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!

Tell her Grammars are normal schools. Share a few of your concerns with her - that there may be a culture of lack of ambition at the schools available to you to choose from.

And do share your own experiences re wishing you had chosen a Grammar and that you are using that wisdom and experience to steer her through a difficult decision-making period of her life.

edam Wed 18-Sep-13 19:52:39

Somehow you've got to convince her to look at her long-term future. Getting a good education keeps your options open. Going to a non-grammar secondary in an area with grammar schools can limit those options. Grammar means more opportunities to do well in education which means more choices about career. You can still be a hairdresser, if that's what you eventually realise you really want to do, after going to a grammar school. But you are less likely to become a lawyer or surgeon if you go to a secondary mod (which is what comps in grammar school areas really are). Still possible but harder.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 18-Sep-13 19:54:05

I went to a grammar,for a couple of years,but it didn't work out. I would now let my DC's go if they wanted to but it has taken me a long time to decide I would let them.I was very opposed for a long time because of my own experiences but I'm assuming things will have moved on by now.

I went from a very normal background and was keen to go,and my parents keen to send me.

But as it turned out I just couldn't fit in outside of my peer group - the other girls were all from a very different background to me.

My work suffered terribly,and it was only when I transferred back to my local comp that I started to achieve again. It was the best thing I could have done tbh.

So I am adamant that if my children showed the ability it has to be instigated by them that they take the 11 plus and it has to be their choice.

So,I would say that if she doesn't want to go,I would go with her feelings.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

admission Wed 18-Sep-13 19:55:45

I would say that grammar schools are the right school for some children and not for others.
I have sat on many admission appeals for grammar schools where the parents are saying their child is bright etc, when in reality they are just reaching level 5 or even a level 4 at KS2. To me there is no greater crime than the parents insisting the child goes to a grammar school if at all possible, because that is the considered the right path to follow, when the child are simply not capable academically of handling going to a very academic grammar school. My "comprehensive" secondary school probably has 8 to 10 requests for admission every year from pupils at local grammar schools because they are struggling.
So my advice would be not to make the decision based on class structure but base it on whether your daughter has the capacity to cope and excel with a grammar school education or not. Speak to her teachers and get an honest opinion on her capability to cope, if the answer is a definite yes then wholeheartedly push to get that excellent education. If not then decide how you and her are going to make a success at one of these other schools.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 19:57:11

Thank you for reading the Op!

We've talked about older girls we know who were angels in Year 6 but now walk around with orange faces and a string of school suspensions.

I'm worried that although she tries her best and wants to do well now, once she has more freedom she'll not bother.

I think the lack of ambition is already rubbing off on her tbh, and I think it might be a lost cause trying to convince her.

I was wondering if anyone would you know, erm, force her shockshock or maybe tell a lie about what school she gets into.

I sound like such a pushy mother and I swore I'd never be one of those! grin

Portofino Wed 18-Sep-13 20:01:33

I went to Grammar School. I didn't want to at all, but it was the right choice. I am really glad now that I was "made" to go.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:04:38

If I thought she wasn't able i would not dream of coaching her. I don't want her to struggle!

She has the sort of personality where she could fit in in different situations. Me being a teacher hopefully means she wouldn't be bullied for being poor or a 'chav' or whatever somebody ^ up there was implying. grin

I always said that it wouldn't matter where she went as long as she works hard, but I know her and I know she tries so hard to fit in that she would act the way the people around her do. At the moment it's pretending she's not bright and saying she doesn't understand things, because she plays with a girl who is like that.

I'm sure if she was surrounded by hardworking girls, she'd want to be just like them too.

springlamb Wed 18-Sep-13 20:08:19

My situation slightly different.
We were moving from a no grammar area to a grammar area. The move was planned for a couple of years so DD was Yr 4/5 when we began thinking about secondary. DD is very clever and would easily have passed 11+.
She didn't want a grammar, despite lots of discussion. I felt that as we were instigating so many changes in her life with the move that we had to allow her some leeway.
So we applied (from out of borough, 60 miles away) for the three schools she had really liked on open days. Her first choice had a slightly selective policy (the top 20% in the exam were offered a place), and she got her first choice on that basis.
She is very happy and is enjoying the curriculum, is active in school life. And I must say I am rather impressed...so far.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:09:21

That's how I explained it to her, in terms of her future.

I said if she's clever at a comprehensive, she'll be set work that'll be just as hard as the grammar school. But that she'll mix with different people and have greater opportunities than if she went to our local school.

But she's 9! She doesn't care about that stuff. She won't until she's 27 and wishing she could turn back time. confused

Gunznroses Wed 18-Sep-13 20:14:13

Has she been to see the grammar school? Maybe if you went on a private tour she could get to chat with some of the girls there and see that they are quite normal.

Have you talked about what she might want to do in future? This might also be a way of making the link with the grammar schools and the oppotunities it might offer her towards that.

springlamb Wed 18-Sep-13 20:14:27

Have you visited all the possible schools? If your DD is Year 6 you will be like a whirling dervish visiting schools!
Although I expressed no preference for either of the 3 schools DD opted to put on her list, I was relieved with her first choice (which she now attends).
I felt it was a place where she could really be herself and be encouraged not to follow the crowd. I just kind of 'felt it'. It felt like a 'dd' place. A|
Me being me, I also had parked up at hometime at each of the schools to see the range of students leaving. Neurotic...moi?!?

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Wed 18-Sep-13 20:17:27

Yes. My ds goes to grammar school. My mum fought to get me into a grammar school after we re-located when I was 11, and succeeded. I wasn't that keen at the time, but it really was the best decision for me.

My ds1 is at a grammar school now - dh and I really did see it as mainly our decision not his but luckily he agreed with us grin

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:17:35

We haven't been to see any schools, this is all just in my head at the moment.

I need to find out if she's bright enough first before I waste anyone's time.

Thank you for all of your responses. I don't feel like such a bad mother anymore.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:22:40

Well she's just told me that she doesn't want to go to school with geeky, ugly people.

I asked her why she thinks they will all be ugly, and it's because clever people are ugly apparently.

Yes that lack of ambition has definitely rubbed off on her already.hmm

If she carries on with that attitude ill have to send her to a convent!

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Wed 18-Sep-13 20:28:34

Oh god OP, what an attitude to have already! confused Where does that come from?

ErrolTheDragon Wed 18-Sep-13 20:29:26

Definitely get some tours in school time when she's in year 5.

My DD is at a girls' GS - they are 'normal people'. But they do seem to have a good work ethos - one of the things that sold the school to DD was the school tour where the atmosphere in the classrooms was one which suited her (lively but focused, I'd say).

From what you've said about your DD, her peers are really going to matter - some bright kids will do well anywhere if they're self-motivated and determined, but it sounds like she could do with having the odds stacked to help her.

springlamb Wed 18-Sep-13 20:29:42

You need to go to see these schools full of geeky ugly people asap. This term's open days/evenings will be for Yr 5s as well, do the rounds.
I do think she will have to be engaged in the process and actually want to attend the school.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 18-Sep-13 20:30:18

If that's the problem,do what springlamb does and take her to see them chucking out.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 18-Sep-13 20:31:43

Are any of her friends taking the 11 plus?

It'd be worth finding out if you can.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:32:07

It's the area we live in and the girls she mixes with at her undersubscribed (in London!!) unsatisfactory primary school.

I've begged and pleaded and cried to get her a place in the brilliant school I work in, but we live out of catchment.

She's on the waiting list and if she gets in this year, can go on to the better local school which I'd be happy with. But that doesn't look likely.

She's so easily led I'm petrified that she's going to ruin her future. I'm sure my dad is turning in his grave!

kilmuir Wed 18-Sep-13 20:33:25

My daughter is not ugly or geeky and loves grammar school

ErrolTheDragon Wed 18-Sep-13 20:35:43

>Well she's just told me that she doesn't want to go to school with geeky, ugly people.

blimey. Well, my DD and some of her friends are self-confessed geeks, but for sure none of them are ugly (as if that mattered anyway, sounds like she needs a bit of education on valuing people for the content of their character). An anti-geek attitude at this early age doesn't bode too well - sounds like she could be one of the 'being clever isn't cool' types and get dragged down- whereas if she goes to a GS its the norm (the geeks are the ones who are into electronics and computer science in particular)

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:36:44

I've worked so hard for everything we have. She knows how hard I've worked to have a decent standard of living (well I'm still trying to accomplish that one).

I thought I was doing it to have the best life for me, but what's the point if she's going to waste her opportunities.

I'm not impressed about her comment about ugly people either!!

tallulah Wed 18-Sep-13 20:37:47

My DD was adamant she wasn't going to grammar school (Kent) because none of her friends were going. Then we went to the Open Evening and she had a chat to the HT about what was available at the school and came away determined to go there.

She was exactly as you describe your DD. Her best friend was at the bottom of the class so she stopped writing in pen and gradually got herself moved to the bottom table. In those days you had to have a HT recommendation to get into grammar and ours fought us every step of the way.

She ended up at a private school and went completely the other way; really pushing herself to beat the brightest boy in the class.

I would take your DD to the open days/ evenings now so that she can see for herself that the girls at grammar are "normal".

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:39:31

Yes that's what I'm worried about.

At home she's proud of her achievements and tries hard with her homework. But she doesn't want to be seen to be like a geek.

I thought geek chic was cool, she even made me buy her geek glasses.

I may have to take her to these schools and show her how her idea of 'ugly clever geeks' is completely wrong.

wickedwitchNE Wed 18-Sep-13 20:41:26

I have to say I was exactly like your DD. I absolutely refused to consider going to a grammar, preferring the local (awful) comp where all my friends were going. In the end my parents gave me no choice in the matter, and despite the tantrums and arguments, it was the best thing they ever could have done for me. I was too easily led by other people and at primary school held myself back on purpose to fit in. Grammar school was amazing for me in the end, and there was such a wide range of kids - definitely not all geeks!

Don't feel guilty pushing her to it if you honestly feel it will benefit her. Has she visited the school or been around it at home time (to see tht not all the pupils are ugly!)? Can't think of any other practical ideas to convince her, other than bribery!

ErrolTheDragon Wed 18-Sep-13 20:43:31

Ah well according to my DD, 'geek chic' is for wannabe geeks and so isn't cool - what's cool is being able to actually do stuff not just dress the part. Substance not appearance.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 18-Sep-13 20:46:54

Peer group is the biggest influence on children through secondary school. This isn't really a grammar versus comprehensive issue - more to do with the people she meets. Sadly, once a school gets an unsatisfactory rating parents move their children. I'm an ex secondary teacher and have taught at schools throughout the socio economic spectrum.

Bright children will most certainly not do well everywhere and she is far too young to decide this wisely. She needs you to make a sensible choice on her behalf. In the meantime, if you are in London, start spending weekends at venues that raise her aspirations. There are so many cost free opportunities.

Maybe it would also help if you got some nice sixth formers to baby sit her or something - preferably one who is not ugly ;)
If she knows some normal girls at the school she might change her mind.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:52:18

I just told her that most of the girls from TOWIE went to grammar school (it's probably not true but I'm sure one of them attended a private school)!

She said it can't be true because they look stupid ( not clever and therefore ugly then).

I said the only reason why they've made a success and all have businesses despite their non-ugliness is because of the brilliant education they received.

I may have given her something to think about (even if its not true). grin

Slipshodsibyl Wed 18-Sep-13 21:17:48

Turn the telly off.... At least when programmes like Towie are on.

wineoclocktimeyet Wed 18-Sep-13 21:29:31

I assume all your local schools are holding their Open Days/Evenings soon, so maybe visit as many as you can so your daughter can see for herself.

DS1 has just started at grammar school and wasn't sure so we went to all schools at the start of Year 5 - reasoning being, if he was going to put the work in for the 11+, he had to be sure he wanted to go.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 18-Sep-13 22:29:51

yes - the open day at DDs school is definitely aimed at yr5s (a few year 4s turn up too) but its later in the year. 6 is too late - they have their 11+ this weekend.

I would let DD go to a grammar school if she was bright enough, because I went to one and it was the best option for me (bright and quiet), although like you I wouldn't coach her to get into one if she wasn't naturally that way inclined. However at eleven I wouldn't be letting her make this decision by herself - at eleven I wanted to stay home all day reading and playing! - eleven is not old enough to make decisions, or enough have the majority voice in making decisions, that could very well have an impact on the rest of her life. I say life because you state: At the moment it's pretending she's not bright and saying she doesn't understand things, because she plays with a girl who is like that

This would really worry me and make me more determined to get her to grammar school if it was possible as this attitude could be really damaging if she has friends like that in any other secondary school.

Kenlee Thu 19-Sep-13 03:03:03

Ask yourself a few honest questions..

1) Is your child clever enough to get in and not struggle when she gets in

2) Does she make friends easily.

If the answer is yes to both definitely... if only yes to question 1 ....yes again...

If no to question 1....try to find an alternative school that is nice.

FormaLurka Thu 19-Sep-13 07:14:50

Kenlee - What has being able to make friends easily got to do with whether a child should go to a grammar school?

You have a strange perspective on grammar schools.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 07:51:50

Grammar schools tend to have more pupils who haven't come with a large cohort from their primary school so lots of them are up for making new friends - my DD was quite shy and knew no-one in her class but had no problem at all settling in.

