Would you send your child to a grammar school ?

(327 Posts)
HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 19:27:52

This is going to be quite long and rambling but I wanted to find out how much of my own experiences are clouding my judgement.

Okay, where we live there are not any great schools unless you are in the correct feeder schools, which we aren't as we moved to the area after Reception.

I know people say that all the time, but it's true - I'm not a snob I promise! grin

There are a few grammar schools within a commutable distance, and after researching all the local schools, look like the best choice.

I say choice as they are not necessarily an option for us. DD is bright, on the top table (apparently), but as I said already we live in a really deprived area. Half the children don't even wear the uniform let alone turn up for school. If she were at a better performing school she might be more average, I don't know.

So anyway I was going to do a practice verbal and non-verbal reasoning test with her just to see if she had any natural aptitude or not, and then consider whether we should try for a grammar or not.

BUT... She doesn't want to go to a school like that, she wants to go to one with normal people.

Oh the irony! Her words are exactly I said to my very working class parents and my head teacher after turning down a place at a grammar school. My dad was angry but my mum let me make my own mind up.

Subsequently I went on to a 'normal' school and academically I achieved as well as I would have at the grammar, but but but I can't help thinking that if I'd have mixed with girls from the other school, I may have not ended up pregnant at 18 living in a council flat confused!

I know my DD is very easily led, even more so than me (she gets it from her dad's side)grin and I think when she goes to secondary school she'll be more interested in boys and makeup than getting As.

So what should I do?

I said it'd be long!

LaQueenForADay Wed 25-Sep-13 15:21:27

Errol, yes at our GS they have the 13+ too (I think), where girls can transfer in if they're excelling at their regular school, and want a more challenging environment.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 25-Sep-13 14:17:26

Yes, that happens - DDs school lost one girl in yr7. But they've had a few come in from other schools in yr8 and 9 - the classes were all 28 at the outset and some now have one or two extra - the transfer isn't all in one direction.

LaQueenForADay Wed 25-Sep-13 13:51:44

I don't know that GS can more easily 'chuck out their non performers' as such? I think they have to abide by the same criteria as a conventional comp?

However, what I think happens far more often, is that girls who have been too intensively tutored to pass the 11+, and scraped a pass, but who really don't have the raw ability struggle from the get-go at a grammar school.

Typical GS teachers aren't in the market to help struggling pupils who can't keep up, there simply aren't the systems in place to help them. Consequently, the poor girls are desperately unhappy and simply out of their depth from the start - and by the end of Yr 7 or Yr* are desperate to leave...and so quietly depart.

Every year a small handful of girls transfer out from our local grammar to our local comprehensive.

mumslife Wed 25-Sep-13 13:11:45

Without wishing to be rude if you go to the local sixth form college i would strongly suspect it may not be quite the same story. What suits one child will not suit another

mumslife Wed 25-Sep-13 13:03:22

If someone is very bright but disruptive then in my opinion they are not being challenged enough and it then comes down to the question of are they in the right school for them. Believe me in my daughters lower sixth grammar classes there is no one being disruptive too much work to do and am willing to bet its the same further down the school as well

curlew Tue 24-Sep-13 22:48:57

"The thing is about GSs, they can chuck their non-performers out"

Grammar schools have exactly the same exclusion/expulsion criteria as any other state school.

Ferguson Tue 24-Sep-13 22:48:03

Hi - I normally 'post' on Primary Ed, as was TA or vol helper in Primary for 25 years. This is my first venture into Secondary (though I was TA in a very rough comprehensive for two years!)

If you are still reading this, Yes! go for grammar if you possibly can. Our DS went to grammar, and I feel, besides the academic side, there is an 'ethos' and possibly even 'tradition' that cannot probably be replicated in a comprehensive, which does help to 'shape' the person the student will eventually become.

Good luck.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 24-Sep-13 21:33:42

Disruptiveness increases in inverse proportion to SATS level at 11. Obviously.

