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kids who do ks2 at state schools should have priority over prep school kids at 11+

(270 Posts)
marmitecat Sun 10-Nov-13 14:01:49

That would make grammar schools more attainable for poorer kids and those that can afford prep school don't need to take places away from normal families.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 19:03:44

I agree it depends on where you live - the thing is, where I live, which is also a town with one of the top grammars in the country, the best comp is in a catchment that is for the most part privileged, and increasingly so now the primary is also Outstanding and the catchment for the comp more clearly defined by distance, as more and more families try to buy their way in. The premium on houses locally is big if they're in the catchment. The stats on free school meals (again!) show that low income families are very under-represented indeed. There is also an Outstanding primary a couple of miles away in a very deprived area, but that score's down to value-added. The kids leave at average attainment levels which is wonderful when their relative starting points are considered, but you couldn't call them privileged on that basis, no. And most of their best performing kids wouldn't make it into a grammar unless they had a leg-up, though I'd imagine they might well thrive.

The state/private divide is just too broad a brush for admissions.

I don't really know what the answer is, because if there were enough places for all kids able enough you'd end up with people like me sending them as the competitiveness would be less toxic, and then you'd end up with a two-tier system, with secondary moderns and grammars again. Which was hard as hell on late bloomers. And I don't think we'll ever be able to achieve universal excellence at primary level, at least without the kind of financial investment the Finnish government make. Which is not likely, politically.

Maybe old fashioned streaming, with more movement between the streams and the top streams very academic and pushed indeed, might be an answer, too? No idea how workable that is, or if it's even workable at all, but I'm reluctant to throw so many on the discard pile as not academic, QED, at 11.

My DH is the working class immigrant result of a grammar school, incidentally. Neither parent is that academic, and they certainly aren't privileged at all. But the coaching culture didn't really exist to the same extent when he applied, and his grammar was a lot less competitive than ours because it isn't in a hugely affluent London borough. The results were still stellar, though. Maybe the question should be, why are we not offering that level of education to all our kids, instead of quarreling about a tiny pie available to the lucky few? Aaaaand then we're back at the Finland/taxation point.

WooWooOwl Wed 13-Nov-13 18:56:22

I also think it's worth pointing out that grammar schools are not like private schools in most ways. The facilities are nowhere near comparable, and as the grammar schools have always had good results, they have never benefitted for the injection of funds that many other state schools have.

The GS we use only has the facilities (still not great, and nowhere near as good as those in local private schools) it does because parents who could have afforded to use private schools make large donations. Parents who have something to give professionally do so, be it in careers advice to older students or work work experience placements etc.

If you took all that cash and all those parents away from the school, I doubt it would get the results it does. Then the state school children would end up with even more disadvantage compared to their private school counterparts, because all those resources would remain in the private sector.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:51:20

Firmly believe that focusing on primaries is crucial.If all kids had more of an equal op in the first place at doing the 11+ ie had primary education on a par to private and Outstanding schools there wouldn't be so much beef and more kids there who should be.

Not only that better primaries would boost standards at secondary.Makes me so angry hearing about kids who leave primary unable to read and write.They don't stand a chance at secondary.

IndiansOnTheRailroad Wed 13-Nov-13 18:49:24

Our Grammar is also one of the top 5 in the country (well, it was last year, and the year before, etc etc). AFAIA the kids not in the top 30% (and DD1 certainly wasn't for some subjects) don't feel like failures. DD1 certainly didn't. And she certainly isn't a Type A personality. Nor is DD2 and she has just achieved an 11+ result that will get her in. She's fiercer than DD1 but not assertive on an absolute scale.

People really do have some strange ideas of what Grammar schools are like. In my experience, they aren't that different to other state schools. Except in the speed at which the lessons are conducted and the amount of self motivation the kids have.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:47:08

I'm wrestling with the whether that environment is healthy thing.I agree good alternatives would help massively- Outstanding schools with great facilities and buildings. Kind of a tall order though.

WooWooOwl Wed 13-Nov-13 18:46:59

Perfect, thanks for the apology smile

We are lucky to have very positive alternatives to the grammar school too, I have one at GS and one at an outstanding comp, (didnt put him in for the 11+ because we have a great alternative) but the outstanding comp has plenty of disadvantaged families in its catchment as well as families who are comfortably off. With an intake of 200 each year, there are children from all backgrounds, and we happen to live in an area with a lot of travellers. Many of them are settled but not all, and among them few of their parents even completed secondary education.

This is pretty much the same story for all of the primary schools as well, although with smaller numbers of each kind of family.

In your post at 18.10, you make it sound like if you live in a catchment to an outstanding school, then you must be reasonably privileged, and that's just not the case.

