No difference between state and private schools

(248 Posts)
richmal Mon 03-Feb-14 22:07:53

Mr. Gove wants anyone walking into a state or private school not to be able to tell the difference. Could they not simply count the number of children in the classroom?

BabyMummy29 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:17:34

I'd like to know what kinds of sanctions teachers will be allowed to use in these marvellous schools, seeing as there are pretty few available to use in the current state schools.

RandomMess Mon 03-Feb-14 22:18:56

Presumably all the state schools will start having entrance tests too and the dc that don't pass will simply just not get an education confused

That means the government will only be funding a far smaller school population...

HmmAnOxfordComma Mon 03-Feb-14 22:20:44

Private schools are not all (academically) selective...

RandomMess Mon 03-Feb-14 22:21:25

I think you'll find the majority are...

heartmoonshadow Mon 03-Feb-14 22:24:19

OK Gove - I am all for outstanding education for all but not every child is as well off socially, emotionally or fiscally. I have worked in schools where on entrance children come into Reception with the development of a toddler. I am talking a majority of the class here not a minority, they are already eons behind those children who have had a more privileged upbringing. Then as they go through school they have many trials and tribulations and family issues involving social workers and other professionals which can impact on their education.

It is not popular to voice this opinion as all children are supposed to be equal but quite simply put our society is massively diverse and some children have little to no support at home and live with parents with poor aspirations in life. Now tell their school to give them a private style education and achieve at those standards! I say if we get them in at 2-3 years behind their peers (ie well below average attainment) and send them off with at least national average we are a good school! However as our Year 6 results are broadly national average we are deemed requires improvement.

I see and hear stories like this from many colleagues so to hear him spout on frustrates me. I am all for making life better for children but he should be realistic. And year opening poster class sizes are the solution! My son is in a state school with a class of 15 and is making massive progress if there were 30 I expect he would still make progress but perhaps not so quickly!

But they are all financially selective, even scholarship and bursary pupils tend to be MC professionals DCs, just those who can't afford full fees.

In general brains are genetic, if your parents have school fee paying jobs, they aren't dim. Non of the private school children I know are less than averagely intelligent and most are way way above.

tiggytape Mon 03-Feb-14 22:37:49

Private schools can exclude problem pupils very easily compared to the state system where exclusions are heavily regulated and highly discouraged. It is better for an independent school to lose one set of fees than to have 4 or 5 parents pull out other children and go elsewhere all because 1 child in the class is disruptive.

State schools are inclusive with pressure to be increasingly so. Non selective independent schools exist in the sense of accepting pupils of all abilities but they can choose not to deal with pupils who display challenging behaviour that affects the whole class - they can and do simply get rid of them.

I am not advocating easier exclusions but just saying you cannot compare two systems when one is allowed to cherry pick pupils by ability, behaviour or both and the other must accept all who walks through its doors.

GW297 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:39:28

If he's serious about this, he should cap state school classes at 20.

Scarletbanner Mon 03-Feb-14 22:43:49

Some fee-paying schools are inadequate. And some state schools are amazing.

Gove makes my skin crawl. And I'm not even a teacher!

heartmoonshadow Mon 03-Feb-14 22:50:23

I agree with smaller classes and yes problem behaviour is more easily dealt with in private settings. I have a much more none PC suggestion - a limit on how many children with highly disruptive Special Educational Needs can be put in one class. In our school one class has 4 severe ASD and 3 ADHD diagnosed children with at least 6 more SEN children with various conditions SALT/Social and emotional issues etc. Although the teacher has 5 staff (incl her) in the room the disruption can be massive when they children experience difficulties. It also stifles her creativity and spontaneity because the ASD children need to have everything prepared and discussed in advance. I honestly believe that so many SEN is detrimental to both their education and that of children who can access the curriculum without additional support being required.

jonicomelately Mon 03-Feb-14 22:52:59

Both sectors can learn from one another. However, the focus needs to be more on supporting kids from difficult backgrounds and their families. Make sure all kids have a decent breakfast before they start school, give them a place to do their homework if they don't have a desk, table etc at home. In short, stop throwing money and ideas at schools and concentrate on supporting families and educating parents. If the Government did this education standards would rocket.

itsahen Mon 03-Feb-14 22:54:43

Give state school lots of extra money and resources. Give teachers extra support. Build lots of lovely new fit for purpose schools. Reduce class sizes. Build more schools. Stop extra classrooms being squeezed into every available space.... Give all state schools state of the art classrooms ... Give every teacher an Asst to do paperwork so they can teach .... Uuum

LondonBus Mon 03-Feb-14 23:08:22

But who will do the gardening?

There are two schools very close to me. One state, one independent.

Because of the catchment the schools are in they are incredibly similar in many ways. One school has 30 per class, the other 25. One school has a longer school day. One school (the independent) has really nice round privet bushes outside the front door. When my DS was at the state school I really wanted them to get a few nice privet bushes, but who would prune them?

To achieve his goal Gove will have to;

Give state schools the same £ per child as independents
Limit class sizes to 20 per class
Ensure every family in the country has enough income to ensure parents are not stressed financially, that all families can provide extra curricular experiences for their children, and, of course
Provide gardeners to ensure privet bushes are trimmed.

tiggytape Mon 03-Feb-14 23:14:46

But maybe if they just dug up the privet hedges at the private school then that would even things up with no on-going costs to anyone (which may possibly be a deep philosophical and political point - or may not!)

happygardening Mon 03-Feb-14 23:25:14

One of the many attractions of my DS2's school is that being literally independent it is free of government interference and in particular the likes of Gove. So it will always be different from the state sector.

LondonBus Mon 03-Feb-14 23:29:28

Ah, yes, ban the privet ball hedges altogether! grin

But what will happen to the independent schools when the state schools are exactly the same?

They will close because there will be no point in paying for something when you can get exactly the same nearer to home for free, which will cost the government even more, as they will then have to educate a load more DC.

LondonBus Mon 03-Feb-14 23:31:20

Good point, happygardening.

Maybe parents will pay just for their children not to have to suffer what Gove wants to inflict on the nations children.

AgaPanthers Mon 03-Feb-14 23:34:32

It's a lot of bollocks. How are you going to bridge the gap between professional parents at private schools supporting their kids through endless activities and taking holidays to Marrakech and the Maldives, and parents at state schools working in low-paid jobs with a poor educational background who aspire to a week eating egg + chips on the Playa de las Americas.

Politicians shouldn't talk shite.

Private schools are in many cases MORE about keeping your kids away from the children of clueless parents, as they are about smaller classes, better resources, or whatever other advantages Gove is claiming that private schools can offer.

racmun Mon 03-Feb-14 23:37:49

I d

craggyhollow Tue 04-Feb-14 06:47:08

I see happygardening has made the excellent point that private schools are independent and therefore immune to Gove or government up to a point, which quite often makes them great schools!

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Tue 04-Feb-14 08:23:12

But surely that's his ultimate plan? Every school becomes independent <academy>, no involvement <support> from local authorities, and no National Curriculum.

He then simply sits back, and only gets involved to hit them with a big stick <ofsted> if their progress levels drop.

And plays them off against each other with league tables and dashboards, so they fight and compete against themselves.

It's just so morally wrong and misguided, I want to weep.

YesIam Tue 04-Feb-14 09:12:25

happygardening Tue 04-Feb-14 09:20:56

We looked at many schools when trying to find the right school for our DS's, we were surrounded by grammar schools including some of the countries top performing ones and looked at them, we also looked at many big name independent schools. Frankly once the full boarding aspect and all that has to offer was taken out of the equation I struggled to see the difference between highly regarded grammars and well know independent schools or at least struggled to see £33000+ worth of difference in the vast majority of cases. Ok in the private sector class sizes were smaller (I'm not sure how important this is for many subjects), buildings more impressive (Mediaeval etc) and facilities usually better but education in not all about this IMO. We choose our school because here I could see the difference between it and both state and other private options. It is independent with its own agenda (not necessarily everyone's cup of tea) and I liked it. I'm not saying it's agenda would work for all, that's it's the best way or or all would want it but I and the parents of 700 other boys do.
I firmly believe all children from what ever background should have easy access to top quality education but I also like significant difference, why does everything have to be the same? I couldn't care less if parents at my DD's school take their vacation in Marrakech and eat in gourmet restaurants, Playa de Las Americas eating egg and chips or Bognor eating spam sandwiches every night. But I do like the fact that I can walk into my DS's school and I can tell it's his school because it has it's own distinct ethos and approach to education that pervades al it does and that I know it's not Eton, Billericay Comprehensive, Simon Langton Grammar.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 04-Feb-14 09:26:29

happygardening in addition to being free from political interference private schools are far from homogeneous. As a parent you get to choose whether you want your child exposed to particular educational strategies. I, for instance, was very relieved that my DDs did not spend Years 7 and 8 working towards what I regard as an overly prescriptive and uninspiring Common Entrance Curriculum before they had to do the same for GCSE. It gave their school a chance to really challenge and inspire them outside of the requirements of external exams. I really noticed the difference when they had to get down to the relatively unchallenging GCSEs. A lot of private schools use their own papers at 11and 13 because they do not regard CE as the gold standard Gove seems to regard it as, and certainly at 11 those papers were far better indicators of potential and ability, requiring a lot more thought, as opposed to cramming, than CE.

jonicomelately Tue 04-Feb-14 09:31:45

I'm not sure I agree with you Agapanthers I think a lot of parents at private school have jobs with long hours, such as doctors and lawyers. Many of them don't have the time to spend with their dc doing endless activities. Other parents, who are wealthy, perhaps through doing well in business, aren't academic and wouldn't dream of taking their dc to a museum. I don't think a fancy beach holiday at the end of every term is healthy for a child, academically speaking. On the other hand, parents who state educate their parents are often quit motivated to help their dc. Not all of them don't give a crap about their dc's school career.

I also wince when teachers use sn children as a reason for poorer standards than private education. Some parents who can afford it choose private for their children with sn (dyslexia etc). I also remember my own comprehensive education where children with special needs were educated in their own building, the ROSLA block. I cannot recall one instance where the presence of 'sn' pupils interefered with the education of the mainstream pupils. Perhaps this isn't the way things are done these days but it did seem to work.

prh47bridge Tue 04-Feb-14 09:58:28

Presumably all the state schools will start having entrance tests too and the dc that don't pass will simply just not get an education

Lets beat Gove up for something he clearly didn't say.

In some countries there really is little difference in standards between state schools and independents. Here there widely believed to be a big gap with independent schools generally performing much better than state schools. One of Tony Blair's goals was to make state schools as good as independents. It seems Gove has the same objective. If we mean that the quality of education delivered is the same regardless that seems to me to be a reasonable goal. That is not, of course, the same as saying the outcomes of schools with widely differing intakes should be identical, although I note the OECD has released research suggesting that, contrary to popular belief, it is not inevitable that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will have weaker academic performance.

UniS Tue 04-Feb-14 10:02:56

I quite like my child to go to a school where the buildings don't leak, there are no holes in the floors and all the toilets work. I note Mr Gove et all are very keen on sweeping statements and very bad at coming up with cash for state schools to use on building repairs and renewal.

bronya Tue 04-Feb-14 10:06:22

ALL private schools are selective - by parents/grandparents income. In order to have that sort of income, the parents/grandparents need to be bright, and have good jobs. Therefore the children will have a certain IQ as a general rule.

NigellasDealer Tue 04-Feb-14 10:12:46

I wonder if that means that teachers in state schools will stop displaying their utter contempt for their students? stop shouting at them for things out of their control? stop reducing them to tears for a bit of morning fun?

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 10:30:45

Gove is increasingly looking like the biggest idiot on the planet.

