Why do people get so worked up about selection in schools?(381 Posts)
We all know selection is part of life. Last week there was a conversation about Emma Watson for getting her breasts out. But she is only famous because she was selected to play Hermonie. No one knows all the other hopefuls who were rejected. Likewise, if you apply for a job and get nowhere, it is because the employer selected someone else to do the job. Selection is a real part of life.
Yet when it comes to school we seem to think the opposite should apply.
IMO It has to do with the school is meant to guide and aid the children to become the best they can be. If they only select the same children over and over again, then how are the others " non selectees" meant to become good at this?
In a work situation they are meant to select the best for the job hence it becomes a different matter IMO.
Selection when they're at 11 is a bit arbitrary.
Research has shown this.
If you want to improve how well all children do, then you need better education from the early years.
However the thing that bugs me the most is that schools are facing real term cuts and yet Theresa May finds money for her hobby horse.
Largely, because if we take the assumption that ability is fixed, it rather questions the role of a teacher in the first place.
Interestingly, this assumption doesn't extend so far as setting.
Selection is an inevitable part of adult life, yes.
The problem with selective schools is that they tend to be selecting and rewarding the efforts of parents rather than the child.
My friend lives in a grammar school area. To have any chance of a place at the amazing grammar school, you need to pay for a tutor for a year before the exam, because the local primary schools don't prepare for the exam. So it's not selecting the brightest kids, it's selecting the ones whose parents can afford to pay for tutoring.
Because, unless they are home educated, all children aded11 to16 have to go to school. Nobody has to be a famous actress! There are enough school places for all these children; if an employer only has one job, they have to select one applicant.
Could write an essay on this but will keep it short.
Children develop at different rates - Why would you write off a proportion of the population on an exam?
They polarise society - those that can afford tutors will to get them into grammar school will. The Head of Maths at a selective school I visited was constantly hounded by private tutors as he set the entry exam.
There aren't enough Maths (and many other subject) teachers. Which schools do you think find it easiest to recruit staff? Look at some of the schools in Kent. Makes me sad.
I do believe that age 11 is too arbitary. But that is process not principle. When I was at school we went from first year to sixth in primary then again in secondary. Now it seems to be year one to 14 as a continuum. Why should people shange schools at age 11(ish). Why not at 14, or younger?
I did some minor research on children's feeling on selection on maths. Interestingly the lower groups were heavily in favour of selection because they overwhelmingly felt they could perform at their own level and feel they were doing okay. Those who didn't like it often cited parental pressure/disappointment.
The top end was fairly indifferent.
Which was the opposite of what I'd expected to find.
Also selection in adult life is hardly fair.
To take an example, George Osborne was given the role of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He did history at university and anything he did, did not improve the economy. And now he's off earning even more money because of his role as the chancellor which he wasn't even qualified for.
Largely because the selection process which is supposed to separate the very bright from the average, actually in practice mostly separated the middle class from the working class. Yes a few working class children got through the 11+, but on the whole the system just rewarded/rewards middle class children, who already do much better in school than working class children. It doesn't help social mobility.
The problem I have with education, as a teacher, is that some people forget that there is a normal distribution of intelligence, i.e. Some very intelligent people, more intelligent, the majority 'average', then decreasing as you go down the intelligence scale.
Education needs to be appropriate for everyone, and for those children whose natural innate intelligence is below average no amount of flogging them with a big stick and making them do hard courses will achieve anything, they need to refine skills that they do have and are probably far better suited to vocational learning rather than a very academic paper and pen route. I think that there should be more vocational schools, where the core subjects can be taught by staff who understand the needs of below average pupils and they can also learn a skill/vocation, as these are not the children who are going to be following a university pathway.
However, we should go back to a middle school system, and children go off aged 13 - by then you really do have a good idea of whether someone is ready to follow an academic pathway or not. Children in middle schools do better in Years 7 and 8 as there is no Year 7 dip that you often get in secondary schools, and they are emotionally much more ready to deal with moving on aged 13 than 11. Ironically they also cope better with going to their middle school aged 9, it's that in between age of 11 where children seem so much less able to cope with the change! (Yes I know I'm generalising, but it's been my professional experience from teaching in middle, prep and secondary schools)
If you knew anything about schools, teaching and 11 year olds in general then you would realise that children don't generally follow a linear path progression wise and selection in schools is NOT preparation for life. They're 11. Many have yet to do their best.
