Academically Selective Education(984 Posts)
Oh this myth...
The superselective is full of clever middle class girls who would do well in any school.
It's just not true. I know plenty of examples of bright middle class children who have NOT achieved their full potential at comprehensive schools.
A child who comes out of school with eg 2 Bcs and a C at A level has not done well if they were capable of 3 As. Bright kids have as much right to an education that fulfils their intellectual potential as less academic kids.
Do how would A'Level results be improved by selection in one exam at ten rather than selection based on exam results at 14 or even 16.
"It's just not true. I know plenty of examples of bright middle class children who have NOT achieved their full potential at comprehensive schools. "
I know plenty of bright middle class children who have not achieved their potential at all sorts of schools. I know one who did not achieve his potential at Winchester. The difference is that if a bright middle class child does not achieve their potential at a grammar- or at Winchester- everyone thinks it's the child's fault. If they don't achieve their potential at a comprehensive, everyone says it's the school's fault.
I think you have to consider what selection is for. As in it's function for society.
I think the answer is usually to sort the Successes and the failures, and to limit further opportunity to the failures.
That's certainly what the old grammer schools were about. In my time we had the basic science gcse, in which it was impossible even with a 100% score to gain more than a D.
I think it's done on the assumption that some children are simply not capable of learning to a higher level and are destined for menial work.
This has always been a terrible unfair approach but is even worse now there are less meniel jobs to be had! As other people have said, we need higher expectations of our children to compete with e.g: China.
My Mum worked briefly as a maths tutor for the army. That was a bit of an eye opener. The army recruits have a huge spread of competancies when they join, including very low ability and the army gets them all up to a reasonable level of literacy and numeracy and an increadable level of fitness simply by providing as much help as needed to get each person up to the level required. No failures allowed.
The biggest challenge for my mum, as in all adult education, was undoing the negative messages that the men had recieved from school and building their confidence.
If the army can do it, then any institution in society could. There's no need to write people off at any stage.
Putting aside the benefits argument for a mo, many families rely on two incomes. Going for 7yrs mean these families have either to live off one income for a few more years or spend money they can't spare on child care.
Yep I would have been in that position but would still rather have done that.
The 'experts' tell us that children from some households are left to fend for themselves because their moms leave them at home in front of the tv. Many don't have a healthy diet. Others are abused. To many children, the school is a safe island.
I accept that some children aren't ready for school at 5 and would benefit from staying at home with mom for another few years but that is hardly a reason for adopting this nationally. Particularly since so many argue that MC children has the advantage and that the school is the only chance to address the imbalance when it comes to children from a disadvantaged background.
Conclusion- Great idea in theory but sucks in practice.... unless you are Finnish :-)
dashoflime,Mabel,muminweatlondon-where have you been all my life?
"dashoflime,Mabel,muminweatlondon-where have you been all my life?"
APMF - many European countries with later school starting ages use a Kindergarten system that prepares the children for formal learning. My dd started "school" aged 2.5, and started Primary aged 6.5. She learnt to read (in French) from 0 - chapter books in one school year.
Kindergarten covers the social aspects of school, eating, sitting still, paying attention, toiletting, working on projects etc and in my experience, the older start means the children have levelled out a bit and are READY for the formal stuff.
I happened to have a friend in Finland with two school aged kids. So, she is telling that the level hit by Finnish children in PISA are explained by quite boring, basic, no-silver-bullet stuff. Namely, by the considerable effort that the state put into full staffing, PE facilities, materials for lessons, regular re-training of teachers and so forth. No magic.
We also should keep in mind that PISA measures literacy and numeracy skills of an average school child. It is nothing to do with selectiveness and children with high academic needs. If one want to see selectiveness in action, it is better to look not at PISA, but in the results of international maths/programming/linguistics olympiads, where Finland is non-existent.
Rather than using academic ability as the criteria for selection, couldn't we (in our imaginary utopia) base schools on different learning styles? Some children learn best by experiencing things, others just like to be given lists of facts to learn by rote. Maybe we'd have more success in educating all children if each was primarily taught in the way that best suited them.
Mind you could you imagine if there was no formal reading before 7. All those reading levels threads on mumsnet would be non-existence because everyone would be learning so quickly! Parents would not be fretting or gloating so much. My friend recently taught a child who was 8 when she started school and had not had the ability to read or use basic maths. However, the kid just absorbed everything given to her like a sponge and ended at 11 higher than most of the other kids. Ok this is only one incident but we do have an informal selection at 7 in this country which is ks2 Sats and I know these are no longer published but does form the expectations for the child in later years.
Jojo that is a great point and very true. Kids and adults have different ways of learning and if one learning style predominates some children may struggle. Visual learners for instance have their own special way. A good teacher or school would use a mixture of ways of learning.
An example is the abacus which I have found to very good for maths because it is good to learn maths by touching, doing, seeing and if the child speaks as they do it also aural. Do you remember sentence makers when you were kids. I loved using those and perfectly suited to different learning styles while speaking at the same time.
I agree with all losingtrust has said on previous page about selection at 16. It used to be there was national selection of the brightest / most academic 10% at 18, to go to University, but then someone decided the country would benefit by there not being a rigorous selection procedure then, and 50% of the population could go to University. It comes back to the point about why you want to select people. It seems we have different thought about that on MN.
The reason that people support selection is that they are hoping that it will give their child an advantage over other people's children. This is not new, but the form it takes has changed.
When university places were restricted, all middle-classes could ensure access to the professions was reserved for them regardless of their children's intellectually abilities. You needed the right connections to get a place.
The expansion of universities from the 1960s onwards meant that to retain their class advantage they could no longer rely on the connections and thus exam success became the criteria. Hence the hysterical angst over secondary school places.
Totally agree creamteas. And the more unequal wealth distribution gets, the higher the hysteria gets ramped up
I think teaching according to learning style has been shown to be nonsense.
As a parent of three children with differing needs (one top set, one middle set, one bottom set) I think comprehensive is they way forward.
I'm sure there are people out there who would love to see a three tier system, but I think that schools should be able to cater for DC of all abilities.
A lot of people have anecdotes about someone they know who started formal learning late but roared ahead despite this late start. Proof that starting school at 7 is a good thing. But not all kids are like this.
Sure, if you nuture your kid, read to them play maths is fun type of games then when they get to school at 7 they will race ahead. But what about the kid that gets dumped in front of the tv until he goes to school at 7?
Sure, the naturally bright ones will soon get up to speed but what about the average ones? Various studies have shown that a lot of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds arrive at Reception already at an disadvantage and that it is a struggle for those who are plain average to catch up.
So my mind boggles that people are seriously discussing it.
Panto talked about kindergarten up to 7. That is a great option. All the children get to the same level by learning through fun activities and the serious stuff doesn't start until 7.
However, it's not an option I would like for my DCs. They went to a private nursery and they were doing the 'serious stuff' at aged 4. By the time they started Reception they were ahead of their classmates and they stayed that way for the duration of their time at their primary.
What is the advantage of starting at 4 though? Some will be ready, some won't. You can encourage learning in many other ways. If they start at 6 or 7 and reach the same point after one year as someone who started at 4? Isn't that years which could have been spent doing something else?
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