Erebus Tue 24-Sep-13 21:10:40

A good school challenges the able but disruptive.

TBH, I think they form a far smaller minority that the non-clever, not-able, disruptive brigade in most schools. There really aren't that many, surely, who arse around in a very visible manner on a day to day basis- but then who go on to ace all the exams. IF there are, they're in the wrong school/set/whatever. IMHO, they're maybe ones who should be 'supported' by super-selectives (in the true sense of the word).

The thing is about GSs, they can chuck their non-performers out: like I said way up-thread, they can select in and out. 2 girls left my GS in Y7 & 8 but I couldn't tell you whether the school had built up a dossier of behavioural infractions against them ready to spring 'on the day' or whether, far more unlikely, they'd done really badly in end-of-term exams.

I don't buy into the 'but they're very bright, you know' idea. Bright is as bright does.

curlew Tue 24-Sep-13 20:42:23

"One doesn't need to make the assumption that the less able will always disrupt, curlew. They only will if they've been failed by their parent/s, their social expectations, their background and so forth; thus are not 'school ready' by 4 or 11. OR have SEN which must be addressed"

And what about disruptive able children? I certainly know plenty of them. Or are they always disruptive because they are "bored"? Not "challenged enough"? Because they are "very bright, you know"

Erebus Tue 24-Sep-13 20:33:01

As I said up-thread: one major reason I chose (not 'expressed a preference; chose. We moved) a specific secondary was that the school in question is in a MC area. I appreciate that the term 'MC' is considered 'lazy', but, by that I mean, in a state school-going context, a school where the vast majority of the DC will be 'school ready'. It is a committed school, so the upshot is that the upper sets (by GCSE) contain upper ability DC and the lower sets contain less academically able DC. Not more disruptive, just less able. The school actively challenges the more able but less-bovvered to perform and, by and large, they do. They aren't dumped in the D & E sets.

In this way less able DCs' education is not disrupted by chair throwers. So the less able but well behaved achieve their potential, all other factors being equal, too.

One doesn't need to make the assumption that the less able will always disrupt, curlew. They only will if they've been failed by their parent/s, their social expectations, their background and so forth; thus are not 'school ready' by 4 or 11. OR have SEN which must be addressed.

AcrylicPlexiglass Tue 24-Sep-13 19:56:16

I would never willingly choose a grammar school. I don't agree with the system of segregating children via an exam at 11 at all.

However:

1. You cannot change local systems singlehandedly and have to make the best of the limited choices on offer

2. I am anti the idea of letting children choose their own secondary school. I told mine elder children quite firmly that it was my and their dad's choice to make, though we would take their views into account. I think choice of secondary is far too much responsibility to put on a 10 year old. Plus "choice" is such an illusion in the world of schools!

I would visit all the schools on offer and go from there. Don't take anyone else's word for it that the schools her primary feeds into are shite. You may be surprised. Plenty of schools are changing for the better but reputations can take a while to catch up.

mumslife Tue 24-Sep-13 19:35:52

My son has a TA in every written lesson he is dyslexic and has mild aspergers but is impeccably behaved. The trouble is in low sets you get those with behavioural difficulties who cant or dont want to learn and they get all put together in a low set accelerating the problem and caught in between that are those that struggle but do want to learn and try hard then again ifthey dont stream(only stream for maths eng science at my kids school) you have problems because you then get bright kids unable to learn. I dont tbink there is an easy anzwer

mumslife Tue 24-Sep-13 19:29:26

Nonsense my son will be in low sets and he is not the least diruptive. My daughter had many friends with learning difficulties in low sets in her five years at a mixed comp. none of them were disruptive. The only class where e eryone worked was ber top set english class. She was in second set for maths and science disruptive kids in there. From her friends in lower sets apparently the lower sets wer bad as well. So in her experience the only time she escaped it was top set english
Now at a grammar no disruptions

ErrolTheDragon Tue 24-Sep-13 19:25:07

Always?

