State education Is it up to standard?

(106 Posts)
Educationguru Sat 07-Dec-13 14:25:39

Has anyone got any opinions on this one?

rasberryYoghurt Sat 07-Dec-13 14:54:30

Some schools are, some aren't. Thats why there are league tables, ofsted judgements and endless threads of parental opinion. As a happy side effect, because of all that scrutiny, standards will continue to improve as schools compete for parental preferences. As a society, we just need to make sure we're measuring the right things for use as comparators.

There are many poorly performing private schools too, but less information by which to measure them.

lljkk Sat 07-Dec-13 15:46:02

What "standard"? Ruddy British, obsessed with "standards". Ruddy Paperwork age, for that matter.

ipadquietly Sat 07-Dec-13 15:48:18

It's up to the standard of the framework setting the standard!

As Ofsted has changed its criteria 5 times since September, it is difficult to tell what the standard actually is.

It is also debatable what a 'good standard' is. I would say it would be to give children a rounded education, with lots of team work and opportunities to take risks; others would say it was learning from text books and doing 3 hours of homework a night.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 07-Dec-13 15:55:00

standards will continue to improve as schools compete for parental preferences

This really only works where there is an alternative. Where we live there is a Hobson's choice of one absolutely lousy (bottom 20 in England) school.

This school has been performing badly for all the time we have been associated with it (7 years). It has been in and out of special measures twice. It has now been academied to avoid going into special measures for a third time after the latest debacle.

The problem with this school is endemic poor management. The current head is incompetent, the head before him was fired, heads of department are incapable of their jobs. There are good teachers but these are frequently too junior to be able to make an impact.

The closer scrutiny allows us to see this but the poverty of the management structure means that nothing can be done.

Talkinpeace Sat 07-Dec-13 16:03:14

is Private education "up to standard" ?
who defines the standard?
what standard?

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 07-Dec-13 16:04:38

I think it can be difficult to say why a good school is good. However I think that it is easier to list the reasons why a bad school is bad.

In a bad school low standards are tolerated and become the norm. Whether from staff or students. A school is where it is, it has to operate within a community. The problems of that community will come into the school but it is how the school deals with this which divides the good and bad schools.

NoComet Sat 07-Dec-13 17:25:10

Up to standard is a totally personal thing.

According to Ofsted DDs school is failing.

It isn't failing my top set DD2

And it's doing as good or better job with DD1 as a outstanding school would.

She's dyslexic and academic support for bright dyslexics isn't a priority anywhere outside a few private schools who charge you extra for it.

However, her schools pastoral care has been way better than she might have got elsewhere.

rasberryYoghurt Sat 07-Dec-13 17:47:47

WorrySigh said "This really only works where there is an alternative. Where we live there is a Hobson's choice of one absolutely lousy (bottom 20 in England) school."

Hence the free school programme. If your LA is complacent about failing schools, parents do at least now have the power to do something about it.

Talkinpeace Sat 07-Dec-13 17:51:49

my local failing school is a sponsored academy

I would not touch a free school with a bargepole

Educationguru Sat 07-Dec-13 17:53:49

If the children are happy, learning academically, growing in confidence, gaining social skills and safe is this not a good standard?

Educationguru Sat 07-Dec-13 17:55:16

By the way many private schools are Ofsted inspected too and have full reports issued.

Educationguru Sat 07-Dec-13 17:57:15

I totally agree with raspberry.

rasberryYoghurt Sat 07-Dec-13 18:06:02

Yes, I know Talkinpeace. You're against them.

However, if you don't like your local sponsored academy, you could propose a free school to compete with it. You could then buy in educational services from your LA if it's so good. Plenty of free schools are doing that.

Talkinpeace Sat 07-Dec-13 18:09:58

I like my LEA they are fab, dismantling them is SO going to impinge on "standards" - wait and see ....

my kids are at a school that is a converter academy that still buys in most of its services from the LEA

rabbitstew Sat 07-Dec-13 18:34:38

Turning schools into academies or setting up free schools does not actually increase the pool of good headteachers. That's why you won't miraculously convert all bad schools into brilliant schools by spending lots of time on converting them to one type of school to another, or opening up new schools close by. You will, however, use up an awful lot of emotional time and energy, and practical time and money, in the conversion process.

rasberryYoghurt Sat 07-Dec-13 18:55:30

" my kids are at a school that is a converter academy that still buys in most of its services from the LEA"

Then its not so different to many free schools Talkinpeace. In fact some LAs are even on the proposing trust for Free schools. There's one in North Kingston like that. Hard to see anything objectionable about it.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 07-Dec-13 19:20:13

I totally agree rabbitstew. The free schools and academies are simply a distraction in my opinion. They are an example of 'busyness' rather than genuine action.

Taking an incompetently managed school and reducing the amount of supervision seems entirely ludicrous to me.

Equally ludicrous is suggesting that a happy amateur such as me should set up a secondary school in competition to the currently badly run one. How is that going to improve things?

I think that the whole free school idea was cooked up as a sop to the public in a very childish way of saying 'well if you think you can do any better why dont you try it?'.

Why these were ever suggested I dont know. You wouldnt suggest that the public should set up hospitals if their local one was badly run so why schools?

What I want is for the school my DCs attend to be run competently. My DCs get one chance at this.

straggle Sat 07-Dec-13 19:26:40

Has there been an Ofsted annual report this year? A couple of years ago it judged teaching in private schools to be rarely better than competent.

PISA also made the point that private schools are no better than state schools.

And provisional Ebacc results suggest a drop in standards at private schools this year. It could be because a large proportion are being entered for easier but unregulated exams, or a rise in the number of overseas pupils. Or both.

straggle Sat 07-Dec-13 19:33:24

I think that the whole free school idea was cooked up as a sop to the public in a very childish way of saying 'well if you think you can do any better why dont you try it?'.