Existing friendships are one of the least important criteria when choosing a secondary school IMO. Whatever school the OP's daughter goes to, she'll probably be in different sets to her existing friends and will therefore have to make new ones.

racmun Thu 19-Sep-13 07:59:28

Tbh I think at 11 she shouldn't be making a choice about which school she goes to.

You can tell her anything you like - there weren't any places at the other school. Once she's settled there she'll make friends and get in with it.
If you think the grammar route is the right one and she gets in then in my house that is where she would be going.

My DH's parents let him turn down a full bursary at private school when he was 11 because he wanted to stay with his friends and DH now says he cannot believe his parents listened to him.

pixiepotter Thu 19-Sep-13 08:10:22

Do not let your DD choose her secondary school.A 10/11 yo has neither the maturity or experience to make that decision

Yonihadtoask Thu 19-Sep-13 08:13:35

Ds (15) attends grammar school and is doing very well.

He was slightly wary of the idea at first, stating that it was full of 'boffins and rich kids'.

He soon changed hid mind at the open evening and was keen to get in.

From visits to school for various events I just think they are normal kids, from regulate backgrounds who get good grades. Nothing more really.

I am very pleased though, that he was keen to go. Despite it being a bus ride away, rather than a ten minute stroll to the local comp. I would have probably forced his hand a fair bit if he showed reluctance to attend.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 08:15:02

>Tbh I think at 11 she shouldn't be making a choice about which school she goes to.

It depends on the kid and it depends what alternatives are available - my DD was quite rational about weighing up the pros and cons of the various schools. If you can get the choice down to a couple of acceptable alternatives, then a child is more likely to be motivated to work well if their preference is taken into account. But in a case like racmun's DH the parents made a big mistake.

senua Thu 19-Sep-13 08:27:28

Ah well according to my DD, 'geek chic' is for wannabe geeks and so isn't cool - what's cool is being able to actually do stuff not just dress the part. Substance not appearance.

Very impressed by your DD, Errol. grin

invicta Thu 19-Sep-13 08:46:34

My sons go to grammar school, and they are 'Normal'!

The best advice I can give is to go and visit them. Tis may inspire her, especially when she realises the pupils are not rich pretentious geeks, which is often the perception.

Also, have you seen the elevenplusexams.co.uk website which gives great advice on the 11+, and there's a fab forum there.

MacNCheese Thu 19-Sep-13 08:55:44

She is 9, you are the parent.
Ultimately it is your decision as to what is best for her, not hers. Take her opinion on board obviously, but you have a life time of experience, and seemingly very relevant experience. She just doesn't want to be away from her friends.
So in answer to your question, would your force her? If I thought she could cope academically, yes I would.

nextyearitsbigschool Thu 19-Sep-13 09:14:51

I agree with MacNCheese, she is 9 years old and far too young to be making her own decisions about where she goes to school. She sounds like she is already getting the wrong attitude and you need to address that ASAP. In your shoes I would be doing little but prepping her to get through the grammar exam and making that decision for her. I think it is fine to give them the choice when there are a couple of reasonable options, where there aren't I would say that the decision has to come entirely from you.

Ehhn Thu 19-Sep-13 09:18:14

Do what is right for your daughter with GS. You know her personality better than she does herself at 9, and more so - she doesn't know yet what it is like to be a teen but you do.

It is certainly easier to quit a grammar because she is unhappy than try and get her in one because she is failing elsewhere! Make that deal with her if she gets in - one year, major treat at the end (spa/ears pierced/overnight trip/whatever is affordable and most desired), and can quit if she is unhappy.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 19-Sep-13 09:20:40

I have to go against the grain here.

I do believe that if your child really isn't going to be happy in the environment, they will not perform.

I know that's not a popular opinion on this thread but it is my opinion and one I found to be true in my case.

By all means try to change her perceptions if you think they are wrong,but I wouldn't force her to go if she stubbornly refuses to change her mind.

If she isn't open to it,you can't do it for her.

Childhood is too short for unhappiness imo,and if she really is going to be unhappy with this decision,let her choose her own path.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Sep-13 09:22:08

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

Ok, this sounds really fatalistic - it's her disposition, it's genetic, the school will be like that... I think your family generally needs a slightly more proactive and less deterministic outlook on life, whichever school you choose!

ALso, you think the local schools are full of orange thickos, and she thinks the grammars are full of ugly geeks - I think you both need to think in slightly more open-minded ways and stop polarising like this!

HmmAnOxfordComma Thu 19-Sep-13 09:33:43

TOSN is right: you both seem to have quite extreme and close-minded views.

You need to look around all the options properly. Find out what extra-curricular activities are available; how the schools set; what subjects are valued; which of the 'bad' schools in your opinion are actually better than they seem to be.

I also think secondary school decision is one to be made mostly by the parents. How does a 9/10 year old know what's good for them? But: if you're determined for her to go to a grammar and she isn't, she could just fail the test deliberately. You would need to have her on board.

You say you're not sure if she's bright generally or just bright in her school. What are her levels?

And how on earth has a 9 year old heard of TOWIE?!!!

tiggytape Thu 19-Sep-13 09:52:13

I agree with the others - if possible you should let DD go to the open evenings. They should be coming up soon. This will hopefully counter her preconceptions and give her an idea of what to expect. The Head's speech is normally informative and also the tour will show her what's on offer.

Her academic ability is all relative. It sounds like you don't live in a grammar school area as such (so your local comps may cater well for brighter children). If the grammars you can travel to have an open selection policy (no distance or sibling priority) then the standard required will be very high. If they are not superselective types then simply being in the top group will stand her in good stead.

I also agree that, at 11, children are very young and parental decisions are normally going to be the best ones. Where a child is unsure or nervous, parents will often know what is best for them. However, if a child is absolutely dead-set against going to grammar school (or any school), I don't think you can assume they'll love it once they get there. As with anything in life, if they're determined to hate it even before they try, it could easily go the other way. Of course you should discuss it with her talk her round if you can but I personally wouldn't insist an 11 year old attended a school that they were absolutely determined they didn't want to go to.

MrsMaybeMaybe Thu 19-Sep-13 09:57:06

I think you should spend more time talking to your daughter. I find it strange that her attitudes are so different to yours. DS is at a grammar school, him and some of his classmates went to a private prep, but they are still "normal" and don't stand out in any way. They all got similar interests and his friends come from completely different backgrounds. Good luck!

mikulkin Thu 19-Sep-13 09:57:46

Don't give up, keep talking to her and get some of your friends/relatives, anybody she respects talking to her too.

I went to a really bad school myself and it worked for me, I never was tempted by my peers and concentrated on studies. BUT I saw so many of my classmates, who were bright and just didn't get anywhere because they wanted to fit in the environment of our school. The risk is there and I'm sure you as a parent know whether this risk is high for your DD or not.

At this age they could be pretty stubborn, so she needs to see it for herself. Take her to 3-4 grammar schools, start from the least preferred one because the first reaction will be negative anyway, by the third one she would warm up.
If you pursuade her, in couple of years she would think it is cool to be studying. In my DS's school (private, not grammar, but very competitive) it is cool to get good grades.

If there is a grammar school around and your DD is smart enough to get in don't let her make this decision on her own!

DownstairsMixUp Thu 19-Sep-13 10:19:51

My other half has just read this thread and he was put in a grammar school. He didn't want to go to it and he did not excel academically as it wasn't where he wanted to be. Granted he passed with all C's on his GCSEs but he feels if he went to the local comp where he wanted to go he feels he would of peformed better as he wanted to be with his primary friends and he is Kent and found the journey over an hour on the bus there and back in every day he hated as he was an active child and wanted to walk to his local with friends. He says he was always bright and felt he would of excelled academically in an eenvironment HE was comfortable in, not one dictated to him. Hope that helps. smile

wordfactory Thu 19-Sep-13 10:22:25

DS attends an uber selective school and he is very normal.

Plays on his PS3, eats crisps, follows the footie grin...

christine44 Thu 19-Sep-13 10:28:45

Grammar schools the best decision we ever made. Daughter so happy and thriving academically. BTW she is tall, long blond hair and very pretty as are all the girls!

BrigitBigKnickers Thu 19-Sep-13 10:44:53

DD goes to a fab girls grammar and she is a normal teenager. One of the things that suits her is being in classes of similarly motivated girls.

Behaviour there is always good and the low level disruption encountered by her friends at the (fairly well respected) local comp is virtually non- existent.

What are your DDs current national curriculum levels? At age 9 I would assume she is in year 5? If her end of year 4 levels were level 4s then she may well be bright enough for grammar school- but as others have said- it will depend on what sort of grammar schools you are near to. Superselectives would probably require quite exceptional levels.

ps- DD also not ugly- scouted by a top London modelling agency- so there!

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 19-Sep-13 10:49:04

My DD1 is not ugly. She is a geek though, fair play.

bebopanddoowop Thu 19-Sep-13 11:59:24

I personally wouldn't want to send my children to grammar schools. Both my parents went to them, but by the time I was born they had become comprehensives and there were none in the area. They applied for me to go to the private school but I hated it and didn't do well in the test. Both my brothers went to to private schools and my little sister a comprehensive (same school as me) and I think we all got a similar education, thanks to my parents making sure we were well rounded.

Going to a comprehensive school meant I had a diverse education socially and academically.

I now live in a different town with lots of grammar schools, and DH says everyone here takes 11+ and it is very segregated that the 'clever' people go to grammar schools, the rich and clever to private, and the leftovers to comprehensive. (He was a left-over)!

I morally don't believe there should be a segregation so unless my children show a particularly urgent need too, we won't send them to private or grammar. There is a lot of snobbery and keeping up with the jones' in this area and personally don't want my children to grow up as part of that - I'd rather them have a diverse education.

All of this said...my children are still unborn so I guess you never know wink

mumslife Thu 19-Sep-13 12:45:00

reading this thread with interest
my experience with my daughter

At 11 she wasnt clever enough to pass her 11 plus harsh but true. However very quiet hardworking girl.. Went to local comp walked about with her head down never hardly spoke for two years many teachers and pupils thought she was mute!
Bullied until year 10 for being too nice basically and not fighting back
However learnt skills to cope with this and had a group of about six close friends
Hard work pays off and she gets four As and 6B s at GCSe no sixth form at the comp Starts grammar school two weeks ago and is having the time of her life. As i had always known loves it socially she has already quadruple the amount of friends she had at mixed comp.
If five years ago she stood any chance of passing her eleven plus I would have sent her definately the right place for her but every person is different.
I passed my 11 plus parents didnt send me as I was a bit of a worrier. Hated mixed comp would probably have loved the grammar

tywysogesgymraeg Thu 19-Sep-13 12:49:25

If we had grammar schools near us, both my DDs would have applied to go there, no question about it.

I started secondary school in the early 70s at a grammar school, but the area changed to the comprehensive system after a couple of years (I was Form 3), and even as a 14 year old, I could see the standards drop. Not just academically, but behaviour wise too.

Grammar schools are not for the elite - they are for kids from normal families who are above average academically. If they were good swimmers, you'd have no hesitation in sending them to a swimming academy, so why not pick a school that suits their academic ability too.

minidipper Thu 19-Sep-13 13:26:22

Take her to the school. Let her know in very clear terms that clever people aren't always ugly, and normal people aren't always gorgeous. School is a place to learn about what the world has to offer you for the rest of your life - what you might be good at and passionate about and whether you can make a good living from doing what you love. Show her round both schools and ask her which school she thinks will best foster those goals and dreams for her?

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 13:33:34

>clever people aren't always ugly, and normal people aren't always gorgeous.

er, please don't phrase it like that as though clever people aren't always ugly and that they're not normal! wink (sure minidipper didn't mean it that way but it reads that way!)

Bumblequeen Thu 19-Sep-13 13:50:18

Yes I would. We will be working towards dd gaining a place at a grammar school in six years time. If we could afford it she would be privately educated.

I was denied a scholarship at a private school as I did not quite make the grade. At the time it did not bother me. Now in my 30's I wonder what my life might have been had I been accepted.

I did not feel I could ever become a doctor/lawyer/director/entrepreneur. I knew nobody in such jobs and my school was not the greatest. I want dd to be in an environment where children are encouraged to work towards successful careers.

Elibean Thu 19-Sep-13 13:59:53

OP, it really is a turbulent time for us parents, eh? grin

I have a Y5 9.5 year old dd myself. We don't have grammar schools in this Borough (thankfully, would add to my confusion) but we do have the option - financially - of sending dd to an independent school. If there is one she a) likes b) we like c) gets into not necessarily in that order.

There is only one state option within reach, and it would probably be absolutely fine - it was dire a few years ago, but has turned around. I have visited, dd has spent a day there as part of a Y4 initiative, and we both think it has a lot of good points.

But. I would like her to have some choice. I would like her to see the different schools available, make active choices rather than be passive. So, we have started visiting some indie schools - the more down to earth, inclusive sort (because we would not like the others) within reach.

At first, dd was saying much the same as your dd. I think it was fear speaking, as she wanted what she knew, and what she also knew most of her friends were mostly likely to be moving on to (there is only one other child, a boy, in her year who has the private option - though a lot of the girls will have church school options).

