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Benefits of selective education?

(1000 Posts)
AmberTheCat Wed 19-Feb-14 12:41:31

I'm aware that I've been cluttering up the 11+ tutoring thread with discussions the OP said she didn't want, on the merits or otherwise of grammar schools in principle, so I'll stop doing that and start my own thread!

So, I genuinely don't get why so many people think separating children by ability (or potential, or however you try to do it) at 11 or even younger is a good thing. Why will they benefit more from that than from properly differentiated teaching in a comprehensive school? And what about the children who aren't selected? How does a selective system benefit them?

Genuine questions. I'm strongly in favour of comprehensive education, but would really like to better understand the arguments against.

creamteas Sun 23-Feb-14 20:08:11

Selective Education is still with us because certain people think, to quote Orwell, that 'the lower classes smell' .

TalkinPeace Sun 23-Feb-14 20:06:49

Yet again the proof that you are Mrs Gove or her twin sister shrieks at us

Children in poor countries walk to school for miles
Yup, and they die in their thousands

if you cannot see the link between
distance from school in a rural area
and the need to have disposable incme
you are even more stupid than I thought you were

the school buses run at the end of school, not at the end of every after school event, or to every out of school event, or to trips or outings

creamteas Sun 23-Feb-14 20:06:29

If a kid is admitted to a selective school, there is always a way to get her there

Only if you live in some parts of the country. The nearest selective school to me is over 20 miles away. It would probably the best part of two hours and given the infrequency of services, I'm not even sure you could get there on public transport in time. There is no free transport as it is in a different LEA.

LaVolcan Sun 23-Feb-14 20:03:49

Does Colyton take boarders?

Otherwise, if droves of parents were to move from the other end of the country to get their children in, what work would they do? Devon is not noted for having a superabundance of work.

Vanilla: May be there are[bright children], certainly there are some, but this is not relevant to the point of this discussion. Only irrelevant because you are trying to assert that 'all comprehensives are bad', so you have to avoid discussing those that can and do cater for bright children. In the same way that you have decided that 40% is 'most'.

teacherwith2kids Sun 23-Feb-14 20:01:41

"so the country and all people could have great doctors, scientists, innovators, teachers, those people that create new treatments, new technologies and new industries, jobs, create wealth, drive the living standards and contribute most of the taxes, which fund education in first place "

It would be interesting, as the number of grammars have declined, to track whether the number of great doctors, scientists etc has also declined - there is a time lag, obviously, but with most grammar schools dispappearing between 1965 and 1975, those 16-18 year olds who left them 'at the end of their run' would now be coming up to retirement.

Is there evidence that therer is a dearth of such people in their 40s and 50s, because of the far smaller number of grammar schiools? When corrected for distribution (obviously a grammar with 250 able children would reasomnably be expected to produce 5x more able adults than a comprehensive with only 50 such children, so you wouild have to correct for that), are grammars disproportionately represented in our great scientists etc?

Just Googled a couple of recent Nobel prizewinners -one went to a private school, the other to a secondary modern....

Vanillachocolate Sun 23-Feb-14 19:58:06


What is the problem with free bus routes? If a kid is admitted to a selective school, there is always a way to get her there.

Children in poor countries walk to school for miles. Not bothering to apply to a good school in UK because the bus doesn't stop right at the door is just the reflection of aspirations and attitudes of those families. This damages the kids, sadly, but it is not the fault of Colyton school.

TalkinPeace Sun 23-Feb-14 19:44:32

I did not mention FSM : but if what you assert is correct then Colyton will have the same FSM as the other schools in its area.
Is that the case?
if not why not?
are poor kids thick?
or can only those with resources consider superselectives if they do not live right on a free bus route
AND within a distance to allow pickups after extra curricular activities (sports, music, arts, extension work) that are not covered by the free buses

its something I'm very aware of because half of DCs catchment has no direct public transport, so the cost of living there is massively increased

venturabay Sun 23-Feb-14 19:35:36

Herc yes you're correct. There's less competition to get into the school (sorry Duchesse) but it still scores more highly than many of the most competitive London grammars in the league tables. In terms of education delivered it must presumably therefore be doing something particularly right?

venturabay Sun 23-Feb-14 19:32:03

Talkin absolute drivel. Colyton is not in any way only open to the rich and you can't have any evidence to support that ridiculous claim since it just isn't true. Please don't quote FSM stats since they're no different at Colyton to any other grammar. You said rich, so let's deal with the rich claim. Average income? % of private schoolers? In fact colyton has a particularly forward thinking bursary system to assist with transport costs and although some kids travel 25 miles the overwhelming majority don't. I think you'd be hard pushed to find a school which has a greater conscience about transport costs actually, but then no other school in the country has the same geographical challenge. Anyhow, drivel and utterly uninformed as is so much on MN.

Duchesse, I'm sorry to be cruel but I also think your own comments are strange and unfair so I'm prepared to throw a low blow back, which I ordiraily wouldn't but 'disturbing' is a sinister word. Isn't the thing you actually find most disturbing about the school the fact that each of your three DC all failed to get in despite being in the top whatever % according to some other test that they took? If you can offer up anything else properly 'disturbing' about the school then please let us know. Incidentally, with no child at the school and without being a teacher there how much do you actually know.....?

Apologies to others for this diversion.

