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Grammar Schools : the debate is about what happens NOW

(520 Posts)
TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 16:09:00

In the 20 years after WW2, when the baby boomers were kids, grammar schools did amazing things for social mobility.

But then, self preservation kicked back in
and since 1970, selective state schools have become progressively less inclusive
to the extent today where the (grammar school educated head of OFSTED) says

the death knell has been rung
as it has for DB pensions (another great Baby Boomer nest lining idea)

so lets bite the bullet and put equal resources into all schools and reduce the carbon footprint of the grammar school madness.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:11:59

state funded grammar schools were universal for such a short period of time, they are a bit crinolines or other anachronisms

Mintyy Sun 15-Dec-13 19:12:18

My dh went to grammar school 1975-1981 in rural Suffolk. He came from a working class family, his mum was 18 when she had him and she and his dad had to work picking potatoes in the evenings/weekends to be able to afford to buy the uniform.

But it is not the same now. There is no way they could have afforded the requisite tutoring.

LaVolcan Sun 15-Dec-13 19:15:38

Basically once girls could go to uni it became a bright people's dating club. This easy goes back 70 years from my DFs stories.

But few girls went to University in those days - even up to the 1970s. Mostly it was teacher training college, especially training for primary teaching, even for grammar school girls - a nice respectable career to follow until your real career of marriage started.

Cambridge had three women's colleges, Oxford had I think 5, compared with many more men's colleges.

soul2000 Sun 15-Dec-13 19:24:41

Talkinpeace. Its unlike you to be crediting grammar schools with having a benefit in improving chances, for children from lower social backgrounds. you are admitting that grammar schools were fundamental in improving the life chances of children born during the 2nd world war.

Where i disagree with you as you know, is that i still believe despite what Wilshaw has said, that grammar schools do still provide social mobility.
The problem is the mobility is provided for children from middle class or aspirational working classes. This is not a reason to destroy what little remains of what could still be ,if used correctly be a great equaliser for children with academic potential born into humble backgrounds. Grammar schools need to be built in areas where urban poverty is prevalent and be strictly targeted at such children who need the education and need to be kept apart
from particular influences to achieve their undoubted potential.

This is never going to happen, as we know. Michael Gove with his decision to knock back the Sevenoaks Satellite grammar , has effectively stopped any chance of any new grammar school ever being built in the uk.

Talkinpeace. When i first read you islands comment , i thought you were talking about the "PROVENCE". The Provence as you now never got round to abolishing grammar schools, probably because they had bigger "PROBLEMS".

SatinSandals Sun 15-Dec-13 19:25:11

I am so pleased that they have eventually found that people buy a place with tutors and that they don't work the way they were intended. Let's hope they all go soon. It is totally unfair that the people with money 'buy' a place and avoid school fees.

SatinSandals Sun 15-Dec-13 19:26:55

Those who don't have the ability to pass the test deserve the very best of education too!

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:33:21


Definitions of social mobility :
scholarship / bursary places given to children with no family history of private school
university attendance by children with no family history of such
academically selective school admission to kids with no family history of such

there are many, many thousands of people who progressed from the 11+ to Oxbridge and the pre RG in the 50's and 60's whose parents could not afford private school - those people have looked after their own kids, but pulled up the drawbridge behind themselves

therefore social mobility linked to schooling has ground to a shuddering halt

as a slightly sarky aside, I think that private school bursaries should only count for charity purposes if the child has no family history of any private school ....

thecatfromjapan Sun 15-Dec-13 19:36:52

TalkinPeace :"Most politicians spend their week days in ^Central London : an area where selective education : private and state - is deemed "normal" by much of the population.^"

There's a lot going on in some of your posts. It's kind of like a termite hive of assertions, posing as axioms.

I think you need to separate the issue of pupil premium and funding from grammar schools: they truly are two separate issues and require separate discussions.

I'm finding that there are many things that are confusing me but that this one is really bothering me.

You have collapsed the issue of MP second homes and education. I just am really confused about that. You do know that quite a lot of the non-London ones leave their families in the provinces, yes?

There is this major thing about central London that is totally bugging me: TalkinPeace, are you aware that there are NO grammar schools in central London? None. Not one.

There are grammar schools in various satellite areas, including Kingston, Kent, Eltham, and those Barnet ones; selective schools of various hues (mainly religious); and paying ones - where they select well-off people's children (and a couple of very poor children to keep the charity people happy).

