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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.

teacherwith2kids Tue 24-Dec-13 20:23:09


I haven't encountered it in any of the primaries that I have experience of as a parent, or as a teacher - big, small, Ofsted Outstanding down to satisfactory, several different counties: probably around 10 schools.

I appreciate that this doesn't in any way indicate that it NEVER happens, but I would say that I have limited evidence that it happens in 'lots of primaries'. I can also see that if it is your experience in a single school it is hard nopt to believe that it may happen elsewhere - but what is your evidence that it is widespread?

It did happen occasionally when I was a child, although tbh in the 5 primaries I attended the normal structure for maths was for every child to work through their own textbook, with very different levels being worked on across the class [anyone remember the alpha and beta series from 35 or so years ago?]

Branunion Tue 24-Dec-13 19:51:17

This happens in lots of primaries.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Tue 24-Dec-13 12:13:15

It was like this in ds junior school as I said way earlier.

The school is now in special measures because of its poor maths and English results.

TalkinPeace Tue 24-Dec-13 10:20:45

That sounds very unusual.
DD used to help others in her class, but only after she had done the main work, done the extension work and was then going to be a PITA

but it was sold to us as consolidation and I agree with that
- she's currently working towards predicted A* in maths and further maths GCSE so it seems to have done no harm.

MrsJamin Tue 24-Dec-13 10:17:50

I've never heard of this before, Branunion, it is not accepted practice in state schools - children should be given extension work.

Branunion Tue 24-Dec-13 10:01:46

My experience of mixed ability maths at primary is that the children who are working beyond expectations for the year get sat next to children who are struggling and are expected to help them. This actually only happened with the girls as they 'were more nurturing' according to the teacher. The boys who were very good at maths had their own table. I took my girl out of state education for this reason.

Doobydoo Fri 20-Dec-13 19:13:40

Don't just pick on Grammar Schools...Eton et al....also.Pool resources, great/inspirational teachers.Then we would have alevel playing field.
My ds is at a supposedly super selective Grammar...I think it rather mediocre....tests tests and more tests.

MuswellHillDad Fri 20-Dec-13 19:00:14


Agree completely muswellhilldad. You summed it up nicely fir me.

Thanks soaking up the glory ..... Happy Holidays everyone

TalkinPeace Fri 20-Dec-13 16:23:35

DH does not have that one ( yay I can get him a pressie he's not already bought himself )
But the author is right : when he does maths outreach with groups he focuses on "applied maths" which makes sense to many of them when algebra just brings out the MEGO factor.

Sadly the curriculum (maths and other subjects) is written by people who enjoy the subject and generally only interact with people at A level or above.
When they do bother to visit a classroom it is on best behaviour mode so they do not get to see teachers and kids as they normally are.

Again something where DH has the huge advantage - as schools do not find him threatening - but because he does not have a PhD or work in a university faculty, his experience of firing up tens of thousands of kids a year counts for nothing.

pickledsiblings Fri 20-Dec-13 16:02:21

May I recommend this for all of you that are dissing mixed ability maths teaching: Jo Boaler, the Elephant in the classroom.

TalkinPeace Fri 20-Dec-13 15:31:37

not setting in maths is insane - get a membership for the TES forums and set them loose on finding you research to back that up

Maths is the most extreme of the subjects for naturally accelerated learning .... hence why some kids can pass the GCSE at 10 but by 25 are no longer exceptional
its also one of the notorious subjects that some kids "get" really late if at all - its cruel to expect them to work at the same speed.

lainiekazan Fri 20-Dec-13 09:49:29

The new head of dd's primary school is adamant she wants the setting of maths to stop. Dd's teacher told me that the staff are utterly opposed to this. In year 6 there are some children who are well into the secondary maths syllabus, and others who are on the 2X table.

I can see how a truly inspirational, energetic and unfailingly patient teacher might be able to teach English to a mixed ability class (and a less than great teacher could sling out a few differentiated worksheets), but not maths.

summerends Fri 20-Dec-13 05:57:35

All clear now fgrin

TalkinPeace Thu 19-Dec-13 22:38:08

Tee hee - well I never assumed I got my Secret Santa for stirring it on this board fwink
I hide over here

summerends Thu 19-Dec-13 22:18:09

I am obviously have a lot to find out, I don't even know what 5:2 is.

TalkinPeace Thu 19-Dec-13 22:13:20

come join 5:2 - that is where I spend most of my time fwink

TalkinPeace Thu 19-Dec-13 22:12:30

which is why flexible setting is the best
because then each group of kids gets individual attention at the level they are working without the distraction of others

and having different setting for each cluster of subjects makes it even more customised and less "one size fits all"

summerends Thu 19-Dec-13 22:11:33

Talkin I am just interested in what the best comprehensives can offer and know that yours is offered as an example what can be achieved. It is certainly not stalking just collating information from what caught my eye in the triple science thread. It was useful to have the inconsistency explained by you. You are a prolific poster so there is certainly no need to stalk to see your comments in other threads. Methinks you are being a tad oversensitive wink

HurstMum Thu 19-Dec-13 21:50:23

It's just how do you teach a class were some are at consistently say, around 95-100% correct in maths tests and others manage no more than say 15% -20% in same test?

Where some might be bilingual virtually (because of parents) in French and others can barely utter two words together?

Both ends of the scale need attention in their own way, and constantly teaching to the middle ignores their needs and kids in each end could therefore become bored or worse, disruptive in class.

wordfactory Thu 19-Dec-13 21:44:04

Hurst I must admit that when setting was introduced at DC's prep school in year 3 or 4, I was shock.

But I quickly saw how well it worked and got over myself.

TalkinPeace Thu 19-Dec-13 21:41:12

DCs primary school was only 30 per year so not really an option

HurstMum Thu 19-Dec-13 21:31:44

mixed ability sets at even upper primary level for certain subjects is a disaster especially maths and languages (excruciating for the top and bottom I would think) ...perhaps for others like history less so

TalkinPeace Thu 19-Dec-13 21:20:05

Please do not quote my posts from one thread, out of context, in another.
I know that what I say must be utterly fascinating to you,
but that is stalking.

pickledsiblings Thu 19-Dec-13 19:13:08

curlew, mixed ability done badly is awful but it can be done well you know.

summerends Thu 19-Dec-13 18:32:04

That's more reassuring Talkin. If you read through your post below you didn't say that before. The last group seemed to refer just to the top set
^for the lowest ability, just to get through the Ebacc, they do Single Science which is modules B1, C1 and P1 of the syllabus

middle ability kids to Double Science which is modules B1, B2, C1, C2, P1, P2

pretty bright kids do triple science in three timetable slots - being B1, B2, B3, C1, C2, C3, P1, P2, P3

the top set do triple science in two timetable sets, allowing them to do another option.

If your child wants to do science A levels, they need to be in that last group.^

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