He wants increased testing in state schools (from age 4) in order that he and his education cronies can produce even more useless statistical evidence, yet he wants state schools to be like private schools. Does he not realise that the vast majority of private schools do not do formal testing at the age of 4. That many private schools are not concerned about national statistics or bowing down to the increasingly punitive ofsted criteria.

He wants private schools and state schools to mimic each other and have no obvious differences. Yet he hasn't twigged that most private schools have class sizes way below 30 and are not forced into teaching children in temporary Portacabins due to a shortage of school places. Why doesn't he concentrate on increasing state school capacity and reducing class sizes to a level where each child's needs can be met appropriately all of the time.

Gove is clueless.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 10:32:00

Nigellas dealer - if you are aware of teachers behaving in that manner then please report it. Start a log of events if required. No child should be subjected to that by a teacher.

handcream Tue 04-Feb-14 10:40:54

The fact is that state schools DO need to improve. There are somethings that the privates do that state are rubbish at. At my DS's private boarding school minor punishments include litter picking and getting up early.

The state schools wouldnt dream of doing something like this. If you have to improve something look at the disclipine and what schools are able to do with a pupil who are messing it up for the rest of the school.

And also at the risk of being non PC - look at kids who need some special care and attention and teach them seperately.

singersgirl Tue 04-Feb-14 10:42:27

Almost everything Mr G says astounds me. The dismantling of the state education system from within appals me. His vast ignorance of the real life of teachers disturbs me. His casual insulting of the many massively dedicated volunteer governors makes me want to weep.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 10:45:36

And also at the risk of being non PC - look at kids who need some special care and attention and teach them seperately.

Yes let's put the SN kids in a special room with one way glass windows so everyone else can point and mock and laugh.[hmmm]

A child with additional needs deserves an equal education.

And some independent schools also need to improve. There are good and bad in both sectors.

Are you Mrs Gove by any chance?

NigellasDealer Tue 04-Feb-14 10:46:37

what you have to remember about Gove is that he used to be a journalist so has a talent for headlines.
'impatientismymiddlename' - you are joking arent you? I have seen this kind of behaviour from teachers in just about every state school i have been in - it is pretty normal tbh.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 10:49:51

No I wasn't joking. I'm quite angry that teachers would treat children that way. I expect that sort of behaviour in the playground between the children. It would make me want to home educate if I thought that my child was being subjected to that sort of behaviour from a teacher.sad

NigellasDealer Tue 04-Feb-14 10:54:51

i know it makes me angry too.
I will never forget standing in the reception area of my childrens junior school watching the deputy head reduce a child to tears, and then continue with it once she had seen the effect she was having, in full public view, because the child had been five minutes late. it was unbelievable. More recently i witnessed something similar with an older girl and a male teacher who was quite definitely enjoying himself, in the reception area of my dd's secondary school. Those are just two small examples.

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Feb-14 11:13:02

"I'm not sure I agree with you Agapanthers I think a lot of parents at private school have jobs with long hours, such as doctors and lawyers. Many of them don't have the time to spend with their dc doing endless activities. Other parents, who are wealthy, perhaps through doing well in business, aren't academic and wouldn't dream of taking their dc to a museum. "

That's true, but I speak to my fellow parents and they are indeed signing the kids up for activities, and probably only half work long hours, and those that do have an au pair or nanny to drop off at ballet and so on

And working-class-done-good is a small minority (they do exist), most are in middle class professions.

"I don't think a fancy beach holiday at the end of every term is healthy for a child, academically speaking."

It's probably fairly marginal (e.g., my son's French has improved from our holidays, he has seen volcanoes in person for geography), overall, but all these marginal gains add up.

"On the other hand, parents who state educate their parents are often quit motivated to help their dc. Not all of them don't give a crap about their dc's school career."

Definitely not. But it varies from area to area. In a nicer area it might be just one or two, but those parents can certainly have a disproportionated negative influence. In a poorer area, negative choices are almost universal.

"I also wince when teachers use sn children as a reason for poorer standards than private education. Some parents who can afford it choose private for their children with sn (dyslexia etc). "

Well there are specialist private dyslexia schools. Mainstream private schools vary, some aren't interested in even minor special needs, whereas others will address them, but with the help one-to-one support directly charged to the parent. There aren't any that are open to anything, they would consider each child on an individual basis, and have the freedom to say 'this child is too much trouble', and walk away. The state ultimately is the insurance policy that has to take everyone.

Spockster Tue 04-Feb-14 11:19:36

Handcream why do you say that? Picking up litter is a common minor punishment, as is losing 5mins of break time, etcetera. Clearly not getting up early in a day school.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 11:22:15

There aren't any that are open to anything, they would consider each child on an individual basis, and have the freedom to say 'this child is too much trouble', and walk away. The state ultimately is the insurance policy that has to take everyone.

But the most difficult to provide for children will not be found in your local state comprehensive school. They will be educated separately at PRU's if they have severe behavioural problems or special schools for children with the most severe learning disabilities and in some counties even children with fairly moderate learning disabilities will be educated separately in a unit within a mainstream school.
Let's not kid ourselves that the local comprehensive school is responsible for the education of all children. The state might be responsible, but they still divide children up into groups and send the most difficult to 'more suitable environments'. It could be argued that each and every school whether private or state has some level of selection / exclusion.

merrymouse Tue 04-Feb-14 11:26:44

I for one am looking forward to seeing the state school that looks like Summerhill. I think it is fab that Gove is so open minded!!!

happygardening Tue 04-Feb-14 11:34:52

Or perhaps he wants to copy the independent Steiner Schools!!

KathySeldon Tue 04-Feb-14 11:42:13

Yes let's put the SN kids in a special room with one way glass windows so everyone else can point and mock and laugh.[hmmm]

Well, that's how it was at my state comp!! Without the one way glass obviously. We had a "remedial block" where the special needs kids were. As far as I remember, they never mixed with the rest of the year group for any subjects. They had their own form group, own building, own everything. Nobody bothered them, or them us. Nobody laughed or pointed at them, just accepted it and got on with things.

We have removed our dc from the local primary into private schools because we became frustrated with the low expectations for the pupils, and the lack of interest for the arts. Also, discipline within the school was a joke and the parents had no respect for the head teacher or what she was trying to achieve.

We are not rich by any means, but do both work. The actual teaching I think was fine - they both passed the (very basic I think) academic requirements for their new schools with not coaching or tutors.

No longer do I hear "well my children won't be biding by that rule" in the playground at pick up time. The schools don't stand a chance until the parents agree to tow the line.

handcream Tue 04-Feb-14 11:44:59

My DS was not academically inclined and has a late August birthday. He wasnt distracted by badly behaved kids and wasnt taught in huge classes.

There are strict rules and regs about what is and isnt acceptable. Consequently he did very well in his GCSE's.

At least Gove is trying to change things. And I certainly dont mean that children with SN are in a room where people laugh and point at them but they do need special care with teachers and support.

handcream Tue 04-Feb-14 11:47:54

I went to a rubbish sec modern school and wouldnt wish that on anyone.

Parents who cannot be bothered to get this children to school on time and who rarely turn up to parents evenings are exactly the sort of parents who will then kick off when their child is punished. My DM was nearly assulted by a parent who thought their child could do what they liked at school - turned up late, non school uniform, constantly messing around in class etc.

merrymouse Tue 04-Feb-14 11:58:18

Mini cheddars aside, state schools aren't generally able to get rid of parents and pupils who don't toe the line.

handcream Tue 04-Feb-14 12:13:29

Well, maybe when parents send their children to school they sign an agreement. If they cannot be bothered to be interested in their kids education well what about providing a trade or skill. If they cannot be bothered with this - then they go to special schools where specialist staff can work with them.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 12:13:35

Well, that's how it was at my state comp!! Without the one way glass obviously. We had a "remedial block" where the special needs kids were. As far as I remember, they never mixed with the rest of the year group for any subjects. They had their own form group, own building, own everything. Nobody bothered them, or them us. Nobody laughed or pointed at them, just accepted it and got on with things.

Do you think that this type of practice is okay in the year 2014? Do you believe that those children in the remedial block were okay with being educated separately?
I really hate that word 'remedial'. It makes it sound like the children are at borstal.

I prefer schools to educate in an inclusive way (as much as possible). I don't see why children with dyslexia or mild - moderate learning disabilities need to be separated to the extent of being taught in a separate area of the same school. They just need appropriate learning support within an inclusive classroom.
We do need special schools as some children (with the most severe learning disabilities and complex needs) need smaller, sensory focused and accessible environments to facilitate their learning.

Although you say that the two defined groups of children didn't bother each other in your school have you considered the psychological impact on the children who were taught in the remedial block and what being subjected to that segregation would have done to their self esteem? Do you think that they would share your views on the success / failure of that segregated teaching system?

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 12:17:49

Well, maybe when parents send their children to school they sign an agreement. If they cannot be bothered to be interested in their kids education well what about providing a trade or skill. If they cannot be bothered with this - then they go to special schools where specialist staff can work with them.

Yes, let's punish the kids for having uninvolved parents, what a great non judgemental idea!
What makes you think that a child cannot succeed if his parents are uninterested in the child's education? Are you really suggesting that we resign children to the scrap heap because their parents are unable / don't want to be involved in their child's education?

I think I have travelled back in time by about 200 years!

So is Gove going to fund specialist subject teachers at primary level like my DC have? Is he going to put the funding in place for smaller classes, specialist music, art and sports staff at primary level?

Many private school parents I know are focussed on their children's education partly because you do get a fairly hefty reminder of the cost at the start of each term. In a sense, there is a direct value to the education as well as an abstract one. Additionally, many of us are in a position to send our DC to private school because our own education has allowed us to enter certain jobs so we have direct evidence of the long term benefit of education.

If my children were in state school I would be equally "pushy" and I am sure there are plenty of state school parents that would make me look laissez faire in my efforts. I think the advantage is that any effort my DC put in is likely to be noticed and in a large class with a more mixed intake that may not be the case (i.e. the diligent children in the middle of the class may fly under the radar more).

I went to a pretty lousy Comprehensive and the standard of teaching was not good and the behaviour management was less than stellar. I am lucky to be academically minded so eventually I managed to do enough outside of school to do ok. A child with the same ability as me but a less supportive home environment probably wouldn't have made it.

handcream Tue 04-Feb-14 12:24:52

There are lots on this thread laughing at Gove (I dont agree with all of his ideas btw) but what are THEY doing to change things perhaps in their own schools.

What do you think people should be doing?

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 12:27:42

I don't need to change anything at my children's schools. I have one child at a fab Indy and one child at a fab state.
So, I will laugh at Gove until my heart is content and be furious at posts which suggest that certain children should be segregated and resigned to the scrap heap due to parenting styles.

blueberryupsidedown Tue 04-Feb-14 12:34:40

Ok Gove, give me
- small class sizes, maximum 20. Ideally, 15 pupils per class in all state schools
- better sports facilities. Most primary schools have seen their budget for PE slashed, and many are having to sell part of their land
- more money for better school libraries, resources, more staff, better paid staff
- better buildings, bigger indoor and outdoor spaces, state of the art technology in all state schools

Once you have given all schools the above, I will listen to what you have to say about reducing the gap between state and private schools. Common sense should be part of the curriculum for all politicians. I'm not sure Gove would get good marks.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 12:35:44

However, if Gove wants to give me his salary then I might do a better job of changing things for the better than he is currently managing or my primary aged child could easily do a better job than Gove for the price of a few cinema tickets and sweets

merrymouse Tue 04-Feb-14 12:39:41

If he wants state primary schools to look like prep schools, the key is hats. Doesn't really matter what kind of hat - boater , cap, beret or something a bit more Oliver Twist.

KathySeldon Tue 04-Feb-14 12:40:21

Impatient - I think you are being rather impatient!!!

I was not saying that my old schools way of educating certain children in a remedial block was right or wrong. It was a factual statement of one schools way of educating children in the 1980's.

