Advanced search

Grammar schools - why are they different to streaming in comprehensives?

(108 Posts)
tootsietoo Thu 08-Sep-16 13:27:04

So the government has just announced that they will consider reintroducing grammar schools. Admittedly I don't know much about the education system but I don't understand why they are different or better than streaming in a comprehensive school. Would they be funded differently? Have different or better teachers? A narrower range of subjects? As far as I can see to stream in certain subjects in a comprehensive enables the stretching of the academically able children but would allow for movement of children between streams each year therefore avoiding "pigeon holing" children at 11. Explanations gratefully received!

DrDreReturns Thu 08-Sep-16 13:28:50

Because the cut off is at 11 and there is no opportunity for late developers to change sets like there would be in a comp. e.g. if you failed the 11+ but really improved over the next couple of years you would be stuck.

tootsietoo Thu 08-Sep-16 14:05:18

Yes exactly. Sorry should have worded the title better - I wonder how they are different in a better way, seeing as the government obviously thinks they're such a good thing.

HeadDreamer Thu 08-Sep-16 14:11:07

They should listen to this episode of more or less on radio 4

It analyse the statistics on the performance of gramma vs comprehensive.

icouldabeenacontender Thu 08-Sep-16 14:13:04

If my local grammar school is anything to go by, it's a free 'private' school standard education for many families who did private prep schools in the hope that their child would pass the 11+ save them money.
I have my doubts about the social mobility and opportunity factor that was behind the grammar principle initially.

yeOldeTrout Thu 08-Sep-16 14:45:53

Grammars have less funding, because the funding formula is linked to student background, and middle/rich kids dominate at grammars.

Grammars offer less variety of subjects: grammars exist to make kids more academic, not to offer opportunities to find out if they are good at DT or catering, etc.

Someone else pointed this out on another thread... most folk who like grammars are nostalgic for their own grammar school experience, or think that their local comp is rubbish. Plus those who actively endorse elitism & think that the sheep should be sorted from goats as early as possible.

tootsietoo Thu 08-Sep-16 15:41:15

So far no technical reasons then why grammars could offer a better education than a comp?

NotCitrus Thu 08-Sep-16 16:07:08

People believe that there are a core of 'disruptive' children who are both unacademic and who cause trouble, and who would prevent their children learning if they came into contact at the same school.

They simultaneously believe that their children are 'bright' and so if they select on ability for around 25% of 'academic' performers, then they won't need to worry about bad influences.

IME private schools and probably grammar schools are just better at keeping their problems out of the local press, judging by how knife crime and drug dealing were treated at schools I went to.

Also because grammar schools were common at a time of huge social mobility and expansion of middle-class jobs, people believe the grammar schools caused the expansion of the middle class and increased prosperity, rather than businesses having need of more bright people for more complex roles.

2StripedSocks Thu 08-Sep-16 18:12:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sharkinthedark Thu 08-Sep-16 23:17:30

Do grammars find it easier to attract maths and science teachers? That's quite a difference if you're in year 10 or 11.

tootsietoo Thu 08-Sep-16 23:21:24

Then why on earth are they talking about changing the whole system AGAIN when they could achieve similar results by encouraging or requiring streaming in existing comps?

That's interesting 2StripedSocks, that the pupils can be so separated within one school. Although I guess they still do all the social and extra-curricular stuff all together?

I don't understand why it's just assumed that grammars and private schools offer a better education. It's one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that lots of people don't seem to question!

SideEye Thu 08-Sep-16 23:23:55

shark not really. Maths and science teachers are in very short supply.

Grammar schools generally have far far less disruptive behaviour.
The teaching is not necessarily any better.

SideEye Thu 08-Sep-16 23:24:47

Private schools have more freedom to teach what they like. Class sizes can be tiny. Children who have more 1;1 with their teacher do better.

sharkinthedark Thu 08-Sep-16 23:28:13

'shark not really. Maths and science teachers are in very short supply.'

Exactly. So presumably Grammar schools will have less problems attracting maths and science teachers. The children in secondaries will be the one that lose out.

mathsmum314 Thu 08-Sep-16 23:46:36

we dont need to change the system much. But we do need to concentrate the academic children so then get a people education.

mathsmum314 Thu 08-Sep-16 23:48:16

so they get a proper education. Which isn't happening at the moment.

bojorojo Fri 09-Sep-16 01:37:20

Why do academic children not get a proper education in a good comprehensive? The only place no-one gets a good education is in a bad school: secondary modern or comprehensive. We desperately need all children to be well educated. The problem with grammar schools is the fact that the remaining schools, must, by definition, be secondary moderns, not comprehensive. They will lose quite a big proportion of the top sets. They then find it difficult to attract top staff.

I live in a grammar school county, and 12 out of 13 grammars are outstanding. One is good. Only one secondary modern, a choosy C of E one, is outstanding. In my nearest town, all three grammars are outstanding and all three secondary moderns are RI. Who has the best teachers? Who has the best senior leaders? Who has the best progress figures for all the children? The grammars of course. All the others are failing their children. If each grammar took over a secondary and moved teachers around we might get a different picture.

In this day and age, with PP funding, the secondaries get more money and are supposed to "close the gap", but they are really struggling to do this. There is little gap needing to be closed in the grammer schools so their little bit of pp funding is usually easy to account for. Any good comprehensive will now be mobilising to stop a grammar appearing nearby and parents should fight for their schools because what will be left behind may not be what you want when all the good teachers have left.

