Grammar Schools : the debate is about what happens NOW

(520 Posts)
TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 16:09:00

In the 20 years after WW2, when the baby boomers were kids, grammar schools did amazing things for social mobility.

But then, self preservation kicked back in
and since 1970, selective state schools have become progressively less inclusive
to the extent today where the (grammar school educated head of OFSTED) says

the death knell has been rung
as it has for DB pensions (another great Baby Boomer nest lining idea)

so lets bite the bullet and put equal resources into all schools and reduce the carbon footprint of the grammar school madness.

wigglybeezer Sun 15-Dec-13 16:10:53

Works in Scotland.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 16:12:40

what does?
are grammar school choices effective in the islands?

tallulah Sun 15-Dec-13 16:33:32

AS only a very few areas still have Grammar schools, plus these days all schools get similar resources I can't see why any debate is necessary.

A pressure group in Kent has been desperately trying to raise enough signatures to force a referendum for at least the last 15 years and just can't do it. If the parents in a Grammar area were unhappy with the status quo (and given that 75% of local parents will have a child not at grammar) then I can't see that there is a problem.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 16:45:19

all schools get similar resources I can't see why any debate is necessary.
would that that were true : the funding pre pupil in some parts of London is more than double that in the sticks
many politicians happen / choose to live in the pockets of selective education, so have no idea that the rest of the country survives without it.

LaVolcan Sun 15-Dec-13 16:52:57

I'm not sure that it was the grammar schools which did amazing things for social mobility: it was just as likely to be an expanding economy which gave people opportunities.

Thinking back to my own 60s girl's grammar school, there weren't many daughters of mill workers or farm labourers. Mostly they were daughters of the local doctors, dentists, bank managers, fairly senior local government officials, teachers, farmers; generally speaking people with white collar jobs.

I am surprised however, that Michael Wilshaw is saying this.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 16:59:52

post WW2 , the GS system opened thousands of doors which have been utterly slammed shut since.

lets admit that,
stop state funding of any segregated school
and get on with getting the best out of all kids
- even those with fuckwit parents.

trice Sun 15-Dec-13 17:06:59

OK, as a scientist I feel that policy decisions should be made according to the results of good and continuing research. I was under the impression that current research on schooling indicated that the most good to the greatest number of children came from a fully comprehensive system.

I think it also found that very able children did better in a selective system. So we need to decide if we prioritise the most gifted over the average majority of children.

Do we give pupil premium to deprived kids or to super talented kids? Does that not leave average kids at a disadvantage?

Give is a prat who wants all schools to be run like something out of Just William. With Ex military teachers flicking chalk at boys in caps learning the Kings of England by rote.

trice Sun 15-Dec-13 17:07:58

Gove I mean.

straggle Sun 15-Dec-13 17:27:03

It's topical because Gove has had to refuse permission for a new grammar school in Sevenoaks because the law does not allow new selective schools. Kent council claimed it was a satellite school (under the Academies Act grammars do not need permission to expand) but the fact that the so-called 'main sites' of both schools offering to expand were single sex and miles away and/or had different admissions requirements rather gave the game away.

What I can't understand is how Kent council managed to convince people it had any decision-making powers. An LA can't even set up a new school - it has to be an comprehensive academy - let alone a selective school or secondary moderns. And you don't get the former without three or four of the others.

LaVolcan Sun 15-Dec-13 17:53:24

post WW2 , the GS system opened thousands of doors which have been utterly slammed shut since.

Post WW2 the GSs opened some doors, and gave a lot of nice middle class children a free education when pre-war they would have paid for it.

Many of these doors remain open for children, in areas with good comprehensives. Good comprehensives do exist up and down the land although you would never believe it, if you relied on Gove and company.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 17:56:31

tallulah said "these days all schools get similar resources"

They all get similar resources from the public purse. But what about from parents? For instance, how many comprehensive schools have a suggested parental contribution of 520 a year?

The pupil premium goes some way to redressing the balance, but what about all those people in the middle, the working poor, who don't qualify for free school meals, but can't afford substantial parental contributions?

whereisshe Sun 15-Dec-13 18:05:55

stop state funding of any segregated school
So that would include all state schools that have a selection criterion based on religion as well, presumably?

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 18:15:51

funding from the government per pupil varies from over £7000 in central London to under £4000 in Wiltshire ...

too right : why should segregation on purported faith be allowed under the taxpayer.
You want god, go pay for it, same as in the USA

FastLoris Sun 15-Dec-13 18:22:47

Talkinpeace -

"all schools get similar resources I can't see why any debate is necessary".

would that that were true : the funding pre pupil in some parts of London is more than double that in the sticks

What on earth does that have to do with the issue of grammar schools? London has only a very small number of superselective GSs relative to its population size, and these take such a tiny proportion of each cohort of children that they make no real difference to the rest. Grammar schools are far more pervasive and important in certain areas of "the sticks" such as Kent and Lincolnshire.

Tallulah actually brought up a very good point: The OP suggested a very common fallacy as fact, in the idea that grammar schools are supposedly better resourced by the government than others. They aren't. In fact, with the pupil premium now, they are likely to get significantly less money than the non-grammars in their vicinity.

many politicians happen / choose to live in the pockets of selective education, so have no idea that the rest of the country survives without it.

Evidence that the geographical distribution of politicians' homes matches that of grammar schools? Or have you just made that up?

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 18:26:36

TalkingPeace said "funding from the government per pupil varies from over £7000 in central London to under £4000 in Wiltshire ..."

All schools get similar resources to other schools in their local areas.

Yes, schools in different areas have different funding, but that is a separate debate, not related to the Grammar school issue.

FastLoris Sun 15-Dec-13 18:27:44

skatingrink -

They all get similar resources from the public purse. But what about from parents? For instance, how many comprehensive schools have a suggested parental contribution of £520 a year?

Where do you get the idea that grammar schools routinely expect that much contribution? Mine does nothing of the sort. In fact I don't think they've asked us for anything.

And yes, I understand that there ARE comps in some wealthier areas that are helped out by significant parental contributions. But this is an entirely separate argument about the fact that parents with more money are going to spend more on their kids.

Mintyy Sun 15-Dec-13 18:30:35

They should be scrapped.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 18:31:28

I am the OP
I did not (and never have) suggested that sselective schools get more per pupil than other schools.

It is a basic fact that all London schools get more money per head than the rest of the country : a direct policy decision dating back to the 90's

Most politicians spend their week days in Central London : an area where selective education : private and state - is deemed "normal" by much of the population.

They have no concept of the much more relaxed, non selective education system that the rest of us have to work with.

whereisshe Sun 15-Dec-13 18:39:56

I'd rather start with banning state funding for religious schools, which is a far bigger problem than grammar schools IMO. At least grammar schools promote a high-achieving environment for smart kids (even if those kids are almost universally middle class). School selection based on religion does nothing for society as far as I can tell.

Mintyy Sun 15-Dec-13 18:51:04

Oh yes and faith schools should be scrapped too.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 18:51:27

FastLoris said "And yes, I understand that there ARE comps in some wealthier areas that are helped out by significant parental contributions. But this is an entirely separate argument about the fact that parents with more money are going to spend more on their kids"

All schools can encourage voluntary contributions, and the ones with the wealthier parents will raise greater contributions in that way. That's not the issue. The issue is that there isn't a level playing field between schools in the same area if some, like Grammars, are significantly more selective than others. The only way of ensuring similar funding between adjacent schools is for them all to have a similar (i.e comprehensive) intake.

WhomessweetWhomes Sun 15-Dec-13 19:02:32

Surely the main reason that grammar schools no longer help social mobility is that there are so few of them. Therefore the areas which have them are seen as very desirable and become very expensive to live in and are totally dominated by wealthy middle class families.
If everywhere still had grammar schools they would not just be the preserve of the wealthy middle classes.

NoComet Sun 15-Dec-13 19:07:00

The working class grammar school pupils of my grandparents generation went to university. Meet and married bright partners and had bright DCs.

In turn these, now MC, DC went to university meet intelligent partners and had bright DCs.

Now these bright DCs fill our local grammars and set one at our local comp.

Basically once girls could go to uni it became a bright people's dating club. This easy goes back 70 years from my DFs stories.

That's getting in for 3 generations of bright couples being able to meet and marry.

Outside areas with large immigrant populations, there is a real splitting of bright haves with degrees, their genetically and socially advantaged DCs and the rest.

LaVolcan Sun 15-Dec-13 19:10:03

If everywhere still had grammar schools they would not just be the preserve of the wealthy middle classes.

I am pretty sure they would be - they used to be before. I don't think there was ever any real evidence that they promoted social mobility, except for one or two bright working class students. I expect they would probably have bettered themselves anyway as young working adults despite the grammar school.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:11:59

state funded grammar schools were universal for such a short period of time, they are a bit crinolines or other anachronisms

Mintyy Sun 15-Dec-13 19:12:18

My dh went to grammar school 1975-1981 in rural Suffolk. He came from a working class family, his mum was 18 when she had him and she and his dad had to work picking potatoes in the evenings/weekends to be able to afford to buy the uniform.

But it is not the same now. There is no way they could have afforded the requisite tutoring.

LaVolcan Sun 15-Dec-13 19:15:38

Basically once girls could go to uni it became a bright people's dating club. This easy goes back 70 years from my DFs stories.

But few girls went to University in those days - even up to the 1970s. Mostly it was teacher training college, especially training for primary teaching, even for grammar school girls - a nice respectable career to follow until your real career of marriage started.

Cambridge had three women's colleges, Oxford had I think 5, compared with many more men's colleges.

soul2000 Sun 15-Dec-13 19:24:41

Talkinpeace. Its unlike you to be crediting grammar schools with having a benefit in improving chances, for children from lower social backgrounds. you are admitting that grammar schools were fundamental in improving the life chances of children born during the 2nd world war.

Where i disagree with you as you know, is that i still believe despite what Wilshaw has said, that grammar schools do still provide social mobility.
The problem is the mobility is provided for children from middle class or aspirational working classes. This is not a reason to destroy what little remains of what could still be ,if used correctly be a great equaliser for children with academic potential born into humble backgrounds. Grammar schools need to be built in areas where urban poverty is prevalent and be strictly targeted at such children who need the education and need to be kept apart
from particular influences to achieve their undoubted potential.

This is never going to happen, as we know. Michael Gove with his decision to knock back the Sevenoaks Satellite grammar , has effectively stopped any chance of any new grammar school ever being built in the uk.

Talkinpeace. When i first read you islands comment , i thought you were talking about the "PROVENCE". The Provence as you now never got round to abolishing grammar schools, probably because they had bigger "PROBLEMS".

SatinSandals Sun 15-Dec-13 19:25:11

I am so pleased that they have eventually found that people buy a place with tutors and that they don't work the way they were intended. Let's hope they all go soon. It is totally unfair that the people with money 'buy' a place and avoid school fees.

SatinSandals Sun 15-Dec-13 19:26:55

Those who don't have the ability to pass the test deserve the very best of education too!

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:33:21


Definitions of social mobility :
scholarship / bursary places given to children with no family history of private school
university attendance by children with no family history of such
academically selective school admission to kids with no family history of such

there are many, many thousands of people who progressed from the 11+ to Oxbridge and the pre RG in the 50's and 60's whose parents could not afford private school - those people have looked after their own kids, but pulled up the drawbridge behind themselves

therefore social mobility linked to schooling has ground to a shuddering halt

as a slightly sarky aside, I think that private school bursaries should only count for charity purposes if the child has no family history of any private school ....

thecatfromjapan Sun 15-Dec-13 19:36:52

TalkinPeace :"Most politicians spend their week days in ^Central London : an area where selective education : private and state - is deemed "normal" by much of the population.^"

There's a lot going on in some of your posts. It's kind of like a termite hive of assertions, posing as axioms.

I think you need to separate the issue of pupil premium and funding from grammar schools: they truly are two separate issues and require separate discussions.

I'm finding that there are many things that are confusing me but that this one is really bothering me.

You have collapsed the issue of MP second homes and education. I just am really confused about that. You do know that quite a lot of the non-London ones leave their families in the provinces, yes?

There is this major thing about central London that is totally bugging me: TalkinPeace, are you aware that there are NO grammar schools in central London? None. Not one.

There are grammar schools in various satellite areas, including Kingston, Kent, Eltham, and those Barnet ones; selective schools of various hues (mainly religious); and paying ones - where they select well-off people's children (and a couple of very poor children to keep the charity people happy).

The whole extra funding thing came into being because it was noticed that the vast majority of people in central London (and I will admit this is changing a bit) were very, very poor. The vast majority of folk in central London - and I include Tower Hamlets and Newham in this, though it is stretching the notion of central - are not in the grammar school rat race. They are totally, utterly out of it. Amazingly, a lot of very poor people are often the very last to be aware that the option of jumping through grammar school hoops exists.

I absolutely assure you that Central London is not an area where selective education - private and state - is deemed normal by much of the population.

You might get that impression from various media, but media tend to over-represent noise, not silence. Or rather, they have a tendency to silence conversations that fall outside their remit.

thecatfromjapan Sun 15-Dec-13 19:39:32

Also: I totally agree with the poster who suggests that grammar schools gave some middle class children a free education where they would have had to pay pre-war.

I think one of the arguments in favour of comprehensive schooling was that a lot of research had demonstrated that the supposedly neutral exams massively favoured the middle classes.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:45:05

where have I mentioned Pupil premium?
it has nothing to do with this thread
shows the different amounts paid by the Government to LEAs regardless of need ...

I absolutely assure you that Central London is not an area where selective education - private and state - is deemed normal by much of the population.
in boroughs like K&C, 45% of kids go to private school.
And the number of selective religions schools - which are speudo grammars (Orartory etc) is unlike anywhere else in the country

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:50:34

sorry, spelling mistake - trying to check the spreadsheets at the same time

yes, the superselectives are not located in Central London,
but their ccatchments magically cover it
tyhat and there is rather a surfeit of private schools in central london

where I grew up in Saith Ken, there were so many, I could not even name the state schools
but at least my uniform was less naff than Glendower !

SanityClause Sun 15-Dec-13 19:52:16

The biggest cost for a school is staff. So, of course London schools get more money, as otherwise teachers and other school staff wouldn't earn enough to be able to live.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:03:18

if the funding formula is to so with teacher costs - which have of couse been nationally negotiated,
why does Salford get more per head than Merton?
why does Wiltshire get £4592
but Reading on its border get £5297
why does Hampshire get £4647, but Portsmouth get £5041 ?

and remember that this does NOT include Pupil premium

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:06:23

So if the death knell has been rung for grammar schools why isn't it being rung for private and free schools oh and the schools parents buy places for their dc via property?All of which do far more damage re social mobility.

Sick of the grammar obsession when those bemoaning it in parliament have enjoyed a privileged education above and beyond anybody else and will make sure their kids get the same.

Until they do something re the above quite frankly I couldn't give a stuff what anybody thinks about a few grammar school places.

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:09:30

Also truly sick of London being held up as a model for us all to look at.Aside from the fact London kids get a huge amount more on them and probably get the best re teacher quality London bares no relation to the rest of the country.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:13:04

free schools are an invention of the idiot Gove and will soon be gone.

Private schools are NOT funded by the taxpayer : in fact all those who can afford them are kindly subsidising the rest of us by not using their free places.

Purchasing places/houses - there is no way round that one anywhere in the world


it would help masively if kids went to as local a school as possible, with all of the kids from their area and all (state) schools could hire teachers on the basis of having top sets.

round here I too could not give a stuff about grammars, because we do not have them
and the catholic schools are full of sikhs and muslims
but my couny is unusual
and I do not think that there should be a postcode lottery on access to decent schools
(and I live in the catchment of an utterly crap one BTW)

Metebelis3 Sun 15-Dec-13 20:17:14

I haven't got a problem with all schools getting more resources. But non grammar schools already get more resources in monetary terms than grammar schools. And in many cases have better facilities. There are clear problems in Kent and probably bucks. I don't think the superselectives in other counties are relevant. Posh schools should be tackled before they are.

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:19:09

Catchment is a far,far bigger problem and bar a lottery system which takes away all choice is something I can't see being sorted.

Had to laugh how Wilshaw praised pushy parents and said they pushed up standards. Sooooo pushy parents are ok when it suits.You seriously can't win.

I notice the rich who just buy places by property or a private education are not criticised,it's just the sharp elbowed lower an upper m/CSS.Well can't we advocate social mobility for them?Ie do something re private education which screws us all.

About time they stopped having charity status for a start.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 20:22:06

Retropear said: "So if the death knell has been rung for grammar schools why isn't it being rung for private ..."

The way to reduce the uptake of private school places is to improve the quality of state schools so that they can compete. You don't need grammar/faith selection for that, just better-run comprehensives.

...and free schools...
Apart from the religious ones (a separate issue with its own debate), they're not selective, so I'm not sure what the relevant issue is. In my view the ones that are successful in raising the standards bar for areas where maintained schools have traditionally performed badly will provide some much needed competition for the private sector, as well as for the state sector.

oh and the schools parents buy places for their dc via property?
That's not the individual schools' fault. That's the fault of variation in standards between schools, and the concentration of social housing in some areas rather than others. It does need to be tackled, but there are ways of doing that. If social housing was more evenly distributed, and councils made a point of building new affordable homes near the most popular schools, the effect could be reduced. It would also have an impact if more good/outstanding schools prioritised entry to children on free school meals ... that is something that was introduced as an option in the most recent admissions policy.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:26:24

I live in a "bad catchment" and easily got both my kids into a school four miles away that has a catchment ten miles across

seriously, the "catchment" problem is a London one : outside london over 90% of parents get their first choice of schools

and if LEAS were again allowed to open schools where they were needed (rather than where Toby Young fancies opening one)
there would no longer be black hole streets in London

seriously, chillax about the catchments
worry more about the kids driving daft distances past lots of other schools to get to a "superselective" etc

Grammars are an anachronism.
They should be forced to go fee paying or non selective
and London's admissions should ALL be on the same basis (phr47bridge for admissions minister)

Metebelis3 Sun 15-Dec-13 20:30:02

skating All schools get similar resources to other schools in their local areas.

Nope, GS funding is capped. My DDs SSGS gets less finding per head than DSs comp. in one of the lowest funded counties in the country (although we do get £8 per head more than Wiltshire - but the GS pupils get less per head than those in Wiltshire)

It is a complete red herring to pretend the absence of fair funding is not germane to the debate. It is the key to the debate. But the government and OFSTED would like to keep that dirty little secret, well, as secret as possible, hence they bring up diversions. There are very few GSs in the country. Abolishing them may improve the lot of a few kids in Kent and bucks but that's basically it. Changing the funding formula and funding schools adequately would improve things for everyone. But it would cost. So they will not do it.

straggle Sun 15-Dec-13 20:37:11

Buying property in a middle class or expensive area is no guarantee of a 'good' school. Suffolk is relatively wealthy but the standard is low. The richer the area, the more tribal the instinct to go private. Secondary intakes can be quite wide - even schools in middle class areas have 15-20% on FSM.

Disagree that free schools will 'raise the bar' even if they prove to be popular/'good'. Competition and market forces have never worked - the middle classes have always known which schools are undersubscribed and avoid them, going private if they find no alternative.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 20:37:23

Talkinpeace said: "Private schools ... all those who can afford them are kindly subsidising the rest of us by not using their free places."

Technically true, but by opting out of the state system they also absolve themselves of any responsibility to help it improve. Imagine if all those wealthy, driven, high achieving parents were motivated to be parent governors at local comprehensives, or even just filled in their annual school survey, or used a portion of what they might save in private school fees to pay voluntary financial contributions? Imagine if the prime minister had no choice but to send his kids to the local comp ... I think it would rapidly improve, don't you?

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:37:46

Nah won't be chilaxing over catchment thanks as it is widely known to be a huge problem,a far bigger problem(as illustrated by Sutton and indeed Wilshaw) and waiting until all schools are Outstanding,social housing attained deprives many of a decent education for years.In many naice areas building is restricted and large numbers of social housing unlikely thus keeping the status quo.

Grammars grab headlines and are a subject the Daily Wail loves to push but everybody knows what the bigger problem is.The fact is many more benefit from selection through housing so they like to excuse it but it's just the same if not worse.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:52:23

please keep private schools out of this
simple reason
they will never EVER be abolished
counrie that have done are an exceellent source of overseas earnings for the UKs most expensive schools ...

your experience of catchments and mine is clearly very different
outside the M25 many of them are HUGE
they include posh houses, ex council estates, middling houses, shops, the whole shebang
and because of demographic change, at any time over 15% of kids come from out of catchment
have a look on this site to see how catchments should work ...
even if the buses are a nightmare !

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:53:29

So why are those in the know saying catchments are a serious problem?

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 20:55:07

skating I personally think those wealthy driven high achieving parents" won't become governors, one of the reasons people pay huge sums of money in school fees is because they don't won't to be that involved.
Talkin re only offering bursaries to the children of parents who haven't been privately educated. I personally don't see why you should penalise a child because of his parents. Bursaries are means tested if you qualify for one it means that your parents don't earn sufficient income and have insufficient assets to pay the fees, you may have been privately educated but this is not a guarantee of financial success in later life. The two criteria should be; will this child benefit from the education offered and is their parents income low enough and assets insufficient enough to be in receipt of financial assistance. Bursaries are open to anyone, all can apply for one regardless of background and in the case of boarding schools their location.

teacherwith2kids Sun 15-Dec-13 20:57:18

Locally, the GS may not get extra government funding - but it DOES have significant endowment funding (which the comprehensives don't have) and very significant donations from alumni (again not normally a feature of comprehensive / secondary modern schools).

It's an upward spiral - the GS select the most able children. Some of these go on to have very well-paid jobs, and some of these will feel grateful to their former school, so will donate some of their money to it. Thus the facilities and funding situation of the GS spiral up - regardless of government funding - while those of other schools remain in line with government funding.

Abolishing GS, however worthy an aim., will not release that money into the comprehensive system - it will simply not go into education at all.

teacherwith2kids Sun 15-Dec-13 21:00:43

Within densely populated areas, catchments are an issue. Outside them, choice is an issue (the next nearest school may simply be too far or toio impractical to get to). In another area, GS may exacerbate social divide. In yet another, private schools may be the main issue. And in yet othersm however brilliant the school, the nature of the socioeconomics of the area (think seaside towns / ex industrial areas) means that they are fighting an uphill battle against entrenched apathy towards education.

thecatfromjapan Sun 15-Dec-13 21:04:17

TalkinPeace: Why are you eliding grammar schools with selective schools? And working with a fairly iconoclastic definition of "selective", too? Your thread title suggests you want to talk about grammar schools, yet you're all over the place. If 45% of K and C parents send their kids private, by definition they are not sending them to grammar schools.

Kensington and Chelsea is is and is not representative of London. There are so many well-off people there. On the other hand, there is a great deal of deprivation, or there used to be, before the HB changes. It was a popular choice for hostels.

Honestly, the reason so much money was poured into London schools was because of the issues of deprivation impacting on children's education. A significant number of children in London do not speak English as a first language, speak English very little, or do not speak English at all. I know that this arises outside of London, but it arises a lot in some areas of London.

I really find it annoying that there is this idea that the majority of Londoners are very rich, toying idly with the decision to send their child to a private school or a grammar. A significant number of Londoners do not speak English in their home, and are light years away from being in any such privileged position. Many are in unstable housing and getting the children to school on the right day, at the right time, with adequate clothing and food is a struggle.

It is awful that media representations of London have silenced them and removed them from the picture of what London is and Londoners are, please don't repeat that injustice on mn.