Actually, I have no idea how the other children were affected - if at all - as I never knew them. But I do imagine they were given an appropriate education. I do shudder at the word 'remedial' nowadays though.

However, maybe inclusive teaching doesn't work that well???? Not all children are the same, and need different kinds of education.

I do think that parents should respect the rules and requirements of the school their children attend though. I mean things like getting in on time, and encouraging their children to abide by the rules of the school.

blueberryupsidedown Tue 04-Feb-14 12:50:25

They also need to stop changing the curriculum every 5 minutes.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 04-Feb-14 12:59:58

blueberry exactly the point, if he wants state schools to be like private schools he, and all the other politicians, need to stop interfering and imposing whatever brand of dogma they believe in (I am being charitable and assuming he does believe in his Daily Mail readership pleasing sound bites)

The London Challenge proved what the professionals can achieve if left to do their Job properly, even if Boris has jumped on the bandwagon to take some of the credit belatedly.

The Head of our independent school regularly writes her views on the latest government initiatives and I could paraphrase , " not enough consultation especially with professionals" " not enough Evidence" " will adversely affect pupils from poor background" . The school will await developments and cherry pick any aspects that would be of benefit our pupils" " we will continue to consider alternative exams such as International and pre U "

JakeBullet Tue 04-Feb-14 13:11:08

Great handcream, yes I really want my autistic DS to be segregated from his friends and taught away from them. How forward thinking you are hmm

If a child is academically able enough to keep up with the lowest level of differentiated work and is able to behave in a way that doesn't disrupt the rest of the classes learning they should most definitely be included they'll benefit from it.

If the child's learning difficulty is severe enough that they're massively behind the rest of the class, so have their own curriculum and are isolated from the rest of class or they really struggle to behave appropriately on a regular basis and that inc running out of classes, having meltdowns which scares peers and disrupting the class learning, is inclusion appropriate then?

On the other hand I know where I live there are only special schools for severely and profoundly disabled, someone in charge here truly believes that all children with moderate to severe difficulties will be absolutely fine in mainstream.

That person needs to give their head a shake

handcream Tue 04-Feb-14 13:53:30

I agree Not - it does depend on the disability. My DM had a child last year who was I guess on the moderate level and caused a lot of disruption to the class. There was a support person allocated but she was off sick more times than not and so consequently it was a struggle. No money to pay for two support assistants.

He did have his own curriculum which made me respond to your point.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 14:58:43

What do you define as moderate? I have good knowledge of my local special schools and the children who attend them have profound and multiple needs and are undoubtedly in the best environment for them. I wouldn't want most of the children who are currently struggling in mainstream to be lumbered into the special school because chances are that their needs are not as profound, otherwise those children would already be at a special school.

If you are talking about children who struggle to read and write and can't do maths (even at secondary level), but can walk, talk, make themselves understood, use the toilet unaided then in my opinion they should be in mainstream school even if they need some 1:1 support.

It sounds too much like 'we don't want them in our school, disrupting our lovely intelligent, neuro typical children, so send them somewhere else' to me.
At secondary level children are streamed for a lot of subjects so the precious intelligent neuro typical children won't be disrupted all day long.
If teachers are averse to teaching children who don't fit their image of ideal then perhaps they are too judgmental to be in the teaching profession.

Seldon - I'm glad you came back and clarified about the remedial block. To be honest I think of the remedial block idea as a form of unfair segregation. I am cringing at imagining the pupils in that block being made to believe that they are not as good as the people on the other side, jus because they are not as academic. Any kind of segregation can lead to one group of people feeling inferior, but when that segregation takes place daily within a class proximity environment it can be very damaging. I do agree with you about parents and children adhering to the school rules. Things like attendance, good behaviour and punctuality are things that most people are capable of but even private schools have some issues with those things.

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Feb-14 15:37:56

The last government massively increased education spending and achieved very poor value from it. Basically over half the money disappears in the form of higher salaries and so on.

It resulted in higher private school fees and more spend by the state but actual output didn't really improve.

Hi impatient I'm no expert so I'll leave the classification to someone who knows what they're talking about. I'm just talking about my life I have my own disabled child who falls into mild to moderate and work with a child with the same disability who is severely affected by it and their experiences of inclusion are poles apart

Chippingnortonset123 Tue 04-Feb-14 17:08:45

Not Rtft but there is a huge difference and a worrying one. I reckon that mine are the last to go from state to Oxbridge.

Impatientismymiddlename Tue 04-Feb-14 17:12:34

Notonaschoolnight - I agree with you about inclusion meaning different things depending on the severity and type of a child's condition. But most of the children at PMLD schools could not even being to attempt inclusion in a mainstream environment and I think that the idea that there are lots of children who should be moved to special schools (not your idea, another poster) is ludicrous because those children already at PMLD schools would not be able to cope with an influx of more able and less complex children. The children at PMLD schools are often very very different to even the most challenging children at a mainstream school.

Chippingnortonset123 Tue 04-Feb-14 17:13:17

Teachers are very well paid now compared to previous years but they are under huge pressure and are not left alone to do the job that they know best. Very bad times for state schools. I know employers who wouldn't touch them.

merrymouse Tue 04-Feb-14 17:18:28

I think children with moderate and mild sn's often struggle with the impact of spending cuts on mainstream schools e.g. Not enough hours of 1:1, children being squeezed into a space that was designed for a smaller number of children, large class sizes, inadequate sick cover, badly designed or dilapidated buildings etc. etc.

MillyMollyMama Tue 04-Feb-14 17:27:47

I have found this an interesting debate in that so many people want better state facilities and smaller class sizes but there has been hardly any comment on the need for better teachers. I don't agree with the ludicrous CE proposal but many schools find it hard to recruit good teachers and rely too heavily on supply teachers. Good teaching for all would begin to redress the difference.

Many of the top independent schools have a certain ethos and clientele that state schools cannot replicate. They have their, independent, way of doing things. They have uniforms that some people would not want their children to wear in a million years. Most parents just want a good school near them. It does not have to be one run on private school lines. It just has to be good with every aspect of a good school in place, eg results, high quality teaching and learning, excellent management, proven pastoral care, extra curricular activities, sound advice, good relationships with parents. I could go on.

How a school punishes is not for Gove to interfere with. He looks ludicrous by looking at the minutiae of discipline. He is also annoying the body of people, Heads and Teachers, who will deliver what he wants. He even removed the Chair of Ofsted who broadly agreed with him. He has a zeal for reform but it is beginning to look like he has little or no understanding of how to motivate people or stop himself saying the most ridiculous things. He likes the publicity I think!

BabyMummy29 Tue 04-Feb-14 17:31:15

State schools would probably be a lot better if they were left alone to concentrate on teaching, without interference from Governments foisting new initiatives upon them. None of these is ever resourced adequately but teachers get the blame when they don't work.

Chippingnortonset123 Tue 04-Feb-14 17:50:33

I agree with baby mummy and I have sympathy with teachers.
Unfortunately I fear that we are typical in switching all of ours to private.

AmberTheCat Tue 04-Feb-14 20:11:43

OECD research shows that, if you factor out socio-economic background, children achieve significantly better in state schools than in private schools. So what exactly does Gove think state schools should be copying, I wonder?

craggyhollow Tue 04-Feb-14 20:13:07

'Children achieve significantly better in state schools '

That's simply not true

I really wish it was though!

AmberTheCat Tue 04-Feb-14 20:35:46

Can't face trawling PISA for the relevant stats this evening, but the study is referenced here: I realise parents choose private schools for reasons that aren't always to do with academic results, but I don't think we should be quick to assume that, if only state schools were more like private, children would do much better.

craggyhollow Tue 04-Feb-14 21:42:21

In our county, private schools occupy the top 10 places in the league tables. It's not rocket science.

tiggytape Tue 04-Feb-14 22:42:18

It is the same for all schools though - both private and state. Those that tightly control their intake get good outcomes. In the private sector this is done by overt academic selection and interviews. In the state sector it can be achieved through being lucky with the catchment area or making parents work to get a place.

There is nothing magical about the top independent schools in the country much beyond the fact they are fiercely competitive to get into so a child needs to be both academically gifted and wealthy to get a place. Those 2 qualities statistically pretty much guarantee good results.

There has always been a direct correlation between a school having an easy intake and getting good results. But what makes those children an easy intake in the first place isn't anything to do with the school they are yet to attend. Children who beat off hundreds of other applicants to get into a top private school aren't made clever by that school. They were clever before they arrived.

Any school that could filter out less able, less engaged children and those with less supportive parents would find it increased league table positions overnight without actually doing anything else at all in terms of teaching or facilities or class sizes but of course if every school improved using the method that independent schools adopt, they'd be a lot of children not accepted anywhere for education.

TalkinPeace Tue 04-Feb-14 22:45:09

they are selective .... its nothing to do with fees, its to do with entrance exams

out of interest, why the obsession with small classes?
there is no empirical evidence to support classes smaller than 24

but Gove is an ARSE of the first order.

His list of things that state schools "should be doing" made DD snort because her state school already does all of them.

stilllearnin Tue 04-Feb-14 22:49:46

My kids have done both systems. Both preferred state and my dd hated small classes and finds her new state school class of 30 'epic'!! I also found lack of discipline & sanctions appalling in the independent school - presumably because the teachers have to take into account the parents are paying their wages- honestly you would not believe the nonsense that went unchecked (willing to accept we were unlucky)

craggyhollow Tue 04-Feb-14 22:55:16

You need to look for a private school with excellent value added

Then the teaching is not in question

CouthyMow Tue 04-Feb-14 23:31:08

My DD is partially deaf, has hypermobility syndrome, has GDD and Moderate Learning Difficulties, has Autistic Traits, has Sensory Processing Disorder and Auditory Processing Disorder...

She is in NO WAY severely affected enough by her SN's to be given one of the 30 places per year group, across 3 SN schools, that are available within a 30 mile radius of our home.

Most DC's with Down's here are educated in MS until at least the end of Y9. You have to have profound medical issues and other disabilities, and often need 2-1 support to get one of the 30 places available.

Inclusion HAS to work, as there just aren't enough alternatives. And people with my DD's issues are already segregated enough by spending almost 30% of their time at school working in the Learning Support area, without being forced to be in there 100% of the time, without access to the same curriculum in lessons like Science, or PE, or music, Drama etc.

Spockster Tue 04-Feb-14 23:35:31

Chippy ... Typical of whom?

ouryve Tue 04-Feb-14 23:43:59

* handcream* Tue 04-Feb-14 12:13:29

Well, maybe when parents send their children to school they sign an agreement. If they cannot be bothered to be interested in their kids education well what about providing a trade or skill. If they cannot be bothered with this - then they go to special schools where specialist staff can work with them.

Please tell me that you don't think that this is what special schools are for.

happygardening Wed 05-Feb-14 07:13:00

Talkin I'm interested in your comment that there is "no empirical evidence" to support classes of less than 24. I unconvinced that small classes make a huge difference especially at senior level. The exceptions I suspect might be MFL, DS classes are in single figures, especially when you first start out and art again single figures. Many years ago I learnt to draw and was completely devoid of any ability, in small classes you just simply got more of the teachers time. But even then you needed others to encourage you (they were worse than me) to admire, and also just to say "I haven't got the faintest idea what he's talking about have you?" But once you get beyond a certain level you heed other, DS's biggest classes are maths 18 (I think) he says it's better more ideas, etc. going round.
Many years ago he was in a micro primary school (state) 36 children in the whole school, 6 in his actual yr, 10 in his class he was bored and unchallenged the two naughty children dominated the whole thing with a nice select captive audience to entertain.
It's the others in the class that matter, that why they are heeded, are they interested, bored, enormously talented, badly behaved, slow, geniuses and of course the actual teacher him/herself. There's even a place for the class clown, the boy at Uni being caught by one of our lectures impersonating him changed the dynamics of the lecture for that day and I can still clearly remember what it was all about!