No, along with academies it was a way of dismantling LAs and allowing backdoor privatisation. It limits choice because LA-managed schools are no longer allowed. The Kingston school was an exception as a local authority, schools and college consortium. Over half the approved free schools are actually run by chains - others by religious organisations. Only 5% are parent-led and managed.

strugglinginsilence Sat 07-Dec-13 19:39:18

Well my DD is just finishing her first term at Oxford, 4 more from her cohort are at Oxbridge, a further 5 reading medicine and 2 vet science. Her school has been in Special Measures for over a year and according to OFSTED is failing to improve despite their A Level results being in the top 10% of non-selective schools. Sometimes it is worth digging down. This school serves the top 25% brilliantly, also SEN it is the middle range who fail to achieve.
Interestingly all 5 of the Oxbridge pupils are reading Maths/Engineering. So the Maths department must be doing something right!

scottishmummy Sat 07-Dec-13 19:45:06

It's a broad question,some state schools are great,some aren't
Be mindful of not applying stereotypes about state or private

happygardening Sat 07-Dec-13 19:45:12

straggle as the article re teaching quality of teaching in the independent sector clearly states ofstead don't inspect all independent schools only those who aren't members of the ISI. The top schools who are all members of the ISI are not loosing their position at the top of league tables etc.
Ther are with out a doubt some crap independent schools out there but my DS1 was at an ofstead judged "outstanding" comp whoever good it was meant to be it was 10 leagues (not league tables) behind DS2 top boarding school.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 07-Dec-13 20:12:18

Actually you are right Straggle. I think my comment was more in annoyance at the poster who suggested that I should propose a free school as the solution to the problem of my DCs' unutterably crap school.

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Sat 07-Dec-13 20:16:54

I don't think any state schools are up to a decent standard tbh, but the last people I would hold responsible for this are the teachers.
I suppose it depends on what you think about N.C, framework, and of course if you are interested in what ofstead judge as outstanding, good or satisfactory.

HamletsSister Sat 07-Dec-13 20:17:19

My school is fantastic!

zooweemumma Sat 07-Dec-13 20:18:00

Straggle, that report doesn't claim a 'drop in standards' at private schools, it says more private schools are entering candidates for the igsce which is certainly not easier!

ipadquietly Sat 07-Dec-13 20:33:38

morethan I don't think any state schools are up to a decent standard tbh

That's a sweeping statement. Back to my original point that Ofsted have changed their criteria for meeting standards 5 times since September 2013 (i.e. in 3 months!) National 'decent standards' are forever changing - a school inspected in July 2013, October 2013 and November 2013 will be judged on different criteria! How can we compare them?

Nibs777 Sat 07-Dec-13 20:39:13

i think even the superselective state schools (the grammars everyone talks about here that ones that have 700 to 1500 children applying to them) are resting on their laurels and although many are very exam orientated they are just that ...I wonder how far beyond the curriculum they allow themselves or their pupils to go ...I mean with those kinds of figures of applicants they must be getting some of the smartest kids around so why aren't they getting anywhere close to 30% - 45% Oxbridge entrance like the top selective indies are? They start with the brightest types, and they are not as all round on sports, music, drama, etc as the indies are, and even with that exam focus, I am just curious why they don't achieve the same.

This is not meant to be a private vs state opinion, but it is based an observation on the facts...the best state as far as I can see gets 22% Oxbridge and the second and third best are under 20% and the best Indie is twice that or more and there are many more Indies that get 20% or more and that's not counting all the US univs that some of the leading Indies send their sixth formers to. I don't know if its the teaching, Oxbridge help or the aspirations that is the issue but it does bother me when thinking of state vs Indie (and I mean best state vs best indies).

Talkinpeace Sat 07-Dec-13 20:39:35

I don't think any state schools are up to a decent standard tbh
WOW that's quite a statement.
What is the standard that every non fee paying school in the country - from infant to 6th form college - fails to hit?

Talkinpeace Sat 07-Dec-13 20:41:24

might it possibly be because many state school kids can see that Oxbridge is not the be all and end all.

Nibs777 Sat 07-Dec-13 20:49:14

Nope it is not that - it is about level of teaching in my view, and you need to look at acceptance levels in sciences particularly - I have a DS who like many boys is science /maths orientated and we are deciding between selective Indy and superselective grammar so pertinent question, Dismissing it as Oxbridge is not be all and end all is a bit facile, isn't it?.

See here from the Sunday Times - Dec 2012

"AN ALARMING gap between the success of state and independent-school applicants for maths at Cambridge is revealed by internal figures that have fuelled the row over A-levels.

Maths is the subject with the third-highest number of state-school applicants to Cambridge but it has the lowest acceptance rate — just 18% were successful last year compared with 40% of those from independent schools. The gap is reflected at Oxford where 14.5% of state-school applicants were accepted for maths compared with 22.8% from independents.

State-school applicants are also far less successful in subjects that rely on maths, such as science, engineering and medicine. In computer science, only 24% are accepted, compared with half of those from private schools.

In humanities subjects, the difference is much smaller and in economics, history and modern and medieval languages, the acceptance rate is the same in both sectors.

The maths figures have prompted dons and academics at some other Russell Group universities to make private representations to the government for an overhaul of the A-level.

Academics at Cambridge and King’s College London are being funded by the Department for Education to develop more challenging materials for use in school sixth forms. Michael Gove, the education secretary, plans to use the results to strengthen the A-level and inform a new qualification to be devised in consultation with universities.

“Mathematics teaching at A-level tends to be very narrow and procedural and this is the case across the state and independent sectors. A handful of schools go well beyond the syllabus and they are the ones dominating the Oxbridge entries,” said Jeremy Hodgen, professor of mathematics education at King’s College London.

The reform is being opposed by teachers’ unions, which say gearing the A-level to high-flyers would deter other students.

Cambridge and Warwick require maths applicants to sit “sixth term examination papers” (Step). Bristol, Oxford, Bath and Imperial College London encourage students to take the papers.

Nick Edwards, who is studying economics at Cambridge, received extra maths classes at Tiffin school in Kingston, southwest London. “In A-level maths and further maths, the methods to solve each question are given to you on a plate. You go through the motions that your teacher will have drilled into you. In Step, you have to work out which methodology to use to solve the problem, then solve the problem itself. It’s a better test of pure logic, and there’s a creative element to it as well,” he said."

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Sat 07-Dec-13 20:52:27


A good standard, where you can be certain your dc will learn to read and write to a standard I as a parent expect.

