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Areas where state schools are better than private?

(539 Posts)
Narrie Mon 29-Oct-12 09:45:42

Does anyone live in an area where the state schools are really better than the private ones? I picked this up elsewhere but am afraid to comment there.

I have lived and worked in the Midlands where there are few private schools to choose but the state schools are not very good. I have lived in Nottingham, where again I felt the state schools were poor.

Even in London there were some awful schools and private was best.

I currently live in Cornwall having got here working in Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple. None of the state schools were good there.

Just wondered where the good state provision is. Is it just odd schools within a mass of poor provision or are there really whole areas where state schools are better?


(PS I have my own DC in a boarding school partly because of the state schooling and partly because we move around so much)

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 11:17:30

how do you reconcile that with comps getting over 75% of their kids through 5 GCSE A*-C ?

MordionAgenos Mon 29-Oct-12 11:22:51

@middleclass of course the FT tables use slightly madey-uppy stats to derive its tables in order to re-enforce its own prejudices. The DfES stats show rather more state schools doing well 'by results' than the FT does. But even accounting for that, one area specifically mentioned by the OP as having appalling state schools (with no caveats) has a state school in the FT top 50. And no private schools even close to the top 50. Hence my disquiet really since she is obviously pursuing the tired old state=rubbish private=great agenda. Yes, the school in question is highly selective but it is still a state school. And very very good by any objective measure unless you consider being open to those who can't afford the private schools as being a mark in its disfavour and thus disqualifying it from being considered as 'good'.

The comp I mentioned above is the school my DS goes to and while it could be better administratively (as could all schools and frankly most organisations in any sector) I do most definitely think it is a Good School. And I don't think there is anything wrong with my standards.

EvilTwins Mon 29-Oct-12 11:24:04

We have excellent state grammars where I live, and people routinely wait to see if their kids get in before sending them to the private schools. Having said that, we have one particularly famous Independent Girls School but I think that's mostly boarders, a lot of whom are overseas students.

I think it's an odd question, though, OP. It's down to person choice and what's best for the child, surely. I would never send mine to private school. I could afford to, but I choose not to.

MordionAgenos Mon 29-Oct-12 11:27:26

@Talkin ""state schools better than private"
- academically?
- sports?
- music?
- art?
- inter school competition?
- trips and outings?
- DofE provision?
- facilities to allow children with SEN to excel at what they can?

sadly, the definition of "best" often excludes so many interesting, intelligent and dynamic people
that is why I like comps ...."

I often disagree with you but I completely agree with this post. I have two kids at two different types of school - because my kids are different from each other. I think both the schools they attend are really very good. And I feel pretty lucky that both my elder DCs have been able to go to the right school for them.

scarevola Mon 29-Oct-12 11:28:08

If your local private schools routinely get 95%+ achieving A*-C, then there's nothing to reconcile, surely, in describing 75% as lower.

Whether the grade at the end is as important as the educational and developmental journey getting there, is hilly subjective.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 11:30:26

and for those without the resources to choose private or to drive children to different schools on the same day (ie the vast, vast bulk of the population)
decent comps are what we hope for - to bring out the best in each and every one of our children.

Narrie Mon 29-Oct-12 11:52:00

I am always very dubious of exam results. I have met a lot of fiddling massaging of results to make things look good. I dont just mean in private schools. I have seen a lot of it amongst grammar schools who are said to perform highly and amongst some sixth forms colleges with "good results". I dont think exam tables show the full picture. But its not just the selective schools doing it. Many comprehensive schools I have seen push their results up by using various criteria to analyse their results. Grammar schools are a muddy area because if like us you have to move the grammar school is not an option open to you always. Of course selective schools will be good. That is what selective means isnt it?

I didnt want to make this a private vs state issue. I am interested in the comment I read elsewhere as to the state schools in an area (unspecified) being better than the private ones. So I took that as my starting point. I dont know of any such places. Clearly I have not lived in the right places. That is why I asked.

MordionAgenos Mon 29-Oct-12 11:57:36

How have you seen a lot of massaging of results in grammar schools (plural) when you haven't even sent your kids to such schools? I'm intrigued.

seeker Mon 29-Oct-12 12:00:12

how do you reconcile that with comps getting over 75% of their kids through 5 GCSE A*-C ?"

Because a selective school, regardless of sector will get nearer 95%-100%.

Whwt people forget when they look at stats is that the schools which get 95% A*-C don't have any children who are likely to get Cs and Ds. The A* and A kids would be A* and A whatever school they were in.

And because at some schools the 5 A*-Cs can include equivalent vocational qualifications. A*-C including English qnd Maths is worth looking at.

Narrie- where did you see anyone saying that there were areas where all the state schools were better than all the private schools? Because I am a education threadnjunkie and I've never seen anyone saying that!