Metebelis3 Sun 15-Dec-13 21:06:18

Sorry, teacher, our SSGS has no endowment and no alumni donations. It just gets almost the lowest finding per head in the entire country.

thecatfromjapan Sun 15-Dec-13 21:06:56

Honestly. The idea that the "majority" of Londoners are sitting around, braying about the supposed death knell or clarion call of a particular type of school system is risible.

Is that honestly what people outside of London think?? Or is it just a mumsnet fantasy?

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 21:09:28

I guess at least if state funding for segregated schools ceased
then the "other" schools might be able to recruit good teachers to go with their more mixed intake
there will always be differences between schools, but lets at least put the tutoring industry out of business

my point about bursaries is that I have a hunch
unsubstantiated but I'll be delighted to be proved wrong
that many, many bursaries and scholarships at private schools go to the children and grandchildren of alumni who have arranged their finances to be eligible
(remember than many people are not on 'salaries')
or who know how to play the rules and systems with their own former tutors.
Charity status should be about outreach (as per the current guidelines)
I see little or no evidence of it.

but back to the point
the state should not be paying for ANY sort of segregated schools.
End of.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 21:13:38

Talkinpeace said "please keep private schools out of this ... simple reason... they will never EVER be abolished"

They don't need to be abolished. They just need better competition from the state sector to reduce their influence. Some people will always use the private sector. Many others will only use the private sector if their local state school isn't up to scratch. That includes many politicians, who want to be seen to be mucking in with the rest of us if they can do it without sacrificing their DCs education.

There are too many LAs happy to let their state schools under-perform, claiming they don't need more places because their existing schools are not full, when actually what is happening is that anyone who can scrape together enough money is fleeing to the private sector, saving the LA money in the process. That's one factor in favour free schools ... when they're successful (and many will be, despite some high profile failures) they bring people back from the private sector in areas where local authorities are lagging behind parents in their aspirations for their children.

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 21:13:59

But they are funding hoards of non grammar segregated schools.

timidviper Sun 15-Dec-13 21:17:56

I passed my 11+ in 1971 and went to the local grammar school. Both my parents left school at 14 and nobody in my family had even stayed to the end of school before; they all had to leave and work. I got O levels, then A levels, went to university and then on to professional qualifications.

By the time my brother came to school it had become comprehensive but he did well and also went on to university.
Sadly the standards did fall once the school became comprehensive and by the time my youngest brother came through my parents chose for him to go to a different school

It may not be a popular view but, if grammar schools had existed, I would have sent my children to them. I don't believe the comprehensive system has improved opportunities or mobility

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 21:19:17

LAs are not allowed to open new schools.
They can add nw place sto existing schools, but they cannot open a new school to replace one that was sold off by Gordon Brown

I'd be interested to know which free schools have waiting lists
or are being opened where there is actual need

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 21:20:38

Talkin I'm sorry to shatter your illusion but all those I know or have known on bursaries to a variety of pretty smart boarding preps and senior schools are not old alumni or families who know how to minimise their substantial assets on paper. Although I do accept that most are MC professionals often public sector workers. I'm unsure as to whether the predominance of MC parents on bursaries is because they know they exist and how to get one, are not for the want of a better phrase "in awe" of a big name boarding school or the school deliberately choose nice MC parents who won't scare the horses.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 21:25:22

if that is the case I'd be delighted to see the schools shout it from the rooftops because the CC and the NAO are on their case on the matter

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 21:26:02

"I'd be interested to know which free schools have waiting lists or are being opened where there is actual need"

Talkinpeace, there are lots. One example of a free school that is oversubscribed is Toby Young's West London Free School (Disclaimer: I'm not a fan, it's just a valid example). And there are no areas of London that don't need more school places. The population is ballooning, and the only schools that are undersubscribed are undersubscribed because they are underperforming.

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 21:26:58

Skatng I agree with you state ed needs to be universally better so that it can compete with independent ed. then I suspect many MC parents will not pay but send their DC's to state schools instead. You are also correct that there will always be those who will pay come what may regardless (we would do this for DS2) because they like what it is and believe the whole package can never be available in the state sector. At the end of the day leave these parents alone it's their money let them spend it how they like.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 21:30:02

"LAs are not allowed to open new schools"

Yes, I know. That's because in far too many areas the LAs haven't been doing a good job of running the ones they have opened in the past. I agree with you that its a shame that all the areas that were doing well have to suffer the consequences of the policy too, but I can sort of see the logic behind it.

teacherwith2kids Sun 15-Dec-13 21:30:18

Talkin, tbh, I'm not certain that the 'mixed' schools would always benefit from the 'grammar' teachers ... those used only to teaching a narrow band of abilities, relying on able and compliant pupils with parents who are able to offer significant help with homework (and are accustomed to paying for tutoring should a child 'fall behind'), and in schools which have a very high tolerance of 'formally didactic' teaching styles, may not always be suited to teaching elsewhere....

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 21:32:20

Obviously Talkin I can only comment on a fairly small group of schools but I know friends/acquaintances with DS's on bursaries at schools including Win Coll SPS Eton Ampleforth Marlborough and a few well know preps none are old alumni interestingly at least three are state educated themselves but all are monumentally middle class.

stillenacht Sun 15-Dec-13 21:36:35

I teach in a grammar. My departmental budget was higher in a high school 15 years ago than it is now for a very similar number of pupils. Parental contributions are similar to that requested by my sons special school.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 21:37:02

other than West London, which Free Schools have been opened in London ( where we all agree the need is greatest ) ?
because lots of Free schools are part empty

it would be MUCH simpler if LEAs were required to provide places where they were needed - as they were before Broon and Bliar decided to sell off lots of former school sites for housing, rather than anticipating the demographic changes which are entirely cyclical

Metebelis3 Sun 15-Dec-13 21:43:24

Demographic changes are far from entirely cyclical.

Stille - our GS asks for no parental contributions at all (lots of raffles etc but no set regular parental contribution)

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 21:46:06

Frankly Talkin I wouldn't waste my energies criticising the bursary policies of independent schools in the vast majority of cases they are attached to scholarships only a handful of schools offer large bursaries to non scholars.
If I was you I would channel my energies into criticising and if possible improving the unimaginative over regulated one size fits all education offered by the state be it grammar or comprehensive.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 21:52:33

on that we can agree.

I find it shocking how half arsed state schools are in other parts of the country (DH works in almost every county so he gets to compare)
but also inspired by how excellent some schools are even with "challenging" pupils.

Its a shame that the Idiot Gove wants to dismantle networks between schools (which good LEA attached inspectors gave)
and clusters of feeder and secondary schools should work together to share best practice
that antithesis of free schools, academies or selective schools

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 21:52:53

Talkin, you're daft if you think 2 bad free schools is the deathnell of all free schools. Many are doing well, and only time will tell what their legacy will be.

According to the NAO report, more than a third of the free schools that have opened so far have opened in London.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 21:55:06

but are they where there is a NEED?
or where parents and churches fancy opening them?

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 21:59:38

And, the "More than half of new free schools opened with spare places" story is a red herring. Some of those schools have attracted significant numbers of in-year transfers, and have been full in their second year ... the Guardian conveniently doesn't cover their Year 2 figures.

If they're not full in their first year it's because they're new, and often in temporary accommodation. People want them to be a bit more established before they commit. That would be the same for a maintained school in temporary buildings. But if they deliver what they promise then the schools will fill.

RationalThought Sun 15-Dec-13 22:03:26

Living in Medway and having children that have attended both grammar and secondary schools, I have seen both sides of the equation.

Yes, most grammar schools achieve excellent results, but it would be amazing if this wasn't the case. They cream off the most able children, together with those that have parents rich / committed enough to employ private tutors. The result is that a small number of children from disadvantaged backgrounds get better life chances, but the majority that attend high schools do much worse than the national average.

The high schools in Medway, particularly the boys schools, have disgraceful results. I can't find any logical justification for the system that operates in Medway; other than to serve the interest of the children of the vocal minority at the expense of thousands of failed children.

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 22:04:37

Can someone explain to me what is so special about a free school (genuine question) we dont have any in my area instead we have "outstanding academies" with very impressive results and spaces so I'm assuming there is considered to be no need for them. But then we are a largely rural MC affluent population.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 22:07:32

A free school is an all new academy, that opens in a new site with no baggage
it can be started by any group - most are parents or churches
they do not have to prove shortage of places / need
unlike every other type of school
its not clear what checks there have been on those allowed to set them up
or what will happen in the long term when the founders' children leave

stillenacht Sun 15-Dec-13 22:08:05

I think its about £30 a year, although I am not a parent of a child there so not 100% sure what the school asks as a voluntary contribution.... Still, much better than the 4k I pay a term for DS1s private school fees as I could not send him to the local high school (no way!)

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 22:10:42

but are they where there is a NEED? or where parents and churches fancy opening them?
Yes, because demonstration of need is part of the application process. However, the definition of need used goes beyond "basic need" for more places and includes the need to address local performance issues.

There also needs to be demand so they will only be created where parents and other groups are motivated to open them.

In areas where no groups have come forward, LAs can use clause 6A of the Education Act to invite proposals. If nobody comes forward, then they can create a maintained school by the traditional route.

According to the NAO report, "The Department has received no applications to open primary Free Schools in half of all districts with high or severe forecast need (paragraphs 1.6, 1.7)"

OddSins Sun 15-Dec-13 22:12:54

Disagree entirely with the OP premise.

Michael Wilshaws criticism is based on the middle-class filling up grammar schools. By middle-class, presumably he means people who work hard, succeed, take some risks, have a rich cultural life, value education and raise their children's expectations. This is not a class issue it is an issue of rewarding and supporting children who will go on to be the wealth-creators, professionals and leaders of our country.

One size comprehensives do not fit all and probably fit no one.

An argument of moving back to a failed comprehensive system is quite bizarre; rather we should be looking to diversify secondary school provision and specialisation. That may be academic, technical, language, sporting, musical etc etc. Give children a greater choice not a lesser one.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Sun 15-Dec-13 22:14:27

UK is now ranked about 25th/26th in international league tables in education. I find it astonishing that no one is talking about the need to improve education all round.

Selection by postcode is very real - my labour friends in London who were so sneery about private schools and grammars would be fighting to get into expensive homes in "better catchments" when their kids were 3/4. The hypocrisy is incredible.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 22:20:49

Can someone explain to me what is so special about a free school

happygardening, there doesn't need to be anything special about them. They can be set up exactly like any other academy, and use LA services. They can also form links with other local schools, in exactly the same way as a traditional maintained comprehensive.

There are a small number of badly managed free schools, and they're giving the rest a bad name in some people's eyes. (There are also a small number of badly managed private schools, and badly managed maintained schools, but people tend to look at individual schools when making judgements. The same will be true of free schools once they are less "new".)

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 22:24:44

What is a "need"? (Just curious) are they primarily in cities where there is a bigger and broader population?

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 22:26:58

Sorry skating just found your link.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 22:36:19

happygardening, the definition of need is here, and relates to sufficiency or quality of local provision.

Talkin, I'm curious to know what you think of the Archer Academy Free School, which is so embedded in its LA that the Asst Director of Education has become its founding headteacher. Any objections to that one?

And how about this one, or this one, where the LA is actually part of the proposing trusts.

And what about the specialist free schools being set up by universities, like this one?

And even the Guardian sings the praises of this bilingual school in Brighton.

You consistently highlight the tiny number of high profile failures, but never seem to acknowledge that there are good examples of free schools.

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 22:37:07

Many seem hostile to free schools why is this? Are they free to teach what they like, like independent schools can if they wish to (although of course most don't in reality).

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 22:39:10

Thanks skating I've read it; interesting and I see why we don't have any in my neck of the woods.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 22:54:34

Many seem hostile to free schools why is this?

Many are hostile for political reasons (they're a Tory construct). Others are hostile because they're suspicious of things that are new or different. The press has swayed things in their usual political directions. However, many of the open free schools are very popular with parents. The NAO report acknowledges that.

The free school programme was set up in haste, and probably made some errors along the way, which have been exploited by opponents. The Lib Dems officially support them but think they have too many freedoms and should follow the national curriculum (many do anyway) and employ only qualified teachers (most do anyway). Labour has said they will continue the concept of "Parent Proposed Academies" if they win power, but would make some reductions to their current freedoms.

Are they free to teach what they like
No. Their curriculum has to be broad an balanced. They don't (currently) have to follow the national curriculum though. That might change in future. There are also rules against teaching extremist views, such as creationism.

teacherwith2kids Sun 15-Dec-13 22:55:01


I think the issue with free schools is that - at present - they seem to divert a large amount of money to create a relatively small number of places, and those places aren't always in a location, or at a quality, that seem - again at present - to justify that amount of money IYSWIM?

If you are sitting in an area with a very large shortfall of places, or in a school in dire need of refurbishment, and see a free school receiving lots of money, it is sometimes difficult not to wonder whether that money is being spent where there is the MOST need IYSWIM? It's not that there is NO need for free schools, just that they are not always where the need is greatest... and if they were less critical to the government's poilitical ideology, perhaps a slightly greater amount of central planning might have matched expenditure to urgency of need a little more accurately.

It's the perception that there is NO money for other things that might meake a greater contribution to educational improvement, but LOTS of money for free schools - and I acknowledge that this is as much perception as reality - that causes the resentment in this 'setting up' phase. Once the free schools are up and running, full and working under a similar funding scheme to all other established schools, then the issue may well go away.

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 23:02:16

Thank you all for taking the time to enlighten me. Now when I hear about free schools on the radio I will feel better informed. I'd sort of got it in my head they were mainly religious/Steiner schools set up to cater for a small minority who wanted something very different from education.

LaVolcan Sun 15-Dec-13 23:04:23

Its a shame that the Idiot Gove wants to dismantle networks between schools (which good LEA attached inspectors gave)

It angers me that Gove wants to do this, and generally seems to want to abolish LEAs. Why not instead look to see what the good LEAS are doing and find a way for the bad ones to learn from them?

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 23:13:23

I'd sort of got it in my head they were mainly religious/Steiner schools set up to cater for a small minority who wanted something very different from education.

There are many like that. The problem is that the legislation has been used by well organised groups to create schools. Religions are nothing if not organised! The more parents and teachers who get together to create "normal" free schools the better in my view, because it will swing the balance away from the niche interest groups. In many cases they might find that their LAs will support them to create something very similar to a traditional community school, if that's what is wanted by local people.

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 23:23:08

Traditional community school?
I feel a little out of touch with all these terms under my stone.

MillyMollyMama Sun 15-Dec-13 23:24:51

I add this comment on the free school/grammar school debate.

In a small town in rural Buckinghamshire called Winslow, the Freemantle Free School has opened. It is a free school for 11-18 year olds with no selection. It has about 120 pupils with obviously, as yet, no GCSE results or track record. Buckinghamshire operates a County wide 11+ Selection system. The Freemantle School is sponsored by the very wealthy family of Betsy Duncan Smith. If you live in the newly formed catchment area for the Freemantle School, Bucks CC has informed parents of children who are selected for the Royal Latin Grammar School (6 miles away) that they will no longer receive free transport to that prestigious Grammar School which is one if the oldest in the country. Parents will have to pay. This surely ensures even fewer ordinary children will go to the school, even if they are selected to do so. A few people may have wanted the Freemantle School as the secondary modern school in Buckingham is not so good but no parent of a Grammar school child would have preferred it to The Royal Latin School unless they were stark raving mad! Winslow now, apparently has a comprehensive school in a Local Authority with not a single comprehensive.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 23:26:19

Traditional community school?
By which I mean a (high performing) comprehensive school, open to everyone in its community, and part of its local community, working in partnership with local primary schools and other local secondary schools, with local people on its governing body.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 23:28:17

... and obviously working in partnership with its LA too.

happygardening Sun 15-Dec-13 23:50:36

Ah skating I understand our local schools are traditional community schools.

lottysmum Mon 16-Dec-13 10:28:03

We have one of the most prominent Free School's in the country (HT spoke at the Tory conference). It's in its second year taking in 100 pupils per year and will cater 11-16 so will be a nice size school.

In our borough it created a need because we were in a 3 tier system which was due to change to two tier but due to lack of government funds this was all shelved having the Free School opened the door for parents to consider moving their child out of the three tier system at 11.

We looked at the Free School but considered the risk too high and like someone else has stated they are using premises that are not ideally suited - the site in our town is just off the ring road - no parking - no sports field and I perceived it to be a risk in terms of safety too.

I do think the Grammar schools need to be closed but replaced with new schools with lots of facilities to suit a widened curriculum - there is a need to get children turned on to education so its cool to learn be it Academic or Vocational.... I also think this will happen sooner than expected given that the economy is now growing and there is a keen business/educational link now ....

WooWooOwl Mon 16-Dec-13 11:19:56

What annoys me about this debate, and the way this article is written, is that it assumes that we should all think that social mobility is the one single most important factor when it comes to education.

I think that's wrong, and it don't believe that everything that taxpayers fund has to be done mainly for the benefit of the poorest in society. All children are equally important in my mind, whether they are born to a duchess or a single, out of work mum on a council estate. They are all equally deserving of consideration from their government.

There is no disputing that grammar schools get good results and they are working well for the children that attend them, so why are they seen as the problem? The problem with selective education lies with other schools, which if improved, would solve the problem.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 11:38:00

I agree woowoo.

I can't see how closing schools that are doing well is 'fair'.

skatingRink Mon 16-Dec-13 12:03:01

it assumes that we should all think that social mobility is the one single most important factor when it comes to education.

I agree that sometimes the concept of "social mobility" is overstated. I was thinking that listening to a Radio 4 Today Programme item about the Ofsted annual review last week. A reporter was in a coastal town, highlighted as having poorly performing schools, and in trying to make the point that local aspirations were low interviewed a local youth with the question "what do you want to do when you leave school?". He answered "Maybe an engineer, or a bricklayer", to which the reporter said "Have you never thought about going to university?". He said it was too expensive. I felt like screaming at the reporter "No! We need more bricklayers and engineers! Please don't give him the impression those are undervalued aspirations! Or at least recognise that starting an apprenticeship as an engineer might well lead him to university later, and is something he could do via a earn-as-you-learn route" The lad was working class and happy to stay in his home town, close to where his family are. Nothing wrong with that.

However, I think grammar schools should go, simply because they're an anachronism. The few that are left managed to survive the original cull, and have protected status, but the ones I have visibility of do cause complications for admissions, and issues for equity in their local areas. Time to move on I think, but it will be a brave Education Secretary that tackles them.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 13:00:01

The reason that "social mobility" is important is that it allows every child to achieve their potential - be that an ex Etonian having the skills to become a plumber or an ex care kid getting the grades to become a lawyer.

Its also why I'm against any form of state funded Segregated schooling - because then children are forced into what their parents want at age 11 rather than what THEY want at age 18.

How many 4 year olds really make an informed choice about religion?
How many 11 year olds really know whether they want to be bankers or trapeze artists?

Good schools that offer all options to all children allow them to choose.
And kids who go into things with their eyes open are more likely to succeed in life.

zooweemumma Mon 16-Dec-13 13:10:18

I think parents should be able to access socially and academically selective education - but if that's what they want they should pay for it. In no way should it be state funded.

zooweemumma Mon 16-Dec-13 13:16:05

Woo woo, grammar schools are a problem because the small percentage of children that do go, do well yes. But the majority, who then have to go to the secondary modern, are not doing so well. If the state is funding, they have a duty to ensure that money helps as many children as possible to receive a good education. Not the small middle class affluent minority.

If you want social selection then pay for it.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 13:19:39

Why aren't the secondary moderns doing well? Shouldn't we look at closing them down?

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 13:24:00

Why aren't the secondary moderns doing well? Shouldn't we look at closing them down?
they do badly because all their bright kids are at a different school
and if they were closed down, what would the 70% of kids in Kent who attend them do? roam the streets?

Metebelis3 Mon 16-Dec-13 13:27:02

Talkin One could equally say that your catchment school is doing badly because it's 'bright kids' (including your kids) are at a different sharp elbowed school. If the Kent secondary moderns can be ceded 'ownership' of kids who go to local grammars then I think we can cede ownership of your kids to the local school you made sure they wouldn't have to attend, don't you? smile

bigbrick Mon 16-Dec-13 13:28:01

Education has to involve everyone & the selective system doesn't do this as most kids don't get a chance to go to these schools. I go with local schools that all can go to and be taught together

DoesntLeftoverTurkeySoupDragOn Mon 16-Dec-13 13:28:23

I do not believe that education is a "one size fits all" thing. The brightest children should have access to academically selective education and those whose talent lie in a more vocational direction should have access to that sort of education.

I don't think academically selective education is actually the problem but a lack of appropriate vocational education for those who are not academically bright (eg maths should be about budgeting and practical applications rather than calculus and trigonometry). There needs to be a point where children are guided to the sort of education that suits them.

eg my brother did not achieve well at school at all but excelled at a further education college doing mechanical engineering. At least two years of wasted education forcing him to do GCSEs.

DoesntLeftoverTurkeySoupDragOn Mon 16-Dec-13 13:29:06

they do badly because all their bright kids are at a different school

Like yours?

Basketofchocolate Mon 16-Dec-13 13:35:47

I went to a state grammar school.
It was not middle class.
At all.
Intelligence is not based on class.

However, these days, I hear from other parents that the only kids getting into local state grammars are those who have been tutored for the 11+. Tutors cost money. Lots of parents with bright kids that could do well at a grammar don't because their parents cannot afford the tuition to compete.

The 13+ system was ideal - not one exam but based on work over two years combined with some tests. No pressure on the kids at all and no need for tuition. All the while parents can pay the way into grammars, it doesn't work.

skatingRink Mon 16-Dec-13 13:37:43

I do not believe that education is a "one size fits all" thing. The brightest children should have access to academic ally selective education and those whose talent lie in a more vocational direction should have access to that sort of education.

Turkey, I agree with you, with just that one small but significant modification. You see an effective comprehensive school will cater for both types of children and everyone in-between. That is the definition of "comprehensive". The children don't need to be separated into different schools depending on their aspirations. If they're educated together then they can move between different options more easily.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 13:38:01

So our problem as a nation - I think being 25th down on the education league tables IS a big problem - is due to the existence of a handful of grammar schools?

And the reason Secondary moderns struggle is because 10-15% of the area's pupils go to a different school?

I don't think so.

Politicians are looking for an easy target. Getting rid of grammar schools is ridiculous as long as you have selection by postcode. I would never trust those hypocritical bastards.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 13:40:02

metebilis soupdragon

my local school is indeed effectively a secondary modern
that was as a result of it being handed to an Academy chain that was not supported by ANY of the then parents
therefore every single parent who cared (sporty, academic, arty, non religious) chose to send our kids elsewhere
the school went from 1700 pupils to 400 in five years - but still got its £16m building
if the sponsor changed, many people would consider sending their kids there - but I'd rather not have Evangelicals running what should be a community school.

brightest children should have access to academically selective education and those whose talent lie in a more vocational direction should have access to that sort of education.
at what stage do you split them?
and what about ones who are great at Maths and rubbish at English - so will not naturally pass an "academic" test
and what about artists, musicians, sports people
should they get their own schools too
what about those who are good at two things?

skatingRink Mon 16-Dec-13 13:41:47

Correction: I don't agree with the phrase "The brightest children ..". I would say the "academically inclined children". I think we need more bright electricians, plumbers, engineers, bricklayers etc.