It seems to me like all these problems that are being brought up because of the grammar admissions system would disappear if

1) Every primary school was outstanding - or at least good with outstanding features

2) There were enough grammar school places for every child that was found to be academically able enough whose parents decided that type of education would suit them.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 18:28:53

There were a fair few such private kids at my uni, actually. I knew someone who worked for the counselling service and she said they had a number who were in that boat - actually, they were drowning. I felt so sorry for them. And I think the preparation levels for grammar school admissions are actually toxic for the kids who attend because the level of competitiveness is so off the scale that they're all pretty obsessed by grades and achievement, as well as those who fail to secure places after years of coaching - imagine how that must feel, at just 11? Knowing you weren't good enough, and your parents have spent all that money? It makes me flinch. There is so much wrong with the current admissions system, even leaving aside how effective it is as a tool for assessing ability. I do think a discussion could usefully be had on how to address the admissions process so it works better for all the kids involved, whether they get in or not.

We decided quite early on not to apply for DS, though the grammar is one of the top 5 in the country and as far as you can tell at this early stage he's a bright boy, because of what we hear of the pressures on the children concerned. If they aren't in the top 30% or so, they feel failures. And these are kids who are very bright, for the most part at least. It affects the achievers under most normal criteria as well as the over-prepared, because they're thrown in amongst bright children with Tiger parents, by definition. They're children, and I would hope learning because it's fun shouldn't be crushed out of them so completely at such an early stage. If the new baby has a very different personality to DS I may have a rethink, but they'll need to be a complete Type A personality to benefit from being educated in a pressure cooker, I think.

I suppose that's the reason I can be relaxed about all this, though. It doesn't directly affect my child, because we're lucky enough to have positive alternatives.

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 18:26:09

Another idea - apologies if it has been mentioned.

How about private preps earning their charitable status by providing free tutoring for non-pupils for those that want to take it up?

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 18:25:02

Playing devil's advocate, supposing there was a harder exam for privately educated children, what happens if STILL more are getting in?

Interestingly, I only know of one older child so far in DD's school that has left the private system and they've gone to the local comp.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:18:04

Thing is unless the threshold was high say £100k as you suggest the same old lot in the middle that miss out on everything would on this too.

Also it doesn't solve the problem of private schools free of the NC getting kids in who shouldn't be there(and who later struggle)by teaching to the 11+ which seemed to be a concern for Sutton.

I guess the bottom line is there is no answer hence the problem.Perhaps that is why they've just suggested what they have.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 18:10:51

Retro, I've covered that in my statement that some of the people who can afford to live in the catchment of an Outstanding school are entirely possibly every bit as privileged as those who send privately, and hence shouldn't get a jump on grammar school admissions. I'm all for helping people from less privileged backgrounds have fair and equal access to elite educational opportunity and very interested in ensuring that happens. What I'm not interested in is people like me trying to elbow out private school opposition, solely so our little darlings can proceed into Eton for Free unchallenged. If you make it a straightforward case of state school first, privileged kids in the maintained sector will still force out bright disadvantaged ones, and that's a worry. If you look at income thresholds based on money coming in to a family from any and all sources, then you have a shot at at least a little more educational equality of opportunity.

I know a woman who works at a minimum wage job every hour she gets - she has two - so her kid can go to private prep. She and her husband live on his really rather low income to make that possible. They live near a failing school and they're in negative equity. I don't think she should have her child banned from applying to grammar, when she can't begin to look at moving into the catchment of a good secondary - least of all if that same rule allowed my kids to apply, without competition from any private school ones. All I'm saying is that if you want to boost the odds of disadvantaged kids, which I do, then let's try to find a system that does that.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 18:08:52


drwitch Wed 13-Nov-13 18:02:11

I think the easiest answer would be to set a different exam based on the assumption that children at prep schools are taught more intensively.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 18:01:28

But perfect what about somebody on £17 k?

As I said the places for the under £16 would come from the lowest end(those who can't afford private or a tutor) not the richest end.

I agree; I've already said I think the admissions cut-off for a boost needs to be higher than DSM (at least I think I have - baby brain plus sleep deprivation plus ramblings at such length may mean I never got round to it! grin) It's what I believe. Right now people use FSM because it's a readily available and easily-acessed guage, but I'd support its extension because a lot of people, especially families on minimum wage for example, are pretty poor but don't qualify. (Actually I also support extending FSM to more low income families, too, because it's a great way of ensuring tax money goes straight into poorer kids' tummies, but that's a whole other thread.)

My basic belief is there should be the same sort of assessments private schools operate when handing out bursaries: they want a flat statement of all income from all sources and then if you fall below it, you're eligible for the boost. Hard cheese for those £100 pa above, I agree, but that will always happen where there's a cut-off. And asking for a completed statement similar to that you need for student loans/grants would be pretty straightforward to administer - after all, not that many applicants would even be eligible. Only 2k families applied for grammars in the county last year, so if the LA only need to process a couple of hundred claim forms, that's not the end of the council tax payer's world.