Slipshodsibyl Wed 05-Feb-14 07:49:38

I believe that larger classes are not of themselves a disadvantage where the children are able ( and older so more self managing).

It is common sense, I suppose, that where there are learning or behavioural issues, smaller classes will be easier.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 08:22:22

My theory is that class sizes become less relevant, the more rigorous the setting.

If the pupils are of the same ability and at the same stage, then things work well.

The more mixed the ability, the smaller the class needs to be. Which is why I would prefer primary children to be in classes of no more than 20. 15 by preference.

gaba Wed 05-Feb-14 08:27:06

Starballbunny Wrote "In general brains are genetic, if your parents have school fee paying jobs, they aren't dim. Non of the private school children I know are less than averagely intelligent and most are way way above."

Pwahaha, the richest in the world are invariably inbred thickos...Royal family, George Bush, celebs, sports players....

It's not what you know Starballs, it's who your daddy is.


I thought the research from the States suggested classes below 20 were better. It's a while since I looked at it so I might be remembering incorrectly. In the primary setting I thought the main advantages were individual attention, behaviour control and more active learning e.g. direct questioning rather than more passive listening to the teacher.


The richest in the world are not celebs or sports people or even royalty. They are people like Carlos Slim (telecoms), Bill Gates (IT) and Warren Buffett (Investing). They are in a different league to celebs and the like. Oh and George W Bush (maybe surprisingly) when to Yale and Harvard Business School.

Went not when - thanks phone

Custardo Wed 05-Feb-14 08:46:44

I think celebs or sports people or even royalty are pretty damned rich and I think gaba has a point

Thinking that the majority of poor people are thick is abhorrent.

Is there a figure - cash money figure of investment into education that Gove has confirmed?

And calling rich people inbred thickos isn't?

I don't agree with StarBall's comment either.

happygardening Wed 05-Feb-14 09:14:23

word your right "rigorous" setting is more important than class size. IME very bright children need other very bright children (dons safety hat and hides).

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 09:17:19

I agree. Wherever a child sits on the ability range, there needs to be a sufficiently large peer group.

This is fine for most DC (numbers cluster at the middle of a bell curve), but it is harder at the outlying extremes.

happygardening Wed 05-Feb-14 09:29:14

I suspect those at the bottom end of the spectrum who like me in "art classes for the talentless" are actually the ones actually benefit most from very small classes and more one to one attention.

Clavinova Wed 05-Feb-14 09:29:59

There's a difference in being 'intelligent' and being 'educated' - it's been proven that many sports stars have higher IQs than average but they started training when very young and had little time for education. Many athletes/footballers come from poor backgrounds with little interest in education and might appear 'stupid' because of their upbringing and behaviour, not their intelligence. Of course, many of our sports stars have been privately educated and they all seem intelligent to me when interviewed on tv. Further, it's well known that many actors/artists and other celebrities are dyslexic and may have struggled at school but are highly 'intelligent'.

AmberTheCat Wed 05-Feb-14 09:49:09

Here you go - PISA stats on performance of private vs public (i.e. state) schools worldwide, taking socioeconomic background into account:

See slide 21, graph on right (if you can bear the horribly designed slides). The pale blue lines show raw performance - in most (though not all) countries, private schools do better on this measure, unsurprisingly given that they all select by income/parental interest, and most select by academic achievement. The bright pink lines show performance accounting for socioeconomic background, showing that, in the majority of countries, including the UK, state schools perform better.

happygardening Wed 05-Feb-14 10:03:50

But amber we're not all paying for better results although I accept many many are or I hasten to add the right type of children in the class. Why does education always have to be about performance? Is this the only way we can measure it? As I stated in another thread I'm paying amongst other things for difference and I'm also coming quickly to the conclusion that lack of government interference is also worth paying for.

josephinebornapart Wed 05-Feb-14 10:10:19

In the Far East class sizes are huge- 40+ but learning outstrips the West.

Class size is irrelevant to a degree if the teacher has good classroom management, the work is challenging-interesting and the children and their families value education- something that is lacking in some homes ( and you won't find those parents on this forum!)

guishagirly Wed 05-Feb-14 10:10:28

The only difference between state and private schools are the parents.

My children attend private schools every single child I know has a tutor or supportive parents.

Take a state educated child with parents that dont support homework or teach at home, they will never be able to reach the same standard as a child with external tutors or supportive parents.

In my day no one was tutored, we all passed our GCSEs with out tutors or help from parents. What has changed to our education system?

I would really like to know the answer to this question

NigellasDealer Wed 05-Feb-14 10:14:36

In the Far East class sizes are huge- 40+ but learning outstrips the West
rote learning you mean. I teach English as a foreign language and asking students from the Far East to work in groups or engage in independent learning, or to question anything, is bloody hard work.
Perhaps that is why paying for a British education is so popular in the Far East!

josephinebornapart Wed 05-Feb-14 10:15:41

You have ime to have very small classes to see any real difference- which comes down to being able to spend 1:1 time with a pupil during the lesson.

In one private school I worked in there were on average 20 in a class ( secondary age) then in my next school- bog standard comp in the mid 80s- there were 35.

I had to be more on my toes to deal with the slightly more pupils who didn't want to be there in the comp, but otherwise it was the same- it came down to my ability to control the class.

merrymouse Wed 05-Feb-14 10:28:20

I think the thing about class sizes comes from parental perception that e.g the teacher doesn't have time to hear all the children reading, the teacher has multiple classes and doesn't know each child and there isn't sufficient support for children on either end of the abilities scale. Also, if performance improves in a class of 24, that would be smaller than the normal max of 30.

josephinebornapart Wed 05-Feb-14 10:49:34

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and myths about class sizes/ performance/achievement.

In some subjects - eg maths- larger classes as found in China etc work really well.

I think it has been said that optimal class size is around 12. This is nothing to do with teacher input or discipline, but about how pupils cannot 'hide' and be passive or shy learners- smaller classes sometimes give shy children the confidence to speak up and engage with their peers and teacher more.

It's not about how the teacher delivers the lesson but more about children being actively engaged because they are more in the spotlight.

josephinebornapart Wed 05-Feb-14 10:50:33

merry- it' s not true that teachers don't know each child.

I used to teach 8 classes over a week with 30-35 children in each and I knew all of them very well.

Interesting research on class size

This suggests (very broadly) that smaller class sizes help because they enable a different style of teaching.

josephinebornapart Wed 05-Feb-14 11:23:53

This is the most relevant part of the conclusion.

Perhaps the most significant outcome of this review is that it positions the relationship between class size reduction and student academic performance as dependent on pedagogy. Specifically, smaller classes do not achieve their expected performance outcomes if they are not accompanied by pedagogical changes that facilitate a more student-centred focus on teaching and learning. Teachers must be provided with learning opportunities that enable them to understand and use pedagogies
that promote increased academic performance in small classes (Hattie, 2009). This might include a more differentiated learning environment that accommodates a diversity of student interests and ...

what is interesting is that at the start of this paper, they discuss the fact that many people come up with the 'common sense' idea that smaller classer= greater achievement, and are upset when /if research shows otherwise- so in other words some people already have an opinion which they try to have validated by research, rather than being open-minded.

merrymouse Wed 05-Feb-14 11:30:06

josephine I am talking about general perceptions of all teachers, not individuals. Obviously teachers vary.

happygardening Wed 05-Feb-14 11:41:24

Perhaps its partly expectation. I saw an interesting interview with an Etonian he felt under pressure to make to most of the education on offer not just achieving the obligatory the A*'s but also participate in lots of activities the school offer; take full advantage of everything. His parents weren't openly applying any pressure or even covertly as far as I could see, although of course many are doing both, but he was aware that they were stumping up £34 000+ a year and that he felt that he had to repay this by doing well i.e academically, participating in lots of activities etc. otherwise he'd let them down. Before an Eton fan comes on this is not a criticism of it in particular and he wasn't criticising the school. It was a thoughtful honest interview and for parents like me with children at these kinds of school very thought provoking.

guishagirly Wed 05-Feb-14 12:01:37

Our prep school must be truly awful. There are 12 in a class yet the teachers (every subject) cant discipline one naughty child and they dont differentiate the work for children of different abilities, as they do in state schools.

wordfactory Wed 05-Feb-14 12:11:19

chaz you may have something there.

I have twins in different schools and can see how very very different the teaching styles are. Chalk and cheese really.

craggyhollow Wed 05-Feb-14 14:59:24

Dd1 was watching something on TV about truanting and parents that didn't seem to care

She said if they had to pay for it they'd care

Fair point

Gini99 Wed 05-Feb-14 17:25:17

Amber, thanks for posting the OECD stuff. I agree horrible slides! Do you know where the raw data comes from because it is not referenced (the slides seem to be from 2007?). There's not enough there to give you any real ability to compare that data.

So it looks like for the UK there is a huge observed performance difference if you go to a private school and a tiny smudge of pink that seems to indicate a very slight (almost imperceptible?) advantage to state once you 'account for' socio-economic background. for the OECD as a whole it looks like a moderate observed advantage for private schools and no difference once controlled.

The problem is that there is nothing to tell you what 'accounting for' socio-economic background means so without that it's pretty difficult to assess the results. Also the data is really badly sorted so it's not clear whether they have included the second category (Govt Dependent Private) as private or public (it sounds like both?!). also there is nothing to tell you what role private schools play in each country. E.g. here they tend to be socially and academically selective but what about e.g. Luxembourg, Finland, Denmark and the Czech Republic where there seem to be virtually no 'Govt independent private' school and private schools seem to be worse on both counts. What role do the tiny number of private schools play there? E.g. if they are primarily religious institutions or places for people with extreme learning difficulties then the private system may be playing a very different role from the UK and you can't extrapolate across.

The slide itself looks confusing and raises far more questions than it answers but perhaps the underlying data would be more illuminating….

Bonsoir Wed 05-Feb-14 17:56:27

I'm not convinced that class size is the be all and end all. My DD, who is 9, is in a class of 28 but that is the maximum grouping she is ever in: for a large part of her time at school, she is in smaller groups (21 for English, 9 for Spanish, 14 for IT etc). Apart from Spanish, where the DC make cracking progress (native speaker teacher only speaks Spanish and all DCs are bilingual high achievers to begin with) I cannot say that I think there is a discernible difference to learning from one group to another. It's the quality of the teaching that really matters.

TamerB Wed 05-Feb-14 18:03:26

I would say the difference is smaller classes but the government will never admit it! They can't afford it, so they will be all out to prove that size doesn't matter.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Feb-14 18:30:10

At my DD's school there are five parallel classes in a year group. One class is always very small (about 14-16). No-one wants their child to be in that class.

TalkinPeace Wed 05-Feb-14 20:57:15

There is absolutely no evidence that smaller classes give better teaching.

Particularly at Secondary, a cohort set sorted into classes of 24 - 30 :
so a gang of kids of similar ability firing off each other managed by a motivated teacher
will be able to push and stretch far better that a little group where nobody is challenged or taken out of their comfort zone.

Private schools tend to have smaller classes : that is economics, not teaching choice.

Either a private boarding school offers stuff all A level choices, or it provides lots of subjects and hires the teachers (and charges the relevant fees).

In a state school or college, the groups are bigger, but the setting still tight, so kids reach their potential.

Eastern methods of rote learning are great for manufacturing iphones, crap for designing them (guess where the real money is)

There is some evidence that smaller classes lead to a different style of teaching which is more active learning. See the link to the meta analysis of research I posted earlier.

whendidyoulast Wed 05-Feb-14 21:25:20

I don't think it's true that there is no research to support smaller class sizes, it's just misreported.