The best electrician I ever had (because he stuck with the problem until it was solved, and talked me through his thought processes, and didn't overcharge me) went to Eton.

zooweemumma Mon 16-Dec-13 13:43:02

I don't think funding can stretch to such complicated variants. Good comprehensives everywhere and indies for those who want to pay. Seems fair.

missinglalaland Mon 16-Dec-13 14:34:22

I am confused.

How would closing grammars help all children? I keep reading in this thread and elsewhere that comps would be better, if only all the "bright" children were there instead of at the grammars. Unless being in the "gilded presence" of these academically elite children actually pulls up all the "average" and "below average children," then what is the point?

How is school/life/academics going to be any better for the vast majority of "Average Joes" just by walking through the halls with kids who are more academically talented than they are? Sure, it will make the comps statistics look better, but the overall results across the population will be no different. So really just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

zooweemumma Mon 16-Dec-13 14:35:58

It may help with the culture of aspiration. Also there are very hard working, bright children who may still fail to get into grammar. They are penalised by being made to feel second best.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 14:40:02

Apparently closing those handful of grammar schools would mean nationwide our education system would leap forward and social mobility will be attained.

If that's their best idea...

missinglalaland Mon 16-Dec-13 14:43:13

Yes, but we just saw research showing that being the top of the class had a huge positive influence on children, especially boys.

It found that pupils benefited from being top of a weak class, rather than being middle ranking in a class of high-performing children.

If this is true, having a whole new tier of high academic performers installed above them could damage other children's performance rather than increase their aspiration zooweemumma.

skatingRink Mon 16-Dec-13 14:45:59

How is school/life/academics going to be any better for the vast majority of "Average Joes"

Well, for one thing they won't be made to feel like "average Joes". They will be able to see that they can perform just as well as, if not better than, the academically achieving children in many subjects. Plus, the ex-grammar school children will realise they're not better at everything, just some things. They will have friends who may do badly in academic exams but who are good at things like art or music or drama. They will come to realise that people have many different talents, which have equal value.

You never know, they might even get to know some future plumbers, which could have real practical value when they become home owners and find that a good plumber is like gold dust.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 14:48:24

Apparently closing those handful of grammar schools would mean nationwide our education system would leap forward and social mobility will be attained.
Um no. That is NOT what Wilshaw has said.
He just says that Grammars are not fit for purpose any more in the parts of the country where they exist

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 15:01:47

Simplistically, as far as I can see:
1)academic and social segregation occurs within and between schools (even the good comprehensives) in the state sector. Segregation by academic and extracurricular strengths occur by selective education in private sector.

2) very few people are going to want their children to move from a good grammar or comprehensive to a poorer school

3) abolishing grammars may improve exam results by an influx of more academic children into another local school but will not miraculously improve poor management or inadequate teaching resources.
Those who could afford it would supplement poor teaching by home tutoring.
Social academic inequality would remain.

4) If comprehensive or secondary schools were less patchy, less people would choose grammar schools.

I think (4) should be the priority and the debate over abolishing grammar schools is just an easy emotional target.

skatingRink Mon 16-Dec-13 15:03:28

If this is true, having a whole new tier of high academic performers installed above them could damage other children's performance rather than increase their aspiration

I think you're clutching at straws lala. It's not an issue in the majority of areas where there are no grammar schools. Setting is still generally used to group children of similar abilities in particular subjects. The children are usually in more mixed groups for less academic subjects like art, PE etc, and so can develop a wider range of friendships.

missinglalaland Mon 16-Dec-13 15:05:18

skatingRink, I count my two dc among the "average Joes." And my main concern is improving their education and life chances. What I am not concerned with is their relative academic standing compared to others. I want them to learn as much as possible in absolute terms. Of course, if education improves, the kids who are ahead of them in school now, will still be ahead of them. As the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Being jealous and wanting no one else's children to get ahead of my dc would be self defeating. We will all be better off as a society, if all the children come closer to achieving their potential.

The 5% of the children in grammar schools are not the reason that the 88% in comps are not achieving as much as their parents and the government would like, as a whole (Obviously there are some very good comps out there, but not all of them. If they were all great, we wouldn't be having this thread, would we?)

Focussing on grammar schools just looks like bleating. Sure the comparison is uncomfortable, but that doesn't make the grammar schools the problem. The time, money and attention should be focussed on the schools that serve the vast majority of out children.

Getting rid of a few elite schools will not do a thing to improve mass education. It will just make people feel better who are uncomfortable with the comparison.

skatingRink Mon 16-Dec-13 15:05:57

the debate over abolishing grammar schools is just an easy emotional target

The thing is, they've already been abolished. It's just that a few areas managed to hang on to them and people living there don't realise that everyone else has moved on.

missinglalaland Mon 16-Dec-13 15:07:43

summerends Agree completely! Let's improve the schools that most of us use to the point that they are the schools of choice. I'd rather out compete the grammars and indies, than abolish them.

skatingRink Mon 16-Dec-13 15:08:43

Getting rid of a few elite schools will not do a thing to improve mass education.

I agree, they're fairly irrelevant in most areas. As I said, they've already been got rid of.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 15:12:38

The trouble is that many of us who live in the remaining selective areas- and while there are only 12 wholly selective LEAs,they do include some pretty big ones- can see how very damaging the system is, and find it alarming when people wax lyrical about them, and politicians go on about reintroducing them and building new grammar know it is an irrelevance for many, but it is a real issue for some of us. If it's not relevant to you, why open a thread with "grammar schools" in the title?

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 15:13:05

If comprehensive or secondary schools were less patchy, less people would choose grammar schools
Um no.
If you live in Kent or Bucks or parts of Lincolnshire there are no comps

whereas if you live in most of the rest of the country there are almost no Grammars - and the abolition of them seems to have worked fine.
IF Grammars really did work wonders then the counties with them would beat the counties without
which is not the case.

And as I've said many times on this thread and others
its not just the 11+ segregation that should be stopped
the segregation of church schools should also no longer be funded by the state

you want segregation, pay for it.

And TBH I do not give a stuff about the Pisa tests because they are nearly as statistically invalid as the most discredited parts of the UK system.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 15:16:09

And grin at the idea of people choosing grammar schools- it's rather the other way round!

A frequently made, but often missed point- if you are in favour of grammar schools you are, by default, in favour of secondary modern schools. A fact often forgotten by the people who move to our area "because of the fabulous grammar school.........."

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 15:26:17

Grammar schools are not necessarily better schools because they are selective, secondary moderns or comprehensives are not worse or better schools because they are non selective. Excellent secondary moderns will by default become comprehensives as people will choose not to have the hassle of the eleven plus.
Abolishing grammar schools first without improvement will just push more people to supplementing the deficiencies privately.

creamteas Mon 16-Dec-13 15:26:44

All the evidence suggests that when grammar schools were universal, they did not promote social mobility. Clearly some working-class children did benefit, but they were exceptions.

Likewise the 1960s expansion of universities was predominantly fueled by a take-up of middle-class children, rather than working-class children.

I would also like to see all forms of selection (including faith) in education abolished. This pretty much means you have to remove all parental choice. I think choice is a particularly obnoxious concept, as it has a air of neutrality which hides the way that the privileged utilise their resources (social, educational and financial) to hold on to that privilege.

Whilst primary schools are often too small to be a useful vehicle for promoting meritocracy, all secondaries should have defined catchment areas which include both better off and poorer areas.

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 15:36:18

creamtea lovely idea but impossible to guarantee that areas will remain of mixed income. If a school remains poor, those who can will move away from it or supplement at home.

DownstairsMixUp Mon 16-Dec-13 15:38:58

DP's family were def working class and he went to a good grammar school, lots of his friends were to that came from the same primary school in this area so it obviously it helps some but I do think it needs to go. Talkinpeace makes some good points about the whole maybe not being so good at maths, or english etc but excelling at other subjects. Also, some children just don't gain confidence in their abilities till quite a bit older than 10/11. That seems really young to me to be labelling how well kids will do but then what age is correct? I was a bright kid all through school whereas my brother at that age was "average" then just gained confidence as he got older and did better than me in his gcse's, he pretty much got straight A's and A*s whilst i got b's and c's. I think we are best shot of them really. (btw i was not in a grammar area, i went to a faith school which I also think need to go!)

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 15:48:45

"Excellent secondary moderns will by default become comprehensives as people will choose not to have the hassle of the eleven plus"

Why on earth do you think this will happen? Is there the slightest evidence to support this?

Mary2010xx Mon 16-Dec-13 15:53:06

They were abolished where I grew up in 1971 so they are totally irrelevant in that vast swathe of the country. They are not even near any areas which have them (not like living in Herts and going to a Bucks grammar). My grandparents left school at 14 and my grandfather at 12. Their children (my parents) were the first to get to university. They were very bright. They were terribly hard and the both passed the 11+. That fact probably transformed their and my life and the generations after. I am not sure they would have done "school certificate" (GCSEs) in a non grammar school. They also had supportive families up to a point.

However the Sutton Trust found that areas without any grammars and areas with grammars show no difference in terms of overall numbers going to the better universities so I am not sure the lack of grammars in most areas means fewer children get to good universities.

(I picked selective education for my children from at 5 and also was educated only in fee paying schools - those fees generated in effect by my parents' careers arising from their grammar school educations).

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 15:59:10

curlew, yes I think it does happen in areas where people opt into the eleven plus (just as it does in the private sector). In these areas, comprehensives are not secondary moderns by academic ability only because parents choose to send their child to then rather than a grammar. teacherwithtwokids I think is an example of this.

zooweemumma Mon 16-Dec-13 16:01:03

I don't agree with getting rid of indies. As I have said before, if people want academic and social selection, they can pay for it. But State funds should not be used for selective education, grammar, faith or otherwise.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 16:01:08

Summerends- I think that only applies to areas where there are only superselectives- in which case the alternative school has never been a secondary modern- it has always been a "nearly" comprehensive.

happygardening Mon 16-Dec-13 16:15:45

Education is complex I don't know the answer but I do know I don't believe in the one size fits all approach different children will thrive in different environments?schools. Its not all about ability I know from my own experience that many super bright children will really thrive in a super selective school, but I also know that other really bright children will thrive in a comprehensive school and would hate a super selective. Other factors also play a part, friends, individual teachers other activities offered the general tone and ethos of the school. My DS is able to pursue his slightly niche sport three times a week at his school all the year round whereas at his prep he had to stand on the rugby/football/cricket five times a week which he hated. I'm not saying this is the sole reason why he's doing so well at his senior school but never really shone at prep but I genuinely think its a factor.
We cant make sweeping generalisations about whats best for children. The tragedy seems to be that so many have absolutely no choice as what type of school they send their DC too.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 16:19:39

The tragedy seems to be that so many have absolutely no choice as what type of school they send their DC too.

but round here there is
- a school that gets people into top Universities
- a school that gets people into national orchestras
- a school that gets people into county sports teams
- a school that helps kids with low abilities learn to become numerate and literate
- a school that sends kids to technical college to learn hairdressing and plumbing and tractor driving
- a school that supports middling kids in finding work after they have been to college

and they all share the same canteen.

TunipTheUnconquerable Mon 16-Dec-13 16:21:43

I live in one of those areas with no choice (unless you can pay). Sadly the theory that no choice or grammar schools results in perfectly comprehensive comprehensives that cater for all ability levels just doesn't work in some places. It just means that academic kids get whose parents can't afford private and can't or won't move get shafted.

Metebelis3 Mon 16-Dec-13 16:22:50

Curlew your point is not missed. Those of us who are in favour of Grammar schools are indeed in favour of sec mods too. In the same way that you are in favour of posh comps for the monied (or those who like Talkin' can afford the transport to send their kids out of catchment). You prefer selection by depth f pocket (having deep pockets), I favour selection by ability having very bright kids with SENs that mean they would have difficulty accessing appropriate education in a monster sized comp.

I do not believe the Kent system word though and I will happily agree with you that it should be abolished and replaced by a mainly comp system with at most one or two SSGSs for the whole county. That would cater for the brightest of the bright and leave everyone else in a more egalitarian situation.

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 16:28:51

Curlew I think in those areas, parents of children in the ability range for a "superselective" make an active choice to go for the best school for their child whether it is an excellent "comprehensive" or the grammar. This means that a fair number of children of the ability for a superselective do not go there. Parents like you and Talkin would definite gravitate towards a good "comprehensive" in those circumstances.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 16:30:37

"Curlew your point is not missed. Those of us who are in favour of Grammar schools are indeed in favour of sec mods too. In the same way that you are in favour of posh comps for the monied"

Just checking before I reply- this is irony, isn't it? Or sarcasm, or a palindrome or something?

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 16:34:02

Talkin, sharing the same canteen does not create social mobility, that statement has echos of 'shanty town tourism'. If you told me your DC's sets had at least some deprived children with whom they were best friends, that would be more compelling evidence.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 17:11:23

They do.
Scarily enough, not all bright kids are rich.
And not all rich kids are bright.

My kids have a wide range of friends - because the tutor system mixed them all up from day one and they still do some activities by tutor group.

Most of their friends happen to be people with whom they have more in common, but the mixture of backgrounds, incomes and family structure is pretty wide.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 17:20:11

Summerends- the "sharing a canteen" line was, I suspect, a reference to another well known poster who is admirably open about her desire for her children never to "rub shoulders in the lunch queue" with any child not at at least NC level 5.

deliverance Mon 16-Dec-13 17:28:23

My DS sat his 11+ in September and, thankfully he has achieved above the threshold. Thank god for grammar schools. We could not afford private schools and thank god we are not having to choose from the local 3 comprehensives. All are under special measures.

happygardening Mon 16-Dec-13 17:40:17

Talkin dont take this the wrong way but are you sure this is what actually happens at your school? My DS1 was at a ofstead judged outstanding high achieving comp.the top school in the county, judged as one of the top comps in the country, beating results wise many of the poorer performing grammars probably very similar to yours. They made similar claims and I've even met the children who are/were there who've done all the things you've listed above and shared the canteen. But the reality for the vast majority of children (all MC) was IMV a 2nd rate education. This was not just my experience but the experience of an alarming number of others who I met and talked too. I have a friend with a DD at the second best performing school in the county a very similar profile to my my DS1's same story. I met two ladies walking my dogs they were both teachers at two other very good comps again very similar profile guess what same story. Up until recently I worked with children from comps right across the county again I frequently heard the same story. I know work in another county with a history of outstanding state education I here the same story here as well. Heads of thee top performing schools are spin doctors they talk a good talk, they know what to say to make parents believe all in the garden is rosy but over the years I have become increasingly sceptical that it is.
Finally the person above who suggested more money should be put into education. Are you having a laugh? I've spent 30 years in the public sector, there is no money left I have never seen it as bad as this and its only going to get worse. You have been warned!

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 18:05:45

Happygardening- second rate compared to Winchester, possibly! . But the two are just not comparable. I don 't even know how to calculate how much it would cost to give. Winchester education to every child in the country.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 18:07:41

Well, well done you, deliverance.
Devil take the hindmost, eh?

Metebelis3 Mon 16-Dec-13 18:13:18

Curlew was that your attitude when your DD passed the 11+? If not, then why not give poor Deliverance the benefit of the doubt that you demand others give you?

deliverance Mon 16-Dec-13 18:17:00

Curlew. I am very proud that my DS has earned a gs place. Yes. The alternative would have been to pay for an expensive indie place that we cannot afford.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 18:28:21

I've no idea what the Head says about the children I was thinking of when I posted at 16:19 and I do not intend to post their names here, but they are definitely real and many are not MC (the sport high achievers in particular)

Yeah, everything is "2nd rate" compared to Winchester College, but as their fees alone are more than half the country earns I do not really care about the scruffy boys in their little bubble.
I care about making sure that girls and the rest of the world get a chance in life.

And maybe lots of MC parents send their kids to the schools here BECAUSE they are as good as Grammars and most fee paying schools.
They are comprehensive after all.

Marni23 Mon 16-Dec-13 18:36:11

Well, well done you, deliverance.
Devil take the hindmost, eh?

Yes Curlew, because deliverance turning down a GS place and sending her DS to a comprehensive school in special measures will really sort out the educational problems in the country hmm

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 18:56:10

Deliverance, I apologise- that was uncalled for.

But it does make me so very angry when people who support selective education say how wonderful it is that their children don't have to go to the schools that everyone else has to. As I said, the flip side of supporting grammar schools is that you also have to support secondary moderns. And telling children that they are failures at the age of 10.

Metebelis3 Mon 16-Dec-13 18:59:17

That is not the flipside of grammar schools existing, that is the flip side of the Kent system. Which most people dislike, or understand why those caught in it dislike it.

Superselectives do not create secondary moderns.

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 18:59:47

Thanks curlew, that puts Talkin's remark into a more apt context.

Talkin you don't have to be defensively sarcastic. I might have misunderstood the context of your remark but I am sure you don't think it is scary that not all bright children are rich (and vice versa) wink.

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 19:06:24

Just to add Talkin, you are absolutely right about why so many people choose to send their children to your comprehensives and sixth form college, it is not because they are comprehensives but because they are excellent schools. If they were poor you would n't be quite so sanguine in upholding the comprehensive system in isolation as the solution to all the problems of the British education system.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 19:20:23

"Superselectives do not create secondary moderns."

Absolutely. I understand why people support the idea of superselectives- I don't, as it happens, but for very different reasons to my objection to wider selection. But it's not just Kent- there are other lEAs that have a a Kent-type system. And I do think that when people think "grammar" school, they think of the aren't model. Because it is the one most like the "old" grammar schools of people's childhoods.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 19:34:35

But what is it people want when they want or chose a grammar education? I think they want traditional subjects, strong discipline and challenging lessons. They feel that the alternative schools aren't providing this.

While we are sitting so poorly compared to the rest of the world educationally, I think they are right. Something is wrong with education in this country - and I don't think grammar schools are to blame.

LaVolcan Mon 16-Dec-13 19:47:51

It's only Kent, Bucks and parts of Lincs which still have a full GS/Sec Mod system as far as I am aware. I wasn't aware that these counties shone as far as academic achievement was concerned.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 19:55:37

But nowhere in the state sector is shining particularly and the gap between state and private is huge.

How would getting rid of grammar schools redress that?

happygardening Mon 16-Dec-13 19:58:06

Ok curlew and talkin you think I'm not comparing like with like in fact in comparison with Win Col my DS1 old comp looked 4 th rate. But what about all those other disgruntled parents who can't make the same comparison, what about the disgruntled teachers telling stories of fixing exams results, not being able to give the right help to the slow child, the extra gifted child, the disinterested child, what about the teacher who told me that in her long experience gifted and talented programes don't actually cater for those who really are gifted, what about teachers who refuse to treat a child with dyslexia slightly differently even though their own ed. psych says they should, what about the child with a serious chronic illness who the school refuses to make allowences for even though medical staff have requested it? All of these children and parents and even teachers probably have never even heard of Win Coll let alone know enough to compare it with their local "outstanding" comp. They just think they're DC is getting a shitty education because that is their experience of the school.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 20:04:03

While we are sitting so poorly compared to the rest of the world educationally
evidence please - and do not quote the PISA tests, they are flawed.
nowhere in the state sector is shining particularly and the gap between state and private is huge
that's a pretty sweeping statement
unless you see even more schools than DH (over 100 a year in his case) what is your evidence?

so you clearly think comps are not the answer.
What is?

Retropear Mon 16-Dec-13 20:04:46

"Telling children they're failures at 10" err why exactly?Over dramatic much.

Children sit Sats at 10, is the presumption that parents tell their dc they're failures if they didn't get level 5 or 6 then?hmm

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 20:05:44

I also fail to see how 15% of the kids who, according to mumsnet are middle class/heavily tutored and not partic bright manage to bring down the education for the other 85%.

Or perhaps they're just being scapegoated.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 20:05:50

> There is no disputing that grammar schools get good results and they are working well for the children that attend them, so why are they seen as the problem? The problem with selective education lies with other schools, which if improved, would solve the problem.

I agree. If you cut out the grammars in that situation, it won't magically improve the other schools. I'm in favour of grammars because although the system wouldn't be perfect, at least the divide won't simply be down to money, and some of the brightest from low-income families will benefit from the grammar education. It's a way to dilute the huge over-representation of the privately educated in influential positions.

deliverance Mon 16-Dec-13 20:06:14

No worries curlew. Though there is an element in truth about your posting to me. I love comprehensives. I just do not love the ones near me. And yes I am delighted that my ds will have the privilege of a state funded gilt-edged education, instead of the local bog standard comprehensives.

snowed Mon 16-Dec-13 20:11:19

> Also there are very hard working, bright children who may still fail to get into grammar. They are penalised by being made to feel second best.

There will always be a minority who are on the borderline but does that make the whole system invalid?

What about the larger number of bright children who are being penalised by not being given the opportunities to be stretched to their full potential, as they can't afford to access private education?

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 20:12:47

There are comps that get better results than Grammars
What other hoops do you want the comps to jump through?

some of the brightest from low-income families will benefit from the grammar education
but they don't - that is Wilshaw's exact point.
Grammar schools are full of the children of pushy parents, not necessarily the brightest children.

deliverance Mon 16-Dec-13 20:21:03

Snowy. Yes, Grammar schools are full of the children of pushy parents. Whether they coached or naturally gifted they are all bright, as they beat their exam taking cohort in open competition.

Retropear Mon 16-Dec-13 20:22:51

But Wilshaw likes pushy parents he says they push up standards.

This is obviously why he wants the kids of pushy grammar school parents in comps,to do a job Ofsted should be doing.That stinks quite frankly.

I'm getting tired of this gov and their anti hard working middle class stance.They continuously protect the rich and their private schools and like to focus on a tiny minority in order to keep the elephant in the room out of view.Private schools and the Outstanding comps only those with pots of money can get into screw society in a far bigger way.But hey lets not focus on them.

Oh and re the lack of fsm kids and the abundance of kids who have kids with sharp elbows just maybe the former aren't even having a go at getting their kids in and the latter are.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 20:23:53

""Telling children they're failures at 10" err why exactly?Over dramatic much."

Because you don't go to a different school, or wear a different uniform if you get a 4, not a 5 in your SATs. You don't have neighbours and friends asking you what you got in your SATs, and doing a head tilt when you tell them. You don't get separated from your friends because you got a 4 in your SATs. Nobody decides that you won't play hockey, or do 3 sciences or only do one MFL because you got a 4 in your SATs. Nobody bullies you because you got a 4 in your SATs. Nobody tells you that you can't walk on the pavement-if you get a 4 in your SATs (and before you ask, yes this did happen to my friend's daughter- her ex primary school friends pushed her off the pavement, and told her it was for X school only- chavs walk in the road)

Retropear Mon 16-Dec-13 20:26:12

Ooooo well if it happened to your fiends daughter.hmm

What utter tosh.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 20:28:04

Outstanding comps only those with pots of money can get into screw society in a far bigger way
wow, chip on your shoulder much :
there is the map - are all the people in that area loaded?

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 20:29:12

"Ooooo well if it happened to your fiends daughter.

What utter tosh."

Just wondering- do you live in a wholly selective area?

Retropear Mon 16-Dec-13 20:29:38

I suggest you take it up with Wilshaw,Sutton and the others who have highlighted how big a problem it is.

Retropear Mon 16-Dec-13 20:30:54

No but then very few of us do so we don't really need the anti grammar hysteria do we.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 20:34:13

but nor do we need you saying that outstanding comps are only for the rich
another catchment map - check the houses on Rightmove

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 20:35:21

"No but then very few of us do so we don't really need the anti grammar hysteria do we."

So when you tell me I am talking "tosh" you actually have no fucking idea what you're talking about, do you?