After seeing one school last weekend, she has totally changed her mind. Seeing for herself that 'normal' girls were at the other school helped hugely. We were shown around by one of them, which also helped. Demystifying the unknown.

So if you have looked at your local options, and you have a gut feeling your dd would be happiest in one of the grammar schools, then take her to visit - if she hasn't already been?

My dd finished Year 4 with level 4s, and is reasonably bright - but there is no way she would knuckle down to 11+ work without being motivated by the desire to get into a particular school/s. Which I have to say I totally understand smile

rabbitstew Thu 19-Sep-13 14:07:25

Grammar schools are, unfortunately, not a protection from getting pregnant at 18. grin Apart from that, I can understand your concerns!

soul2000 Thu 19-Sep-13 14:20:36

Why are some posters making out that kids who go to grammar schools,are super human in inteligence.

Most of kids at grammar schools are just averagely bright, ok not the statistcal term of average but just quite bright not, super human in inteligence.

when you read what some posters are saying regarding, whether grammar schools are right for their kids you'd think the schools were full of Nasa scientists.

I might be wrong but i think my niece, grammar school educated now at RG university is just bright not a "GENIUS" and my Nephew 6th form grammar school is just average bright.

If anyone has a chance for a grammar school for their DC, take that chance if it is not the right school you can always transfer to the Comprehensive or as the doomsayers say "secondary modern" .You cant just transfer to the grammar school, should you choose the comprehensive.

Please though dont make yourself or DC believe that grammar school pupils are from Alpha centauri because they are not.

BadgerB Thu 19-Sep-13 14:36:45

Met my history teacher from the grammar-gone-comp school I attended aeons ago. When I asked her why she had taken early retirement she said "It's like this, my dear, I trained as a teacher not a zoo keeper.."

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 14:44:39

I've not noticed anyone on this thread particularly doing that, soul - most are stressing that they're normal kids. For non-superselectives, its roughly the top 25% by IQ which as you say is bright but not exceptional G&T.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 14:48:15

Badger - I too was at a grammar which turned comp - I think a lot of the teachers who weren't used to mixed ability classes struggled. My dad was a teacher and AFAIK they didn't get any sort of training prior to the change, just had to get on with it - or not. Teachers nowadays have much more training in classroom skills.

Smartiepants79 Thu 19-Sep-13 14:52:07

If it was an option then YES definitely I would send my children to a grammar school.
You are the adult and you are her parent. She is 10/11. You have to make what you think is the best descision for her long term future. She will make new friends.
Kids at grammar school are 'normal' !!!

LaVolcan Thu 19-Sep-13 14:59:49

Comprehensive or as the doomsayers say "secondary modern"

Whether the 'Comprehensive' is really a 'Secondary Modern' depends on where you are.

If you live in Kent or Bucks, when more than 20% are creamed off, then they are Sec Mods, whatever they call themselves. If you live in other places, where the Grammar is a super-selective and only a handful of local children don't go to the comprehensive, then the comprehensive will have top sets full of able children and won't be a Sec Mod.

If you live in other areas where there are no grammar schools, then the comprehensives will all in theory be comprehensive - but some have decidedly more able intakes than others.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 15:24:20

Ahem, (fingers crossed) DD1 will have passed the 11+ and will go to grammar school, and is decidedly not geeky and is generally considered rather pretty.

DD2 will follow suit, and (whilst admittedly quite geeky with a real passion for maths) she's also rather pretty.

Waiting for DD1 to take the VR paper last Saturday I observed that there were a right mixed bag of parents and girls at the school. A mixture of cut crystal accents and the local twang, a mixture of prestige cars and mundane run-arounds. A bit of Boden and a bit of Primark.

But, presumably the unifying factor is that they were all cleverer than your average little 10 year old girl. And, they have supportive parents behind them, who are invetsed in helping their daughter attain the best education they can.

We want our DDs to go to the GS, because the rest of the secondary moderns are too grim to contemplate. I know. I have worked in several of them.

Even the local comperhensives don't cut the mustard. Agreed, the top sets might compare to a grammar school? But in a big comprehensive there will be relatively few pupils in the top sets, and a shed load of pupils who aren't.

Which is why we want our DDs to attend a school which is essentially only comprised of top set calibre pupils.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 15:35:52

Plus, OP please let your DD know that grammar schools really aren't all about Latin and maths. At our DD's grammar school they have a fabulous art department and over the summer they completely re-furbished the drama studio, I think?

The school has 4 sister schools around the world with regular exchange visits, and I'm sure it's the same with most other GS.

There are umpty hundred after-school clubs and activities, including some real variety from archery to dance clubs. I saw that one troupe had entered a national street dance competition, and done quite well.

A lot of the girls play sport at county, national and even international level, and the facilities are fantastic. Again, probably the same as other GSs?

Times really have moved on, and grammar schools really aren't all jolly hockey sticks, straw boaters and tiffin for tea.

At the Open Evening we were blown away by the vibrant atmosphere at the GS, and witnessed so many pupils laughing and joking with staff, there was a really good rapport smile

The teachers all looked relaxed and motivated (I happen to know several of them personally) because they are actually allowed to teach and aren't wasting their energy and efforts dealing with dsicpline issues, and providing daily crowd control.

There's no denying the work is challenging, and high standards are expected. Like the HT said in his welcome speech 'Being clever here is actually only average' confused

But, if your DD is clever enough to pass, then she should find the work challenging but in an enjoyable way.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Sep-13 15:42:04

I'm sure grammars vary as much as any other kind of school, but I stand by my original comment that it concerns me that OP is so fatalistic about her 9 year old's personality and, more importantly, what she'll be like in 3 years' time! I'm sure there are one or two non-orange children in the comprehensives, and a few pretty children in the grammar schools, and you both need to be a lot less binary in your thinking!

My children are, interestingly, orange, ugly and thick: put that in your pipe and smoke it grin

Elibean Thu 19-Sep-13 15:48:38

I don't want my children to go to a school that is essentially for 'top set calibre pupils'.

I want them to go to a school that is for everyone, but that caters well for the 'top set calibre pupils' (as well as the others).

Idealistic maybe, but I can get as close to that as possible...or hope to...

curlew Thu 19-Sep-13 15:49:42

"Comprehensive or as the doomsayers say "secondary modern"

Comprehensive schools and secondary modern schools are completely different things.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 15:50:14

I agree Nit they must all vary to some extent, which is why it's imperative that the OP takes her child to visit them.

In her own little mind, our DD1 had decided that grammar schools only taught Latin, rugby and really hard maths, because she'd listened to many of DH's school boy reminiscences hmm

She'd hadn't seen fit to mention her thoughts to us, until we went to the Open Evening and she was visibly surprised to see the GS had art rooms, drama studios etc...

Which just illustrates that at only 9 or 10, they are still very much little children and their perceptions and understandings are not nearly well developed enough to make such an important decision for themselves.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 15:57:09

"I don't want my children to go to a school that is essentially for 'top set calibre pupils'."

I completely respect that Elibean. I'm sure many parents feel the same, in that they want their children to go to a school 'for everyone' and feel that a grammar school is too elite.

But, the DD's grammar school isn't a socially elite school. It just takes the top 20%, from all and any social backgrounds.

So socially, it's no more selective than a comprehensive in a leafy, affluent suburb, which can select its pupils based on their parent's ability to afford upwards of £300K for a 4-bed house.

At least at our DD's grammar school girls are only selected for ability, from a very diverse catchment area. And what type of house their parent's can afford really isn't a factor.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Sep-13 15:59:36

Visiting all available options always a good plan, yep - especially when one or other of you has strong feelings about any of them already.

I changed my perception of several schools after open evenings!

We all want that for our kids I guess elibean but it's a big ask.

Ds went to a primary school that's now in special measures largely because it failed to challenge even the average kids. The bright kids were spectacularly let down.

He's now at at grammar school having a brilliant time.

AbiRoad Thu 19-Sep-13 16:45:52

For those you say that at that stage it should be your decision what school she goes to, in theory that is right. But she has to pass the test and if she really does not want to go she will just deliberately fllunk it/refuse to do practice papers etc, so you will need to get her on side.
FWIW I went to grammar and loved it. My secretary at work (who is clearly very bright) got a grammar school offer but did not go becuase she wanted to stay with her friends but now regrets it and wishes her parents had overriden her choice.

motherinferior Thu 19-Sep-13 17:59:51

Yep, you need comps for rugby and Latin and really hard maths. (Well, DD1's school doesn't do rugby, but the boys' school does. The girls' one is just putting them in for GCSE Latin in Y9.) It may not be leafy, but the kids do damn well.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 19-Sep-13 18:07:34

I think if you have a daughter who is easily led,then a very positive thing to do would be to find some positive role models and work on developing her individuality and assertiveness.Then whatever she does she will be equipped to work hard and make sensible choices because of her own personal goals.

My 9 year old has told me she wants to do the 11 plus and go to the grammar,and asked me how she can do it.Her friends have told her she has to have extra work (ie tutoring).I have told her that all she needs to do is pay attention and work hard and we'll see what's what when it comes closer to the time.

If she works hard she can make her own choices.

motherinferior Thu 19-Sep-13 18:16:19

Incidentally my daughter, and her friends, are all somewhat geeky. At a comp, yet.

A number of them are also rather nice-looking.

Not that I want to piss on your stereotypical chips or anything.

MaddAddam Thu 19-Sep-13 18:41:01

My distinctly geeky (and to my mind beautiful but that may be parental prejudice) dds are blissfully happy at their local, non-leafy, rather socially squalid comp. There are plenty of geeky kids and hardworking clever kids, and all sorts of other odd and less odd kids there. And, crucially, for me, they haven't learned that some children are of a better calibre than others. They've learned that some children are better at some things than others, but not that some deserve more educational input and effort.

So no I wouldn't want them to be at a grammar instead.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Sep-13 18:47:45

Oh why isn't there a 'like' button on mumsnet?

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Thu 19-Sep-13 19:02:48

I'm not saying all children from the local comp are orange (well maybe I did but it was an exaggeration ).

I meant that my DD will end up like the girls who are orange and more interested in boys, if I let her go to a school with her classmates, because I can see her going that way already!

Anyway... She came home today saying she doesn't mind applying to one of the grammars.

Last night I got some non-verbal and verbal reasoning apps for the iPad and we played them together. She enjoyed them and I think realises now that the tests aren't testing her knowledge or the teaching that she's had in primary school, but the way she thinks instead.

I think she was worried that as we are and mix with the working/ under (sorry) class, she won't know as much as the other girls.

It's amazing that although she obviously hasn't phrased it like that, she is aware of the differences between people.

Now she knows that she may be able to understand the types of questions, she seems happy to give it a go.

Anyway I think I'll take her to visit this year and speak to the schools and find out how realistic our chances are.

Oh and she got a 4c in Eng and Maths at the end of Year 4.

soul2000 Thu 19-Sep-13 19:03:58

is the lets all be educated together in blissful harmony all classes or educational abilty the mumsnet way?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Sep-13 19:05:20

Er, no grin

I'm glad she feels a bit more confident about the work she'll have to do. I hope she gets in a school you're both happy with.

soul2000 Thu 19-Sep-13 19:07:43

It does seem that way with the popularity of comprehensive schools and for some classes mixed abilty teaching on this site.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 19:09:01

soul - 'is the lets all be educated together in blissful harmony all classes or educational abilty the mumsnet way?'

No, the MN way is for there to be a lot of different opinions which get aired on the slightest provocation!grin.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 19:10:57

But maybe if there is a default MN position is that 'it depends on the individual child and what schools are actually available to you' - generalisations don't get you very far when you've got a real live child needing education,

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Thu 19-Sep-13 19:19:34

Oh dear I didn't mean to bring class into it!

But as we are of the Primark wearing, two week all inclusive holiday to Turkey variety of family... Well, we are different to the more cultured families.

I know it and she knows it. Lets be honest it's pretty obvious! grin

Portofino Thu 19-Sep-13 19:40:11

I hate the tutoring thing. I passed the Kent Test without even knowing what it was. In Kent the top 20 - 25% go to Grammar. Why should tutoring be necessary unless you are struggling - and shouldn't really be Grammar material, or your primary school is especially poor and is letting down bright pupils. I realise the situation is very different in other areas of the country.

I think you're worrying too much about what you perceive to be the demographic for grammar schools.

Portofino Thu 19-Sep-13 20:05:47

LaQueen, at the risk of inviting haterz like comments, you mention several times your dds' Grammar School. But your dd's are at Primary School and have not yet passed the 11+. Maybe it would be more useful to the OP to explain why you want them to go to Grammar School?

Clobbered Thu 19-Sep-13 20:12:54

I teach in a super-selective grammar. Believe me, there are plenty of "Primark wearing" families there, and kids of all backgrounds rubbing along just fine.

reelingintheyears Thu 19-Sep-13 20:14:36

DS2 went to university in Southampton on Monday, he went to the local secondary school.
He had no extra tuition.

Is your DD enjoying her secondary school LaQ, the Arts and Drama dept at Ds's was fab, he loved it.

