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In areas (such as Kent) where there are grammars, are the overall results better than comprehensive areas?

(70 Posts)
Greythorne Sun 16-Jun-13 11:55:15

Do more kids get better results in grammar areas?

webwiz Sun 16-Jun-13 12:55:24

If you look at the GCSE results by local authority at the bottom of this article.
Kent is in about the middle with 60.6% A*- C (including english and maths) with lots of local authorities doing a lot better. I presume a fair number of the ones doing better don't have grammar schools or only have a small number of them.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 16-Jun-13 14:13:32

It's impossible to say, I think. There are only two fully grammar counties. That's not a meaningful enough sample to be able to compare (stripping out other factors such as affluence/parental background etc) to either fully comprehensive or mixed areas.

There are massive variations in results of purely comprehensive areas/authorities with very similar levels of affluence/deprivation, the reasons for which are difficult to establish and are probably many.

Another important point is that the boundaries for different counties or education authorities are also very arbitrary so some may only include an inner city and some will be inner city plus surrounding affluent suburbs and of course the second will have better results. There's virtually no comparing of like with like possible.

Farewelltoarms Sun 16-Jun-13 15:11:19

I think if you google 'grammar Chris cook ft' you'll get a very full statistical analysis that suggests that no, they don't, especially when you also factor in that parents of some high achieving children esp move to grammar areas, also that they might go state while in other area they'd have gone private.

steppemum Sun 16-Jun-13 15:26:34

Of course to answer is so much more complex because it doesn't take account of the 2 different schools types in a grammar county

for example it is possible that the children in grammar school do better than their equivalents in the comprehensive system elsewhere

But that the children who missed out on grammar places do worse in their schools due to lower expectations etc

So the average may be worse.

Or it may be that individual schools results vary too much for the county's results to be relevant

Or it may be that the system doesn't work at all!

It is too simplistic to just look at the whole county's results

HabbaDabbaDoo Mon 17-Jun-13 08:27:20

The whole of MN looks to the sky and wonders - where is seeker? smile

After talking to parents who had kids at the local comps we decided to put DS and later DD, in private selectives (we aren't in a GS area).

At the end of Year 7 a mum organised a get together for all the kids from DS's Year 6 primary school class. SATs-wise he was roughly equal to about 4 of the kids on leaving Year 6. Going by DS's conversation with his friends and mine with the mums, DS was a term and a half ahead of his mates. Now DS is probably about a year ahead in most subjects.

Yes I know about the hare and the tortoise story so for all I know, come GCSE time they might all end up with the same grades. But the point I am making is that IMO my DCs are doing better than had then gone to the local comprehensive. That is all one can day about comps versus GS/SM since as a poster has mentioned, there are just too many variables to compare whole counties and to draw conclusions. I will now step back and let anti GS posters compare whole counties and draw their conclusions grin

Farewelltoarms Mon 17-Jun-13 09:57:13

Gosh I really don't like the way that Seeker always comes under attack. Is she not allowed her opinion?
Anyway, here is the article to which I referred earlier. I am a little bit in love with Chris Cook. He can talk dirty stats to me any day.

Farewelltoarms Mon 17-Jun-13 09:57:23

Sorry linked

Xenia Mon 17-Jun-13 10:02:21

And that is I think consistent with the Sutton Trust's survey (which also found no difference between comps and grammar areas).

The other difference is on the whole most schools in the top schools lists are in the South East which is ridiculous given that IQ ought to be evenly spread and this includes if you compare only private selective schools or even state comps in Hull v Inner London.

HabbaDabbaDoo Mon 17-Jun-13 10:07:46

"The whole of MN looks to the sky and wonders - where is seeker?"

"Gosh I really don't like the way that Seeker always comes under attack. "

I made a lighthearted remark referencing the fact that seeker is always keen to contribute to such a thread. That is seeker coming under attack???

Greythorne Mon 17-Jun-13 10:16:36


Of course, I recognise that individual chilmdren who go to grammar (or possibly private) can do better than if they go to a comprehensive. But that was not my question.

All things being equal, if a country has 10,000 children and 2000 go to a grammar, overall does that county get better results than the 10,000 in the neighbouring county with comprehensives?

Parents think their individual child will do better, but I would like to see proof that in counties where there are grammars, the overall results are better. If the grammar / secondary modern counties truly are producing vast swathes of kids with better exam results than comprehensives, that would be an argument in favour.

