Surge in school admission lotteries??

(144 Posts)
Tansie Tue 25-Feb-14 16:07:19

here

Makes me shudder and be grateful that my two are safely in their naice, leafy, MC comp, one that I got them into by buying a house in the catchment.

"The head of one major chain of academies said it was no longer “inherently fair or good for our society” to let parents move into the catchment area of a leading school to get a place."

So, the only DC who will stand any chance of 'getting the good jobs' will be from a private or academically selective school, in other words. Until that glaring inherently unfair loophole is closed, I shall do what I can for my DC. FGS don't take that away, the only thing that us less well-off parents can do to increase our DC's life chances! And no, I have no problem whatsoever with my DC sitting in classes with 'forrin' DC, working class DC or managed SEN DC (DC whose SEN is being properly attended to so the DC can participate in mainsteam education before I get flamed for that)- providing they're all singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of values. As are the DC at my DC's school. What I do have a problem with is that my DC's academic band could condemn them to a school miles away in a grotty area with a disastrous disciplinary record.

All this may do is 'dumb down' all schools since it has been shown that you actually only need a couple of drop-kick DC in a class to wreck the lesson for the rest. Sure, there are potentially such DC at my DC's school but they are utterly in the minority and their behaviour is rigorously managed.

I am glad that one can still effectively buy that. And yes, there are council houses in the catchment, and small 3 br flats. Though yes, I also concede the housing is largely 3-4 br privately owned and most parents in the area are here because of the school.

tallulah Tue 25-Feb-14 16:32:57

Sounds like a great idea when you can't afford to buy in the catchment of a naice school, despite both parents working FT. Turn your argument on its head, why should we be stuck with the school that isn't good enough for your kids?

The only problem I'd have with it is the disruption of so many children travelling. Throw in some free school buses and you've sorted that out too.

tiggytape Tue 25-Feb-14 17:12:11

Well the argument against that of course is if each school was allocated pupils from varying distances and with equal proportions of each ability then perhaps the vast differences you describe between desirable and less desirable comps would be ironed out.

There is nothing magical about a school that takes a high proportion of high ability children and churns out high GCSE grades. Similarly there is nothing inherently awful about a school that ends up taking mainly lower ability children and churns out mediocre GCSE results.

There is a lot about a lottery or fair banding system that I dislike but just about the only good aspect to is is it might lessen the divide that leaves parents trying all sorts to get an advantage.

GoldenBeagle Tue 25-Feb-14 17:40:41

None of this would be necessary if mc house buying parents were not so dazzled by league table results that simply reflect the privelige of the parents.

And so many questions begged. Are socio-houseprice leafy comps the only good comps? Are leafy comps the only way a comp education can lead to a good job? Are only the offspring of the non-leafy disruptive?

creamteas Tue 25-Feb-14 18:13:50

I'm really hoping that this is some form of reverse AIBU, because the idea that anyone would gloat about their ability to disadvantage children from less wealthy families is frankly nauseating.

derektheladyhamster Tue 25-Feb-14 18:17:28

We have this system, It works quite well from what I can see, and the GCSE results are evening out between the 2 schools we are in a lottery for, which is a good thing imo

rumtumtugger Tue 25-Feb-14 19:34:13

Agree, cream.

AmberTheCat Tue 25-Feb-14 21:53:58

Wow. There are several things that concern me about lottery systems (increased traffic on the roads, fewer children being able to walk to school, children not necessarily living near their friends, less community cohesion), but middle class parents no longer being able to buy privilege certainly isn't one of them!

Do kids from less leafy schools stand no chance of getting good jobs then? Patently untrue, but if it were, why is this a system you think we should perpetuate, just so that your children will be alright?

maillotjaune Tue 25-Feb-14 22:15:03

Nice attitude OP hmm

There are practical, travel difficulties that put me off lotteries but I could probably live with that if it stopped this kind of smug shite.

springrain Tue 25-Feb-14 22:27:44

Without getting into OP's views which I suspect are just there to wind us up, lotteries are generally only contemplated in cities where there are several schools within a short distance. They are not generally applied in less built up areas as would be a logistical nightmare and the resultant cost of LA funded buses would be prohibitive, particularly in the current climate of reducing LA budgets.

AmberTheCat Tue 25-Feb-14 22:35:12

I guess the issue that lotteries are designed to address is less prevalent in more rural areas. Where I grew up, for example, in Northumberland, there was one local school and everyone went there, so there was no need to bus kids to schools further away in order to improve the social mix. Good job, since the next nearest school was at least fifteen miles away!

tethersend Tue 25-Feb-14 22:47:31

IIRC, the Admissions Code prohibits LAs from using random allocation as the principal oversubscription criteria for all of its schools.

Mintyy Tue 25-Feb-14 22:51:34

Dear Lord, I sincerely hope my children aren't mixing with yours at school Tansie.

sleepdodger Tue 25-Feb-14 22:51:47

Ffs so I can't take my kids out of school when I have hol from work and now I can't get then into a school near me because the lotto says I am in one miles away so more time and money spent getting to and from schools
This looks like something written by cheaper private schools to boost numbers- those who can will leaving mix if everyone else an even more eclectic mix
Wtf has happened to the state system I was educated in and get more scared of for my dc by day??

tiggytape Tue 25-Feb-14 22:56:15

I think it has been billed in the press as random lotteries but actually they are talking about fair banding systems which are allowed.

WIth fair banding, every child in each primary school takes a test. The children are then grouped by ability (higher, medium and lower ability). Each child states which schools they want as they do now.
When it comes to allocating places though schools get pupils allocated to them with 30% of pupils from the higher group, 40% from the middle group and 30% from the lower group thus ensuring each school gets a fair mix and there's nothing a parent can do to cheat / play the system.

Tutoring a child would do no good because the higher ability group might be huge compared to the lower ability group in some areas and therefore there's less chance of getting a school you like if your child is having their name drawn out of the higher ability hat. Living in a certain road won't help because distance won't be a factor.

derektheladyhamster Wed 26-Feb-14 13:42:35

ours are random lotteries, but the 2 schools almost share a campus they are that close. But one was getting higher results as it sat in the 'golden triangle' of 3 very good leafy primary schools where the majority of children were leaving with level 5's, the other school is bigger, and took children from a much wider local area. So it has worked out well.

Marmitelover55 Wed 26-Feb-14 16:28:50

Two schools have random lotteries where I live. I would have preferred not to have this as we live quite close to my preferred school, but fortunately we got in anyway. Only children wanting to attend either of these schools had to do the test and iv you applied to both schools, you had to sit both schools tests.

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 21:20:33

"Sounds like a great idea when you can't afford to buy in the catchment of a naice school, despite both parents working FT. Turn your argument on its head, why should we be stuck with the school that isn't good enough for your kids?"..

First- what is a school? It's not actually a building, it's a group of humans; governors, teachers, parents, children. A good school is one that takes its intake and, for the bright, keeps them performing, for the less bright- well, actually yes, keeps them performing (like my comp does as DS2 is a B/C student at best). All this can be achieved far more easily when you have the Japanese model of the 3 legged stool in place: Teacher/parent/child. All on-side. If one falls over, the model fails.

I am glad that I have a) been able to (joint income £50k) and b) have moved into the 3 legged stool catchment (look THAT up on OFSTED!).

So, if you have a 'good' school, what happens when you increase, widen, manipulate its intake randomly? Remember, the bricks and mortar haven't transmogrified. But maybe the ethos has?! The intake has? The value placed on education by its intake's parents has?

I would beg to challenge those who have suggested that I think it's impossible to get a 'good' education from a school in a less leafy suburb- but it's potentially harder when statistically you're far more likely to have to deal with The Disruptive and Disengaged in a 'less leafy suburb'.

You know, the one thing that strikes me in all the replies this post has accumulated- no one even addresses the existence of private schools whose DC sweep the vast majority of the 'good' jobs! Why do we want all our state educated DC to wade through the proletariat morass of bog-standard, 'levelled' education, 'levelled' by lotteries and fair banding (and by that possibly destroying our 'good' state schools) whilst a gilded 7% waltz life's glittering prizes, laughing at us as they go?

"Do kids from less leafy schools stand no chance of getting good jobs then? "- I haven't said that but yes, your DC's chances of getting a good (your usage) job are reduced if they end up in a sub-standard school.

The point that has been lost here is that can it not be seen that this 'policy' could well have the effect of making sure no pesky prole DC will compete with the golden youth of the Publics and privates? No one can do anything to attempt to ensure their DC doesn't end up in a dangerous, failing, shoddy comp 10 miles away? That you'd have no chance of doing something towards choosing a school that fits with your DC and your values??

Why do you seek that? In a misguided attempt at 'levelling' a deeply skewed field? BUT one you can seek to improve upon?

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 21:23:40

Marmite -um- What 'school tests'? Can't be comps as I know them. Our comp cannot discriminate in any way. If you meet the admission criteria, you're in. Just so happens that by some chemistry (wrought over 20 years), the governors, head and teachers of this school have found a magic combination which a) ensures they do well by all their DC and b) have attracted the concerned parents from miles around to buy in-catchment to get in on the act.

Blu Wed 26-Feb-14 21:26:54

Tansie: presumably 'fair banding' tests.

Some comps do combine fair banding with lottery

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 21:37:23

Why would there be more than one test if one authority was administering them? "Only children wanting to attend either of these schools had to do the test and iv you applied to both schools, you had to sit both schools tests.".. so, might a wily parent research and apply for the school with the test they thought might best allow their DC to get in?

AgaPanthers Wed 26-Feb-14 21:42:50

Er, I don't think it's magic Tansie.

If I'm not mistaken your kids are at Thornden in Eastleigh, which as an odd gerrymandered catchment stretching into yummy Chandlers Ford while excluding all the down at heel bits of central Eastleigh.

Not magic at all. Simple formula:

Go to Google Maps. Look for houses with swimming pools and large plots and other indicators of wealth. Draw a circle round these, stopping just short of areas with council estates and social housing.

The end.

The Hampshire system is particularly egregious because it uses a catchment map, and because the nature of housing isn't changing due to our planning system, the catchment won't change.

Whereas a currently shit school can work hard improve its results and under a strict distance system 'earn' a smaller catchment by its results, but when the county has already been carved up for the benefit of the richest that can't happen. (Of course smaller catchments benefit the rich too, but change/improvement is less likely under the map system.

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 22:16:12

I work every day with people who went to Thornden school. They laugh uproariously at the suggestion that Thornden is now desirable. The point is, the school was 'average' and maybe was "a currently shit school <that> can work hard improve its results and under a strict distance system 'earn' a smaller catchment by its results".... How about that? Rather than a school that set up in a naice MC area thus benefited from its already 'good' catchment. Thus it is that the reverse is true. You seem to be implying that Th doesn't deserve its catchment thus should instantly gerrymander its catchment, carefully including council and social housing (your definition of trouble, not mine), and maybe ignore the DC on its doorstep!

I object to the term 'gerrymander'. It's defined as: 'the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts.'. Thornden's catchment has remained static, serving the North End (see what I did there?) of Chandler's Ford for decades. The catchment is an almost perfect oblong, no careful excision of council houses or social housing whatsoever. You could sweep the catchment 50% southwards and encompass the same demographic. (though northwards, you'd have to educate sheep and cows...)

Why do you regard the north end of Chandler's Ford as being 'yummy'? What's your yardstick? (Though you wouldn't apply that sobriquet if you sat outside Th awaiting DC!). None of my DSs friends have swimming pools, I can assure you! Most live in 3-4 bedroom 'estate' houses, like ours. All have 2 working parents. shock. Ask the surrounding schools, Mountbatten, Romsey, Kings, Westgate, Henry Beaufort, Perrins etc etc (our other choices) whether they consider themselves 'egregious' by comparison to Thornden... I don't think so.

maillotjaune Wed 26-Feb-14 22:45:49

Well Tansie I didn't mention private schools in my reply to your OP because you were talking about lotteries for state schools.

I don't like the fact that private schools exist. But neither do I like the idea of having to buy your way into a school by moving to the right street. The point being that both school fees and some house prices are beyond many parents who would provide the same support to school and child as you do, but who don't have the funds.

I have little expectation that you will shift your views on any of this though so I'm not sure why I'm even bothering...

AgaPanthers Wed 26-Feb-14 23:01:38

Catchment is here:

www3.hants.gov.uk/schooldetails?dfes=4175#catchment

It's a very odd shape I would say. Stretches out into the leafiness but refuses to touch the urban.

Even on the street map you can see that the bit it covers on the 'wrong' side of the M3 is the big detached houses area, and the tightly packed terraced streets just below that are kept out.

It's very well know that educational outcomes are very highly correlated with parental incomes. I didn't say that social housing was trouble, I'm pointing out that a highly MC intake earns A* regardless of school chosen.

In particular, 95% of the Thornden intake scored at or above level 4 on entry. The free school meals are 1%. ESL 3%. By comparison up to 40% on FSMs at some schools in Eastleigh during the course of last five years.

The intake is pretty similar to a grammar school, ability wise. That's not something the school has done, these are the children going in at 11 before they've set foot on the grounds.

How can it be that there are almost no poor people at all at this school yet Toynbee, in the same community, Chandlers Ford, sharing the same amenities and general sense of domain, has 10%?

And these catchments aren't gerrymandered you say? All just naice middle class parents with a shared sense of values, like not wanting any free school meal kids in.

maillotjaune Wed 26-Feb-14 23:16:14
meditrina Thu 27-Feb-14 06:45:14

Admissions lotteries are on BBC Breakfast now.

maillotjaune Thu 27-Feb-14 07:38:18

And 5Live now

Retropear Thu 27-Feb-14 07:48:59

Surely it wouldn't work in non city areas.The cost of buses and added unnecessary journey time would be huge.