Portofino Thu 19-Sep-13 20:18:00

My Grammar was a total mix. I had friends with single parents on FSM and friends with professional parents and big houses/swimming pools. I grew up on a council estate in a wc family so was somewhere in the middle. I remember the miners strike where one of my friends recounted tales of the Russian emergency food parcels. We never cared about stuff like that. Just Duran Duran and having a Phil Oakey fringe. I fear that it is very different these days.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 20:19:35

Oh hello Porto [waves]

I think I have detailed the reasons why I'd like them to go to their GS, upthread? I think my posts of 15:24 and 15:35 pretty much cover it.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 20:20:56

Oh hello reeling [waves]

She's not there yet, it's not in the bag...VR paper last Saturday, NVR this Saturday. So, finger's crossed and all that.

reelingintheyears Thu 19-Sep-13 20:24:16

I went to boarding school in the East Midlands, we were proper posh but didn't do Latin. hmm

Played Rugger British bulldog though. grin

reelingintheyears Thu 19-Sep-13 20:25:03

Arf, fingers crossed eh LaQ. wink

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 20:29:48

"I hate the tutoring thing. I passed the Kent Test without even knowing what it was. In Kent the top 20 - 25% go to Grammar. Why should tutoring be necessary unless you are struggling"

I felt and thought exactly the same as that Porto up until a year ago. My only prior knowledge of grammar schools was DH's, and just like you he took the 11+ back in the early 80s not even really knowing what it was. As did his friends. No tutoring, no nothing.

So I just kinda assumed it would be the same for our DDs. Until I got talking to other parents here and realised just how common place tutoring is around here. It's reached silly levels, because parents just aren't prepared to take the risk of their DC not passing, so competition is might fierce.

So we're in the ridiculous boat where naturally bright children, with Level 5s already under their belt before going into Yr 6 are being tutored.

DD1 is clever. But she's by no means the cleverest little girl in her class. Her friends that I would personally consider more academic than her have received professional tutoring.

I find it an incredibly frustrating system.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Thu 19-Sep-13 20:34:52

I'm not worried I know they'll be a mix of people.

I found it interesting that she is worried about it, as that is the main reason I turned down a place when I was in primary school.

I obviously regret it now and think if that's all that she's worried about then I need to get her out of that way of thinking.

Portofino Thu 19-Sep-13 20:35:32

They do Latin AND Greek for the first 2 years in Belgium. This freaks me out! And most of the decent secondaries have religious links and nuns in evidence. I am not greatly happy about this. I would rather see Italian and Spanish than Greek. Latin is more useful I think. Secondary school applications are done on a points basis. Points for living near the school, points for Primary near the school, points for siblings at the school.

reelingintheyears Thu 19-Sep-13 20:36:39

I wouldn't have wanted Dcs to go to a school where they were in constant competition with other pupils, whether by having extra tuition or by swotting every night.

Some of those children aren't going to get into the sacred Grammar even if they have masses of extras, how shit is that, all that work and you still don't get in.

BOF Thu 19-Sep-13 20:40:23

Greek and Latin are brilliant if you want to understand the root of words in English though- every good pub quiz team has a Classicist!

reelingintheyears Thu 19-Sep-13 20:42:20

Tis true BoF, i'm the resident classicist on our quiz team hmm

Like people upthread have said - a few Open Days, plenty of time to show her it's not like she thinks, loads of encouragement from you to show her she's capable of a place there....

VerySmallSqueak Thu 19-Sep-13 21:26:09

Yes when I went into grammar in the (very) early 80's no kids got tutored from an ordinary school background,only the kids from private schools.

As a result I was like a duck out of water as I was in a tiny tiny minority of kids from a normal school. I was unable to function on a social level with the others as they really were from a whole different world of riding and music lessons.

It's encouraging to hear things have changed,but I still hear a lot that makes me think it's the parents who can afford tutoring that are the ones who are most confident of securing a grammar school education for their kids.

Portofino Thu 19-Sep-13 21:36:55

It's a bit wrong when it becomes about the parents and their aspirations vs dcs' actual ability. But like I said, I am old and have to face the fact that social mobility is not what is was.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 21:42:05

"It's a bit wrong when it becomes about the parents and their aspirations vs dcs' actual ability."

I agree that is wrong Porto. But here, it's one step worse...yes, you have the aspirational parents, but for the most part, their children do have plenty of genuine ability and they still have them tutored FFS

It's insane. And it drives me fucking insane that I'm one of those parents with one of those children, and I'm as guilty as the rest of them...aarrrrggghhh!

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 22:09:21

Depends where you live. Its not quite as mad up where I am.

BOF Thu 19-Sep-13 22:13:17

It sounds ridiculously competitive.

I'm not in a grammar school area, and I'm relieved from the sound of it.

I was listening to something about social mobility on R4 today (while I was being awesome and Cleaning All The Things), and one of the speakers was saying that all this education malarkey is basically useless without the massive growth in middle-class jobs that we had in the 1950s and 60s. I think it was a reasonable point.

LaQueenForADay Thu 19-Sep-13 22:18:13

We're not in a super selective area, either Errol - but we still have this silly merry-go-round-game that gets played <annoyed>

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 22:22:43

chicken and egg, bof. We'll never get enough 21st century industry without a well-educated workforce.

BOF Thu 19-Sep-13 22:30:09

It is chicken and egg, yes, but we need investment in industry and science and all sorts to make the jobs available.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 22:33:37

To be sure. Its not an either/or.

VerySmallSqueak, I think it's the parents who are the most confident altogether who can secure a grammar school place for their DC. By knowing the system and playing that system.

It's shocking it should be that way tbh and I'm thankful I'm not in an area where I have to play that game.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 22:43:46

>I think it's the parents who are the most confident altogether who can secure a grammar school place for their DC. By knowing the system and playing that system.

similar with 'good' faith schools come to that.

Indeed grin

curlew Thu 19-Sep-13 23:09:14

Anybody who says that there is an equal spread of socio-economic classes in grammar schools and secondary modern schools is in denial.

Isn't there bound to be, curlew? On account of the number of children who don't make the grade according to the entry system?

There must be lots of parents whose DCs didn't quite get there with some arbitrary exam weighted towards those with time and money who are nonetheless committed and engaged.

Ds sat the 11+. He is just into year 6 and did sats unofficially last year and is a secure 5a/b in all subjects

He hasn't been offered a place

I'm gutted because we were led to believe that working at those levels would be enough. He thought he did well on the exams, wasn't anything he struggled with

I've cried for 2 days solid because we live in a shit area and the schools are diabolical

I just don't know what to do now

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 06:59:33

"Isn't there bound to be, curlew? On account of the number of children who don't make the grade according to the entry system?

There must be lots of parents whose DCs didn't quite get there with some arbitrary exam weighted towards those with time and money who are nonetheless committed and engaged."

Of course. But the supporters of grammar schools always refuse to accept this fact, and continue to claim that the system does not discriminate against children from disadvantaged families. The image of grammar schools as engines of social change is long gone. If it ever existed.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 07:03:09

Kharma- he will be fine. He might need more support from home than he would if he had gone to grammar school. But he will be fine. Stop crying and have another look at the local schools. Ask them what they do to support their high achievers. And know and tell him that he will be fine.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 07:04:21

Sorry- forgot to say. Before you look at schools, look at the league tables and see how your local schools do in the "expected progress" section.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 07:34:20

curlew at our GS there is weighting according to the girl's age at the time of taking the test, and there is also a catchment area.

I won't deny that the system perhaps does discriminate aginst disadvantaged girls, but when we were waiting for DD1 to take the VR last weekend there was a real mixed bag of parents waiting. And a real mixed bag of cars etc.

And because of the catchment policy a girl gaining a pass living in the centre of town, actually near the GS (which isn't the naicest area, it must be said) will take precdence over a girl gaining a pass, who lives in one of the niace villages a few miles out.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 07:36:21

Korma any chance you can appeal? His SATS look very good. It's worth a go?

tiggytape Fri 20-Sep-13 08:15:14

Korma - you can definitely appeal although, depending on your area, the chances can be very slim for grammar school.
It depends where you are based.

At the grammars nearest to us, maybe 1 appeal is won per year across all the schools. This is because 400 - 700 children pass the 11+ for each grammar school but there are only 150 places or so to hand out. Therefore a lot of children with very high results and a solid pass don't get in - it is purely oversubscription.

You can also ask for a remark if you think the results look totally wrong. Unfortunately, the 11+ test is the result of one day's work and if DS had a blip, was nervous or ticked his answers in the wrong boxes then that can be it. It is very harsh but the appeal system is designed to look at his academic ability on more than just the test day so it is worth a go.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 08:16:31

>Anybody who says that there is an equal spread of socio-economic classes in grammar schools and secondary modern schools is in denial.

I don't think anyone has been foolish enough to claim an equal spread, as its clearly untrue, for all sorts of reasons. But there is a spread, which is what's relevant in the context of this thread, with the OPs DD having a strange perception that GSs didn't have 'normal people'.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 09:07:34

Agree with you Errol there is a spread. At least as much a spread as that of a comprehensive in a 'naice' leafy suburb, which self selects it's pupils on the ability of parents to pay upwards of £300K for a family house.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 09:10:26

Every year at our GS there are 3-4 girls who get in appeal, I think?

It's worth a go. This is why I'm actually against the 11+ just being poised on the performance of a couple of hours. If you're going to have grammar schools, then they should go on a child's levels, and then cream off the high Level 5s, or whatever.

Anything could happen in those 2 hours, it's such a tiny snap shot.

TallulahMcFey Fri 20-Sep-13 09:11:16

I must say, I would look upon it as mainly my decision where my daughter went to school. Obviously I would try to agree on it, take her to open days etc but would choose the more academic school every time IF I felt it was the right decision for my child. After all, they are children and it is a big life-changing decision. However, I would also listen to admission who made a very good point. You wouldn't want to send a child there who was out of her depth so would need to be sure.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 09:13:16

LaQ - the trouble with going on SATs levels is that they're attainment rather than aptitude tests, so that would work even more against kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 09:13:43

Oh, that's a good point Errol.

Erebus Fri 20-Sep-13 09:23:04

I must say I find myself smiling when I read of how normal and inclusive GSs are, with intakes across the entire spectrum.

Now, I'm aware there are county-wide GS systems and stand-alone super-selective, thus there'll be different types of GS; but the reality is that if there's an option, not a compulsion to sit the 11+ where you are, the mere fact a parent, be they Boden or Primark wearing decides to put their DC forward for the 11+ (where they will use the word 'prepping' their DC for the exam, not 'tutoring' because although it's the same thing, one sounds pushier than the other grin), already you have cut away a fair slab of the 'local demographic'. And once at GS, 'clever enough' isn't always enough. There has to be ambition, commitment, a certain standard of behaviour, because of course, GSs can not only select in, they can select out, even covertly (reading up-thread about a non-GS which gets '8-10' enquiries a year from current GS parents where 'it's not working out'). 'Selection' is the thing behind just about every consistently 'good' (by which I mean 'achieving academically') school in the country, be it by entrance exam, 'commitment' to a religious observance or house-price.

For me, the reason I'd've sent my DS to GS is because of one of my latter points; that the GS can refuse to tolerate certain behaviours which the all-comers comp can't. He would have passed the same 11+ I did (in 1973 grin), but the boys GS, like mine, have gone quite 'super-selective' so, even had he passed this 11+, I'm not sure DS2 would have so he'd have been consigned to a very average SM instead (oddly, though the GSs in the town are super-selective, the girls 'SM' (and it is, sorry!) is very good, the boys SM and the 2 coed ones are dire.

I have to also add that sorry, but the girls at the GS now are not 'normal' in the sense of 'being very like the vast majority of other girls of their age'. They are cleverer, they are taught to value what many teenage girls would mock as being 'geeky', they celebrate academic success, they are completely aware that their future lies in their own hands, they are focussed, they are driven (not always in a good way- quite a lot of anorexia there) and dare I say, like we maybe were, they are a little bit dismissive of the non-GS DC. I know a lot of these girls personally which is why I can comment. If you use the term 'normal' to mean 'what the central majority are like', the girls populating the top of the bell curve, maybe, just maybe orange-TOWIE is more 'normal' than the GS girls I've just described!

So we have gone for selection by house-price; where the local comp is very leafy, very MC and gets stellar results. So we get the double whammy; the 'my child goes to a comprehensive which by definition educates the entire academic and social range of DC' kudos and a very impressive academic record grin.

Erebus Fri 20-Sep-13 09:27:12

Oh and as an aside, the majority of the girls in the GS I mentioned went to private primaries. The town in question is heaving with them, their chief advertising point being their 11+ success rate.

So another reason why getting into this GS can be beyond a 'normal' family's reach, maybe?

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 09:28:05

Totally agree with you Tallulah.

It's why we went with the tutor who chose, because he was a retired GS teacher with 40 years experience - and we completely respected his opinion whether DD1 was 'suitable' for a GS environment.

We also liked the way he gave her a month to 'prove' her ability, before accepting her. Other tutors just take on any child, regardless.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 09:32:31

Erebus You raise very valid points, and they're all the points why we want our DDs to go to our local GS.

Because we live near a GS area, the other local secondary moderns just really aren't great. If we lived in a leafy suburb with a very good comp, and the local GS was 20 miles away, then we would probably have taken the same option as you.

