never sounds right to me because the Grammar School that I eventually went to was 'X and County High School for Girls.'
If the term is antiquated you can be sure the system is too! In the 21st century we should not be dividing children at the tender age of 11yrs and in many cases, depending on birth month, 10 years.

Bunbaker Fri 25-Oct-13 08:13:01

I sat the 11+ in 1970, the last year it was compulsory in my area. In those days you couldn't take O levels in secondary modern schools, only CSEs. Back then a secondary modern was considered very much a second rate option. I thought we had moved on from those days.

Are these schools in Kent and other similar areas still called secondary modern? Are they not considered comprehensive schools?

DD's comprehensive school has the word "Grammar" in the title simply because it was originally a grammar school. It is very old and dates back to the 14th century (the building doesn't, it is new), so they kept the grammar word in the title because of its history.

SatinSandals Fri 25-Oct-13 08:17:58

They can't possibly be comprehensive schools if the top ability band has been creamed off.

SatinSandals Fri 25-Oct-13 08:19:22

They are still considered a second rate option or there would be no need to pay vast amounts on tutors they could just go in and sit the exam with a few practice papers.

SatinSandals Fri 25-Oct-13 08:21:18

Names just confuse the issue e.g Watford Girl's Grammar is a true comprehensive.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 08:39:47

A point which people seem to forget is that if the selective system was so good, then the LEAs that have a fully selective system would have significantly better results than the LEAs that don't.

And they don't. So if you take a grammar school and the schools around it where the children who don't take/pass the test go, their combined results ar no different from a comprehensive in a similar area.

So why go through all the stressful, damaging, socially divisive process?

kitchendiner Fri 25-Oct-13 08:41:16

Despite an IQ of the required Grammar level, my dyslexic DS would fail the 11+. This is because his IQ is very spiky with some scores way way above the required level and some way below. Thank goodness he is at a comprehensive where he is in top group English and able to work alongside peers of a high level and in second group Maths where he is also working with peers of the same level.

alemci Fri 25-Oct-13 08:52:14

Satin is there no longer a test at Watford Girls Grammar? I know they used to do it at the Rickmansworth school as my dd sat it but didn't apply for WG.

I know that sibblings can get into the school. Why is it a comprehensive? It still seems very desirable with people moving into the catchment area or pretending they live there especially Watford boys.

Farewelltoarms Fri 25-Oct-13 08:56:43

The great god of stats, Chris Cook, does a brilliant analysis on the FT
In which he compares an area 'selectivia' which is the combined Kent, Bucks etc fully grammar areas and compares them with non selective areas.

Basic conclusion is that Selectivia does slightly worse than the general average and that poor children in Selectivia do dramatically worse.

Grammar schools are a part of many people’s 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.

Farewelltoarms Fri 25-Oct-13 08:57:28
Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 08:59:36

Curlew I thought Kingston and Sutton were the top LEAs?

motherinferior Fri 25-Oct-13 09:03:05

Yes: I think that also, historically, people confuse 'good, widely available state education' with 'the grammar school system' because that was how widely available state education was introduced. It is undoubtedly true that good schools, available for free (apart from the uniform) to poor kids in the 1950s offered them something that they'd not have been able to afford before the Welfare State. But that doesn't mean that it was the grammar system per se that did it.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 09:10:39

"Grammar schools are a part of many people’s identities: having won admission to a selective state school plays an important role in the story of their life"

If you listen to the archives to Desert Island Discs your'll find a lot of people for whom failing to gain admission to a selective state school plays an important role in the story of their lives too.........sad

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 09:12:42

farewell That data shows that the South West does better than practically everywhere else on practically every measure. If we leave aside for the moment that political issue that the region the author is calling the south west isn't in fact the south west, what we see is that a 'region' which does in fact have two of the top selective schools in the country, Pates and Colyton, and several other selective schools in Gloucestershire also, does better than practically everywhere.

LaVolcan Fri 25-Oct-13 09:44:23

I don't really think that a selective in Gloucestershire plus one in Devon and 'several others' could account for better results for the whole of the South West, stretching as it must do from Cornwall to where - Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire?

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 09:47:12

There must be other reasons for the SW doing better. The selective schools won't be making a significant difference. Population density, socio economic make up of said population, employment........complex factors at play. I would imagine.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 09:59:46

Kingston only has 2 grammar schools and they serve many children who come from outside the borough. Very few Kingston children attend them (i.e vast majority aren't at a grammar school). it has a higher than average number of children attending private schools and it has some of the most expensive houses in the UK. It's difficult to know how all of this could give you good enough data to judge whether or not grammar schools are a good thing (or even how kingston compares to other LAs.)

alemci Fri 25-Oct-13 10:06:10

Merry why don't the local children go to the GS, shouldn't they get priority? or are they attending private schools

MadeOfStarDust Fri 25-Oct-13 10:08:15

People bus their kids into Pates from all over.... it is not just local kids who go there - the reason it is one of the top is that it takes a lot of kids from public prep schools - not many "locals" get in. Local children do not get priority - it goes on who got the highest test scores - no matter where they came from.....

It would be a "local" secondary to one of the poorest areas of the town....

This part of the local SW region does very well indeed - it is a high employment area, loaded with higher socio-economic groups with very few high population cities....

There are many single sex grammar schools too and most good secondaries in my particular region are science/technology/language specialists - very few schools under-perform as the local area does attract many good teachers - I think these are all part of the reason that we do so well for education over here....

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 10:09:54

Superselectives don't have catchments. A child living 20 miles away would get a place over a child living next door if he got a higher score.

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 10:12:21

english- your earlier remark : "I think GSs are a valuable part of the education system. But then, having been to one I would." is interesting.

I went to a GS, too (at the age of 10!) back when (1973!) they maybe did cater more for the 'brighter local DC', in that it had a catchment and there was one DD in my class who'd come from a private school. Even so, there were quite a few DDs there who shouldn't have been (I mean, 4 or 5 'O' levels?!) and we had a reasonable influx from the local girls' SM into our 6th form who had the requisite 7 'O' level, but no other local SM fed into our 6th form other than the odd one or two DDs. I should add that I never exchanged one word with my headmistress in 7 years, there, either! You only did if you were in big trouble or heading for Oxbridge.

The same school now has no catchment and is full to the gunwales with Prep schooled DDs and tutored-for-2+ years DDs. I know this as a fact.

But the thing is, I am opposed to GSs in their present form- more on this in a sec. When we arrived back in the UK from abroad, we inconvenienced ourselves to buy a house in a comp area; I suspect DS1 may have passed the modern 11+ for the boys' GS, but DS2 would not have, therefore I wasn't going to risk a SM for him.

About 'types' of GS: I am not opposed to the existence of a few, highly specialist schools for DCs -ahem- burdened with the SEN of being extraordinarily gifted but with off-beat social or inter-relational skills, 'oddball' but brilliant (in the same way as we have specialist schools for DC at the other end of the more or less NT spectrum). I'm thinking of, say, Winchester College where being 'just clever' (and rich!) isn't enough. You have to be off-beat, quirky, a bit 'other'. Mainstream public-school heading 'clever' go to Westminster and St Paul's (generalisation alert!). I can see a need for state school DC who'd fall into this 'quirky and very clever category to maybe be siphoned off into something other than the local comp, but as for the rest (and I mean, hey, if we're talking '23%' of the DC' as quoted, hardly a glittering, tiny, special minority, is it?!), a well run, properly resourced comp should be the destination of choice. I would add, entry to such a specialist school would not be via a single exam on one day. There would have to be years of evidence of this DC's particular abilities. It would be utterly 'untutorable' for.

