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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?

teacherwith2kids Fri 21-Jun-13 22:06:54

Apologies for Friday Night spelling.

beatback Fri 21-Jun-13 22:19:59

I think it must be 80s comprehensive spelling friday. They did not teach me to spell read or write. "FIVE YEARS OF A PRISION SENTENCE" that is what it was for me. Not relevant i know but i had to say it.

Phineyj Fri 21-Jun-13 22:25:40

beatback I don't know, because I went to a grammar school and also teach in one, so to be honest I don't have the breadth of experience to take a position on which is better. However, my DH was educated at a comprehensive and did very well (and his teachers seems to have taken much more personal interest in him than mine did in me -- possibly he stood out more).

There were a couple of documentaries on BBC 4 a while back called 'The Secret Life of the Grammar School' (or something like that) and I found them really interesting as I hadn't known about the political background to the destruction of the national grammar system in the 60s and 70s.

I would say though that we would consider it quite mad if music or sport (for instance) weren't 'selective'. I do think there is a 'high performing team' effect when you get a group of bright kids together, but that could equally well be in a comprehensive as in a grammar. It is also more likely that some subjects are going to be offered/taken up in highly academic settings. For instance, a large proportion of the small number of girls taking Physics A level are in grammars and independents.

On other hand 10 years old is very young for such an important test and the stress around 11+ now is unreal (I think the galloping fees at independents have something to do with that as well, however).

What do you think of streaming -- is it better to stream within a school than to separate children into different schools?

beatback Fri 21-Jun-13 22:36:24

Thank you phineyj for you honest and reasoned views,. It probably goes down to your own experiences of certain schools my experience in the 80s were horrible ,whereas my niece and newphew"s experiences of their Grammar Schools have been great and have enabled niece to achieve 4A"S at A level and study French and business studies at a Russell Group University. I remember watching " The secret life of the Grammar School on BBC 4" it was very enlightining and most of the people admit they owed their success to the Grammar Schools they attended.

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 22:44:06

Hmm, I don't know. The talk is always of the better grammar schools but they weren't all like that. I went to a girl's grammar and the most charitable description of it would be that it was mediocre. Physics A level - well a bit of a joke considering that they only taught 'Physics with Chemistry' as one O level. Oxbridge entrants? Non in the seven years I was there. Medical school? Same as Oxbridge. Most girls went into primary school teaching.

As a comprehensive it's a million times better - some get to Oxbridge, some medical school. They also managed an olympic medallist last year. It would all have been completely unimaginable in my day. Yes, they still do produce primary school teachers, but it's not the default option as it was then.

beatback Fri 21-Jun-13 22:44:07

I also think everyone even the most ardent Non selective people that bright kids should be in with kids of similar abilty, so in all schools they has to be streaming not necessary in all subjects but certainaly in maths english and science subjects. a one of the unpleasent things about the 11+ is that some kids who are bright will fail by a small margain and that does create tension and nerves. Even though we were confident both niece and newphew would pass we were still nervous until informed they had both passed.

Phineyj Fri 21-Jun-13 22:45:33

There were quite a few who seemed to have been traumatised by their grammar school experiences on those documentaries too sad.

I am really sorry your school experiences were so horrible but am glad your DNiece is doing so well.

One thing I have noticed is that the schools I've been in seem to be much better at pastoral care than I remember being the case in the 1980s. They take a lot of care to support students with family problems, illness etc. There's a surprising amount of horrible family situations even in our 'leafy' area.

I honestly had no idea of the whole debate around selective education until I went to university. I must have been very sheltered...

boschy Fri 21-Jun-13 22:47:26

I am a governor in a Kent non selective - so, effectively a sec mod in a GS area. on average, our students outperform their targets by a level of 2 grades, while the grammars get them to their grades on average.

Therefore, I would say that the grammars do a fair bit of resting on their laurels... not much added value really is there?!

beatback Fri 21-Jun-13 22:49:56

Even the most ardent Non selective people agree that bright kids should be in with kids of similar abilty.