MaryTheCanary Fri 09-Sep-16 04:22:21

It's a fair question. IN some ways the issues can be similar. However, the actual data on grammar/SM areas suggests strongly that social mobility is worse than in these areas than in areas of comprehensive schools with the usual streaming.

I think that dividing kids into differentschools means that a different culture develops among them--and not in a good way. We all know that the SM is going to struggle to get good teachers, that fewer academic subjects will be on offer, that behavioral standards and expectations will be a lot lower, and that the curriculum will, over time, get progressively less and less demanding.

Look out for lots of cute-sounding buzz words like "engaging" and "relevant to kids' interests" to describe the sorts of curricula and teaching styles that the new SMs will offer. What these words will actually mean is "dumbed down" but nobody will put it that way, of course.

I think all schools should have strict discipline and high standards of behaviour, and a demanding, rigorous academic curriculum. And 11 is also too early to select in this way anyway!

DoctorDonnaNoble Fri 09-Sep-16 05:36:22

dons armour
I teach at a grammar school. A very successful one. In KS3-4 we probably do more subjects than other schools (we have 2 ancient languages on offer alongside the modern for example). Yes, we probably offer fewer A Levels than other schools, but we also offer at least one that others don't and focus, obviously, on the more academic subjects.
I went to one. Not particularly nostalgic for my experience. My teaching school is quite different.
We don't help social mobility as much as I'd like for a variety of reasons (many people don't apply as they don't know/think it's not for them etc).
However, my school is damn good at what it does. We don't just get good results, we get good value added results. Not everyone is ridiculously wealthy. I certainly wasn't. In fact, only one of my friends (from the partner boys school) could have been considered rich. The rest of us were quite run of the mill. I do know some would struggle to attend that school today as the county withdrew free travel passes and that can be a significant expense and one perhaps our old boys association should perhaps look into (many of them are more than well of enough to 'sponsor' a student). In fact, this thread has clarified my thoughts to approach the SMT about how we can improve access. Sorry for the ramble, happy to answer specific questions about how we work. But these threads have taught me that no one will be converting anyone to their way of thinking.

ITCouldBeWorse Fri 09-Sep-16 06:09:47

We have grammars, secondary moderns and a very few comps in our area. As comps get pushed away from anything vocational by the govt, I think they are forced to act as second rate grammars forcing every student towards the baccalaureate - and failing lots of kids.

I agree behaviour tends to be better as the 11+ generally filters out kids with no support and those who are disruptive as they are totally Ill served by mainstream education.

We need really good comps supported by specialist schools or units for those kids who really need them.

DoctorDonnaNoble Fri 09-Sep-16 06:16:53

It is a bit of a fallacy that there are no behavioural issues at grammar schools. Also it's not true that they all want to be there (their parents do; that's different). We have a wide range of SEN, some of which hasn't been identified until the student reaches us for a variety of reasons. I'm glad that we seem to be seeing more of these students now, as I think some people used to think we wouldn't take students with SEN which is silly. Due to the nature of our school a lot of the support our SEN students need is based on behavioural and social issues as academic study is obviously not where the students' difficulties will lie. Our SEN department is growing and as a result I have had the pleasure to teach some quite frankly remarkable students.

SideEye Fri 09-Sep-16 06:28:56


So presumably Grammar schools will have less problems attracting maths and science teachers

Why do you presume that? It's not the case at all. Many teachers don't want to teach in a grammar (some are against them anyway; some are anxious about the level required; some are put off by the lack of flashy equipment - often there are no interactive whiteboards, poor decor, old furniture etc).

DoctorDonnaNoble Fri 09-Sep-16 06:45:02

Sounds like ours. As you say some won't apply as they don't like us. It is also true, especially with maths and science, that some teachers are put off by the level of subject knowledge they think is required.
There is a shortage of science and maths teachers full stop.

LyndaNotLinda Fri 09-Sep-16 08:14:50

They are different because, at the moment, they effectively act as private schools. State schools are not allowed to prep children for the 11+ whereas private schools are. This means that any child from a state school needs additional coaching/tutoring to pass, which generally excludes those from poorer backgrounds.

Where I live (Kent), there is no 13+ - you either get in at 11 or for A levels. There is no mobility in the years between.

There is no evidence that 'bright' children do better if they are separated off from less 'bright' children. It's just social engineering

pleasemothermay1 Fri 09-Sep-16 08:33:56

poster bojorojo Fri 09-Sep-16 01:37:20
Why do academic children not get a proper education in a good comprehensive? The only place no-one gets a good education is in a bad school: secondary modern or comprehensive. We desperately need all children to be well educated. The problem with grammar schools is the fact that the remaining schools, must, by definition, be secondary moderns, not comprehensive. They will lose quite a big proportion of the top sets. They then find it difficult to attract top staff.

be ause children who are bright or want to lean are stuck in classes were other children don't want to lean or are so far behaving the teacher has to teach the c/d student to nither the bright children get challged or the failing students get support no one wins and that seems to be the lefts manta we will help no one as long has were seen to be inclusive my son started high school in the bottom set it was full of children pretty much mucking about those who just didn't want to be at school he quickly rose to the top set in year 8 the difference was transformative for him eveyone wanted to learn now close your eyes think about a whole school were all the children want to lean and all the parents are suppotive

It's not my sons job to inspire or raise the standards of children who are not instrested in speducation and it's not my job as a instrested parent to help engage parents who can't be arsed to buy there children things so basic as a bloody book

My sons had tutoring we lived in a council house had no money and made scafices so he could have it if people would rather smoke Ect or have £70 a month sky why should children not have the education they deserve because other people can not put eduCtion above all else

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now