Before you bleat 'but plenty of comps aren't 'well run and properly resourced', I'd counter 'nor are quite a few GSs!' (many of my teachers would have been slaughtered by a similar SM class!) but I'd also say, I wonder if 'the local comp' just might be 'better' if GSs didn't exist albeit miles away to cream off the brighter MC DC? Wouldn't such DC be an asset to their comps? I genuinely can't see why the clever and the less clever can't walk about the same campus in the same uniform together, separated into sets in each subject?

Finally- yes, example of 'good comps' do exist: In rural Australia in the 70s where if you wanted something other than the local comp, you boarded, they managed to run schools that sent DC to the best state universities and taught vocational well. DH was at one which I toured with him 5 years ago at a reunion. Well, there were flash, sparkly science labs, there was a professional quality theatre, there were industrial catering kitchens, there was a woodworking shed with bloody great gantry mounted band saws attached to the ceiling, there was a working farm where the sons of farmers learned how to birth cows, lay fencing straight and do farm accounting. This is a big school (2000+ DC) and DC do have journeys of 2 hours each way to get there (being rural Oz) but they didn't feel the need to cream off, into their own school, one group alone to be given special treatment because their ability lay in academic subjects alone!

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 10:12:28

The schools have to give priority to children with highest scores in exams. If 2 children got 100% the child who lived closest would get the place. Otherwise any child who can reasonably get to the school each day from where ever they live is entitled to a place as long as they score highly enough.

alemci Fri 25-Oct-13 10:37:18

I think that is unfair and the dc who live in the catchment should get priority as their dp's are probably paying their council tax to the borough etc. I am surprised they don't consider them first and then have places for people out of the borough. All it does is clog up the roads etc if they need to be driven.

Also alot of kids are tutored for the exams.

My dps both went to grammar schools but that was in the 50's and they both came from working class backgrounds. I think things have greatly changed.

alemci Fri 25-Oct-13 10:40:02

Where we live most schools are catchment based. Mind you all it does is get people moving into areas who don't always live there but buy a flat then let it out etc or for several people to be registered at the same address. They may live miles away.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 10:40:13

La Volcan - there are quite a few grammars in Gloucsetershire. There are 3 in Plymouth, 4 in Torbay, 1 in Devon. And at least 2 in Dorset (maybe more though). That's essentially the superselective model and per those stats, it's one that works for ALL the kids in the 'region'.

Something to think about.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 10:43:00

Curlew That's hilarious. Those stats purported to show that grammar areas aren't any better than non grammar areas, and what they actually show is that a superselective area - which has pockets of the most extreme poverty in Europe thus qualifying for the old objective 1 funding - is better than everywhere else except London.

You are happy to accept the stats when they support your argument but the minute it is pointed out to you that they also support the argument for supers electives (rather than the clearly discredited Kent method) you decide the stats must be incomplete or wrong in some way. grin

alemci Fri 25-Oct-13 10:44:51
curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 10:47:15

I couldn't actually get in to look at the figures- so I was speculating. You can find it hilarious if you want- but so much better just to explain where my speculation was wrong in a civilised manner, surely?

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 11:03:05

curlew People can do anything with stats, without context (which the linked article doesn't provide) they mean nothing. But when the article link was posted nobody (including you) said 'but surely there are reasons other than having a grammar system that Selectiva doesn't do as well as comprehensive areas?' The author of the article excluded Essex (and the previously little known but now famous TRAFFORD) from 'selectiva' presumably because had he included them, the stats wouldn't have come out the way he wanted them too. grin

But, if we are taking the stats at face value as people were prepared to do when they thought they showed that selective areas were worse than non selective, then we have to accept that they indicate that the Kent model is bad but the superselective model is good.

I did mention in my first post on this article that it's rubbish anyway, based on a false premise. The administrative 'south west' is a nonsense, most of the places being included for administrative reasons being neither south nor west and there being no social, economic, political, educational, anything really cohesion between the geographical south west and the other bits which are really the midlands. But there you go. Those are the stats which were posted.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 11:13:06

The Sutton Grammars are 'super selective taking, on a competitive basis - the highest exam scorers from children in Lambeth, Southwark, Croydon, Merton, Wandsworth, Kingston, even kids from Lewisham. i.e the whole of S london - anywhere where you can travel on the train for up to an hour and a half. These super selectives - 3 boys and 2 girls - account for 5 out of 14 schools in total. 5 super selectives with no reference to catchment or distance (actually one of them does: out of 180 places Nonsuch reserves 100 for girls within 5.25 Km - a big catchment for a London school and which takes it into Kingston and Surry and possibly Croyden), 9 comps . Not statistically comparable as 'Selectivia' with Kent, say.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 11:25:32

Sutton isn't compared to Selectiva though, is it? It's subsumed into 'London'. I suppose.

The fact is, LEAs aren't comparable. They run different systems - the selective ones all select differently, there are massive differences in the non selective LEAs as well, some run bilateral schools, some run banding systems, some operate selection by bank balance, some operate feeder school systems, some have a disproportionate number of private schools, some are rural, some urban, some have 6th forms, some have colleges, some have middle schools.....and so on and so on. A key issue also is that funding levels are wildly different. The schools in the south west are some of the lowest funded in the country, so that did make the results from the stats posted above even more interesting - but as a general thing, it is simply impossible to say Kent doesn't do any better than Hampshire (or insert other non selective county here) so the selective system doesn't work

What I found hilarious was the fact that curlew, who is very fond of making generalisations like the one above, immediately became a fan of nuance when a generalised stat didn't support her idée fixe.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 11:30:10

The article was talking about counties with a high number of grammar schools e.g. Kent, Buckinghamshire. Where you have very few grammar schools (e.g. Kingston, Dorset), I think it's difficult to judge how much effect they have, particularly where, e.g. in the case of Kingston, most pupils come from a different LA.

Kingston is a borough where you could go to a grammar school. It isn't really a grammar school LA. It just has a couple of quirky schools that are attended by very few local children. The main effect on locals is to create panic around the 11+, but to be honest I don't think it's any worse than in neighbouring Richmond - most intensively tutored children will end up going to a private school.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 11:47:30

A bit of googling tells me that in Buckinghamshire there are 13 grammars and 23 non grammar state secondaries. In Essex there are 4 grammars and over 70 non grammar state secondaries.

I suspect that Essex wasn't included in 'Selectivia' as it didn't meet the criteria.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 11:49:25

I still can't see the article, but surely Selectivia should only consist of wholly selective areas? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick again?

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 11:51:42

"What I found hilarious was the fact that curlew, who is very fond of making generalisations like the one above, immediately became a fan of nuance when a generalised stat didn't support her idée fixe."

No I didn't. As I explained in my post suggesting we keep the discussion civilised. But don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 11:52:46

The article was seeking to demonstrate that the Kent way of doing things doesn't give any better results than a non selective system. The 'selection' of areas to form part of selectiva was designed to serve that aim. An unintended consequence of the exercise was to demonstrate that an administrative region with several superselectives, possibly more than anywhere else in the country, plus comps, does 'better' (as defined by the measures the author chose to use) than practically everywhere else. This becomes even more interesting if you know about things like the objective 1 funding qualification and the position in the school funding tables.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 11:54:38

However, it does seem to me that in order to justify the expense, the stress, the upheaval, the angst and the divisiveness, selective LEAs would have to do much better than non selective ones. And I mean much better, better so you can see at a glance, not by trawling through pages of stats. And I don't think they do.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 11:55:32

Merrymouse - the southend grammar schools are usually included with the Essex ones. At least thats what the 11+ forum seems to indicate.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 11:55:34

There are 19 grammar schools in greater London. I can't be bothered to find out how many secondary schools are in greater London, but for comparison, just in the London Borough of Richmond there are 10 private secondaries. Most people in London aren't effected by grammar schools one way or the other.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 11:58:53

I brought up the Sutton stats and situation because you mentioned Sutton as a 'top LEA'.