I'm pretty sure that what the research actually says is there is little difference between large and larger questions such there is no benefit in reducing classes from say 30 to 28 or 28 to 26 and therefore this would not be economically justifiable in the state sector.

HOWEVER, as I understand it, there is proven advantage to classes below 20 and, as this would never happen in the state sector, it is simply ignored.

whendidyoulast Wed 05-Feb-14 21:26:15

Large and Larger classes that should say. So there is little difference between a class of 28 and 30 but there IS a big difference between a class of 30 and 20 or 18.

whendidyoulast Wed 05-Feb-14 21:27:55

The assumption that setting helps is also wrong.

Setting MAY help a few at the top but nobody else so the disadvantages as a whole outweigh the advantages.

TalkinPeace Wed 05-Feb-14 21:34:37

^The assumption that setting helps is also wrong.
Setting MAY help a few at the top but nobody else so the disadvantages as a whole outweigh the advantages.^

What do you mean?

Do you think that middle ability children suffer because they are in a set that runs at the correct speed for them?
Or that lower ability children are in a class with appropriate support for them?
Or that every child does not benefit from being taught with children of similar ability so that the class is at the correct level for them?

The children at the top of set two often do as well, if not better, than the children at the bottom of set one (there is definite overlap in a big school) - but the classes are pitched at levels to suit each child.
How can that only benefit the top?

And the lower level children most definitely benefit by not being ignored in a mixed ability GCSE maths class.

whendidyoulast Wed 05-Feb-14 21:47:14

Talkin, the actual FACTS are conveniently ignored because people assume that setting works and it's convenient to ignore the evidence for the likes of Gove who like hierarchies and traditional ways of doing things and people knowing their place rather than evidence.

For example:

whendidyoulast Wed 05-Feb-14 21:49:26

Education and results is much more complicated than just putting the appropriate facts into kids.

It's about attitude and motivation and peer influence and teacher expectations.

I know it's not an argument I'm ever going to win in my own school (even though I have researched value added by set over 3 years and the results tell me that it decreases as you go down sets).

whendidyoulast Wed 05-Feb-14 21:51:54

And this:

Bottom sets are disproportionately full of summer born kids and boys and black kids and working class kids. Even at 16.

TalkinPeace Wed 05-Feb-14 22:09:45

Those links are about PRIMARY and mention streaming and selection as being bad things.
I quite agree.
I'm utterly against streaming and selective schools.

All schools should have flexible setting systems that are reviewed term by term.
As the mother of an August born boy I'm very aware of the issue.

Mixed ability classes at primary are VERY different from properly done setting at GCSE and A level within a comprehensive school, which is a good thing

TamerB Wed 05-Feb-14 22:24:28

I don't really care about the evidence, my reason for choosing private would be for smaller classes- I believe it is a huge advantage. I wouldn't want them too small but 17- 22 is perfect IMO.

pickledsiblings Wed 05-Feb-14 22:26:00

You still end up with a bottom set and all that goes along with that Talkin, and that is the problem that mixed ability teaching (if done well) can help avoid.

Setting at A level just sounds unnecessary.

TalkinPeace Wed 05-Feb-14 22:39:22

You still end up with a bottom set and all that goes along with that
do elaboarate?

as in a comp school I cannot see why a bottom set for the bottom ability is a bad thing to help those students get appropriate qualifications

at DCs school the bottom sets get lots of support in academic subjects and some of those kids are in upper sets for art music drama or tech

because SETs and STREAMS are not the same thing, let alone SEGREGATED schools

The big difference between state and private schools
( to get back to the OP )
is that all private schools are segregated by god, gonads or cash as well as exams.
That is not the case at most state schools.

pickledsiblings Thu 06-Feb-14 00:05:09

Talkin, you could justify setting in terms of access to appropriate qualifications as you have done but there is no research that shows it is best for discovering/reaching potential.

You can't tell me that there is no stigma associated with being in the bottom set at your school.

Why on earth would you set for drama, that is just bonkers. I would even go as far as to say that setting stifles creativity (not sure if there's any research to back me up mind smile)

josephinebornapart Thu 06-Feb-14 08:56:53

I think there is some evidence which shows that bright children are dragged down by mixed ability sets, as opposed to less able children being dragged up.

I've taught both- sets and mixed ability. From a teacher's viewpoint it is much easier to teach sets.

My children's schools use both: sets for core subjects and mixed ability for other subjects.

It's easy to become sentimental over the stigma of 'bottom sets'. Life is not fair. All children have different strengths and weaknesses. I can never understand the illogical thinking that on the one hand thinks it's fine to coach potential Arsenal footballers and put money and effort into bringing out their potential, yet feels some injustice is being done by creaming off the brightest kids who are our future researchers into cancer-cures etc. and giving them the right level of academic rigour.

I went to a grammar school which had 5 streams. I was friends with some children in the bottom stream , 5 streams below me, and they have done very well in life by and large and not walking around with chips on their shoulders.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Feb-14 12:19:07

Of course they set for Drama.
Why on earth would they not?

Some people are natural performers who do dance and singing and acting outside of school. Their lessons are mini performances which take into account that some kids are out of school for rehearsals for professional productions.

The lower drama set comprises those who have no natural ability in, or enjoyment of, performance, and their lessons are just plodding through till they drop it as a subject in year 10.
But at least they have learned some presentation and public speaking skills.

There is no "stigma" with being in "the bottom set" because
(a) its decided on transparent reasons
(b) very few people are in the bottom set for everything - because setting includes PE, arts, humanities, Sciences, Maths and English.

AmberTheCat Thu 06-Feb-14 13:56:32

Gini, I presume the OECD data is based on the results of the 2006 PISA tests. A little out of date, but I can't imagine things have changed hugely in the intervening few years. I agree that slide (and no doubt the presentation as a whole, although much of it I find completely incomprehensible!) raises a lot of questions. From my limited knowledge of private education in other countries, I think you're right in assuming it serves very different purposes in different countries. In some Scandinavian countries, for example, I think private schools are pretty rare, and are generally designed for children with specific educational or social needs, rather than being thought of as providing a better education for any child. So using the figures for, for example, Sweden in a discussion about private vs state in the UK would be pretty meaningless, but the UK figure I think is interesting.

Re. small class sizes, recent Sutton Trust research suggested they can make a difference, but only when the numbers get below about 15. That's when the size actually enables a teacher to change their style of teaching, as others have mentioned. If you're looking at a difference of between, say 18 and 28, though, research suggests it doesn't really have any impact.

josephinebornapart Thu 06-Feb-14 16:51:11

Interesting comment in the Telegraph today by Allison Pearson ( former teacher) on engaging children in learning as opposed to a more didactic approach ( with large classes...)


josephinebornapart Thu 06-Feb-14 16:54:31

is that all private schools are segregated by god, gonads or cash as well as exams. That is not the case at most state schools.

Faith schools, single sex schools, post code lottery/ ability to buy into catchment areas?

All the above apply to state schools. All apply to the 3 top state schools in my area: catholic sec ( comp) school, and 2 single sex comps where house prices have gone through the roof in the catchment area.

AgaPanthers Thu 06-Feb-14 16:58:58

There are very very few 'good' state schools that don't operate by excluding, first and foremost, children from poor families.

That's the easiest route to success.

The 'God' route is another way to achieve this, and places like the Oratory, where that cunt Blair sent his kids, are incredibly socially exclusive through extremely strict 'God' policies, which successfully exclude people too busy to polish brass or otherwise jump through hoops like some kind of performing seal in order to get a place at the state-funded monument to exclusivity and privilege.

ISBN1966 Thu 06-Feb-14 16:59:03

Is it always easy to identify able children? Particularly if they are lazy or unsupported at home? The last few posts suggest is is.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Feb-14 17:04:21

Allison Pearson, for example....

craggyhollow Thu 06-Feb-14 17:21:36

Our local state gets good results and is not selective by area as it is the only one for miles, therefore takes children from the two towns plus local villages - all sorts of socio economics going on yhere

Out of London and big cities there is very little choice

AgaPanthers Thu 06-Feb-14 17:34:16

The reason your local state school gets good results is because your area (as is common with rural areas) is more affluent than average.

It's still selecting - you aren't getting any Somalians from Tower Hamlets there, for example.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Feb-14 17:50:16

Do you know where craggyhollow lives?

merrymouse Thu 06-Feb-14 17:55:34

What is an average level of affluence?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Feb-14 18:10:36

It's silly to say a rural school is selective because it doesn't take Somalians from Tower Hamlets... How could it? Schools have to be somewhere, and everywhere has to have a school!

Bonsoir Thu 06-Feb-14 18:19:58

Indeed, TOSN. And rural schools often have issues with great disparities within their classes - rural working class and upper middle class commuter families with very different aspirations. And add in a handful of gypsy DC who change frequently...

Eastpoint Thu 06-Feb-14 18:23:41

There are lots of low achieving schools along the south coast & in Cornwall, areas which have low numbers of immigrants but in which families have low aspirations. The schools in deprived areas of London have received increased funding. My ex-SIL taught in a leafy Hampshire primary school, she had pupils who only ate at school (staff gave them breakfast & they had FSM) but anyone looking would think what a lovely village school.

AgaPanthers Thu 06-Feb-14 19:00:05

I certainly wasn't implying that immigrants result in poor outcomes. Several London grammar schools are comprised of a majority of children from immigrant backgrounds (though Indian and Sri Lankan rather than Somalian).

To take the example of Hampshire, the 'best' state school (Thornden) in the league tables has 53% of pupils entering the school with Level 5 in their SATS (where Level 4 is expected progress). The worst have only around 20% at that level (and just a few miles away from Thornden).

The London Oratory school (supposedly comprehensive) actually has a better ability profile than some grammar schools.

Anyway, obviously if you are in the wilds of Cumbria, then it's impossible for a kid from London to attend, so the overt exclusion that you get in London, where the child who lives in the wrong road goes to a failing school rather than the posh one, but the net result is no different from private schools with fees - if you need to live in the North York Moors to attend a certain school, that excludes children just as effectively as £15k/year fees do.

No doubt many parents in areas with many 'bad' schools would love to send their children to these 'good' schools in different areas.

Clavinova Thu 06-Feb-14 19:06:26

I'm pretty sure craggyhollow sends her eldest dc to a private senior school (as do I) and so the location of this 'good' rural state school is immaterial - it obviously isn't 'good enough'.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Feb-14 19:15:36

Those of you who think Rural = Affluent really need to get out more.

Big rural comps have deprivation and poverty without parental motivation .... far harder to deal with than the children of immigrants.

LondonBus Thu 06-Feb-14 19:21:38

"At my DS's private boarding school minor punishments include litter picking and getting up early.

The state schools wouldn't dream of doing something like this."

handcream at my DC's state school they have litter picker thingies for this purpose. I have seen the bursar handing them over to errant children, saying "Remember they are not swords!"

Being a day school, they can't get them up earlier.

AgaPanthers Thu 06-Feb-14 19:23:00

Who thinks that? All I said was that a 'good' rural school, like any other kind of school, is the product of its inputs, which the school itself selects either passively by location or LEA policies, or in some cases actively through its admission policies. But, just like private schools, it is about selection.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Feb-14 19:26:53

When a rural catchment is ten miles across are you seriously trying to imply that EVERY house in that area is MC?

DCs school catchment ranges from multi million pound houses to council flats to tenanted farm cottages
as do those of most of the other rural comps.

You live in catchment - rented, bought, council, lodging - you get in.
Please explain the selection pressure?

craggyhollow Thu 06-Feb-14 19:54:40

Lol at affluent

What a blinkered thing to say

The school is right next to one of the poorest estates in our county (I know this as I had to write a grant form for the school for a particular reason)

It's a good school, has outstanding music provision

craggyhollow Thu 06-Feb-14 19:55:18

Agapanthers blindly ploughs on

I live in a rural area where the majority of people are MC commuters or reasonably well paid upper working class.