Retropear Mon 16-Dec-13 20:41:26

Sorry but your continual anti grammar threads which involve a teeny tiny fraction of kids are getting repetitious.

You continuously choose to ignore(or some reason) the far bigger problem of comp catchment and private schools.

It just goes round and round in circles.

There are fab grammar systems poles apart from Kent,utter shite comps and hoards of kids excluded from a decent comp due to lack of money.

But hey continue with your war against grammars(basing all your views on one county),it's really worthwhile.hmm

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 20:52:19

so what would you do?
Abolish private schools and randomly allocate state school children to schools regardless of where they live?

And I'm as much against all faith schools as I am those that select by a random test.
There should be no place for segregated education in taxpayer funded schools.
And there are segregated schools in every part of the country.

I base my links on one county because I live in it, know the website and know that the data transparency is far greater than many other counties.

How about you post links about Comp schools that are only outstanding because the people at them are rich?

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 20:54:35

Er, retropear- you did notice that this thread is about grammar schools, didn't you?

Marni23 Mon 16-Dec-13 20:54:54

And the fact that there are some super comps in Hampshire is of absolutely no help to my sister whose son is at an utterly shite comp in the north east. In and out of special measures and she doesn't have the money or the religion to move him to a better school. She can't even afford to supplement the woeful fucking teaching with tutors.

The education system in this country needs fixing. Yes, there are some fantastic comps out there but it's a postcode lottery. Yet another thread about bloody grammar schools which affect a very small proportion of kids is really really missing the point.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 20:58:39

I want my kids to go to school with kids of pushy parents or parents who think education is important.
Why wouldn't anyone?

I didn't know Pisa tests were so flawed. Is there another measure?

Cbi reports on school leavers skills. Sorry cant link on this

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 21:00:59

But you just put your finger on why this is a national issue
she doesn't have the money or the religion to move him to a better school
Why should the way your parents kneel affect your right to an education?
As Catholic schools and some other church ones are effectively grammars because they edge out all those without organised, motivated, intelligent parents.
Just as unfair.

happygardening Mon 16-Dec-13 21:07:57

Talkin what about my evidence? I live in Smalltownsville I'm friendly I walk my dogs round Smalltownsville I meet other people walking their dogs, I here the same stories about our local comp, I work with children talk to their parents I hear the same disgruntled stories about their local comp, most people I work with are women we talk about our children in our breaks same disgruntled stories about their local comp. The stories are all different, their children are bright/slow/learning difficulties/ill/reluctant scholars/naughty in Smalltownsville they're MC at work the parents are frequently aspriational WC, work colleagues are a mixture of both. I not talking about 1 school maybe not 100 but a large number spread through 4 counties. The general consensus is that state ed works for reasonably hard working compliant, average to above average intelligent children. Nearly all say if they could manage it they'd send their DC's to an independent school (not that they are necessarily any better) they are thoroughly disillusioned with the education and genuinely believe there children are being poorly served.
I don't know the answer but until state ed changes parents will continue to scrape around to pay fees and a substantial minority will firmly believe that the pasture in greener somewhere else.
As a public sector worker (not education) my gut feeling in my area is that the whole system has become to large and unwieldy some nameless office waller responses to the current crisis, popular trend government policy to win votes he who has never actually done my job generates more regulations and paper work, we are no longer allowed to use any discretion or common sense we are try on the

straggle Mon 16-Dec-13 21:21:05

marni23 you are right that's grammar schools affect a small proportion of pupils and is irrelevant in the North East. That's why it makes me so angry that past-it (southern) Conservative MPs and journos keep droning on about the good old days of grammars. They couldn't give a toss about the North East - no votes there, no influence in the media so it's invisible to them.

And what is Gove doing for the NE? More academies and an 'education chancellor'. Bailing out private schools with state cash. But no cash for a regional school improvement scheme like the City Challenge.

happygardening Mon 16-Dec-13 21:26:10

Sorry posted to early we are told to see our clients as individuals but at the same time have a one size fits all approach inflicted on us from above. My impression of education is that it's the same. And let's not forget there is no money left. I have never seen it this bad and apparently are money is ring fenced and index linked but I am becoming genuinely frightened about what Im seeing. It must be the same for education. I was talking to a teacher the other day she's c's good enthusiastic teacher she's giving up and opening a tea shop, one if my colleagues is leaving and starting a jewellery business she completely dedicated to those we work with. The lady I work my dogs with an ex teacher given up disillusioned. Something will have to change.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 21:32:26

its incredible to me that anyone would trust labour/lib dems on education. Their politicians will do ANYTHING to avoid sending their kids to the local comp. look at dianne abbot, harriet harman, ruth whatsername, nick cleggeven Tristram hunt new minister for ed will probably go private. Hilarious.

missinglalaland Mon 16-Dec-13 21:44:32

ghostlyeuphemism your comments as far as I am concerned.

talkinpeace We can't trust the PISA tests? confused No survey research is ever perfect. But if we can't trust the OECD to be an honest broker, it seems we won't be able to have any facts in this conversation, just passionate opinions! I am impressed by vehemence and passion, but not really persuaded.

straggle Mon 16-Dec-13 21:49:48

Thisisaghostly there's not much evidence about where MPs send their children apart from shit-stirring when it suits the tabloids - otherwise they probably want to keep their children out of the papers.

The most recent report I could find about proportion of MPs themselves privately educated showed:

54% of Conservatives MPs
40% of Liberal Democrats
15% of Labour MPs

So no party truly representative of society but LibDems much more like Conservatives and Labour closer to the 7% average.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 21:50:26

The statistical protocols of the PISA tests are very iffy : pupils in different countries andswered different sets of questions.
Pupils within and between countries andwered different numbers of questions.
Some pupils only did one of the topics
and then China was allowed to only have the Shanghai and Hong Kong results included rather than the whole country (because thn it would have come out below the USA)
India refused to take part.
Before data was submitted, questionnaires about parents were used to "weight" the results.
seriously - do not allow PISA to affect UK policy.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 21:54:18

You - and your friends and colleagues - are utterly correct that there is far too much centralised meddling by naice little civil servants and political researchers
the current government, despite all the hoo hah about Localism
is one of the most centralising yet
Academy policy is set from Whitehall based on the view from there
LEAs have their faults, but at least they were run from the same county.
Schools decide not to become academies, and Ofsted are told to downgrade them and force them.

Sadly a bucket load of decentralism is needed - but the current bunch of politicians are not going to do it.

OddSins Mon 16-Dec-13 21:57:44


Its not segregation its selection. its about fitting the right child to the right school based on their talents and ambitions. The problem isn't grammars; its the secondary moderns.

Diversify, specialise provision for secondary education just like tertiary education already does. Less comprehensives; more specialists. The German system of 5-6 secondary school types covering a range of academic, technical and vocational specialisms is a model that has many attractions.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 21:59:50

I don't care where they were educated - they had no choice in that - but I do care where mps send their kids, yes.

Because if you are intent on 'being fair' and everyone being at their local comp then you wouldn't be so bold as to opt your own children out of it, would you?

Oh yes, you would.

So they will close down grammars, but they will continue shipping their kids half way across London to go to religious schools.

And we are expected to suck it up?

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 22:01:06

Catholic schools / Jewish schools / Muslim schools : segregation based on the faith of the parents.
Grammar schools : segregation based on the ability to pass a test in three subjects, only two of which are GCSEs

straggle Mon 16-Dec-13 22:01:35

'They'? Mrs Thatcher closed down more grammars as education secretary than the previous Labour government.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Mon 16-Dec-13 22:06:06

MPs I mean.

Re. Thatcher- Well I didn't like her either!

missinglalaland Mon 16-Dec-13 22:09:12

Decentralisation leads to highly unequal outcomes. Look at the USA. I read that if the states were judged as seperate entities, some, like Massachuttes for instance would be among the very best in the world. Others like Mississippi are basically 2nd world or possibly 3rd. Each state has a lot of control over standards and budgets. I would never want to deny the "Massachuttes" of the world the chance and the choice to do better, but I wonder how the politicians here would cope with the losers in the postcode library.

TalkinPeace Mon 16-Dec-13 22:17:11

so you are not happy with centralising
and not happy with decentralising
what DO you want?

straggle Mon 16-Dec-13 22:29:18

PISA also found that selection does not lead to better standards overall, and market-led systems like US and Sweden do not either.

We are around the OECD average and EU average especially for share of low attainers e.g. in Maths (but EU average is better than the US and Sweden is even worse). And we have less of a gender gap than other EU countries.

summerends Mon 16-Dec-13 22:31:42

Following on from what happygardening said, why are so many good teachers disillusioned, burn out and leaving before they should?
Disempowerment? Too much paperwork and not enough teaching?
Poorly motivating management? Don't think it's salaries although it might be for some.
The state sector can't hold on to its good teachers (with the self evident that good teaching is not a one size that fits all), that is an issue that is a critical one if education is to be improved

missinglalaland Mon 16-Dec-13 22:47:27

talkinpeace I want people to think things through and to be aware of the consequences of choices both good and bad. If you are upset about the unfairness of selective education! the unfairness of localism is also likely to disturb you.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 22:54:27

"why are so many good teachers disillusioned, burn out and leaving before they should? "

Could it be because people keep on saying that they are giving children a fourth rate education and why can't they deliver like the teachers at Westminster do.........?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 16-Dec-13 23:00:05

It's funny how often people who argue that comprehensives embody a 'one size fits all' philosophy and can't work because of this seem to be very confident that two sizes would be plenty! Although of course, one of the sizes wouldn't be the size you'd want confused

straggle Mon 16-Dec-13 23:01:40

summerends motivating teachers is a really good point and I agree it's central to overall improvement. All the teacher-bashing rhetoric is demotivating, as is constant political meddling in structures, league tables, tests, curriculum, teacher pay/pensions/working conditions, etc. Having unqualified teachers is also stressful for the qualified and experienced teachers who have to teach alongside them if they are not being properly supervised.

There are already too stresses in the system - schools should be working together and teachers learning from each other but in a supportive local network. Not competing with each other in rival academy chains or to grab a bonus.

curlew Mon 16-Dec-13 23:14:38

The"one size fits all" argument is a very odd one. Presumably people think comprehensive is a synonym for mixed ability? My son's ^ secondary modern^ has 4 streams and sets within streams......

summerends Tue 17-Dec-13 04:50:52

Actually, my comment about 'one size fits all' related to teaching styles not about comprehensive versus grammar or whatever smile. I think that what makes a 'good' teacher is not formulaic as different pupils (even of the same ability) may respond best to different teaching styles.
Any individual teacher however amazing is never going to be best for or please every pupil / parent so they should n't be dispirited by occasional criticism.
One thing that seems to mark out the best schools to work for in whatever sector is that teachers feel a sense of shared drive and excitement about what they can achieve with their pupils as well as being part of a supported, effective team.

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 07:32:01

TOSN my definition of one size fits all differs from your. I'm talking about seeing each child as an individual, having the freedom to say I don't need to to X for Jane but I do need to do it for Helen and if I don't do X for Jane it won't matter, it won't be seen as her getting something less, it will be seen as a positive thing instead. Of course there needs to be an overall frame work that has to be worked within, standards need to be set but as professionals in my area of work and I'm sure in teaching we need to be able to use our own judgement at times because we after all are the ones on the front line, we are the ones who know, not MPs not office pen pushers who even if they did work in our areas at some stage in their careers have now lost touch or forgotten with what's going now or in many cases I suspect never knew.
I think one of the reasons why independent schools are attractive to many is they seem to have more autonomy, I'm not saying it's perfect I never have but parents perceive that there is less of a one size fits all approach that policies are decided upon implemented by individual heads, departments etc and people like this. They feel they and their children are treated as individuals.

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 08:48:18

Do you really think that never happens in a state school, happygardening?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 17-Dec-13 09:21:09

Happy you will be expecting me to say this but.... wink I truly don't see that as being something which a) doesn't happen in a cpmprehensive school or b) seems as though it would naturally be the preserve of a private school.

I do think your approach is different from the one I'm talking about though, because as I understand it, you're all about the variety (state, grammar, private, home ed, boarding etc): the POV I have an issue with is the one which directly says that, since one size fits all is what you get in comprehensives (problem #1 for me), the 11+, with its two sizes, is the way you create a system which caters for individual needs (problem #2!).

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 10:36:35

TOSN curlew I haven't see it happening in any of the state schools my DS's have attended but maybe as pointed out my approach is different. So let's put my views to one side what I've found is that many many other parents who may not wish for the variety that I want (this is not a criticism of them) also feel thoroughly disgruntled with their state schools. They also feel that that there is no variation on a theme and that the whole system caters for a certain type of child and that their child is not seen as an individual. So are we saying these people are all wrong. I was/am surprised that in Smalltownsville where I live how many parents were unhappy with our outstanding comp, the ofstead report positively glows we were told how all children's needs were being catered for which certainly wasn't my experience or others, ditto in Slightlylargertownsville up the road again another very high achieving comp.
As I have repeatedly said in the past I don't believe independent ed is always necessarily any better. But from my own experience of the public sector I can't help but feel that the whole system has just become too large and too centralised and over regulated. In my profession this has been done to try and create a level playing field but we are not working with machines we are working with humans with all their variations and complexities.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 17-Dec-13 11:00:25

Well, I am quite saddened and surprised that you've never seen any acknowledgement that Jane is different from Mary etc - it's one of the things I've been pleasantly surprised by at every level!

I also don't think you can really say that the private sector is fantastic at recognizing different pupils' needs and styles and acting accordingly, without acknowledging that if they're doing that, they're doing it from a pre-selected pool of children who have all met the criteria of being either rich or clever before they're allowed through the door anyway! Not over fussed about the learning style of Jane if her parents haven't a pot to piss in and she's not very academic, are they?

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 11:01:10

The fact of it is, grammars can and do allow social mobility but usually of the type lower middle class to professional middle class. You can look at certain grammar schools with large intakes (of second or third generation immigrant children) from areas which are not considered wealthy middle class areas, to witness social mobility.

What the detractors want is more social mobility of FSM/working class to middle class. But is it surprising that lower middle class may have higher educational aspirations for their children than those on FSM (I generalise here as sure there will be some FSM who value education as a priority). The other issue that people seem to have is any notion of segregation of school by academic ability at secondary school age, even if those who are able to enter at selective schools at 11, are better off academically because of it, because of the other 75% who are not able to be part of it.

I do also think some people just resent that grammar schools as a notion give some sort of label as elitist and therefore superior compared to non-selective schools even though some of the least academic grammar schools at the bottom of the range will be worse than the best leafy comps with middle class catchment areas.

These arguments will never end because some of the 75% will always resent the 25% and the notion that somehow grammar looks superior on paper to non-selective to society at large.

3asAbird Tue 17-Dec-13 11:06:07

Are there not just 164 state gramnar schools left on uk?

when i watch tv programmes mainly political ones theres never any shortage of mps, journalists and tv presenters andrew neil proudly saying i was grammer school boy or grammer school girl and how much it did for them.

Ed miliband went to leafy sought after affluent comp

so many guradian journos send their kids private.

mps magically get their kids into very sough after state shols cameron is coe and cleggs son just got into oratory and they can afford the school fees.

I you look at that example you would think many of them did well as lots went uni at oxford or cambridge and dominate the top jobs as only 7%of uk go independent /private yet dominate russel group and the top posts.

Can we define comprehensive please?

Reason I ask is based on my comp and what people did yes could be as it was shit

but few went on to better things.
reckon there was lots lost potential.

but the bright kids were in the minority,

which left large middle co-hort
large bottom co-hort who needed lots of extra support and were fairly disruptive to the school at times in terms of behaviour as the remedial class wasent just for non bright was kids with emotional issues and was complete zoo.

I was in bottom sets for few things and tops for others but in bottom if you seemed keen or swotty you would get bullied and teacher spent most of time trying to control the class.

A lot of the popular state senior schools here

are faith


take kids wide catchment.

Then theres 3acdaemies one all girls .
2/3acedemies were ex independents.

They can select 10%bu test on their speciality music/language then the remaining 90T%take test are fair banded so they hve equal amounts of ability i each co-hort, wide catchment then when they get past this state its random allocation so basically alottery name puled out of hat if one gets in siblings then get in.

But mostly in a way its engineered and skewed towards middleclasses as theres

stress of them taking the tests-I dont think ist as bad as 11+grammar schools but as parent of primary child im bit vague on exactly what tests entail think some type of verbal reasoning.

Then we only get 3 preferences on admissions so its potentially risky choice its a gamble.

All 3 stupidly oversubscribed I like 2of them but cant put 2lottery schools down unless had secure backup comp.

I spoke to mate whos son wanted to go and she said she thinks as he was middle co-hort and middle probaby biggest so his chances would have been less ta if he was very bright or bottom.

Then theres finance 2/3schools have expensive uniforms.
bus no longer funded £60 amonth

this creates barriers to lower classes -be silly to think it dident deter people which is why on whole this is just observation growing up in wales and where lives now the working classes tend to stay local no matter how bad the school is on their doorstep
hence lower social mobility.

My local comp is connundrum its in leafy affluent area with mostly good well performing primaries but most choose out of area ie the many academies within the city which are quite good or they choose faith/independent which means the local school is full of kids from other areas whos local school is worse than ours so to te seems good but 38%gcse a-c i dont think thats impressive and hear bullyings bad but new heads amazing plus its now like another poor performing school partnered up with a good one but in reality the 2schools are distance apart very diffrenet with different demographoc but they think will raise standards at the poorere school if with the richer school.

But a small town not far from me is in uproar as basically their poor performing comp went academy and partenered up with acedemically well performing afflunet school and they just made decision to scrap a levels and academic subjects at small town school and make them bus it to the academic school which basically says ypu all rubbish lets just focus on vocational, I dont think the town has alternative fe provison has 2 other seniors but parents expeted to pay the bus too if their child wants to do a levels seems but unfair.

In terms of grammars if some are doing well it almost discriminates against areas that dont have them. some travel bristol to gloucestershire but its long way,not even bath has grammars but bristol/bath do have highest independent sector outside london mostly skews results so if people dont get their preferences then many an afford private as backup know few who done that at primary but sheer cost independt at seniors is scary.
On exam results day is same schools that dominate the results mostly indepenendent or the highly sought after faith schools/academies.

I did hear the now state girls schools has achieved really good results and is comprehensive but its also 10%aptitude and fair banded so its balanced and ethos/teaching provision good so guess can be done.

We did have one new comp built in very affleunet area and surprise surprise its oversubscribed and does well although not sure its yet had a gcse results . So i find selection by catchment just as bad.

we have very few free schools yet and they are strange.
in area of shortage places yet take city wide catchment by lottory.
The free senior school is odd location but atracts afflunet postode as like other cities we have nice areas that are blackspots for schools which is ok if you can afford private.

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 11:31:20

TOSN please can you show me where I stated that private is better recognising children individual needs?
Are all those parents I talked to wrong? Or perhaps you think they're just expecting too much.
In my profession we have in the past and often still are guilty of complacency, everyone in the garden is rosy, everything is fine, the evidence of those who had bad experiences was swept under the carpet, they were seen as people who didn't understand the system, people with too high expectations, there are and have been endless warnings from those within the profession, our unions and those from outside of it as I said often on the receiving end. But time and time again following what can only be described as a disaster, a terrible heartbreaking event, an unnecessary death on an inquiry it's found that everything in the garden wasn't rosy and everything was not fine.
TOSN you can carry on believing that everything is fine, that independent ed is rubbish and that people like me have a different approach therefore our opinions are not valid, that the experiences of the hundreds of parents I meet are also not valid, that studies demonstrating our education is of poor quality compared to the rest of the world are not measuring the right things therefore not valid. But whilst you hold those views sadly many children today are being significantly let down by their schools and this is a tragedy in a affluent country like ours.

Bonsoir Tue 17-Dec-13 11:34:47

I dispute the OP. I went to grammar school in 1977 - the best in the county for girls. There were four classes of 30 pupils (or perhaps 31) in the year group. There were 2 pupils per class ex-private school. A large proportion (maybe one 1/3) of pupils were on FSM and free school uniforms.

The rot set in later.

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 11:36:19

Happygardening- so you meet "hundreds of parents" who are all dissatisfied with the education their children get? "4th rate" I think you said.

Can I ask what context you meet these parents in?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 17-Dec-13 11:40:53

Well, Happy, you said you'd never seen it any state school - I assume you have felt you've seen it in private schools, but perhaps that was a leap too far?

And I don't think it's my fault for thinking that a) there's no reason to think comprehensives embody a 'one size fits all' mindset and b) most of them do an infinitely better job that you'd think from reading MN, that any children are being let down. That too is a bit of a leap of logic.

Perhaps it would be better for those children if I whipped mine out of the state system and then spent my time saying loudly that the education the others were getting was substandard? yeah, that's sure to help.

TalkinPeace Tue 17-Dec-13 12:26:46

I haven't see it happening in any of the state schools my DS's have attended
You have one son at a school that is only open to very rich and highly academic boys
and the other son at a high achieving comp.

How much experience do you have of
- girls schools
- middle schools
- non selective private schools
- secondary moderns
- inner city schools

Just that DH goes to all of them, regularly, and what people tell you (probably in the knowledge that you can afford to send a child to boarding school - may not be wholly representative of conversations in general.

lainiekazan Tue 17-Dec-13 13:00:16

I agree with nibs777.

Social mobility in the past was up from what we would now call lower middle (but was then working class) to middle.

In Jeanette Winterson's autobiography she laments the decline in thirst for knowledge in working class communities. She writes about her stepfather and his colleagues (all blue collar workers) attending lectures and other improving activities. Interestingly she also blames lack of church attendance for the possible decline in achievement of wc children: years ago people were brought up hearing (or even having shoved down their throats) wordy sermons/hymns/prayers. Consequently they would absorb a richer, wider range of language than an equivalent person would be likely to encounter today.

Blueberrypots Tue 17-Dec-13 13:02:39

So the question really is this: are all these schools really effective in bringing the best out in young people?

Because my own opinion is that there is a wild and massive difference in the quality of the education provided within the state sector, even between two grammars or two similar comprehensives.

I don't think you can really say that they all provide a fantastic education to all, and I think the biggest challenge we face today is how do we make sure everyone gets a good shot at a good education...

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Tue 17-Dec-13 14:23:12

I also agree with nibs777. I'll borrow that. ;)

teacherwith2kids Tue 17-Dec-13 16:59:48

Happy, I apologise if I have misunderstood, but from my reading of your posts, all the comments you have heard from other parents have been about one particular comprehensive, your local one - is that right?

LaVolcan Tue 17-Dec-13 17:25:19

years ago people were brought up hearing (or even having shoved down their throats) wordy sermons/hymns/prayers.

I think you've got something there. And in non-conformist churches at least, working men and women could become local preachers or other office holders in the Church, and be very effective too.

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 17:42:31

No the comments I hear are from parents from at variety of schools senior and primary across the five five counties local to me, we live on the boarder of three and I work on another, I hear comments from parents where I live, parents of the children I work with and colleagues at work. Are we all wrong? If any of you think we are then as I've already said you are either in denial or just exceedingly complacent.

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 17:44:18

So you don't know anyone who is happy with state education? Are you sure that their dissatisfaction doesn't come after you tell them about what's available at Winchester?

Metebelis3 Tue 17-Dec-13 18:02:34

Well, I'm happy with the state education DD1 is getting. And I'm not completely unhappy with the education DS is getting either. DD2 will go to DD1's school and then I'll be happy with her education. So, yes, while know 'the system' qua system needs work and certainly the lowest funded counties (i.e. where I live) need more money, nevertheless I a happy with state education as my kids are experiencing it and I'm neither in denial nor complacent. I may be lucky.