DS and about a quarter or third of his class in state primary (poor, even notorious borough, high FSM yada yada) were working at level 6 by the time they did SATS.

But that wouldn't have equipped them to do the super-selective tests. VR and NVR isn't tested in SATS and isn't part of the NC.

Every kid I know who has entered the super selectives reachable from our area is tutored from Yr 3 or 4 in order to take these tests, whether at home with support from the 11+ forum or by tutors. I don't know anyone who has decided to put kids into these tests for faraway super-selectives who makes that decision / choice and then says 'we'll pick up a Bonds test papers book and run through it a week or so before the test day, maybe'.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 12:02:39

Even if you add another 4 grammar schools to your Essex statistics, again, most people in Essex just aren't affected by grammar schools in the way that people in Kent and Buckinghamshire are.

The article is looking at areas that mirror more closely the old grammar school system, not areas that just happen to have the odd grammar school. I can't say that the statistics in the article are perfect - who knows what other data should have been included? However, many (most?) other areas don't have enough grammar schools to draw conclusions about whether they are a good or bad thing.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 12:03:38

"in London aren't affected..."

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 12:07:31

Merry I agree that most people in London are not impacted on by grammar schools either way. And those stats (which I think are highly dubious and which I didn't post originally but which everyone seemed happy to accept as authoritative when they thought they condemned grammar schools across the board) indicate that according to the measures the author chose to use for many of them, London does 'the best'. And London has a system whcihc is mainly comp but with superselectives as well. As does the south west (as defined by the author not the map) which for many of the measures chosen, comes second-ish.

Which seems to support both the viewpoint that Curlew and her predecessors have been making for so long, which is that the Kent system is BAD (a viewpoint I completely agree with) and my viewpoint which is that superselectives can be good for the kids they serve without damaging the comp system for everyone else in their geographical area, because of their nature and the size of their particpation zone. Each individual comp might lose one or two kids to the SS at most, not an entire top stream.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 12:11:43

Blu I did indeed but that was before those interesting stats were posted. smile I know - from reading threads here - that the Sutton grammars are very competitive. I'm delighted that the equally excellent superselective that is reachable from where I live and which my DD1 attends (and DD2 will attend) kids don't have to be tutored from Yr 3 or 4 in order to take the test. It must be horrible and I can see why parents don't like it.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 12:14:24

merry They aren't my stats. And if we can conclude that the Kent system is a bad thing from the results presented we can also conclude that a system of a few superselectives and mainly comps is the best thing.

I actually think both those conclusions are likely correct, however I also know that the information presented is so context free that no conclusions drawn from it can be considered valid in any rigorous sense.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 12:27:01

London has a system that is mainly comp, quite a few private schools, then, so few that you would hardly spot them if you didn't know they were there, grammar schools.

In Kingston it's not the 1 child off to Tiffin's that skews the system, it's the ten off to private schools.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 12:33:13

I can definitely see the argument for superselectives. I personally don't support them because it seems to me that setting children apart from their peers is not a good idea if it can possibly be avoided. I honestly don't see why the needs of the very able shouldn't be met in the same building as their peers- and why a child very gifted in maths, say, shouldn't join their peers for Tec or Drama. It just seems so much better for everyone. Surely better than a massive commute to a separate school with little contact with more "ordinary" contemporaries?

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 12:46:12

This is what is needed. This system worked really well because the students didn't just grow academically, every week they learnt something meaningful about themselves.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 13:09:41

How does the 'high attainers' category in the Dept of Ed website compare with the level of attainers you might expect in a Selectivia Grammar?

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 14:00:56

I find it baffling how the same people who can see clearly the need for specialist education for children with LD (with perhaps IQs of less than 70 which I think is part of some areas criteria) can not see that having an IQ 30 or more points ABOVE the average would also require specialist teaching.

While an average child might flourish at SS, and gain massive amounts of empathy it is highly unlikely they would achieve as much as they would in ms. The same can be said for the highly academic child. Ultimately those children might always be expected to excell at A'level, but which institution is best suited to their ability, and which will spur them on?

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 14:04:28

because very bright children can self guide their learning - set them a piece of work, let them loose in a library and get them to check back in - that is what Universities do after all.

lower ability children need much more assistance.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 14:07:32

Does specialist teaching have to take place in a different building? Does having children of regular high or middle intelligence just down the corridor affect the thought processes of the super intelligent?

In which case what on earth should they do if their siblings and / or parents are of 'average bright' or midling intelligence? I suppose a brother or sister could be sent to a small chalet at the end of the garden?

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 14:09:03

A very able child is not the same as a mini adult. To assume that all children with high IQs are self starting and precociously mature is to waste many of our children's potential.

Would you expect an average child in a special school for children with low IQs to do fine just because they have access to resources?

MadeOfStarDust Fri 25-Oct-13 14:12:19

but why do the bright children whose parents have the money to tutor them, get to go to "better" STATE schools than those who are bright, but whose parents do NOT have the money to tutor them - or even the knowledge that these tutors exist.

Any kids who get to grammar in Gloucestershire without tutoring (or public prep school) really are the very, very top of the brightness scale.....

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 14:13:49

To assume that all children with high IQs are self starting and precociously mature is to waste many of our children's potential.
In which case those who are not will most definitely benefit from the contrasts in learning and teaching styles and the enrichment available in a comp with good setting.

My DD is in year 11, I had her parents evening last night.
The whole of her triple Science set are predicted A/A* as are the whole of her Maths, English, History, Geography and Latin sets.
The other subjects are by necessity mixed ability.
Her comp school is by no means exceptional and is not the highest performing one in the area.

What more would you want than solid A/A* sets?

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 14:14:32

I would expect, or wish, children of very high intelligence to receive special enrichment activities or curriculum - an IEP, or something. Whether they were in the top sets at a comp, or at a grammar or whether at a special school for hearing impaired or blind children.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 14:16:16

And by very high inteligence I mean the teeny % that are 30 IQ ppoints above a bright Grammar or top set child.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 14:16:17

1) it has been shown to be difficult to find these children with high IQ's and not just those who have been coached.
2) many people don't put much store in IQ testing anyway.
3) a child with SN and high IQ is often one and the same.

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 14:21:27

I don't know madeof. I am relatively new to the whole grammar debate and don't know the ins and outs of it all.

I am one of those people who chose not to tutor and had no idea that was such an unusual choice. My feeling is that children who are rigorously tutored to get into any school are going to find it quite stressful to keep up and might be happier and better educated elsewhere. If their parents are committed to keeping that level of support up, then obviously that is their choice for their child.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 14:22:01

So those very few incredibly bright children - how would you get them to school?
as I suspect there may be no more than 20 in Hampshire - day pupils? boarding?
The logistics of such a segregated idea outside London are daft I'm afraid.
Educating those people in total isolation from the other people their age will not do them any favours later in life when they have to deal with the great unwashed

It is one of the failings of my education (selective, single sex, private) that I only started to learn about 'normal' people once I had graduated from University and had to give them instructions at work - something I was singularly unprepared for.

Retropear Fri 25-Oct-13 14:31:17

God soooo don't get the angst over all this.

You can't dismiss all kids who are tutored.

Primary schools differ hugely.Some are private,some are Outstanding,Good,Unsatisfactory etc.There will be bright kids in all.Some non tutored kids will have huge advantages over others.

Many kids won't have covered the 11+ syllabus so will need tutoring regardless of ability.You can't answer questions on prime numbers if you haven't covered them.Intelligence is neither here nor there.