Talkinpeace Sat 07-Dec-13 20:59:16

and do sums?

how about learning about getting on with people - an essential part of school education
and time management
and self discipline

and you want to be "certain" they can read and write.
Is it just the school's responsibility?

And what standard? L6, L8, GCSE grade C ?

we cannot decide whether schools are "up to standard" until we agree a common measuring point

which of course is where PISA fell down because the students in different countries sat different tests

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 07-Dec-13 21:32:51

Something I would like to see is a floor target for all mainstream schools. Agree a standard of numeracy and literacy which every child must achieve by the age of say 16.

For each and every child who does not achieve that standard the head of the school must be able to show what steps were taken to remedy the situation. If the head cannot demonstrate reasonable effort then the head should be flogged through the streets offered a chair at the local job centre.

In schools you get what you measure. Once a percentage of failure has become accepted then that is all that the school will strive to achieve. Some schools dont need to strive hard to achieve their poor performances.

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Sat 07-Dec-13 21:34:05


I think reading and writing seem to be the main areas where I feel the standard is poor.
Of course I agree that Maths is important. I don't feel its only the schools responsibility, but mostly.
I disagree about a common measuring point being the only way you can gauge a decent standard.
I think that getting on with people, time management and self discipline can be taught and experienced through other avenues and that academic subjects should be taught to a better standard in school.

Talkinpeace Sat 07-Dec-13 21:44:18

worrysigh and morethan
do you really expect EVERY child, including those with SEN to reach a standard?
and should schools be penalised when kids are being kept out of school by parents?
bearing in mind that in a comp there will be kids who are L4 SATs by year 11 only with intensive help

I disagree about a common measuring point being the only way you can gauge a decent standard.
sorry, if there is no common measuring point then there is no standard - that is the definition of a standard hmm

HamletsSister Sat 07-Dec-13 22:23:47

The Oxbridge figures, cited above May well simply show that state schools are over presenting - putting forward candidates who are not strong enough, perhaps through lack of experience.

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Sat 07-Dec-13 22:29:34


I think children with SEN should be taught and expected to reach their potential the same as every other child. No I don't think schools should be penalised, moreover, I believe teachers should be given autonomy to teach how they seem fit. Then they should be accountable.
My dd is improving her standard of English in particular handwriting. She is not being assessed to a common measuring point, although several people have offered to do this.

Nibs777 Sat 07-Dec-13 23:56:12


I don't think that's the case, I think it's more about not going beyond the syllabus...the indies will tend towards the more extended IGCSEs and pre-Us etc. also

straggle Sun 08-Dec-13 00:36:14

happygardening: your school may be fine - obviously I don't know it so can't judge. I was responding to point that some independent schools are Ofsted inspected. As you point out, they may be poorer performers than ISI inspected. But Ofsted inspected independent schools tend to be less selective so it could also be argued they are a fairer comparison with state schools.

From PISA 2009:
'students in public schools in a similar socio-economic context as private schools tend to do equally well' and 'countries with a larger share of private schools do not perform better in PISA'.

Of PISA 2011:
'Competition alone is not a predictor for better outcomes'
'Our data doesn’t show much of a performance difference between public and charter and private schools once you account for social background' (but see fall in performance of Sweden and relative performance of US).
'The most important thing for parents is not the performance of the school, but what they call a safe school environment'

Tubemole1 Sun 08-Dec-13 03:19:17

Teach to test, no breadth of understanding.

So we take a topic being done at school, and run with it at home. Trips out, visits to museums, that kind of thing. Luckily we live in London blush and I appreciate not everyone lives five miles from a world renowned teaching museum.

Maths baffles me. They teach in a more convoluted and ridiculous way than I was. Even though dd gets the right answer, her books have "see me" in the margin because we do the working out different at home. I have complained, but the teacher says we have to do it her way. So we said, ok, we give up on maths, because your over complicating things. We are currently at an impasse.

I hate the fact that all religions are taught before atheism is. That gets my goat.

My teacher holds back the brightest to make sure the slow ones catch up. So my child gets bored easily. And she spends a lot of time drawing pictures because she finds the work too easy.

Other than all that, state ed is fine.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 08-Dec-13 08:39:59

talkinpeace no I dont expect that every child should reach the standard. What I do think is that for every child who wont reach the standard the head of the school should be able to state exactly what steps have been put in place to help that particular child.

This is about not leaving any child behind. If a head can hand on heart state that all reasonable steps have been taken and that the child has achieved his/her potential then the head has fulfilled his obligations.

The purpose of having a floor target is that the school is forced to acknowledge its responsibilities to all its students. SENs have been recognised and measures put in place. Absentee students have been followed up and the appropriate authorities engaged.

The school isnta llowed to write any student off.

summerends Sun 08-Dec-13 08:40:44

Nibs, I suspect that some of the difference in Oxbridge entry between the top state and privates is due the number of places gained by very bright, hardworking overseas students at those private schools, particularly the boarding ones. The private schools in Oxford and Cambridge will have a proportion of parents who are academics and therefore are more likely to know the system. That also helps (although also applies to the state sixth forms there).
However it may also reflect a system of teaching since some private schools enable teaching in a way that promotes independent thinking which is an advantage at an Oxbridge interview.
Oxbridge entry is n't necessarily a measure of educational success, just a certain type of academic thinking.

happygardening Sun 08-Dec-13 09:38:03

staggle I gave no doubt that my DS would have performed "equally well" in terms if academic achievement at out of our very high achieving local comp or the super selective grammar (if I could have been bothered to drive there) and I would have course got it free of charge. But what we want and are prepared to pay for is breadth and depth of education which is much harder to quantify and measure. Having not only very carefully examined our state school options but also experienced them first hand I know its not available in the state sector.

Nibs777 Sun 08-Dec-13 09:51:08


I agree some of that may be true but I don't believe that explains it away ...I do think some private schools (the best) teach beyond the curriculum in maths and that is what is looked for and that is what the professor at King's College London is saying also - he is referring to some handful of excellent schools that go way beyond the curriculum and those are the ones who are most successful at getting their children into maths at Oxbridge. I am comparing two schools (I won't say which) for my DS - one superselective grammar and one selective Indy -both for boys - the first does GCSE maths in the normal course, the second has a large cohort who can sit IGCSE a year early allowing the more able to focus on maths and further maths for A level and seems to have a lot more Olympiad type stuff going on. The second also gets a lot more into Cambridge for maths and sciences. I can only think that's because they are geared up for going beyond the test whereas the grammar is more oriented to teaching to the test. I would love to be wrong as the grammar will be free.