Transition wise a lottery it isn't great.Our primary works in close partnership with it's feeder school so transition is really good.Starts quite early on.Most kids like to know where they're going early on and to go up with their friends.We live in quite a strong mixed community and many parents have gone to the feeder school.

Being part of a strong community has been proved to have huge benefits.

Retropear Thu 27-Feb-14 08:05:49

Also kind of getting fed up with the way only the rich are going to be allowed any choices re decisions and their dc.

Fed up with being dictated to re food choices,holidays,childcare,sahp v wp and now schools.

I am in Hants.

If I could get my kids into Thornden, I'd be happy! It is a well run, well managed school, with most kids seemingly being from homes where the parents care about education.

For me that is a big factor. I don't care about class or background, I want my kids with other kids whose parents value education, so it is the norm to do homework and try your best.

Interestingly, the private primary down the road from Thornden sends half its kids to Thornden for secondary. As Th. Gets better results than the private schools too (apart from KES).

As it stands, my kids will go to Kings or Westgate. Not too bad either.

Yes, we moved here for the good secondaries, it is reflected in the house prices around Winchester. Annoying to be playing the catchment game, don 't know what I'd do if there was a lottery. I guess in that case I'd try hard to get thdm in top sets of whatever school?

Kings, to its credit, has a much more varied catchment than Thornden, and takes lots of kids out of catchment. IMO it is a truly comprehensive, as in mixed ability intake. Still gets decent results.

tiggytape Thu 27-Feb-14 08:55:20

Surely it wouldn't work in non city areas.The cost of buses and added unnecessary journey time would be huge.

That is probably true but it doesn't tend to be rural areas that have these problems in the first place. By the nature of their geography, children in rural areas go to their nearest school and therefore each school gets a genuinely mixed intake.
In urban areas with secondary schools only 1 or 2 miles from each other, you can end up with desirable and less desirable schools. In theory they should all be drawing from the same pool of children but in practice, the "better" one acquires a tiny, tiny catchment area whereas the other one (the less popular one) ends up with people from much further afield who haven't managed to position themselves to get into the better school.

What 'school tests'? Can't be comps as I know them. Our comp cannot discriminate in any way.

In fair banding, all children wishing to go to a comp take a test.
This isn't to exclude lower ability children. It is to make sure that each comp ends up with equal proportions lof high ability and less able kids.
In other words, it is to stop one comp ending up with more challenging intakes.
So every child takes a test and is placed in the top, middle or bottom "hat" and then equal numbers of names are drawn out of each hat and that's how the places are allocated. It stops people buying houses for good schools because address doesn't matter. It makes intakes to all schools more even because they all get a fair share of very able and less able pupils.

Tansie Fri 28-Feb-14 09:30:35

fiscal Q: "If I could get my kids into Thornden, I'd be happy! It is a well run, well managed school, with most kids seemingly being from homes where the parents care about education."

Your alternatives, Kings and Westgate are of course also amazingly good schools. Whilst, Th. pips them (just) in the league tables, that's absolutely not the point, is it! The fact all are well run, managed with a MC-valued intake is actually what makes them very good schools.

I chose Th because unlike what someone else said, its intake isn't grammar school. GS are academically selective, so if you have a less able DC you cannot get them in; whereas I can and did exercise what 'power' I do have in buying into the catchment of a good comp, one where they seem to do well by all the DC. Had DS2 been more academic, I would have taken the risk of buying into the catchments of the Salisbury grammar/s.

I would readily recognise that Th is not a microcosm of all of the UK; but it is representative of the community in which it is situated. The things that the DC have in common, by and large, is coming from committed families and not being dirt poor but they certainly aren't all from 'leafy homes'! And yes, they have the occasional drugs bust.

I think an interesting fact is that despite being 'the best' comp in Hampshire, academically, its value added score is 1028.2, the highest in Hampshire. So though some might claim the school can sit on its laurels because its intake is at worst average, at best considerably above average, it goes on 'adding' to the DC's attainment.

Someone said "But neither do I like the idea of having to buy your way into a school by moving to the right street. The point being that both school fees and some house prices are beyond many parents who would provide the same support to school and child as you do, but who don't have the funds."- but I too don't like having to fork out for the 'right' street- but I'm bloody glad that the possibility exists! I don't quite understand what you mean about 'many parents who would provide the same support as you do...' Would? Why not 'do'? If they do provide that support - it doesn't have to be financial!- what's the problem? Surely their DC will do perfectly well?

There are some very good schools in 'poor' areas and there are some average schools in expensive areas. I am glad that I am still able to select a school that 'fits' for my 2 DC which happens to be a comp in a leafy area and am not forced into 'any old school' for political reasons, especially by a government full of people whose parents chose and selected every step of their DC's way.

tiggytape Fri 28-Feb-14 09:56:16

Tansie - I understand your point of view that, for you personally, this is a good thing. You say that your DS would not have suited grammar so you were able instead to buy a house that granted him access to a good school with an easy intake of children and good results. You are pleased that this option exists because you can make use of it.

But do you not agree that for children in general this is not a good set-up?
To have some schools that have exclusively easy intakes with very few poor students and very few students from more challenging backgrounds means that elsewhere there will be a school that has more than its fair share of these things to tackle?
And for the children sent there because their parents cannot afford to buy in catchment (they may be too poor or they may be in social housing with no choice) this is not a good system?
You say that with parental support they will be fine anyway. If that's the case why were you so keen to avoid this for your own child?

AgaPanthers Fri 28-Feb-14 12:59:00

"I chose Th because unlike what someone else said, its intake isn't grammar school. GS are academically selective, so if you have a less able DC you cannot get them in; whereas I can and did exercise what 'power' I do have in buying into the catchment of a good comp, one where they seem to do well by all the DC. Had DS2 been more academic, I would have taken the risk of buying into the catchments of the Salisbury grammar/s."

The fact is however that there are almost no 'less able DC' at Thornden.

That's the whole point of these schools - people think they are turning shit into sugar, but actually if your children are genuinely less able, which is statistically very unlikely given that 95% of Thornden's intake then they probably will not get 5 good GCSEs at Thornden - 4 out of 14 did last year. It's only by excluding nearly all of the least able that the school looks good.

Now 4 out of 14 (29%) is actually a pretty good result, compared with the national picture, but given the tiny number of less able children at the school the true chance of success is going to have a wide range, because the school's admissions policies excludes most less able children; however if we had more data then it would be a pretty good result if the school actually did become more comprehensive, if that 29% figure is accurate over a larger sample.

Statistically from what you say, your son is probably a 'middle attainer', and not really 'less able' at all, by national standards. Under the grammar school system in Kent, there are lots of 'middle attainers' going to grammar school. Dover Grammar gets 32% middle attainers, Thornden gets 42%.

The grammar schools in Salisbury are super-selective, and a different kettle of fish, but just because Thornden is selecting 'average and above', rather than 'above average', doesn't mean it's not selective. It's selective because its intake does not look anything like the intake of other local schools.

That it selects on income/house prices isn't really the point - selecting by wealth is incredibly effective, and is across the globe, as pointed out in the recent UN study of educational outcomes globally.

Thornden does appear to be very good, from its results across the spectrum, but it would be much better if it were to take a much larger proportion of less able pupils, and do with them what it appears to do (but we can't be completely sure, statistically) with its current tiny cohort of the less able.

That's far more socially useful (which is the purpose of education, ultimately) than creating a middle class ghetto. A fair banding system would serve the needs of the community as a whole much better than the current system which purely serves the needs of middle class parents.

Tansie Fri 28-Feb-14 14:10:54

Why is there a correlation between 'poor' and academic under-achieving? IS there? And if so, why? Is there one between poverty and poor behaviour? Why do comp in 'grittier' areas not do as well with their cohort than schools like Thornden, by and large? Is it because schools like Th have an intake of DC from families that subscribe to the 3 legged Japanese model of education, that a DC does well when the DC, the teacher and the parents are all 'on-side'? Take the commitment of one away and the whole thing falls over.

I think this is why comps in difficult areas might suddenly show a dramatic increase in academic output but once the huge injection of cash or the Super-Head (and the TV crews) leaves, many gradually fall back to mediocrity. Why is this?

It's all very well to say 'But everyone wants a good education for their DC'. I'd say, Yes, all profess it but how many put themselves out to do anything about it? Many won't leave their present catchment area because the drive to work is easy; mum lives close by; friends will be harder to visit; I've lived here all my life; I don't want to move. All perfectly valid reasons for staying but they don't stack up against how far you'd go to make sure your DCs get the education you want for them. You don't need to be on MN for long to see that a lot of private paying parents profess penury to afford fees, it's that important to them.

As I stated before a good school is a compound of the Governors, the Head, the teachers, the pupils and the parents. Muck about too much with any of those factors and lo and behold, maybe you won't have a good school any more, you may well end up with 2 mediocre ones- with the wealthiest withdrawing all together to the private sector.

As for my DS's academic attainment, I guess that again, it depends what you want. Frankly, I was quite shock at how low the standard in KS2 English SAT was to get a 4 (which is what he got). No doubt there are many DC who are doing far worse but they aren't my day to day concern. I also believe that the '5 good GCSEs' benchmark will increasingly be seen as the basest of base levels, a result only proving someone can walk, talk and chew gum simultaneously <OK, I exaggerate a bit!>. I want my less bale DS to have a crack at 6th Form, and, tbh, whilst I genuinely admire your altruism where you say the purpose of education is for the social good, it's a bit airy-fairy. I see my DSs education as being the vehicle that buys them choice in their futures, the ability to choose what work to do, where to live, who to hang out with, more or less.

We don't have the ability to swing open the gilded doors that a private school education will, so we do the next best thing: choose a good state school for them. Then move house to get into the catchment, a move that was not without pain, I might add but one we were prepared to do.

Tansie Fri 28-Feb-14 14:18:13

And for the record, and here it gets interesting, I'd happily go through an application and interview process (with my DC) to get my DC into a given school. IMO the commitment of a parent to do that improves the likelihood of a good outcome immensely. This why religious schools do well, isn't it? Apart from the concept of a shared social identity imposing a higher level of respect and discipline into DC, there are atheist 'cheats' who have gone to church every week and done the church flowers and coffee mornings once a month during the past 11 years to get a DC into a given school. Their commitment can't be faulted!

A lot of private parents I know would fail that interview as they've effectively farmed their DC's lives out to paid others; private school especially boarding; nannies and au pairs; paid tutors; paid-for after school activities every night, overseen sport all weekend, PGL style holiday clubs for the DC. I'm not condemning them, just saying that in my model, less well off but committed parents would get ahead of the private-wealthy parents in getting DC into a desired school.

Would that be fairer?

AgaPanthers Fri 28-Feb-14 14:40:10

"Why is there a correlation between 'poor' and academic under-achieving? "

Well one reason might well be that the poor are excluded from the best schools.

"IS there? And if so, why? Is there one between poverty and poor behaviour? Why do comp in 'grittier' areas not do as well with their cohort than schools like Thornden, by and large? "

It has been well studied.

"Contextual factors, in particular a school's socio-economic composition, account for significantly more variation in student performance" than the school itself "underlining the importance for educational policy makers to devote adequate attention to those features of education systems that relate to the socio-economic composition of schools."
"In the OECD countries around 50 per cent of the between-school variance in reading literacy is explained by student background, just under 20 per cent by the school context (in particular, average socio-economic status), and around 5 per cent by the school climate, school policies and school resources." Around 30% is unexplained.

In other words, 50% of a child's relative performance (above or below the national average) is determined by how rich (or otherwise) his family is and 20% by how rich (or otherwise) the average child at his school is.

The fact that you regard your child's Level 4 as abysmal rather proves that point. It isn't, a Level 4 means that he is on track to get a C in English at GCSE, which is all he needs in life, unless he wants to be a journalist or something (it's no barrier to going to Oxbridge to study Maths, say). Level 4 is the expected level of attainment nationally, and if you are in a school where many people are in poverty perhaps due to poor English skills, etc., then that's another planet from the one you are living on.

Your child is likely to succeed, and not because Thornden is magical fairyland, but because of you. You don't need any guff about three-pointed tripods to see that.

maillotjaune Fri 28-Feb-14 14:55:19

If you are in social housing it is rather more difficult to up sticks and move into a particular catchment area. And although you appear to be dismissive of the reasons of other parents for not moving, imagine the combination of, say, close enough to work AND the grandparents who provide childcare because your job doesn't have the predictable hours / shifts that fit best with school or regular childcare.

As it happens none of the above applies to me but I am able to see how it complicates things for some parents.

Parental interviews are still unlikely to favour the children who are most disadvantaged. A fairer split of children from different backgrounds and ability bands could.

oh yes, the level 4 thing.

DS is set to get level 4 English, which is a massive achievement as he is dyslexic and could not write a sentence, any sentence, until he was 9.

The shocking thing though, is that even though he is now supposedly average, his writing (spelling, grammar) is really quite poor. He is 11 yet writes "fore" instead of "for" and "hav" instead of have. yet he is average, which leads me to think the average level of English must be quite low.

Which means I would quite like my kids to be significantly above average for me to feel secure about their attainment.

He is set to get to level 5 for maths, but whilst he is o.k. at maths, he is not much better than average IMO (he is bottom set in his year). He is o.k., but works slowly.

So I just think average levels must be really low. Which means somewhere education, on the whole, is failing.

Which leads me to feeling anxious about schools, as I feel "average" is not good enough, terrible as that sounds.

Or am I wrong?

derektheladyhamster Fri 28-Feb-14 15:15:11

I agree about the 'expected levels' My ds is currently working at a 5c in writing, but despite having nearly completed the apples and pears book, his spelling, while improved, (he was a 2a 2 years ago) is still very poor. Metal spelt melte for example.

my son would write "mettle" or "metle", but as it makes sense from a phonetic point of view, it is not classed as a "serious" error, the Ed Psych said.

