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News: Announcing the End of G&T

(87 Posts)
DadAtLarge Fri 26-Jun-09 10:12:32

Article on Mixed Ability Classes Failing our Brightest Pupils
(Just one in a series of how schools are failing intelligent children)

- millions of bright children are being failed by the "one size fits all" comprehensive system, according to a former Downing Street advisor.
- bright pupils would be better served by expanding the influence of the country's 164 grammars.
- academic standards had suffered because of an obsession with fairness.
- the number of children eligible for G&T has ballooned from 180,000 to 700,000 but its budget had remained almost the same
- the budget for G&T is £7 per gifted and talented child per year.

Today, the government has announced scrapping National Strategies. link

Does that spell the end of G&T?

cory Fri 26-Jun-09 10:47:44

I hope grammars don't come back into our county; we seem to be doing so much better without them

and I think the idea of seeking out the brightest children at 7 to offer them places at grammar school is a serious mistake;
it will definitely disadvantage late developers- which will almost certainly mean a higher proportion of boys

reminds me of my brother who was not showing any signs of brightness at age 7, was clearly bright at the end of junior school, was top of everything at secondary school and is now a highly successful academic who speaks about 15 languages

he would have been sent to some dump school then, because he was still a bit slow at 7

yet another knee jerk reaction

FAQinglovely Fri 26-Jun-09 10:51:20

I would actually like to see the return of grammars - or at least a systems which works in a similar way.

Some children are simply NOT "academic" in the sense that others are.

My dad went to a comp - and it was ideal for him - he left school at 16 and went into Electrical Engineering, as an apprentice for a short while and then to a Polytechnic (do they even exist these days grin). He'll be the first to admit that a grammar school would have been totally the wrong school for him.

Our current system simply doesn't cater for those that aren't academic but actually have skills. My brother was one of those, not academic in the slightest and he was totally failed by his academic focussed school.

There is a massive shortage in some areas of employment of skilled workers and I don't think our current school system does anything to help the situation.

cory Fri 26-Jun-09 10:57:04

what I would like to see is comprehensives that are truly comprehensive, i.e. offer vocational programmes as well as more academic ones. But where there is a possibility of switching over if you find you were sorted too soon. And where the academic and the non-academic children are still meeting and learning to get on with each other.

in fact, round here- where there are no grammar schools- a lot of the schools do actually go some way to meeting this requirement: dd's school though quite academic also offer a lot of technology courses, and another local school is strong on drama and performance

what I would like to see is more funding for the vocational courses, but within a comprehensive framework

admit I have a personal take on this: my dd is highly academic - and with no gift for practical things- but was ill a lot during Yr 6, so might well have messed up a grammar school entrance exam

and I know plenty of other children whose needs and tastes were simply not defined at age 11

abraid Fri 26-Jun-09 10:58:44

There's no doubt in my mind that the people who have suffered since grammar schools went are bright children from poorer backgrounds.

DadAtLarge Fri 26-Jun-09 11:52:14

Yes, abraid, according to the first link in the OP "children from socially disadvantaged families" are the ones who've lost out most by closing grammars.

cory, what are we doing better without grammars? Catering better for the non-academic students and making the academic students work in a mixed ability environment?

This a very competitive world. And Britain is falling behind. Abolishing grammars is a good way to accelerate that fall.

cory Fri 26-Jun-09 11:57:05

DAL several counties do have grammar schools. And they also tend to have sink comprehensives.

hocuspontas Fri 26-Jun-09 12:11:45

So what are the stats on bright but socially disadvantaged children in areas where there are still grammar schools? Is there a substantial number among the tutored state pupils and the previously privately-educated ones?

We have fantastic comprehensive schools in E.Herts. I don't want the government tinkering in this neck of the woods.

Proper differentation is fine for the majority of those defined as G & T. It's only those with off-the-scale gifts or talents that need special consideration. Hope they scrap the scheme.

DadAtLarge Fri 26-Jun-09 12:12:20

I know. But both parties seem to think alike on this and the Tories aren't going to be starting any new ones.

My question is what's better without grammars? And why?

GrungeBlobPrimpants Fri 26-Jun-09 12:15:36

Well I was a bright kid from a poor background who went to a grammar and there is no way I would wish to see the return of that system. We are on the borders of a grammar area but there is no way my dc's are going there - they are going to the (admittedly good) local comps instead.

Those who want a return to grammar system do so because they think their own dc's are, of course, grammar material. They forget that Grammars = crap comps, as Cory says (funny how there is no campaign to 'bring back secondary moderns').

There is no black and white grammar or sec mod child. There are shades of grey in between. There are early bloomers and late developers.

DAL - comps don't mean mixed ability classes. They all set for the core subjects from the start - a maths whizz isn't going to be in the same set as a child who struggles with basic sums.

mummyrex Fri 26-Jun-09 12:24:20

We live in Bucks and one dc is going to a grammar school while the other will be starting at the local 'comp' in Sept. Both are excellent schools.

Where is your evidence that Grammar School counties have more 'sink' comprehensives than anywhere else?

Personally I think we should have a third tier of secondary schools because I think the lowest performing, academically speaking are least well served currently. Something more like the German system.