The vast majority of DDs primary run two cars and have a holiday ( some uk, some abroad) every year. They use gallons of petrol, running their DCs to ballet, football, cricket, swimming etc.

If school organises a trip or they lose their school jumper the bill is no great sweat.

However, there are a very few DCs at primary and a higher percentage at senior school. Desperately trying to keep old bangers on the road to keep NMW jobs. They have no spare money for extracurricular activities and can't afford the petrol for days out. Their DCs don't have iPods, laptops or their houses broad band.

Many of them have one car or both work long and difficult hours. Their DCs come to school on the bus and they can't make 'sharing assembly' and PTA.

A great deal if the time they are forgotten by the majority of parents and the school.

I only remember them because, by a quirk of rural life, one such family lives next door. Their DD plays with mine and I see her waiting forlornly for us to come back from ballet.

Her eldest brother borrows my phone (he never has any credit) and was in 7th heaven when he got an
Instance quote he could afford. This meant he kept his job (buses are rarer than days without rain)

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Feb-14 20:20:13

I live in a rural area where the majority of people are MC commuters or reasonably well paid upper working class
Highly unlikely.

Statistically, rural areas are much poorer than cities.
Remember that people with school age children the same age as yours will be a minority in the population.
Those with younger, older, no children are part of the demographic.

For every Pargetter or Archer there are the Grundy, Tucker, Carter and Horrobin families.

We only really notice those like ourselves.

Friends who live in the lovely villages north of here are pretty much unaware of the nasty concrete cottages round the back of the farmyards where the local families live.
Because I look at the Council records I know for a fact that there are grindingly poor areas even in towns like Winchester.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 06-Feb-14 21:19:07

The Pargetter and the Archers go private anyway!

soul2000 Thu 06-Feb-14 21:28:33

Define what "Upper Working Class means" .. It surely is an Oxymoron ?

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Feb-14 21:29:27

John, Helen, Tom, Pip, Josh and Ben did not go private.
Phoebe Tucker Aldridge is not at private

rural state schools are far more mixed than many townies realise

pickledsiblings Thu 06-Feb-14 22:14:21

I live in a fairly rural area, don't forget the landed gentry smile

pickledsiblings Thu 06-Feb-14 22:15:16

…definite pockets of deprivation though.

pickledsiblings Thu 06-Feb-14 22:17:06

Talkin, your job sounds like a teachers dream with all that setting. I'm still not sure it's best for the kids though, especially those lacking in motivation.

TalkinPeace Thu 06-Feb-14 22:19:47

I'm an accountant. I don't work in schools. Nasty smelly places.
DH works in schools. I work with local councils. Amateur polticians are almost worse than professional ones.

The Aristos we have round here do not have school age children.

pickledsiblings Thu 06-Feb-14 22:22:59

Ha ha ha ha, mixed you up with your DH smile

pickledsiblings Thu 06-Feb-14 22:25:47

I can't stand local council 'politics', it would drive me insane. I dared to cross a few amateurs at our governors meeting last night…took me a while to realise what I'd stumbled in to.

bluegiraffe Thu 06-Feb-14 23:02:30

bronya, surely there are parent's who can afford to send private because their income is inherited ..not necessarily 'earned' ... and therefore level of wealth cannot necessarily be linked with intelligence ...hmm hmm

LifeIsForTheLiving Fri 07-Feb-14 21:41:37

They will never be equal...for all the reasons already stated.

Ban fee-paying schools altogether and make it illegal to select children based on ability. So ALL schools are state schools with catchment areas.

Implement a fee based on household income for education...anyone earning over X amount pays X per child, per year. Plough that money into schools....increase the provision for extra curricular activities and opportunities, smaller classes etc across the board.

THEN all children will get an equal education.

TalkinPeace Fri 07-Feb-14 21:49:29

Banning fee paying schools has not worked in any country
there are significant parts of the UK market who will always choose fee paying, and the excess fees charged by the UK to those from countries where private schools are "banned" are a good earner for the UK and prove the market forces aspect of my point.

Fee based per income :
utterly unfair unless those same people recieve a commensurate tax deduction ... the top 10% already pay 34% of taxes in the UK remember

the richest have paid for their state school places at 40%, the poorest at nil % - ther is no integrity in exacerbating that

what I would change
and it would have hit me directly

is that children should be allocated to their nearest school first and only then does parental choice kick in
yes, area variances would occur,
no shit sherlock, they already do

PS all faith based selection gets binned in my utopia

I have no problem with fee paying,
HE bothers me a lot more
and state selection a million miles beyond that

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 07-Feb-14 22:28:48

I thought Pat and Tony did use the cathedral school?

Pip and bros went to Borchester Green, as did Phoebe and Amy and Alice at sixth form... But Ruiauairigh and Kate and Daniel all went private, and Phil tried to help Pip go to the Cathedral School but she didn't want to!

happygardening Fri 07-Feb-14 23:57:22

Lifeisforliving what will a ban on fee paying schools achieve? And how will you implement it?

AgaPanthers Sat 08-Feb-14 00:10:41

Ban on fee-paying schools just ensures that rich parents will send their children to state schools in super-expensive catchment areas where poor people can't afford to live. Actually this happens already, it would just get worse. Until they invent teleportation, it's impossible for state schools to be of an even similar standard, and ridiculous to suggest that more money would fix the problems of shit parenting.

Bonsoir Sat 08-Feb-14 07:50:31

If you reduce the access of MC DC to social capital at school, how does this benefit the less educated/affluent?

Minifingers Sat 08-Feb-14 07:55:38

I would impose a 'fairness' tax on private school fees. The money would be used to reduce class sizes in state schools and for an initiative to teach parents how to support their children's education.

Supervised homework clubs in state schools.

Grammar schools having to take the vast majority of their intake from local state schools (ie, a representative intake) - teachers from state primaries to put forward children they believe have great potential (would side step tutoring issues).

Eastpoint Sat 08-Feb-14 07:59:45

Supervised homework clubs appear to be very unpopular - lots of negative comments on here about not wanting the school day to be extended.

happygardening Sat 08-Feb-14 08:11:50

Perhaps you'd like to expand on your idea of a *fairness" tax. By the way my DH is already a high rate tax payer as are many people paying school fees. DS2 has only spent two (very unsuccessful) years in the state sector the rest of the time in independent ed. So not only are we paying more tax and have lost our CB it us also not costing the state anything to educate my DS. I do not resent this in any shape or form, thats life, but I could start feeling exceedingly resentful if I had to start paying a "fairness tax."

undecidedanduncertain Sat 08-Feb-14 08:23:50

Surely the 'fairness' tax is already there - people sending their kids to private school are still paying their share of tax that goes to providing state education! They are paying twice, another tax would make it three times!

HmmAnOxfordComma Sat 08-Feb-14 08:36:22

Well indeed, we are already saying twice (I wouldn't say more than twice as neither or us are higher rate tax payers) but it would be galling to pay an extra tax on top of fees seeing as the state couldn't provide a suitable education for my AS son, forcing us to go fee-paying.

Spockster Sat 08-Feb-14 10:16:26

The "fairness tax" should be removing charitable status, so that ordinary people do not have to subsidise the independent schooling of the children of the (relatively or absolutely ) rich.

AgaPanthers Sat 08-Feb-14 10:25:50

The charitable subsidy is worth very little indeed - the schools would gain more by not being charities and cutting off all their bursaries.

sashh Sat 08-Feb-14 11:37:21


Actually the last place I worked as a supply teacher litter picking was done by the kids as part of their internal exclusion.

Minifingers Sat 08-Feb-14 11:50:35

Paying three times/four times/five times - there would always be the option of a state school so your children would experience more of the level playing field that the rest of our children have to. And tbh - when you loom at the difference in average earnings for privately educated children over their lifetime as adults, a 20 or 30k tax on their school fees would be just piss in the wind.

happygardening Sat 08-Feb-14 12:07:16

Mini well we thought we had the "option" many years ago of state ed. and as we at the time were keen not to pay school fee (our earnings at the time were insufficient) were enthusiastic to make a go of it. But the reality was that it wasn't a viable option for my DS who sits at the very top end of the intelligence bell curve and were advised by two heads, one at the counties top performing school to send him to a independent school because they were either unable and/or unwilling to meet his needs.
You still haven't expanded on this 'fairness" tax.

Minifingers Sat 08-Feb-14 12:44:57

No child is more deserving of a privileged education than any other. We all think our children are special and unique and deserving of an education tailored to his or her needs, whatever they happen to be. And I speak as the mother of a child with ASD in a mainstream state school.

Nobody can stop parents buying a place for their child on the comfy end of the uneven playing field that is our education system here in the uk. Doesn't let the government off the hook at looking for ways to make things fairer.

Adults who were privately educated as children haven't earned the privileged education which enables them to clamber over the backs of less lucky people who may well be brighter than they are. I have yet to hear anyone explain to a child - in terms a child can understand - why it's morally acceptable that they should have so much more or less spent on their schooling than someone else.

No one who accepts the rightness of meritocratic systems of society can possibly accept the existence of the sort of divided education system we have now as moral and right.

happygardening Sat 08-Feb-14 17:51:59

Mini I strongly believe that every child should have access to a top quality free education regardless of back ground. But what does one do when our state options after extensive searching are unable or unwilling to meet our child's needs and provide that top quality education but we do have the money to pay for an education that clearly does. I've never once said it was fair or even morally right but we felt that we had very few options.

AmIIndecisive Sun 09-Feb-14 16:24:31

I think that many people are overlooking the fact that there are lots of parents who sacrifice so much in their life to privately educate their kids, they would rather forego quality of life to provide the best education possible, not have holidays, smaller houses etc.
It is not just the privileged who privately educate.

curlew Sun 09-Feb-14 16:28:01

"It is not just the privileged who privately educate."

Yes it is. There are, of course degrees of privilege. But anyon who can come up with enough money to privately educate - even by "making sacrifices"- is privileged.

TalkinPeace Sun 09-Feb-14 16:32:05

It is not just the privileged who privately educate
but being able to put aside those funds requires having a level of disposable income far above that of the bulk of the population.

Even the cheapest private school will come in at £12,000 a year including extras
which implies having that amount after paying bills
after paying tax
which with the median adult wage being £18,000 before tax
shows that UK private school fees are such that only the richest 10-15% can even consider them.

Its interesting that when I was a kid,
houses cost 2.5 times the average salary,
day schools cost 1/3 the average salary
boarding school cost 2/3 the average salary

Houses cost around 6 times the average salary
day school is 3/4 the average salary
and boarding school 1.5 times the average salary

so where is that money going?

curlew Sun 09-Feb-14 16:44:59

My ds is litter picking on Tuesday during a detention earned for being cheeky to a DT teacher. State school.

Very odd, the views some people have of state schools.........

AmIIndecisive Sun 09-Feb-14 16:50:19

Just because they are putting the money aside doesn't mean it's easy, private education is still a stretch for a lot of people who do it so talking about imposing extra taxes etc is ridiculous when some can barely afford it but still make that choice and that sacrifice.

TalkinPeace Sun 09-Feb-14 16:55:49

I went to private school. Should that stop me sending my kids to State school, just because my dad was paying 93% tax on his income in the 1970's?

you clearly have a really poor understanding of world economics if you cannot grasp
a) the top 10% of earners pay around 40% of taxes
b) banning private schools just results in better profits overseas in countries that allow it - hence why UK and US public schools have lots of Chinsese and Russian politicians' children paying lots of fees.

pickledsiblings Sun 09-Feb-14 17:19:23

curlew, why was your DS cheeky to a DT teacher? Is the point that you are making that the school is tough on discipline?

curlew Sun 09-Feb-14 17:59:42

No- somebody said that no state school would ever get a child to litter pick as a punishment- I just wanted to show that's not true.

pickledsiblings Sun 09-Feb-14 18:11:25

Ah OK, I missed that. My DS (state school) has also been litter picking for owning up to swearing - in Polish grin.