Coupon Fri 25-Oct-13 14:31:21

So improve the selection process so it's less "coachable", and ensure secondary moderns don't fail the pupils they serve. It certainly doesn't have to be the same as 50 years ago.

With the 11-plus, quite a few poor but very bright children will get the chance of a high-flying education. There could even be a "weighting" to take into account circumstances. Without the 11-plus, that's definitely not going to happen, and selection will only be for those who can somehow find the money.

It's beneficial to our society to enable the top-level academic education to be available to children from all backgrounds. This way, more people from poorer backgrounds will eventually make it into the most influential positions as politicians, judges, etc. Leave things as they are and you just get nearly all well-off privately educated people, a cabinet full of Old Etonians etc.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 14:35:51

The thing that confuses me is that if over 50% of people are now supposed to be capable of going to university (can function at a high academic standard, have ability to undertake in depth research, write a dissertation, work independently), presumably the assumption is that most people are now reasonably able and most schools should not struggle to cater for bright children.

Even the super bright should be able to get support in this kind of environment.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 14:36:33

TalkinPeace - I absolutely DON'T think they should be segregated or bussed off anywhere or put in a separate building or school at all. I think that like every other child in the education system, they should be given abilty-appropriate teaching and curriculum! And that that can happen in a building which has children of a diversity of abilities. In the same way as I don't think high ability children need to be in a separate grammar school building.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 14:38:13

I think it is ZZZZ who wants them in a special school.

In truth I have no experience of the super-bright, but this thread is about Grammars, anyway.

MadeOfStarDust Fri 25-Oct-13 14:38:19

Talkinpeace you raise a good final point there - my girls have been very sheltered - lovely nursery (MC leafy suburb!!) lovely infant/primary schools (MC leafy suburb) and have had a big shock going to a edge of city secondary where the real world merges..... it is a good school specialising in science and languages, with kids from all over the place with different standards, different starting points and very different aspirations....

their friend - who goes to grammar (and her mum who really does not have a clue as she is a specialist private language tutor) have those big shocks coming!!

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 14:38:31

1) has it? Other countries do. In fact Warwick Uni ran the gifted program here until a few years ago.

2)I was using IQ I suppose because describing children as "bright" is so open to interpretation. IQ tests are limited but they are a recognised measure of intelligence within those limitations.

3)children with high IQs can have disabilities and I would say definitely have a SEN because of that IQ and may have SN, just like anyone else in the population

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 14:44:09

What is a super selective grammar school, if not a special school for the academically super-able? confused

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 14:48:22

with a massive carbon footprint and churning out lots of kids with no understanding of the people who will work for them later in life ......

(not as bad as Gideon and Cameroon and Clogg admittedly)

MadeOfStarDust Fri 25-Oct-13 14:51:27

hahaha - take our local SS grammars for example - they seem to be schools for the children whose parents have paid for their kids to go to expensive private prep schools where they get taught in small groups- thus starting with an advantage, those kids also get taught how to pass the test, and those who are having trouble pay to be tutored on how to pass the test. These kids then take up most of the places...

The naturally bright kids should be spread throughout the socio-economic groups - not just come from upper/middle class households who can pay for the privilege -( or are poor kids automatically thick too) - they would normally go to public school - but our local grammar is "better" at no cost.. because it is SS....

kitchendiner Fri 25-Oct-13 14:59:53

My DS fits your definition of someone with a high IQ who needs specialist teaching BUT he would fail his 11+. He is not high IQ in maths.

CecilyP Fri 25-Oct-13 15:03:14

In truth I have no experience of the super-bright,

You probably have, blu, but they have an amazing ability to appear just like normal people most of the time!

What is a super selective grammar school, if not a special school for the academically super-able?

But would bear absolutely no relation to how we would normally understand by a special school where children who need it can be given significantly more support than they could ever have in mainstream. Special schools have been set up to meet specific needs, superselectives have come about by chance - an accident of history really.

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 15:05:08

madeof are you saying you would prefer to see a move towards IQ style tests to remove the ability to tutor?

It is clear to me that a very able child with additional needs (be they disability, social, or financial) is going to find it harder to demonstrate their ability.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 15:05:57

One of DDs friends is super bright - and has the common sense of a drunk cat.
Lovely but out to lunch.
Needs constantly to be grounded by reality - segregation into a superselective would be really bad for that person.

CecilyP Fri 25-Oct-13 15:08:00

Many 11+ exams are IQ style tests and are very tutorable. Of course tutoring invalidates them as a measure of IQ.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 15:08:55

1) in this country it has certainly been a problem. See 60% of uni intake coming from private schools.
2) as agreed IQ tests have limited use.
3) see kitchen's post.

It's just not as simple as dividing children up by IQ or separating them into bright/brighter/brightest/non-bright. People are more complicated than that.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 15:11:41

Talkin That is a truly excellent turn of phrase! grin And it could actually be applied to both me blush and my girls grin I don't quite understand why you are so convinced that all superselectives are necessarily and irretrievably bastions of unreality though. I don't think ours is. Except for that whole being geographically where it is issue, which is also a feature of the local comps.

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 15:12:30

It is because people are complicated that we need options. We need special schools for children that can't cope with ms even with support. We need selective schools for our brightest so they are challenged sufficiently. We need ALL these options to fit a diverse population.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 15:16:23

In areas like West London and Manchester and other really big cities, superselective have their (possible) place.
Out here in the real world, the catchment would be 60 miles across.
Having those really bright kids at the comp pulls the pretty bright ones up and gives the teachers that bit of a buzz that helps to get them through the lower middle sets (told so by two teachers last night).

And I go back to my point that
good leaders need to understand who they are leading.
Segregated education (for that is what selection entails) does not lead to good leadership - compare our politicians with our non City business leaders if you do not believe me.

MadeOfStarDust Fri 25-Oct-13 15:17:39

I'm saying that if all schools were good and did what they were supposed to - stretch the academically gifted, support those with special needs, then we don't need the SS grammars at all. Spread all that intelligence around..... I would not like to see a move to IQ tests, I would like to see a good education for all.... without grammar schools.

All the super selectives do in Gloucestershire is foster this feeling of "need to tutor" amongst state primary pupils and that EVEN with a tutor your chances of going to the local grammar (Pates) are very limited. And if you do get there, there will be very few local children - those who walk to school are very much in the minority, despite it being in a n extremely residential community.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 15:19:14

I have to fundamentally disagree with you there.
We need to offer those facilities within a single site that fully supports all children regardless of their skill set.

Comps with setting, pastoral, SEN support, sports, academic, arts, music, DofE .....
very, very few kids are all rounders
every child has some skill - we should help schools to help them find it

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 15:20:00

ZZZZ you were talking about people with 30 IQ points above average - that is the top 1% of the population. And I'm not sure whether, in RL terms, whether that is someone you refer to when you say 'specialist teachers'?

I am sure there are people in whom an extremely high IQs is an SEN, but that is different from very clever kids who get places in SS's.

I do not see why clever kids in SSs and Grammars need to be educated in separate buildings.

My DS is in the top sets of the top stream in his state comp, and he is challenged and progressing well. He isn't disadvantaged by having close friends in different sets who share the same playground and sports hall.

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 15:21:52

Earlier, talkin, I said: "About 'types' of GS: I am not opposed to the existence of a few, highly specialist schools for DCs -ahem- burdened with the SEN of being extraordinarily gifted but with off-beat social or inter-relational skills, 'oddball' but brilliant (in the same way as we have specialist schools for DC at the other end of the more or less NT spectrum). I'm thinking of, say, Winchester College where being 'just clever' (and rich!) isn't enough. You have to be off-beat, quirky, a bit 'other'. Mainstream public-school heading 'clever' go to Westminster and St Paul's (generalisation alert!). I can see a need for state school DC who'd fall into this 'quirky and very clever category to maybe be siphoned off into something other than the local comp, but as for the rest (and I mean, hey, if we're talking '23%' of the DC' as quoted, hardly a glittering, tiny, special minority, is it?!), a well run, properly resourced comp should be the destination of choice. I would add, entry to such a specialist school would not be via a single exam on one day. There would have to be years of evidence of this DC's particular abilities. It would be utterly 'untutorable' for."