But yes, I remember being able to spell around age 11-12. Can't remember having to ever learn spelling, or writing words incorrectly, in secondary school.

That was "average" in the 80s.

Tansie Fri 28-Feb-14 19:30:33

"Why is there a correlation between 'poor' and academic under-achieving?Well one reason might well be that the poor are excluded from the best schools." No they're not actually 'excluded'; but due to financial and social factors, some might be. It depends on how far the parent/s are prepared to go in order to facilitate entry to a 'good' school.

I guess, when push comes to shove, it depends on whether you regard DC as being the whole responsibility of their parents good and bad, or whether you pick'n'choose what the parents should do and provide, and what shortfalls The State must pick up. One is intrinsically linked to the other. It actually pisses me off a lot the idea that if you're rich, it's absolutely OK in every available way to advantage your DC, 'them's the breaks'; whereas if you're very much not rich, the factors that drove you there are irrelevant, your DC must not, in any way, be linked to your financial and social status. This is where the 'my kid's gotta go to a good school' thing comes in, 'though I've done and will do nothing to facilitate that'.

To my mind, a serious reason a lot of 'poor' DC fail at school is because the society they grow up doesn't value education. The parents failed at school (but got jobs anyway), their DC aren't expected to do any better. The parent/s doesn't care, they assume their DC won't do well- but the glaring difference is that there are no jobs for the unqualified anymore. And back to the OP- guess what? I will do whatever it takes to avoid my less able DC sitting in the same class as these DC.

"Your child is likely to succeed, and not because Thornden is magical fairyland, but because of you. You don't need any guff about three-pointed tripods to see that"....Objection, Yer Honour. Of course Thornden school is not magical- it just, by virtue of its increasing success, has attracted like-minded families that further improve the standard of its intake (and out-take!). Families that entirely 'get' that 3 entities need to be on-board for educational success: school/child/home. Oh! Guess what? The three-legged-stool 'guff'!

'The fact that you regard your child's Level 4 as abysmal rather proves that point.'- Level 4 is not 'abysmal- but compared to the level privately educated DC of the same age are required to achieve- the DC I expect mine will be up against in the jobs stake- yes, level 4 is a pretty low benchmark of 'success'.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sat 01-Mar-14 10:20:38

I am utterly bemused by the idea that somehow "lottery" type admission systems would in any way lead to less socially exclusive schools. In fact they have quite the opposite effect in the long run.

Think about it.

If a heavily oversubscribed school moves to lottery admission, who is going to apply? Well, everyone for whom it is their closest school would apply as they would have done before. Bear in mind that even the most exclusive areas in London usually have at least a small amount of social housing due to council housing policies. Imagine that the school is oversubscribed by a ratio of 2 to 1. A lottery now guarantee that half of those poorer kids won't get in now. Magic. Who are their places going to go to? Well, everyone who applied to the school even though it wasn't their closest one. So the children of people who value their children's education enough to send them on a longer journey. Sure, they don't need to be rich, but they'll certainly need to be aspirational.

Another consideration is how it would affect people like me. I'm not yet 100% decided on state versus private for my own dc at secondary. The main attractions of the local comp for me is that it's on our doorstep and most of the children from the dc's school and the local community will go there. If the school changed their admission policy to a lottery then there is absolutely no chance I'd even consider it as it would cease to have the 'local' appeal.

I think it's called the law of unintended consequences. It's a grand idea, but in practice it achieves nothing positive at all.

I don't even think it is a grand idea to start with.

Think of the impact on prople's lives, to have to travel to a faraway school when there is one on your doorstep. The environment. It's a bad idea to start with.

AgaPanthers Sat 01-Mar-14 10:55:56

Eh what?

The schools you are talking about often have only 1% poor kids anyway. However the surrounding area might be 15%.

The lottery system means that the school represents the wider area not a tiny catchment.

It is nonsense to say that a lottery would exclude the poor, because the whole reason for these schools 'success' is that they currently do exclude the poor.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sat 01-Mar-14 11:15:45

I've no idea what area you are in, but I live in one of the most socially exclusive LEAs in the country. Even here the oversubscribed schools have about 8% FSM at secondary level. I'm surprised that there would be any secondaries having as low 1% FSM anywhere in the capital. I'd be interested in examples.

Catchments are indeed wider where there are lotteries, but it is a fallacy to suggest that they don't continue to exclude the poor. That's why they usually remain successful. The only difference is that the goalposts have moved.

tiggytape Sat 01-Mar-14 12:00:22

I think you are ignoring the fact that it isn't a totally random allocation.

It isn't names out of a hat. It is names out of 3 hats. And those hats are "fixed" to make sure one contains all the higher ability children, one the mid ability set and one the lower ability pupils. Therefore it is guaranteed that the final intake of the school will represent fairly all abilities of children. The consequence of this being schools are not dominated by one ability group and are not dominated by just wealthy or just poorer students either.

You are right though - it means primary school classes won't all be kept together but then many secondary schools break up class groups deliberately anyway.

As for travel, exclusive or desirable comps cause this anyway. A comp will generally admit all siblings and a popular comp will then have half of their places available based on distance. This means even those for whom it is their closest school cannot get a place because they live 1.1 miles away and all the places are full after 0.7 miles. The rejected children are too far away from their 2nd or 3rd closest school to qualify there either so end up being sent miles from home. That is a very common occurence where one or two desirable schools exist in an area.

lottysmum Sat 01-Mar-14 12:12:54

Not only are they increasing Lottery Admissions but they are also now going to help children in primary schools prepare for the 11 plus ...which is fantastic ...a little step to take "money" out of the state education system....

tiggytape Sat 01-Mar-14 12:18:21

Yes and they can also choose to give admissions priority to children who qualify for free school meals (or have qualified for them in the last 6 years) no matter what distance they live from the school. Not all schools will choose to do this but it does at least show an effort to move things on from the current problems some areas face.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sat 01-Mar-14 12:38:48

But you're describing 'fair banding' Tiggy and not lottery selection. They are two different systems (although they do frequently get combined).

However, even in fair banding, the situation isn't automatically better. There might be a full spread of abilities, but that doesn't automatically mean that there will be a full spread across the social classes. (Unless you are assuming that all mc children are going to be in the top band and all the disadvantaged would be in the bottom). And there's still the issue of the least aspirational aiming for the most local school even if it isn't the best. Also, are the fair banding tests automatically sat by all pupils in local primaries? If it's down to the parents needing to register for them, I can see that being a nice little barrier to the most disadvantaged...

Who said anything about primary school classes being kept together? That's never been a consideration and I wouldn't expect it. It's more about going to a big school with plenty familiar faces dotted in amongst everyone else.

I do appreciate that even without lotteries and fair banding some children don't get into their local schools and end up having to travel. And that must be utterly crap, but I don't understand why making it the norm for an even higher percentage to have to travel long distances improves things. There are many flaws in the current system. Obviously. It's just that lotteries won't fix them. They'll just introduce new ones.

tiggytape Sat 01-Mar-14 12:56:11

Guinevere - you are right, I am mainly talking about fairbanding. But other lottery systems also have an element of "fixing" it so that a fair spread of pupils is selected eg they divide an area into postcodes or catchment dsitricts and draw names out of a hat from each area to ensure poorer areas get just as many students in as richer postcodes closer to the school

There are a few lottery style methods but they all have the same aim - to break the stronghold of wealthier people on the best school places and also therefore to make sure less good schools get more high ability pupils too.

Unless you are assuming that all mc children are going to be in the top band and all the disadvantaged would be in the bottom

Yes an assumption along those lines exists in these schemes and statistically it is borne out. There is a direct correlation between poverty and attainment at school even amongst pupils in the same school. A poor student is about 30% less likely to get 5 good GCSEs than a student from any other group.
That is why the Pupil Premium now exists to give more funding to children who are from poor families. This is based purely on wealth not ability being assessed because the two are closely linked.
And this is why there is so much focus on closing the attainment gap and looking at figures for children on FSM not just overall attaintment figures for a school. I am not of course saying all poorer children struggle but they are more likely to and the research bears this out at all ages and in all subjects.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sat 01-Mar-14 14:11:28

But that is to confuse attainment and ability. I thought fair banding was typically done using CAT tests? My understanding was that these are IQ type tests, is that not the case?

If all poor children are "low ability" then it isn't surprising that they didn't achieve as good results as wealthier children of "high ability". That's not really the problem. The problem is that, actually, with the right support many of these disadvantaged children are perfectly able and can go on to achieve.

The difficulty is trying to address this without screwing the system up completely so that it actually makes things worse for everyone.

I don't think we should assume that disadvantaged children will automatically do better at these socially selective oversubscribed schools either. I was actually digging around the statistics for the schools near me at both primary and secondary level. FSM children typically did much worse at the most exclusive schools than they did at less popular ones.

maillotjaune Sat 01-Mar-14 15:54:16

But the advantage often bought by mc parents for 11+ tests is removed - there is no point tutoring to get into the top band because the school will not only select the children with the highest test score.

Current IQ style tests for 11+ selection can be prepared for, putting the children of parents without funds for tutoring / time or ability to help prepare their child themselves at a big disadvantage. Knowing there is no advantage that being in any particular band is a real change.

tiggytape Sat 01-Mar-14 17:11:54

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt - I do agree with you on many points. There is no easy way to control admissions so that everyone gets a local school and so that all local schools are equally good. That is a huge challenge and a balance many are trying to achieve.
The status quo however presents a very real challenge in education at the moment with poorer students as a whole (again I stress not individual children) assessed as having lower attainment and lower ability levels from the start and efforts are being made to address this. This is a huge inequality so new approaches are being explored: pupil premium funding, judging schools on how much progress poorer student make, offering free nursery and early nursery places to 2 year olds from more difficult backgrounds, allowing grammar schools and others to give priority to pupils who qualify for free school meals and now lottery admissions. The inequality of outcomes at all levels at the moment is truly shocking and secondary admissions are seen as just another point that intervention can be used to perhaps improve things

I agree with you that sometimes the "best" schools aren't much good in terms of value added. They simply take in high ability children and churn out high ability children. There's nothing magical about that. Others however do achieve very well with the lower ability children or FSM children they have. They simply don't have that many because of catchment sizes and, as such, more could benefit from them given a chance. It is also sometimes the case that better schools in one area have more stable staffing, better facilities, wider extracurricular subjects and other opportunities that poorer children would not otherwise be able to access. The schools aren't just socially selective - they are "better" in very real terms. Not all areas are like this of course but, in some, the best state schools have amazing facilities, very specialist staff and great opportunities and the other state schools don't and this has created an almost 2 tier system of desirable and very undesirable schools.

Tansie Sat 01-Mar-14 18:02:33

What's a value added score of 1028 considered to be, out of interest? Is that good or rubbish? I'd not taken much notice of them but that what my DC's 'socially exclusive, leafy MC' (or so I'm repeatedly told here!) comp gets.

"If all poor children are "low ability" then it isn't surprising that they didn't achieve as good results as wealthier children of "high ability". That's not really the problem. The problem is that, actually, with the right support many of these disadvantaged children are perfectly able and can go on to achieve."

- I think many thousands of £ and much heartache and effort has been thrown at this- and guess what? In real terms, DC from poor families continue to under-perform. What is 'the right support'? Can it be wrought by the same 'magic' that apparently makes my DC's comp 'excellent'? I think not. As I have said about 20 times so far, the reason my DC's school succeeds is because its intake is entirely school ready. There are few debilitating social problems, the DC are relatively easy to teach and the parents are on-side and are what I call 'MC valued' even though some live in £600 pcm 2 bedroom flats. They believe in education and expect their DC to perform. The teachers are teaching, not fire-fighting.

If one were to introduce 'fair banding', firstly DC would have to start travelling bigger distances; and if we assume that 'disadvantage' breeds less good educational outcomes, guess what? In 3 or 4 years, Th would become another 'bog standard comp'. The wealthier parents will have fled to the privates (of which there are surprisingly few around here as most of the the wealthier DC go to the good local comps). Sure the one or two 'poor schools' locally might improve a bit, but the injection of a certain number of MC DC won't miraculously turn a feral chair-fight of a lesson into a well-disciplined, productive one.

So yes, you say "The difficulty is trying to address this without screwing the system up completely so that it actually makes things worse for everyone". Indeed it is.

And I agree that "I don't think we should assume that disadvantaged children will automatically do better at these socially selective oversubscribed schools either". As "FSM children typically did much worse at the most exclusive schools than they did at less popular ones".

Anecdotally, there was a TV show in Oz a few years ago where a disruptive, difficult, endlessly expelled (Aboriginal) boy from a chaotic family was admitted to one of the best private boys schools in Oz to demonstrate that 'the savage can be tamed' by being surrounded by hard-working, focused disciplined boys (NO racism intended here, I should add! The 'savage' reference is to the indiscipline of the boy, not his race!). He was asked to leave after less than a term. He simply had too many issues and the school, like ours, wasn't 'set up' to deal with such.

Which leads me to a seminal point: IMO, most NS DC who under-achieve at school do so due to the chaos or neglect of their home lives.

And I chose Th for my DCs because yes, it obviously does well by its clever DC, but also by its less-clever DC. The middle 'sets', such as they are (they pride themselves on minimal setting)- are full of the less able being appropriately taught, not, as in many schools, the able-enough but can't be arsed. They are the shame of our education system, but I don't think 5 odd hours of contact time in school, 5 days a week 40 weeks a year turns around years of poor or absent parenting.

I'm still relieved that there are ways for me to avoid having to help my DC cope with these DC as they wreck everyone's education..

AgaPanthers Sat 01-Mar-14 18:38:00

I am not sure what a single anecdote about an aboriginal 'savage' is supposed to prove.

