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If you can have Sports Academies for children outstanding at sports...

(63 Posts)
futuristic1 Fri 26-May-17 09:19:40

and nobody complains about that, why can't you have brainy academies for bright kids and have nobody complain about that?

My simplistic take on the grammar school issue - I would never get in a sports academy but I live with it.

Is it a 'British' cultural/anti-intellectual thing?

CaulkheadUpNorf Fri 26-May-17 09:22:29

Weren't the maths/science/performing arts specialist schools meant to be like this?

Boulshired Fri 26-May-17 09:27:02

My DCs are at a science academy and we are not far from a sports academy but they both open catchment who just happen to promote a specific skill so cannot be compared to grammar.

Seeline Fri 26-May-17 09:27:09

Yes - I think it is.
It's great if your kids are sporty/musical etc - everyone wants to hear how well they're doing.
If your kids are bright, you're bragging if you mention it.

I went to a grammar 35 years ago (when everyone did the 11+ automatically, and no-one was coached, and competition for places wasn't nearly so tough because there were 5 grammars in our borough and the top 25% went there rather than the top 2% today). I would never, ever have got into a sports academy either grin

CheesyCrust Fri 26-May-17 09:34:05

Because parents of average children who attend average schools don't like it.

"What about meeeeeeeeee", they cry.

ineedamoreadultieradult Fri 26-May-17 09:39:14

We are applying for DS to go to a sports academy. Only 30 children are selected on the basis of sports ability the rest of intake are just on usual criteria like siblings, distance etc. Not at all like a grammar school.

wtffgs Fri 26-May-17 09:39:18

Because the purpose of education is to enhance everyone's life chances by developing their skills, not to further widen the gap between the elite and the rest of the population. There is already enough educational apartheid with less able children of more affluent parents doing better at school than their poorer counterparts. How many wasted opportunities.

And btw wtaf is an average child? I work with kids everyday and none of them are average unless you believe all the shit about attainment and progress data

PlumPuzzle Fri 26-May-17 09:40:15

I didn't go to a grammar, but I don't see the problem with them.

Anything selective based on fees I don't agree with, as there are some amazing pupils out there who could go to private school but their parents cannot afford it. They miss out pushing their abilities and become the best they could be based on money. That creates a class divide and isn't very meritocratic at all. However, I don't see how being selective based on intellectual ability does the same thing...

fourcorneredcircle Fri 26-May-17 09:41:19

Because there are very few true specialism schools. Most in fact have a very small number of children who get in due to XYZ talent. Not at all like a grammar school.

CheesyCrust Fri 26-May-17 09:49:56


Firstly, the OP was talking about grammar schools not state schools which is to narrow the gap between the "elite" and others by giving those who are more academically able the chance to shine amongst peers.

Yes, I believe the "shit" about attainment and progress. I'm confused. Don't you? There are expectations that an average child of a certain age should meet. Average attainment and progress is accepted and understood and a necessary baseline to flag children exceeding or falling below these averages so that appropriate intervention and adaptions can take place.

Education should be enhancing everyone's lives and we should give the best possible opportunity to a 'brainy' child, not hold them back in a race to the bottom because Peter my-glue-tastes-funny Jones doesn't have the opportunity to pass the 11+ and go to a grammar as well.

Grammar schools enhance the opportunities of the brightest, not hold back the less bright. That's why I don't understand the whining.

I work with kids everyday and none of them are average

I guess not as a teacher. Hopefully not teaching them any form of statistics.

CarrieBlue Fri 26-May-17 09:56:53

Actually grammar school areas do less well overall on average than non-grammar school areas, so it seems grammar schools do hold back the less bright.

VolunteerAsTribute Fri 26-May-17 09:59:04

Do you have any evidence of that CarrieBlue? I can't find any.

Farahilda Fri 26-May-17 10:00:55

Those sorts of 'specialist' schools no longer select on ability on the particular thing, despite the names living on.

It was a failed initiative of the 00s.

There are some state schools which have a few places for outstanding aptitude in music, but the only one of those I know directly isn't notably better overall at music just for having a few talented DC every year group (something that might have happened anyway).

Those who excel at sports tend to do so via clubs, so that was always a misplaced initiative.

CecilyP Fri 26-May-17 10:07:36

Your whole premise is wrong because sports academies do not select children on the basis of being outstanding at sport. They just have an emphasis on sport. Therefore you would, well if you were still 11 years old, be perfectly able to get into a sports academy if you fulfilled their other admissions criteria. So no need to live with it at all!

2ndSopranos Fri 26-May-17 10:33:19

I agree, and it's why I hate the whole concept of sports day as an example. The tone-deaf child doesn't have to stand in front of the entire school and sing a solo. And yet the uncoordinated, unsporty child is expected to demonstrate just how bad they are at sports.

My dd made it through to the second round of a national writing competition. The same week a child who won a trophy in a local gymnastics competition had a huge fuss made of her in assembly.

futuristic1 Fri 26-May-17 10:40:08

I think there's a fairly strong cultural bias against 'intellectualism' in Britain.

Anyone who does well at sport, even the most obscure sport played mainly by the predominantly privileged, showjumping, shooting, rowing etc.. is lauded by the media.

Yet, people who are marked out by exceptional intelligence are often held up as objects of ridicule to be mocked for their 'weirdness'.

However, anyone able to jump further than anyone else is reported as exceptional and not weird!

Grammar schools are depicted as an attempt by the clever to demean the less clever but sporting ability is only ever reported positively and great for everyone.

Is it great for people who are no good at it? But do they moan?