GrungeBlobPrimpants Fri 26-Jun-09 12:32:14

Mummyrex - link here lists some of the country's worst performing schools. Many of them (Kent, Lincs, Watford area) are also grammar areas.

cory Fri 26-Jun-09 12:32:41

what I have against grammars is that I have met a fair few of the people who were educated at the crap comps- my BIL was one of them- he learnt nothing whatsoever at school expect to despise education; he is actually a very intelligent man, but his future would have depended on a snapshot taken when he was 11

also I have met teachers who were working in the old-fashioned comps and my hair has stood on end at the dismissive way in which they spoke of their pupils ("oh well, my class can't actually learn my subject so I talk to them about something else instead")

if you've read Barry Hines' Kes, you'll get the general idea

I went to school in a system which did not even set for ability in most subjects and while I was occasionally bored, I reckon that did far less damage to me as a person than being taught to dismiss other people as unable to learn just because they didn't happen to pass a test on one day of their lives when they were 11

cory Fri 26-Jun-09 12:34:15

what I have heard about the German system- and I may well be wrong here- is that the suicide rate among young people is abnormally high because of academic pressure

FAQinglovely Fri 26-Jun-09 12:38:53

cory - I learnt very little at school while under the current school system, and my brother left school with no GSCE's to his name. I was lucky that I got a place at a music school which somehow miraculously got my academic skills up to a reasonable standard in time for Standard Grades and Highers.

mummyrex Fri 26-Jun-09 12:43:47

You seem to have a very narrow way of assessing a school. These are league tables of academic performance so yes of course, a non-selective school in a selective area is at a disadvantage (when it comes to league table standings) but that doesn't mean it isn't a great school.

For example, The Beaconsfield School in on the list you just pointed to. However, it is an excellent and heavily oversubscribed school. I can say that hand on heart because we appealed for our dc to go there instead of our allocated school (which has much better academic results on paper) because we thought it would suit or particular DC better. We failed to win our appeal, and are 35th on the wait list! We have now decided to accept the place we have been given, because as I said it is ALSO an excellent school.

Your list doesnt specify the social-economic catchment of the schools nor the admissions procedure in the selective areas (which I think makes a HUGE difference)

GrungeBlobPrimpants Fri 26-Jun-09 12:57:06

Yes it is a narrow view, true. Two of those failing schools are also very close to where I live - within the catchment area for the grammars. Both in special measures, both in a fairly affluent area - they are failing rather than a reflection of poor socio-economic catchment.

But if a school reflects its socio-economic catchment, surely what you are saying is that grammars are the preserve of the wealthy, sink comps the preserve of the poor?

UnquietDad Fri 26-Jun-09 13:00:56

If we had more grammars, in poorer areas too, then it wouldn't be so much of a problem. Many of the current issues arise because there aren't enough.

mummyrex Fri 26-Jun-09 13:12:18

Schools are good and schools are bad for lots or reasons.

The Beaconsfield school USED to be a sink school in a real sense, poor academic standards, poor standards all round, the LAST school anyone wanted for their kids. All it took was a good headteacher to turn it around. 5 years on it is as I described with wait lists and appeals to get in etc

I think the selective system has become highly manipulated by the wealthy. I analysed the stats for Bucks for example and a large proportion of GS students come from the private sector. Many children are tutored for 2 to 3 years to pass the narrow test at exorbitant cost.

Again, the German system has some good practice, such as decisions being based on whole academic record and made with parents. Also much firmer catchment policy so you don't get 'middle-class' flight from schools when they hit a blip.

etc, etc, etc there are so many factors and I don't type very well!

mummyrex Fri 26-Jun-09 13:18:08

I agree UD. And they should have strong catchment first policies NOT 'super-selective'

For example Slough, I think their Grammar schools do a terrible job of serving their LA and community because they just take the best petforming kids (on the day of the test)of all those who sat the exam. The result is that there are children travelling in from 20 plus miles away. The Slogh schools serve all the kids in West London who crammed for the test for 3 years RATHER than the children of Slough.

In Bucks every child who passes the test is then treated equally and admission criteria in then catchment based.

abraid Fri 26-Jun-09 13:20:49

I originally come from Kingston, whose grammar schools now take children from about 30 miles away. I think this is very unfair on the local children who would get in if selection were limited to the borough.

seeker Fri 26-Jun-09 13:26:43

I live in a grammar school area and all the places in grammar schools are taken up by the children of middle class professional people. The archetypal bright child from a disadvantaged background hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of getting a place. Not sure if they ever would have - but they certainly wouldn't now.

snorkle Fri 26-Jun-09 13:28:59

I don't like selection at 11. It goes all wrong too often. Look at Milliways dd - umpteen A*s at GCSE, and a Cambridge offer, yet she failed 11+.

mummyrex Fri 26-Jun-09 13:30:17

you can't legally restrict admission to a borough or an area, what you can do is give preference to catchment and distance from the school - add that to treating all who pass as being equal then you give local kids a fair chance, especially is it is a less afluent area (with less tutoring and manipulation)

GrungeBlobPrimpants Fri 26-Jun-09 13:30:18

Oh I see what you mean now mummyrex. Grammar system near to me is 'super selective' - best marks on day of test. Appalling. Two years of crammining minimum requirement ... which is different that operating in Bucks by the sound of it.

I still vehemently disagree with grammars though. A GOOD comp can provide a good academic education and a good vocational education. Shades of grey again.

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