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To think that grammar schools should either be scrapped altogether or available in every county?

(1000 Posts)
Perriwinkle Sun 27-Jan-13 21:22:02

How can it possibly be fair or reasonable to have them only in certain counties?

I know that many people will say "how can a system that supposedly favours the brightest ten percent of children, ever be fair?" but personally, I've actually got no beef with that provided that the opportunity to attend these schools is available to the brightest children in all counties.

How can it be equitable that the brightest children who live in counties which do not have a grammar school system are routinely failed by the comprehensive system whilst those who live in certain counties are not because they are able to attend high performing State-funded grammar schools?

I think if you're anti grammar schools altogether you should probably hide this thread. This is not meant to be a thread about the pros and cons, relative merits, inequalities or shortcomings of either the grammar school system or the comprehensive system. It is a simply a question of wishing to hear any reasonable justification that may be put forward for the continued existence of the grammar school system in its current guise.

How can it be fair to continue restricting the opportunity to enjoy a priveliged grammar school education (akin to that which many people pay handsomely for in the private sector) only to children who live in certain parts of the country?

BelieveInPink Sun 27-Jan-13 21:59:27

"the children that at 10 years old were told they weren't good enough didn't do too well" - kind of agree in principal with that but I failed my 11+ but never felt a failure. And I thrived at the local comp.

"plus if you are a bright child through primary school then end up in the bottom of the grammar school sets -well, that's not much fun either" - again I agree.

ReallyTired Sun 27-Jan-13 21:59:29

The school that my son will hopefully attend has four pathways depending on the academic apitude of the child. Each pathway has a slightly different curriculum. The children in the lower pathways have extra numeracy and literacy lessons where as the children in the top pathway start GCSEs a year early. The plan is for children in the lowest pathway to have the opportunity to do GCSE a year late or do a vocational course.

Unlike a traditional grammar school system there is flexiblity to move children between pathways in the first year of secondary. No child is thrown on the scrap heap. A child with literacy difficulites can do academic subjects once they have learnt to read.

Many children who under achieve at 11 have social issues rather than intelligence problems. They can achieve but might need a little longer to make up for being in challenging circumstances.

I want my children to be in a school where both vocational and academic subjects are respected. If an intelligent child wants to be plumber then that should be respected.

exoticfruits Sun 27-Jan-13 22:00:33

We are fully comprehensive and the very bright do very well at them. I am very glad that grammar schools are not everywhere- it gave me the chance to move out of a grammar school area before my DCs were of an age for secondary education. Given a choice I would scrap them all, but I can't see it happening- luckily there is also zero chance of them coming back to places they were abolished.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:00:51

Do any of you have 'banded' entry?

This is a second test allegedly to ensure school take in a percentage of each ability - it's skewed here in favour of the 'not quite pass the 11+' and they throw in a few SN to balance the books.

This really winds me up because a child has the potential to 'fail' twice in y6 sad - dont make the grammar school and you fail in the banded test too.

Perriwinkle Sun 27-Jan-13 22:02:44

I wholeheartedly agree that the German system with schools aimed at differing aptitudes being equally valued sounds like the ideal system. However, I don't think that Germany has the divisive class structure that we have here.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 22:03:28

Oh well of course I don't know which superselective you're talking about Clouds. All I can say is that in our superselective those things are prized.

sausage my rather laissez faire attitude with my DC has always been that it's better for them to be in the bottom set of the local superselective than the top set of the local comp. And so far I think this approach has borne fruit.

ReallyTired Sun 27-Jan-13 22:04:33

There are people who campaign to save grammar schools, but no one campaigns to save secondary moderns.

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:04:41

Oh and I passed "the exam" to the girls grammar in the next county at 13. Couldn't go as not in county so no bursary for fees.

My Mum born in 1928 was the product of a true grammar education that did what it was supposed to do. She worked hard, her miner father struggled to fund the uniform etc etc but they saw the value of education. She went to teacher training college and taught all her working life one of the few mums to use a childminder etc . Social mobility occurred. (My dad had a rather more portfolio career , retraining to teach in his 30's whilst Mum earned the family crust. That must have been a huge social issue in the 1950s!)

tropicalfish Sun 27-Jan-13 22:04:56

my dc goes to a superselective grammar and I think the key benefit is of the musical opportunities it offers in terms of the orchestras, choirs and other opportunities to collaborate musically and to a very high level. This enhances my dcs experience of school greatly and I am rather relieved that school is such a positive experience.
I think it leads to a higher level of enjoyment - so op from my pov - Yabu

thegreylady Sun 27-Jan-13 22:05:07

Ok [dons hard hat and mounts hobbyhorse]
Some of you decry selection by ability-those who do that are the ones who are saying you think academic ability is so very important that academic goals have to be the same for everyone.They aren't the same.You have to value all abilities in all fields equally.
Spend equal money to equip academic and non academic schools.Help all children to achieve their potential wherever their aptitudes lie.
In many comps there is a devaluing of academic excellence because not everyone can achieve that.Pupils who could get high marks are afraid of being mocked or worse by their fellows therefore they become demoralised.
Surely it is better to give all the children an environment where they can feel safe and happy.
An academic school isnt a better school than a fully comprehensive school;it is a different school.
In my day we had grammar schools,technical schools and secondary modern schools with the ability to change at 13 or 15 if appropriate.
I want the best for all children not just some of them.

ukatlast Sun 27-Jan-13 22:05:16

From memory I think the only reason Grammars survived was because certain Tory-controlled County Councils failed to implement the national legislation.
There was also something called a Direct Grant School (?) and a lot of these converted to full Independent status eventually.

mindnumbing Sun 27-Jan-13 22:06:04

Theas18 - that is how catchment still works in my area.