AmberTheCat Sun 09-Feb-14 22:11:40

Happygardening - you say state school 'wasn't a viable option for my DS who sits at the very top end of the intelligence bell curve'. What about similarly intelligent children whose parents can't afford private school? Would it not be a viable option for them either? What do you suggest should happen to them, then?

I find the idea that we pay taxes in order to educate our own children odd, too. I think I pay taxes in order to live in an educated society, as do my friends without children. If I sent my children to private school I wouldn't consider that I was paying twice for their education - I'd be paying once to live in that educated society, and again in order to buy my children a privilege unavailable to most.

AgaPanthers Sun 09-Feb-14 22:46:48

I suppose the problem is that more people might want to buy that privilege for their children, but we don't make it particularly easy to do so. Happygardening can do so, but most people cannot.

Generally people are better at making decisions for their own children than the state is (there are of course exceptions).

So it's not necessarily 'you should be grateful to live in an educated society, and enjoy paying the taxes to do so', but rather 'I wish I could give my child that opportunity'.

It's arguably more about the people that can't do that than it is about taxing those nasty rich people who can.

AgaPanthers Sun 09-Feb-14 22:48:20

Also of course you don't pay for your own child's education. Even if you pay no taxes at all, your child has the right to the same free education as a billionaire.

What you have is a right to an education for your child, which isn't linked to taxation.

happygardening Mon 10-Feb-14 06:46:46

"What about similarly intelligent children whose parents can't afford private school?"
I made this point to the head of the LEA when I moved my DS to his private school. I cam afford it but what about this who can't? The super bright are not catered for at primary level especially in rural areas with tiny schools. We were told by the governors that they had neither the money or the interest to help his as he was the only one in the school and statistically there were unlikely to be others like him coming along in the future. As I said above I've never said it was fair or morally right but we did what most parent would do if they could afford. For those whose parents can't afford it they like many others who for some reason can't fit the state ed box are simply left to rot.

happygardening Mon 10-Feb-14 06:49:44

Aga I don't resent paying taxes or ever say I'm paying twice although I would very much resent a fairness tax. What annoys me is that despite paying taxes there are still many children in the state sector who are getting at best a mediocre equation at worst a crap education.

Blueberrypots Mon 10-Feb-14 10:24:09

I see private schools as offering a choice in certain circumstances as opposed to a default out of privilege - I think this is probably the view of many if not most..

I have always used the NHS despite having private healthcare via my employer, but when my two sons became critically ill with the same genetic disease and we were told there was a 4 month waiting list for an operation they needed....well.....we went private and were done in 2 weeks. Was private better? Only because it got the job done. Did I feel sorry for the other hundreds of children in the same situation on the 4 month waiting list? Of course and I was livid. But there is not much I could do about it. In fact in a way removing my children from that waiting list hopefully helped 2 children coming after them, if that makes sense.

We sent all our children to the local state schools. We always worked in partnership with the teachers and we felt KS1 was successful. There were things that weren't perfect, but on balance it was a good experience. In KS2 things began to go very wrong for my eldest and unfortunately after over a year we realised the school just wasn't up to the job.

I am 100% sure that most state schools excel at KS2 but that didn't really help me or my children. We didn't have much choice around here (either oversubscribed or equally poor) and I wasn't just going to sit and watch as my eldest daughter did not receive the education she deserves.

Yes I do feel sorry for the other children who are frankly receiving a substandard education and I have spent so much of my time trying to resolve it. All our efforts to try and improve the school were unsuccessful, so we had to bite the bullet and go private in the end.

pickledumpling Fri 14-Feb-14 09:38:38

Private schools are a law unto themselves, if you have a problem you can't report them to a Government body, your only option is to vote with your feet! My experience of non-selective schools has not been good, it's all about how much money they can claw in.

camilamoran Fri 14-Feb-14 15:20:21

Talkinpeace said:
"Its interesting that when I was a kid,
day schools cost 1/3 the average salary
boarding school cost 2/3 the average salary
day school is 3/4 the average salary
and boarding school 1.5 times the average salary"

Doesn't this just reflect more unequal incomes than when we were kids?

It also seems that there are more people who can afford private education now.

TalkinPeace Fri 14-Feb-14 16:01:16

You have misunderstood the statistics.

Private school fees have increased at double inflation every year for the last 20 years.

Private school is much less affordable than it was
and salary inequality is significantly higher today than it was 40 years ago.

If you look here
on page 9, its clear that the proportion at private schools is still lower than it was when I was a kid

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 18:11:15

'as in a comp school I cannot see why a bottom set for the bottom ability is a bad thing to help those students get appropriate qualifications'


Bottom sets include disproportionate numbers of boys, black kids and summer born kids.

Kids feel written off and suffer more dents to their, probably already, low self-esteem.

They are not exposed to the ideas, motivation of kids in the other se

Bright kids who underperform because of poor motivation and poor behaviour get lumped together with kids with SN which is an extremely unhelpful combination for both sets of kids.

Like I said, it was assumed that small bottom sets would help provide a targeted education for kids who were underperforming/less able at my school but when I did the research the value added for this group was less than every other set year on year.

Have got rid of the bottom set and we're finding that kids are getting swept along and supported better in a different way of setting now. Kids who are most benefiting are the bright but lazy/poorly behaved because we can split them up and there is much more incentive for them to conform.

As with the whole grammar school debate parents often love the idea of bottom sets and secondary moderns. Unless their own kid falls on the wrong side of the divide.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 18:15:18

Bottom sets include disproportionate numbers of boys, black kids and summer born kids
Do you have data to sort that assertion?

Just that at DCs school and all the others round here, different kids are in different sets for different things as even non academic subjects are set

non academic kids can be in high sets for sports and arts
great mathematicians can have two left feet

and DSs mate who is a black summer born boy is not in the bottom set for anything smile, nor is DS who is also summer born though pale skinned

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 18:41:12

'DSs mate who is a black summer born boy is not in the bottom set for anything'

Well that's all right then hmm

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 18:49:42

For example:

'n a wider level, structured ability grouping can be perceived as denying educational opportunity to particular groups of pupils. There is evidence that low ability groups tend to include disproportionate numbers of pupils of low socio-economic status, ethnic minorities, boys and those born in the summer (see Hallam & Toutounji, 1996; Ireson & Hallam, 1999). '

'However, children
with behaviour problems are often placed in the bottom groups no matter how highly they achieve. Research has suggested that the
bottom groups tend to include disproportionate numbers of pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, boys and summer-born

This stuff does not get reported because it suits the rosy tinted harking back to the good old days when people knew their place which informs education policy today and which seems to tap into collective myth making about the past as opposed to what actually works.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 18:53:09

'at DCs school and all the others round here'

It really is worth challenging the things the 'way things work round here' or the 'way things used to be'.

Unfortunately, the people who are most disadvantaged by setting are the least likely to be able to challenge the advantages or be listened to

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 18:58:51

'non academic kids can be in high sets for sports and arts'

You see this sort of highly judgmental labelling i.e. 'non academic kids' and language to do with 'high' and 'low' and 'top' and 'bottom' is used without qualms and then you are surprised to find that kids in the 'bottom' set may not find being in that set conducive to learning.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 20:26:50

why do you have a problem with the incontrivertible fact that intelligence is a normal distribution?
for every right hand tail kid, there is a left hand tail kid

what would you call the non academic really thick kids ?

they will leave school just about able to read and write
no teaching system in the world will change the lack of synapses in their brains

in a comprehensive school they will walk along corridors with high level work on the wall so if there is a spark there it is more likely to be found

and sorry but mixed ability classes harm all kids unless the school has selected on entry.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 20:34:18

Talkin, you asked for the evidence and you've completely ignored it.

If you had read any of my links you would have worked out that setting is not and cannot be done on the basis of 'intelligence'. Summer born children are more likely to find themselves in bottom sets along with black kids and poorly behaved kids. That has nothing to do with intelligence.

Placing kids in the bottom set is very unlikey to help them to learn.

Attitudes to learning are not simply about how intelligent you are.

A 'non-academic' label is likely to be self-fulfilling.

Do you know that summer born kids are also less likely to go to university?

That is not because they are born less intelligent.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 20:37:17

'no teaching system in the world will change the lack of synapses in their brains'

You seem to have an extraordinary fatalistic and completely ignorant attitude towards education. I find it deeply unpleasant and out of date.

It is the job of schools and teachers to help all kids reach their potential and not to write off people because they may be or may be quite wrongly perceived as less intelligent than others.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 20:39:28

in a comprehensive school they will walk along corridors with high level work on the wall so if there is a spark there it is more likely to be found'


You think it's ok to put kids in bottom sets and call them thick because they might be inspired by wall displays?


whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 20:40:40

'sorry but mixed ability classes harm all kids '

A popular assumption but there is no evidence to support it.

You asked for evidence, ignored it and carry on trotting out the same tired old assumptions.

How depressing.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 20:43:24

children currently of University age are less likely to have been born in August
as the correlation was nailed down only five years ago, the strategies to counteract it have not yet fed through to UCAS forms

please do not do a Gove and apply historic data without giving time for it to roll through.

The changes in London outcomes are currently at A level, being reinforced at GCSE
there is a seven year delay

you seem to treat a "bottom set" as a sort of dungeon.
THat is not the case
it is a flexible and variable space

DH goes to lots and lots of schools and he is very aware that sets vary depending on the subject

but forcing slow learners to fall behind in a mixed ability room leads to truancy

and making bright kids slow down to the level of those who will never achieve a GCSE is just stupid

If you are against setting, what would you have a comp school do with those who start year 7 with level 3c in their SATs?

and what do the researchers say?

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 20:46:32

It is the job of schools and teachers to help all kids reach their potential and not to write off people because they may be or may be quite wrongly perceived as less intelligent than others.

it is not a perception that some children are thick, just as it is not a perception that some children are bright

would you tell all the kids at the superselectives that they have just been taught well rather than having aptitude?

genetic variation is a fact
height - weight - IQ - hair colour

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 20:50:22

'but forcing slow learners to fall behind in a mixed ability room leads to truancy

and making bright kids slow down to the level of those who will never achieve a GCSE is just stupid'

You have, I assume, heard of the concept of differentiation? And personalised learning?

There is evidence to suggest that the learning of kids in top sets can be damaged by a one (fast) pace fits all as much as the kids in the bottom sets (who the evidence tells us might be there because they are poorly behaved, black or summer born) can damage those in the bottom.

'If you are against setting, what would you have a comp school do with those who start year 7 with level 3c in their SATs?'

I refer you to my previous answer: differentiation and personalised learning.

'and what do the researchers say?'

Have you not read my links above?

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 20:56:28

Your Links ....
the Leeds one is from 1999 - 15 years out of date

the Primary review one is about Primary (so not relevant to my question) and from 2008 so 6 years out of date

so no, I'm not going to chew through them as they do not reflect current approaches

please answer the question

If you are against setting, what would you have a comp school do with those who start year 7 with level 3c in their SATs?
by defining differentiation and personalised learning
within the context of the funding formula in a mainstream school

as I (and DH) deal with the real world

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 20:57:47

'Approximately one-third of the students taught in the highest ability groups were disadvantaged by their placement in these groups because of high expectations, fast-paced lessons and pressure to succeed. This particularly affected the most able girls.
• Students from a range of groups were severely disaffected by the limits placed upon their attainment. Students reported that they gave up on mathematics when they discovered their teachers had been preparing them for examinations that gave access to only the lowest grades.

• Social class had influenced setting decisions, resulting in disproportionate numbers of working-class students being allocated to low sets (even after ‘ability’ was taken into account).