And yet, most people don't actually play competitive sports and most people at grammar schools are fairly normal and will not go on to be weird boffins - so why are they resented while the sporties aren't?

QueenArnica Fri 26-May-17 10:43:36

In my view it's a bit naive to think that grammar schools are for "bright children". I teach plenty of bright kids who won't go to grammar school and lots of "average" kids that will. The reason? The average ones have been tutored from year 3 simply to pass the entrance exams. My bright kids may be from lower income families who can't afford that tuition. And it makes me sad and cross because it is not fair or equal.

HashtagPenelope82 Fri 26-May-17 10:45:28

If there is any selection, it's generally only a small proportion who are selected based on their ability (sport, science, languages etc) and the rest are normal admission rules.

Often the specialism is just that, not even any bearing on admission criteria. For example, a local school to me has a humanities specialism, and another music and maths. This means they emphasise those subjects, but don't select based on pupil ability in those subject areas.

TeenAndTween Fri 26-May-17 10:58:11

In think your premise is wrong.

Grammar schools aren't for elite bright kids unless you are talking super selectives. They take ~ top 25% based on 1 set of tests age 10 that many people pay for tutoring for to enable their kid to pass. So Bright WC kids, or those with a spikey profile, or those with ESL are less likely to pass than MC kids with tutoring.

Grammar school kids take the 'top sets' away from the non-grammar schools, which cuts down the choice of subjects available due to lesser demand, thus impacting the education of the other 75%, especially those who 'just miss' grammar.

Whereas 'sports academies' as people have said above only select a small number based on aptitude and anyone else can go. Unless you are talking about super selective sports schools.

Super selectives are OK but only work in big cities where travel is reasonable, because they do really only take from the top few %, and so don't take whole sets away from other schools.

I have no issue with bright kids (considering where I was educated and went to university it would be surprising if I did). But I do have a problem with a system whereby the 75% are impacted by the 25%, especially when that 25% aren't really well selected in the first place.

futuristic1 Fri 26-May-17 11:10:36

Perhaps I made my point badly.

I'm suggesting that the negative attitudes towards grammar schools are more to do with a cultural bias against perceived intellectual superiority.

I used the sports academies example to illustrate that people are generally not opposed to elitism in other fields, everyone seems to accept when others are better than them at sports and doesn't get all chippy about not being paid premier league wages of £200k a week, but people are well put out when some geek goes to a grammar, gets to Cambridge and earns £25k a year doing obscure research in a lab somewhere.

What seems to piss people off is the belief that the lab geek somehow imagines he's better than the rest of us - how dare he!

HashtagPenelope82 Fri 26-May-17 11:20:57

I really don't recognise the negative attitudes you describe - I think that people generally admire those who have succeeded in academic fields, especially scientists? And where sports people are admired it's generally about admiring the hard work and commitment needed to be successful, as well as enjoying watching them compete/ perform?

CrazedZombie Fri 26-May-17 11:33:44

Private schools have scholarship exams which are more about bragging rights than fee reduction.

My kids are at a comp and the teacher tells the class who the top 3 are in every test. At the end of year awards assembly, there are certificates for those who excelled in academics. (The school makes a fuss of kids who get good references from their work related learning institutions, sports, music etc too but the OP is about academics.) The school debating team visited the House of Commons for the county debating finals and takes the top third to visit the University of Cambridge in year 10 to inspire them to work hard.

The top 5% probably would have done as well in a comp. I thought that research suggested that if you compared children who started secondary at the same academic level did worse at secondary moderns did worse than at comprehensives.

If politicians were making decisions for the greater good, having separate schools for the bottom 5% rather than the top 5% is surely better for society? 50% of y6 kids didn't pass the government standard for reading, writing and maths last year. I have a y6 so am well aware of recent draconian changes to SATS but boosting the kids at the bottom so they leave secondary with qualifications should be a higher priority.

I have 3 kids, 2 would get grammar places and 1 hovers at around the government expected standard so this isn't a case of other kids can't have what's not available to my kids.

CecilyP Fri 26-May-17 12:02:28

You are making all sorts of ridiculous assumptions and I don't recognise the attitudes you describe either. I don't think anyone is put out if someone goes to Cambridge to study science regardless of which type of school they went to - why on earth would they be. Where it differs from sport is that watching someone doing painstaking research is simply not very entertaining. However, there are plenty of interesting TV programmes which report the scientific and medical breakthroughs that are the result of academic research.

futuristic1 Fri 26-May-17 12:06:43


Really - what about the University Challenge guy who was ridiculed all over the media for looking peculiar? One among many.

Nobody laughs at the marathon runner who collapsed towards the end or those two brothers who are always collapsing in races and dragging each other along.

Fair enough on the science point.

It's taken a lot of positive media coverage and a hell of a lot of science tv coverage but scientists are definitely now held in higher regard than other academics.

Generally though, I think high achieving acadmics are viewed with suspicion, as 'loners' and oddballs.

Perhaps I'm reading the wrong press but then I prefer to read what disagrees with or challenges my 'worldview' rather than what simply agrees with me or reinforces my value system.

It makes me a glutton for punishment but I like to know what they're thinking ;-)

futuristic1 Fri 26-May-17 12:15:30

@ CecilyP

"You are making all sorts of ridiculous assumptions" - list them please.

Why can't people discern the difference betwen an example for illustrative purposes and an actual real instance?

It must make reading financial projections very difficult indeed.

It's a funny thing - I make a broad general point and people criticise it based on specifics and then I give a specific but hypothetical point and you criticise it based on generalities.

I don't know where you've been if you haven't perceived an
anti-intellectual bias in Britain.

Wherever you live, I'll move there - it must be great or illusory.

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