Curlew- are you happy with the education your DD is accessing?

wordfactory Tue 17-Dec-13 18:07:15

met is the school you're happy with a super selective?

wordfactory Tue 17-Dec-13 18:09:02

To be fair though happy parents moan about schools, in the same way that writers moan about their agents wink.

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 18:10:51

Of course I know people who are happy with state ed. but I also know many who aren't. Parents who feel that their children are under performing because their educational needs are not being met. As I've already said these parents feel that their children are not fitting the required box; average or above average intelligence compliant self motivated, no special needs like dyslexia, no significant health needs, no genuine geniuses, no reluctant scholars, no behavioural issues, no mental health problems etc. no serious issue sat home in particular child carers (a group I have been involved in in the past whose appalling treatment by schools has to been seen to appreciated) This represents a significant % of UK school children.

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 18:13:25

Yes parents moan but we as professionals are also shocked at times as to how one size fits all many schools are.

wordfactory Tue 17-Dec-13 18:15:49

Isn't that the nature of the beast, though?

An institution, any institution, cannot ever hoep to serve each and every individual.

lottysmum Tue 17-Dec-13 18:29:29

i'm VERY happy with state education - its meant that my daughter and I can have a a decent standard of living outside of the school gate instead of paying school fee's.

I have probably had more feedback from my daughter's school than most of the parents whose children are at a grammar school :

!5 minute session with tutor mid term - goals set with parents/dd agreement...follow up call a week later about issues I raised.

First report detailing this terms assessments is due home tomorrow...

We then have a mentor session again in February to discuss individual subjects ....

My daughter is in Yr 7 ....working at level 6/7 already ... yes there is some disruption occasionally in classes but its dealt with ...

This is a very AVERAGE comp 65% A-C grades at GCSE but I can only see it getting better and better because they do offer probably 35% of vocational courses including time at the local Agricultural college ...

I think like someone has already stated ...the results cannot improve in some area's if the cream off children are being selected to go to certain schools - education has to be a balance and it took a while for me to believe but I think any child with ability will do well at most schools if the schools can also get a good cross selection of teachers ...

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 18:46:26

"Any institution cannot hope to to serve each and every individual"
That's ok is it word? I don't think it is. Every child or adult Ive worked with who hasn't has their needs served for a variety of reasons stays with me. I am not a teacher so can't comment on them but most I've worked with, work morning noon and night to try meet the individual needs of those we serve and we are an enormous institution. This is ingrained in our culture.

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 18:48:13

Not sure where this thread is going, considering it was called "Grammar School: the debate is what is happening NOW"

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 18:53:31

"Yes parents moan but we as professionals are also shocked at times as to how one size fits all many schools are."

Happygardening- I expect you think you've explained this, but I honestly don't understand what "one size fits all " means in relation to education. Could you explain a bit more? And are you able to tell us what your profession is? It might help us to understand how you feel you have met a sizeable % of state school parents.

Metabilis- yes, I am happy with the education both my children are receiving. As individuals. As a taxpayer, as a citizen and as a member of a community I am not at all happy with it. What serves individuals well does not always contribute to the greater good. And my secondary modern son is only receiving the broad education I think all children should get, and which would be possible to provide in a comprehensive school, because I am aware, educated and have the time and resources to provide what the school does not. Many of his peers' parents lack one or all of these things.

wordfactory Tue 17-Dec-13 19:03:37

happy I don't think it's ok...but I don't see how one institution can offer everything to everyone. Not realistically.

Under the Blair administration an unprecedented amount of money, energy and will was spent on education and still many DC were left unable to access a decent education.

I was speaking to a family member this weekend who hasd an exceedingly bright child who attends a very good comp. However, that comp can't possibly cater for the child's needs as there just aren't enough children of her ability.

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 19:07:40

I know somebody whose child was very unhappy at Wnchester- he just wasn't a Winchester shaped boy. That doesn't mean that Winchester is a bad school, or that private schools provide a "one size fits all" education. Although to be honest, many of the oldest and most venerable do......

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 19:09:42

My pipe dream is to see three grammar schools in each town and city: boys, girls and mixed.

Hold on, did that not happen until Crosland, Willams, Thatcher et al took the cudgels to them. sad

Bonsoir Tue 17-Dec-13 19:26:26

wordfactory - I agree that institutions, by their very design, do not cater particularly well to the individual. I just wish that they would be more upfront about their limitations!

wordfactory Tue 17-Dec-13 19:31:00

curlew exactly.

I'd bet my bottom dollar there are kids not thriving at my DC schools too. There'll just be fewer of 'em because they hand pick their pupils for the best fit for what they have to offer.

Grammar schools (in particluar super selective ones) will have fewer DC not thriving too, as their pupils are hand picked to suit.

Comps will have the most not thriving because they take all comers.

LaVolcan Tue 17-Dec-13 19:34:11

My pipe dream is to see three grammar schools in each town and city: boys, girls and mixed. Hold on, did that not happen until Crosland, Willams, Thatcher et al took the cudgels to them.

Not in either of the towns I grew up in. In one a mixed grammar school in the next town ten miles or so away, and in another two single sexed grammar schools but both at the other end of town. Both of these towns were in rural areas, with long travelling distances pretty much the norm.

Ditto with the Sec Mods - a mish mash of single sex, mixed, religious, but there were more of them, so without the long travelling distances.

All of these schools were a pretty mixed bag - the girl's Sec Mod in particular had a good reputation - the rest, hmm well.

But for those who do think Grammar schools are wonderful (mine wasn't, nor was my brother's) what would you do for the rest of the children?

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 19:41:42

Deliverance- and the rest of the children go where?

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 19:45:07

Word, grammars may have less who are not thriving because you have to pass 11+ or surpass it in case of superselectives to get in, so there's a certain academic level required ...but there was no head's report required (as far as I know), no interview is allowed (for state), purely a test - so I wouldn't agree they were "hand-picked" not like the selective privates many of which hold assessment days to judge inter-personal skills, interview and head's report as well as pre-tests. I suspect there will be more SEN as a result even at grammar (including Aspergers) than at selective private school. Not that there's anything wrong with that - but just an observation on the term being used "hand=picked".

The difference also works the other way round curlew, yes Winchester may not suit a child, but if you go private (assuming your child can make the cut) you choose which school to apply to and that will depend on what you think will suit your child. If you make a huge mistake, you can also try and move schools. Much less of a choice in state.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 19:53:28

I won't answer for Deliverance, but the rest of the children should be able to go to a decent comp which caters for academic as well as vocational skills ...depending on how they develop...not all children are going to suit an intense grammar environment but some highly academic ones will- the issue that you seem to focus on is your objection to the elitism of having grammars, rather than fighting for the necessary improvements to the comps in an area so people see them as a good alternative for a child that really won't suit a grammar school environment. if my child was academic, I'd want the option of a local selective grammar, If my child was not, I'd want a decent alternative that still made the most of his talents including catering to potential development into academic leanings or vocational as he progressed.

missinglalaland Tue 17-Dec-13 19:58:22

Good point wordfactory. You are making me think. I wonder how many other and what sort of options would need to be generally available for all the square pegs in round holes at comprehensives to be match-made successfully.

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 20:11:55

Nibs- if you have grammars (unless they are superselective grammars, in which case you nearly can) by definition, you cannot have comprehensives in the same area. That is my point. My son's school is an excellent secondary modern school. However, it is not a comprehensive.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 20:16:50

whatever you call it ...a decent secondary modern then...but my point is the same. You need to significantly up the teaching and reputation of the comps as well as value placed on vocational as well as academic skills as society will need both for the future, not abolish excellent grammar schools.

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 20:17:33

Curlew, children and their parents have the choice to opt to apply to attend grammar school. Yes, a choice! Others who do not wish to apply can attend comprehensives. So, the "others" do have somewhere to go. Not sure I understand your point to me.

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 20:25:27

"! Others who do not wish to apply can attend comprehensives."

Not in wholly selective areas they don't- there aren't any!

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 20:27:32

This is taken from a BBC article which talks about education in Germany aiming to cater for building its industrial strength. Ok manufacturing has declined in the UK, but no reason why vocational training can't encompass that as well as apprenticeships for the service industries. I think we should preserve our academic model in selective grammars and have a good academic or vocational alternative depending on how a child develops at 15 or 16. The problem is our model is all based on GCSEs and A levels.

"School finishes at lunchtime across much of Germany due to what Mr Woergoetter calls a "societal preference", designed to allow children to spend more time with their families.

But it's in the later years of schooling that the German model really stands apart.

"Half of all youngsters in upper secondary school are in vocational training, and half of these are in apprenticeships," says Mr Woergoetter.

Apprentices aged 15 to 16 spend more time in the workplace receiving on-the-job training than they do in school, and after three to four years are almost guaranteed a full-time job.

And in Germany, there is less stigma attached to vocational training and technical colleges than in many countries.

"They are not considered a dead end," says Mr Woergoetter. "In some countries, company management come from those who attended business school, but in Germany, if you're ambitious and talented, you can make it to the top of even the very biggest companies."

The German education system, therefore, provides a conveyor belt of highly skilled workers to meet the specific needs of the country's long-established and powerful manufacturing base, which is rooted in the stable, small-scale family businesses that have long provided the backbone of the economy."

wordfactory Tue 17-Dec-13 20:41:30

nibbs I agree that the selection process for grammar schools is a (much) blunter instrument, than it is for independent schools.

However, if a child and its parentrs are sufficiently motivated to apply for a super selective, and they secure a place, the education on offer is likely to suit. Or at least more likely than not.

So no, not hand picked, but sifted if you will.

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 20:43:39

Curlew. Let me rephrase. Others who do not apply to grammars in wholly selective areas can still apply to state schools. Not sure if they are called sec moderns still. State schools are supremely well funded. Investment has gone up considerably since 1997. Would comprehensives bring up the average of the poor performers or bring down the average down of grammar material students. My son is travelling 30 miles in the morning and the same in the evening to get to his grammar school. If I sent him to the local schools I don't think he would stretched.

Metebelis3 Tue 17-Dec-13 21:15:04

Curlew, I asked specifically about your DD because I knew you weren't happy about your DS. Of course I agree with you as a taxpayer and a voter - I'm not happy with anything except maybe the BBC and education is certainly not another exception. It's underfunded and teachers are treated like shit. But on an individual level, which is what Happy was talking about, there are many great schools and many kids getting great educations.

curlew Tue 17-Dec-13 21:15:44

Deliverance- it doesn't matter how you rephrase it. In a wholly selective area, you end up with a school without a top set, because the top set has been creamed off to another school. And you end up with 75% of children being told they have failed at the age of 10, with all the psychological and societal baggage that brings with it.

TalkinPeace Tue 17-Dec-13 21:20:14

Others who do not apply to grammars in wholly selective areas can still apply to state schools.
Despite the type of parents at the gate, grammar schools are state schools (theoretically)
If I sent him to the local schools I don't think he would stretched.
that is because they are Secondary Moderns, not comprehensives.
You are clearly thicker than your son.

TalkinPeace Tue 17-Dec-13 21:23:28

A question to those who are against one size fits all ...

Why should only those children who can score highly in
"non verbal reasoning"
get access to a different school?

Why should the test not include
"still life drawing"
"long jump"
"sight reading of a sonata"

as the children who excel at those have as much right and need to specialist education as those who can recognise the net of a dodecahedron.

lottysmum Tue 17-Dec-13 21:25:54

"My son is travelling 30 miles in the morning and the same in the evening to get to his grammar school. If I sent him to the local schools I don't think he would stretched."

I think you will be surprised - I was worried about this at my DD's school and she is being totally stretched (too far in my opinion) so is all the top class... I could not imagine my DD having to travel 30 miles each way to school this must have an affect on the younger year 7 children....they must be so tired....

I think the secret to good education is to engage pupils - we have some good mixed ability schools that are doing this now but NOT enough ...but things will change because going to University has not worked for allot of children because they cannot get jobs in their chosen field ...therefore it makes sense that we should go back to leaving University for the Academics ...and creating vocational "sandwich" type courses and apprenticeships for those children who shine in other area's and getting them into their chosen field early .... hence going forward there will be a big business/education link with investment coming where needed from major employers...

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 21:34:12

There's much less societal baggage to non academic secondary route under the German system it seems Curlew. I don't profess it's ideal but at least there's not any notion of anyone being written off at a young age if they go to a less academic school and end up doing vocational training at 15 because that is how they are inclined rather than being academic.

TalkinPeace Tue 17-Dec-13 21:37:57

and of course in Germany Homed Education is illegal so there are less options than in the UK

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 21:39:09

well I don't agree with that ! Let's pick the best of other systems and learn from them not the worst

kitchendiner Tue 17-Dec-13 21:47:14

For those who think that Grammars are good because they are there for academic students. My DS is a very academic student with high Oxbridge level IQ but he would fail his 11+. He is average at maths. He has the right to be educated with peers of a similar level which means top set English (he is top of top set English in some aspects at good comp) and second set maths. You would all have him cast a failure at 11 and remove his top set English peers to a Grammar. If the 11+ was based on debate, creativity and verbal IQ then he would pass whereas non-verbal reasoning and maths and he would fail. Who says which is more important? I am so glad I live in a true comprehensive area.

Metebelis3 Tue 17-Dec-13 21:53:54

Talkin No NVR for our SS. VR, English and maths. My DDs would've loved sight reading of a sonata as the test, they'd have not even had a scintilla of doubt about getting in if that had been the criterion! grin However that would have been even more unfair since music provision is patchy round the country, in posh schools as well as state schools.

lottysmum Tue 17-Dec-13 21:54:43

Kitchendiner - I totally agree - the problem we have on this debate is that a good percentage of the contributors have no idea how well some of the comprehensive schools work - they are too busy keeping up with the "Jones" getting their children tutored to pass GS exams and in some cases they are worried in case their children will fail in the state system because they need to be pushed to achieve.... (apologies to the Kent parents who have no choice)

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 21:57:00

Hi curlew. Surely with sec moderns student will still gain a very good education. By creaming off students from grammars will benefit the school not the grammar students.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 22:03:07

if the comps work so well, then why do you denounce the grammars and those who choose them so much? I mean I agree there are comps that work very well...but it goes to argue against the "creamed off" point or are you saying comps only work well if they are in non-grammar LAs?

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 22:04:30

Right talkinpeace. Thick am I? I meant others can apply to (other) state schools. I am sorry that you could not deduce that. But hey, it's the power of my understanding that enables a person like me to tolerate sniping from a person like you. wink

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 22:07:30

well responded deliverance kept calm smile Shame it has to get so personal.

TalkinPeace Tue 17-Dec-13 22:08:36

A comprehensive teaches the full range of pupils in all subjects.
By definition there are no comprehensive schools in areas with Grammars because some of te comprehensive sets have ben segregated out to another school
based on an incredibly narrow and inconsistent set of subjects in an exam for which tutoring by the well heeled is an industry

whereas in comprehensive areas, kids pick a school, apply and (in over 95% of cases) get in.

BucksWannabee Tue 17-Dec-13 22:10:26

Interestingly, the grammar school system was shut down by a Conservative government because there were too many middle class, Conservative voters who were horrified to find their children being written off and sent to secondary moderns.

I wonder how long the "bring back grammars" argument would last if its greatest proponents found their children DIDN'T get into them.

(And yes, I think my children are clever. But I have no idea whether they'd pass the 11+ without a pile of tutoring.)

happygardening Tue 17-Dec-13 22:14:33

Talkin who said those who can draw, or sing, or ride a horse shouldn't have access to a different school? Not me.
Curlew the one size fits all approach fails to see that children are not educated in splendid glorious isolation that many factors external to actually sitting in a classroom will effect learning. I shall give you an example Clare is 11 and a carer for her severely disabled mother, before school she helps her mother get up and washes her, she has to get her own breakfast and her mothers her school is 2 1/2 miles away and her mother who wants to be a good normal mothers drives her to school and most of the time she's punctual but on some mornings things don't go to plan, it takes 15 mins for her mum to get in the car but sometimes neighbours park to close to the door and Clare has to reverse the car all extra time, one week she was late twice in a row and she was told off by a teacher. In the evening she comes in and cooks her mother and her a meal, does homework, and before bed undresses her mother and assists her into bed she's frequently called in the night by her mother. Clare is frequently tired sometimes she doesn't complete her homework, one night her mother was ill and she spent the whole evening in ED she gets detentions for failing to do her homework. Clare wants to be normal and is embarrassed she has a sick mum she doesn't want to blame her failure to do homework on her circumstances, she's frightened someone will take her away from her mum if she says too much. The school knows her teachers know but they simply forget. One evening it's parents evening at this school you go around the individual classrooms some are upstairs Clare's mum is told that the staff can't be expected leave there department to come down to talk to her. This is a true story there are many many more like this, children who are carers, children with dyslexia, type 1 diabetic children, severely asthmatic children, children with significant mental health issues whose problems are being ignored, super super bright children I could go on for pages about how their needs are not being met. These children are entitled to the same education as all the "normal" ones but they're not getting it.
I work with children underpinning all we do is a holistic individual approach to all we are becoming increasingly regulated from above and I believe as do my colleagues that this will impact on our approach. We are leaving in droves. I'm not prepared to detail my occupation as I like to maintain some anonymity.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 22:16:01

Agree the 11+ exam is very narrow and not an adequate measure of broader talents and does not reflect creativity etc. but in the most highly selective grammars it does seem to indicate future academic performance (whether that is inherent or from parental pushing) judging by their results at the end of 6th form i.e. entry into Oxbridge/ top 30 unis as you can see from the top selective grammar schools results in the Sutton Trust report...either that or the grammars are adding incredible value which I don't think they are generally, even the top ones. I think they do tend to rely heavily on a highly selected cohort and pushy parents to boot to get the results they get.

TalkinPeace Tue 17-Dec-13 22:16:36

who said those who can draw, or sing, or ride a horse shouldn't have access to a different school? Not me
will you pay the extra 10% on income tax to finance it?
or expect those parents to pay fees?

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 22:34:31

My father was a secondary maths teacher in the 70s and 80s in a large and overall pretty decent comp in London.

He was an experienced teacher but being an immigrant not familiar with UK state schools and when he first started he was given the bottom maths set to teach ( I guess because he was new he drew that straw) ...they were all going to leave at 14 (I think it was 14 before it became 16) and did not want to do maths, but he tried to engage them anyway. When he confided to another teacher (an old hand) that it was so hard to engage with class Z on maths, the other said "Mr X - you are not actually trying to teach them maths are you? You know they don't want to be in school. The most you can aim for is to lock the door and let them play board games to stop them acting up and keep them at school." My father also said these childrens' parents invariably never showed up at the parents' evenings. It's a sad indictment that these children were written off as unteachable, with no valuable engagement or vocational alternative to the strictly academic route. I think that is still the main issue in education today not grammar vs comp.

MrsJamin Tue 17-Dec-13 22:37:10

I cannot see why grammars still exist. I live in a town with two grammars where the secondary options are basically:
1) pay a lot for a house in catchment for good comprehensive
2) pay a lot to send your child to a private school
3) pay a lot to tutor your child so they get into the grammar school
4) apply to the crap comprehensive.

It utterly sucks. The grammar schools are so highly selective that most children in this town cannot get in unless tutored for at least a year. Most arrive on the train from miles around. The gcse results for the town are biased as they include the results from the grammars with children from many neighbouring counties, so not really reflecting the dire options parents have for state education. Thankfully there should be a good new free school open by the time my DC get to that age.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 22:43:27

Is that Reading out of interest Mrs J? (ok if you'd rather not say) It's just that the other thread is discussing that also.

It highly sucks because you think the alternatives are not great but why abolish two excellent schools, why not campaign for much better non-selective alternatives? Especially if they are only educating the top 5% from miles around and not creaming off the top 25% (so no argument of no top set in the non -selectives)?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 17-Dec-13 22:58:09

Nibs, you think that the resukts your father saw of a 1970s system where children were written off at 11 and left at 14 are still the main issue today, and are an argument for selection at 11?

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 23:03:59

That is not what I said, if you read my comments on this thread - there will be children who are not and never want to be academic, they should have proper and valuable vocational alternatives that are not looked down upon and involve apprenticeships just like in Germany. There are children who are highly academic and do thrive in academically selective school with that as its main ethos - abolishing those does nothing in my view to help those at the very bottom whose talents do not lie that way. It just takes, in the best grammar schools, the choice for others to try for those. There should be more not less. But there should also be much better alternatives in the same areas.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 23:09:50

it just takes away what I meant.

These threads will never end because there are some who just disagree on principle on academic selection at the age of 11, period. Others will fundamentally want to maintain it on principle as a option. Some will disagree because their child will not likely or did not get into a selective grammar, and others because they did.

I wonder after all this print on the multiple threads on this subject, if anyone actually changed their views.

LaVolcan Tue 17-Dec-13 23:13:03

they were all going to leave at 14 (I think it was 14 before it became 16)
The school leaving age was raised from 14 to 15 in 1947, and then subsequently raised to 16 in 1972.

However, there certainly were teachers who had the attitude of ' what can you expect from children like these'. Sadly, I have even heard it said recently by primary school teachers based in a school in (let's call it) the rougher end of town. So what do you do for children in that position?

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 23:16:12

ok thanks for the memory does not stretch back that far and he only told me the story recently actually! it would have been at school leaving age 15 then when he started teaching in the UK.

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 23:16:19

Nope nibs777. I have not changed my views. All sides, including mine, are entrenched in their viewpoints.

I like the notion of "every child matters", but as a parent at the end of the day, only my children matter to me. Whatever the best school is, then that is where they will go. Be it comp, grammar or sec mod.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 23:19:14

Deliverance...i do think education of all children does matter whether vocational or academic ...of course i prioritise education of mine ...but without a properly educated society overall, we will be much a poorer society both socially and economically man is an island in other words.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 23:27:28

By way of example, youths that are written off at an early age and feel they have no stake in society are more likely to drift into criminality...sooner or later more criminals affects society as whole (and yes I know there are also posh criminals and educated and highly intelligent criminals but I would say more come from the disaffected with no stake to lose).

The masses also vote and the more uneducated masses you have the more that choice may be based on prejudices rather than intelligent questioning of our politicians and their policies. So at the end a large enough mass of uneducated, disaffected populace will affect your children and mine.

deliverance Tue 17-Dec-13 23:30:45

I agree nibs777. Honestly. I may come across as not altruistic, but I do agree with you.

LaVolcan Tue 17-Dec-13 23:33:34

I like the notion of 'every child matters' but I do question whether any recent governments believe this. There have been some decent initiatives to promote vocational education; there was (from memory) a Dearing Report and a Tomlinson Report, which contained some good ideas but they invariably got strangled at birth.

Look for example at BTecs - Gove has decided that they can't count as GCSE equivalents, and yet well taught they offer a perfectly rigorous qualification. (Admittedly, some schools were gaming the results, but that is a different issue.)

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 23:38:24

I know you dosmile I don't think anyone would disagree with a better education of society as a whole - it's not altruistic as I do believe it benefits us all but these arguments come across as polarised between grammar vs comp systems and I think that is missing the point - the talents of vocational and academic can be valued - if grammars help create top scientists that will help us cure diseases then why take excellence away just to maintain principles of no selection. On the other hand, we also want top nurses, fireman and car mechanics that should also be valued as a vocation if that is the route a non -academic child wants to go and they should be helped by apprenticeships instead of being pushed to do GCSEs and fail by academic standards alone yet that is what schools are judged upon.

nibs777 Tue 17-Dec-13 23:42:25

by the way, before I am flamed ...I am not saying comps can't create top scientists also, of course they do - it's just some of the best grammars especially boys ones do seem to have a big cluster of those types of children which probably drives them all forward.