If you are looking at maths or natural sciences ...then yes, Cambridge is the best in the country by any measure (second in the world after MIT for Maths according to QS rankings though some would put Cambridge first) ....yes, it's not the be all and end all but I would have thought if you are the top of your game in maths or science, that is where you would be aiming for....hence I think it's a valid measure.

Nibs777 Sun 08-Dec-13 09:57:27

I wanted to add summerends I do also think the grammars are more prone to traditional methods of teaching rather than the more independent thinking that some of the best privates promote. Again, I think if they select the brightest out of 700 to 1500 applicants, they should be adding more value than they do in some subjects....and it sounds like those looking to overhaul the A level maths curriculum are saying it should be more stretching to allow the best to shine.

What interested me is the attitude of the teacher's unions which speaks for itself, if true:

"The reform is being opposed by teachers’ unions, which say gearing the A-level to high-flyers would deter other students."

summerends Sun 08-Dec-13 10:03:52

Nibs I certainly agree for the handful of private schools, which is what I was trying to say in part of my post. I think within the best private, the brightest have a much more enjoyable time being stretched by their lessons and probably reach a higher level of attainment . However in the state system, those equivalent children have to be more self directed, that may also be an advantage for success.

Nibs777 Sun 08-Dec-13 10:03:56

teachers' union even.

Agree with what happygardening said. Again, I have no political exe to grind...I am making this decision for my DS and would love to believe otherwise so I can be happy about saving £££ in fees if we opted for a free superselective grammar...but I am a bit put off by the idea that has entered my head that it will be likely a very traditional method of teaching which may not suit my DS who likes to delve and go beyond what is being taught to the test. It's not the A levels that are the be all and end all to me but promotion of the love of learning a subject and ability to think independently.

Nibs777 Sun 08-Dec-13 10:07:41

to be honest summerends I think any school that is superselective or even any good comp with top stream of students should easily be able to get the brightest students a clutch of A* at GCSE...I am looking for more than that though in education when looking at a secondary school.

statsgeek Sun 08-Dec-13 10:09:02

talkinpeace If your LEA is so fab, why is it providing such crap school food according to you on another thread?

My kids are only in YR and Y1 but their state schools seem to be providing as good or better experiences to dn's pre-prep so far, much to SIL's annoyance.

summerends Sun 08-Dec-13 10:34:53

Nibs, I completely agree about education being beyond test results and what else you and HG said. However I'm just pointing out that the self motivated child in the type of school that teaches just to get the best A level results would have to explore outside the curriculum with very little help. If the student manages that they definitely have a head start for further education and would stand out at an Oxbridge style interview.

Blueberrypots Sun 08-Dec-13 11:35:46

I have some experience of both sectors at primary level with different sorts of children, all in pretty high achieving schools, so I think comparing fairly...

At primary level my observations are these:

1 - your child will not fall behind at a decent primary (state or independent) IF you are on top of their education all the time. By this I don't just mean ensuring they complete their homework, but I mean ensuring they are following the curriculum, that there are no gaps, extending them where the class is slowing down, topping them up in areas they are struggling, and doing plenty of extracurricular, including museums, not underestimate the effect of a bad year with a bad teacher or lots of supplies, this will be a huge commitment in terms of catching up and do not rely on a teacher saying "your child is fine" because it might be true but it might be meaningless in the context of their progress. Follow your gut feeling.This is true in any sector you choose.

In a same vein do not rely on NC levels to determine whether a child is bright or has made progress, but rely on your own instinct. Often children will be not taught at the next NC level for lots of reasons, for example because they are at quite a high level already or they have one single gap which needs filling, or they are not clicking with a particular teacher, or there is some other problem lurking which has not been identified.

2 - a lot of the success stories will also depend on the cohort your child will be in, at the same state primary one of my children was in a very low achieving cohort and one in a relatively high achieving one, this meant that the latter was taught a lot more and was much less of a worry. Although most schools do differentiate, most of the teaching is still done as a class in both sectors, so the median level of the class is very important.

We found that for example, in Y4 my DS1's class (state) was being taught at L4, the prep was teaching at L4 (so very similar), BUT my other child's cohort was being taught at L3 still, because most of the class still hadn't mastered L3. It was much harder to top up the latter and my child was very unhappy, so we had no choice but to move her.

Also depending on the child, motivation can become low if the teacher doesn't recognise that they need to be kept stimulated. This is very child dependent but in most cases a very bright child is not a good match for a low achieving cohort, especially if it is coupled with disruption in the class or mediocre teaching.

Finally, for me the sign of a really good teacher/school is when a child comes home fired up about their learning, opening books, revising timetables and really getting stuck in their homework. I have had this in both sectors with different teachers and same children, so although I would have loved to believe that it is all down to the individual child, it is often a sign of how inspiring that teacher is to your child.

Hope these considerations help a bit.

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 16:05:31

school food / another thread : not sure to what you refer, other than that 1/3 of schools no longer have kitchens.

My kids take packed lunch because 1500 kids hitting the deli does not fit with their lunchtime music and sports activities

One of your kids is at Winchester College and the other at a Grammar school : you are not representative
- geographically
- financially
- academically
of any other family in the UK
(and if he was the scruffy oik crossing the road at 9am yesterday morning he's effing lucky I did not hit him as he had headphones in as he wafted in the 'I own this' way - next time I'll aim straight : but I do wish they would tuck their shirts in. )

summerends Sun 08-Dec-13 17:20:38

Talking, teenagers do seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that the traffic is not just there for decoration when they cross the road, highly irritating although not enough yet for me to want to run them oversmile.
I quite like children to be carefree enough to be a bit scruffy, they will spend enough time in later life tucking their shirts in.

happygardening Sun 08-Dec-13 17:21:39

Talkin one is at Win Coll but the other was at a comp not a grammar admittedly in Smalltownsville which is a real life living breathing Hot Fuzz town. You've seen the film we live the life.
If he was the boy you nearly run over yesterday at 9 am I won't be very pleased because I believe he was meant to be in a lesson!

happygardening Sun 08-Dec-13 17:23:08

And he's currently going through a smart non scruffy phase we've done the scruffy phase [smug smiley].

happygardening Sun 08-Dec-13 17:27:44

I'm delighted to be "not representative .... of any other family in the UK" the best compliment I've had for weeks. I've become increasingly concerned that I'm becoming so conventional and middle class as opposed to eccentric weird and an unknown class that I was beginning to frighten myself.