And your £600 pcm flat dwellers don't have special values, it is simply a case of excluding the poorest, which the school proveably does.

tiggytape Sat 01-Mar-14 18:46:37

Tansie - It doesn't often happen that I am left speechless by a post in the education forums but I am - speechless

And I don't dare ask any opinion on what you would define as mc children with additional needs or behavioural needs or children in care being raised by mc foster parents who live in catchment or any other interloper who might find their way into a mc school without having been vetted in some way first!

maillotjaune Sat 01-Mar-14 20:02:32

Fucking hell Tansie.

Tansie,

Did you know Thornden is actually good with/for kids with SEN.

They are so good that they even get children out of catchment sent there by LEA.

One of DS's friends with complicated SEN and a statement has been accepted there despite not being in catchment.

Anyway, I sort of know what you are saying but you seem focussed only on your own DC and not on education in general, which comes across a bit shock iyswim.

The "savage" experiment proves nothing, IMO.

DraggingDownDownDown Sun 02-Mar-14 09:21:18

Our local secondary - which is 0.8miles away! - has gone from catchment to fair banding this year. I am so so worried as all the other secondary schools are a bus ride away which is a HUGE problem as my son has special needs but does not have a statement. This school also has things in place that would best meet his needs whereas the other schools don't.

The way I interpreted the admission policy is that those who are in the top ability bands have a greater chance of getting in still. Really think we are going to have a meltdown of epic proportions tomorrow from DS (autistic etc) as he would have been banded in the lower bands

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 09:28:37

Dragging - the top bands don't have a better chance. The idea is that an even mix of abilities if ensured and that's why they test ability. Not to cherry pick the best scorers.

Some schools have a priority medical and social criteria which is for children who have a disability or medical condition but no statement. Did the school have this?
If you do get unwelcome news tomorrow, medical and social needs (for example the inability to travel due to physical or sensory problems) can form the basis for an appeal. If you need help, do post a new thread with the word appeal in the title as there are some experts here who will help you put something together.

Soveryupset Sun 02-Mar-14 09:31:53

Mmmm I disagree fundamentally with the principle that just because your parents are middle class and/or have money, you do not have discipline issues. This is absolutely not the case. My DC attended a school in a very disadvantaged area, a school in a very leafy MC area and a top league private school and the ONLY DIFFERENCE in behaviour was the way it was dealt with by the school. There were children with behavioural issues in all of them.

The first school was frankly appalling at dealing with these issues and we did have or hear of children badly hurt and injured every day. The second was much better but we still had incidents especially at playtime where supervision was absolutely minimal. In fact I thought that 300 children left running riot in a playground with 1 or 2 dinner ladies normally chatting among themselves was incredibly irresponsible and the children did very well at not getting even more injuries!

The private, academically selective school my DD1 attends has more behavioural issues than the second school but has incredibly strict discipline and playtimes are closely supervised, small separate playgrounds with lots of teachers and also lots of clubs so the children are always busy and less likely to hurt one another. There is still disruption in lessons though and behaviour can be bad at times, despite many of these children being incredibly privileged and many being also very bright.

I felt the need to write this post because it really gets on my nerves when I hear that just because a school is middle class the children are well behaved, this is utter rubbish in my experience. Also I've had plenty of children round to play ranging from council estates to posh mansions, and all their behaviour varies massively and bore no relation whatsoever to the professional or financial status of the parent. You'd be surprised how many very wealthy children can behave like the savage you describe, I could write a book about it!!!!

Sovery, so true!

DraggingDownDownDown Sun 02-Mar-14 09:56:43

TiggyTape - This was their policy:

The oversubscription criteria will then be applied to each band as follows:

1. Statement of Special Educational Needs - Places will be allocated to children with a statement of special
educational needs where the Academy is named on the statement as appropriate provision.

2. Looked After Children – children in public care (looked after children) and previously looked after children.
(See Appendix 1 for the full definition).

3. Sibling link – children who will have an older sibling attending the Academy at the time of admission in years
7 to 13 or had a sibling in year 13 on National Secondary Allocation Day. (See Appendix 1 for the full
definition).

4. Other pupils.

so we are no.4 - other pupils

Couldnt see priority medical and social criteria for unstatemented children

DraggingDownDownDown Sun 02-Mar-14 09:59:28

It then goes onto say:

Place Allocation and Under Subscribed Bands
Places in each of the bands will be allocated according to the over subscription criteria starting from Band 1.

If there are bands that are under subscribed, places will be filled from over- subscribed bands.

The process will be:
1. The places will be filled starting with Band 1 and then each Band in turn down to Band 5.

2. Students in the nearest adjacent band, or bands will be allocated a place in priority order according to the
over subscription criteria. I.e. The student who is highest in order of all the criteria will be selected using the
final tiebreaker of distance as described above until the nearest band/bands runs out of students.

3. Any remaining places will then be filled from the next adjacent band, or bands, in the same manner.

4. This will be repeated until all bands are full.

I interpreted this to mean that they will take all from band 1 first

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 10:10:54

Dragging - in that case your school unfortunately has no medical or social criteria to give priority for non statemented children. This isn't unheard of and is perfectly legal but a real nuisance.
It does not stop you appealing though on medical and social grounds. You should aim to explain to panel the problems with travelling and the facilities the school has that means it is the best one to meet your son's needs.
A letter from his Dr or consultant or other specialist that backs up any of your points would be especially helpful as would any evidence from his current school eg if you have reports that mention he responds well to smaller classes and this school has smaller classes or whatever it is that works for him... Any additional evidence to back up your points will help.

The bands thing I think you may have read wrong. My reading of it is:
Your child is already in either band 1,2,3,4 or 5 depending on his test score. That is already decided.
They are going to fill up each band using oversubscription criteria eg a Band 1 sibling gets priority over a Band 1 child with no sibling for a place in Band 1. Some Band 1 children without siblings may be rejected.
Then they will do the same with the Band 2 children to work out their band and so on.
Your son is only competing with the children in his own band for a place. They aren't going to fill the whole school with Band 1 pupils. Only Band 1 will be filled with Band 1 pupils
They will sort out Band 1 first and Band 5 last but there will be 30 places (or whatever) reserved for each band and they will not be given to a child outside that band unless the band is pretty empty and they need to fill it up a bit.

Clavinova Sun 02-Mar-14 10:23:56

How will fair banding achieve a mixed intake in an unpopular, under subscribed school? You can't force parents to send their dc to sit a fair banding test for a school they don't want.

DraggingDownDownDown Sun 02-Mar-14 11:15:03

TiggyTape - that does make alot more sense! I have already started my appeal letter even though I don't find out till tomorrow but I like to get my thoughts in order.

I have put in it things like - the school is all based round a circle and so if my son gets lost (likely due to his SN) he just has to keep walking till he finds the correct room. The other school has separate buildings.

Can walk to this one as it is so close (with friends) but the other schools are 1 or 2 bus journeys away which he is no way capable of.

The fact that the things that they have to help the SEN children is identical to what the primary have already implemented (alphasmart, timeout cards etc) which the other school don't do.

And a big factor is that he actually WANTS to go there which is half the battle with an ASD child who hates change and suffers with anxiety. He is already used to the school as our primary has alot of event days there.

Blu Sun 02-Mar-14 11:30:30

Clavinova: because parents of high ability kids can be reassured that there will be a fair representation of similar ability kids, perhaps? And to begin with the option of a fair banded but unpopular comp presents a good alternative to people who are less happy with their immediately local options, so apply.

I have been thinking about all this in the context that in London children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds do better than disadvantaged children from other areas. And this accounts for the success of many of the London comps which have high FSM %.

In most of London housing within a catchment will be very mixed, with multi-million pound conservation areas metres away from high density estates. For families using the state system, children have been mixed from nursery. You just don't get the discrepancy between 'leafy' comps and sink schools that posters from many other parts of the country report.

This of us in London bash our heads against our keyboards as yet another poster says comps only work because of leafiness, and they bash their heads as we explain that our high performing comps are not leafy and tell us we must have bought our way in, while actually, far from it, some of us might live in council estates!

The sheer concentration and mix of housing in London ensures that there is always a huge social mix.

Prizegiving eve at ds's comp demonstrates exactly that both ability and achievement are not determined or boundaries by class or economic circumstances. And the stats show that achievement overall is high.

Correlation is not causation, but it seems reasonable to look at the model of social mix that occurs in London schools before wedding ourselves to any system that further polarises children by class and economy.

The popular and successful comps I know of in our area that do well by all levels of ability, do well across all social groups, and are popular with mc and /or aspirational parents do tend to use fair banding.

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 14:51:23

Dragging - you are on exactly the right lines for an appeal

All of those things are factors an appeal panel will want to hear about.
If you can though, try to get evidence for them eg a letter from his specialist that says "in my clinical opinion, DraggingJnr's additional needs mean that he is incapable of travelling safely by public transport and needs to attend a school that he can walk to" or a letter from his current SenCo saying "DraggingJnr responds very well to the interventions (listed) These are currently used at school X and as such I feel this continuity would be of great benefit to him."

It is one thing for a mum to say it but much more weighty if an expert agrees.

Clavinova - as Blu said fair banding tends to be used at hugely popular comps to stop middle class parents buying a place by buying in catchment. This is especially true in cities where population density could reduce the catchment of a popular school to fractions of a mile. I don't know of any unpopular schools that use it. The schools in question achieve a genuinely mixed intake but maintain the excellent results and / or value added that made them so oversubscribed in the first place.

DraggingDownDownDown Sun 02-Mar-14 15:08:50

Many thanks - I am sure our school will help. Even though he has not got a statement they have implemented some things recently that will last him for the rest of primary at their own expense

morethanpotatoprints Sun 02-Mar-14 15:29:00

What does sobriquet mean? Oh, and how do you pronounce it. It must be a posh comp to use words like this.
OP, please write for all to understand instead of using posh words. How can we comment if we don't understand?

DraggingDownDownDown Sun 02-Mar-14 16:19:03

Tiggytape - just to clarify. ..

Child A is in band 1
Child B is in band 5
No siblings but B lives slightly further from the school.

However band 1 has lots of sibling links. Band 5 has none. Does that mean the band 5 child is more likely to get a place?

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 16:50:38

Yes - exactly correct.

tiggytape Sun 02-Mar-14 16:52:04

I should say exactly correct assuming Band 1 doesn't have just 4 pupils in it and Band 5 have 400 pupils in it.
Generally though, the numbers are pretty even and in that case Child B is more likely to get accepted.

Retropear Sun 02-Mar-14 18:53:49

But Blu most small towns are like that ie a total mix ranging from lawyers to fsm all using the same pre- schools,library,toddler groups,community schools etc.

DraggingDownDownDown Mon 03-Mar-14 04:28:41

Got first choice. Big relief!

Blu Mon 03-Mar-14 08:34:13

DraggingDown: excellent news!

Retro, yes, that makes sense. Where are the leafy comps leafed up by house prices? In big suburbs of medium sized towns?

cory Mon 03-Mar-14 09:20:25

Tansie, you are aware, I hope, that a lot of the students at the more academic Hampshire sixth form colleges do come from these non-leafy urban schools which you hold in such abhorrence? A fair few of them have poor parents as well.

Just wanted to give you time to brace yourself against the shock.

Your poor dc may well end up mixing with these feral savages one day. It's a tough life. smile

<wonders idly if any of own dc are of a similar age to Tansie's...>

WooWooOwl Mon 03-Mar-14 09:54:53

There would be no need for banding if all parents were engaged in their children's education and valued education. Or if all schools were able to effectively deal with negative behaviour because they had strong parental support so the measures they put in place actually worked.

I can completely see where Tansie is coming from. Why should some parents be denied a reasonable level of choice of school to compensate for the fact that some parents aren't invested in education and do not manage their children's behaviour?

Where is the benefit in narrowing the gap between high achieving comps and lower achieving comps if it doesn't raise achievement for all children, and instead just raises results for certain schools because they are given parents they can actually work with?

AmberTheCat Mon 03-Mar-14 10:51:15

There would be no need for banding if all parents were engaged in their children's education and valued education. Or if all schools were able to effectively deal with negative behaviour because they had strong parental support so the measures they put in place actually worked.

I agree. But clearly there are parents who aren't as engaged in their children's education as we would like, and there are schools who don't enjoy as much parental support as others. But the point here (and I'm always astonished and rather alarmed that so many people don't seem to get this) is that having disengaged parents isn't the children's fault. Isn't it a caring society's role to try to compensate as best they can for the disadvantage faced by these children (and to try to help the parents to do a better job, of course)?

And I agree that the aim of any changes to an education system should be to raise achievement for all children. One of the ways to do that is to ensure schools have a better social mix. Children with engaged parents are likely to do well wherever they are. Children will less engaged parents will do better in an environment where their peers value learning. Therefore more socially mixed schools are likely to raise achievement overall.

Retropear Mon 03-Mar-14 10:57:08

I think that too to be honest.

You only have to look at China where the kids of labourers are outstripping the kids of lawyers here.

The difference is work ethic and parenting.

We don't seem to reward that here,instead we criticise it but some think we should spread around the very parents criticised so other parents can continue to sit back and do buggar all as regards parenting and education.

Utter madness.

WooWooOwl Mon 03-Mar-14 10:58:06

Isn't it a caring society's role to try to compensate as best they can for the disadvantage faced by these children

Not when it's done at the expense of other children, no.

We have the pupil premium already to try and compensate, if that isn't working then change that system, don't use other children to do the job of parents.

I completely agree that it isn't the children's fault if they grow up in a disadvantaged environment, it isn't the fault of children that grow up in average families either.

Schemes like this just seem to want to bring the top down rather than the bottom up.

Retropear Mon 03-Mar-14 10:59:28

Sorry but why should the kids with engaged parents have a harder time because other parents don't step up to the bar?

It's not their fault either.

I've been that kid and it's shit.