• significant numbers of students experienced difficulties working at the pace of the particular set in which they were placed. For some students the pace was too slow, resulting in disaffection, while for others it was too fast, resulting in anxiety. Both responses led to lower levels of achievement than would have been expected, given the students’ attainment on entry to the school.

A range of evidence in that study linked setting to under-achievement, both for students in low and high sets, despite the widely-held public, media and government perception that setting increases achievement. Indeed the evidence was sufficiently broad ranging and pronounced to prompt further research in a wider range of schools.'

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 21:03:10


please answer the question rather than keeping posting ancient research papers

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:04:21

'as I (and DH) deal with the real world'

I am a teacher in the real world who has just researched the impact on results of setting in my own department in my own school and found value added to be worse in the bottom set. We have abolished the bottom set. Results, particularly amongst kids who would be in the bottom set based on their attainment (but who may well be bright but disaffected for a variety of reasons) already look promising. I am not going to win the argument to mixed ability teaching because of the firmly held assumptions like your own that the brightest kids benefit from being in the top set. There is an understandable tendency for those parents whose kids are in the top sets to wish to defend them. Such parents tend not to think of the whole picture in their wish to promote their own kids, regardless of the evidence.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:06:33

The answer remains the same.

Teaching geared towards learning needs of individual needs within a group rather than perceived needs of an entire group is better teaching.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:06:52

And benefits every child within that group.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 21:19:01

my DD is headed Oxbridge way - she is in mixed ability for several subjects (tech and humanities) and it works fine, for other subjects (maths, science, english) it would never work
and neither of my kids will EVER be top set PE wink

but I genuinely do not comprehend what you mean by fully differentiated learning within a mixed ability set in something like science

for that matter, mixed ability PE is nearly as disastrous as county level athletes are racing kids with health problems

and yes, disaffected is an issue : PRUs are interesting places, much underused by too many LEAs

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:25:37

I'm not quite sure why you're struggling to understand how differentiation might work.

One of the issues with setting is that teachers often think they don't have to bother with it hence the problem with pace and expectations esp in the top and bottom set.

I have never heard of schools that set for PE. I teach children who play sport at county and national level and they do PE with everyone else. Clearly they are not hampered by this experience.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:26:58

I have taught mixed ability English to candidates who have got into Oxford and Cambridge. Your assertion that it 'would never work' is clearly miles out.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 21:27:52

how would you teach a year 10 maths class with kids ranging from L8 to L3

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:29:23

Few sixth forms set at all (don't know if any do) so most teaching from 16-18 is mixed ability.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 21:32:27

not the question (year 10 is first year GCSE after all)

and actually LOTS of 6th forms set

Barton Peverill
Brockenhurst College
Peter Symonds
Alton College

to name four that I have the prospecti for

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:33:06

My question is if a teacher lacks the imagination and ability to teach mixed ability should they be teaching any ability? Kids are individuals. You can have a vast range within a set and particularly in the top and bottom set and if a teacher is teaching to one level (which the research indicates is what happens) that's likely to be detrimental to a number of kids within that group.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:36:07

But most don't and yet still get good results. I've taught mixed ability classes where kids have got A* to E and value added for the whole group has been excellent. The evidence says the advantages of mixed ability teaching outweighs the disadvantages. Yes, teachers have to be more on the ball. And that is a good thing.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 21:37:32

I'm glad my kids are not at your school : you seem locked in the past

Maths L8 and math L3 in the same room is not about imagination ...

and yes, the old trick of the head of subject only teaching top set was sussed out by ofsted around 4 years ago and gets a bashing under "leadership"

follow the current news

getting back to the thread title,
the difference is often in the minds of the parents, not reality

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:37:39

The plural of prospectus is prospectuses by the way.

It's not like a hippopotamus.

barbour Sat 15-Feb-14 21:40:14

Don't know which evidence you are talking about whendidyoulast....lack of setting in subjects like maths and languages after a certain age at higher end of primary then secondary level is disastrous in my view for both ends of the ability spectrum.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:40:58

'I''m glad my kids are not at your school : you seem locked in the past'


I've worked in many different schools, state and private, and colleges.

In my school I looked at the EVIDENCE (to which you seem to have an aversion) and found that a bottom set is detrimental to students' achievements. Results are now improving.

I believe teaching should be responsive, dynamic and targeted towards students' individual needs.

I'm wondering why you would think that is 'locked in the past'.

Locked in the past is where you hark back to a golden age and continue to trot out tired old assertions rather than looking at what works.

Minifingers Sat 15-Feb-14 21:41:47

Whendidyoulast - thank you for your posts. They are extremely interesting! (and persuasive).

I'm laughing at research from 1998 being called 'ancient'. Really, it's not!

I find this debate interesting as I have a September born child in top sets for everything, and a summer born child in the bottom set in literacy. At his current pace my summer born child will leave primary with a 3C in writing and will be shunted straight into a bottom set for English in secondary. I feel very sad about this. He loves books, has a good vocabulary and is an enthusiastic and astute reader. However, he has ASD - no statement - and this has hugely impacted on his ability to get anything down on paper (partly mechanical - he has poor muscle tone in his hands, and also struggles to manage his feelings of boredom and frustration when trying to write).

I hate the thought that he will end up in a school where people like TalkingPeace will label him as 'thick'. :-(

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 21:46:14

"a bottom set"
because in a good school there is never such a thing
and your belief in its existence belies the evidence

DH goes to over 100 schools a year and he has been snorting at your posts over my shoulder

the "august birthday" campaigners forget that every class will have a "youngest"
the anti sets brigade want to deny that some kids do not have the capacity to learn - and to expect them to is as harmful as holding bright kids back (cf Finland)

and my thick clients earn good livings given the right outlets so I know that they are essential to society

AmberTheCat Sat 15-Feb-14 21:47:19

Whendidyoulast - thanks for posting the link to the Nottingham paper - fascinating. I've read lots of research that shows how mixed ability teaching raises standards overall, and I was clear about the benefits to children who would otherwise have been in the lower sets, but I haven't come across such an eloquent description of the negative aspects of being in the top set, particularly for girls. My daughter, who loves maths and is good at it, is probably going to a secondary school next year that does very little streaming in Y7 & 8. While I was happy that this was the right thing to do for the school population as a whole, I was still a bit concerned about how it might work for her personally. This has reassured me - thanks.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 21:49:26

Resorting to the fact that your husband is 'snorting' just tells me you have no specific arguments. Just assertions i.e. about 'thick kids' which are truly 'locked in the past'.

And your comment about no such thing as a bottom set when that is what you have been arguing for doesn't even make sense.

TalkinPeace Sat 15-Feb-14 21:55:40

there is no "a bottom set"
because different kids are in set 5/6 for each subject, some of whom are in sets 2 and 3 for other subjects (occasionally set 1)
so the "bottom set" comprises around 1/3 of the year group

and in years 7 and 8 the sets are retested and adjusted every half term
so kids like Minifingers DS would be picked up and put in the right place for each subject block

with computerised timetabling only lazy schools do not do as those that used to be under the Hants LEA do

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 22:01:08

Talkin, you don't seem to understand that setting kids is not like grading carrots. Putting kids in the 'bottom set', which was your wording as was calling them 'thick', is likely to have a detrimental effect on their self-esteem and learning.

And you continue to harp on about this being the 'right' place for them but the fact that more summer born and black kids and kids with behavioural difficulties end up in the bottom sets highlights the fact that kids are not set according to their 'intelligence' whatever that may mean.

whendidyoulast Sat 15-Feb-14 22:03:22

You should also not limit your arguments to your own experience of your own children's schooling. It is typical for parents to defend top sets when their own kids are in it. Less so when their kids are not.

Minifingers Sat 15-Feb-14 22:04:51

Talkin - would you describe a child like mine as 'non academic' thick because he will leave primary with a 3c in writing?

Minifingers Sat 15-Feb-14 22:10:53

I would love to know what group/set Talking thinks would be appropriate for a child like mine - who is articulate, loves reading, has a good vocabulary, is full of ideas, but simply can't express himself in writing because of his physical and emotional disabilities. He will shrivel up and die from boredom if he's put in an English group consisting almost solely of poor achievers. :-( Feel so sorry for him as this is probably his future.

morry1000 Sat 15-Feb-14 22:39:05

Talkinpeace. My DD was "Bottom Groups" for Maths/English despite having a IQ of 138 because the school allowed her not to do any work for 4 and half years and let her just sit there and talk nonsense in isolation.

If I had insisted against my husbands ( you cant send one and not the other ) judgement (The other one is a 3rd Year Ancient History Student)

I am sure that DD and I would not of suffered as I have described in the Teenagers section.......

MerlinFromCamelot Sat 15-Feb-14 22:54:48

Minifingers, are you sure that your DC would end up in the bottom set for English? I would expect that a child who has a good vocabulary, is articulate and reads a lot which probably results in good comprehension would not end up in the bottom set even if his writing is poor! I'm not a teacher and can only go by my experience but my DD was rubbish at writing when she left primary school. Perhaps he is bored to tears because of how he is being taught, as was the case with my DD!! All it needed was a teacher with a different approach.. She is now predicted A* across the board. I know of a lot if DCs in my area who seem to have been in the same boat, I/e leaving primary with poor writing skills for loads of different reasons and then turn it around at secondary. DD was average in reception and stayed average throughout primary. The secondary does own assessment and placed her into top set. Sadly, in my experience it seems to be that once a DC is put in to a particular set it is often hard to move around.

manicinsomniac Mon 17-Feb-14 17:49:51

ALL private schools are selective - by parents/grandparents income. In order to have that sort of income, the parents/grandparents need to be bright, and have good jobs. Therefore the children will have a certain IQ as a general rule.

I know the thread had moved on a little but reading this after marking sets of books from my two Set 3 English classes in a leafy independent prep school really made me laugh. Many of these pupils have SpLD or AN that make their parents' IQs irrelevant but many more do not - a good third to a half of each of those classes just happen to have a low IQ. As many people do. From all socio-economic groups.

Having money is not at all indicative of high IQ. I have no idea how most of our parents make their money and I wouldn't post the details if I did know but things like inheriting money, being successful in construction type careers, being famous for something or working in family businesses are just some of many ways of getting very rich without having a high IQ. We have a normal range of parents from those with PhDs from Cambridge to those who didn't pass their O Levels/GCSEs.

There are always children in my classes whose parents cannot give them academic support at home because they don't have the ability to. These parents are, ime, just as prevalent at many private schools as very academic parents who are working such long hours that they can't help their children out are.

camilamoran Mon 17-Feb-14 18:29:22

Talkinpeace - thanks for the link. I see I was definitely wrong about the percentage in private schools having increased - it has pretty much stayed the same. One of those received opinions that I hadn't actually checked!

The whole affordability of private education/income inequality thing is more complex and I need to think about it more.

handcream Tue 18-Feb-14 18:47:38

All private schools are selective - really - what about the kids that are naturally bright and are on bursaries? What about people that have got money by other means - legal or otherwise. My DS goes to a snazzy well known boarding school. He has class mates whose parents ocassionally have very interesting backgrounds. Self made or in one case taken an 'opportunity' to make money which most would frown on.

My DS is doing A levels. Not particularly bright but the school has been the making of him with the small classes and individual attention. His parents (me and DH!) have chosen to work as opposed to taking career breaks and such like and can afford the fees but honestly we are fairly ordinary. I went to a sec modern with no aspirations for their pupils so I wouldnt class myself as well educated at all. We choose to live in the SE where the opportunities are.

What I have I believe is the 'street wise' gene. I can spot a good opportunity and make the most of it. Work for a large FTSE company who on occasions has been the devil to work for. But I have kept my nerve.

If someone wants to take on my role and do my hours - go ahead. But some choose not to - their choice but please dont think that is only luck that has got me here...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

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

Register now