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 18:54:22

tell him to dodge the mad lady in the yellow convertible in future!

and to get back to the point

the difference between Winchester College and Hampshire Collegiate (both private, same county) is as much as that between Kigns Winchester and Toynbee (both state, same county)

it is NOT possible to generalise even in naice leafy areas

Educationguru Sun 08-Dec-13 19:39:57

I wonder how somebody with no experience of teaching or school management could possibly be expected to set up and run a school. A parent group or business consortium have no experience of the' red tape', curriculum, exam criteria etc. How therefore can Free Schools work? I have links with a small private school which spends a lot of time on the 'paperwork' etc but where the pupils are happy and learning. It is not a selective school but the management side is still a nightmare with all the changes and ministerial interference. When will the powers that be get the idea that making school larger and shoving more pupils into the one area just does not lean towards improving standards or a good experience of school for the children?

straggle Mon 09-Dec-13 00:09:57

I wonder how somebody with no experience of teaching or school management could possibly have been appointed Secretary of State for Education and meddle in exam grades, drafting of the national curriculum, teacher training and the best way of teaching children how to read?

wordfactory Mon 09-Dec-13 08:27:01

Some are great, some are not.

Provision is patchy and you, the parent, get no control over whether you'll be given the good, the bad or the downright ugly.

Elibean Mon 09-Dec-13 10:18:08

Ditto Straggle

And I agree with Word too - some are fantastic, some are not. Just like people, I suppose.

OBitchery Wed 11-Dec-13 18:27:40

Some state comps are very good I hear, and some private schools aren't very academic at all.

I suppose that with private or independent you do have more control over the socio-economic demographic of the pupils and their parents, which is an important consideration for many parents.

It's an important consideration for us and that's why we send our DD to a grammar school because we wanted some control over what the socio-economic demographic would be, plus a first class academic service.

On Mumsnet I understand I'm meant to feel really guilty and ashamed about this consideration being important in our choice of school. But actually I don't, not at all.

Danann Fri 13-Dec-13 13:57:25

I think it depends on where you live and your standards.

Where I live none of the state primary schools were up to my standards at all so DD goes to private school. However my little sister is at a fantastic state school 20 miles away where she lives.

I live in Kent, the state grammar schools are good and some of the faith schools are but IMO very few of the other state secondary schools are anywhere near good enough

Totallyunited Sat 14-Dec-13 18:11:42

Bluberrypots: I agree with every word you say but could never have put it so well. Th other thing I have learnt is that good leadership is absolutely fundamental and a poor leader can bring down a good school very quickly even when virtually all children are from educated aspirational families.

Blueberrypots Sat 14-Dec-13 18:44:25

thanks Totallyunited, I absolutely agree with the leadership point too....

GentleGiant1965 Sat 14-Dec-13 19:21:48

As long as schools are chasing targets and exam tables, the quality and breadth of the education given to our children will continue to fall; just look at the PISA results again this year.

Topics I was taught in Primary school 40 years ago are now either High School topics, or dropped entirely in the rush to "improve" exam results, but with the exam questions being nearly identical* each year, the High schools are basically teaching only the answers and not the subject.

* Three years worth of exam papers for "practice" will give you about 80% of the questions encountered in your exam.

There also needs to be a major shake-up in the EXAM setting process to make the questions more varied and challenging across the whole breadth of each subject.

Att100 Mon 30-Dec-13 17:54:38

OBitchery...but why why why aren't you hanging your head in shame and sacrificing your first born on the altar of "no-one should be able to have any choice at all.....if it's better than anyone else's choice". ..though to be honest, as for socio-economics i wonder if some leafy comps in affluent areas may be more middle class than some (the more mediocre ones) grammars in less affluent areas...

vkyyu Tue 31-Dec-13 10:36:33

Blueberry I agree with you a lot but "being on top of your dcs' education ........... ensuring they are following the curriculum........ and gaps........". It sounds like a fulltime teaching job how can every ordinary parent manage that. I regret so much that I trusted the school too much during my dc1 was in infant school as the teachers kept telling me my dc was doing fine until I got dc's ks1sat only then did I realise she was not at all doing fine.

Am I the only one feeling that why the state schools are so reluctant to communicate and work with parents on their individual dcs' learning? So many parents have to find their own way to support their dcs to cover as many gaps as possible and then schools can pretend they did all the teaching.

I kind of feel that there seems to be some sort of cultural / attitude issues in our state school education.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 03-Jan-14 07:57:50

I think there are good and bad examples of schools in both the private and state sectors.
I do think it would be interesting to compare a school where the vast majority of parents and uninvolved in their child's education with a school where the vast majority of parents take responsibility for supporting their child's education and ensuring that any gaps in learning are covered. Obviously it's not practical to do that in real life terms, but it would give a clearer picture of how effective the schools are and how many results are flawed due to parents doing a significant amount of the teaching themselves.

whendidyoulast Fri 03-Jan-14 09:17:42

I don't think you can ever fully separate out parental vs teacher input. I would argue that parental input is usually vital for success whatever the school and the child's 'natural ability'. At my indie school there is a lot of communication between parents and teachers and a huge expectation of parental involvement (probably more necessary than most teachers at the school are aware but I also have kids at the school) not to 'fill in the gaps' but to be on the case, help organise, make time and space for the kids to get hwk done and ensure support for the hard stuff.

MillyMollyMama Fri 03-Jan-14 11:42:59

At boarding schools the young people do the work. I was not, ever, involved in the homework they did. Their results were down to them, the quality of teaching and their hard work. My DDs are self-reliant and I can assure you all that at some schools, parents have very little input into school work or results. However, they have been able to pay for this type of education in the first place.