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 09:53:47

Oh can you all please stop with the leafy. DD1's comp - which I have seen described in really quite denigrating terms on MN before - is utterly unleafy. Grimy, yes. Leafy, no. (It is, at the moment, quite literally a building site.) It admits - shock horror - poor girls and black girls and asylum seeker girls and girls whose family background means they would simply never be put in for the 11+ (and quite a few kids from round here are, despite the massive out-of-borough journey this entails) whatever their innate ability. I would put money on the non-leafiness of the other comps mentioned on this thread too. Doesn't stop the a number of the kids coming out clutching fistfuls of As, despite their terrifying proximity to those whose results are different.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 09:59:34

MI - its just a shorthand for a certain type of comp which does exist - the sort that people who can move catchment for. Doesn't imply that there aren't also excellent schools such as you describe.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 10:00:25

It sounds like your comp is excellent mother smile

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 10:03:46

I am totally aware of the stereotype, thanks: what I resent is the widespread assumption that this is the only type of comprehensive which drags its pupils up from their natural state of feral illiteracy; and that there is, therefore, effectively no difference between comps that do well and selective/paid-for schools. We have, we're firmly told, selected our school by virtue of paying for our postcode. Yes, there are schools with highly sought-after catchment areas. They are not the only ones delivering well.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 10:04:30

"Leafy" might be a shorthand, but it a lazy, ill informed and misleading shorthand.

It suggests that the only comprehensive schools which are even worth considering are those in expensive, middle class leafy suburbs. And that the only people who support comprehensive education are those whose children have access to such schools.

Which is, of course, complete bullshit.

Charlottehere Fri 20-Sep-13 10:12:41

My dd has just started at grammar school. If dd's not willing to play ball, don't bother.

Charlottehere Fri 20-Sep-13 10:15:09

Of course grammar school discriminate against children from poorer backgrounds, v. Unfair.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 10:18:26

Yes, I won't pretend they don't Charlotte. But it's always been the case.

Even back in the early 1950s. When my Dad passed the 11+, my GPs were both proud, but also very worried how they would afford the uniform and sport kit. At one point Dad wasn't going to take up his place, purely because of the money issues.

In the end his GPs offered to help out so he could go.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 10:19:54

OK, fair dos.
In LaQs post 'somewhere with a very good comp' would have been better.

I was thinking about how its often used, in the context of the many causes of unfairness of admissions, I would more often say just 'the sort of school people move house for'. Along with 'oversubscribed faith school'.

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 10:27:51

Which are not the only type of good state/comprehensive school - comforting though it is for people who've chosen other options to believe that.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 10:34:02

Hey, give me a break it's early morning and I've only had my 2nd cup of coffee...I can't be using complicated words just yet. Vocabulary doesn't kick in until early lunch.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 10:36:48

Yes, I am no fan of leafy either!

I never really understand the argument that it is a problem that only the top set in a comprehensive will be on a level with the grammar children. How many sets can one child be in at once? confused

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 10:46:14

Actually, thinking back both my DBs attended a comp in a leafy suburb in probably the naicest suburb of the city. But it really wasn't great, and results were barely average - mainly due to poor leadership, I think?

It was one of the reasons why my parents sent me to private school instead.

soul2000 Fri 20-Sep-13 10:49:31

Erebus. Is a non selective school in a grammar school area a secondary
modern if 79% of pupils achieve 5 A* t C Maths/English and in one of these schools the top set can do Latin GCSE, Is that school a secondary
The reason i question , is because there are so called secondary
modern schools around the country achieving upwards 70-79% A*to C
at Gcse.

Not every non grammar school in a selective area is a modern

people need to get away from the stereotyping of some excellent schools that are technically secondary modern schools but are a millon miles from what the perception of those schools are.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 10:57:45

Well, there you go: leaves are no indication of anything grin (assuming you meant that, not that all comprehensives, even ones in middle-class areas, are shit?).

I just worry about what happens to performance in the 'leafy comps' between round about the end of November, and April!

rabbitstew Fri 20-Sep-13 11:00:13

TOSN - have you never heard of Evergreens? The only thing that happens is that the trains slip on snow for a while instead of leaves. grin

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 11:01:25

Yep, you need grime to achieve.

irregularegular Fri 20-Sep-13 11:08:10

Just by the by - the super selective grammar school that my daughter attends is less than half white. Our alternative option (and it was a close call) was our local comprehensive school which is VASTLY less ethnically diverse and probably less diverse in terms of income. It is also much, much more leafy. The only thing it it is more diverse in is ability - and it is genuinely comprehensive.

I heard a few slightly negative comments from the comprehensive school parents about the number of Asian girls at the grammar school and those comments were one of the factors that pushed me slightly in the grammar school direction. It's not a nice attitude and I wanted my daughter to step outside her white MC village bubble.

So the white, affluent grammar school stererotype can be very wrong.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 11:09:37

You can't use leafy anymore irregular it's been banned wink And certainly not the phrase 'much, much more leafy' FFS grin

I don't want to have to do a foliage count of prospective schools in the next few weeks - got quite enough to do without that!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 11:16:48

Yes, 'leafy' has been banned, and also you cannot sing baa baa blacksheep, you cannot say 'blackboard' and you are only allowed to send Winterval cards now, you know. It's health and safety gorn mad!

(Alternatively, of course, some people have raised their problems with the term as used in a catch-all manner to describe any comprehensive school which appears to be doing well for its intake.)

rabbitstew Fri 20-Sep-13 11:24:49

Really? I thought "leafy" was code for saying "complacent."

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 11:29:01

Well to me it seems like a handy term which manages to imply middle-classness, suburbia, affluence, rural not urban, and catchment-area anxiety... and it's generally used in a somewhat deprecating way which concedes that some comprehensives are quite good but that this is only because they're in such areas.

I don't actually know of any catchment which has either entirely affluent or entirely deprived intake, but that may be vastly anamolous with the rest of the UK.

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 11:31:45

It is used as code for "posh area with large houses and gardens".

I am always bemused by these comforting comps which are exclusively white middle-class while the nearby selectives/private schools are a riot of ethnic and economic diversity. Possibly they exist but frankly they're bnot in south-east London.

TheArticFunky Fri 20-Sep-13 11:31:52

I don't agree with Grammar schools. I think a good Comp should be able to set or stream effectively so that all children are able to reach their potential.

There are a few children at my sons school who are very bright but obnoxious with it, putting children down who are on lower tables etc. Children like that might benefit from being at a Grammar school as they would probably thrive in a more competitive environment.

I think there is a place for super selective schools like Tiffin and those of that ilk but I am against Grammar school counties where the top 25-30 % are creamed off to the detriment of the non selective schools.

tiggytape Fri 20-Sep-13 11:47:37

Leafy doesn't mean an excellent comp. It is narrower than that. It is short-hand for a comp with an easy intake and therefore excellent results.
If anything, a leafy comp is a worse school in terms of progress made and value added than a non-leafy comp that gets similar end results by getting mixed ability children to achieve well.

Some 'leafy' primaries have been down graded by Ofsted recently for exactly this reason. Yes half their pupils may get level 5 SATS but only because they come from hugely affluent areas (some Lonodn primaries only have 300m catchment areas so the intake really can be that restricted), have involved parents, some external tutoring and reception children with a reading age way ahead of the expected standard.

Erebus Fri 20-Sep-13 12:08:48

MI- Yes, 'leafy' is shorthand, same as 'MC' is.

I don't for a moment imagine that the only comp that can 'do well' and allow DC to leave with a fistful of A's is a leafy, MC one- but, the reality is, you increase your DC's odds of success if you remove from the equation factors which are known to reduce those odds. Sorry, unpleasant reality.

My chief criterion when choosing this secondary (yes I chose, via house-price) was the very low number of 'non-school ready' DC who go into Y7 at it. Yes, the great GCSE results are a plus but DS2, in particular, isn't very academic, but at this school he gets to sit with well-behaved (by and large) DC of similar ability (or even mixed! Remove ill-discipline and yes, it is possible to teach DC of different ability in the same class in some subjects) and learn in a focused, structured, disciplined environment. There are no chair chuckers. GSs can pretty much guarantee that every class will be focused and disciplined, with DC of a high academic ability, adding even more 'value' to that learning experience.

I'd want that for my DC but seeing as I can't necessarily access it for DS2 (all except the high academic ability!) I've gone for a very workable alternative: leafy and MC comp.

You speak of the 'terrifying proximity' of those who results are different. Yes, I know 'jokingly', to make a point but I have no problem whatsoever with 'different ability; in fact, I like the fact that my DC do break and lunch with the whole gamut of ability (MC doesn't necessarily = academically gifted, does it?!) but they don't have to be out there with the terrifyingly dangerous, the 'feral and illiterate' because in a MC, leafy comp, you get very few.

FWIW your school has also practised selection (and in doing so removed 50% of a possible intake): it's single sex. It has been endlessly shown that girls tend to do better in a single sex environment than in a coed.

Both ds1 and ds2 went to selective grammar schools in Essex. With ds1, we didn't get him tutoring - my thought was that if he couldn't get into the school without being tutored, he would struggle once there. Then, a fortnight before the exam, we gave him a maths paper to do, and he scored 40% - and dh panicked. Ds1 got lots of maths for the next fortnight - and he passed the 11+ (to be honest, I suspect that was despite dh's tutoring, not because of it).

With ds2, we got him tutored - and again, I don't think he really needed it, but it made the whole process a lot less stressful.

Ds3 did start the tutoring, but had a total melt-down because he wasn't keeping up with the work he had to do for his tutor, so we let him drop it, and accepted that he didn't want to do the 11+. In the end, he did decide to do it (I think we must have kept his name on the list in case he changed his mind), but didn't pass high enough up the list to get a place - and tbh, he was happy with this, as most of his friends were going to the local comprehensive.

In the end, we moved before he finished year 6, and we chose our new house based on its proximity to a really good comprehensive school - the ideal that Elibean talks of - that is inclusive, works hard with all its pupils, and helps them all achieve their best - and I believe that that school was the best for all three of the dses.

Ds1 is reading law, and got an unconditional offer based on his Highers (a scottish exam somewhere between AS and A levels, I believe), and ds2 got 4 unconditional offers to read advanced Maths, and has just finished Freshers Week at Edinburgh - and I am sure that a lot of the credit for this lies with the school and their teachers. But it is ds3 who has benefited the most, I believe.

I think parents are caught in a very difficult dilemma if they live in a grammar school area. The grammar schools have excellent reputations for academic, sporting and artistic achievement, and in my experience often have truly excellent facilities and staff, plus good discipline (so teachers can teach rather than having to do crowd control), and as parents, we all want the best for our children. But both the selective grammars that my boys went to (they didn't go to the same one - oh no, that would have made my life far too easy hmm) were very hothouse atmospheres, and that doesn't suit everyone. And if a child has been top of their class all their primary life (as ds1 was) and finds themselves in the bottom third of their secondary school year (as he did), this could be quite disheartening (luckily ds1 is pretty oblivious to stuff like this, and it didn't bother him).

Having been raised by a very socialist father, I did struggle with the idea of a two-tier system, and whether I should be perpetuating it by using it for my dses - but I wanted the best education for them, so they went to the grammars.

To the OP I would say, let your dd visit all the schools that she has to choose from, and let her see what they all have to offer. And you can tell her from me, that the girls who went to the partner grammar schools of the ones my dses went to (it was all single sex where we were), were the polar opposite of ugly and geeky. And my friend's dd, who started at the grammar school the same time as ds2, had a wonderful time, made lovely friends, is a fabulous dancer, and is about to start an art foundation course, so she certainly didn't find it to be all about the academics.

Erebus Fri 20-Sep-13 12:16:44

tiggy- fair comment about 'leafy' but the thing is, OFSTED rates by comparison, GCSEs rate by absolutes.

So as far as I'm concerned, if my MC, leafy comp add 1025 of value (i.e. 'not spades'- or is it? I don't know!) that's OK by me: A DC goes in as a DC capable of straight A*s and lo, exits with straight A*s,

Job done.

Yes, yes, there's 'extra curricular', there's extension, there's well-rounded individual but the straight A*s don't preclude all of that, but the VA score doesn't measure that, either!

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 12:27:10

Very much agree with your post of 12.:08 Erebus very well put.

Socially I don't give a damn who our DDs sit next to in classs, just so long as the children are focused and well behaved.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 12:35:53

>I am always bemused by these comforting comps which are exclusively white middle-class while the nearby selectives/private schools are a riot of ethnic and economic diversity. Possibly they exist...

yes. (not exclusively but predominantly) - hereabouts they do seem to exist - some of the CofEs. However, when you dig beneath the surface of the league tables they aren't necessarily so great. Perceptions of 'good' schools are often way out of whack with reality.

irregularegular Fri 20-Sep-13 12:48:03

Mother inferior - I can help you with your bemusement if you like. I don't mind saying that my daughter is at Kendrick in the centre of Reading. There are plenty of villages, including the one we live in, in nearby South Oxfordshire/Berkshire that are very white middle class and have white middle class comprehensive schools. On the other hand the comprehensives in Reading itself are not generally white middle class. I wasn't saying that all grammars/comps look like this, but it was the case for us.
I'm also very ambivalent about grammar schools tbh, but that's another story - I just wanted to counter the grammar stereotype.

mumslife Fri 20-Sep-13 12:56:45

my daughter was a non orange and non dyed hair and 1 piercing in each girl all the way through comp. Now at sixth form at a grammar and just the same. Please choose the right school for your daughter. My daughter loves it at grammar and in three weeks has made so many friends Ive lost count. she says all the girls are lovely smile

Erebus Fri 20-Sep-13 13:03:57

I am also ambivalent about the existence of 'ordinary' (v. super-selective) GSs in this day and age, too. But I completely understand why if you lived in a GS area like Kent of Bucks you'd be looking towards the school with the selected top 20% of academic intake: they're there because someone was interested and concerned enough about that DC to enter, and highly probably tutor towards the 11+. That in itself will ensure 'school-ready' DC.

