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Considering move to East Kent but unsure how I feel about the selective school system

(100 Posts)
jeanniedeans Fri 22-Feb-13 09:39:37

We are lucky enough to be in a position to choose where we move to next (we are currently living in Scotland) although the decision is proving a little daunting. Top of my list of potential locations is Canterbury, Kent, although one major sticking point is the grammar school system they have there. My partner and I were both educated at state comprehensives and I confess to knowing very little about how the grammar school system works. Our kids are only 6 and 2, so this might seem a little premature, but we want to get this move right and feel very ill-informed right now. My main concerns are 1) if the kids were to get in to the local grammar school, would the school be very 'results' driven (ie focusing on academic subjects rather than giving the kids a more 'well-rounded' education, and 2) do the non-selective schools suffer as a result of being in an area where there are several selective state schools? Any advice people could give me on this would be much appreciated. Thank you.

notactuallyme Sat 23-Feb-13 15:04:50

But you can apply to move in year 8 for example, I know that our grammar has a procedure for people from secondary moderns to apply.

muminlondon Sat 23-Feb-13 15:14:01

I think it's great that there are some vocational courses, but some children may prefer certain academic subjects yet don't have that opportunity if their school has limited resources or teaching time. Even for supporters of grammars there seems to be such a big margin of error - 10-15% or 50 'average' children are getting into three grammars, while 150 'high attainers' are divided among six other schools as far as I can see. That"s even if you think children develop at the same rate and can be sorted by 11 into different schools offering different courses at 16.

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 16:30:59

or just choose a county without selective schools - there are lots

Phineyj Sat 23-Feb-13 17:00:21

Nearly all the good schools in Kent are over subscribed, not just the grammars.

All the grammars I'm aware of have an excellent offer in terms of arts, sport and other complementary things to academic study, however, their resources are of course much more restricted than the independent sector (I mention that as it's hard not to be aware of the contrast somewhere like Kent). Having said that, some academies/comps/high schools here have had significant investment in their buildings.

About 25% of the whole secondary population go to grammars in Kent so given that you're thinking this over carefully so far ahead, I would have thought your DCs would have as good as chance as anyone of getting in, if that's what you want.

Personally, I think the 11+ is fairer than selection by money, house price or religious belief even if the system is a historical anachronism, but I agree with the poster above that it basically comes down to too many people chasing resources in the SE.

muminlondon Sat 23-Feb-13 18:26:36

Are there 33 grammars in Kent? To be honest I'm not impressed by the standard if they are taking the top 25%. I'm looking at 'average point score (best 8 GCSEs)' and 'average grade per qualification' and some of the comprehensives in my London borough beat their median score on these measures. Or is it just that some of the grammars on the coast are particularly bad? One of them has an average GCSE grade of C+ for those who would have achieved Level 5 SATs. Something is wrong there.

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 19:02:03

Kent, Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire are the only full grammar counties.
much of the rest of the country does just fine without them

I'm not sure why OP would want to put themselves and their kids through that stress
(only on MN is the level of tutoring and pressure deemed acceptable / normal)

seeker Sat 23-Feb-13 19:02:05

Are you sure, muinlondon? Which one is that?

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 19:03:35

I can believe it - the top Hampshire comps beat the vast majority of Kent Grammars - year after year

seeker Sat 23-Feb-13 19:09:26

Absolutely I can believe that- one of the points I keep making is that a comprehensive school will often get comparable or even better results than the combined results of a grammar and secondary modern with a similar catchment.
But I am shock at a selective school getting lots of Cs at GcSE.......

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 19:13:10

I'd have to trawl back through data sets, but yes, there was one.
In the year that Gove bounced the Ebacc onto schools, he expected grammars to come out glowing and there was one that holed the idea below the waterline ....

seeker Sat 23-Feb-13 19:16:17

Mind you, dd's school doesn't do very well at the EBacc- they only do 9 or 10 GCSEs, and loads of them do RE because the department is fantastic, the teachers inspiring and they hand out chocolate

99% a*-c, though, with practically no Cs. So it depends on the measure,

TolliverGroat Sat 23-Feb-13 19:42:55

seeker, it was Dover Boys' (I just hd a trawl through the datasets myself)

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 20:01:05

Yup, that rings a bell : I lived in Dover for a while. Says more about Dover than the GS system though!
much as it galls me to say that ;-)

talkingnonsense Sat 23-Feb-13 20:11:44

25% of the Dover intake does not equal some selective by house price comps.