Getting back to the question, it is alarming that often in failing schools, parents think their children are doing well. Many parents have no idea of how well their child is being taught. They do know if they are well cared for and happy at school and most schools do well at this. It is extremely hard for a non educationalists to know what the child should be learning and what parent ever gets to see the curriculum, let alone work out where the gaps are?

There are poor schools in both sectors and I really feel for people who have no choice (WSWS - you in particular ) and have to send their children to a poor school. It would make me up sticks and leave! Easier said than done of course. It does show though that there are not enough good head teachers and senior staff to go round. Some schools do have a succession of people not up to the job and every school with repeated problems has poor leadership and low standards. Poor leadership is not confined to state schools either.

whendidyoulast Fri 03-Jan-14 13:29:48

I think teachers can be reluctant to communicate that a child is performing badly because a parent is likely to ask what they're doing about it. The teacher may not feel they have the time or expertise to give the child additional support. Just making the contact can be enormously time consuming.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 03-Jan-14 14:00:22

Whendidyoulast- if the teachers don't communicate that a child is underperforming then the teacher is failing in one of their key roles IMO. Whether the teacher has the expertise to offer the required support is irrelevant, she still has a duty to put measures into place to support the child and obtain additional funding if required. It might be that the child needs specialist help, but the teacher had to ensure that the help is sought by the school. To say that just making the contact is time consuming is really not good enough.
Parents evenings and school reports are some of the platforms that can be used to inform parents. But teachers can also phone the parents, speak to them at home time, leave them a message asking that they contact school. Some parents might not realise that their child is underperforming due to not having any previous experience with children's development, but a teacher will have lots of experience.

whendidyoulast Fri 03-Jan-14 14:25:11

I agree with you Norude but I am also sympathetic to teachers. I think it can be the kids who don't cause trouble and don't necessarily have SN who particularly slip through the net.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 03-Jan-14 15:52:39

I can't really sympathise with teachers who are prepared to let children slip through the net just because they have no identifiable SN and don't cause any trouble. A teacher should be able to gauge whether each of the children in her class (at primary level where they have one teacher for most of the day) are achieving what they should be.
If teachers haven't got the time to recognise whether each of their pupils are working at an appropriate level and achieving what they should be then they are not being effective in their role as a teacher.
Should we be sympathising with teachers who let the well behaved mediocre ability children just amble along not really learning because their time is being spent dealing with poor behaviour or SN children?

whendidyoulast Fri 03-Jan-14 18:08:12

I'm thinking more of secondary education where a teacher might see over 100 pupils each week and, depending on the subject, possibly only for an hour a week in a class of 29 other children. I don't think it's always realistic for a teacher in these circumstances to be having regular contact and offering individual support to every student who may not be on target at that precise moment other than through detailed marking and verbal feedback in lessons and the usual reporting procedures, especially not in the sort of school where most children may be struggling to meet targets. Although I completely agree that this would be desirable.

I would have thought that checking homework diaries and books and looking at feedback would be the first indicator of problems and the most useful initial support that could be offered for an interested parent.

If there is no detailed feedback then that's another issue.

SheCharlie Fri 03-Jan-14 20:14:10

My oldest daughter went through on the state system and got all her O levels with good grades. She had a friend who left with 13 A* O levels. There will be children who left with, at best, precious little.

I think these days it can be up to the child and how disciplined they are to learning as to what they can achieve and what distractions they have in class too.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 03-Jan-14 20:22:46

I would have thought that checking homework diaries and books and looking at feedback would be the first indicator of problems and the most useful initial support that could be offered for an interested parent.

That makes the assumption that all parents have decent literacy levels and can interpret what a teacher has written in a homework diary. What's wrong with them picking up the phone and calling the parent with a concern about a child's progress? And even in senior schools don't they still have form tutors who are responsible for liaising with the parents?

Blueberrypots Fri 03-Jan-14 20:26:35

checking homework diaries and books and looking at feedback

Apologies, but this is very naïve. In the case of my son for example, who is in KS2, the homework diary is empty as he only ever had one piece of homework in a whole term, he is a free reader so doesn't get any books from school - I am not sure where I would look at for feedback. Parents' evening was similar, very little feedback.

I have had similar with other children in other years. Perhaps I am not on my own in saying that some teachers aren't that hot on feedback, and many don't even assign homework.

whendidyoulast Fri 03-Jan-14 20:39:58

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you norudeshit and I certainly think not providing feedback on written work or homework is unacceptable Blueberry, but if parents are genuinely interested then they should be checking books and diaries and they could always ask if there was something they didn't understand. As a teacher I would find it a bit irritating if, as I do, I spent hours and hours marking work with detailed feedback and targets and writing in diaries and then a parent told me at parents evening that they were surprised to find their child wasn't very good at spelling for example.

Parents wouldn't expect someone to tell them that their kids' shoes were too small or what their favourite hobbies are so really they should take an interest in the work their kids do and check what the feedback teachers are giving the actual children before complaining that they themselves aren't being given feedback.

whendidyoulast Fri 03-Jan-14 20:41:50

Again, I'm coming at this from a secondary perspective, so books and homework would be regularly going home and back to school.

But I take your point that at primary it's different and then teachers would need to get in touch.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 03-Jan-14 22:33:25

Whendidyoulast - I understand your POV now that you have stated that you are a teacher, it's natural to be defensive when you wouldn't contact parents yourself (it's still unacceptable IMO).
I still think that just writing a note in a diary assumes that (a) the parents can read and comprehend your notes and (b) that the parents are aware that the child has a homework diary I would have hidden mine and told my mum we didn't have such things.

Do you work in a state school?
I have one child in primary private school and one child in secondary state school and they have fabulous teachers who would contact me within days if there was a problem. Although my primary aged child had been in state school previously and they were dire and would not have informed me if there was a problem.

whendidyoulast Sat 04-Jan-14 09:27:09

I also work in a independent school where there is a lot of parental contact and I would contact parents straight away if there was a problem BUT we have v small class sizes and usually very supportive parents.

If parents couldn't or couldn't be bothered to read or understand notes or contact the teacher to discuss them then I could also see how a teacher might wonder what the point of contacting them would be especially if they couldn't then offer any further support to the pupil concerned. I have worked in a state school where parents were often automatically hostile or indifferent to teachers.

