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Are we missing a trick with grammar schools?

(85 Posts)
mam29 Tue 09-Apr-13 12:21:05

Always a a tricky topic but struck how many people in public eye say grammar school changed their lives for the better.


Toby young
most of bbc newsreaders John Sopel. Andrew neil.
Various other mps who all went to grammar schools and are proud.

My nan had 5kids and only went to grammar and had the best jobs.

I know some say they unfair but do wonder if they in someway improved social mobility.

Of course its changed today.

Theres very few grammar schools none here or where I grew up.

Now seen preserve of middle class wanting private education cheap.

That the child has to be tutored within inch of life to get in and that those who went prep had advantage as state does not prepare for 11+.

To me it seems vastly unfair that they exist but not in every area.

Wondering if comprehensive is a failed idea and that they should have kept grammars but reformed secondary moderns,

Would all the people named above be where they are now if they went to comp?

What is it that grammar schools do that comps dont?

Theres that old chestnut a bright child will do well where ever they go.

Do the new grammar entrants today especially in super selectives need to be brighter than the kids who passed in the 50,s?.

muminlondon Sat 13-Apr-13 17:29:15

Best secondary modern in Kent for high attainers passing Ebacc is one in Dartford: 55% entered/40% achieved. Better than the Dover grammar school.

glaurung Sat 13-Apr-13 17:41:30

Is what you are looking for the relative performance of high achieving pupils at comps vs selectives?

If so:
" Not surprisingly (albeit rather oddly), 89.8% of students in selective schools are classified as ‘above Level 4’, whereas the percentage for comprehensive schools is 31.7%. Selective schools do substantially better on all the measures, especially the EBacc where the percentage of ‘above Level 4’ students achieving this benchmark is double the comprehensive school figure (70.7% against 35.0%). More worryingly, 6.6% of these high-attaining pupils in selective schools are not making the expected progress in English and 4.1% are not doing so in maths. In comprehensive school there is even more cause for concern, with 17.7% falling short of three levels of progress in English and 15.3% doing so in maths."

That's from the 2012 school stats and I found it here. You do have to be a bit cautious of drawing any conclusions about comps failing high ability more than grammars from it though, since high performers at grammars will be a bit skewed towards the upper end of the band (even though some grammars take some middle ability too).

Talkinpeace Sat 13-Apr-13 17:45:02

which says more about Dover than it does about grammar schools!
(I used to live there)

And actually your choice of Comps is not what I'd like to see.
A comp should admit all children.
Not sure how my son would fit into two of your three.

Kings School in Winchester is a true Comp with a massive catchment and managed 65% Ebacc

teacherwith2kids Sat 13-Apr-13 18:21:17

You do have to be very cautious about EBacc as well - it was a retrospectively-applied measure and has quite a restrictive range of subjects, particularly on the 'humanities' side (only history and geography count, not e.g. RE).

So students at a comprehensive school (which will often , through its nature, offer a wide range of courses) who take one of the 'non-included' humanities (which may well be equally academically rigorous, just not included in the magic list) will not get the EBacc even though they have a good range of academic GCSEs IYSWIM?

If everything had remained the same, schools would have got cleverer at playing the EBacc game....goodness knows what will happen with all the shake-ups.

seeker Sat 13-Apr-13 20:15:41

My dd's grammar school has near perfect GCSE scores- but not very good EbACC scores. That is because they only do 9/10 gCSES because they are expected to do lots of other things as well, and the RE department is fantastic, so many of them opt for RE- which doesn't count towards EBACC.

muminlondon Sat 13-Apr-13 23:47:17

The ground is shifting all the time with 'comprehensives' though - my point is that the 'let's have new grammar schools' debate is irrelevant because the school system is already too segregated and autonomous for a new/old division of comprehensive/grammar to be applied on top. In general it is obvious that a critical mass of bright children will generally result in better academic results. (I still think it is interesting that a Muslim all-ability school in a deprived area gets Ebacc results and grades for its top set that beat the best grammar schools though - it can't be explained by numbers on FSM).

But all sorts of things are changing with the league tables too - equivalents are getting knocked out, even the 5 GCSE measure is proposed to go, leaving measures of progress against ability bands. So where schools may have focused on C/D borderline before, because that was the measure, they will be expected to push all ability bands now.

LaVolcan Sat 13-Apr-13 23:55:31

The trouble is, we don't even know what people mean by Comprehensives. In some parts of the country they genuinely are. In other parts it's a euphemism for a secondary modern, so you are just not comparing like with like, and this is before you throw academies and free schools into the mix.

Measuring progress against ability bands sounds like a good idea.

muminlondon Sun 14-Apr-13 08:48:25

glaurung thanks for that link re progress of high achievers, really interesting. I read that Michael Gove had asked Ofsted to investigate this too - that blog suggests a report will be published April/May so the analysis is really topical.

Interesting that sponsored academies see progress levels 7-8% below the average (even taking account starting from a lower base). And also that on EBacc, the percentage of successful selective school high attainers has fallen by 0.2%, but in comprehensives school has increased by 1.4%, so the gap is closing.

However, the proposed changes to the national curriculum will redefine attainment levels, so expected progress may be harder to compare year on year (for the next government). Already, the English GCSE regrading makes comparison with last year difficult. And the biggest variation in progress is for middle attainers - still the more intractable problem.

Scrazy Sun 14-Apr-13 14:35:26

The comprehensive school I mentioned isn't predominantly educating working class pupils. It's in a nice area and a mixture, many pupils come from professional households and the sixth form has pupils from the local indie school who want to take A levels. I'm sure there are comprehensive's with much better results though.

muminlondon Sun 14-Apr-13 14:59:49

There have been repeated surveys that conclude comprehensive educated pupils do better at university or can achieve a good degree with lower grades at A-level. Comp sixth forms are often smaller and there can still be timetabling problems or teacher shortages. That's why there is a fair access policy in university admissions.

'A comprehensive school student with A-level grades BBB for example is likely to perform as well in their university degree as an independent or grammar school student with A-level grades ABB or AAB.'

At the same time comp educated pupils are less likely to apply for the most competitive universities. The new measures in the A-level league tables of 'facilitating subjects' has been nicknamed the 'Abacc' so it will have an effect on choices, although perversely it may lead to some subjects (like Music or RE) getting dropped in small sixth forms where there is less demand.

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