The whole extra funding thing came into being because it was noticed that the vast majority of people in central London (and I will admit this is changing a bit) were very, very poor. The vast majority of folk in central London - and I include Tower Hamlets and Newham in this, though it is stretching the notion of central - are not in the grammar school rat race. They are totally, utterly out of it. Amazingly, a lot of very poor people are often the very last to be aware that the option of jumping through grammar school hoops exists.

I absolutely assure you that Central London is not an area where selective education - private and state - is deemed normal by much of the population.

You might get that impression from various media, but media tend to over-represent noise, not silence. Or rather, they have a tendency to silence conversations that fall outside their remit.

thecatfromjapan Sun 15-Dec-13 19:39:32

Also: I totally agree with the poster who suggests that grammar schools gave some middle class children a free education where they would have had to pay pre-war.

I think one of the arguments in favour of comprehensive schooling was that a lot of research had demonstrated that the supposedly neutral exams massively favoured the middle classes.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:45:05

where have I mentioned Pupil premium?
it has nothing to do with this thread
shows the different amounts paid by the Government to LEAs regardless of need ...

I absolutely assure you that Central London is not an area where selective education - private and state - is deemed normal by much of the population.
in boroughs like K&C, 45% of kids go to private school.
And the number of selective religions schools - which are speudo grammars (Orartory etc) is unlike anywhere else in the country

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 19:50:34

sorry, spelling mistake - trying to check the spreadsheets at the same time

yes, the superselectives are not located in Central London,
but their ccatchments magically cover it
tyhat and there is rather a surfeit of private schools in central london

where I grew up in Saith Ken, there were so many, I could not even name the state schools
but at least my uniform was less naff than Glendower !

SanityClause Sun 15-Dec-13 19:52:16

The biggest cost for a school is staff. So, of course London schools get more money, as otherwise teachers and other school staff wouldn't earn enough to be able to live.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:03:18

if the funding formula is to so with teacher costs - which have of couse been nationally negotiated,
why does Salford get more per head than Merton?
why does Wiltshire get £4592
but Reading on its border get £5297
why does Hampshire get £4647, but Portsmouth get £5041 ?

and remember that this does NOT include Pupil premium

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:06:23

So if the death knell has been rung for grammar schools why isn't it being rung for private and free schools oh and the schools parents buy places for their dc via property?All of which do far more damage re social mobility.

Sick of the grammar obsession when those bemoaning it in parliament have enjoyed a privileged education above and beyond anybody else and will make sure their kids get the same.

Until they do something re the above quite frankly I couldn't give a stuff what anybody thinks about a few grammar school places.

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:09:30

Also truly sick of London being held up as a model for us all to look at.Aside from the fact London kids get a huge amount more on them and probably get the best re teacher quality London bares no relation to the rest of the country.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:13:04

free schools are an invention of the idiot Gove and will soon be gone.

Private schools are NOT funded by the taxpayer : in fact all those who can afford them are kindly subsidising the rest of us by not using their free places.

Purchasing places/houses - there is no way round that one anywhere in the world


it would help masively if kids went to as local a school as possible, with all of the kids from their area and all (state) schools could hire teachers on the basis of having top sets.

round here I too could not give a stuff about grammars, because we do not have them
and the catholic schools are full of sikhs and muslims
but my couny is unusual
and I do not think that there should be a postcode lottery on access to decent schools
(and I live in the catchment of an utterly crap one BTW)

Metebelis3 Sun 15-Dec-13 20:17:14

I haven't got a problem with all schools getting more resources. But non grammar schools already get more resources in monetary terms than grammar schools. And in many cases have better facilities. There are clear problems in Kent and probably bucks. I don't think the superselectives in other counties are relevant. Posh schools should be tackled before they are.

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:19:09

Catchment is a far,far bigger problem and bar a lottery system which takes away all choice is something I can't see being sorted.

Had to laugh how Wilshaw praised pushy parents and said they pushed up standards. Sooooo pushy parents are ok when it suits.You seriously can't win.

I notice the rich who just buy places by property or a private education are not criticised,it's just the sharp elbowed lower an upper m/CSS.Well can't we advocate social mobility for them?Ie do something re private education which screws us all.

About time they stopped having charity status for a start.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 20:22:06

Retropear said: "So if the death knell has been rung for grammar schools why isn't it being rung for private ..."