Your article looks interesting but is behind a paywall, can you c and p the main gist?

HabbaDabbaDoo Mon 17-Jun-13 10:27:29

"Of course, I recognise that individual chilmdren who go to grammar (or possibly private) can do better than if they go to a comprehensive. But that was not my question.... All things being equal...."

I know that it wasn't your question but as another poster has said as well, all things are not equal. There are too many variables to make sense of any large scale comparisons.

I've seen enough of these threads to know that the usual suspects will turn up and posts the same links and make the same arguments. My kids are doing better at their selective. That is all I have to contribute to this thread so excuse me while I bow out.

drwitch Mon 17-Jun-13 10:39:19

I took two things from the chris cook blog
Grammar school areas have more children with very good results but more children with very poor results.
On average there is no real difference
The relationship beween income and perfromance is sharper for grammar school areas. So children from poorer backgrounds do worse and children from richer backgrounds do better

Farewelltoarms Mon 17-Jun-13 11:05:24

It's not a paywall but you do have to register. Not sure how it will come out as it's stats and tables etc. But anyway it's as follows:

There is an iron law in English education: as any given argument about any problem with schools progresses, the probability that someone will claim grammar schools are the solution rapidly tends towards 1.

I thought I would set out the data on the grammar counties, where children are sorted at the age of 11 according to an academic test.

To do this, I have defined a new region of England: Selectivia. I have removed the biggest selective counties – Kent, Lincolnshire, Medway and Buckinghamshire – from their geographical regions and shoved them together into one new region*. So what is it like? First, you can see that this region is quite well off, compared to most regions, especially London.

Show entriesSearch:
RegionIDACI scoreFSM
East Midlands0.19512.0%
East of England0.1689.2%
North East0.24517.4%
North West0.23316.2%
South East0.1508.3%
South West0.1649.4%
West Midlands0.23616.4%
Showing 1 to 10 of 11 entries
The columns here are two measures of poverty. At left, the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (“IDACI”) score for each region’s 16 year-olds. This is a score based on the number of poor households in an area. At right is the FSM score, which records the proportion of children who are eligible for free school meals – an indicator of poverty among school-age children. In both cases, higher scores mean poorer areas.

So we would expect grammar school areas to do a bit better than average because they are wealthier. Here is how they do on the FT points score. We give pupils 8 points for an A* in any full GCSE down to 1 point for a G, and add up the scores they get in English, maths and their three best other subjects.

Show entriesSearch:
RegionFT score
East Midlands24.5
East of England25.6
North East23.7
North West24.8
South East26.1
South West25.8
West Midlands24.3
Showing 1 to 10 of 11 entries
We can unpack a bit more detail than that. Below is a type of graph of results on the FT score. The line shows the distribution of grades from zero (no passes) to 40 (five A*s). Ignore the bumpiness: the higher the line is at any given point, the greater the share of the population is at or around that point.

So you can see that fewer children get scores in the high 20s in selective areas than in the rest of the country, and more get them in the high 30s and in the ultra-low scores. This is broadly as you would expect, from a system that deliberately divides children at the age of 11 into sheep and goats.

So is this trade-off efficient or good? It is impossible to tell if you do not know the underlying condition of the children. We would, after all, expect more high performers in these areas due to the wealth of the children.

To work out the aggregate effect, you can build a simple regression that links up performance to primary school performance, poverty, ethnicity, special needs, age and other stuff. Then you can ask it to draw out the expected change in grades you can expect if a child is in Selectivia, or if they are in another region.

Here are the results.

Show entriesSearch:
East Midlands0
East of England0.631
North East-0.301
North West0.334
South East0.767
South West0.778
West Midlands0.074
Showing 1 to 10 of 11 entries
What this table gives you is the expected difference in GCSE points (1 point = 1 grade better in one subject) between a given child in the East Midlands** and a similar child in the other places, once we have taken account of background.

You can see that the score is positive: the selective region is better than the East Midlands, but not by much. As far as we can tell, introducing selection is not good at raising school productivity. In fact, the region is actually a bit of a laggard.

So what about the commonly made claim that grammars boost social mobility? Maybe they do not increase everyone’s results, but do they close the rich-poor gap? Well, here is the average score attained by FSM-eligible children.