We have a choice of one bottom quarter comprehensive.

Phineyj Sun 27-Jan-13 22:07:21

Well, that's democracy, and fashions in education, unfortunately, isn't it? I understand the powers that be back in the 60s were influenced by what they saw as the wonders of the former USSR's education system. Funny how things change -- now all you hear about is how fabulous things are in Finland, education-wise. The central government guidance on comprehensive education in the UK was only ever a "recommendation" and the Kent MPs (and presumably the ones in Essex, Bucks, etc...don't know as I only looked up the Hansard debates for Kent) said "no thanks", based I guess on the opinions of their constituents.

I agree the rump of the grammar system is unfair and a historical relic, however, I don't think the way forward for the education system is to shut down schools that are good, while creations of more grammars is seen as political suicide. On the plus side, the new University Technical Colleges seem good. Also, better a state grammar which doesn't charge than a former grammar now charging private fees, I suppose?

Verycold Sun 27-Jan-13 22:07:35

It's not true that in Germany all schools are valued equally.

SanityClause Sun 27-Jan-13 22:07:43

Clouds, at DD1's super selective grammar, they are positively encouraged to take creative subjects. There is a core of 2 English, 2 Science, Maths, ICT, DT, and RE that they have to take at GCSE, and because that will set them up for any academic combination at A level/IB, they are encouraged to do creative subjects.

Subjects like Further Maths are only encouraged for those who will need the breadth of knowledge, so for example, if they want to go into Engineering.

There is also an enrichment option, which allows for an extended project, on any topic, equivalent to a GCSE and an AS level. The results of the project can be anything from a traditional essay, to a working model of an invention.

So, creative, and very useful when it comes to University, and employment situations.

DonderandBlitzen Sun 27-Jan-13 22:08:24

HollyBerryBush Obviously you don't want to go into too many details, but was the problem that your son found with the comp to do with social problems or academic problems? Or both? I'm just interested as i went to a GS myself, but now live in a county where there are no GSs, but where there are comps with good results/OFSTED etc. Not having any direct experience of comps I was wondering if I am being naive in thinking they would be fine for my dds.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:09:32

theas I agree about social mobility - my grammar boy can seemlessly pass through, dumbing down, talking up without looking out of place or appearing patronising - and his friends range from nouveau riche, to the sons of takeaway owners, to bog standard middle mangement like me and DH. He has no class or ethnic bias (or prejudice depending how you look at it)

It is an entirely different way of life.

sausagesandwich34 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:10:45


I grew up in an 11+ area (still is)

the whole of my year sat the 11+ in the school hall

I had friends that were considered bright at primary that did not get into the grammar and then spent the next 5 years trying to prove that they were capable of sitting 8 GCSEs rather than 4 and a Btec
some of them gave up the battle an regret it as adults

my brother made it to grammar but was in the bottom set for everything so spent the whole time thinking he wasn't good enough
he got 10 A-C GCSEs (A* didn't exist) but still felt like he was 'thick' his words

it takes a very confident child to be at the bottom and keep their self esteme

ConferencePear Sun 27-Jan-13 22:11:20

One or two posters have referred to their local grammar and comprehensive schools. You cannot have both in the same place. If you have a selective school then the other one cannot be a comprehensive; it's a secondary modern.

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:11:37

Perriwinkle I've no idea why we can't have equally valued academic and " technical" or what ever you'd call them schools like in Germany.

I have internet mates in other counties who have true comprehensive schools and they seem to work by being huge in size and heavily banded/streamed what ever you call it. If you have an 8 form intake of 30 pupils then you can really teach the whole ability range from high fliers to real special needs. No mean feat to timetable though.

DS school has an intake of 90, DDs is 120. The comps are not that much bigger really.

exoticfruits Sun 27-Jan-13 22:14:16

Exactly ConferencePear- I was trying to get my head around the fact that you could fail to get a grammar school place and yet be at your local comp. It can't be comprehensive if the brightest are not there.

BeanJuice Sun 27-Jan-13 22:14:23

discorabbit what's so scary and horible about choice? confused

Theas18 Sun 27-Jan-13 22:15:53

Conferencepear I totally agree, if you have grammars then the other schools are " secondary moderns" but they don't style themselves as such because 11+ isn't compulsory- nor is it even encouraged by primary schools. tHey aren't even meant to advise on suitability - except in whispered " I didn't tell you" way- or that was how it was 8+yrs ago when the eldest was applying.

Our locality schools "should" educate the whole range of kids, in practice coming out with 10 A* in academic GCSEs is almost impossible.

exoticfruits Sun 27-Jan-13 22:17:08

All those who want grammar schools assume that their DC will get a place! They are not saying 'save our secondary moderns'! Lots of extremely bright DCs fail 11+.

HollyBerryBush Sun 27-Jan-13 22:17:47

DonderandBlitzen more to do with his LDs, the fact they put all the 'challenging' and Lds in the same class, so he was in with the , the ADHDs,the EBDs, the I-hate-school mob - it was just awful - by Y8 he more or less had a breakdown, by Year 10 he was a school refuser. In actuality, he wasn't really deserving of that class, when they were set, he was in set 5 of 11, so middling average.

It was, still is, an horrendous school, too big (330 per year group) I live in Bexley, it is a predominantly white area with racist connotations as the BNP once plonked it's HQ here, so there was no ethnic mix in the school. It backed onto a council estate which was 3 votes short of returning the BNP candidate in the last elections.

it seemed like a good idea at the time, walking distance, new build, loads of money. Big mistake. I wanted to pull him out in Y8 but he refused. I begged the school to exclude him, but as he was intrinsically sweet and loving, they wouldnt.

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