Sorry to repeat post so much - very scattergun brain at this point in the week. Plusthere's a star wars i-Pad game pew-pewing away to my left. When it's not Imperial Death March-ing sonorously. Not great for concentration!

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:59:31

Sorry that was to Elf.

Fleta in mainstream your dd would get sfa.grin

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:58:32

Oh get off your over dramatic high horse the vast maj of people work hard and could never dream of affording private fees- ever.

Oh and pointing out unfairness in a discussion isn't victim mentality.Sorry.

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 17:55:07

Apologies Retro - a bit touchy there blush

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:54:28

Lucky you perfect with your Outstanding school.What about those not so fortunate?

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Wed 13-Nov-13 17:54:00

ooh this word privileged.Retro can you please give me a break down of what you think privileged means?

I will tell you what I think it means, to me it means old money.

It means very old money passed on from generation to generation like the Goldsmiths or Rothschilds.

I know people who send their children to private school and do not look at them with nasty green eyes either and they work fucking hard for their money, they made choices and took advantage of anything they could to get where they are, which isn't privileged or amazingly rich.

They do not go on fancy holidays, or have sky and the rest of it,

They do not have rich backgrounds, not all of them went to grammer school just your usual comp and not special comps either.

We are on an income of 18k a year, are we privileged too retro?

Do you know what, we could leave our house and go and live in a caravan like my father and mother when they got married and we could spend all our money on tutors or private school.

People do exist and live in one rooms, large families all over the world.

Do you live in one room?

Because if you really really really wanted to do something about your situation you could.

I cannot stand this victim mentality.

Retropear Wed 13-Nov-13 17:52:59

And those just over or in the middle who can't afford tuition,private,G&T courses,uni help- those kids can go hang whilst going even further down the 11+ pass list?So just the very rich and the poorest get places?hmm

Fleta didn't mean "someone like you"

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 17:51:30

DamnBamboo I completely agree; made the same point about my own child. He's at a state school, but it's Outstanding and both parents spend a lot of time encouraging him educationally, having been lucky enough to be well educated themselves. He's not remotely deprived and shouldn't really be able to jump the queue ahead of anyone. Though given I don't want him to apply to the grammar, and at 5 he's too small for it to be an issue anyway, it's easy for me to say. grin

I do think there should be a boost for kids from poorer homes. I just don't think a state/private divide is the way to achieve that, because stacks of kids in state schools are very privileged.

perfectstorm Wed 13-Nov-13 17:48:20

Woo, I apologise; you're correct and the law changed in April 2010, so benefits aren't affected by child maintenance. Quite surprised by that as it was the driving aim behind the CSA in the first place (in fact originally, claimant parent cases queue-jumped the non-claimant as a result).

Having said that, given the cap on child maintenance, average earning levels in the country, and the fact that the income levels otherwise are very low, a family getting benefit and maintenance is still pretty likely to be poor. I suppose very high earners whose exes can claim additional sums through the Children Act might be coining it, but that will be a vanishingly small minority overall. It's a loophole for a few.

The problem is that I'm pretty sure there will be one or two such cases represented in the 0.8% FSM kids attending the top-ranked grammar near us, because family income and attainment are so closely linked and so the chances are such families will be statistically over-represented to the nth degree. It's an unfair advantage to those kids, so I'd agree a better measure would be to require full disclosure of all income, wherever originating and then set a threshold limit (and I'd set it higher than the benefits level ,too - a family can be poor and not entitled to much help at all). I can see why the government wanted to boost the life chances of kids from single parent homes, and to encourage NRP to pay, knowing the money would actually benefit their children. But if that were translated into a head start at grammar school admissions time, then the small minority who do well from the changes are likely to be over-represented that an alternative route needs to be found. The core principle though - that children from very low income homes deserve a boost at the admissions stage - is sound I think.

DamnBamboo Wed 13-Nov-13 17:43:38

Sorry Perfect I answered the wrong question. Will go back and read your post and comment on that specifically

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 17:43:26

Not really sure of the point of the "somebody like you" - given you know nothing about my/our circumstances other than we're sending DD privately for primary at the moment

Fleta Wed 13-Nov-13 17:42:21

Retro - I'd be interested to see comparisons actually (that reads antagonistically, but I mean I genuinely would be) of children at a similar level to DD and how they get supported in the state system.

I don't understand the point of your second post - are you saying I should be sending private for secondary not for primary so as not to take someone else's place at grammar? No can do, I was simply not prepared to send DD to the school she was given.

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