The way to reduce the uptake of private school places is to improve the quality of state schools so that they can compete. You don't need grammar/faith selection for that, just better-run comprehensives.

...and free schools...
Apart from the religious ones (a separate issue with its own debate), they're not selective, so I'm not sure what the relevant issue is. In my view the ones that are successful in raising the standards bar for areas where maintained schools have traditionally performed badly will provide some much needed competition for the private sector, as well as for the state sector.

oh and the schools parents buy places for their dc via property?
That's not the individual schools' fault. That's the fault of variation in standards between schools, and the concentration of social housing in some areas rather than others. It does need to be tackled, but there are ways of doing that. If social housing was more evenly distributed, and councils made a point of building new affordable homes near the most popular schools, the effect could be reduced. It would also have an impact if more good/outstanding schools prioritised entry to children on free school meals ... that is something that was introduced as an option in the most recent admissions policy.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:26:24

I live in a "bad catchment" and easily got both my kids into a school four miles away that has a catchment ten miles across

seriously, the "catchment" problem is a London one : outside london over 90% of parents get their first choice of schools

and if LEAS were again allowed to open schools where they were needed (rather than where Toby Young fancies opening one)
there would no longer be black hole streets in London

seriously, chillax about the catchments
worry more about the kids driving daft distances past lots of other schools to get to a "superselective" etc

Grammars are an anachronism.
They should be forced to go fee paying or non selective
and London's admissions should ALL be on the same basis (phr47bridge for admissions minister)

Metebelis3 Sun 15-Dec-13 20:30:02

skating All schools get similar resources to other schools in their local areas.

Nope, GS funding is capped. My DDs SSGS gets less finding per head than DSs comp. in one of the lowest funded counties in the country (although we do get £8 per head more than Wiltshire - but the GS pupils get less per head than those in Wiltshire)

It is a complete red herring to pretend the absence of fair funding is not germane to the debate. It is the key to the debate. But the government and OFSTED would like to keep that dirty little secret, well, as secret as possible, hence they bring up diversions. There are very few GSs in the country. Abolishing them may improve the lot of a few kids in Kent and bucks but that's basically it. Changing the funding formula and funding schools adequately would improve things for everyone. But it would cost. So they will not do it.

straggle Sun 15-Dec-13 20:37:11

Buying property in a middle class or expensive area is no guarantee of a 'good' school. Suffolk is relatively wealthy but the standard is low. The richer the area, the more tribal the instinct to go private. Secondary intakes can be quite wide - even schools in middle class areas have 15-20% on FSM.

Disagree that free schools will 'raise the bar' even if they prove to be popular/'good'. Competition and market forces have never worked - the middle classes have always known which schools are undersubscribed and avoid them, going private if they find no alternative.

skatingRink Sun 15-Dec-13 20:37:23

Talkinpeace said: "Private schools ... all those who can afford them are kindly subsidising the rest of us by not using their free places."

Technically true, but by opting out of the state system they also absolve themselves of any responsibility to help it improve. Imagine if all those wealthy, driven, high achieving parents were motivated to be parent governors at local comprehensives, or even just filled in their annual school survey, or used a portion of what they might save in private school fees to pay voluntary financial contributions? Imagine if the prime minister had no choice but to send his kids to the local comp ... I think it would rapidly improve, don't you?

Retropear Sun 15-Dec-13 20:37:46

Nah won't be chilaxing over catchment thanks as it is widely known to be a huge problem,a far bigger problem(as illustrated by Sutton and indeed Wilshaw) and waiting until all schools are Outstanding,social housing attained deprives many of a decent education for years.In many naice areas building is restricted and large numbers of social housing unlikely thus keeping the status quo.

Grammars grab headlines and are a subject the Daily Wail loves to push but everybody knows what the bigger problem is.The fact is many more benefit from selection through housing so they like to excuse it but it's just the same if not worse.

TalkinPeace Sun 15-Dec-13 20:52:23

please keep private schools out of this
simple reason
they will never EVER be abolished
counrie that have done are an exceellent source of overseas earnings for the UKs most expensive schools ...

your experience of catchments and mine is clearly very different
outside the M25 many of them are HUGE
they include posh houses, ex council estates, middling houses, shops, the whole shebang
and because of demographic change, at any time over 15% of kids come from out of catchment
have a look on this site to see how catchments should work ...
even if the buses are a nightmare !

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