But selection by house price is far more widespread.
Kids achieving in music,sport,dance,drama..... have had hoards spent on them in the years before exams and events. Often kids will be succeeding because of what parents have spent when many talented kids won't have had access to anything.
Some selection appears to be ok but not others.
Parents who spend spare money on books and pushing their DC in academic subjects are frowned upon. Not so in other areas. I think it's quite a damaging mind set to be honest.
But life is not fair..
It never was and never will be. It is not fair that Emma Watson is very photegnic. Indeed .i have a neice who has a roll in a soap opera (abroad). She is meking shed loads. Her sister didn't get the audition and gets nothing.
I do believe that age 11 is too arbitary. But that is process not principle
The problem with selection is that it isn't proven to work.
Furthermore, it's unlikely that children excel at all subjects. Yes it happens but it makes any selection even more arbitrary. So what do you do with those who are excellent at maths but poor at other subjects?
I would rather have schools which are based on evidence based policies. Not those which resurrect the rose tinted view of the 1950s.
Our population demographics has changed since the invention of the grammar. We don't have such a large working class population, we have a larger middle class. Who exactly are these schools serving?
If they were proper selective schools, then fundamentally, any child could get in regardless of parental income. The reality is that this is simply not true. So, you could have children from a poorer background who are miles cleverer than those from a richer background. But they don't make it to a grammar because their parents cannot afford the tuition.
It would be interesting to know what selective system people prefer.
I live in Birmingham where we have super selectives. You choose whether to take the 11+ and the top scoring kids get in with the lowest mark varying year on year.
There is no pass or fail - just a score.
DD 1 got into GS, DD2 did not and was all set to go to our local comp but got a GS place from the wait list.
It was no big deal when she did not get a place and she was not upset. She did her best on the day and that year the score was not enough - other years it would have been.
I don't really come across people who object to this system.
I know in other areas of the country all children take the test. There is a definite pass mark and the children do pass or fail. That system I do object to as children should not be branded as failures.
Life is not fair?
So the role of government is to make to even more unfair?
I would rather live in a country where we had high expectations of everyone and have everyone the opportunity to make the most of their lives.
In theory, the most academically able children are selected, but in practice, as pp have said, the ones with the parents who are willing and able to pay for tutors, and who have books at home etc, get the places. So, continuinung dividion along class lines, and denying poorer children the best education.
Trinity, i live on a county border and had the option of sending my children to middle school along with most of the other village kids. I chose a secondary school within the county as i felt the change to middle school at aged 8/9 and again at year 9 was not great. That is your options year. That's two transitions. I'm not a teacher but it didn't appeal to me.
I agree with you trinity, my son is currently NOT academic. He is autistic with mild learning difficulties. One of my biggest arguments with the LEA was around this. What is the push to get all children through five GCSEs by 16 about? Whose needs does it serve?
My son MAY do GCSEs ...but he won't do them at 16.
A friend's son who went to a special school is currently doing a degree...but he's now 29 and could not have got anywhere near enough qualifications to do it at 18.
Sometimes children need longer to achieve and a drop in pressure. I had no intention of allowing my child to remain in that pressure. What's the point of cramming a square peg into a round hole for five years if they come out with their self esteem and mental health shot to pieces because of it.
Long live special schools.
Why is selective education the best? They don't get extra money,if anything they get less.
Not fair that Emma Watson isn't photogenic? Is that the best you have?
My issue is really that it isn't available all over the country!
Where my sister lives they have Grammer schools. Where I live they don't. The GS system seems to mainly serve as a money saver for people who would otherwise have paid to go private.
We don't have that option so if you want a selective education here you have to pay. (Actually at the moment if you want ANY say in where your child ends up you have to pay due to over subscription and bonkers lottery system).
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.