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If you're in favour of a return to grammar schools (and secondary moderns) what percentages would you choose?

(95 Posts)
camilamoran Sun 09-Dec-12 21:06:05

Those of you who are in favour of return to grammar schools - what proportion would you have in your new grammar schools?

IIRC when I did the 11+ about 20% went to grammar school. At that time about 10% went to university. Getting into grammar school did not mean you were university material - it created the pool from which the university students were selected.

Now, we have more professional and white collar jobs than we did then. And also, more of those jobs now require a degree. So there are more of us going to university - about a third at the moment I think.

So if we brought in new grammars - would that be for 30% of children? 50%?

So would we end up with a non-elitist grammar school? Wouldn't that be pointless for people who want grammar schools back as an alternative to independents, or those who believe they help social mobility by picking up kids at 11 and inducting them into a higher social class?

LittenTree Wed 12-Dec-12 18:54:14

OK, camil, I see what you're saying but your SATS experience was highly likely not to have been 'typical'. My DSs knew their SATS were tests not to muck about in but I don't think they distort a modern DCs life to anything like the extent that the modern 11+ for most non-county GSs do (by 'county' I mean counties- Kent? Bucks?- that retain enough GSs so the top 20 odd % of all the local DCs go, not the hyper-tutored, hyper-pressured such as appears to happen in London).

See, thing is, if all the DC are in the same educational establishment, exactly the same thing can happen, as in the brightest are taught alongside their equally able peers in that subject BUT they've not been 'selected', they've been set. I'm perfectly happy for my DC to be set but not 'selected'- because if DC are so completely, irreversibly, separate-school 'selected', someone has been deselected across the board.

camilamoran Wed 12-Dec-12 15:25:41

Litten - yes, I would agree that new style, years of private tutoring, massively competitive 11+, is indisputably far more traumatic than anything we had to put up with.

And I agree that SATS are not as evil as 11+, in that they don't affect the kids' futures. Kids seem to think they do though. I spent 2 years saying 'They're not testing you, they're testing the school' on an endless loop.

I suppose what I'm really trying to say is that I have realised that the gut-level aversion I have to selective education has a lot to do with my emotions when I was 11, and that I needed to think about it in a more rational way.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 12-Dec-12 15:25:15

At my GDST school, we took 8 O levels (9 for the exceptional)
on the basis that the O level of an A level subject did not could forwards
and Universities required 3 A levels and 5 O levels
out of the 40 of us in the 6th form, 30 went on to Universties, including Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial.

Sats are NOTHING like the 11+
DD was bored preparing for her Sats so I got her the 11+ books - that woke her up.

LittenTree Wed 12-Dec-12 15:02:16

camil you need to bear in mind that you're taling to people who had done or have DC who have experienced:

Old style 11+
New style heavily tutored for, make or break, years of private tutoring 11+

SO you can't really generalise that SATS are 'as bad as the 11+'- esp bearing in mind that, in general, one's SATS result won't influence the rest of one's life like the 11+ certainly could!

LittenTree Wed 12-Dec-12 14:59:21

'Only' 5 'O' level used, once upon a time, to be a measure of a good, solid, general level of education sashh. Back in 1978 one needed 6 to get into my GS 6th form. It's only in recent years that 13 A*s has become 'average' grin.


Why do some favour the retention or further creation of grammar schools?:

- Rose tinted spectacles, harking back to a golden age when all was right in the world.
- The absolute belief that their own DC would definitely get in (you see that on MN, the assumption that if they weren't private, Hugo and Jocasta would obviously be at a GS).
- Fear of their DC mixing with the lower social orders/less intelligent/people not like us.
- Plain, simple snobbery, the ability to be able to throw ££ at it (prep school/tutoring) and maybe push an average DC over that magic line.
- They can afford private if all else fails. They don't have to also campaign in favour of secondary moderns.