I think there's a big difference between primary and secondary and I absolutely agree that there's no reason why a primary teacher shouldn't contact parents immediately. I can understand why it's more difficult for secondary teachers, however desirable.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 04-Jan-14 14:18:21

Oh I understand: you think that only parents who have good literacy levels themselves will be interested in knowing if their child is underperforming. Don't you think that that assumption is bit prejudiced?
Have you considered that some of the parents who don't have good literacy levels might be very keen for their children to do well at school because they don't want their children to be in the same situation as themselves as adults?

I think the idea that parents who choose independent education are more supportive is very presumptuous. My experience (having one in each sector) is that there isn't a great deal of difference. The private school parents might hire a tutor or ask the school to resolve the situation if they become aware of a significant problem. The state school parents might try to help the child themselves or might ask the school what they are going to do to rectify the problem. Both sets might not be able to do anything to help their child due to working long hours and having no spare time or money (even the private school ones might be financially stretched due to the fees). Whether a child is at private or state school all problems should be recognised, reported and acted upon to help the child reach his potential.
I'm so glad that my children have very good teachers who will contact me immediately if there are any issues. I would hate to think that my eldest son had issues going unrecognised or being left to fester just because he happens to be in a state school. Fortunately I do believe that the vast majority of teachers (state or private) are concerned with doing the best that they can for each child and are not going about making judgements of the parents levels of enthusiasm about education based on parental literacy levels or income.
Are you sure that teaching is the right role for you based on your judgemental attitude and what comes across as poor time management skills?

whendidyoulast Sat 04-Jan-14 15:09:36

That post is not fair Norude. I have said that personally I do have a great deal of contact with parents and think this should happen but I have said I can also understand why teacher might not feel able to do this for example, where parents are hostile or indifferent.

As for parents being supportive. In most state schools you will naturally get more of a range - from those who are very supportive to those who are entirely indifferent or hostile. In an independent school there will be less of a range - all the parents have already self-selected by choosing an independent school and being prepared to pay for it or going through the effort of supporting their child to get a bursary. That stands to reason.

I've taught extensively in both sectors by the way.

whendidyoulast Sat 04-Jan-14 15:15:08

Teaching is a very hard and complex job. It's very easy for other people to know how it should be done. I don't think there is any teacher, or any that are any good, who ever going home thinking I've done everything I could possibly have done for every one of my students.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 04-Jan-14 15:42:01

So you don't think its unfair and judgemental to write that state school parents are more hostile?
Or that parents who don't have sufficient literacy levels to comprehend notes in a homework diary are going to be less interested in their child's education?
From my perspective all of that is very judgemental no matter how you try to dress it up. I notice that you haven't mentioned that some parents who have chosen independent schools have done so because they don't want to top up their child's education and haven't got the time to provide support themselves due to working long hours to afford the fees.
Do you not think that there might be some hostility from parents paying private school fees as they don't expect to be told that their child is struggling or not making an effort or just not reaching their potential? After all those parents are paying for the school to do a job so it stands to reason that some of those parents might be very hostile if they feel their money is being wasted on substandard teaching.
You have said that you maintain good contact with parents and that is great, but what about the teachers that don't? I personally don't feel their behaviour can be excused. If you can manage it then why can't they.
They're are all kinds of parents in both sectors, you don't seem able to recognise that.
Whichever way you dress it up your posts come across as very judgmental.

whendidyoulast Sat 04-Jan-14 17:25:34

Norude, you seem to be making a good number of assumptions and judgments yourself.

'So you don't think its unfair and judgemental to write that state school parents are more hostile?'

That is NOT what I said at all.

'Or that parents who don't have sufficient literacy levels to comprehend notes in a homework diary are going to be less interested in their child's education?'

That isn't what I said either.

'If you can manage it then why can't they.'

I have explained at length why it might be difficult. For example, I know of a number of cases where teachers have arranged meetings with parents and the parents haven't turned up or cases where there is a court order against the parent visiting the school because of acts of violence.

'I notice that you haven't mentioned that some parents who have chosen independent schools have done so because they don't want to top up their child's education and haven't got the time to provide support themselves due to working long hours to afford the fees.'

There are lots of things I haven't mentioned but I agree with this and again, it MIGHT be a reason why some teachers are reluctant to contact parents.

'You have said that you maintain good contact with parents and that is great, but what about the teachers that don't?'

What about them? I have told you that I maintain good contact with parents so you need to pick your fights with someone else.

whendidyoulast Sat 04-Jan-14 17:26:25

'They're are all kinds of parents in both sectors, you don't seem able to recognise that.'

Not true either. Please don't put words in my mouth.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 04-Jan-14 18:00:26

I have made a lot of judgements and assumptions, but I'm not a teacher which is a role that requires a non judgemental attitude.
I will not make any excuses nor empathise with teachers who let non troublesome children amble along not reaching their potential. I will never think that it is okay to do that in any sector. Even without parental cooperation there is lots of things that teachers can do.

EvilTwins Sat 04-Jan-14 18:13:03

Norudeshit - I think you're being very unfair to whendidyoulast. I am also a teacher (better get that in straight away) and teach in a state secondary school. I teach 265 students each week, as well as having a tutor group. I see some students for only 1 hour each week.

At my school, we send home half termly reports for each student, plus a full written report once per year, hold 2 parents evenings for Yr 7, Yr 9, Yr 11 & 6th form and one for Yr 8 and Yr 10 each year. Our email addresses are available on the school website.

However, contacting parents is massively time consuming. If I need to contact the parents of students in my tutor group, then I will need a clear couple of hours to do so. And that's assuming they're at home or do a job in which is it practical to answer a phone. I am not going to do this in the evenings, any more than anyone would expect a doctor/solicitor to contact them "out of hours".

Having said that, I have emailed a parent this afternoon as her son is going to have surgery next week and I wanted to reassure her that I will get work organised and sent home for him.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 04-Jan-14 18:52:44

Does it take a couple of hours to contact one parent? I'm not talking about contacting the 30 parents of children from your tutor group, just the one child who isn't achieving as expected and needs action taking to help her achieve. Surely that doesn't take several hours? Presumably you wouldn't be identifying problems with all 30 children at once? Or do problems not get picked up due to their being so many children? If problems are not being recognised then the problems in schools are much worse than even I expected.