WooWooOwl Mon 03-Mar-14 11:10:08

I also think that banding on ability is a bit of a red herring.

It's not a lack of academic ability that causes the problem, and I doubt that it's a lack of academic ability in an average number of pupils that causes some parents to want to avoid certain schools like the plague.

Personally, I am more than happy for my children to be friends with people who have less academic ability than they do, as long as they are at a school that can still offer a full and stretching curriculum because they have enough children to make up decent top sets. It's attitude to education that matters, and it's perfectly possible for children who aren't particularly academic to display positive behaviour and a good work ethic, and to have parents that value and support education.

WooWooOwl Mon 03-Mar-14 11:49:17

Children with engaged parents are likely to do well wherever they are.

This is an argument that is often used, especially in grammar school debates, and while I can see why people use it, I completely disagree.

Plenty can happen in a child's teenage years to make them rebel and stop following their parents influence, and if the influence of their peers is a negative one then it doesn't take much for a teenager to take the wrong road.

But if the influence of their peers is a generally positive one, where drug use and access to alcohol etc is limited, then they are much more likely to achieve well at school, despite and relationship issues with parents.

Some children are easily led by their peers, I'd rather my children were led by classmates that want to succeed in life (even if not academically) instead of by those that have little aspiration.

AmberTheCat Mon 03-Mar-14 12:18:33

But in order for schools to have enough children to 'make up decent top sets' they have to, em, have enough children to make up decent top sets! And if some schools have a disproportionate number of those children, it leaves a bright child in a less well regarded school without those peers.

I don't believe that every child in a school needs to come from an engaged family in order for that school to create an ethos that supports learning, but it sure helps to have a decent number of them. So surely the logical answer is to find ways to spread those families around, and likewise to spread around the less engaged families, helping all schools to develop a positive ethos. The children from engaged families aren't disadvantaged, because they'll still have a good number of like-minded children around them, but the children from less engaged families have a better chance of going to a school that will help them to overcome their disadvantages and thrive.

mellicauli Mon 03-Mar-14 12:26:12

To me, the defining characteristic of being middle class is to place a very high importance on education. So, whatever system is in place where people have the opportunity to bend the system to their advantage they will.

Instead of moving from catchment to catchment, they will move to areas that are more homogenous and have level difference between a level 5 and a level 1 (eg out of somewhere mixed like Luton to somewhere like Harpenden).

I don't think that helps anyone and leaves the people who can't afford to leave in the same (if not worse) predicament and everywhere just ends up getting more and more siloed.

I would prefer to tackle the problem at source: take out the small proportion of kids who cause trouble out of mainstream schools altogether, for the benefit of the majority. We then need to invest a lot of money re -engaging these children

Blu Mon 03-Mar-14 13:03:59

To me, the defining characteristic of being middle class is to place a very high importance on education.

Placing a very high importance on education is also a defining characteristic of many other groups - e.g refugees, 1st generation migrant Jamaican parents, aspirational working class.

A characteristic of many middle class people is that they have the means to get what they want.

Blu Mon 03-Mar-14 13:10:25

WooWoo owl - the thing is it is sometimes the very schools that people become desparate to get their kids into that are full of wealthy young people using a lot of expensive recreational drugs. I know of at least one school which m/c parents tutor, move and rent for that has a well known and longstanding drug problem, the epicentre of which is the moneyed mc young things.

You just can't generalise.

However...well to do famililes have far more resources to rescue their children from an early brush with law, drugs or drink.

WooWooOwl Mon 03-Mar-14 16:24:50

Amber, that's a fair point, but at least at the moment the parents of a bright child have some choice over which school they send their bright child too.

If a school doesn't have enough children to make up a decent top set, then that is likely to be the fault of the other parents using that school. And while that's awful for the bright children that get stuck in that school, it is not the responsibility of other children to make up for the failings of those other parents.

Blu - you are right about recreational drug use in well regarded schools. That's certainly what it was like in my private school. But it was significantly worse in the surrounding comps, their school gates were where the private school kids would go to buy their drugs. And it wasn't unheard of for the parents at those schools to be in support of what their children were doing. Us private school kids would desperately be trying to hide the fact that we were stoned from our parents, and the parents at the failing comp would be there congratulating themselves on the fact that we all wanted to be at their house because we could smoke there.

Blu Mon 03-Mar-14 17:05:36

WooWoo - whereas at DS's non-posh S London comp with a high % on FSM there is no such drug problem.

I'm not saying not one person in the school smokes dope but there is no dealing at the gate, no established and persistent issue within the school.

cory Mon 03-Mar-14 17:24:50

So because dh and I cannot afford to buy a house in the leafy areas that make up the Thornden catchment, we must be uninterested in education and our children not fit for the OP's dc to mix with. Charming! hmm

WooWooOwl Mon 03-Mar-14 17:28:06

It doesn't happen at my ds's comp either, so I know you can't generalise.

But the point is that parents usually have valid reason for avoiding certain schools.

I think if a lottery were to come in across the country in it would do nothing except drag good schools down and increase the numbers using private schools, as well as making grammar schools even harder to get into.

In this area there are plenty of parents that don't bother entering their very capable children into the 11+ for the local super selectives because there is an excellent comprehensive with a good intake nearby. That would definitely change if our catchment was merged with some others.

Tansie Mon 03-Mar-14 19:26:10

OK, point by point <sigh>

-aga the story about the Australian situation illustrates that the idea that if you take a DC from a chaotic, neglectful background and place him in a 'good' school- guess what? the 'goodness' doesn't necessarily wear off on him. However, place a well-behaved, disciplined DC in a class full of wild DC running amok, and that DC is highly unlikley to thrive.

- tiggy - you need to be on MN more if a post stating that an OP is glad to have at least some control over which state school their child attends 'leaves you speechless'. I'd also like to see the stats re fair banding 'success'. I thought this was a recent thing? You'd need to have five years of it to judge, well, fairly!

-fiscal -regarding Th and SEN, read my first post. Q: "I have no problem ..with my DC sitting in classes with.. DC <with> managed SEN DC (DC whose SEN is being properly attended to so the DC can participate in mainsteam education before I get flamed for that)- providing they're all singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of values. As are the DC at my DC's school." And yes, but as I've also stated, I'm not and can't be in the business of deciding for other parents what lengths they'll go to to get their DC into a school that suits them; I can only worry about my own.

- sovery- You say "I disagree fundamentally with the principle that just because your parents are middle class and/or have money, you do not have discipline issues". I have nowhere stated that. My DC's school has behavioural issues (and like I said the odd 'drugs bust'!) but they're dealt with. So by and large, the school presents a disciplined environment in which learning can take place.

- blu - re: why parents of higher ability DC might not want their DC to 'risk' an 'unpopular, under subscribed school'-you say because parents of high ability kids can be reassured that there will be a fair representation of similar ability kids, perhaps? But maybe it isn't always going to be about that? Maybe it's to do with community, proximity, shared values etc etc, rather that say a bunch of CAT scores?

I would also like to add that as it increasingly being demonstrated in the press, 'London' is actually a separate entity to much of the rest of the country. In London you get extreme wealth and poverty side-by-side; you have many secondary schools really geographically close; you have selective schools with will definitely keep out the able-but-without-committed-parents.

- potato- 'sobriquet'.. hang on, yep, 3 clicks on Google reveals what that word means. If you think about it, my DC go to the school, not me. I wrote the OP, not them. Please don't go confusing a degree of articulacy with snobbery.

- cory- PS is one of the largest and most academically successful 6th form colleges in the country. Its intake is from a wide variety of secondaries, however the one thing all the DC have in common is 'they passed the not insubstantial entrance requirements'. To get into PS you have to have demonstrated a reasonably high level of commitment to your education. Therefore, yes, guess what, my DC will be mixing with DC from other committed families. I object to the idea that I find 'other schools abhorrent' - I have not said that. I have just stated that I am glad that there still exists the possibility of getting my DC into my preferred school via positive action rather than being forced by the political expediencies of lotteries/fair banding to attend any old school that has vacancies for them in order to make it all 'fair'.

- amber- sorry, but I don't see it as my DC's role in life to try and drag the standards of someone else's DC up. I also disagree with that old adage (sorry, potato) that 'children with engaged parents will do anywhere'. Sure, their chances are better than those with disengaged parents but you'd need to ask 'how far does that engagement go?' Many seem to think just saying 'I want my kid to go to a good school' is enough; personally, I prefer not to risk sending my DC to a school where the critical mass of the disengaged swamps the rest.

-retro and woowoo- thanks for your input. The one thing I'd question is the need to have enough in the 'top set'. I believe you need to just have 'enough' from MC- valued families (be they 1st generation migrants, refugees, Jamaican (?) etc), so the middle and bottom 'sets' also contain engaged, attentive, disciplined DC. Like what happens at my DC's school.

cory Tue 04-Mar-14 13:06:50

"- cory- PS is one of the largest and most academically successful 6th form colleges in the country. Its intake is from a wide variety of secondaries, however the one thing all the DC have in common is 'they passed the not insubstantial entrance requirements'. To get into PS you have to have demonstrated a reasonably high level of commitment to your education. Therefore, yes, guess what, my DC will be mixing with DC from other committed families"

note that it's not the families who have to pass the entrance requirements, though, but the individual student

thankfully, it is still possible for gifted and dedicated students to do well in GCSE's and A-levels even if there is little support to be had from their families

some of my best students have come from families very hostile to education

otoh I know of several highly educated and committed families where the children themselves lack either academic ability or the interest in education required to do well in their studies

their families won't be able to talk them into higher education

it's not just where you come from: it's who you are

tiggytape Tue 04-Mar-14 13:20:32

Tansie - I am on MN a lot. Far too much. I was speechless at such gems you came up with as:

"most NS DC who under-achieve at school do so due to the chaos or neglect of their home lives."


"the parents are on-side and are what I call 'MC valued' even though some live in £600 pcm 2 bedroom flats."


"the injection of a certain number of MC DC won't miraculously turn a feral chair-fight of a lesson into a well-disciplined, productive one."


"Anecdotally, there was a TV show in Oz a few years ago where a disruptive, difficult, endlessly expelled (Aboriginal) boy from a chaotic family was admitted to one of the best private boys schools in Oz to demonstrate that 'the savage can be tamed' by being surrounded by hard-working, focused disciplined boys (NO racism intended here, I should add! The 'savage' reference is to the indiscipline of the boy, not his race!). He was asked to leave after less than a term. He simply had too many issues and the school, like ours, wasn't 'set up' to deal with such."



"I'm still relieved that there are ways for me to avoid having to help my DC cope with these DC as they wreck everyone's education.."

Those were pretty much the bits I was stunned at. Choice in education is problematic but not an issue that leaves me gobsmacked in the way that some of your other assertions do.

Tansie Tue 04-Mar-14 15:24:10

So, cory- why meddle with lotteries and fair banding if it doesn't matter if your parents care about your education or not? As you seem to think that parental input is such a negligible part in the overall success of a school why not leave it just as it is, eh? And in doing so, allow me to make the moves necessary to send my DC to the school I want them to go to.

tiggy- sorry, can't really engage if those are the things that 'stunned' you.

cory Tue 04-Mar-14 16:26:07

Tansie, afaik nobody has suggested that the banding should specifically select badly behaved or disengaged children to send to more MC areas.

Your aversion to the scheme is clearly based on the idea that children who do come from poorer areas (i.e. children like mine) are bound to be badly behaved and uninterested in their studies. This is the view that a fair few of us on this thread find shocking.

It isn't that you wouldn't want my dc bused in because you actually know anything about their behaviour or academic record (pretty good, as it so happens). It's because you are making assumptions about them- and their friends- based on nothing more specific than a postcode.

Tansie Tue 04-Mar-14 19:47:44

Oh dear. This is my last post here. cory - no, I have not in any way said children who do come from poorer areas... are bound to be badly behaved and uninterested in their studies. YOU said that because it sounds all dramatic and allows you to feign shock.

I am not in the slightest bit concerned about whether you're rich or poor.

However, much research demonstrates that DC from poorer/chaotic/abusive/neglectful backgrounds tend to be more disruptive than DC from backgrounds that value the classically 'MC ethos' of caring, deeply, about education.

I feel sorry for you that your family situation forces your DC to attend a shite school (whaddya mean, you didn't actually say that?! Nor did I say the first statement but you've deduced that from what I've said, anyway, eh?) but bussing my DC in to remedy that a) won't, and b) will only serve to screw up my DC's education, too.

I am glad that there still exists the means to effect the education you want for your DC, one way or another.

isitpimmsoclockyet Tue 04-Mar-14 20:00:46

This thread has been really interesting to read because it's actually about a school/area I know!! I have a few friends in Chandler's Ford and one who teaches at Thornden.......yes, they get good results but it's not just the three legged stool, you forgot to mention the high numbers of children who have tutors as well! (another advantage of being a well-off parent). One friend who has only been in CF for a year or so (and who has struggled to fit in because they 'only' have an £50K income, said she'd never change and they would just carry on living the way they always have....within months she was sending her eldest son for tests to explain why he was 'struggling' in school and then began the process of looking for a tutor for him because all his friends had one (this was in year 5). Didn't mean she wanted the best for her child for the right reason though, it was bowing to the pressure to be like all the other parents and 'fitting in'. I like CF as an area, yes it's very leafy, but I find it very stifling to be in and as I drive home I find myself relaxing because the pressure to keep up with the Jones's is so relentless. I totally agree that for a child to benefit from the school they attend it should be a joint effort between parents and teachers, I always think of it as a conversation that needs to flow....but this can happen regardless of income or class.