LaVolcan Wed 18-Dec-13 00:04:40

but these arguments come across as polarised between grammar vs comp systems

It took me a long time to realise that Kent based parents were referring to Secondary Moderns as Comprehensives, so they weren't talking about the same schools that I was thinking of.

Most places do have Comprehensives and what IMO the vast majority of parents want is a decent local school which allows their child to fulfill their potential, with poor discipline and bullying not being tolerated. For them the arguments about how we mustn't get rid of Grammar Schools are a total irrelevance.

I remain surprised that Michael Wilshaw doesn't think that bringing them back is the answer. He is clearly at odds with Gove.

kitchendiner Wed 18-Dec-13 06:09:40

nibbs777 The whole point is that to be in favour of Grammar schools then you must therefore be in favour of Secondary Moderns and this is where the problem lies. Yes, some students are less academic and will benefit from a more vocational education but those students who just miss the cut off, haven't been tutored, have high ability in just one field should not be written off as failures at 11. As I said previously, my son IS very academic (high IQ etc) but he would not pass his 11+. If you are arguing that highly academic students need to be with other highly academic students then this for him can only happen at a comprehensive - NOT a grammar or secondary modern. He is top 1% in one field rather than top 10% or 25% across the board. Please do not write him off and think that he needs a less academic, vocational education.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 06:29:16

I think people, particularly grammar and private school parents, at a bit glib about children who "need vocational education". It's an easy way of dealing with th issue of the "other" ie non grammar children.What does that mean, exactly? What "vocational" thing can you do nowadays without 5 decent GCSEs for example? In the days when ther were loads of unskilled and semi skilled jobs then there might be something to be said for a technical school where kids learned what they needed for going into a trade, but that doesn't apply any more. And it's not what a secondary modern does, anyway. Most non grammar children are working towards GCSE, just like grammar ones- and in many of the same subjects. With the possible exception of Latin.

kitchendiner Wed 18-Dec-13 06:52:17

The demographic of my DS's comp is 25% high, 50% middle and 25% low achievers. Is there any argument that this school would be improved by removing the 25% high achievers and turning it into a secondary modern? Those in favour of Grammar schools please answer.

FirConesAtXmas Wed 18-Dec-13 07:13:52

Having 3 DC 2 of whom are firmly in the top 25% academically, and the 3rd is in the 50% group! I am incredibly thankful that they are/were all at the same school.

OddSins Wed 18-Dec-13 07:35:55


Can I suggest a new thread? Take your pick

Comprehensives: the debate is about what happens NOW
Secondary Moderns: the debate is about what happens NOW
Vocational Training: the debate is about what happens NOW
UK educational crisis: the debate is about what happens NOW
Lack of educational choice: the debate is about what happens NOW

deliverance Wed 18-Dec-13 07:56:05

Another topic

Demonising grammar schools: the debate is about what happens NOW

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 08:15:13

Curlew - you know full well that many grammar school parents have kids at comps or sec mods. Yu do yourself, so do I. My DS is just as 'bright' as my DDs, top 1% in IQ according to the battery of tests and evaluations he has had to have due to his SEN issues, but crucially, he is neither able to work at the pace they go at the grammar, nor does he want to. They don't teach any additional subjects at the grammar other than extra maths (which would suit him better than the girls but hey ho) and they teach a much smaller range of tech subjects - no cookery for example (thank fuck). The diffence is they go faster, do the exams a year earlier (and more of them) and they have a sixth form. There is no suggestion that the kids at the comps where we live are being forced into having a vocational education, the outliers from not just this county but others have just been scooped up and are being taught at their own pace in one school so that they don't die (alone) of boredom in 90 schools.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 08:16:37

I don't think anyone is demonising grammar schools. The problem is not grammar schools or secondary modern schools as individual schools. Some are good, some are bad- just like all other sectors. The problem is the system that creates both types of school. It is inherently problematic to make a life changing decision about a child's education at the age of 10.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 08:18:52

kitchendiner the Kent system doesn't seem to help most people. 25% is far too big of a range for an effective grammar school.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 08:23:06

Metebilis (sorry I spelled your name wrong before). I think you are talking about superselectives. I wish there was a tag of some sort which you could attach to a post which meant "I understand that there is an argument for superselectives- I personally don't agree with them either but for different reasons to the reasons I don't agree with wholly selective LEAs but no, I don't think they are damaging to the community as a whole in the way the 25:75 system is"

I think when most people talk about grammar schools they mean the 25:75 system that was universal before Thatcher's "reforms"

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 08:24:19

And actually, I do think I am the only person with a child in a grammar school and another in a secondary modern.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 08:25:02

Not the only person in the world, obviously- but the only regular poster on the topic on here.

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 08:26:25

It seems to me that the Kent system is riven with problems...

However, it's one small place. There are far more places that are wholly copmprehensive, and yes, some of them are also riven with problems.

Neither the grammar system nor the comprehensive system work well for all individuals. That's the sad truth.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 08:28:13

curlew what we come back to time and again is that you, having deep pockets and having had a deep pocketed childhood yourself are perfectly happy making a decision about what happens to a child based on parental wealth when that child is 10. Wile you are unhappy about making a decision based n merit because one of your children didn't pass (and I know you will say that you were opposed to the system before he didn't pass but I don't believe you didn't have suspicions as to which way things would go). I on the other hand coming from an essentially pocket-free childhood and living so far from the tracks you couldn't even see them am less happy about the idea of consigning kids to schools based on their parents' wealth (or lack thereof).

That is the real issue. You love the idea of social exclusion based on wealth and abhor the possibility that kids who aren't naice are going to school with your son right now (and I bet there are plenty of naice kids there too). You strike me as being no different from the parents in the posh bit of the borough in which I grew up who campaigned for the school I would go to to stop being a grammar so that kids from my estate would stop bussing across the borough to go there and their rich but less bright kids would be able to take up those places instead.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 08:28:39

aarghh typo W*h*ile.

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 08:31:02

Article on the BBC re purchase power and the need to concentrate on the poorer schools instead of berating those who try to do their best for their kids.

Utter waste of time berating grammar schools.

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 08:32:18

I hopefully will be one of those parents with kids in both too.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 08:38:14

Curlew you might be the only Kent person here. I have a close friend who lives in Bucks and she has 5 children, two of whom went to grammar schools and 3 of whom went to non grammar schools. She didn't stop supporting grammar schools after the first one who went to the non grammar ended up there. She is very strongly supportive of all her kids and she recognises that they have different strengths. I don't know if you would describe the bucks non grammars as sec mods though. And IME everyone in bucks is naice and well off! Compared to where I grew up and where I now live anyway. SIL lives there and the poshness of it all is almost tangible. SIL - who is poorly educated and has never had a full time job - clearly has a superiority complex purely on account of living there. And I don't blame her - it's lovely!

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 08:41:49

Metebilis-I think you must have me mixed up with somebody else. I do not have deep pockets. I do not believe in selection by wealth (which is one of the reasons I do not believe in wholly selective education- there is no more overt selection by wealth in the state system than the grammar school selection process).

And I would be very grateful if you would retract this. "You love the idea of social exclusion based on wealth and abhor the possibility that kids who aren't naice are going to school with your son right now (and I bet there are plenty of naice kids there too)" It is deeply offensive, and wholly untrue.

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 08:49:13

curlew you are so Kent-centric that you have convinced yourself that the grammar system is the most unfair one we have in the UK.

Yet the reality, if only you would open your eyes to a few miles away, is that wealth is a huge driver in comprehensive education. House prices and rents in the catchment of a good school can become insane.

Then there are those like the OP, who transport her DC to a good school (oh the deliciouys irony). That is not an option for many many parents.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 08:53:45

This is a thread about grammar schools. If it was a thread about comprehensive catchments, I would be happy to talk about that. Start one, and I'll pile in with the best of them.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 08:55:24

The grammar school selection process is not selection by wealth, it doesn't compare even slightly to the catchment system. I didn't pay for my kids to be tutored, although I did do a bit of 'do that 10 minute test' so I paid for a few books - but even those who did pay for tutoring won't have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on it, yet that is frequently what families who move to get into the 'right' catchment do. Live in denial if you want but that doesn't change the reality. The reason the Tories were so keen to abolish selection in most counties was that they had a better chance of keeping people like me out of 'their' schools by using catchment areas. In Kent that wasn't the case, obviously.

Anyone who is in favour of catchment selection is in favour of selection by wealth, and social exclusion by postcode. That's the bottom line.

There are of course other ways to allocate pupils to comps and some of them are probably really good, but most people, when they say 'the comp system' mean the catchment system. And they support it because they either know or assume that they will be fine under that system. Just like the Tories who abolished the grammar schools.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 18-Dec-13 09:01:50

Anyone who is in favour of catchment selection is in favour of selection by wealth, and social exclusion by postcode. That's the bottom line.

Absolute bollocks, I'm afraid. I'm in favour, primarily, of schools which serve their local community. Which means, in the very vast majority of cases and certainly would mean here, if nobody who lived in the catchment of a school which had a big council estate in its catchment opted out and went for private, a mix of every kind, since it's much more likely than not that a local area will contain a mix.

Where there is a significant issue with catchments, like if you had a city where the divide was very clear and problematic in terms of catchment, I'd be in favour of a local lottery - but in the vast majority of cases, you wouldn't actually need to do that if everybody sent their children to their local school.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:05:23

Curlew I don't believe it is untrue you have posted time and again that you abhor selection based on merit or ability and time and again that you support selection on catchment. You have also posted many many times about how your son's school has had it's top set 'taken away' (as if the school owned the kids at the grammar).

If you are adamant that the reason you are so distraught still about your son not being at the grammar is not that you think he isn't with the naice kids then I am happy to withdraw that bit (although what then is the problem with it if the kids are fine?) I will not withdraw the rest because you do love the idea of social exclusion based in wealth, that's what a catchment system IS. You feel very comfortable claiming that every single person who supports any kind of grammar system also supports dreadful secondary modern schools - you have to accept that your idee fixe also brings with it seriously negative implications.

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 09:09:41

You can't discuss grammar without the other however convenient,they are all part of a mix.

Said article mentions the unfair advantages of music lessons and extra curricular activities.So are we anti those along with grammars and tuition or are buying places in expensive attachments and music/other extra curricular lessons ok?

I spend a small fortune on books for my dc instead of pub trips/ gadgets/ Sky etc I guess that is unfair too.hmm

LaVolcan Wed 18-Dec-13 09:11:08

Metebelis - the non-grammar schools in Bucks are most definitely Secondary Moderns. - although they used to have a middle school system until about 15 years ago, so they tended to be called Upper Schools.

A lot of posters are clearly city based, or in large urban areas. If you live in a rural area there is often only 1 school that you can realistically send your children to, so you want that to be a good one.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 09:12:07

Metebilis. Your entire last post is utter bollocks. Both in your bizarre analysis of my personal situation (^distraught^-wtf?) and in your analysis of the education system in this country.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 09:14:27

"I spend a small fortune on books for my dc instead of pub trips/ gadgets/ Sky etc I guess that is unfair too."

Love it when the snobbery sneaks out. It's like when the lizard people can't maintain their human form for a moment, and their eyes, just for a second, go all reptilian.....grin

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 09:18:07

curlew I don't think you can talk about the proposed abolition of the (very) few grammar schools that are left, without talking about the comprehensive system in the rest of the UK.

It's is utterly foolish to eradicate one problem, only to replace it with another.

nit the UK is now so densly populated in some areas that school catchments are tiny and don't reflect any such community. They reflect the folk living in the surrounding streets.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:19:54

Nit it's not bollocks I'm afraid. It's true. I'm quite happy to believe you when you say that where you live the schools wouldn't be rigidly segregated (but actually, I notice that you did add a caveat about the people living in the catchment of the estate (shock horror) going private.... Yes. sad I realise it's too much to hope for that normal people wouldn't flee from going to a school with 1970s me. sad ) but that wouldn't be the case everywhere.

There are all sorts of ways of making the comp system work and fair banding is probably the best but of course that would mean a test for everyone. At 10. And grading everyone. But personally I'd definitely support that. It would take some modelling but you could, on a countywide basis, devise a system where the superselective percentage were all split between 2 or 3 schools, so they had approaching a critical mass, the rest of the top 25% evenly distributed, and down the scale, with some distance thrown in too (or possibly feeder primaries to mix it up a bit). It would cost a fortune though, because they'd have to administer the test, and then pay for the transport for the superselective ones - and anyone allocated to a school further away than they'd like - but what you'd get would be a reasonable social mix, a reasonable ability mix, and the super selective level kids would be able to function in a fair way too rather than isolating them.

One last thing - people who support the idea of 'community schools' usually live in a nice community. I grew up in two communities, the physical one and the church one. I did go to my community school, my church community school, but it happened to be the other side of the borough, where the posh people lived rather than on the estate where I lived. If I'd gone to school in the community in which my flat was located, I do not believe I would have had the academic success that I did. I believe I'd still be living where (or close to where) I grew up. And while actually - bloody hell, I do wish I'd stayed there because I do not like where I live now and I wish I lived where I belong- nonetheless from a taxation point alone the national coffers are a bit better off for me being exiled from where I belong, I think. Plus, I'd like to think that I do a bit of good in my job, too.

lottysmum Wed 18-Dec-13 09:21:16

Problem is as pointed out in an article in the papers today - the middle class are not only tutoring their children to get into GS schools but are also moving house or buying a second house to get their children into the GS schools..... so it is a case of money buying education that was meant for the families with bright children that could not afford private education.

I would like to see the end of GS's but still give every child the opportunity to be educated to their full potential ... I think most children have strengths and weaknesses and about 50% of the things they study in school become worthless unless they decide to teach that subject ... I dont think its just a case of looking at the GS system (which no longer services its purpose) but its a case of looking at what education is needed to secure a long term career and enable growth within retail, industry, services and commerce .... at the age of 11, education can still be all encompassing at primary schools.

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 09:25:42

Snobbery Curlew- it's not snobbery but priorities.The very priorities that give advantages which are then criticised as being unfair.Utter bloody madness.

The hypocrisy on this thread is staggering.

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 09:27:35

met I was just about to make that point about communities.

I'm not religious myself, but many members of my family would see their church community as their closest band of brothers.

Interestingly, I'm a governor at a school which very much reflects the community near it; overwhelmingly poor, muslim, asian. However, that does not reflect the city in which it is entirely. Not at all.

LaVolcan Wed 18-Dec-13 09:28:33

I thought that, in the days (ie. 20 ish years between 1947 - 1967) when the GS/SM split was the norm and the 11+ absolutely dominated junior school education, that it was acknowledged that about 20% of children ended up in the wrong school.

That meant that 10% who ought to have had a GS education ended up at the Sec Mod, and similarly, although not talked about as much, 10% did not really warrant the GS place. There used to be much talk about those who were late developers who were often failed by the system. There was never as much talk about those who I once heard described as 'early stoppers' i.e. they did well at primary school, but not much afterwards.

Why am I rambling on? Well to get it wrong for 1/5th of our children is quite a large number to get it wrong for. Not only that, I believe that the whole concept was based on a flawed model - it assumed that intelligence was fixed, which I don't believe it is, and that it could be accurately measured by a one or two day test at 10/11.

Comprehensives have now been around about twice as long as the old Sec Mods/ and the post 1944 Education Act Grammar School incarnation, so I suspect that for a good many parents and children that they are doing something right, otherwise they would not survive.

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 09:32:42

Sorry but the presence of a teeny number of children(who should never be held responsible for the progress of others) along with their desired pushy parents should be neither here nor there.

If a school can't produce fab results without the above it has major problems.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:38:06

Curlew you are clearly still distraught. Obviously it is indeed a completely wtf situation but that's how you present. And it is not bollocks that catchment systems are driven by wealth (or lack thereof). Anyone who isn't invested in segregating by wealth will admit that.

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 09:38:55

I'm hoping loads get into grammar instead of our local comp as my other son will then be in all the top sets and get pushed like kids in top sets always do.

Re unfairness middle kids being left to plod is a far bigger and more damaging issue.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 09:45:03

All my kids have SEN and to my mind, what is being done to kids with especially dyspraxia and dyslexia is the biggest scandal of all. But I know I'm biased.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 09:46:10

grin looking forward to evidence of my distraughtness!

It's wonderfully easy to convince oneself that a person is wrong by personalising and projecting. "I would be distraught if my child had to go to a Secondary Modern. Therefore Curlew must be too, and therefore everything she says must be wrong. So I can carry on thinking thy system is wonderful- the only people who think it isn't have had their thinking deranged by grief and jealousy"

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 09:49:06

Mete re dyslexia you're right.

Only the rich with a spare £300 for a private diagnosis seem to get help these days.

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 09:51:44

It's also easy to convince oneself that a personal bete noir is nothing to do with ones own DC. That the tub thumping is for the greater good grin.

Retropear Wed 18-Dec-13 09:55:46

You're right but the fact is re grammar the numbers are teeny.Standards re middle ability kids are an Ofsted focus as many simply aren't being pushed enough.

There is too much tub thumping over an issue that effects very few but not enough for issues that effect many in a far more damaging way.

snowed Wed 18-Dec-13 10:02:06

> There are comps that get better results than Grammars

Yes of course, there are exceptions to every rule. But in general the brighter children get worse results in comps than in selective schools. Why should this only be open to those with the money to go private?

> Grammar schools are full of the children of pushy parents, not necessarily the brightest children.

So improve the selection process.

higgle Wed 18-Dec-13 10:02:26

My husband was from a very poor family, MiL has serious mental health problems, FiL not interested in DH or his brother. It was only through a grammar school education that DH got the opportunity to have a good education and the chance of a professional qualification. I came from a family background where the education of females was viewed as a waste of time - boys went to public school and girls at wherever the state slotted them in, again a grammar school education gave me opportunities I otherwise would not have had. We live in a county where there are still grammar schools (5, I think) and both my sons attended one leaving with better qualifications than those who went to prep school with them got in the private sector. I have had it up to here with the constant bashing of the aspirational middle classes that goes on in government and parts of the press, The middle classes pay for everything these days it seems, only to be ridiculed left right and centre.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 18-Dec-13 10:02:49

metebilis - it is bollocks, because you're telling me I'm in favour of selection by wealth (ie postcode) and I'm not!

And the point about council estates in catchments is a RL one - and I agree with you that it's sad people flee from going to school with people who live on one! That is what the problem was with a local school - had a catchment largely from council estate which, whenever MNers mention they're moving to where I live, someone will come on and say 'avoid That Estate at all costs!!!' - but also a very wealthy area too.

The school was a byword for the estate, the people in the wealthy area often cite it as the reason they 'had' to go private, numbers dwindled and it's closing. I think that's sad and shit.

I live in the next area along, which is also very mixed - certainly not 'MN Naice', for the most part. So don't tell me I only support schools which serve their communities because I live in a good one.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 11:00:21

Nit - But you are. You don't want to be, you want to deny it, but that doesn't change the fact that selection by catchment is in many cases selection by wealth. It's a far more valid point than the one that so many people are fond of making about those who support grammar schools also supporting secondary moderns. I don't believe that secondary moderns are nearly as invidious as selection by catchment, incidentally.

The only way the comp system can be not based on wealth is by adopting fair banding and abolishing private schools.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 18-Dec-13 11:12:57

Erm, I'm not. This is sounding a bit playground. But... I'm not, and if you could stop telling me I am, I should very much appreciate it smile.

The very vast majority of catchments involve some better and some worse off families; usually of different faiths and ethnicities also: I want them all to go to the same school.

And yes, that would be radically assisted by abolishing private schools, of which I am also in favour.

I think children should go to schools near them - and I think pockets of unmitigated wealth in catchment are far, far rarer than areas with diversity. You seem to equate wealth with postcode; I don't. Most postcodes (and to be fair, in a catchment for secondary you'd have more than one) are not exclusively one thing or another.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 18-Dec-13 11:14:59

And to be honest, in principle I am not against banding - I just think in the majority of cases you wouldn't need to do it if people just sent their children to the local school, and didn't say 'well, you see, we were actually in the catchment for 'X school', so we had to go private'.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 11:21:49

And I'd appreciate it if people would stop saying that to support grammar schools is to support secondary moderns. But actually - both statements are both true and untrue. Selection by wealth is a current consequence in most areas of having selection by catchment. Sec mods are a current consequence in 3 areas of having grammar schools. Most people who support the 'good thing' (comps, grammar schools) accept that the consequence is a bit shit (you said so yourself) and really want that bit to be improved. If the courtesy of acknowledging that isn't extended to people who support grammar schools, I don't see why it should be extended to supporters of comps (which actually, I am also one of, having a DS at one). Even ones who I like and who are completely reasonable about most things (and completely on the nose as regards book choice).

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 11:24:21

Nit - how about 'we were in catchment for X school so we had to bus the kids miles away to the good school'? Which is the OP's position.

And you would always need to do banding because otherwise each school wouldn't have an equal spread and there would be outliers (in either direction). You'd probably want a few centres of excellence for SEN provision too.

There is SO much that could be done with proper compulsory state education, given the money and the will. But currently, we are given neither. sad

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 18-Dec-13 11:31:44

Who said what consequence is a bit shit, sorry?

And how about 'we were in catchment for X school so we had to bus the kids miles away to the good school'? Which is the OP's position - no, I don't think that's very good either.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 11:37:33

Nit you said a few posts ago I think that's sad and shit

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 11:40:52

But in general the brighter children get worse results in comps than in selective schools
could you provide a link for that as I've never ever heard it before,

and if that was the case then the areas with grammars would have higher average grades than the areas without - which they do not.

the poster who had one kid at grammar and one at sec mod who always piled into these threads was seeker. She no longer posts (under that name)

and nobody has explained to me why the selection should be on English, Maths and "verbal reasoning"
rather than science, running and drawing ......
why should those kids not get a specialist school safe from the doodlers and dawdlers?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 18-Dec-13 11:41:14

Ah right - but I don't see that (parents opting for private rather than send to what was, incidentally, an Ofsted rated 'Good' school) as a 'consequence' of anything other than their own snobbery - I don't think it's a consequence of catchments or comprehensive education as ideas.

I see what you mean, but that's not the way I meant it.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 11:42:37

you commented that catchments are tiny
they are in Central London but not elsewhere
I've linked to the maps of several to prove my point
please link to some maps to prove yours

nibs777 Wed 18-Dec-13 11:46:25

agree with what higgle said

higgle Wed 18-Dec-13 11:52:05

Thanks, nibs. In Gloucestershire there are no catchment areas for grammar schools, as long as you can satisfy them you can turn up it doesn't matter where you live.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 11:56:51

there are no catchment areas for grammar schools, as long as you can satisfy them you can turn up it doesn't matter where you live.
which is fine for those who can afford the transport
(something I constantly get picked up on for taking my kids to other than my local school)
children like your husband would only be able to go if they lived near enough ....
the property catchment trap that others rant about

surely it would be better if ALL the schools had sets to support and push "grammar school" kids?
that is what comps do after all.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 12:05:16

talkin No that was word.

soul2000 Wed 18-Dec-13 12:13:24

Why Can't a Non Selective school in a fully selective 25/75% split fulfil its potential and get its pupils 5Cs.

I think the main reason to this is not that they have had the top 25% Omitted ( These Pupils should be A*to Bs anyway) but is a case of a malignant 20% or so of pupils who are disruptive , can't learn or just bad.
These 20% or so destroy the learning and potential of the rest .