CecilyP Sun 23-Feb-14 19:25:20

Feel free - I don't want to do it on my own!

grovel Sun 23-Feb-14 19:21:58

Martorana, please feel free to scream.

Martorana Sun 23-Feb-14 19:11:42

Would anyone mind if I screamed.....?

Vanillachocolate Sun 23-Feb-14 18:57:44

why is selection at 11 better than at 16 or 18?
Because at 16 and 18 they are too far behind those who benefited from more stimulating education...

TalkinPeace Sun 23-Feb-14 18:47:24

if the superselectives do brilliantly with those who are in the top 5% in a few subjects at age 11

what is the the ideal provision for
(a) the late developers in that year group who would have been in the top 5% if measured at age 12

(b) the 6-10% of brightest who miss the cut for the halcyon SS schools

why is selection at 11 better than at 16 or 18?

(and FWIW the college that shouts loudest about its oxbrisge entrance is only incrementally ahead of the others : comps have that nasty effect)

HercShipwright Sun 23-Feb-14 18:41:25

Martorana There is no special method of selection to get into Colyton. It's very straightforward. VR, English, Maths, top 120 marks overall get in, you have to pass all 3 papers though. They give you useful information about your standing too, now, once your child has taken the test, so that you can decide whether it's worth using a choice on your CAF. The only odd thing about the school is a much smaller number of people apply than for e.g. Tiffins because fewer people live round here.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 23-Feb-14 18:33:23


I suppose they sink or swim as most kids do.
Sometimes the worst school in the area can improve for a while, if your dc happen to be there at the time they are lucky. This is what happened to my ds1. The school really was bad and there were about 6 of them who were bright and/or had parental support.
The super head who turned the school round for the brief time he attended can be heard on Radio 4 quite often. It is a shame that you have to pray you manage to hit it so lucky. DS2 wasn't as lucky and a previously good CofE high school tumbled drastically at the time he was there. sad

wordfactory Sun 23-Feb-14 18:25:26

Well Colyton, Tiffin etc are selective schools that I feel offer an appropriate education to those pupils of the highest ability.

I don't think most top sets in comps come close and I don't think that's fair.

Martorana Sun 23-Feb-14 18:21:42

I thought this thread was about the benefits or otherwise of selection in general, not specifically about the sort of selection that gets people into Colyton, Westminster et al- who might aw well be in the moon for the average grammar school parent.

The having faith in your children point was a bit cheap, but after multiple accusations of social envy, whatever that it, but I don't like the sound of it, selfishness, double standards and so on, my patience was beginning to crack...

Vanillachocolate Sun 23-Feb-14 18:19:49

don't have the option of a comprehensive school do lose out practically and psychologically. How can you justify this?

But we don't have real secondary moderns for ages. All schools have comprehensive curriculum. I really don't understand what do you mean they loose practically? This is a red herring.

They are damaged psychologically because of entrenched educational policy of leaving behind the least able, which is built into school set up, resources, teaching and assessments.

These kids loose equally in what you call comprehensives. They just loose. sad

duchesse Sun 23-Feb-14 18:14:45

As it happens, Talk, I agree with you.

There are many things I find disturbing about that school and that is definitely one of them. I've just checked the current situation on free school transport based on income and it's basically, no. Only if it's your nearest school but you live more than 3 miles away. Which means that only children who qualify but live probably less than 6 miles away will get free school transport. Yet another way of selecting by income...

TalkinPeace Sun 23-Feb-14 18:13:39

but any school with a 60 mile catchment is a value judgement
as if the other kids go to local schools

or you do not live on a bus route
or after school clubs mean a 100 mile round trip every night for parents
parents evening when you work 50 miles away ....
sports events delivery and drop off .... 200 miles a night (how much in petrol)
revision sessions in half term ....

a school with a catchment that big is only really accessible to the rich

Vanillachocolate Sun 23-Feb-14 18:09:58

I don't think the bottom 20% are that relevant to the majority of parents. If you are the parent of a reasonably bright child considering whether to go for a comprehensive or have a stab at the 11+, I can't think of anything that could be further from your mind than the support afforded to the bottom 20% at the comprehensive.

Cecil, of course maybe you don't worry about the support afforded to the bottom, but it is that bottom that makes many of the local comprehensives to be failing underachieving schools with disruptive culture.

You will not choose the school for the support afforded to the bottom 20%, but you will choose to avoid that school for the lack of that support.

wordfactory Sun 23-Feb-14 18:09:57

And I think you telling people to have faith in their DC is ugly and hypocritical!

wordfactory Sun 23-Feb-14 18:07:58

martorana it's not about the grades they get FHS!

It's about how the curriculum is studied and to what depth and breadth.

I can absolutely assure you that what the students are exposed to at Colyton, Westminster et al is not in the same ball park as the average top set in comp that will have students aiming for an A at the end of year 11.

Martorana Sun 23-Feb-14 18:07:36

"The point is an individual parent is concerned about the schooling of their individual children and for many children selection is the best choice and local comprehensive is a no go area"

Well, I am an individual parent, and I actually think that while I am concerned about the schooling of my individual children, I am also concerned about the society in which they are going to live. This thread happens to be about selection. Selection could only be morally defensible if the majority of children who don't get selected benefit from the system as well. And in selective areas, the children who don't get selected, and also, by definition, don't have the option of a comprehensive school do lose out practically and psychologically. How can you justify this?

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