And if we're talking 'normal GSs' that take 'the top 23%'- well, the reality is that if you took 100 random DCs and ran an 11+ exam on them, it surely can't be argued that the DC who came 23rd out of 100 is so amazingly better than the DC who came 24th, yet the current (non-SS) selective system would have those DC separated by geography, uniform, learning style, aspiration, opportunity and so forth, possibly with effects reaching into their old age. And also, surely coming 23rd out of 100 doesn't actually make anyone 'super-bright', does it??

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 15:21:57

This Having those really bright kids at the comp pulls the pretty bright ones up and gives the teachers that bit of a buzz that helps to get them through the lower middle sets (told so by two teachers last night). is not the job of any pupil at a school, just as "teaching tolerance" is not the job of children with sn.

Not all of us are trying to bread leaders.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 15:25:27

Talkin Firstly, London is clearly more real than Hampshire. grin In every possible way.

Secondly, the catchment of the DDs grammar is a radius of about 60 miles and it works fine.

Incidentally I NC'd because of unwelcome attention, we have 'talked' often in the past sometimes we agree sometimes not but I always find discussing things with you interesting smile

MarinaResurgens Fri 25-Oct-13 15:27:09

I would have less of a problem with the grammar school system if more of the (good and improving) comps nearby to us offered children a guaranteed choice of more than two MFL and the guaranteed option to study more than one to GCSE if wanted
That kind of choice really matters to me and my children, and I saw only one school locally that could guarantee it
The HoKS3 at the other said vaguely "oh, it's French and Spanish at the moment, but I'm not sure what it will be next year". Not on, really.
Another otherwise lovely and impressive school would only let your child do one humanity subject and two sciences, in order to make room for a compulsory BTec in PE. Optional BTec, fine! Compulsory, not fine IMO.
If they're not bothering to offer a good choice of academic subjects to children who really want to do them, they're not really comprehensive.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 15:28:05

Having recently spent time with a family member who is at Oxford having been at Winchester, he's no great shakes.
Chatting to a friend whose son has just started at Winchester, she chose it for the boarding as the academic difference between it and Kings was not much.
The top private schools get top results because they select and then remove rigorously, not because they get anything miraculous from those kids than any of the better comps in the country would.

You clearly have little understanding of pedagogy. DD does not regard it as a job to pull her set up. She regards it as a positive challenge.

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 15:35:50

grin well having googled for a definition of pedagogy, perhaps not! grin

Coupon Fri 25-Oct-13 15:37:29

> Needs constantly to be grounded by reality - segregation into a superselective would be really bad for that person.

Talkinpeace why do you think academically selective state schools lack reality? They have to be more "real" than a private school cushioned by money alone, surely?

The reality for a very bright young person can be that if they rarely meet anyone of a similar level to themselves, they'll be bullied and feel they have to "dumb down" their achievements to fit in.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 15:39:01

But what benefit would the 1-2% gain from being segregated? Why wouldn't they benefit from doing sport and art and dt and RE and stuff with the merely bright- or even (gasp) the not so bright?

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 15:42:28

coupon that concept jarred with me in a different way. Super selective would be really bad for that person IF the issue wasn't addressed.

It is a common misconception that children who struggle to pick up the sort of things encompassed in terms like "common sense" and "social skills" will miraculously pick up these skills if grouped with socially able and sensible friends. The reality is IF they could gain these skills in the same way as their more able average peers they would have.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 15:43:44

There are two issues
(1) I do not believe that any state funded school should be selective in any way - you want selection on grounds of God or maths tests, go pay for it
(2) In a big comp - DCs is 300 per year group - there are quite a few extremely bright kids and they hang around in a group. Only a bad school would allow them to be bullied for being bright.
Where do you set the cutoff?
as the academic evidence shows that the ones who just miss the cut into superselectives are pretty darned bright too, and its only an arbitrary mark between them rather than accepting the reality that ability in all subjects is a normal distribution curve.

And as I said above about my own situation, I left university woefully unprepared for dealing with real people.
The behaviour of the current cabinet shows that little has changed.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 15:44:28

coupon That was DD1's experience at primary school, and to a lesser extent, DD2's (she is fierce and tough. Many tried to bully her once, few came back for a second go). DD1 has sadly not escaped bullying entirely at secondary school, but she has been so much happier there.

SatinSandals Fri 25-Oct-13 15:44:33

alemci Watford Grammar School for Girls is a comprehensive if you look at OFSTED. However 25% are selected by ability and 10% by musical aptitude. Siblings are way up the criteria list and so is having a brother at the boys grammar. Teachers in the school are way up the list for getting their child a place. Looked after children are top. My friend's DD got a community place, without a test.
There are very desirable comprehensives that put up house prices!

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 15:55:48

Can I ask a question? I am expecting a serious flaming, but I'm tough.

Why do people think that it's OK to plan an education system around the needs of the right and very bright? Both the super selective and merely selective systems seem to provide most parents with what they want for their bright and very bright children, but, particularly the merely selective, does so at the expense of the less able majority. Why is this OK? Why are we giving more privilege to the already privileged. Because, however much people put their fingers in their ears and hum, pretending not to hear, the kids who go to grammar schools are the children of privileged middle classes. Comprehensive schools possibly provide a less......congenial..... environment for the children of the privileged, but they do provide a top set for them to inhabit, and don't tell the majority that they have failed at the age of 10. And they do provide the opportunity for said majority to move up into the top set should they be late developers, either psychologically or academically.

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 15:58:13

Lots has been said about how good comprehensives are. confused

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 16:01:48

Because government policy has been set by people who went to selective schools - often fee paying
and they are too unimaginative to realise that it might not be the right thing for everybody
In 15 years time when the Comp kids start working through the system more it will change methinks

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 16:02:07

Yes talkin, I can't believe that in a truly selective comprehensive of a reasonable size there would be this one child who was so bright that they had nothing in common academically with anybody else.

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 16:06:11

It's not about finding someone to have something I common with. It's about receiving a challenging and appropriate education.

As I said up thread a very able child is as different from an average child as an average child is from an academically challenged one.

tiggytape Fri 25-Oct-13 16:09:15

I agree with you curlew.
I have no problem with truly super selective schools that take a tiny fraction of local children and cast their nets wide to choose the top of the top of the top set from miles around.
They don't 'downgrade' the other local schools in any way and don't have the same pass/fail distinction that other areas have.

I cannot imagine living in a wholly selective region (one where the top 30%) are chosen for grammar schools and the rest are sent to Secondary Moderns. For all the reasons you say, it just wouldn't sit well with me and my children are both top group children so it isn't that I'd worry about being on the "losing side" so much.

That's a horrible way to express it but that's how it would feel. These regions are set up with 30% who win and 70% who lose out. 30% get a desirable school with good facilities and exam opportunities and 70% don't. Based on a test taken when they are 10. And with all the pitfalls of people who fail who should easily have passed or people who are genuinely borderline cases but would still do better in a more academic school.

The difference is just too dramatic given that children at the bottom of one school and children at the top of the other will be of virtually identical abilities.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 16:15:57

And another thing. Why the assumption that middle and lower ability children will automatically bully the higher ability ones?