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 12:00:14

Too right schools fiddle their results.
League tables are good in that they shine a light, but it is SUCH a narrow beam.
More revealing could be
- how many FSM kids get DofE
or how many kids do a non timetabled activity every week (lunchtime / after school)
or how many of the top 30% of pupils go on to RG Unis and then do not change courses (a sign of having been supported to make the right choices)

the trouble with selective schools is that their criteria may exclude kids who are great at some things and rubbish at others, but who would in fact add to the experience of everybody in the cohort - even more of a problem in state selective schools which have often turned into middle class islands full of people who do not realise that they are not representative demographically.

seeker Mon 29-Oct-12 12:00:59

And I am also very puzzled about how you could massage figures at grammar schools......

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 12:02:33

And because at some schools the 5 A*-Cs can include equivalent vocational qualifications. A*-C including English qnd Maths is worth looking at
THe BBC page I was talking about specifically said GCSE - no equivalents or Btecs ....

seeker Mon 29-Oct-12 12:02:48

Another interesting thing to ask a private school is how many pupils have been asked to leave between year 7 and 11. Bet they won't tell you!

Arisbottle Mon 29-Oct-12 12:03:09

I have some experience of grammars, admittedly I left very quickly , and living in a grammar school area I know lots of grammar school teachers. Kids are pulled from exams if it is thought they won't get the best grades. The same happens in some independents.

Lilymaid Mon 29-Oct-12 12:23:50

"Another interesting thing to ask a private school is how many pupils have been asked to leave between year 7 and 11. Bet they won't tell you!"

Our local comprehensive has always been well known for kicking out the trouble makers at the end of Y10/beginning of Y11 - so that they end up with about 5 hours teaching per week at a referral centre and little chance of getting 5 good GCSEs.

middleclassonbursary Mon 29-Oct-12 12:25:16

In both the state and the independent sector children are asked to leave if they do not get good enough grades to go into the 6th form. Even at my local comp those with "poor" AS level results are asked to leave. The league tables are ultimately an indicator of a schools ability to select children in the first place, children that suit your way of teaching and are motivated and prepared to work hard.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 12:25:51

They are not allowed to do that any more.
The pupils results still count as theirs and they have to pay for the PRU now out of the school budget ....
The only way round it is a permanent exclusion and that is very hard to get now

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 12:26:41

sorry - my post was at Lilymaid

6th form is not compulsory so they can pick and choose who they like

Narrie Mon 29-Oct-12 12:37:46


I have worked in some grammar schools and I have also worked in a so called top sixth form college. I might be speaking out of turn if I said what I have seen happen wrt exams. Several posters have mentioned some of the things that go on. I have seen the following:-

Schools remove pupils from the exams / and or the school if they think they will not secure a suitable pass.

Schools entering their less able in other schools (a grammar school I worked in did this)

Schools asking students to leave just before the exams because they will not obtain suitable grades to keep the scollege up the league tables (sixth form college this one)

Schools entering candidates who might spoil the results as private candidates.


LaVolcan Mon 29-Oct-12 12:41:40

Schools entering candidates who might spoil the results as private candidates.

But then refunding the exam fee if the child does better than expected so that they can claim the result? I have only heard rumours of this - I can't say it definitely goes on.

teacherwith2kids Mon 29-Oct-12 13:07:51

I sometimes make the point on here that the state schools available to my son FROM MY HOUSE are better than the local private schools. That does not mean that every state school in my county is better than every private school.

If I look at the top 20 schools for A level results in my county:
The top is a superselective state grammar.
Grammars also come 3rd, 4th and 5th.
The top independent (nationally known school but single sex) comes second. Other independents come 7th, 9th, 15th, 16th and 18th.
The top comprehensive (technically a secondary modern due to the presence of a grammar school) comes 6th.

Thus state schools where my son could go (right gender, catchment including my house) come 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th. First private school he could go to comes 7th.

LadyofWinterfell Mon 29-Oct-12 13:20:03

I agree with teacher . The State schools available to my DC, from my house, are far better than the 'local' private school. I also have a choice of 4 secondary schools, and numerous grammar schools near here. My DDs will thrive in 2 different state secondaries. They'd be lost at the grammars.

I live in the Midlands.

Welovecouscous Mon 29-Oct-12 13:23:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

leosdad Mon 29-Oct-12 13:36:51

There is a huge difference between just getting the 5 A*-C's (ie 5C's) including english and maths which is the basic "target" result required for entry into the next level of education and the 10 A*/A which is about the norm for a selective school (state or private).

The other advantage that a comprehensive school offers is the range of abilities (academic, sporting, artistic etc) of the children within the school which is more like the outside world. Also in the sixth form there were the ad hoc sessions encouraged by the teachers during study periods where the more able students explained the subject material to those who were a little weaker which also helped the more able students with presentation skills and understanding of other people. I don't think you could get that in a hot house environment.

parsnipcake Mon 29-Oct-12 13:39:57

In Trafford there are lots of excellent state schools, both grammar and state. The SEN provision is generally very good too. The private schools aren't great, they are pretty mixed. However I think it's impossible to generalise and answer your question as things can change very quickly, and every child has its own needs.

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