Show entriesSearch:
RegionTotal score
East Midlands18.7
East of England19.8
North East17.4
North West18.8
South East19.4
South West19.8
West Midlands19.2
Showing 1 to 10 of 12 entries
And the attainment graph for FSM-eligible children:

You can see that poor children do dramatically worse in selective areas.

There is an idea out there in the ether that grammar schools are better for propelling poor children to the very top of the tree. But, again, that is not true. Poor children are less likely to score very highly at GCSE in grammar areas than the rest. The blue line is below the red on the very right hand side of the graph.

Indeed, I think this whole story is neatly encapsulated by one graph to follow. If you plot how well children do on average by household deprivation for selective conditions and the rest of the country, you can see that the net effect of grammar schools is to disadvantage poor children and help the rich.

At the left hand side of the graph, where poor children’s results are, you can see selective areas do much worse. At the very right, you can see a few very rich children do better. This is all driven by the process of selection itself: poor children are more likely to be behind at the age of 11, and less likely to get places in grammars.

Grammar schools are a part of many people’s identities: having won admission to a selective state school plays an important role in the story of their life, especially if they came from a less privileged family. But, as a way to raise standards or to close the gaps between rich and poor, it is hard to find evidence that they are effective.

Talkinpeace Mon 17-Jun-13 12:56:41

there are three grammar counties (Kent, Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire) but Kent is the one people focus on because its shape means parents cannot go "over the boundary" as they do in Bucks and Lincs is much smaller demographically

NewFerry Mon 17-Jun-13 12:57:29

To Paraphrase habbadabbadoo

"I've seen enough of these threads to know that the usual suspects will turn up and posts the same links and make the same arguments. My kids are doing better at their selective [replaces as appropriate] comprehensive than their cousins at highly selectives. That is all I have to contribute to this thread so excuse me while I bow out.

HabbaDabbaDoo Thu 20-Jun-13 14:05:12

<sticks head in to see if my prediction came true> Yup, the usual suspects.

NewFerry - feel free to post the name of the comp and the 'highly selective'.

TheWave Thu 20-Jun-13 14:55:28

Agree with NewFerry.

Habba post yours. Note your statistical study of the matter. Very rigorous.

Farewelltoarms Thu 20-Jun-13 17:15:56

Am I a usual suspect?
I had no idea, I just pointed op in direction of some statistics that seemed to address her specific question.

HabbaDabbaDoo Thu 20-Jun-13 17:17:27

What do you expect me to post? I'm not asserting anything. confused

NewFerry Thu 20-Jun-13 17:42:01

Habba, posting the names of the schools would not matter as I am referring to my DC, not the whole school population. I would hope and expect that a highly selective school has overall better GCSE results than a comp. otherwise, why on earth would you put your DC through the misery and stress of the 11+ exams!

HabbaDabbaDoo Thu 20-Jun-13 21:07:00

So your point is that your kids are cleverer than their cousins. I'm not sure why you chose to tell us that but I was clearly wrong to assume that you was making the point that your comp had better exam results. As you were smile

NewFerry Thu 20-Jun-13 21:21:23

Habba - you quoted that your kids "were doing better at their selective"

Better than what? Or better than whom?
You didn't say.

I paraphrased you and replaced selective with comprehensive, but decided to finish the sentence by clarifying that they were doing better than their cousins at a highly selective.

I'm sorry if I confused you.
I didn't realise you were going to assume I meant that the overall results at a comprehensive would be better than the overall results of a selective school, as you were talking about your kids,and I was talking about mine.

Mine are doing better at the local rural comp than their cousins at their city grammar school.

What was your patronising finish? Oh yes, as you were smile

HabbaDabbaDoo Thu 20-Jun-13 21:34:59

That was me being patronising? I thought that I inserted a smiley. I must have inserted a patronising emoticon by mistake (looked like smiley to me confused)

Talkinpeace Thu 20-Jun-13 22:07:46

Just did a swift number crunch based on the data set linked above

sort by %age Free School Meals : gives a hint of demographic
pick out kent and the LEAS on either side of it
Northampton, Somerset, Derbyshire, Worcestershire and Havering

then sort by 5a-C inc Eng & Maths 2011
and Kent beat each except Havering

which also highlights the current ofsted research about the London Challenge
on value added, Kent is as per its FSM figures : so progress is not being made much greater than would be expected if the schools were mixed

I'll do Lincs and bucks in a sec

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