Tansie Tue 04-Mar-14 20:51:55

It so, so, doesn't have to be 'fit in with the Joneses'! CF is actually not a complete mono-culture. Th. has a lot of DC who are not from WASP backgrounds; lots of Asian/Chinese/Swedish(!) docs, pharmacists, IT people, sales managers etc etc send DC to Th. The neighbours around me include a (former) north African refugee and his family, a large extended professional Indian family, childless London flee-ers and ordinary, every-day what I'd call 'lower MC families' like us, e.g. mum a teacher, dad a cop - and I'd say just about all of my friends have joint incomes of no more than £60k PA. And regarding tutors- I don't know, personally, of a single DC who is in Th who has a tutor. Of course they may exist, but not in my orbit. DS2, my 'less clever' DS, went to Kip McGrath, in Y6 for a year to do English. He got a '4' in his KS2 SAT which is exactly what we were hoping for. In a class of 30, 2 other DC were also being tutored, apparently. Look at the local newspapers. There's about 3 ads for tutors which include Kip and Kumon (I think), i.e. national franchises. Surely an area bristling with tutors would have more tutors on offer?

Th really, really isn't a 'hot house'. I'd say the upper sets at Kings, Winchester, were far more likely to be, but the thing is, Th doesn't really 'set' at all, especially lower down the school. Their ethos is 'informal but focused'.

Your mate needs to take a good look at her motivators if being able to say 'Oh yes, we tutor' in order to 'keep up' is seen as desirable. Did she find 'a reason' for her DC failing to fit in? Knowing that would be useful- might transpire there are other things going on, but the parents are just interpreting this as being a social class divide?

I said I was backing off but I just can't 'elp meself! grin

isitpimmsoclockyet Tue 04-Mar-14 21:12:23

A lot of tutoring is done through word of mouth, not necessarily through big agencies. I think my friend wanted to be able to say that her son had something 'wrong' with him (eg dyslexia) so that somehow it was more acceptable than that he just wasn't as bright as some of the others, but this pressure didn't exist until she moved to CF, she wasn't worried about it until she lived in that kind of parent-peer-pressure environment, if that makes sense.

I understand your reasoning for maintaining admissions as they are, but I still find it frustrating that the system has created these housing bubbles around the 'better' schools.....fair play, if you can afford to buy in a more expensive area for a good school then that's your choice, but why should you have to?? Where I live, if you picked my house up and moved it half a mile into the catchment for the favoured secondary school (favoured, not best, it doesn't get the best results round here but is in the more 'MC' area and so has the snob-appeal......) it would increase in value by around £100K.........in the same flippin' post code!!!!

AgaPanthers Tue 04-Mar-14 21:24:03

Lady up the road from me has a very thriving tutoring business. She certainly doesn't advertise, she's a retired teacher and it's all word of mouth.

WooWooOwl Tue 04-Mar-14 22:42:03

Cory, you seem to be taking this far to personally.

It's a fact that children on FSMs, the most widely used indicator of disadvantage, are are statistically less likely to achieve well academically.

There is a reason for that, and it isn't only about money.

No one is making judgments against individual families or children.

TheBuskersDog Tue 04-Mar-14 23:53:21

Tansie, your £50K wouldn't buy you a 3 bedroom house in the catchment area of the most desired school in some cities, would you like those parents who can afford to buy there to consider your children unsuitable classmates for their children?

Tansie Wed 05-Mar-14 08:26:55

pimms - but it then becomes he said/she said if suddenly it's a supposedly hidden tutoring economy going on.

"....fair play, if you can afford to buy in a more expensive area for a good school then that's your choice, but why should you have to??" - because life isn't fair and never will be. In the Anglo-Saxon 'model', where advantage can be sought- it will be. I didn't have to move into a good catchment, I chose to so as to do everything I could to try and ensure my DC get a good education reasonably undisturbed by the products of slack or non-existent parenting, where my DC are surrounded by the DC of like minded parents.

As for 'unsuitable classmates'- guess what? There exists a vast swathe of UK education that does consider my DC to be unfit by your definition of unfit. The vast majority of private and public schools, for a start, and any that has a rigorous academic selection process, or any with a strong religious affiliation.

My DC wouldn't get into any of them- BUT the difference is that I am not shrieking 'Unfair!' about it, as it's just the way things are, just doing what I can to level a skewed playing field for my DC as far as I am able- just like others could if they were prepared to go the distance, or <whispers> hadn't made Life Choices that preclude them from any choice..

It should also be noted that many of us here with our 'up to £60k joint incomes' are on our third houses, we're not first-time buyers. We're at least in our very late 30s, and in my early 50s in my case.

gerrit Wed 05-Mar-14 10:20:03

I live in Chandler's Ford and I don't see a culture of tutoring amongst the many children I know. I do know of children living in Southampton/outside Thornden catchment/.. who are being tutored in year 5 onwards for KES but most people living around us in Thornden catchment don't apply for KES. I also find it pretty hard to believe that people feel out of place for 'only' having a 50k income and I don't see much keeping up with the Jones'.

Houses in Thornden are more expensive than similar houses just out of catchment. If the admission rules suddenly changed, I think it is understandable that people who paid a premium to buy a house in catchment would be upset- not only would their children potentially have a long journey each day rather than walking to their neighbourhood school but also their house prices could potentially fall by 25k or more. This thread makes it sound like people in Thornden catchment are all wealthy, competitive and intolerant of others. I think they are just parents who are trying to do the best they can for their children. I don't agree with the attitudes of the OP and neither do most of my friends or neighbours.

AmberTheCat Wed 05-Mar-14 10:54:33

just doing what I can to level a skewed playing field for my DC as far as I am able- just like others could if they were prepared to go the distance, or <whispers> hadn't made Life Choices that preclude them from any choice..

You argue it's levelling a skewed playing field. Others might see it as further skewing the playing field.

Do you really think anyone could afford to move into an expensive catchment area if only they'd made the right 'life choices'? I'm not denying that making good choices, working hard, etc. is important if you want to get on in life, but it's blinkered in the extreme to ignore the influence of people's backgrounds on their capacity to make the sort of choices that you're talking about.

And, yet again, I would come back to my question about why children should, effectively, be punished for their parents' choices.

WooWooOwl Wed 05-Mar-14 14:49:41

Obviously children shouldn't be punished for the choices of their parents, but there isn't really any reason to think that anyone is being punished.

Going to the school that your family has access too or that your family choose for you is not punishment.

Tansie Wed 05-Mar-14 19:30:28

One of the first lessons we teach our DC is that 'actions have consequences'. As such, the harsh, blunt and, evidently to many on here- unacceptable reality of some parental choices is DC who don't have access to what the parents would perhaps wish for their DC. They, understandably, want what they see other parents as having, but without the hassle associated with doing what's necessary to exercise that choice, thanks.

Oddly, there's no such complaint as to why the DC of wealthy parents, howsoever their wealth has been gained, are allowed to enormously benefit from their parents' good fortune; but when the shoe's on the other foot, oh no! Those parents have every right under the sun, but apparently without responsibility to demand a 'good education', whilst completely overlooking that, as I have banged on about endlessly, a successful school outcome comes about because, among other things, the parents are on board. This might come in the form of paid-for or in-house tutoring, relocation to a 'better' catchment; attempts at scholarships to privates.

The playing field is skewed, I seek to balance it as far as I can in order to help my DC. I could equally have said 'Because I recognise that, being LIFE, all is not equal, but I have sought to push my DC up as far as I can, barring private, grammar, religious schools etc to give them a fighting chance against those 'chosen''.

And amber, why seek 'better' for any DC if they're always going to be potentially hampered by the influence of their social background? Because I don't believe that's the case. You only need to see the number of people in our catchment who are definitely here for historical, family reasons, for having always lived in the area, for not wanting to move away from mum and dad (see and earlier posting of mine for more detail)- very, very few. The vast majority of us are here because we're researched a good school and done what was necessary to get our DC in. Again, as I've already detailed, DC of former refugees.

Finally, gerrit- interesting that you agree with me that CF isn't a hotbed of tutoring and we aren't keeping up with any Joneses. But yet 'I don't agree with the OP'. Why? Do you have DC in local schools at all, ooi?

isitpimmsoclockyet Wed 05-Mar-14 20:32:03

The only thing I would add is that you seem to not understand that for some people, living in your particular catchment would never be an option financially even if they are totally committed to supporting their child and wanting them to have the opportunities Thornden would offer them. This, to me, is where the catch-22 of the system kicks in.....people who can afford (not want, because wanting it and being able to afford it are not always the same thing) to live in the catchment of a good school will do so and if generally these people are well educated themselves and supportive of their own children, expecting them to do well in turn, then the school will continue to be good/improve....so more people want to send their children there which continues the cycle of demand impacting house prices, which results in excluding more people who simply can't afford to buy in catchment.

Totally agree with your comment about parents being on board being essential, but I hope you realise that this isn't just a leafy, middle class trait, plenty of people who don't fit your ideal are just as supportive of their children and their children's school, but just don't have the means to live in the bubble of certain catchment areas.

Tansie Wed 05-Mar-14 20:48:44

pimms- of course parents other than being well off enough to be able to afford, say £600pcm for a 2 bedroom flat in this catchment will or may want 'the best' for their DC.

BUT... because as with all of life's 'better' things, just because it can't be available to all, should we allow it to be denied to all? Which could well be the outcome of a lottery, always assuming a 'good school' is, as detailed by myself earlier, not just a bunch of buildings, but a governorship, a headship, teaching staff, parents, pupils- will remain a good school once you mess with the constituent parts?

IF, if a school was an inanimate, immutable object, as in 'this is a good school' regardless of governorship, headship, teaching staff, parents, pupils then yes, of course lotteries etc etc would ensure an even mix of patronage but you'd also have to accept the obvious corollary, the existence of 'very poor schools' that you'd be equally happy to embrace if that's the way the dice rolled for your DC... but back here in the real world...

Blu Wed 05-Mar-14 21:15:26

Tansie, are you saying that if parents can't afford to live in an expensive catchment that is their fault for not looking at the consequences of being poor? For not taking responsibility for getting a better paid job etc? And that they should therefore suck up living in the catchment of an under performing school and not expect access to a school full of the children of wealthier parents?

gerrit Wed 05-Mar-14 21:23:01

I wrote that I don't agree with the attitudes of the OP. I don't have children in local schools (although I know many children in local schools) and I didn't move to CF for Thornden.

I appreciate that many people couldn't afford to live in this catchment but at the same time houses are not that highly priced relative to surrounding areas - quite a lot of people have chosen to live a couple of miles down the road in houses which are slightly cheaper or slightly bigger for the same money, but whose catchment schools are not particularly good (consistently poor Ofsted reports, recurrent issues with staff and management turnover, rather low "added value" and so on). There are a lot of houses in CF just outside Thornden catchment which aren't particularly cheaper than those inside catchment (20k as a fraction of 400k isn't that large, for example), but their catchment secondary schools are not very good. Had these people bought similar price houses nearby (Thornden catchment CF or nearer Romsey or nearer Winchester or...) they would have been in catchments for good schools.

tiggytape Wed 05-Mar-14 22:18:31

The actions and consequences thing ignores a key step though because they aren't direct consequences.
A parent's inability to afford a good catchment area doesn't affect them. It affects their children. People aren't obtaining good school places for themselves via wise life choices . They are buying their children an advantage and conversely those who cannot afford to move (or perhaps are in social housing and cannot move as in they have absolutely no choice about where they are placed) cannot choose this for their children no matter what their values and no matter how supportive and educated they may be - yes there are highly educated people in social housing as well as people with very traditional values, who support schools but simply lack the opportunities to buy into the system in any way.
The belief that if they really wanted it enough they would do it really fails to recognise the realities many people face – people who have been left high and dry through no fault of their own, who have ongoing illness or disability, people who live with extended family, people whose work ties them to certain areas of the country etc. And it isn’t adults suffering any inequality as a result but children who pretty much have no say in anything at all.

The idea of mixing things up isn’t about a race to the bottom or sacrificing nice mc children to dilute rough schools. It is about all schools being representative of the community they serve and the wider world too. There is no reason why, with a genuine mix of abilities, bright children cannot absolutely thrive whether they come from wealthier homes or not and the needs of all other children met too. At secondary school age particularly parental input is less and discipline and efforts within the school are much more crucial. A well run ,well managed school will not descend into a chair fighting rabble no matter how mixed or interesting the intake might be.

The only other way to address it would be to ignore the lottery idea, let parents elbow their way to the very leafy mc comps and then force greater cooperation between all schools.
So the Head of Science from the desirable school could be sent on loan to the less desirable one. The children from the less desirable school could have timetabled use of the desirable school’s sports facilities and share some lessons. The top set maths pupils from both schools could enter challenges and do investigative work together. Maybe I should stop before Tansie faints!

WooWooOwl Wed 05-Mar-14 23:47:32

The less desirable school probably doesn't need to borrow the head of science from the desirable school, it's likely that they have a perfectly good head of science already.

The problem rarely lies with the teachers in these schools that some parents try to avoid.

And looking at the schools round here, it's the less desirable schools that have far superior sports facilities because they have lots of pupil premium money to spend and can therefore free up money to update sports equipment. It's the schools with low numbers of FSMs that are in desperate need of a facilities upgrade.

What would be the intended purpose of making all schools exactly representative of the community they serve?

There are comps that are representative of the community they serve already, they would still be considered largely MC and 'leafy'. So how far do you take it? Do you bus in more students entitled to FSMs just for the sake of it, even if the school is already catering well for the students that live in it's surrounding area?

I don't really get this obsession with socio economic diversity and why it is supposed to be better for all students.