-the fact that GSs have fewer discipline problems because the DC know they can be selected out in the same way they were selected in and by and large, DC 'clever' enough to get in are generally bright enough to recognise by 13 at the latest that their exam success or failure is up to them.
- the belief that it's impossible for one school to cater for low IQ SEN and the Oxbridge bound at one campus.

camilamoran Wed 12-Dec-12 14:52:51

Seeker: at that time, 5 or 6 years ago, four local comps had entry by test for either 10 or 15 % of intake. They can do it because they are specialist schools. Two of the tests are supposedly aptitude tests. The other two are straightforward 11+ style tests. One other school has a large catchment area, everyone who applies sits a test, and then they have a lottery for who gets in, using the test results to make sure they have a spread of ability.

So, where we live, we have three schools we can get into without testing. One is not bad, one is pretty bad, and one is miles away. If you want to get into our nearest school, or one that's popular with a lot of my neighbours, or the one that offers the most different languages, you have the option of having a go at their test. So you don't have to do any tests at all, but if you do, you have more parental choice.

And I do think SATS make year 6 as traumatic as the 11+ did in our day, and stretched out for a longer period. Loads of revising and nagging by the teachers and being told how important it all is. Kids losing interest in school or bursting into tears. That may or may not be worth it, but the point is that it isn't any different.

letseatgrandma Wed 12-Dec-12 12:53:40

The 11+ certainly isn't age standardised everywhere! In Essex it isn't.

NulliusInBlurba Wed 12-Dec-12 08:01:20

"I lean towards the German system myself.". Not a great idea - even most of the Germans are currently leaning against their own system.

NulliusInBlurba Wed 12-Dec-12 07:59:23

"The German system has been utterly slated by the UN for perpetuating social inequality. They sent a special ambassador out to condemn it and everything."

When I mentioned the German system upthread, I was just doing so as an example of a system where grammar schools are used throughout the country. It's absolutely right that German education is in turmoil right now, as a result of the 1999 PISA test when the country performed dreadfully. One of the key criticisms was precisely the EARLY division into three categories - the decision is made in only the fourth year of schooling, which obviously favours those whose parents give them most help at home. Poorer children and immigrants arrive at school and spend the whole first year learning to read, or in some cases learn German, and then they never catch up with those who have had a better early-years education.
There has since been a move away from selective education, and in fact in Berlin the three school tiers have been changed to two, as in the UK, but there is a traditional, influential, privileged band of parents who refuse to let go of the grammar schools because that is what has perpetuated their social advantage over the years.
The main teaching union in Germany favours an abolition of selective education.
So do I, as it happens, although we had no choice but to send DD1 to a grammar school. I did very well from my streamed comprehensive. My mother was 'dumped' in a secondary modern in the late 1940s because she was too nervous to even take the 11plus, and they spent several years missing lessons for choir practice, simply because the head was a choir fanatic - she had a shit education.

sashh Wed 12-Dec-12 07:45:34

Grammer schools were not set up to benefit children of any background. They were a model of social engineering.

The upper classes needed some better educated people to be managers / supervisors / secretaries etc.

The number needed was calculated and that is the number of grammer places created. The exam score was moderated, otherwise there would be more girls than boys.

The leaving age was 14, raised to 15 but grammer school students were expected to stay on and do O Levels.

If you consider this 'elite' were expected to pass only 5 O Levels it doesn't seem such a brilliant system.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 22:20:27

how did the German system do in the recent league tables ....
Hmm, I'll stick to the UK system
yup, definitely

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 22:20:15

The German system has been utterly slated by the UN for perpetuating social inequality. They sent a special ambassador out to condemn it and everything.

talkingnonsense Tue 11-Dec-12 22:16:09

Yes, you can't be pro grammar and anti sec mod! But going to a crap comp tends to bias you against them. I lean towards the German system myself.

seeker Tue 11-Dec-12 21:57:02

"That makes sense- I'm in Kent so it's grammar or sec mod, no comps. Dh went to an inner city comp and is also pro grammar - it's hard not to let your own experiences colour your position."

Is he also pro Secondqry modern?

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 21:00:54

And I bet they were widely used. When I was a kid it was the grammar schools in the neighbouring town that had the drug problem.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:17:29

DH was at a school in London : among the bedding at the front of the school were some splendid cannabis plants. It's a selective.