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 16:19:35

Probably because posh private school kids remember getting a good kicking back in the 70's grin
Remember that before setting was brought in properly, mixed ability classes for things like maths were a bad thing

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 16:19:39

"As I said up thread a very able child is as different from an average child as an average child is from an academically challenged one."

How many such children are there? Children who are so incredibly able in everything that they just can't be accommodated in an ordinary top set? And what are the differences?

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 16:19:47

But why wouldn't you achieve a challenging education in your set with children of similar abilities?

Plus3 Fri 25-Oct-13 16:24:07

I am also in Bucks - it's so utterly depressing for those of us with children who probably won't pass the 11+.

I don't have a problem with the system (I would be delighted if DS passes, but it's certainly not a given...) the problem I have are the alternatives. His secondary options are dire - one is in special measures, in shabby buildings, with poor results (although they have drafted in a super-head from one of the Grammar's to turn it around) The other one is in a super posh market town and struggles with results and the attitudes of staff and pupils.

It is little wonder that as a parent you feel as if your only option is to tutor, even if the goal is only to get them streamed into the top sets at secondary.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 16:25:50

Oh, FFS at compulsory BTec PE.
Like the sort-of compulsory RE GCSE this is doubtless a stat-chasing exercise so that time which has to be spent on PE can translate into some brownie points for exams passed.

Plus3 Fri 25-Oct-13 16:26:49

what I am saying, is that I accept that I live in a Grammar area, but I don't accept the poor quality of the secondary schools - for anyone.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 16:28:45

Curlew - because mostly, bright children are Eaten Alive in comps.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 16:31:16

Talkin It's obviously not universal, clearly the vast majority of really high performing super selective ability kids aren't bullied. But some are, at primary school, and it's because they aren't part of that 'top 25%' group which is a gang all of its own - they are the isolated one or two, that annoy the rest of the top 25% as much as they annoy the rest of the class (and sometimes they annoy the parents too just by their very existence sad ) My DD1 wasn't bullied for being the ability she was, she wasn't bullied for being dyspraxic, she was bullied for being both at the same time. sad This is clearly anecdote not data and anyone who argues that the only way you will defeat a tidal wave of bullying sweeping the nation is probably being a bit overly dramatic.

Regarding mixed ability sets for maths - they were fabulous. 55 minutes to catch up on my sleep almost every day. Result! grin But then I was able to doze with my eyes open. without that superhero skill it might have been a different story.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 16:34:03

Seriously, I think some of the v bright children who have awkward social skills may well be more vulnerable to bullying than others, but that is because of the awkward social skills not because of the intelligence.

On the other hand I have recently observed a middle ability child be deliberately and cleverly manipulated by a top achieving child into being a victim of cyber bullying.

Generalisations are fatuous and not useful.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 16:36:07

As most children in the country go to comps, if bright children get eaten alive either a lot of children are being eaten alive, or all the bright children really are in independent schools (since most of us don't live in bucks or Kent). This doesn't sound likely to me.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 16:38:03

Sorry, got interrupted and didn't finish a thought in my last post - should have said:

Anyone who argues that the only way you will defeat a tidal wave of bullying sweeping the nation is by setting up lots of grammar schools is probably being a bit overly dramatic.

And then I'd add - not least because bullying is far from unknown in Grammar schools.

PatTheHammer Fri 25-Oct-13 16:38:28

Tiggy- I think your post is very true.

People were using some schools in Gloucestershire as an example further down the thread. This is interesting as having taught at and still teaching at schools in this area, I think it provides a good illustration of what happens to the other comprehensive schools in a selective area.

E.g Cheltenham has 1 grammar- very little effect on the surrounding schools as it is super-selective and takes from a broad area.
Stroud- 2 single sex grammar schools, still some very good comps in the area as lots of parents do not want their children to take the test. Technically not true comps but even so good 80% plus results.
Gloucester- 4 grammar schools, the local schools in the city would all be classed as secondary modern's and have poor results. Some better schools on the outskirts.
Cirencester- No grammar schools. Middle class area but the 2 comprehensives are true comps.

Obviously this is purely anecdotal (as are most of the speculative comments on this thread and mainly based on my experience, my friends that teach in those schools, friends whose children attend those schools). There are also clear soci-economic differences between parts of Cirencester and Gloucester for example. but I do think it paints an interesting picture.

Now, I was raised and educated in West Sussex and had never actually heard of a grammar school before I moved to Gloucestershire to study my PGCE. It cannot actually be talked about as an actual 'system' can it............if it doesn't exist in many parts of the country.
How many counties are there left that have a pure 11 plus system? The simple answer seems to me that if it is not all the counties then why should it exist at all? Even if it is in some counties......why not in all areas of the county, doesn't seem to make sense to me.

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 16:39:14

I have one at a SS GS and one at a comp, although there isn't a use difference in their academic ability. They are both very good schools, and both have things that I prefer about them in comparison to the other. They are suited to different children, that's all.

If the problem with grammar schools in grammar school areas is that the alternative schools aren't good enough, then the answer is to improve the alternatives, not do away with the grammars.

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 16:55:40

Plus3- "what I am saying, is that I accept that I live in a Grammar area, but I don't accept the poor quality of the secondary schools - for anyone."

But, but- maybe the other schools are so poor because of the existence of the GS! Where the 'MC' DC of committed parents go, leaving the DC who either fail the 11+, or those whose parents either didn't know or care about the 11+, or whose parents are ideologically opposed to selective education in the other school.

WooWoo- I am thinking you maybe haven't read the whole thread? Many have already stated that one of the many issues of GS is that not all DC are good at all academia- great at VR and NVR, maybe, reasonable at Maths, possibly, well-tutored, more or less definitely. A comp will contain a wide mix of DC, too, some who can be top set Maths, but middle set English, 4th set French etc. The Big Debate is- why, oh why do DC need to be segregated in this way? What is the possible benefit to society of doing so? Bearing in mind that all of society is paying for its next generation to be educated.

You'd need to elucidate on how 'SS' the GS is as the distinction between 'top 2% school' and 'top 23-30% school' is being made. The 2% school maybe doesn't have a huge impact on the local education, i.e. the alternative school, which is almost but not quite a 'comp; the 23-30% school leaves a SM however you dress it up.

mumsneedwine Fri 25-Oct-13 17:34:37

Most comps I have been involved in have managed to stretch the bright, aspire the middle and ensure those that struggle - don't. My brother and I went to a comp in the 80s and went to Oxbridge (my parents left school at 15). I have worked in over 25 schools, mostly comps,and found most of them brilliant. Bright kids are not eaten alive, they are fine. And I'm a parent of 5, all attending, or left a comp. All done v well. I have a huge problem segregating kids so young as many don't bloom until much later, and the tutoring to get them in seems to be an industry in itself (look at the % Free School Meals at grammers and tell me this is fair). If you are equally happy for your kids to go to secondary modern then that's fine, but I never hear the campaign to have more of these.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 17:35:51

"Curlew - because mostly, bright children are Eaten Alive in comps"

Ah yes, forgot that.
<checks ds worriedly for tooth marks>

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 17:37:41

I think a top 2% child is as likely to be bullied as a bottom 2%.

I'm not sure I agree with the rationale that the point of grammar schools is to protect highly academic children from some sort of feral group of more averagely intelligent children. shock.

My feeling is it is more about the form of teaching and assessment. It's about pace and breadth and depth of study. Just as there are parents who genuinely believe that no child passes the 11+ without rigorous and arduous coaching, there are some that fail to understand how difficult it is to never be challenged. For those children grammar school should be the answer.

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 17:44:17

I admit I haven't read all of this thread, but I've been on enough grammar school debates on MN (probably under different names) to know the jist of it.

I don't think children need to be segregated, but nor do I think that children going to different schools that suit them in different ways is that bad a thing either. Like I said, my children are 'segregated' by their schools, and they're fine. Better than fine in fact.