I'd like to feel it was possible to successfully educate all DC of all ability on one campus; but I know this is rarely possible. For a start, such a school, containing suitable facilities and teaching for the top 2% and PRU's (and 'compulsory' parenting courses etc), and everything in between with SureStart thrown in as well would be huge and cost millions to run. Apart from anything else, I believe it can take certain sorts of teachers to teach certain sorts of DC (my excellent, oddball, other-worldly GS teachers would've been torn apart in a failing comp!) so you'd need heaps of teachers.

As for super-selective; well, I can see the point of them in the same way I can see the point of special schools catering for other specialised needs, but they must only be for the abnormally, hyper-bright as evidenced from 7 years of primary education as vouched for with supporting evidence by the Head Teacher of that primary, not the result of one heavily tutored-for exam. In fact, in the absence of that happening, they can be 'hijacked' by sharp-elbowed parents wealthy enough to nail the the right prep school or tutor. Which is not to say that all super-selected DC are in their schools under false pretences, but until SS's only cater to the genuinely hyper-bright, I'm not sure they belong in a modern state education system either.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 13:51:13

"I'd like to feel it was possible to successfully educate all DC of all ability on one campus; but I know this is rarely possible. "

Seems to happen in most of the country!

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 15:12:43

But it doesn't really though, does it Curlew.

Granted there are some excellent comprehensives, but these are the exception rather than the rule.

Marmitelover55 Fri 20-Sep-13 15:16:36

My DD1 is at an all girls comprehensive with a city wide catchment and lottery system for entry into year 7. They have just had outstanding GCSE results - 5A*-C inc English and maths of 91%. There ard girls from all backgrounds and abilities there. Comprehensive education CAN work.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 15:20:11

Marmite, yes of course it can and does work. But it needs to work far harder and far better.

Or are we truly meant to believe that England is just brimful and bursting with endless superb comprehensives, scoring fabulous exam results across the board...

...because if that's the case, it's only in Mumsnet World.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 15:21:10

Especially since 'successfully educate all DC of all ability' does not mean 'have a wonderful league table score'.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 15:24:35

You know that day in the summer when there are pictures all over the papers of girls jumping for joy clutching their exam results? They aren't all from grammar schools, you know.

If you add together the results from a grammar school and its attendant secondary modern, you get something virtually indistinguishable from the results of a comprehensive in a similar catchment.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 15:24:51

Errol on MN league tables are something to dismiss out of hand, unless of course the school your own child is at has excellent scores...

But joking apart - I agree, great league table scores aren't necessarily the most important, or useful aspect of a school for many, many children.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 15:33:20

>They aren't all from grammar schools, you know.
Yes, I think everyone does know that. My niece got a stellar set of GCSEs from a comp and is now at Cambridge.

>If you add together the results from a grammar school and its attendant secondary modern, you get something virtually indistinguishable from the results of a comprehensive in a similar catchment.

If that's the case is there a problem? From the way people talk about secondary moderns, wouldn't you have expected the comps to do better overall?

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 15:39:59

League tables are a pretty good way of comparing academic achievement in a selective school. They don't really seem to say much about whether a school is serving all pupils well - the ones who no matter how hard they try or how good the teachers are just aren't going to get a C at GCSE or equivalent.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 15:46:32

"If you add together the results from a grammar school and its attendant secondary modern, you get something virtually indistinguishable from the results of a comprehensive in a similar catchment.

If that's the case is there a problem? From the way people talk about secondary moderns, wouldn't you have expected the comps to do better overall?"

Why? Isn't it more pertinent to say "from the way people talk about grammars, wouldn't you have expected the grammar schools to do better overall?" Otherwise what's the point of having such a socially divisive system?

I would send mine to a GS like a shot if I could afford to live anywhere where they had them. I went to one myself and am all in favour. (I'm a teacher btw).

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 15:47:31

Why are you all in favour?

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 15:48:26

And how would you feel about your child failing the test and being sent to a secondary modern school?

VerySmallSqueak Fri 20-Sep-13 15:50:49

I don't even know how you would find out what a schools league table score is. With my DC's infant school and primary I have gone with the catchment school - the closest school where most of their mates live nearby.
It'll be the same with their secondary school tbh. They will be schooled with their peers unless they particularly decide they want to sit the 11+ and if they pass they particularly want to go to the grammar.
I hope I will teach them enough to know that education is what you take from it,and you need to have your own goals and focus on them for you. In a happy environment with their friends - not isolated, nor with any expectations of what they should become,because of what I would like them to become.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:02:00

I have been on MN a very long time, and I have yet to see a parent admit their child is at a poor comprehensive, with low exam results and with worrying behavioural and truancy issues.

That's fine when the schools available to choose are of a standard where a child can learn in a happy environment with their friends, VSS. Far too many schools have lax discipline, disengaged pupils etc and that impacts on the children who do want to learn.

I do think the two tier system should be abolished, but I'd be going all out to get DS into a grammar if the alternative comp was crap.
The only hoops you have to jump through round here are religious ones, however.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 16:08:23

"I have been on MN a very long time, and I have yet to see a parent admit their child is at a poor comprehensive, with low exam results and with worrying behavioural and truancy issues."

Could that possibly be because there aren't quite as many of them as you think there are?

There's 2 out of the 5 available to us to choose which are what I'd describe as 'poor' wrt to behaviour and results, curlew. I don't think that's an anomaly, although I accept it's just one area.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 16:11:41

>Why are you all in favour?

Because I don't think one size fits all, in a nutshell. We did the tours of a variety of schools and chose the one which seemed like the best fit (to DD as well as to us). It wouldn't suit everyone.

Whether we like it or not, people are always going to come up with some way of dividing schools - a method which is (at least in part) based on a child's ability and needs seems not unreasonable to me compared with various other means (money - private; money - buying a good catchment ; religion of parent ; pretended religion of parent)

VerySmallSqueak Fri 20-Sep-13 16:16:20

It is all down to degrees really isn't it Beer.

If the school was having a problem with knife violence and massive truancy I would be trying to get my DC's into a alternative school,of course I would.

But that's an extreme,and I think some lax discipline and a number of the pupils being disengaged (whilst clearly not being ideal) isn't necessarily the end of the world.I would have thought it's not uncommon tbh purely because of the nature of the beast (come on,these are teenagers after all!)

It's back to what I was saying about the attitude the child brings to school. Self discipline and determination are skills every bit as valuable to teach our kids as times tables and english imo.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:16:54

"Could that possibly be because there aren't quite as many of them as you think there are?"

Curlew I have worked in a lot of them around here. There's not a single one I would consider sending our DDs to. When I lived in the city suburbs, even the best comprehensives only hoped to gain roughly 70% of pupils gaining A* to C, at GCSE.

The nearest comprehensive that I would consider sending our DDs to is over 12 miles away. But only because it's GCSE results are very good - it also has a very worrying reputation for bullying though, which I know because a friend's child goes there.

Wuldric Fri 20-Sep-13 16:18:08

I don't get this MN mystique about grammar schools. I really really don't get it.

Grammar schools have kids that are monumentally badly behaved. Just because the kids are bright does NOT mean that they are well behaved or good influences or hard working. For the most part, they are scruffy, bad-mannered and loutish. I'm told this is normal for teenagers.

DD attends a superselective grammar school. Her manners and conduct at home are appalling, as are those of most of her peers. 76% of them will get all A*/A at GCSE. But they are still pretty shambolic, frankly.

I remember being in non-GCSE lessons with pupils who didn't want to be there and didn't want anyone else to be able to learn, VSS. It was horrendous and I was often frustrated and frightened at some of the behaviour. If I hear that any schools round here put up with that sort of behaviour then I automatically cross them off the list.
My friend witnessed bullying at an Open Evening for our nearest school - presumably the pupils had been handpicked to represent their school and I find it astonishing that that was allowed to happen.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 16:27:48

>even the best comprehensives only hoped to gain roughly 70% of pupils gaining A* to C, at GCSE.

what's with this 'only 70%' - in an unselective intake that suggests to me that they may be pushing more kids along an 'academic' pathway than is necessarily a good thing.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:30:32

I agree with you Beer though I'm older, so it was O Levels with me.

But, I want my DDs at a school where it's considered cool to be clever, and it's considered cool to study hard and get A*s. Where the overwhelming majority of girls are very focused and very well behaved in lessons. Where discipline and truancy issues really aren't a factor that the teachers have to ever contend with, so they can actually teach and not just provide crowd control on a daily basis.

And, yes, yes, yes I know there are kids just like this in comprehensives, all working hard and doing well...but then the moment they step outside the top set classrooms, they have to contend with kids who don't want to be at school, and who don't want others to do well and study hard.

I am all in favour because it's really just an extension of setting. Having taught mixed ability, I really don't think it works very well. I am also in favour because I think that lots of less academically able kids are forced to trudge through subjects they can't cope with and will not pass exams in. It might be better to have schools with a more vocational focus. Admittedly these different courses could be taught alongside each other in the same school, but I do think that bright, academic children are better catered for in a GS environment. Expectations are high, behaviour is often better, motivation is strong.
I should add - I have never taught in a GS, I just went to one myself. I enjoy teaching less able students as well as able ones, just not in the same class at the same time!
From a selfish pov, my kids seem pretty bright. I'd like them to have the advantage that I had in my schooling.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:32:52

Well, I daren't use the L word now Errol, but the comp was in a very affluent suburb of the city, close to the universities and huge training hopsital, so with a very large percentage of MC professional parents in it's small catchment.

allmycats Fri 20-Sep-13 16:34:25

You are the parent, she is the child - end of discussion. She goes where you send her, assuming that she has the grades to do so.

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 16:35:58

Er...for one thing, some of the kids who are not in this magic top set are perfectly well-behaved and getting on with things.

For another, the physical proximity to them doesn't leak, you know. My kids seem quite happy to know people - hey, even sit next to them at lunch - who are not Top Set. Sometimes they're even badly behaved. (And, as Wuldric pointed out, some of the Top Set kids and/or those in a grammar can be a less than angelic...)

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:36:15

Better don your flame retardant tabard for daring to admit that holmess - your very teaching ability will now probably be diced and sliced, and brought into question...

I really favour the German system, with pupils being streamed off at 13 (is it, I think?) into academic, grammar style schools, or more vocational technology schools.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:38:38

Oh, stop being so feckin pedantic and hair splitting mother.

Yes, some children will be absolutely fine, even if not in the top sets. But, you know what, an awful lot of them are at best totally uninterested and at worst actively seeking to make life very difficult for any pupil who does want to work and do well.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:42:10

Sorry, I apologise for swearing at you Mother.

But I have worked as a TA/CS in more than one school, well about 5-6 actually, where a handful of kids working hard and trying to do well, have to suffer the slings and arrows of all the other pupils discontent, on a daily basis.

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 16:42:56

Er...because I question a generalisation, I'm being pedantic? confused

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 16:45:00

OK, maybe south-east London's different. I just seem to know quite a lot of kids at different comps who are happily getting on with a decent education. This is, to my mind, enormously reassuring.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 16:47:23

Then you're fortunate Mother in the area you live.

soul2000 Fri 20-Sep-13 16:49:23

Well said holmes. a lot of teachers on this site are very circumspect
when it comes to suggesting that selective education could benefit the less able as well as the academic.

Most teachers either though bullying, or just toeing the union line dont give
the views you have for fear of being labelled.

Shock horror. Non academic pupils might benefit from not being in mixed
abilty classes.


noddyholder Fri 20-Sep-13 16:49:49

My son has just started university and went to a local comp All his mates are at uni too and I never heard him ever mention any disruption in his classes. It was hugely mixed and he got a great education.

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 16:58:15

What do mixed ability classes have to do with it? Most schools set or stream. Some of them really stringently.

LaVolcan Fri 20-Sep-13 17:00:12

Comprehensive doesn't always equal mixed ability classes as some seem to think. Mixed ability teaching seems to go in and out of fashion, and currently seems very much out of fashion.

grin I'm not afraid of giving my views, however unfashionable they might be. In fact once I start, it's hard to hold back the flood! So many things about the way schools operate are just plain wrong-headed. But that's a whole other thread...

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 17:12:50

Of course comps set. However, for the OPs DD, it sounds like the issue is that she is too peer influenced so she might be rather happy to drift into a lower set than she's capable of to be with her mates. If the OP sends her to the GS she won't be able to do this.