NamingOfParts Tue 11-Dec-12 20:11:19

Comp doesnt automatically mean rough. On the whole Comps arent as effete as Grammars and not as rough as Secondary Moderns. In many areas before the comps came in the Secondary Moderns were underfunded compared to the GS. Bring back GS and you can bet your bottom dollar that will happen again with a minority of students enjoying better funded schools and the majority enjoying worse funded schools than they attend now.

Schools have changed hugely since I was there. The school my DCs attend to GCSE now is rough in a small town rather than inner city way. Now having recognised that it had a bullying problem it has strict discipline. This means that my quiet DCs are not bullied and are able to focus on their studies. The school rewards good behaviour and effort at whatever level.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 18:10:12

My ex went to really rough comp. talked about kid wanking off openly at the back of the classroom during a lesson. i was quite shocked by that. He did well though. Also a vocal person and strongly in Fabius of comps so perhaps if you are loud you do well if not you need an academic school.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 18:06:33

I went to two comps. One inner city all girls. Streamed from day one for the same class in all subjects. Behavior in my class very good. Awful experience for me and yes in top stream but then moved to mixed comp that just set for subjects and realized how far behind my maths was even though top of my previous form. Ended up in set 2. The kids were just brighter and I always work better in mixed group as I love to compete and I do think I did better as a result. The behavior was worse but over a third went on to sixth form college and most to some form of higher Ed. However behavior only affects some children more than others. Never affected me but I was quite vocal. May not have suited a quiet child.

talkingnonsense Tue 11-Dec-12 18:03:35

That makes sense- I'm in Kent so it's grammar or sec mod, no comps. Dh went to an inner city comp and is also pro grammar - it's hard not to let your own experiences colour your position.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 17:53:26

I went to a nice gels private selective school
and from there to a retake crammer .....

DH went to a London comp.

If we could have easily afforded private I would have done so, but have been lucky enough to live near enough to some fab comps that my kids both got in.

fiftyval Tue 11-Dec-12 17:42:40

At risk of taking things off at a slight tangent, I think age adjusting is extremely unfair on prematurely born children. Many have to do alot of catching up anyway but this is not taken into account.
I also think it is unfair to adjust so that eg an April-born gets given 'more' marks than a December born when they have had exactly the same amount of education. This happened to a friend whose son didn't get in to chosen school but his friend did and simply on account of the extra marks he got for being 4 months younger.

Pyrrah Tue 11-Dec-12 17:42:27

Another reason for the 13+.

I was an August baby and went to GS, but definitely better that I went at 13.

talkingnonsense Tue 11-Dec-12 17:41:45

Did no one else go to the kind of bog standard comprehensive in th 80s that they would move heaven and earth NOT to send their dc to? Mine was rural, no huge behaviour issues, average fsm, very low eal, but basically crap. No real provision for the academic child. Therefore my dc are at a grammar, and if I lived elsewhere I would pay, pray or live in a flat to get a decent academic school. You can't stop people doing that, however you cut it. Idealogically I agree with many of you, in real life I don't always stick to my principles!

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 17:32:59

I Agree with that summary and in fact it was noticed recently at my friend's primary that she teaches at. They had a child who was September had always been top and she failed to get in. Must point out we are talking one of the best grammars in the country so very superselectives whereas a child with average levels but born in July got in because the exam is age-related. The point of the article is that as the majority of summer borns are perceived to be low achieves at the start of school they are not pereived to be grammar school material and therefore not entered. Hence leaving those that have been top since day one with the majority being older seen to be better academically at primary. It is a perception but if you had a late developer young child you would not risk going for the 11+ due to the worry that they would fail as not yet reached their potential and this distorts the figures. I would never have lived in a grammar area with my ds in infants in all the supported groups as I had no idea how well he would eventually have done. Your dd was an exception. I would not take the risk. As it is he took off at the end of year 5 and increased levels to get high ones in year 6 after school enrollment. He would now more than hold his own in a gs. Maybe at 16 he may choose to go to an academic school as in all honesty he has exactly the same chance as getting all A* where he is. I know this is anacdotal but a reason why an exam at the age of ten is too young.

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