Therefore ( I Expect to get Flamed for this) the Malignant 20% of pupils in these and other schools should be sent to ( Dustbin Units). No one including disruptive pupils would want to be sent to somewhere called (Dustbin Units) therefore their behaviour would improve no end .
The result would be at least 70% of the middle 75% split would achieve their potential of 5Cs.

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 12:44:40

Talkin you are confusing a school's theoretical catchment area, as opposed to the reality.

One school near me has a theoretical catchment area of several miles. In reality no one has ever got a place who doesn't live in the few streets surrounding it. This is what happens when schools are over subscribed.

And yes those properties are the preserve of the wealthy.

Not London BTW.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 12:57:04

if you check the admissions data for the schools I linked to maps for, they admit kids from out of catchment as well as in

within DCs school catchment, house prices vary from £8 million to £98,000 and council flats go cheaper
out of the 1500 kids, over 300 are from outside the catchment

I do not know of any school round here that does not take all of its catchment kids - the catchment boundaries join up to cover every street in the county.
That is the point of catchments.

Please find me an example from outside London where a comp has turned away catchment kids.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 13:06:48

Word the 'city' in which I live (which is tiny and smaller than the London borough in which I grew up) has a linked school system for comp admission. The primary schools all have the whole 'city' as their catchment area, officially. In practice the 'good' ones have an effective catchment that is very small and rarely mixed. There is also a booming (ridiculously so given the size of the city and the average income of the region) private sector which basically caters for almost all the people who live in a 'bad' catchment. The only primary school which isn't strictly catchmented in practice is the one my DC's attend(ed) because that;s a church school. And it isn't seen as a Good School.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 13:12:56

"There is also a booming (ridiculously so given the size of the city and the average income of the region) private sector which basically caters for almost all the people who live in a 'bad' catchment. "

So almost all the people in the "bad" catchment go private? Huh? If they can afford private, what are they doing in the"bad" catchment?

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 13:28:32

curlew The whole city is the official catchment so my use of words was clumsy - I should have said 'outside the magic circle of roads 'feeding' the school they would find acceptable'. I suppose that one of the reasons why said parents can afford to go private is the way (identical) house prices plummet off a cliff at the point which you leave the guaranteed place in the desirable school.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 13:30:54

Obviously I made a crucial omission from my previous post which should have read 'almost all the people who could scrape together the fees ...'

The people from whom they are fleeing do not follow them into the posh schools. sad

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 13:37:42

You know what? Most of the problems with education in the UK could be solved if we could somehow convince people that "thick" "oik" and "chav" are not infectious diseases.

missinglalaland Wed 18-Dec-13 14:01:30

Just wanting to pull back a little here.

For me, the crux of the matter is the tension between what is good for my child vs. what is good for society as a whole.

From the passion on this thread, I would say it is all but unresolvable. The political trick is to make my narrow interests align with the broader interests.

I am willing to admit that I take the world as I find it, and will I strive to secure the best education for my daughters that I can. I cannot change the world on my own and my primary responsibility is to guide my dc through this world as best I can. Others might berate me for my lack of public spiritedness, but I think I am in the majority, when you look at what people actually do. And there is a certain morality in caring for and nurturing your own dc. You are the only parents they have and they are depending on you.

Any attempts to lay down draconian laws that stop parents from educating their children as they see fit, seem to take us down a Stalinist slippery slope. Whenever parents are belittled or punished for nurturing and educating their children I feel repulsed. Why should they be told that human aspiration and achievement is not for the likes of them? Shouldn't go getting ideas above their station all those rotten sharp elbowed, middle class parents, eh?

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 14:48:32

I agree with you, missing. I thnk what I find most frustrating about the grammar school debate is that "grammar school"children won't miss out by going to a comprehensive- they do just as well in a comprehensive as in a selective school. But the "secondary modern" children do worse than they would at a comprehensive. So getting rid of the remaining grammar schools wouldn't actually make any difference to the kids at them, but it would make a difference to the others. So grammar school parents could be altruistic without any cost to themselves, if you see what I mean.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 14:54:00

You are right.
And I fully admit to being somebody who drives my kids past a dire school to a good school every morning.

My viewpoint is skewed by the fact that DH works in education and trying to encourage kids all over the country to realise they have, and then work towards, their potential.

I am also very aware as an employer and adviser to small businesses that disengaged kids can become crime waves in very small groups and anything that stops disaffected kids considering burglary and vandalism as valid life options has got to be worth a try.

THAT is why I am so vehement against segregating the less mathematical and grammatical out of any chance of choosing a different path when they are only 10.

missinglalaland Wed 18-Dec-13 14:57:47

curlew I think the problem is that people aren't sure that the kids at grammar school would do just as well.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 15:00:51

then they should learn how to read statistics because the DFE information makes it perfectly clear that high achievers at "naice leafy comps" do as well if not better than kids at the vast majority of Grammar schools (which are in naice leafy areas)

have a much lower carbon footprint
and have enjoyed the latter years of their primary school a not more (no tutoring or 11+ stress)

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 15:03:00

Missing- so why don't they look at the figures? And the very telling point that the wholly selective LEAs have the same % of A*s and As as the neighbouring non selective ones!

KatnipEvergreen Wed 18-Dec-13 15:11:09

I just want my daughter to go a secondary school where the overall ethos is that it's good to be enthusiastic and to want to learn.

Whatever I think of grammar schools, that's the system we have where we live, and we're not going to move out of the area away from family or not put her in for the grammar test because the system isn't ideal. If she does the test and passes she will have more choice of schools, simple as that.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 15:18:12

and if she does not pass?

3asAbird Wed 18-Dec-13 16:05:08

Talking peace

I suspect redland green basically school for cliftonites and redland people and maybe cotham as good examples of other senior comprehensiveswithin aother city outside london ie bristol.

Which leaves lot of wealthy parents in bs9 gloucester rd/bishopston some people call it little lodon with some good primaries but sink senior schools miles away.

What do i want for my dd.

a smallish school where shes safe and nurtured, happy.
That they push her if shes bright or give her extra help ifs shes strugling.
Not much bullying
good ethos of working hard
decent range subjects ie not many schools offer triple scinece.
good facilities.
smart uniform
good communication and behaviour.
lots extra curricular opportunities
good gcse/alevel results
decent amount going onto to good unis.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 16:05:38

curlew it wouldn't make a difference to most of the kids at Kent Grammar schools to abolish them and I agree with you that Kent grammar schools should be abolished. Superselectives are a different issue.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 16:14:03

I agree with most of your list, but

big schools offer more subjects - DCs has 1500 pupils - ie 300 per year and offers lots of options

the highest performing school in this area has the mankiest uniform - and my local school has a lovely uniform - books / covers all that

summerends Wed 18-Dec-13 16:20:59

Most people agree that results in these tables reflect good exam preparation coupled with varying levels of pupil diligence. Even the percentage of A* at A level does not necessarily reflect how much pupils are stretched in their thinking skills and knowledge outside the exam curriculum ( more tested in the various university aptitude tests). That's why most are not convinced by those stats alone as to which type of school best serves brighter children, comprehensive or grammar.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Wed 18-Dec-13 16:23:51

This is what happened to ds in yr 5-6. State primary.

Nothing. He didn't learn a thing. He and his cleverer mate were consistently sat next to really naughty kids in an attempt to be a good influence. The class was in chaos. I went in but was told it was ok, he was doing better than the others (and therefore that was good enough) He was miserable.

We live in a grammar area (not kent!)The head was very anti grammar and there was no help within school time (heads three kids went to the grammar of course but ho hum). I thought sod this, why should my son do crap at school in the hope that him being obedient wears off on the others - so encouraged him to take the 11plus.

School went into special measures. My annoyance at that 'educational approach' remains. I learnt the phrase 'teaching to the middle' on mumsnet. This was teaching to the bottom.

Marmitelover55 Wed 18-Dec-13 16:25:01

3asaBird - I wax going to give the example of Redland Green School in Bridtol too but you beat me to it grin

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Wed 18-Dec-13 16:30:40

I don't think thick oink and chav are contagious.

I'm working class. We have no inherited wealth, no properties to give our kids. They have to make it by themselves. I don't care about the class/wealth of the kids around mine but i'd prefer them to be around kids with a positive attitude to education. And if that makes me pushy I'll take that.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 16:42:29

Talkin' - giganto-schools are problematic for those with SEN.

I think school uniform is lunatic, I really do. I can see the benefit in something like a compulsory fleecy and a requirement to be not completely T&A hanging out all over the place - but really, that's it. I sometimes feel like a lone voice of sanity at the schools my kids attend though.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 16:44:59

giganto-schools are problematic for those with SEN
evidence for that?
as all the schools in this county are big and SEN parents I talk to seem quite happy that the SEN teams (ten staff at DCs school) cope with most things or refer to special schools for those who do not fit mainstream

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 16:48:26

"That's why most are not convinced by those stats alone as to which type of school best serves brighter children, comprehensive or grammar."

Two things. One- what do you base that statement?

And two- even if it were true, why do the needs of the brighter trump the needs of the average or the less bright?

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Wed 18-Dec-13 16:51:58

The hopes of humanity rest on the scientist and engineers of tomorrow. The brightest do need nurturing.

I have family who work in schools for excluded kids. The money spent per pupil is eye watering.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 16:54:53

"The hopes of humanity rest on the scientist and engineers of tomorrow. The brightest do need nurturing."

And you can tell who the scientists and engineers of the future are at 10, can you? I can think of a few who would have slipped through the net. Einstein, for example............

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 16:55:43

"I have family who work in schools for excluded kids. The money spent per pupil is eye watering."

Good. I, for one, don't want to live in a society with a significant underclass.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Wed 18-Dec-13 17:03:44

Think what einstein could have achieved with a grammar education ;)

summerends Wed 18-Dec-13 17:09:13

Curlew I am not saying that it does but is n't that a different argument to whether brighter pupils are best served in an excellent comprehensive or grammar. I don't know the answer but I am saying that there are more nebulous aspects to an academic education (discounting non academic pursuits) that cannot be quantified in these exam results.
Unfortunately these nebulous aspects are also perhaps more part of the professional class advantage at home.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 17:17:15

Talkin' - experience, love. Bitter bitter experience. I should have been more specific though - prob not an issue for dyslexics. But dyspraxics and some people with AS? Hell yeah. sad In the same way that crowds can be a problem for us. And transport systems (e.g. tube system, airports (busy hubs in particular can be horrendous)). And that's just the sensory and spatial issues. We haven't even started on the 'teachers knowing what the issue is' area yet (and I have never me a SENCO who didn't say things were fine and everything was walking as it should. And that has only rarely been the case, across 3 schools (primary, comp, and grammar)).

And you know what? I am BEYOND fed up of people snidely implying that if you can't deal with a year group of 300 and a building a size to match, you aren't fit for mainstream education. Piss on that. Giganto-education isn;t fit for kids - it's battery education and it's just as wrong as battery farming.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 17:19:05

if big schools are so rubbish, why does Eton persist in having 1300 pupils?

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 17:25:02

Eton is the spiritual home of agribusiness, isn't it? Big Land is well represented there, no doubt about that. Some kids probably thrive in giganto-schools. My own son likes the anonymity (and uses it to his (dis)advantage). They don't suit everyone, especially kids with some types of Special Needs. But, curlew you know you were asking for an example of the one size fits all mentality? Talkin' has very kindly provided it. You're welcome.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 17:26:12

Oh, and the other reason that Eton has a lot of pupils is the same reason that agribusiness operates the way it does - cold hard moral-free cash.

lottysmum Wed 18-Dec-13 17:27:12

I suppose the big question with regards to Grammar Schools is what motivates a family to want to go to extreme lengths to get their child into a Grammar School and is it worth it ....

I read threads about 11 year old children travelling 1 to 2 hours to get to a school - thats education which actually results in their child not really having a childhood - I thought the best day's of your life were supposed to be when you were at school - not spending over 20% + of your awake hours travelling... let the children have a life you spend 40 years plus working even more going forward - Crazy !!!

Local schools are definitely the way forward but it means that parents do need to take the plunge and support their local schools ... we have a few super school in our borough non selective that are churning out amazing results (79% pass rate A-C)...success breeds success... If some of the parents put half the effort into supporting there local school that they put into getting their child into grammar school we would soon see improvement.

Bonsoir Wed 18-Dec-13 17:27:36

"And you know what? I am BEYOND fed up of people snidely implying that if you can't deal with a year group of 300 and a building a size to match, you aren't fit for mainstream education. Piss on that. Giganto-education isn;t fit for kids - it's battery education and it's just as wrong as battery farming."

I wholeheartedly agree.

Bonsoir Wed 18-Dec-13 17:29:12

TalkinPeace - Eton is not a valid comparison. There are houses and a massively favourable teacher:pupil ratio that the state sector will never be able to match that allows for individual attention.

And it is a selective school that does not suit all boys.

OneMincePie2Many Wed 18-Dec-13 17:29:25

Please find me an example from outside London where a comp has turned away catchment kids.

In Reading, we're in a shared catchment for two comprehensives. Our catchment area was changed two years ago, from Comp A to both Comp A and B.

Comp A is Ofsted Outstanding, is where our neighbours' (older) kids go, where many of my kids' peers will go (following their older siblings, they'll get places) and where we will most definitely not go - the school is oversubscribed and we are furthest away by distance, despite being in catchment.

Comp B has a bad reputation - in comparison to Comp A. It has a more mixed, less "naice" (new MN word that I've picked up grin) intake. People I know are actively moving out of this school's catchment to ensure their kids will get into Comp A.

So, my experience teaches me that there is little, or no actual choice in where we send our kids to school. Short of having the money to move (I agree with up thread poster that catchment = wealth).

So what do we do? We live within a mile of a grammar, we channel our funds into providing support for our kids to sit the 11+. I am as guilty of doing all that I can do ensure that my kids won't go to Comp B, as those who have moved homes.

But I will be pleased if my kids get into the grammar - I believe that they'll enjoy being in an environment where they'll be challenged, where learning is actively encouraged (by staff and by peers, I was bullied at secondary for being bright (amongst other issues) and I would like my kids to avoid that "stigma").

In our area, the grammars take a tiny percentage of the population, so I would not think that the absence of those children matter significantly to the performance of surrounding comps. But I am grateful that there is still an element of choice / hope for those who cannot buy their way into a "better" education.

I can't tell if that's the right decision, how can anyone?!? This is an emotive issue, because we parents are led to believe that there is a choice. If you remove all the 11+ testing, catchments etc. it would still be a difficult decision because wherever the kids go, above all else you want them to be happy and there is ultimately no way of guaranteeing that I'm afraid.

Sorry for the waffling btw..

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 17:55:38

"But, curlew you know you were asking for an example of the one size fits all mentality? Talkin' has very kindly provided it. You're welcome."

What, Eton? I wholeheartedly agree.

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 18:12:43

Eton is a terrible example of why large schools work so well.

For a start Eton would not be the school of choice for the quirkier boy. Any decent prep would advise you on that.

What you have at Eton is a group of handpicked botys, all chosen precisely because they will suit the type of education on offer.

It is also obscenely well funded, so class sizes are often extremly small with plenty of one-to-one thrown in for good measure.

Eton is the antithisis of a large comp!!!!

soul2000 Wed 18-Dec-13 18:29:48

I dont believe in "Nationalism but in Eton's case, i make an exception and ask that it be turned into a state grammar boarding school.

summerends Wed 18-Dec-13 18:31:54

If you abolished grammar schools, say in Kent - in order to provide the so-called advantages of large comprehensive campuses that Talkin advocates, would there have to be lots of expensive new building projects or would the plan be for smaller comprehensives with shared resources requiring peripatetic teachers

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 18:33:40

sorry, silly of me to mention Eton, but it always makes me laugh when school size is brought into the equation

small schools and big schools can both be good / bad at ... pastoral care / options / discipline / progress

the size of the school matters much less than the ethos of the senior management team and the power of the sanctions over pupils (something where private schools always have the edge over state schools

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 18:35:56

Hampshire has big campus schools because it does
if you just abolished the 11+ and brought in a catchment system in Kent - federating each grammar with its local secmod so that the teachers could be shared
it would take only 5 years for everybody to forget that Grammars had ever been
same as in the counties that did just that years ago

summerends Wed 18-Dec-13 18:40:57

Talkin would you mind explaining federating in this context? I remember anecdotally ex grammar schools slipping in teaching standards when they became comprehensives. How could one ensure that a good grammar and secondary modern do not become two mediocre comprehensives such as your local school?

soul2000 Wed 18-Dec-13 18:46:24

Talkinpeace. you have just described the "Socialists Nirvana" destroying great schools in five easy steps.

Are you trying to become the new "TONY CROSS* LAND?

lottysmum Wed 18-Dec-13 19:00:02

I think there is a problem with some teachers who only want to teach the bright kids - One of my friends has taught at City, Wilsons and then Whitgift and she will openly admit she just wants to teach bright kids ...but if there were schools with mixed ability then perhaps teaching standards would improve with more good teachers willing to teach in the comps.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 19:03:10

I remember anecdotally ex grammar schools slipping in teaching standards when they became comprehensives.
Indeed, you probably did, but that was in the 1970's and teachers are now qualified and subject to the scrutiny of the internet.
I went to private school because there was no way my parents would have sent me to a 1970's London Comp fwink

How could one ensure that a good grammar and secondary modern do not become two mediocre comprehensives such as your local school?

My local school is an odd case - merge a school that was consistently in the bottom 20 in the country with another that was in the bottom 200
hand it to an inexperienced evangelical Academy chain
golly gosh, its still crap ......

Federated schools
Are already going on all over the country due to the shortage of heads.
Two or more schools share a head and pool resources across the SMT
Often used where one needs pulling up by the short and curlies.
Where tightly supervised - which they generally are - they work well.
more info here

summerends Wed 18-Dec-13 19:04:41

In most walks of life, specialisation improves quality. Not that many teachers are equally able to teach the two extremes of bright motivated children to high academic standards (at secondary level) and struggling, disengaged children. It is a rare gift. So, unless there is a huge campus or lots of money. how can you ensure that lots of smaller comprehensives will have sufficient staff for specialisation and broad curriculum?
Is that what federation delivers?

OddSins Wed 18-Dec-13 19:17:23

A lot of the argument as far as I can see against Grammars in this thread is, in educational research terms, comprehensives lose the so-called "compositional effect" by having an academic stream off-site i.e. geographically sited in a different building.

This effect is where a relatively homogenous group (shared educational expectations, culture, values, response to discipline etc) self-reinforce their shared characteristics (whether good or bad). For advocates of comprehensives, the logic has to be that all children would benefit from having an academic sub-group as part of their day-to-day experience with the academic focus of the teaching spilling-over. And a similar effect for sport, music, technical, drama etc.

There is much evidence against this initially appealing notion. Specialisation appears to produce better results in most forms of education. You could conceivably have silos / different streams in a campus like format but the move in this country of specialist academies is a nod towards the german model (separate schools with different focus) which has produced a highly skilled, technical workforce and affluent western economy.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 19:36:12

the move in this country of specialist academies
um no, they were a total sham and have ceased now that the funding has been cut

Specialisation appears to produce better results in most forms of education
evidence please for the under 18's where education is compulsory

Singapore, Shangai, Hong Kong and South Korea do not have lots of different specialist schools ..... for artists and mathematicians and sporty types

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 19:49:06

Talkin - you laugh at people with disabilities a lot, do you? sad

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 19:51:27

Talkin I went to private school because there was no way my parents would have sent me to a 1970's London Comp

I went to a (late) 1970s London comp. Your parents wasted their money.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 19:55:29

I do agree with you that federated schools are an excellent idea though, especially those that include feeder primaries as well so that the more advanced kids in Y6 can actually do useful work at their level in a controlled appropriate environment.

I've said many times that given enough money and enough will to make it work properly we could make state education consistently brilliant across the spectrum instead of in the pockets where we have brilliance now. But you just can't 'laugh' at outliers, especially not outliers who are where they are because of a disability (which I suspect you don't actually 'believe' in, from your attitude). Fixing state education takes more intelligence and ingenuity than copying the model of big agribusiness.

The key to everything though is abolishing private schools. Without that it will never be made to work.

wordfactory Wed 18-Dec-13 20:05:54

Why is the abolition of private schools the key met.

There's really not that many of us to make an appreciable difference, is there?

summerends Wed 18-Dec-13 20:09:29

I'm still struggling with the concept of federation. Does it mean travelling between schools for children or for teachers (with entailed added expense in time and transport)? Where does it happen now between comprehensives (except for extracurricular)?
Specialisation does occur between comprehensives does n't it but I thought that in some cases this allowed selection by aptitude, for example in music.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 20:18:39

Word - where I live they really do have a much bigger impact than the single SS grammar school 30 miles away. I know it's not the same everywhere, and indeed here the SS is regarded as better than the posh schools (because it IS better, mainly!) but still it's one state school far away and they are several schools nearby. But my view isn't dictated solely by what it's like here, it's informed by my knowledge of human nature. The only way we will get the state education system we want and our kids deserve (and practically everyone on this thread wants almost exactly the same thing, apart from the small number who are purposely ignoring the issues some SEN conditions can have with giganto-schools) is if everyone, truly everyone, is invested in it being sorted and being good, because everyone, truly everyone (with kids) is stuck with it.

Curlew and Talkin' are both fond of going on about grammar schools taking kids that 'belong' to their 'local' schools. I'm much more concerned about the posh schools taking the parents. People like you.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 20:19:04

But you just can't 'laugh' at outliers, especially not outliers who are where they are because of a disability (which I suspect you don't actually 'believe' in, from your attitude)
Excuse me.
Where have I laughed at disability?
If you knew me you'd know how utterly inappropriate that comment is.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 20:24:21

talkin at 18:33 you posted it always makes me laugh when school size is brought into the equation

Since I mentioned school size with direct reference to SEN conditions, and NAMED THEM, your comment seemed fairly clear to me. And it was UTTERLY inappropriate. If you knew my DD1 and what she has gone through with her disabilities in the last year you'd realise that. Or perhaps you wouldn't. Perhaps you'd still laugh. Like you did at 18:33.

missinglalaland Wed 18-Dec-13 20:30:50

I understand the frustration regarding fee paying schools. But I think abolishing them would be illiberal in the extreme.

missinglalaland Wed 18-Dec-13 20:37:07

As for big/small schools. I think the economies of scale in regards to big schools are primarily in shared facilities. Have 2000+ sized comps like they do in the USA, and suddenly theatres, DT shops, swimming pools, sports fields etc become more affordable.

On the other hand, from personal experience, I've always been happier myself in smaller institutions compared to bigger ones despite the trade off in opportunities. Being able to know everyone personally and forge an identity meant more to me. I had no special challenges. I can see how this dynamic could be even stronger for kids with SEN.

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 20:40:23

I did not know you had a DD who has had problems at school.
My comment was infinitely more general than that.
The amount of parents who think that the size of the school is a magic bullet to sort everything (large or small, discipline / SEN / options etc).
I have never (to my knowledge) posted in a derogatory manner about the existence of SEN or the fact that "every child matters" has to include the ones that many selective school parents pretend do not exist.

FWIW I do not support the abolition of private schools, because no country has successfully done so to the benefit of its people.