The GS I use is probably top 5-2%, I'm not sure exactly, but we aren't in a GS area where the majority of children do the 11+. The existence of the GS doesn't affect the surrounding schools at all, children come from quite a distance to attend it.

But, but- maybe the other schools are so poor because of the existence of the GS!

I completely disagree with this, and everything you say in that paragraph. I don't think blaming commited MC parents who apply for the best school they have available for their child is a valid argument against grammar schools. If high schools that exist in grammar areas aren't good enough, the that's down to the parents and teachers of that school. It is not the responsibility of other parents or their children.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 17:45:58

"Curlew - because mostly, bright children are Eaten Alive in comps."

But why shouldn't the top set of. Comprehensive be the answer?

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 17:52:08

curlew "But why shouldn't the top set of. Comprehensive be the answer?" ... A bit like why some children do better in special school, some in a unit attached to ms, some in ms with support. For some children the top set will be great, for others not so much.

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 17:52:31

The argument about the percentage of children on FSMs doesn't hold much weight for me either tbh.

Apart from the fact that children on FSMs unfairly have the luxury of the pupil premium being added to their education which other children don't get, it doesn't have to cost anything to give your child some preparation for the 11+. We bought a couple of books from Smiths and used free Internet resources - job done.

Having a low income does not automatically mean that you aren't engaged and involved in your child's education, nor does it mean that your children are less intelligent than anyone else's.

The state primary I work in only has 3% FSM. Should that school be abolished too?

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 17:59:11

" For some children the top set will be great, for others not so much."

So should the whole system be geared to those children? Regardless of the impact on all the other children in the area?

motherinferior Fri 25-Oct-13 17:59:35

No, it doesn't mean your kids are less intelligent: it does mean, statistically, that you children are less likely to do well academically. Which is why they have all that luxurious pupil premium to address it. There are a number of reasons for this, which I really don't feel like going into at length here.

I should probably point out, yet again, that the non-leafy comp in which my daughter (whose maths is now considerably improved) and her friends (some of whom are quite scarily over-achieving) are not getting their heads kicked in (sorry to piss on your chips about that one) has a high contingent of kids on FSM (thus demonstrating its non-desirability in the leafiness stakes).

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 18:05:29

Why shouldn't the top set of comprehensive be the answer?

It is the answer for children who don't have or don't want a grammar school, but why should it be the answer for children who don't have a problem and therefore don't need an answer?

I'm aware that FSM children are statistically less likely to do well, but I don't think that's all down to income. A low income can be as a result of many things, not all of those will have an effect on children's education. And lots of those same problems will exist for families that don't have a low income.

My child at a comp is also doing well and nobody has tried to take a bite out of him or any of his friends yet thankfully.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 18:06:51

"Apart from the fact that children on FSMs unfairly have the luxury of the pupil premium being added to their education which other children don't get"
Why is it unfair that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have a bit extra? And anyway often pupil premium funding benefits the whole school.

motherinferior Fri 25-Oct-13 18:10:25

*Why shouldn't the top set of comprehensive be the answer?

It is the answer for children who don't have or don't want a grammar school, but why should it be the answer for children who don't have a problem and therefore don't need an answer? *

You've lost me there. What problem do kids at GSs not have, or is it that their glorious seclusion from the ahem more vocationally oriented pupils mean they are safe from inappropriate consumption?

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 18:12:44

Because some children that are on FSM really don't need the extra intervention, but some children who aren't on FSM really do need it. This is very definitely the case in the school I work in.

Funding should be made available for children that need it, regardless of what jobs their parents do or don't do, but at the moment, it really doesn't work like that.

The comp my ds goes to stated at the start of the term that they will use the pupil premium to pay for the foreign residential trip for children that get FSMs. Yet there are other children who's working parents genuinely can't afford for their children to go, and they get no help at all.

motherinferior Fri 25-Oct-13 18:15:05

Yes, but that's the only way of having any kind of rule, really, isn't it. You can't institute some kind of Test Of Parental Support. It's a relatively blunt instrument but the association with educational underachievement clearly demonstrates that there is a link, so schools might as well work with that one.

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 18:19:34

Mother, sorry, didn't word that well and it got complicated!

The GS kids don't have a problem, that's the point. The comp top set doesn't need to be an answer.

motherinferior Fri 25-Oct-13 18:21:39

But that's presupposing that it's true about the being Eaten Alive. Which the bright kids I know in several different comps seem really to be quite immune from.

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 18:22:41

I disagree with schools working with that blunt instrument, it doesn't work enough, it wastes money, and it lets down children that need extra support but whose parents income isn't high or low enough to help them.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 18:26:59

Woo woo- I'm afraid that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation.

Xoanon Fri 25-Oct-13 18:33:15

The FSM related pupil premium is a blunt instrument but clearly needed. The additional money given to schools where there are forces children is outrageous though. As is the disparity between funding levels for different LEAs which is manifestly inequitable.

merrymouse Fri 25-Oct-13 18:42:52

woowoo I agree a couple of books from smiths aren't expensive. However having parents who buy the books - that's priceless.

I think it's reasonable to argue that the grammar school system goes some way to even out the advantage enjoyed by children at private schools, and certainly in many areas the independents take far more children out of the 'comprehensive' system than grammars.

However, to argue that access to grammars isn't flawed is just plain wrong.

soul2000 Fri 25-Oct-13 18:57:04

We all want the best for are families, if that means sheltering them from
the "Great Unwashed" for as long as possible so be it. The great unwashed
will eventually be part of you child's life.

A grammar school education is probably the only thing the state offers, that is worth having... I expect to get flamed for saying that.

My secondary education was awful, the three years at my "Supposed" leafy comprehensive were traumatic every day . I cannot remember one teacher or one thing i learnt in that time My views are probably biased
against comprehensive schools because of my experiences . In fact i wished i had gone to a "MODERN" school in the nearby selective area
because i would have learnt more there than i did at that hole.

The MODERN school that i am talking about beats the comprehensive in every measure and at 5 A*-C .. I know you get no sympathy on this site.

soul2000 Fri 25-Oct-13 18:57:40

Your Child's life...

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 19:11:09

For the avoidance of doubt: That bright kids get Eaten Alive in comps is what I have learned from reading numerous threads about appeals, moving house, temporary renting, going private, tutoring for grammar or SS, how awful S London is, how awful schools that have a high ratio of FSM / EAL are (those are especially lethal) etc etc.

What I have learned from throwing my small, weedy, clever, top set, sensitive child into this arena is that he hasn't even been lightly nibbled and has been challenged and pushed and inspired, and given lots of extra curricular opportunities (currently doing leadership workshops).

Admittedly his school is one of the good comps in our area (not leafy, nor m/c, not in a premium house price area...). there are schools within reasonable travelling distance that I would not be so happy for his to attend. The answer is to invest in those schools and in the communities around them. Not to 'rescue' more kids into a Grammar system where there are only spaces in the lifeboat for the top 23% in academic terms.

Blu Fri 25-Oct-13 19:15:54

WooWoo - The Pupil Premium works on the same blunt level as the stats it relates to, though. If a school has a certain % of pupils on FSM you could extrapolate form the vast studies of children living in economic disadvantage as a whole that there would be a percentage level of support needed.