The thing is, most of us don't choose schools for ideological reasons. We have our children, with their different abilities and characters, and we have a few schools available to us so we try to find the one that fits best. The OP is trying to work out what will be best for her child in her area.

Anyone choosing a GS because of some 'mystique' is daft (and anyone choosing a mediocre private school is dafter but it happens!) - if you look round one and it's shambolic, look elsewhere.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 17:12:54

Comprehensive does not mean mixed ability teaching.

Oh, and low IQ is not catching. Neither is disruptiveness.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 17:15:28

Disruptiveness may not be catching but it is - well, disruptive.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 17:17:05

Love this idea of children having to 'contend' with less bright ones the very minute they step out of the door of top set... What is this contending? Do you mean 'seeing'?

And for heavens sake stop with the dramatics about 'the l word' being 'banned': you know perfectly well that's just silly!

I totally think op should look at all available schools, and I think both she and the dd have a few assumptions worth challenging. But it's depressing to see the same and worse from grown adults on this thread!

ExcuseTypos Fri 20-Sep-13 17:18:42

My DDs were set from day 1, in year 7, at their comp.
They went on SAT results initially. However these sets were very fluid with dc moving up and down if required.

And both DDs got fantastic results and went/are at good unis. As are their friends.

A culture of disruptiveness can be 'catching'. Peer pressure etc.

ExcuseTypos Fri 20-Sep-13 17:21:11

In so glad we don't live in a grammar area. So so glad.

The false assumptions people seem to have about comps and the children who go there is astounding.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 17:22:15

Both my daughter's lovely friends who are round this evening were not in top set for everything. They're a great solid group of friends who are supportive and kind and hard working and very polite... Shall I nip up and check they haven't turned her thick?

And bear in mind, these are only comp top sets, so even in that set there were probably some dim wits who only got As! Think how awful a child would have to be not to end up in them! If only these girls had been in secondary moderns from 11, away from my precious girl sad

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 17:22:38

But if the clever kids are not disruptive in the grammar school why would they suddenly become disruptive in the top set of the comprehensive?

ErrolTheDragon Fri 20-Sep-13 17:23:42

What can be catching is attitude - whether it's cool or swotty to study etc. 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.

noddyholder Fri 20-Sep-13 17:23:50

Is there a link between IQ and likelihood of being disruptive?

ExcuseTypos Fri 20-Sep-13 17:25:25

If they are lazy and easily led then they may 'catch' disruptiveness.

Mine however, never reported any disruption. They've both left now, as of last year, but that was 14 years of secondary/sixth form education between them, in a non-leafy town and neither of them ever told me they couldn't do their work because of disruption.

They wouldn't. Unless the school isn't very good at behaviour management.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 17:28:07

An uninterested attitude...an atmosphere of 'only sad geeks work hard'...an ambience of 'it's cool to kick off in lessons' can permeate a school.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 17:28:42

"If they are lazy and easily led then they may 'catch' disruptiveness."

How sad to have such little faith in your children........

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 17:30:31

And, no, I don't think anyone is saying that you can't have plenty of lovely natured, hard working children at many a comprehensive, are they?

But, you can equally have loads of teenagers who really don't give a toss about their education, or anyone else's for that matter. And who are just killing time in schools and look for 101 different ways to disrupt their school day. And the children around them have to suffer the fall out from that.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 17:31:15

I think very bright people can also, very often, be disparaging about hard work though. The cool thing is to be effortlessly brilliant (and I've seen this actually on MN), not to have had to work or try .... Cuts both ways.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 17:32:33

"But, you can equally have loads of teenagers who really don't give a toss about their education, or anyone else's for that matter."

Unlikely to be in the top set, I would have thought......

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 17:33:44

Again, only in Mumsnet Land do most (if not the majority) of comprehensives easily match the behavioural standards and academic levels found in grammar schools.

[laughs...shakes head in bemusement...wanders off to put kettle on...]

The ethos of a school wrt to behaviour throughout the whole of that school is just as important to me as the the top set, curlew.

noddyholder Fri 20-Sep-13 17:35:30

Laqueen that is so insulting as you are implying that those saying their children went to amazing comps are lying.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 17:36:05

"Unlikely to be in the top set, I would have thought......"

No. But they're in the school Curlew. Sharing the libraries, and the PE lessons, and the refrectory, and the playgrounds, and the corridors, and the loos, and the lessons which aren't streamed.

I know, because I have worked in such schools and witnessed pupils battle against it, and it makes their daily school life so much harder than it has to be.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 17:37:28

Not at all noddy. I'm sure those who say their DCs went to great comps did go.

But I think these amazing comps are the exception, not the rule. They are certainly not the majority.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 17:37:34

Again, only in Mumsnet Land do most (if not the majority) of comprehensives easily match the behavioural standards and academic levels found in grammar schools

Did anyone say that? I didn't see it. I hesitate to call straw man, but....

I think what we are saying is, children don't expire if they're in a building with some children who aren't as bright, or even who sometimes misbehave.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 17:38:17

Nobody is saying their child is at an 'amazing comp' though?

motherinferior Fri 20-Sep-13 17:39:31

OH, and we're also saying that we actively like having that diversity and proximity. Because overall, this type of provision is a Good Thing. It means that, say, if your daughter fails the 11+ and goes to a school that caters for all abilities she'll still have the opportunity to move up and do well later.

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 17:39:42

No, Nit they don't expire, or explode.

But, their school lives are made harder and more stressful than they have to be.

Wuldric Fri 20-Sep-13 17:40:00

noddy That was precisely the point of my post. There is NO link between IQ and likelihood of being disruptive. There are children who disrupt lessons every single day in my DD's superselective grammar.

The point is that state schools cannot exclude children for behaviour issues. And like most state schools, grammar schools do not have good resources, quality libraries, good sports teams or anything else. DS attends a very good public school. The difference is huge - just immense. And the biggest difference is - disruptive kids get told to bugger off. Manners and behaviour and resources are the difference between state and independent schools.

noddyholder Fri 20-Sep-13 17:40:53

I was privately educated and plenty of disruption there too grin My son had a superior education in every way and I found all his class mates to be great.

ExcuseTypos Fri 20-Sep-13 17:41:54

Curlew I was responding to Beers post about disruptiveness being catchy.

Anyway I'll leave this now. I don't know why I get involved in these threads.
There's so many generalisations and untruths believed that it's like talking to a brick wall.

Comps have served my DDs, my nieces, nephews, god children and friends' children very well. I only know 5 children at grammars. ALL of them have done less well than my DDs and several of my nieces. I also know that grammars are no way immune to bullying, laziness, disappointing results and bad teaching.

noddyholder Fri 20-Sep-13 17:42:22

I always though grammar schools were for those who couldn't afford private. The fur coat no knickers brigade shock!

thestringcheesemassacre Fri 20-Sep-13 17:42:39

Agree completely with Wuldric. My mate is a head of dept at a super selective grammar and she says there are still plenty of bullying issues and naughty behaviour to contend with. It's not just naughty comp kids that mess around!

LaQueenForADay Fri 20-Sep-13 17:43:19

Yep, leaving too now...off out to get some grub.

If you all have children who are at really great comprehensive schools, then that's great smile

Mintyy Fri 20-Sep-13 17:45:29

Apropos of nothing, except hopefully a little light relief, my ds was quizzing me about dh and his grammar school career and telling me about a girl in his class whose parents are hoping to send her to a grammar (there are none local to us, so she would be going as part of a super-selected cohort to one of the Kent ones if she gets in) and he said "A is going to do her elevenses".

Oh I just wanted to grab him and squeeze the very life out of him!

Its terribly difficult trying to explain our weird and fucked-up schools system to a 10 year old, even a very switched-on one.

ExcuseTypos Fri 20-Sep-13 17:49:06

Oh just remember another one at a grammar school.

A colleague's son, who is a super selective grammar. He's just got a BCCD at AS level. He THINKS he can go somewhere like Exeter to study Lawhmm

He hasn't got a bloody clue and and IMO the school have failed him spectacularly. He's got to upper sixth and he knows absolutely zilch about what kind of grades he needs.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 17:49:39

Bless him, Minty!

I am just so very thankful for my expensive house in a posh area with an amazing comp... Counting my blessings and my leaves smile.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 20-Sep-13 17:52:05

Yes, if they were very bright, which mine weren't.
If they don't need extra tuition to pass the exam.
If you live in an area where they are the norm, they aren't here.
If the other schools weren't suitable in some way.
If I wanted to, yes.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 17:55:28

Yep, leaving too now...off out to get some grub.

If you all have children who are at really great comprehensive schools, then that's great ".

It really is like bashing your head against a brick wall, isn't it?

morethanpotatoprints Fri 20-Sep-13 17:57:35

Just seen the make up and boys bit.
The nearest grammar to us was in the paper a while back as it had a surprisingly high amount of girls pregnant at 16.
It was all girls and when they had free time they were doing what all respectable parents would stop if they only knew.
So girls can be put off education and led into seeking boyfriends whatever school they go to. Short of a chastity belt there's nothing you can do to be 100% certain it won't happen to yours.

ExcuseTypos Fri 20-Sep-13 17:59:26

Yes Curlew, it certainly is.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 18:11:18

Curlew... Yes.

For the record, I am also not saying you don't get lots of nice, hard-working kids at good comprehensives. I currently work at a comprehensive which, according to Ofsted, is outstanding in all categories (very hard to achieve with Ofsted's new standards). It honestly seems to be a very good school. However, I still find the apathetic, couldn't-care-less attitude of quite a lot of the students depressing. And at another 'good' comp at which I recently did some supply work, half the kids couldn't even be bothered to bring a pen or their books to lessons.
Apologies - I have drifted into tired, grumpy teacher Friday rant. Also, my opinions may be coloured by the fact that, before that, I worked in a private school for 10 years...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 20-Sep-13 18:34:08

What, and you still feel a bit guilty...?wink

Elibean Fri 20-Sep-13 18:39:34

None of this proves anything new to me confused

Basically, as usual, it depends on the grammar/comp/indie/area/kid/etc. Blanket assumptions are a bit daft, I think, as are sweeping judgements.

One thing I do know, is that I agree with Minty (oh I love your ds!) about explaining our mad, mad system to a 10 year old. It really does strike me as the height of insanity.

I've been watching some ace talks on education on TED talks....and am even more convinced of the insanity of the current system. 'Academic inflation' is a good description.

curlew Fri 20-Sep-13 18:49:47

1grin] at TOSN

Nit grin. No, don't feel one bit guilty. Worked 8 years in London comps at the start of my career. Going to a leafy private school was like sinking into a comfy duvet... Would have gone back there if they'd had any jobs going!

VerySmallSqueak Fri 20-Sep-13 19:03:24

I think all I have got from this thread is a rather depressing feeling that according to some of you,a lot of averagely bright children who would have liked to achieve are doomed if they enter the majority of secondary schools.

And that the presence of the less academically gifted kids is really what holds them down.

That's a really damning attitude,so please tell me I'm wrong here.

FWIW I think if you have an intelligent child who could only perform in the protective environment of a GS,their life skills may be somewhat lacking when they enter the big bad world.

You're wrong! wink

It's the way a school treats behaviour issues as well as its position in the league tables and academic prowess that influences me as to whether it's good or not.

HepsibarCrinkletoes Fri 20-Sep-13 19:08:42

Add message | Report | Message poster noddyholder Fri 20-Sep-13 17:42:22
I always though grammar schools were for those who couldn't afford private. The fur coat no knickers brigade !

THE post of the year

Just saying.

Mine went to/are at a comp (as boarders). My DDs got straight A/A* and are now at first class universities. There were/are clever, not clever, disruptive, not disruptive throughout their schooling. The obvious pairings do NOT go together in a lot of cases. They also have friends from some of the so called 'elite' public schools who were expelled/denied sixth form places. Grammar school/private school no more gives you guaranteed RG bound young ladies and men than comps give you badly behaved reprobates. To suggest otherwise (as is clear on this thread) suggests an element of arrogant ignorance.

Hmm - I might put it more like this: It is difficult to foster a really purposeful, aspirational and rigorously academic atmosphere in a school where many of the students do not see the value of that type of education, and particularly when their parents do not see that value either. These are often, but not always, the less academically able, and tbh, some of them are quite right that an academic education will not be very useful to them personally. Whereas those students who are bright, but tend towards the lazy/ apathetic would be much more likely to pull their socks up if they were surrounded by pupils who want to achieve, and for whom making an effort is respected and normal, not something to be made fun of. That's how I see it anyway.

I know that many people think that going to a 'secondary modern' dooms kids to low achievement, but as I recall, many of the ones near where I lived got better results than many comps, in spite of only having the lower half of the ability range.

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 19:20:47

However the uplifting thing is verysmallsqeak that there are actually a mere 64 grammar schools left in England and a tiny minority go to them. The majority are doing very well in comprehensives where they are educated with other like minded, high achieving, pupils with parents who expect the best and they do go to Oxbridge and RG universities- DS did and he wasn't odd, just one of many.
I am very thankful that we are in a grammar school free area.