OddSins Wed 18-Dec-13 20:43:14


I feel a Guardian article might be best for you. Can happily provide others. We could also add that privately-provided, publicly-funded schools also out perform e.g. Charter schools in US. I'm winding you up now Talkin - your political posture is too transparent and too easy a target. Perhaps we could ask for your evidence on your various postures. I am particularly interested in your thoughts that verbal reasoning is not a basis for future academic success!! You need to review your own evidence if you do not believe that. Can happily provide the spreadsheet on correlation with A-level bands.

deliverance Wed 18-Dec-13 20:53:39

I have been at work today and unable to catch up with this thread till now. I still don't if talkinpeace's or curlew's points can be resolved. Me. I only care about my children. I don't have time to think about other people's children. Keeping up with my own is hard enough. But lest we forget, education is extravagantly funded and we do not have the levels of functiinal illiteracy and innumeracy that existed up to a generation ago. Let's count our blessings for what we havegot.

deliverance Wed 18-Dec-13 20:56:31

Aoologies. Should be "lest we not forget"

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 20:58:08

I do not need to click on that link to see that it says 2009
Specialist schools were abolished by Gove in 2010.

and please, if you are going to quote me, please use copy and paste
I said that Verbal reasonging was not a GCSE subject. Which indeed it is not.

I'd love to know what you think my political posture is, as I only joined the UK electoral roll this year.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 21:13:21

Metebilis- that was an outrageous thing to say to Talkin'' - I think you should retract and apologize. Mind you, you don't have a good track record for doing that, do you? You seem to think you have licence to be as rude as you like and expect the conversation to carry on as before.....

kitchendiner Wed 18-Dec-13 21:14:33

"The hopes of humanity rest on the scientist and engineers of tomorrtow. The brightest do need nurturing."

high ability + task commitment + creativity = "the brightest of tomorrow".

Creativity is not part of the 11+.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 21:15:55

missinglalalad Well, I'm not a liberal I'm a socialist. So that's OK.

Talkin - Thanks. I do know why you don't laugh at disabilities (this was my original MN name. I only changed back cos of the 50th anniversary. I'm amazed people I talked to on a regular basis with this name for ages don't recognise it) but I was really very shock at your comment because I thought you had recognised me. And of course so few people have any idea about the issues caused by severe dyspraxia, most people (if they believe in it at all) think it's something to do with handwriting. sad

Peace? (You're wrong about private schools though)

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 21:19:26

Curlew - seeing as Talkin has apologised I think you should too. What Talkin said was outrageous, not what I said. What you have said is outrageous too - as is so often the case. To say that mention of school size makes you laugh when it was SPECIFICALLY mentioned in relation to disability is horrendous. And while I've accepted Talkin's apology that doesn't mean that what she said wasn't outrageous - I just accept that she didn't mean to say what she said.

If YOU knew what my DD1 had gone through in the last year you would hang your head in shame. If you were capable of feeling shame. But no - you'd probably just launch yet another attack on me

OddSins Wed 18-Dec-13 21:26:26


I seemed to have missed your evidence. VR is highly correlated with A-level performance. Or do you want to deny academically able children?

And I understand you are also denying specialist education provides benefits? Again, you seem to want ignore the evidence provided; happy to review your own evidence when you provide it.

We could also look at other countries. You don't seem to want to take on the german argument. Why not?

TalkinPeace Wed 18-Dec-13 21:27:56

you are precious and rude
I did not, and will not apologise to you for what I did not say.
you are just so self obsessed that you think all posts between yours are about yours
frankly I do not give a stuff who you are.
this thread was not, is not and will never be about your DD - start your own thread for that.

I have a dying cat to rescue.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 21:29:26

Metebilis - I ams still waiting for you to qpologize for your outrageous personal comments at 13.08. No apologies coming from me, afraid- I've done nothing to make me "hang my head in shame" and neither has talkin'. You chose, for whatever reason to take personally a completely non personal remark. It is fucking appalling that your child has not had the support she needs. And I quite understand that you are raw and incredibly sensitive. But this does not give you the right to shut down debate. And it doe not give you the right to lash out at other posters.

Metebelis3 Wed 18-Dec-13 21:39:26

I did not lash out. I was the one who raised the issue of school size to which Talkin responded that it makes her laugh. I also, when raising the issue explained why. But still it made her laugh. So we all know where she stands especially since she has done her best to make us all see she isn't in fact sorry for her comment at all. And does find the issues SEN kids can have with large schools to be laughable. So that's it basically isn't it.

summerends Wed 18-Dec-13 22:00:57

Cannot creativity be developed and nurtured as equally important at all levels of academic ability?
Talkin good luck with the cat.

curlew Wed 18-Dec-13 22:14:04

Metebilis, you're being ridiculous now. As I'm sure you will see when you are calmer. Go and do something else, then re read the thread in the morning.

soul2000 Wed 18-Dec-13 22:24:42

Only people who have "Dyspraxia" or symptoms can possibly understand, what for most people are normal everyday things are "Terrifying".

I know from my own experiences , how big schools can make situations for children with Dyspraxia, desperate and cause children to just exist at school.

In many cases just getting though a day is the equal to 3 days for other pupils. Anybody who believes Dyspraxia is Handwriting or just coordination issues is so incorrect, Dyspraxia effects the brain differently every time.
People can not understand how 1 day a Dyspraxic sufferer can be brilliant at one task , the next day the same task is impossible . This in the case of pupils at school gives the impression to teachers that the pupil is not trying or messing about when the truth is the complete opposite.

I wanted to post this in support of Metebelis and her DD. Because most sufferers of Dyspraxia are Highly intelligent and verbally excellent, Dyspraxia
is a disability that is not really understood.

Metebellis. A great website that has helped me understand more about my symptoms= Dyspraxic Adults.

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 07:57:52

Honestly, talkin and curlew, you really are cut from the same cloth.

Two middle class privately educated women, neither of whom use their local comp, banging on and on about what other people should or shouldn't do.

Demanding apologies, demanding evidence like a couple of spoiled todlers.

Why are you both so certain you know what's best for everyone? Why do you dismiss people's experiences and opinions?

I'm sure you will say you don't, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating here.

bryte Thu 19-Dec-13 08:16:19

Talkin Please find me an example from outside London where a comp has turned away catchment kids

I know of two in South Suffolk and two in North Hampshire.

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 08:19:40

bryte I'm sure there are loads of schools like that. Oversubscribed schools are by their very nature unable to allocate a place to every kid in catchment who wants to go there.

This is not news to anyone...except talkin.

bryte Thu 19-Dec-13 08:28:50

I also dislike the statistic that 90% or whatever (sorry can't remember the figure quoted) of parents get their first choice of school place. Most parents do not put down schools as their first choice that they have no hope of getting into. If we had a year where every parent wrote as their first choice the school they would most like their child to go to if it were possible, the percentage would be much lower.

bryte Thu 19-Dec-13 08:30:51

Not that I am here to defend grammar schools, or faith schools, or state boarding schools or free schools.....

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 08:34:17

bryte exactly.

In the town near me, there are three schools with a definite pecking order. Now everyone knows that no.1 is a bugger to get into. You have to be a friend of him upstairs and live in the surrounding streets to get much of a sniff.

People out in the village where I live just don't bother putting it down, because they won't get it and then they might miss out on no.2 or 3 and be forced to go to the neighbouring city. Every year this happens to some poor family!

Blueberrypots Thu 19-Dec-13 08:40:42

A couple of our local-ish comprehensive schools receive an average of 850-1000 applications every year for 120 places.

At least a third if not more, depending on years go to siblings. You can do your maths as to how many children might be left out from within catchment.

We are nowhere near London.

zooweemumma Thu 19-Dec-13 08:54:47

We have one, very good, local comp. It is very oversubscribed. A friend of mine tried to get a place for her dd, failed and had to privately educate for 2.5 years until a place came up. The alternative offered was miles away with no reliable bus service, they would have had to collect at 3pm and as both parents worked it was impossible.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Thu 19-Dec-13 08:56:06

Spot on word factory.

I especially love it when the privileged woman of mumsnet breathing the rarified air of Tunbridge Wells accuse others of being snobby etc. it always makes me smile.

curlew Thu 19-Dec-13 09:25:41

"Two middle class privately educated women, neither of whom use their local comp"

1. I am not privately educated.
2. I do use my local schools. There are no comprehensives in my area, but both my children went to the schools they have been allocated by the LEA.

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 09:39:55

TalkinPeace, I admire your faith in Comps and I'm sure some of that faith comes from your DH's experience in education. It took me half a term of working full time in our local comp to find out what it was really like and what a disservice it was doing it's kids. That is not to say that there aren't fantastic teachers there and lots of innovation. Does your DH do unannounced drop-ins on lower set lessons? Does he hang around the corridors at lunch time? Does he scrutinise controlled assessment arrangements? Read staff emails?

The grammar school system in Northern Ireland still allows for social mobility but it was 'dissed' in one fell swoop last week because NI's Pisa rating isn't stellar. You have a much better chance of getting a decent free education in NI than you have in England (there are hardly any private schools).

curlew Thu 19-Dec-13 09:42:27

And, wordfactory, in terms of apologies- did you actually read what talkin' was accused of? Nothing to do with education, or the thread, or politics or anything.

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 09:42:52

I apologise for my error curlew I thought you were privately educated after you were home educated. However my point on your local school stands. You did not need to apply for the 11 plus for your DC. You could have stepped out and not supported it, taken what was given, as you say everyone else should do.

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 09:46:59

And yes I did read what talkin said. Another poster stated she was looking for a small school. met agreed how important that was especially for SEN and talkin dismissed those concerns as 'hilarious' in much the same way she dismissed somone upthread as 'thick'.

lainiekazan Thu 19-Dec-13 09:53:30

Ds and dd attend very large schools - primary and comprehensive. Fwiw there are parents of children with SEN busting to get into these schools. There are two SN children in dd's class. I know both mothers and they are entirely happy with the provision and progress of their dcs. So you can't possibly make a generalisation about whether big/small schools are better. It depends on so many things.

I went to a tiny primary school. I can't say I remember being nurtured , but it was the 70s, I suppose.

I went to a (very top) girls' grammar. Full of bitchy bullies and nasty old crone teachers marking time till retirement.

Dh went to a comprehensive. Full of rough kids. He was badly bullied for being "posh" and even some teachers joined in to curry favour with the disruptive kids.

Ds goes to a comprehensive. OK, they don't wear blazers, sing Jerusalem and the school buildings look like a category 3 prison, but his friends are all extremely leafy , hardworking and ambitious.

Make of all that what you will.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Dec-13 10:03:00

Gosh, I hope the fact that I went to a state comprehensive means my views are extra-valid then!

What a bizarre thing to say: I assume you don't think, Word, that if your children, in adulthood, come to embrace sentiments more egalitarian than their education might suggest, their views will therefore be laughable?

curlew Thu 19-Dec-13 10:07:04

Sigh. I did take what we were allocated. We took part in the system and took what we were given.

That means, that unlike many of the pontificators on this thread, I actually know what I am talking about when it comes to a wholly selective education system. I have seen first hand the effect it has on children, schools, families and the community. For most people- including those for whom a grammar school means a superselective which leaves a "near enough" comprehensive for everyone else to go to- this is theoretical. It isn't for me. But it's so much easier to tell the messenger she's talking bollocks, isn't it? And dream of the reintroduction of grammars all over the country, so that the born privileged can stay privileged, and those that have achieved privilege can pull the ladder up after them.

Oh, and wordfactory. If I remember correctly, you are a writer. If I correct, I can only assume that you are deliberately mischief making. Please stop.

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 10:08:01

This is nothing new but I'll say it anyway. Grammar schools represent aspiration. They don't necessarily have better teachers or better resources but there is inherent aspiration. Sure there are lots of kids at comps that are aspirational but equally there are lots that aren't and never the twain shall meet (the great top sets/bottom sets divide).

If we are going to get rid of Grammars then let's make the Comp's sets mixed ability.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Dec-13 10:10:27

Christ, now grammars are great mainly because they represent aspiration? So we keep all the aspiration in one building and leave the rest to.... not aspire?

I mean, what?

ps. top sets and bottom sets, and indeed middle sets, do meet. Sometimes even without any kicking in of heads!

lainiekazan Thu 19-Dec-13 10:11:36

Let's not.

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 10:17:47

Nit I'm not saying that only people with direct expoerience should have a view.

I'm just saying that those who have no direct experience should at least bloody well listen to those that do. Not just dismiss everything they say as 'thick' or 'hilarious' or whatever.

If you don't have SEN (as both met and I do) and you don't have DC with SEN (as met does), then why would you be so dismissive?

Similarly, if you're ideal is to help the disadvanataged gain traction through education, why wouldn't you listen to people who have direct expereince of it? Why would you assume you know better?

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 10:19:22

Nit, they don't meet in my local Comp. There is a vertical tutoring system and only 3 lessons per day so they don't even pass each other in the corridor much.

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 10:19:58

And yes curlew met and I have both said we think the Kent system sounds crap.

Why? Because we have actually listened to your direct expereince.

Wow. Long thread.

Has anyone mentioned the idea of making all schools better so no one would care which school their kids went to because they are all good? A bit utopian isn't it, but I like it as a starting point.

In order of magnitude, you'd have to address the state comps first, then faith schools. Grammar schools and private schools would be the last group to bother with, but they seem to be the ones that upset people the most.

If all state schools were good enough, then I wouldn't care about selective schools existing or not.

As for social mobility, I think the persistence of wealth and the motivation of parents will always far outweigh schooling. You could ban all faith schools, grammars and private schools and the rich will remain rich and only those with well motivated supported families will go from poor to rich.

missinglalaland Thu 19-Dec-13 10:32:25

Agree completely muswellhilldad. You summed it up nicely fir me.

summerends Thu 19-Dec-13 10:32:45

Yes MuswellHillDad, that has been repeated quite a few times smile

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Dec-13 10:32:48

Everyone's assuming he or she knows better, Word - that's sort of implicit in having an opinion! What's yours, on how the disadvantaged gain traction?

I don't see all this listening and adapting and respecting being recommended when people tell me what comprehensive schools are like and what they're not like!

Anyhow - I'm not in this specific SEN argument so shall leave it.

Pickled - is the vertical tutoring the same as sets? I've not heard of that - I know a few schools who register in vertical groups, but I haven't heard of actual teaching taking place in set vertical groups before. Three lessons a day sounds a bit mad, though!

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 10:36:23

Why is the Kent system so much worse than the situation in NI? Anything to do with the number of private schools or faith schools there? What are the percentages of the different types of schools in Kent (Comps/Faith/Grammar/Independent)?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Dec-13 10:37:36

Well, 0% comprehensive for a start, I would assume!

summerends Thu 19-Dec-13 10:38:57

Most people do not want to change from a good school to mediocre.
Although theoretically the comprehensive system can be excellent for most ability children ( except perhaps both ends of the spectrum), the patchy provision of education system means that people have little faith that in practice abolishing grammars will improve standards, however fair or unfair the system may seem to those who are in second moderns.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Dec-13 10:41:18

That would be a better point if standards were higher in selective areas though!

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 10:46:46

Nit, no teaching takes place in vertical tutor groups. It just means that instead of all the pupils in any one year group registering (and having tutor time) in mixed ability peer groups, the peer group is fragmented.

I think it is way of entrenching the segregation of ability sets. So those in set 5 really have no idea what those in set 1 are up to and vice versa.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Dec-13 10:50:17

Oh I see... yeah, I suppose that vertical registering, whilst I understand the rationale for it in many ways, could have that effect.

I thought you meant they had their lessons in mixed year groups though, and was prepared to be a bit astounded!

Blueberrypots Thu 19-Dec-13 11:08:08

let's make the Comp's sets mixed ability

I have had experience of mixed ability in KS2 at a local primary. It was a complete disaster for my children. I am sure that a fantastic, inspirational teacher can do wonders in any setting, but it really does not lend itself to differentiating effectively, especially for a weaker teacher.

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 11:21:55

Blueberrypots, so let's train teachers to do it well. I work with teachers in Zambia who are implementing the best of education research into their classrooms to great effect, including mixed ability teaching.

Blueberrypots Thu 19-Dec-13 11:30:40

I agree pickledsiblings, I myself was educated in a mixed ability setting and it was very well delivered and highly effective. I just have a bad experience of it in this country.

Maybe the idea of leaving children of mixed ability to work in groups with minimal supervision and their backs to the teachers isn't that effective when you have 35 children to one class. We also had that number of children but to be fair we were sat in rows facing the teacher.

Not saying that's a solution but just my experience.

zooweemumma Thu 19-Dec-13 11:46:19

God no mixed ability. I've had experience of this from opposite ends of the spectrum and it's soul destroying for both very bright and struggling children

TalkinPeace Thu 19-Dec-13 12:02:15

Having children divided into sets according to ability within the same building is a common sense approach that has been used by private and state schools successfully for many years
on condition
the sets are flexible and reflect current ability - so kids get moved up and down and are not in the same set for all subjects.

Where the sets are in different school, that is not possible.

The way pickledsiblings school operates sounds horrific to me because it does not encourage children to understand those of differing learning capacity and styles and stops the cohort group getting to know each other.
DH has not been there - I'd be interested to know what he thought if he ever does
(he's not an inspector by the way so has no interest in reading the kids work, but he does hang around in corridors and staff rooms and hears lots of the gossip and vibe)

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 12:13:17

I'm desperate to know how their recent Ofsted has gone Talkin. Do you have to wait for the report to be released? Why does it take so long…

curlew Thu 19-Dec-13 12:13:22

Is anyone seriously suggesting mixed ability teaching isn all subjects? I thought pickledsiblings was being ironic.....

3asAbird Thu 19-Dec-13 12:14:26

It was me who wants a smallish senior school.

The local in school is now huge 3000+kids I think and heard bigger its got its declined where as used to be good and still lives off its good reputation.

I used redland green as example as its pretty extrem it was set up in very wealthy area where there are several independent schools.
its catchement is tiny distance varies from 700m to 1.27km depending on year,

It was oversubscribed before it was even open.
Houses were pricy before it opened and have sot up even more.

it does not help nearby area that has no senior school.

its totally mad and example of how bristol segregated by faith or wealth.

So reason why I think selection by ability not parents wealth or faith be fairer!

choosing school in bristol like pissig in wind.

if not of faith or in stupidly expensive cathements then its large acadedemy fair banded and random allocation so no one really feels sure where they will get.

bristol wont provide more place as empty seats in the sink schools most of ow are academies.

scools are segrated in racial, socio and eceonmic mixes and redland green predominatly middleclass/wealthy.

I know catholics who dident get into rc school as they literally take kids from other las that have no fath senior ie north somerset, south glos.

Bristol cathedral and colston girls have sibling link which mean after few years less families get the opportunity becomes a very small pool of lucky buggers really.

I went to look at bristol free primary.
30places all over the city.
then its random allocation.
been open a year 150applications last year.

It allows then sibling link younger siblings and gives them admission into high sucessful senior academy ex indepedent which means ion few years time once primary been open a while and 60 intake then lot of people will get in through sibling link and be less places for non siblings.

we have new all through steiner academy opening next year

But in reality most bristolains dont have much choice.

To get the coe one need to go church more hard with small toddler and husband who works a lot, plus chucrch distance away.

independent schools senior looking at 11k year maybe with one child cheaper than buyiing in good area.

some default to independents for primary as thats cheaper 1500-3k a term so appreciate cheaper than london/south east day schools.

the city oly has one boys school fee paying.
2girls schools fee paying
1used to to be feepaying now lottory academy.

I have girls and boys and not sure whats best.

i dont want to move to thornbury or wooten under edge most people like bristol.

Least in grammer you have something to work towards ok u still might not get in but feels like opportunity.
Some commute bristol to grammers in gloucester/chelttenham.

Im not even dire if eldest grammar type shes struggled with school could just be late bloomer but shes middle to lower co-hort ability at the moment. But wouldet deny other bright kids in city opportunity.

YoDiggity Thu 19-Dec-13 12:18:10

*stop state funding of any segregated school
and get on with getting the best out of all kids
- even those with fuckwit parents.*

Amen to that!

3asAbird Thu 19-Dec-13 12:27:08

redland green 80/952 pupils free school meals

The school has 3.70% of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) which places it in the LOW band. This compares with an average of 13.4% eligible in postcode BS6 and 19% eligible in Bristol, City of local authority area as a whole.

My localish affluent comp everyone clammers to get into.

3%school meals national average 19%
ofsted rated good.
5gcses a-c including english and maths 74%
3or more alevels a -e 93%

but its huge school.
reckon catchment become even smaller.

good picture of bristol state schools and thats not all of them thats my 20 nearest.

my nearest really is a worry kind of no way can we send them there.

lainiekazan Thu 19-Dec-13 13:11:04

It's such a load of twaddle when people say, "Let's make all schools good." Yep. Like, let's make all high rise blocks good. Then no one would throw their telly out of the window and no one would take drugs.

I don't truly know if ds's school is outstanding, good or crap, really, but I do know that all the kids are engaged and their parents even more so.

We moved from an area where the local secondary school was ok on paper, but one look at the kids pouring out - smoking, snogging, Britney Spears-style uniforms - and a pregnancy unit to boot - and one hand was clutching my pearls and the other was zooming onto Rightmove.

JustAnotherUserName Thu 19-Dec-13 13:55:31


Yep - lets make all schools good. Just chuck all the disruptive, undersirable kids out onto the streets where they will end up anyway. Its only the middle classes naice bright kids that need to aboid them, though. wink

JustAnotherUserName Thu 19-Dec-13 13:55:56


WhomessweetWhomes Thu 19-Dec-13 14:57:59

I teach groups of up to 33 kids in entirely mixed ability groups in a supposedly outstanding state secondary. It's a nightmare. It's all very well to say train teachers to teach well in mixed ability, but it's not more training they need. It's more time. Time to prepare endless differentiated versions of every lesson. Or of course, they could damn well use setting. As any sensible person would, imo.

summerends Thu 19-Dec-13 15:26:46

Ok, disruptive kids are more of a challenge but some schools achieve well with a high proportion of lower socioeconomic children so it is possible albeit a real challenge. Maybe what it comes down to, un pc as this may seem, is having an extension of specialist schools for disruptive children with the best qualified staff teaching them and reintegration to other schools when their learning behaviour has improved. Disruptive behaviour does not necessarily correlate with lower socioeconomic cirmcumstances and ability though.

summerends Thu 19-Dec-13 15:28:44

In fact to follow on, some very bright children are disruptive, particularly when bored.

soul2000 Thu 19-Dec-13 16:11:35

Summerends. I have said similar to you but not said it in a "PC" way.

If disruptive pupils were put in to specialist units until their behaviour and attitude to learning improved everybody including themselves would benefit.

No child no matter how "BIG" would want to be put into a unit 20 miles away with no one they know.


Only joking of course ........

curlew Thu 19-Dec-13 16:17:27

Is anyone seriously suggesting mixed ability teaching in all subjects?

soul2000 Thu 19-Dec-13 17:07:42

Mixed Ability teaching in all subjects, "A TRUE COMPREHENSIVE" I can't understand how those who love Comprehensive schools don't think this is a wonderful suggestion.

The whole idea of Comprehensive schools back to 1970 was just this.
Anyone who is a true believer in Comprehensive education wants mixed ability teaching. "IN ALL SUBJECTS".

Most of the Comprehensive loving people on this site, are nothing of the sort,
they just like the ideological idea of their children mixing with less fortunate kids. The problem though is when the reality of real comprehensive schooling is mentioned , they "HOWL" because they know their A grade kids need to be "SELECTED" away from the disruptive C-F kids. This of course is done by setting though selection.
However their kids can still see the C-F kids at "PLAYTIME" leading to the belief that Comprehensive schools are fully inclusive and P.C.