If Pupil premium was handed out on an individual level, it would be wasted in aspirational families who value education whatever their low income. but schools use the money far more generally than that.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 19:47:49

DCs school actively encouraged parents to register for pupil premium
as far as I can see it has been used to
- ensure that even poor kids go on school trips (in the past they often did not)
- ensure that all kids get the revision books so the whole class can move along faster
- ensure that the breakfast club for kids from dysfunctional families is always running
my children have not been "allocated" that cash, but have benefitted from it because of the sidewash from the extra funds.

and shock horror there are PP/FSM kids in the top sets

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 19:49:20

"A grammar school education is probably the only thing the state offers, that is worth having... I expect to get flamed for saying that"

Actually- like many, I won't bother. Your level of misconception is such that, like appealing to an DM reader- it's pointless.

See, I am the great unwashed. My DC's school only achieves about 80% A-C in 5 GCSEs inc Eng and Maths. And only about the same in the Eng Bacc, blunt weapon though it is.

Sorry. I must retreat blush. I so wish there was a grammar to improve on this lamentable state of affairs, even though my youngest stands little chance of passing the 11+ for it. If only he were on FSM....

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 19:52:21

It would not be wasted in aspiration all families that value education at all if their children needed the extra support of a couple of one to one sessions a week, or needed the money to be able to join their classmates on a residential trip that their family can't afford.

I see this situation every day, there are children getting support that they don't need so that a school can prove that they have spent money improving a child's potential and I see children who need more support not get it simply because their name isn't on the FSM list.

Anyway, I didn't mean to derail the thread with my feelings on the pupil premium, so ill get back to grammar schools!

I agree that access to grammar school is flawed, but I think that's because some areas don't have enough places and some areas have too many.

If all children had access to a grammar school if they would benefit from it and would suit that type of education, then none would be missing out. If all grammar schools aimed to take the top 5-7% of children whose parents actually want a grammar education for that child, then the effect on other schools would be minimal. If all other schools offerd enough academic subjects and stream properly, then all children will get the education they deserve and there won't be a problem.

I think the issue at the moment is that grammar schools in GS areas take too many children, and areas that only have SS or no GS at all don't have enough places for the children that would benefit from them and are suitable for them.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 19:53:59

but your school has such a dampener on house prices wink
if only the results of mine were anywhere near as "bog standard" grin

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 20:00:57

What perfect entry criteria would you set for a grammar school test to ensure that you got
- the best musicians
- the best artists
- the best athletes
- the best linguists
- the best creative writers
as I see no evidence of any 11+ or even Common Entrance testing for that
and without those children, any school is too blinkered for my liking.

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 20:08:03

"We all want the best for are families, if that means sheltering them from
the "Great Unwashed" for as long as possible so be it"

Thank heavens- honesty!!!!!! How refreshing. Now if only a few more people on the thread could 'fess up, we might get somewhere.

<dithers between checking child for tooth marks and washing him. Wonders whether being Unwashed is all that had kept him from being Eaten Alive. Worries that the smell might attract the Wolves."

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 20:12:59

talkin - you know my views on your DC's school: it's a bloody good school, one I'd've chosen for my DC if I hadn't committed to the one we did choose!

woowoo "If all children had access to a grammar school if they would benefit from it and would suit that type of education.." WHAT type of education? why do you believe that a grammar school delivers lessons any different to the top-stream of a comp? Apart from the fact that maybe the comp teacher also has to lead, inspire and teach DC of a <gasp> lower ability as well in the course of their day. Do you think their minds are somehow contaminated by adjusting the level of teaching, accommodating different groups? I stated way earlier than a lot of my teachers would have been eaten alive, teeth marks and all, by some of the undiagnosed, unmanaged SN that some of the SMs had to deal with when I was at a GS, in the '70s! And we call them 'good' teachers. Why were we 'allowed' these sorts of teachers, many of whom were frankly bats, whereas the SM DC got 'the rest'? How is that a fair use of taxes?

Regarding possible GS DC today, it seems that some are still advocating a segregation of these 'special' children along with their 'special' teachers. Well, as long as we all pay taxes, I think all our DC, bar the odd-ball, out-there hyper-clever DC and the other end of the spectrum, of course, can be well-taught in the same schools! Like we live our lives, in the same workplaces/town centres/pubs/life.

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 20:13:41

curlew - now you're being naughty. Extra Latin for you.... grin

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 20:27:24

Please don't put special in speech marks like that, it really grates.

WooWooOwl Fri 25-Oct-13 20:29:18

Talkin, children at grammar schools are not the best at everything. Comps can and do have excellent facilities for musicians, artists, athletes and I'm sure they've produced plenty of great writers and linguists too. In my experience, the facilities are better.

Erebus Fri 25-Oct-13 20:30:06

It isn't me who regard the more clever as somehow in a category of their own, a category that requires special treatment, zzz.

So I shall 'grate away'.

motherinferior Fri 25-Oct-13 20:30:37

But it is an appropriate use of quote marks, zzzz.

motherinferior Fri 25-Oct-13 20:32:11

There have been plenty of writing and grammatical usages on this thread that have grated with me, I can assure yougrin

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 20:37:40

OK. If it is not to keep them away from "the great unwashed", please will someone tell me why clever children are best educated separately from average and less clever ones? Because I just can't see it.

I do sometimes wonder whether people think "comprehensive" and "mixed ability" are synonyms. That might explain some concerns, I suppose.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 20:38:49

so you can see that a comp with all of the bright and talented kids including those whose skills are not measured in the 11+ will always be a better place than a narrowly selective school of any type

'special' is such a misused term in education that it should really be typed '"special'"

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 20:40:32

Sorry, it's not the grammar/punctuation thing. It's probably me being chippy. I mostly post on the sn boards. Sometimes it colours how I read things.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 20:49:39

my kids prefer to be called "speckle" - but then they are offensively bright (it offends me how self motivated DD is to be top of year at her comp)

curlew Fri 25-Oct-13 20:51:02

I think "special" is entirely appropriate when the term is being hijacked by the parents of very academically bright children who seem to begrudge any funding going to children with AEN and think that their child's right to take GSCE maths at the age of 8 is on a par with another child's inability to access the curriculum............

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 20:52:38

"please will someone tell me why clever children are best educated separately from average and less clever ones? Because I just can't see it."

Would you understand if you put it in the context of asking you to educate a middle of the road child in a special school? What about if your top set child was placed in the bottom set? What would be the issues?

How well they would cope with this less than ideal set up is very dependent on their temperament, age and how far teaching staff are willing to differentiate.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 20:54:24

Too right.
Special = in a wheelchair, needs specific facilities in place and has disintegrating hand joints so cannot write
"special" = often hothoused, mollycoddled and tutored and not half as clever as mummy thinks

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 20:55:33

SEN/AEN include the very academically bright.

zzzzz Fri 25-Oct-13 20:56:58

Talkin I don't know where to start with that. sad

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 20:57:51

how would a top set child end up in the middle set?
kids are tested in every subject every term and set accordingly

a kid in DDs year has very poor speech and it took a while for the staff to realise how bright he actually is
he's now in top sets with intensive speech therapy in between
the staff who deal with that are a separate team from the curriculum one so are not distracted

kitchendiner Fri 25-Oct-13 20:58:06

"Just as there are parents who genuinely believe that no child passes the 11+ without rigorous and arduous coaching, there are some that fail to understand how difficult it is to never be challenged. For those children grammar school should be the answer."

What about the 1 in 500 "gifted" child who cannot pass the 11+ because they are only "gifted" in one area? The high achieving top 10% GS child gets a place whereas the someone in the .5% in one area doesn't. This child can only be challenged at a comprehensive, for them, failing the 11+ is not the answer - comprehensive school is the answer.

Talkinpeace Fri 25-Oct-13 21:01:31

the wheelchair kid is not a fiction - shes a friend. she cannot write for long, she can barely walk now (deteriorating) but her secondary school (comp) saw beyond that and she's on line for v high grades
her college options are limited by wheel access , but all the colleges will accept her grades
selective schools would have copped out of helping her years ago