EvilTwins Sat 04-Jan-14 21:28:58

Not necessarily 30, but you're very naive if you think it's only ever one at a time. An example (though a nice one) - I needed to call 8 parents at the end of last term to let them know that their DC had completed their house point card (they get a card with 40 spaces on it - when they fill it, I call home and then they start a new card) That took about 1.5 hours. Finding numbers on the school system, sometimes trying more than one number, chatting with parents, logging the call on the system. Also, as a secondary teacher, actually having that time uninterrupted is rare.

Having a proper conversation with a parent about supporting a child who is coasting/ developing bad habits/ being badly behaved can take time if it's done properly. This is one of the reasons schools have regular parents evenings. But also why being able to put a note in the planner/ send an email is important. Of course, parents have to be willing to look for these, and not all are - some of the students in my tutor group NEVER have their planner signed, despite the fact that parents are supposed to do it weekly. Some parents are just not engaged with their DC's learning, and teachers can't be blamed for that.

Blueberrypots Sat 04-Jan-14 21:37:49

In fairness though I always forget to sign the planner even though I read it every day!!!

Norudeshitrequired Sat 04-Jan-14 22:11:23

Well some avid mumsnet users have done a lot to almost convince me that state education is as good as private education and that selective / independent schools are damaging to comprehensive schools. Those members have been very articulate and raised some very valid points about the benefits of state education and the fact that it can cater well for all abilities and personalities. But in one thread I have now realised that SOME teachers in state schools don't have the time to recognise problem areas in each child or inform their parents about those deficiencies or take steps towards getting appropriate help for those children. According to whendidyoulast the non troublesome non SN children often slip through the net. If teachers are witnessing this as part of the system then what does that tell us? I'm not saying that it wouldn't happen in the independent sector too, but I'd guess that it's much less likely due to the fear that parents will vote with their wallets and go elsewhere if expectations are not met.

EvilTwins Sat 04-Jan-14 22:20:14

Oh dear, norudeshit, you seem to have a vair hight opinion of yourself. I personally don't give a toss whether you think state schools are as good as independent. I think that the education received by the children I teach and by my own DCs is very good. Education is such a personal thing. I don't believe that non troublesome DC are allowed to slip through the net at state schools.

Skrifa Sat 04-Jan-14 22:25:57

DS1 goes to an excellent, superselective school, a bit of a distance from where we live. He is encouraged, all the time, and excels as a result.

The other schools for my other DC, not so much academically. Pastoral care is great, but then I know the schools they to to have a high number of LAC, a high amount of FSM (inc. my children) and SEN or SN (inc. DS2). For disadvantaged or disabled children, the school has helped us massively, far better than our experiences elsewhere, and from what other parents say, they agree. Academically, the schools have failed abysmally and they are one of the worst in the country for results, for my younger DSs primary. So some of it is definitely up to scratch for the school, others definitely aren't.

Norudeshitrequired Sat 04-Jan-14 22:55:57

I don't believe that non troublesome DC are allowed to slip through the net at state schools.

According to a teacher upthread they do due to the large class sizes.

And I'm not sure why you think I have a very high opinion of myself - I just think I have a very low opinion of SOME state schools and the people who teach in them. As I have said previously; I have a child in a state secondary school and it is a fantastic school with fantastic dedicated teachers. I have been referring to the schools mentioned by teachers on this thread and their statements about lack of time and children slipping through the net.

EvilTwins Sat 04-Jan-14 23:11:21

That was one poster, who teaches in an independent school hmm

Schools have too many measures in place to allow anyone to slip through the net. If students aren't making the correct amount of progress, it is picked up. This is regardless of whether classroom teachers have hours of free time to call parents about it.

At my school, we submit review grades 6x per year. If any KS4 student appears to be at risk of not making 4 levels of progress, it's picked up and interventions are put in place. I don't believe this is unusual.

Norudeshitrequired Sun 05-Jan-14 09:28:45

I thought she teaches in both state and independent and therefore had an inside knowledge of both. Maybe I misunderstood that.

Norudeshitrequired Sun 05-Jan-14 09:31:33

My gripe was with the fact that a teacher had stated that teachers don't always have time to do something about children who are not achieving as expected. Now you're saying that this doesn't happen at all. I was only outraged at something said by a teacher who I understood worked in both state and independent schools (part time in both I presumed, but perhaps I got that wrong).

EvilTwins Sun 05-Jan-14 09:40:41

I think she has worked in both, but currently teaches in independent.

Not having time to call parents about things does not mean that problems are not being addressed. As a classroom teacher, I keep a very close eye on my students and put interventions in place if necessary. This might be as simple as one-to-one sessions during my lessons or involve extra time after school, using the SEN dept to support written work or working with other depts to share strategies. I wouldn't necessarily contact home about these. It's highly unlikely that parents would be oblivious to the need - if they were, it would mean that they had ignored review grades and written reports and failed to attend parents evenings. If there was a particular behaviour issue, then I would want to contact home, but again, it might be that I get the form tutor/head of year to do so.

It's much more complex that some people think, particularly when one is dealing with over 200 students per week.

Norudeshitrequired Sun 05-Jan-14 09:51:22

That is what I would expect and hope would happen. I was quite shocked to see a teacher stating that the quiet non SN children slip through the net and teachers don't always have the time to ensure that measures are put into place to help non achieving children.
I do appreciate that calling parents constantly is not necessary and not necessarily helpful; but I would expect the school to do something internally to help children, which you have confirmed does happen.
What you are saying makes much more sense and is certainly what I have witnessed at my eldest sons secondary school.
Apologies if I came across as very rude yesterday. I think my own experiences and reasons for switching my youngest child to a new school, coupled with a teacher telling me that schools don't have time to help non troublesome struggling children got my blood boiling. I think the comparisons between state and indie parents was also very judgemental and unfair and not entirely true and isn't a reason to not attempt to maintain good links.

EvilTwins Sun 05-Jan-14 10:22:57

Totally agree with you.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now