Phineyj Fri 21-Jun-13 22:52:24

LaVolcan, I also found the teaching I experienced in a grammar in the 80s was mediocre, at least in some subjects, however, we were expected to achieve high grades and mostly we did (after teaching ourselves from textbooks we generally had to buy ourselves). But as I said above as I didn't attend a comprehensive in the 80s I have no idea if the teaching was normal for the time or not.

However, with the reference to Physics I was talking about a specific issue at the moment, which is that the UK is really lacking in students with advanced Maths & Physics and not enough girls are taking the subject because (apparently) they are discouraged from taking it in mixed environments, and in some schools it's not offered anyway.

beatback Fri 21-Jun-13 22:56:09

Phineyj. Thank you for you kind words. I went to a Comprehensive School in the 80s and i do believe i would have had a better education at a Secondary School, i understand everything is different now and we should not hark back to how things were.

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 23:01:16

Phineyj: There is unfortunately this tendancy for people to boast that they are no good at maths - and physics requires a decent facility with maths. People wouldn't dream of boasting that they couldn't read. I don't know what the solution is, but I suspect that it goes deeper than just which school you attend. Then of course, it tends to be self perpetuating. There is a lack of physics and maths graduates, so fewer to go into teaching, hence the subjects being taught by non-specialists, and on.

Phineyj Fri 21-Jun-13 23:01:56

boschy but if your target is an A* and you get an A* is the school going to show added value? In some of the classes I taught last year, half the students were predicted A*.

Phineyj Fri 21-Jun-13 23:05:58

LaVolcan that is all true but the evidence does seem to show that single sex schools, grammars and independents do better in encouraging take up of those subjects. Fwiw the teaching of those subjects seems so much more interesting now and there are so many good resources.

You are right though that people don't seem to think it matters that they 'don't do maths' and it makes my DH so angry. You can probably guess his subjects!

LaVolcan Fri 21-Jun-13 23:14:50

Phineyj - I really couldn't say if that is the case. I did a Maths PGCE 17 years ago, (but never taught as it happens), and did two of my teaching practices in Comprehensives and one in an SM. In all cases it seemed to be the boys who clustered in the bottom sets and the girls who went on to get As (no A*s then). Maybe this was because they had women in charge of the Maths departments, so had good role models?

Talkinpeace Sat 22-Jun-13 00:03:31

Suffolk schools - no family, past life or friends there and DH has not done much work there. But I can data mine if you'd like.

pickledsiblings Sat 22-Jun-13 10:02:10

Talkin, I will probably do the mining myself, but thanks for the offer.

One thing I noticed which is not so easy to spot is that a school in town that came amongst the top comps in the country (not just the county) really did so because of some super bright twins in the sixth form that got 5A* each (or something stella like that) at A level and that seems to have majorly skewed their results. It gives people a false impression that something great is going on at this school compared to the other two schools in town (well it did me) when that it not necessarily the case. I know you shouldn't choose a school based on just results but I would encourage everyone who has an interest in results and using them to compare schools to look very closely and dig deeply.

Talkinpeace Sat 22-Jun-13 16:11:09

yup, they got pretty stellar grades in their 2010 GCSE's as well so the school had to justify the negatives in their 2011 KS4 data and will have to again this year for their KS5 : assuming you are talking about St B's in B grin

pickledsiblings Sat 22-Jun-13 17:15:38

Correct Talkin grin!They've been downgraded from Outstanding to Good and are trying to justify it in terms of the Ebacc hmm.

Talkinpeace Sat 22-Jun-13 17:22:08

Which just goes to show the insanity of the current statistics regime.
The variation is well within the "confidence interval" for the county, inside it for the number of kids in the town and not much outside it for the number in the school.
But the people who write headlines and policy do not understand statistics or analytical review of variances.

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