AmberTheCat Thu 06-Mar-14 08:54:57

I think socioeconomic diversity is important, in this context, for two main reasons. Firstly because it encourages equal provision for both more and less advantaged groups. With any system if people are able to game it, the people who already have the odds stacked in their favour will be better placed to skew things even more in their favour. Secondly because it encourages tolerance and understanding. Just as segregating children by faith can lead to mistrust and hostility between different religions, effectively segregating children by socioeconomic status can lead to a potentially damaging misunderstanding about people who aren't 'like you'.

tiggytape Thu 06-Mar-14 08:57:29

The scheme I outlined is being used already. Near us, subject leaders from very good schools are lent out either for months at a time or for a few lessons a week to other schools. They teach at the other schools and they also help introduce best practice and new schemes. Staff retention at challenging schools can be a real issue - it is round here - whilst well established and popular schools are more likely to attract and retain experienced staff.

Ditto sports and other facilities. Maybe all your less desirable schools are swimming in Pupil Premium cash but ours aren't. It is directed to additional support for the qualifying children not sports halls for all to share. Less popular schools are also generally less full. This impacts massively on the amount of money they have to spend. There needs to be a minimum number of children just to cover staffing costs let alone any extras. Schools that do not attract enough pupils suffer a double blow of always having less to spend.
As such children from less well equipped schools benefit from sharing facilities and it would even up things at the admissions stage too because parents wouldn't be choosing between schools that have a swimming pool, tennis courts and drama studios and schools that have none of these things. They would no that their children will always have access to good facilities.

In terms of making schools representative of their areas, I am again being London-centric. We have a very diverse community yet we get schools that are 90%mc (using the definitions here) and other schools 2 miles down the road that are very different. If you cannot afford to avoid the less desirable ones, the school you will go to bears no resemblance to the community as a whole and in a very negative way. If both schools had a genuine mix of all children, there is no reason to think they wouldn't both be excellent but if you lump all the children of worried and ambitious parents in one school and all the children of parents too poor to choose in the other, one school ends up benefitting at the direct expense of the other and so one group of children gain an advantage at the direct expense of the other.

Tansie Thu 06-Mar-14 11:41:54

My DC's school is classified Leading Edge Do I get a tick for that?

I'm sorry, but in the 'utopia' you describe, I don't quite get how you want schools to 'reflect their local communities' unless those communities are more well-off in which case you want those schools to throw open their doors to all-comers from miles away. You seem to regard good schools in MC areas to be not allowable. Why? Why the dual standard?

For the record, like I said earlier, in the same way as my family background (i.e. the diligence of my parents, the economic, educational and social factors that lead them to where they were when I was of school age, planned and unavoidable) lead me to the school-life I had, one that didn't allow for private education or The Best Comps (in fact, an 'off-day' could have seen me in a dire SM!). Was I a 'victim' of this? As a society we happily allow the DC of the lucky and wealthy to enjoy the fruits of their parents' success, yet when the shoe's on the other foot, society must step in an gerrymander things like school intakes etc etc to 'overcome' this. Should we pluck the DC from poorer parents away from them in case their upbringing reflects their family's circumstance?

I am all for endless (failed) strategies put in place to try and improve the lot of the poor- but I don't see potentially destroying my own DC's good school on that political bonfire to be the answer.

And yes, oddly enough, London conditions do not in any way represent how the rest of the country is.

I also hmm at the no-doubt nobly intended 'ideal' that we should all mix happily together, presumably singing the CocaCola song as well as we all join hands in harmony. There is this idea that the only way you can possibly have a handle on the lifestyles of 'others' is to have them in your face 24/7. I actually believe you'd find quite a lot of opposition from some 'local communities' if you engineered school entry in some areas. Not all racial, religious and social groups actually want to mix it up. (And note the government is doing nothing to force these sacred segregations back together. Faith schools, any one? Grammars?!)

I am fully aware that there are some out there who for whatever reason are socially painted into a corner and who therefore couldn't afford the say private rent of £600 pcm needed to get a 2 bedroom flat in our catchment; I cannot afford a house in the catchment of The London Oratory (nor am I Catholic), or, for that matter, Westgate School in Winchester!- but I can't see how bussing the DC of the 'bit less well off' down to the dangerously feckless into our school will magically improve the educational outcome of all DC but is in fact very likely to drag the standards of the other DC down, thus rendering 'a good school' to being 'an average school'.

As for choosing schools due to tennis courts and swimming pools...um- No. I chose my DSs school due to the fact that the vast majority of its intake come from backgrounds, quite diverse ones ethnically, actually, who value education and who send DC to school ready to learn, to a school that takes this intake and via strong leadership, discipline and high Value Adding, ejects them with good GCSEs.

The short-hand for this is 'MC-valued'.

Where else in life do we attempt to 'socially engineer' like this? At work, my boss gets paid more than me because he's prepared to take on more responsibility than me, works longer hours and often will have higher qualifications than me. When I go shopping I go to Asda because Waitrose's prices are too high for me. I holiday in a hotel on the Med rather than a private villa on St Lucia. Should these things be down to lottery as well?

Tansie Thu 06-Mar-14 12:09:03

Out of interest this MN thread which some of you are on maybe tells one about the pitfalls of 'fair-banding'! (Pg 2 and 3 if that's how you organise your MN is where the discussion 'heats up').

tiggytape Thu 06-Mar-14 12:10:58

The higher pay your boss gets is his or her reward for taking on more work and more responsibility.
The holiday you can afford is your reward for the work you do and for planning your money carefully.

I guess I don't see education as a reward.
I don't think the reward for coming from a mc family should be access to a better education. Adults make their own choices in life. They hold values that you may or may not agree with. But children are children. They have no say and should be neither rewarded or punished for their parents holding the mc values you describe or for making life choices that enable them to cluster to particular schools and in doing so actively create more challenging schools elsewhere.

You are describing a 3 tier system. Tier 1 is people who can pay for education in the fullest sense i.e. pay fees.
Tier 2 is where you place yourself. People who cannot pay for a private school but can pay to preserve a more elite school and so, at the same time, create less good schools elsewhere which you can then pay to avoid.
And Tier 3 - the rest. People who lack either the ability, the income, the freedom or the desire to place their child in a good school but who suffer by the actions of wealthier parents who all cluster at certain schools and so creating a totally skewed mix of children at the other schools.

AgaPanthers Thu 06-Mar-14 12:21:42

"Out of interest this MN thread which some of you are on maybe tells one about the pitfalls of 'fair-banding'! (Pg 2 and 3 if that's how you organise your MN is where the discussion 'heats up')."

Well the major pitfall there is that the fair banding is secondary to religious selection, which really makes a mockery of fair banding in the first place.

Tansie Thu 06-Mar-14 14:05:51

Well, we're going to just have to disagree, I guess, tiggy.

I'd say the 'reward' I get for my MC-values is having then exercising the choice of which school my DC go to. And frankly, til I see the reward/punishment model being applied to all DC, very much including the 'reward' of a top public school education available to the innocent, powerless DC of the high earners, I shan't be lining up to rescind what little 'push power' I have.

As for "The higher pay your boss gets is his or her reward for taking on more work and more responsibility."- but what if I'm not capable of that higher responsibility? Should I be punished by not being allowed to be the boss, then?

"The holiday you can afford is your reward for the work you do and for planning your money carefully." But what if I don't earn enough to go to St Lucia with the best financial planning in the world?

I could say that the choices I have exercised in my DC's schooling is a result of careful financial planning, actually! People can be remarkably helpless about what they can achieve in life, given a bit of commitment and delayed gratification. My catchment is leafy but that of adjoining equally good schools have far higher rates of social housing and FSM (the excellent Kings in Winchester encompasses all of the Stanmore council estate, for instance). We only need to see how many are absolutely out of their depth in debt following 2007-8 to see how many people spent (borrowed money) like it grew on trees, like kids in a sweetshop.

Yes, I guess there is a 3 tier system. Just like in Real Life. I wish I could be in tier 1 to give me ultimate choices in life in general, but I'm in tier 2; however I don't expect those in tier 1 to rescind their 'advantage' (though I wish more of it were honestly gained, and that some private schools weren't allowed to flout Charity laws, but that's another story) in order to directly benefit me, inasmuch as I recognise that many (but not all) of the glittering schools that high earners patronise would actually be less glittering if they had to deal with DC from less engaged backgrounds. Cue my anecdote about the boy in the Australian school.

I mentioned earlier that I'd have no problem with being interviewed along with my DC to gain entry to such a school as ours (and also said that many of the DC of high earners might fail that interview as they've summarily out-sourced their DC's childhoods and education!). Such a system would allow the DC of poorer yet committed and engaged families in, wouldn't it? And yes, keep the DC of the unengaged out, for better or for worse. But imagine policing that interview process and how that would be exploited! I mean, we can't even make 11+ exams tutor proof!

Sure, I recognise that the DC of the unengaged need educating- I too regard 'education as a right' in a developed 1st world country, but I can't see how diluting 'good' schools with DC who are liable to be considerably less 'school focused' and engagable will help any one. Endless schemes, local and national have been wheeled out to try to help such DC but they come to naught, by and large, because those DC's problems can't be sorted with the few in-school hours available, where teachers haven't got time to teach, they're too busy social working and fire-fighting..

I agree entirely that it's very unfortunate that being less well off, if not actually poor will lump you in with the poor-and-unengaged, because though I loathed the woman, one thing Thatcher noted was that it was the 'working class' who have to live alongside the 'underclass' who suffered. But I still don't see how bussing the latter group around a county to school in the interests of some PC idealism will do anything other than make all state school suffer.

Final point: funny old thing but my DS's school wouldn't suit everyone. Some DC would thrive with far more 'input' than Th allows. There's no 'personal development days' for pupils, no 'meet your DC's form tutor' at all; it's huge (1450 DC); setting is minimal; quite a lot of their work is peer-marked; there's quite a lot of cover-teaching, presumably as the actual teacher is doing Leading Edge work; sport is limited to the already committed as is music, by and large; the DC are very much expected to manage their own day, school trips, homework etc (very little is set on-line; they got 'Frog' a year or 2 ago!); getting to talk to an actual teacher can be quite difficult; there's no 'house' or formal pastoral system; the uniform is a daggy polo'n'sweatshirt; the school facilities are quite rundown (bar the lottery-funded performance hall following a fire years ago); and yes, the push is towards 'Buy choice in your future by getting as good a GCSE grade as possible now'. We, the parents, are expected to provided the wider cultural hinterland, the values'n'morals teaching, the cultural extra-curricular. But the school produces the highest GCSE results, Eng Bacc results, 5 good GCSEs inc Eng Maths and VA score among state secondaries in the county. If you were a poor parent from a far distant council estate, used to SureStart, home/school visits, TAs at every turn, free school trips here, there and everywhere, enrichment programmes, open-door policies at school, endless initiatives to promote engagement with your DC's educational 'journey'- I think you'd hate Th. You might even disengage with it....

WooWooOwl Thu 06-Mar-14 16:25:29

Secondly because it encourages tolerance and understanding.

Tolerance of what?

If the children from dysfunctional and disengaged families are bright and want to do well, then there is nothing to tolerate. If, on the other hand, their lack of family support leads to negative and disruptive behaviour and attitudes to education, then tbh, I don't want my children to learn to tolerate that.

It will not make my children better people to be given the view that it's acceptable to be disruptive and we should be 'understanding' of that. It will do nothing to improve their education or outcomes if I tell them they have to try and work as hard as they in the already difficult years of adolescence at the same time as being tolerant of their lessons being disrupted.

So I really don't see how it benefits children to learn to be tolerant and understanding to their own detriment. I send my children to school to learn about stuff that they can't learn at home, not to shape their views on other groups of people in society. I can teach them to be understanding myself without having to have their lessons disrupted.

We don't expect adults to be around people that make their lives significantly more difficult at work, so why do people think it's a good thing to force that upon our children?

ShadowOfTheDay Thu 06-Mar-14 16:32:09

I went to a sink-school full of the un-engaged and unteachable... I floated.... came top, got As in O levels and A levels - because of who I am not where I came from ...

as always I am purely "anecdotal" just because I did it does not mean it hold true for everyone...

but I think it does, people just don't want to admit they want THEIR children educated with naice MC kids, not riff raff from the council estate

AmberTheCat Thu 06-Mar-14 16:42:22

Tolerance and understanding of people who come from different backgrounds than your own. Tolerance and understanding that some people have significant barriers to overcome to do what you take for granted. The sort of tolerance and understanding that I'd like to see more of in the people that rise to the top in this country.

Tansie, I'm clearly not going to win an argument with someone who can state that keeping the children of unengaged parents out of good schools is a good thing, so I'm not sure why I'm trying, to be honest.

WooWooOwl Thu 06-Mar-14 17:11:52

Shadow, I am admitting it. I don't actually care where other people's children come from and it's not that I want my dc to be educated with only MC kids. It's that I don't want my children's education to be disrupted by children from dysfunctional families.

If that makes me a snob, then I'll happily be a snob.

Shadow, you may have done well at your sink school because of who you are and good for you. But what if who you were wasn't able to do that? I'm reasonably confident that one of my dc would be the same if put in a sink school, but the other one, who actually has more natural academic ability, probably wouldn't because he's easily led and needs a constant kick in the bum to go in the right direction.

It's not a risk I'd want to take when my child is ten years old. You only get one chance at secondary education, and at 10, how do you know if your child is going to be one that manages to float or not? I could easily look back at my dc in ten years and see the assessment I've made above was completely wrong.

Like I said, school is not (IMO) there to teach tolerance and understanding, but either way, children will get some of that no matter what school they go to because oddly enough 'naice MC' families have plenty of challenges, economic diversity and ethnic diversity amongst themselves.

tiggytape Thu 06-Mar-14 18:21:19

But you don't learn to cope with being easily led and needing a constant kick in the bum to work hard by avoiding being in any environment where you might be easily led or left to coast too much.

It just defers the problem to A Level age or university age.