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 20:16:00

and Dover is the back end of the back end of a grammar county.
When I lived there, the bright kids were on the train to the Canterbury schools
whereas if they got rid of the age 11 split (the Marsh Academy anybody ...) more kids would stay at school in their home areas, the fee payers would do less business and every child would have a better chance
in fact since the viagra money left its probably got worse round there!

muminlondon Sat 23-Feb-13 20:41:36

But half the Kent grammars have B+ or below as the average grade qualifications taken by high attainers. If the vast majority have got in on ability, they should be at the top end Level 5/6 so you'd expect mostly A*/As and just a few dropping to Bs (which would probably come out as A- in the table). Most people supporting grammar schools say it gives a chance to poor working class bright (boys) by putting them into the same peer group - so maybe even that is not true then?

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 20:47:56

Kent is an odd case - look at the shape of it.
The most competitive areas are West and North West Kent.
East Kent (everything east of Stone street - the Roman road that runs down from Canterbury) has a total population of less than 300,000
- has DIRE communications with the rest of the country
- has incredibly high pockets of unemployment
- especially the old mining villages like Betteshanger,
- or Thanet - where all of the London boroughs locate their childrens' homes
and Romney Marsh

rather different from Maidstone, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells which is what MN and Whitehall people think of when you say 'Kent'

but the local politicians kids do well out of the system so nothing will change

seeker Sat 23-Feb-13 21:17:15

And whatever else the intake of grammar schools is, it is not bright disadvantaged children. Have a look at the FSM numbers.

PoodleChops Sat 23-Feb-13 21:42:08

seeker said:
And whatever else the intake of grammar schools is, it is not bright disadvantaged children. Have a look at the FSM numbers.

FSM can be a bit of a red herring as far as indicators of "disadvantage" etc.
I know several people who send DC's to superselectives and have had £30K plus incomes, were well-educated and were supportive of their childrens' education too. All of a sudden, they found themselves in the dole queue long enough to qualify for FSM. They still live in their own homes, still support their kids and are still middle-class in outlook - they're only disadvantaged on one level, ie income. So FSM doesn't necessarily mean children from financially poor, "working class" households, rented accommodation and unsupportive parents wink But then we all know that, don't we? wink

Who is to say that we won't be seeing FSM climb in GS due to more and more redundancies in the £30K plus employment areas? As an aside, an adult careers adviser told me the other day that they were seeing more and more "executive" types week-on-week.....

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 21:45:22

FSM is, however an EXCELLENT indicator of general demographics and unless a school is in an incredibly affluent area, its demographics should reflect those of the area.
Kent Grammars patently fail on this - the Sec Mods have high FSM and the Grammars low - from the same towns
showing that Grammar school has a lot more to do with sharp elbows than it does academic ability

PoodleChops Sat 23-Feb-13 22:04:11

Talkinpeace said:
..showing that Grammar school has a lot more to do with sharp elbows than it does academic ability

Blimey, that's a statement and a half - I'd love to see your evidence to prove your case wink That's kinda dismissed many of the childrens' achivements, too, especially those without sharp-elbowed parents.

PoodleChops Sat 23-Feb-13 22:05:25

Anyway, I'm "g'off", as they say in certain parts - real life beckons

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Feb-13 22:08:54

the stats speak for themselves
- demographic mix in grammar schools does NOT reflect their areas
and in superselectives its even more so

the kids who get in are indeed bright, but many bright kids do not get in because they do not have access to tutors
or have unmotivated parents
or have parents who cannot consider the cross London commutes to super selectives financially or time wise

seeker Sat 23-Feb-13 22:09:21

Poodle chops- grammar schools typically have 2-3 % FSM- high schools 17-20%.

TolliverGroat Sat 23-Feb-13 22:37:55

In Dover, to take a specific example, the grammar schools are 9%-12% FSM. The regular comps/secondary moderns are 24-35% FSM. The two special schools are 85-92% FSM. The Duke of York's (which is comprehensive but a state boarding school) is only 1% FSM.

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