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 19:26:24

I think you miss the point entirely homessweetholmes, that where there are no grammar schools all the pupils go to the comprehensive and they are in classes with similar type children. They have highly successful parents who want the best and they get it. Why the same children should act differently in two different buildings beats me- a child in a grammar school is surrounded by children of similar ability- a child in a comprehensive is surrounded by children of similar ability. They do set for subjects!!
The only odd occasion that my children have been disrupted in lessons I have phoned the school and it has been sorted.

Well not really. In the area where I live, many of the 'successful parents who want the best and get it' send their children to the many good private schools in the area, thereby creaming off many of the able and motivated children. And yes, I do think that some of the same children would behave differently in different schools, in the same way that a child's attitude and attainment might be changed (to a lesser extent perhaps) by moving him/her up a set.

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 20:18:42

It is chicken and egg really- in my area they are not creamed off because the comprehensives are good - I'm not sure what comes first.

mumslife Fri 20-Sep-13 20:19:03

From my own dd experience after five years in a fairly good comp. It can be no fun being in a class that isnt streamed and being surrounded by kids who do not want to work dont have a pen and consistantly disrupt otherers education.. all she wanted to do was get on with her work
However it did teach her valuable lifeskills now in a grammar for sixth form and difference is amazing. luckily she is a strong minded girl and didnt follow the behaviours of some and that is why she has ended up where she is today. No one should disrrupt the education of others but that is something she had to put up with for five years

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 20:20:33

I can't see why they wouldn't set for everything.

mumslife Fri 20-Sep-13 20:20:52

She behaves the same in the grammar as she did in the comp. The difference being she can now read her kindle in formtime without being jeered at and called a wierdo and a freak

mumslife Fri 20-Sep-13 20:22:45

Exotic fruits
They dont set for everything only maths english and science. The only way my poor daughter got any relief from it slightly was to pick academic subjects for her options but you still got an element of i dont want to work so why should anyone else

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 20:30:49

If they don't set it isn't like a grammar school- if they set then there is no difference.

Dogwalks Fri 20-Sep-13 20:36:06

Sit the exam, then decide. I went to a grammar school, and always wanted the same education for my children. After looking around i was amazed how great a lot of the comps where. We ended up in the opinion that after the test we could decide with a bit of insite what was best for them. My daughter chose a girls grammar and although being from one of the most normal ( not wealthy) family's is very happy. My son sits his 11 plus soon and again it just adds another choice. good luck.

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 20:47:20

Reading OP again I would try for the grammar school-it sounds as if you haven't got great comprehensives. There is no harm in just trying-and then, as Dogwalks says, decide if you have a choice.

Parmarella Sat 21-Sep-13 08:25:27

OP, it is all up to you, the make up and boys thing too. Personally I do not think make up is a big bad thing. The "boys" thing does not lead to pregnancy if you are open about sex, explain about condoms, let her start the pill when she wants ( being on it does mot lead to wild behaviour, in my school lots of 15-16 yr olds went on the pill, me included). Saying that, I am Scandinavian, and am often puzzled by attitudes to sex here in my beloved new home country.. But anyway, talking about it helps ( not just the once, and not just about the biological side, but discuss the emotional side, discuss being pressurised, discuss porn, discuss LIFE.

As to schools, try for the grammar and decide after you are offered a place.

To lequeen, I live in an area of amazing comps, closest one gets 95% 5 A-C and 90% A-C maths and English. There is an atmosphere of it being cool to do well.

Don't know if this kind of school is really rare though, other comps around here seem very good too.

The state schools here all do sets, the sets are within bands, the top band would be like grammar school I presume, so not such a big difference.

I would also discuss your DD and friends' attitude about "normal" schools. IMO it is silly to allow a child to limit her own chances for the future through inverse snobbery.

Parmarella Sat 21-Sep-13 08:27:03

Inverse? Reverse? Ahem, my English letting me down

But Exotic, it is quite common not to set, even in good comprehensives. I'm not saying I like it, but there are lots of reasons why schools or departments choose not to. Mostly to do with timetabling or usually that they actually think mixed ability works better - as my current department does, unfortunately.

Oh and inevitably, if you have not that many kids choosing a particular subject at GCSE, you only have enough for one class, so no setting. I recently taught a GCSE language class which had everything from potential Oxbridge candidates to lids who still had major literacy problems in their own language. Impossible!

Parmarella Sat 21-Sep-13 08:40:16

Holmes, why do you think not setting is bad? I am not sure it is great as setting stops late developers from going to the higher sets, ie they will always have lower expectations if set in a low set at age 11.

Parents of top set kids usually like setting (90% of MNers ;) ) , parents of lower set kids not so much , IME

Parmarella Sat 21-Sep-13 08:41:10

Cross post where you explain it

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 21-Sep-13 09:28:33

Oh and inevitably, if you have not that many kids choosing a particular subject at GCSE, you only have enough for one class, so no setting. I recently taught a GCSE language class which had everything from potential Oxbridge candidates to lids who still had major literacy problems in their own language. Impossible!

SOunds like my dd's GCSE French set - worked out ok, but the teacher was quite good. As you say, GCSE options can't always be set, but most comprehensives set for most subjects most of the time.

SatinSandals Sat 21-Sep-13 09:52:48

I expect it depends on the size of the comprehensive and the area. When I think of the fuss kicked up at my child's school about one particular French teacher, who was thought inadequate for GCSE level, I really can't image the fuss that would have been made if they tried to teach those who intended to do French at university with those who had poor English skills!
Comprehensives need a very large top end, they can't risk losing the parents who would take their child away to educate privately.

mumslife Sat 21-Sep-13 21:08:35

The kids do move up and down the sets all the time when the subjects are set. Big problem is in a mixed comp that my dd went to hardly any subjects were set at gcse level if you went for the academic subjects majority in class were quite able thereby less disruption

mumslife Sat 21-Sep-13 21:11:54

The only subjects at dd mixed comp she was set for was maths english and science. Believe me the rest of the subjects could be a real nightmare if you wanted to actually work. Now she is in a grammar completely different storysmile

we have an excellent grammar here, plus 2 very good high schools

when DS2 was in Y5/6 he said he absolutely didn't want to go to the grammar, I think from talking to his friends; but that was before open evenings, & after going to those, he changed his mind

but the open evenings were in the autumn term of Y6, & the grammar entrance exam (not 11+ as such, just one full morning of tests sat at the school) was in the spring term. I don't know how the timings work where you are, OP? But anyway, at the beginning of Y5 there's plenty of time for you to nibble away at her resistance

Good luck :-)

BOF Sat 21-Sep-13 22:07:46
ErrolTheDragon Sun 22-Sep-13 00:04:33

> I don't know how the timings work where you are, OP?
The few remaining GSs in my county all do their 11+ next Saturday. I think many other areas have likewise moved their exams forward into sept of yr6 so the results are known before you have to make the admissions choices. So the open evenings are in summer term aimed at yr5s.

RiversideMum Sun 22-Sep-13 09:13:50

I went to an all girls grammar in Bucks and hated it with such deadly loathing that I made a choice to move to a non grammar county so my kids could go to a comp. I know that times have changed, and we are different people, but DD is so much more confident, poised and together than I was at her age. The grammar school shattered my self confidence, and DD has done nothing but blossom.

Erebus Sun 22-Sep-13 09:16:04

BOF - I'd probably look more deeply into a school than to dismiss it in its entirety due to a single, random, off the cuff remark possibly made by a nervous man in the name of misplaced jocularity, actually.

curlew Sun 22-Sep-13 09:30:19

"BOF - I'd probably look more deeply into a school than to dismiss it in its entirety due to a single, random, off the cuff remark possibly made by a nervous man in the name of misplaced jocularity, actually."

I would not want my child at a school where a) the head teacher was nervous addressing a meeting of prospective parents, and b) where there was a culture suggesting it was acceptable for men to make Terry and June type golf club "jokes" about women.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Sun 22-Sep-13 09:33:18

My point is about my DD not everyone else's.

I always said I would never worry about the type of school as if my child is bright she'll do well anywhere.

But as MY DD has got older I'm realising that we are losing her to her friends. She is turning into something that I don't like and I believe going to secondary school with these same type of friends means she will get even worse.

I'm worried about her and as I can't afford private I wondered if grammar was our best option.

I achieved 9As/A*s at a comprehensive, but my daughter is a different person and I honestly don't believe she'll carry on working hard. Yes I'm being defeatist, no I haven't shared my feelings about her with her, I'm just considering our options.

rabbitstew Sun 22-Sep-13 12:55:37

I understand your fears, HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin. Grammar school might help, it might not. Sometimes, some children have to go through years of behaving in ways that make their parents feel sad/deeply disapprove of, whatever school they are sent to. If their parents are nevertheless consistent and provide a stable background, those children normally end up back on the right track. They may have made their lives more complicated in the meantime, but sometimes, some people have to learn from their own mistakes, not the mistakes or achievements of their parents. Why not keep looking into the option of grammar school and what your dd's chances of getting in might be, anyway (bearing in mind that trying and failing to get in might make her even more anti-academic achievement as a result!), find out more about the alternatives, too, and at the end of the day, know that you have to be philosophical about what happens and deal with the consequences when they arise, rather than panic about the future.

Erebus Sun 22-Sep-13 13:10:46

curlew - and I wouldn't assume that a single, one off, off-beat remark made by the Head, unless it was among many others indicated that he was definitely 'nervous around parents; and that one 'Terry & June' remark indicated a school suffused in such thinking.

This is why one needs to do loads of research, speak to existing parents and pupils if possible, sit outside at chucking outside etc, get the feel of a place; not base your child's possible education future on an OFSTED and a badly made speech.

FWIW one Head ours had in juniors visibly disliked having to talk to a hall full of parents. He stuttered, failed to make eye contact, rushed through what he had to say; however in front of the entire school in assembly, he was completely in control; eloquent, articulate, commanding. He knew all the DC by name and all the DC loved him and the school's results rise noticeably under his headship.

Had I had to make my decision based on one prospective parents talk, I wouldn't have sent my DC there.

Anyway, we digress. Back to the OP!

irregularegular Mon 23-Sep-13 13:58:27

The reason I'm sending my daughter to a grammar school is that I think and hope that she will be happier. That's all.

I was an academic child. Top of the year group in every single exam I ever took.

I went to a decent but not exceptional comprehensive and did very well, couldn't have done better. 10As, 4As and an Oxford 1st (and a Ivy League PhD later). This was in the days when there were no A* and far fewer students got As.

But it wasn't much fun.

I was shy with it, and while I didn't experience any real bullying and had some friends, I had zero sense of belonging and have almost no good memories. I was looked down on for being clever and just didn't fit.

I know my daughter isn't me, and the comprehensive school here is probably a bit nicer than the one I went to, but she's not that different from me either. It wasn't an easy decision, but my gut feeling was that she'd be happier at the grammar school.

I feel a bit selfish because it's not good for comprehensive schools for the most able pupils to go elsewhere, but so be it.

(on a different point: we didn't use a tutor, she did some practice tests as you'd be daft not to, but only 2-3 weeks before the test)

ErrolTheDragon Mon 23-Sep-13 14:19:58

>My point is about my DD not everyone else's.

absolutely... your DD and the schools available to her. From everything you've said, considering GS is entirely sensible.

However, 'I'm realising that we are losing her to her friends' - well, up to a point; peer pressure does become more important, but that doesn't mean you have to lose her to her friends or lose your influence over her. She's 9 - you still have a say in what she does out of school. Could maybe think of ways to broaden her horizons? Is there some activity she might be interested in which would expand her social group - it might be something she did just with other kids or something you could do too.

LaQueenForADay Mon 23-Sep-13 18:09:06

Agree with irregular.

If my DDs were very into their dance and performing, I would prefer to send them to a school which had a lot of focus in that area. same with sports.

As it is, for them our grammar is definitely the best fit for them.

DD1 is clever and academic, but quite easily swayed and is very easily influenced, so I really want her mixing with girls who (hopefully) will have raised to value education, and to see being clever as being 'cool.'

DD2 is very academic and likes taking tests, and always chooses to read at Free Time. I don't want to risk her being labelled as geeky, or deemed a misfit just because she enjoys maths.

Around here, the grammar school is the only school which offers the environment I want for my DDs.

Reading this thread, it's clear there are comps out there which are excellent, but sadly we don't have them around here (probably because of the grammars?), and so we have to play the hand that's dealt us.

forehead Tue 24-Sep-13 10:02:10

I have no problem with grammar schools if it is right for the child.
l have two dd's, both of them are very academic. However, i think that one of my dd's would thrive in a grammar school while the other would thrive in the fantastic Catholic school with good pastoral care.
I expect both of my dds to achieve excellent grades
I think some parents are so obsessed with getting their kids into a grammar school, that they almost ignore the fact that it may not be right for their child. The sad thing is that ultimately it is the child that suffers.

Wuldric Tue 24-Sep-13 11:59:13

Our local comprehensive is jolly proud of not setting its kids until year 9 (and then they are only set for core subjects). It was the one thing that ensured I would never ever send my dcs there.

And yes, to teenagers the single most influential thing is their peer group. I absolutely understand what the OP is saying. But you know, the peer group in grammar schools ain't all that.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.......

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

That's a very good point.

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').

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.

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

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

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

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


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.'

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

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

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.


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.

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.

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 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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 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.

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