Plenty of people at my RG university came from very nice, middle class families and very nice middle class schools where they had been spoon-fed though their A Levels and sheltered from the wilder options that teenage life has to offer. They were generally the ones who disappeared in Year 1 having been thrown off the course or who partied, did the absolute minimum and left with a 3rd. I'd argue that age 10 is exactly the right age to learn not to be lazy given half a chance and to be in real trouble due to being easily led and then learn not to be so tempted / trusting in future.

WooWooOwl Thu 06-Mar-14 18:47:55

Maybe you're right, but that's a choice that should be left up to individual parents.

And let's be honest, proposals to introduce lottery systems aren't there for the purpose of teaching the easily led kids that they should try not to be so easily led, are they? The idea is to dilute the effect of the negative and disruptive behaviour so that schools have half a chance of being able to deal with it when it happens and to try and use the

And it's not as if there aren't plenty of opportunities to misbehave in schools that are considered to be leafy MC comprehensives. A child doesn't need to be surrounded by dysfunction to learn that they have to motivate and trust themselves before other people if they are going to succeed in life.

jurisbc Thu 06-Mar-14 20:07:06

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Tansie Thu 06-Mar-14 22:15:50

Well said, woowoo.

So, tiggy, I do wonder why less well off parents whose DC are at 'less good' schools with a significant proportion of disruption are in the slightest bit concerned about their DC's future.. when their DC, surrounded by 'challenge' will obviously rise up above the snobby, studious, well-behaved, spoon-fed naice MC DC at A level and university- I mean the evidence that poor schooling and a disruptive, non-engaged background in no way hinders your future- so why worry?.....

I think you'll find that, by and large, your 'anecdote' aside, the DC from MC-valued families do tend to be those who become the MC-valued of the next generation.

tiggytape Thu 06-Mar-14 22:39:44

((sigh)) I don’t think we will agree on this Tansie. I just find your position on the issue unfathomable. I just don't see the benefit of extremes so lotteries, whilst not ideal, do seek to break up very extreme cases that some areas now see.

I don't think a school with significant levels of disruption is a good environment - of course not. However if you reserve one school just for the mc-valued people then you by default (in a mixed community) you create a school elsewhere that is going to struggle. It will be disproportionately skewed the other way.
That is not a good thing and not something I would defend or seek to preserve. It is definitely not good for the children forced to attend that school and in many cases it isn't great for pupils in the more exclusive school to be sheltered totally from every value alien to their own.

If all schools had a genuine mix of all children terrible schools would not be the result as you seem to fear. A well led and well managed school will do very well in those circumstances and many do. A school that gets all the difficult cases however will almost invariably struggle. By creating schools that get 95% very easy intakes you are by default creating schools that become very difficult environments for other people’s children. And all without really gaining anything for your own children that they wouldn’t have had any way in a slightly more mixed environment. You don’t need to cling so tightly to a socially engineered ideal of a mc-valued school and a mc-valued intake for a child to have an exceptionally good education.

But we won’t agree on that point or any other I suspect.

cory Fri 07-Mar-14 10:29:01

Can I just come back to point out that the reason a lot of dc's friends live in a less leafy area and attend a less MC school is that their parents work in jobs which provide essential infra-structure to the parents of the leafy areas, and are consequently less well paid.

If everybody who was capable of doing it had to be given a well paid job, then the system would collapse. There can be only so many managerial jobs, however many potential managers there may be. The fortunate families are absolutely dependent on work done by the less fortunate: they couldn't function for a day without it.

I am not actually in favour of bussing schemes- I think it would be ruinous to the environment for a start.

But I do hate this idea of relying on the work done by other people and writing them off as lazy and disengaged at the same time. If everybody living around or below a living wage were actually lazy and disengaged, this country would have collapsed long ago.

Tansie Fri 07-Mar-14 13:09:22

I'm a Band 6 NHS HCP. Does that count? DH was til recently a Band 7 Help-desk manager for the NHS. Any good? My neighbour is a taxi-driver, his partner a NHS pharmacist. People next to them are SAHM and a prison officer (of a rank that requires he works nights). Next to them, primary school teacher and a DH who is a cop of the rank that still has to work nights. Yes, like in many non-London catchments, there are some parents at my DSs school who obviously earn a pile of cash, drive this year's BMWs and AWD vehicles and live in 6 bedroom houses on quarter acre blocks- but we significantly out-number them! The majority of their DC go to the comp, a very few to privates (you see the bus come through).

If ours are seen as 'dream jobs' that thrust us up to the dizzy heights of the financial and social ladder to otherwise unavailable opportunity and boundless choice- well, someone's standards aren't that high!

cory I guess the primary point I will disagree with you on is the belief that if you distribute the 'problem' DC evenly, the 'problem' will go away or be wonderfully diluted as these DC are buoyed up on a tide of MC-values. Nowhere has this proved to be the case. Whilst genuine problem DC from dire backgrounds aren't that many in number (though it has been shown that it only takes one or two of these in a class to wreck the lesson for all!), ask yourself how many of the ordinary, every day parents at one's own less-than-good school really are that fussed about how well their DC do. How many shrug with a smile at their inability to understand Y8 maths- though an hour on a PC should bring any average adult up-to-speed where necessary (I've had to do that to help my DS1 with Y10 maths and I failed my maths O level first time round!). How many will actually read a crib-notes version of Hamlet to discuss the use of language in it? How many will make a game go at checking Spanish recital as your DC memorises and chants it at you?

My DSs first primary had quite a mixed intake. I was always amazed at how many of the perfectly pleasant, chatty mums in the playground never checked homework, never read to DC, didn't 'bother' with parents evening, kept all their DC off school one day because one was feeling unwell and it was 'too much hassle' to take the rest along, laughed at how their 9 year old's maths or English was 'beyond' them. Sure, not an O level or GCSE between them, but even so, no real interest in their DC's education.

Classrooms full of otherwise well-behaved enough DCs but with such low familial expectations also don't necessarily lead to good educational outcomes for all, either.

So while we continue in a culture that generally doesn't really value education, appears to have no effective methodology to deal with serious discipline issues in school, an OFSTED that penalises schools for every exclusion and suspension (though there's no money - and a lot is needed- to successfully intervene in turning the whole family of the miscreant's lives around which is often the only way to 'change' that DC's attitude) and, dare I say, and I know this for a fact because there were 2 such women at this first primary- a system where some women will go on having carefully spaced DC to avoid having to go out to work (one, a friend of mine (!) was actually horrified that she'd 'lose' 2 years of benefits because she got pregnant 'too early'- she was actually a caring and committed mother to her 5 DC, but had lost control of the older ones by just having more DC than she could cope with or house properly).

So whilst these factors persist unchecked, and schools can't interview prospective DC and parents, I'd much prefer to be able to send my DC to schools where the vast majority of DC and parents value education, thanks. Even if that makes is a MC-valued 'monoculture', as that's the culture I want to imbue my DC with.

miss600 Fri 07-Mar-14 17:32:23

Whilst Shadow's experience of a "sink" school 30ish years ago is all very interesting, I'd really love to hear from parents who have actively chosen equivalent schools for their DC in recent times. Are they all actually leaving with reams of top exam results and tolerance in spades? And say, you were the parent or guardian of a child who fell into one of the "marginalised groups", would your decisions be the same?

AmberTheCat Fri 07-Mar-14 21:41:10

I doubt many people actively choose 'sink' schools for their children, miss600 - particularly not people who post on Mumsnet education forums! I'm certainly not suggesting that that's what parents should be doing, or that children who attend seriously underperforming schools will find it easy to leave with reams of top exam results or, for that matter, a tolerant outlook (and why should they tolerate poor teaching?).

My argument is that it's the very act of creating the nice, mc leafy schools that OP is so pleased her children attend that in turn leaves other schools to struggle with more challenging children, and therefore to find it harder to give those children the sort of education I think they deserve.

WooWooOwl Fri 07-Mar-14 23:06:23

Some parents choosing to send their children to 'nice, mc leafy' schools does not create struggling schools with challenging children.

People who don't parent properly and who don't support behaviour management and provide a positive attitude to education are what creates struggling schools and challenging children.

You are trying to fix the thing that isn't broken instead of the thing that is.

AgaPanthers Fri 07-Mar-14 23:21:45

"Some parents choosing to send their children to 'nice, mc leafy' schools does not create struggling schools with challenging children.

People who don't parent properly and who don't support behaviour management and provide a positive attitude to education are what creates struggling schools and challenging children. "

Well no.

A struggling school is one without enough high attaining children going in at 11. If the children going it at 11 are struggling, the school will perform poorly.

That is entirely independent of bad parenting and behaviour management. If you take in a cohort of below average ability, your school will get poor GCSE results.

Conversely, a 'good' school is merely one with many high attaining children entering at 11.

Parents chase schools which have an above average intake. They run away from schools with a below average intake.

This race is a battle of resources of various kinds, often financial - the parents that lost and ended up at the 'bad' school are not bad parents. What they are is parents at a school bereft of high achievers, because they all ran off to leafy-land.

WooWooOwl Fri 07-Mar-14 23:36:04

Definitions of struggling can vary though.

It's not all about GCSE results, there are ofsted reports and value added scores to consider as well, and schools can score highly on those even if they do have a consistently low achieving intake.

What is it that's going to cause a school to have, over a number of years, a low achieving intake?

You can't blame the school for the children they have to take, and it's highly unlikely that whole areas are going to have hundreds of children who are all born with lower than average academic ability.

I realise that there will be good parents that 'lost' and ended up at the 'bad' school despite doing everything the parents at the leafy schools did, but the parents at the leafy schools aren't the ones who caused their predicament.

AgaPanthers Fri 07-Mar-14 23:39:14

Who said anything about being born that way?

Academic achievement is very highly correlated to parental wealth, so a school in a wealthier area will attract higher achieving children naturally.

It's not a genetics thing.

CecilyP Sat 08-Mar-14 08:04:41

^Some parents choosing to send their children to 'nice, mc leafy' schools does not create struggling schools with challenging children.

People who don't parent properly and who don't support behaviour management and provide a positive attitude to education are what creates struggling schools and challenging children.

You are trying to fix the thing that isn't broken instead of the thing that is.^

I disagree. There will always be parents who value education more than others; this is not something that the state has control over. There will always be children who are brighter than others and children who are not bright at all, and that is also something that the state can't control. Also, children are not challenging simply by being average or below average.

The system is broken if one supposedly comprehesive school has a huge percentage of higher abilty children while another school a mile or so away has barely enough bright children to form a reasonable top set. And it becomes a vicious circle as more aspirational parents, or parents whose children are doing well at primary, seeing the raw results of the first school, choose it for there children. Then the second school's results become even poorer as what should be their able children are actually being educated elsewhere. It is not that whole areas have children with below average ability; it is just that less aspirational families, or families of lower ability children are less likely to apply elsewhere, less likely to play the system, less likely to go to appeal. Of course you can't blame the school for the children they have to take, but LA's can do something to try to redress the balance. The ultimate result of failing to do so could leave the struggling school with insufficient numbers so it has to close which will mean that the LA will have to change its catchments anyway.

I can understand that OP being pleased with her choice, but she does seem to want a publicly funded school that excludes the poor and a comprehensive school that excludes the less bright.

Tansie Sat 08-Mar-14 10:24:01

No, I want a publicly funded school that can limit the impact of the less engaged on my DC's education.

I have never said 'Less bright'. I do not necessarily equate being less bright with being disruptive. I'd agree that being able to be MC tends to mean you are someone who is maybe brighter than average, someone who's done well enough financially to be able to exercise some choice in a DC's schooling, and your DC's IQ is related to your own, but my DS2 is not particularly 'bright'. Which is entirely why I chose this school- because its lower 'sets', such as they are (they don't make a big deal about setting at all, the DC's sometimes aren't exactly sure which 'set' they're in relative to others) contain just the less academically able, not, as can happen in so many schools, the bright-enough-but-can't-be-arsed. Who go on to wreck the lesson for everyone else, for fun. You so often see it on TV, teachers lamenting a DC who is obviously bright but also absolutely determined to piss their future up against a wall via truancy, marching out of lessons, abusing teachers, throwing things around- a 15 year old behaving like an ill-disciplined toddler having evidently not been developmentally guided past that behavioural point by a concern parent.

You don't tend to find this in a MC-valued school. So DS2 is endlessly heaped with accolades for his 100% effort level. He tries his best all the time, but his best is a B, tops, maybe a C. So he sits in classes with other genuine B/C graders.

I have also said that I don't care how rich or poor the DC are because I don't equate being 'MC-valued' with income. What I care about is that my DC's fellow pupils are school-ready, ready to be taught, ready to listen, ready to contribute when asked, ready to shut up where necessary. DC who will do their homework, will recognise the importance of qualifications. That's not god-given to the wealthy but it has to be said, and I'd be being disingenuous if I denied this- because of the sort-of meritocracy we live in now, by and large those that can attain, have attained. It's not like the 1940s days of The Grammar School which suddenly gave a leg-up to loads of very much working class but very bright DC, those who had previously been held down 'in their place' by the virtual feudalism of pre-war England (my own father is a case in point, his dad being a clerk at a mine); these days I think you'd find 'the clever' of those communities long-gone, fled to leafier areas for MC employment- and MC schools. As an aside, my mum's farm-labourer dad paid to send his non-RC DDs to the local convent school rather than the state secondary on offer as he wanted 'better' for them.

amber -"I'm certainly not suggesting that that's what parents should be doing, or that children who attend seriously underperforming schools will find it easy to leave with reams of top exam results or, for that matter, a tolerant outlook (and why should they tolerate poor teaching?)." You see, we have to disagree here, because it's not poor teaching that 'fails' these DC, by and large; you are falling into that political trap of blaming schools for all our social ills because that's far easier than pointing the finger where blame lies: inadequate adults casually birthing DC, sure in the knowledge they'll never be made to 'pay' for it. These are the crap parents who send unengageable, aggressive DC into school, that make the act of teaching practically impossible.

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