Like ' Positive and negative attitudes are not determined by the system of the school - I expect there's some GSs where there are kids who swan through and disrupt the grafters which could be a problem relative to a normal well-run comp. You really can't generalise.'

curlew Tue 24-Sep-13 19:17:45

The assumption on here is it is always the "lower set" children who are disruptive. Always.

mumslife Tue 24-Sep-13 19:09:27

Personally i have a problem with kids who disrupt the rest of the class therby interfering with someone elses education and seemingly get away with it. Not everyone in a low set is disruptive and its the non disruptive ones in a low set i feel immensely sorry for. This in all probability will be my son once they are set for core subjects hopefully only english though will he be in a low set

ErrolTheDragon Tue 24-Sep-13 19:05:08

No, its a good caricature.

Too much of a spread of ability in the same classroom (not the same canteen) is bound to be harder to teach effectively. That's why nearly all comps do set/stream. The 4-7 sets will typically be aiming towards GCSEs; I would guess that may not serve the best interests of many children still working at level 2-3 in core subjects on entry to secondary.

Erebus Tue 24-Sep-13 19:03:59

Well, yes, it is a good point but there's schools and schools. Some will have all the DC in the same classroom, but a certain percentage will be receiving extensive TA support; the work will be being differentiated per 'table'; some DC may even be being removed for the lesson for 1:1 tuition which might not show on the stats (as in 'they're not streamed/set').

HmmAnOxfordComma Tue 24-Sep-13 18:01:42

That's a very good point.

curlew Tue 24-Sep-13 17:41:51

Interesting that people don't have a problem with kids at level 5 and level 7 being taught together is fine, but the mere suggestion that a level 5/6 might have a level 3 sitting at the same table in the canteen gives them a fit of the vapours.......

ErrolTheDragon Tue 24-Sep-13 15:31:59

LaQ - DDs GS doesn't set till yr9 and then only for maths. As you say, they've already essentially been streamed. Once they're doing their gcse options, timetabling to allow for all the various subject combinations (avoiding 'options blocks' which constraint choices) it'd probably be impossible to do much more by way of setting.

Erebus Tue 24-Sep-13 15:28:57

Yes but wuldric - our comp prides itself in only setting for Maths (half a term into Y7) and MFL (end of Y7)- up until GCSE choices impose 'setting' on DCs anyway. Otherwise, they don't set.

They are also the best performing comp, academically, in Hampshire.

But I would be being disingenuous were I not to add that the school's 'selection' in by house-price! As I have said way up-thread, it's not academic inability that wrecks DCs' potential attainment, it's poor behaviour in class in whatever set. And yes, I do believe that one tends to get poorer behaviour in lower sets if only because lower sets might contain able but disengaged, therefore bored and disruptive DCs (poor social background etc), but also because the 'less clever' might take rather longer to grasp the importance of the best qualifications one is able to get to provide the best chances and opportunities in life.

If I lived in a socially disadvantaged area, I'd be more a fan of rigourous setting, too.

I wanted DS 12y to go to grammar school because he is very lazy (like his ma) and at junior school, he just cruised along unchallenged going "what's the point? Its too easy."

Now, he is at the grammar school, he still just cruises along because "He'll never be as good as the ones at the top," Ho hum. But at least he is being challenged and he is happy.

So...for us, it wasn't a miracle cure for laziness but its a good school.

LaQueenForADay Tue 24-Sep-13 13:18:25

Wuldric I was surprised to find that our grammar school doesn't set until Yr 9, either! And, then only for English and Maths, I think?

But, then I suppose that in a way, by passing the 11+ they have already been streamed because they're the top 20%?

And I agree, having your DD at grammar school doesn't mean they're automatically guaranteed to enjoy a peer group that is very industrious and very academically orientated. But there's a very good chance they will be and I think they're the best odds you can realistically hope for.

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