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Article arguing for selective education

(62 Posts)
BonsoirAnna Sun 23-Aug-09 09:47:34


Callisto Sun 23-Aug-09 10:06:40

I read this yesterday and thought it was very interesting. I tend to agree that lumping children of various abilities together doesn't benefit any of them: the less academic feel stupid and the more academic are bored.

pofacedandproud Sun 23-Aug-09 10:09:09

I agree with him. And I find it outrageous that the politicians all talk about how unegalitarian selective schools are, and eradicate that option from the state system, then all send their children either to independent schools or the best state schools available.

BonsoirAnna Sun 23-Aug-09 10:12:25

I thought it a very well presented argument for something I agree strongly with. I live in a country (France) with a much more extreme version of comprehensive education up to age 15 than the UK, and it is such a waste of space and talent.

LilyOfTheMountain Sun 23-Aug-09 10:20:46

I'm very torn on this whole issue

S1 is bright. People tell me that endlessly- teachers we meet about, family, Rivemn [wink. ANd yet at school he eprforms badly. I am certain this is because after missing a year of teaching (well he didnt but went from a system that teaches nothing formally in reception to one that did, so missed all his foundations) he is now bored rigid by the lessa ble groups he is in. he also has AS which does mean his needs are best met differently.

I'm considering HE because I am desperate for him nott to be shoved into low ability groupings in yr7; and his experience reflects my experience as well- that a wrong setting due to external factors (in my case bad home life) can negatively affect things so very badly and if a child then labels themselves as not so bright, 11+ failure etc then it is very hard to brak that.

' It is right that clever, well-educated children from comfortable families should rise to senior positions ' I don't agree, I think it is right that able children should be indentified and helped to achieve regardless of their background. I took my degree at 35 with 4 small children: although I am glad I had the chance, I wouldn't wish the factors that caused me to have to wait that long on my worst enemy. A major factor was streamiing, and Grammar would ahve been worse as people in my Primary were far better at swearing and nicking in the main than academics, there would have been no provision to enable the few like me to achieve (well there wasn't, but at least that could be partly remdied later on).

I am however in favour of a yet as undeveloped more flexible system that allows for movement rather than a sorry- at- 11- you- failed message.

kathyis6incheshigh Sun 23-Aug-09 10:24:18

what Pofaced says.
The hypocrisy makes steam come out of my ears.

BonsoirAnna Sun 23-Aug-09 10:25:49

I fear it's the same everywhere. Here in Paris all the movers and shakers send their children to selective schools (which in many ways are worse than English selective schools, as they take parental background/achievement into greater account than a child's ability).

PitysSake Sun 23-Aug-09 10:27:11

in the telegraph?>
whodathunk it

kathyis6incheshigh Sun 23-Aug-09 10:27:16

" 'It is right that clever, well-educated children from comfortable families should rise to senior positions ' I don't agree, I think it is right that able children should be indentified and helped to achieve regardless of their background."

I don't think he is implying that ONLY the ones from comfortable families should rise - that is the opposite of the rest of what he is arguing. He just means it's inevitable that there will be a lot of bright middle-class kids who do well academically and get great jobs and there's nothing wrong with that.

StripeySuit Sun 23-Aug-09 10:29:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BonsoirAnna Sun 23-Aug-09 10:33:08

There is so much confusion about equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.

sabire Sun 23-Aug-09 10:34:21

It's quite worrying that someone who's been an education minister doesn't take on board that most comprehensive schools these days stream their pupils by ability.

LilyOfTheMountain Sun 23-Aug-09 10:38:19

I guess that depends on how you read it smile

I agree there is nthing wrong with that; the crux is almost down to poliotical leaning- whether you ahve a system that enables the naturally successful in our current set up (which is what we have) or focuses on one that can pick up the potential from the stragglers-who-could.

The first is by far cheaper and in many ways logical, but I find the second ethically preferable.

There are wayas to achieve that though without necessarily changing the entire system that would be compatible with Grammar. A higher-end version of ds3's school (he attemnds a SNU where he is able to access MS as he is able) for example- children are more complex than 'bright or not', many could benefit from a mix.

Also widening access to top up education for those who have missed out- if I pull ds1 to work at maximum input on his schoolwork, I do so in the knowledge that I am in some way fortuante to be able (that would make those who know why I can PTSL though), not all can do that so more access to homework groups (would have made a big difference to me personally with my chaotic homelife), more input from professionals who can teach in different styles and miore input foraprents- I have relaised I have no idea at all where the bys shgould be at theitr present stage, school offers nothing (and it is a top CofE school).

there are bright children, there are those who are able in different ways so should thrive in a system that focusses on the very real importance of other skills in life, but there are many children who are floating in the wrong place atm and these have been failed by both systems. What we need isn't a return to what-didn't-work- before(and really, at widening access it didn't for many, my Dad whose parents felt it was too expensive and unfair that one of their 16 children should go to gramamr after good 11+ whilst the others festered at a local sink school for one) but a merger what has been found to be successful from both systems.

BonsoirAnna Sun 23-Aug-09 10:40:20

I think you have to think beyond "ethically preferable" towards "globally competitively imperative" smile

LilyOfTheMountain Sun 23-Aug-09 10:40:49

BA I agree about the equality of opportunity and equality of outcome difference.

however, I do not agree that taking children into a school for the brighter ones at 11 enables the equality of opportunity to bea chieved: i'm a massive advocate for seriously boosting the value palced of different outcomes- I don't care whether my child is a plumber or a Professor as long as it suits them- but I don't think Gramamr solves that any better than comp, it just presents us with different problems instead.

LilyOfTheMountain Sun 23-Aug-09 10:42:38

No BA, I don't- because it is vitally important that behimnd every pragmnatic, economically aware decision amker there are fifty of us ethically motivated campaigners providing some semblance of balance to the system. That is how all children are enabled, through compromise and co-operation.

BonsoirAnna Sun 23-Aug-09 10:45:09

I don't think the two are at odds (which is why I said "beyond" rather than "versus").

I was interested to read elsewhere that take up for A levels in mathematics and economics had risen. That is very good news - pupils are themselves realising that these are important subjects that translate into real jobs.

violethill Sun 23-Aug-09 11:27:11

Very interesting posts Lily. I agree with you that a return to old systems would be pointless and would just lead to greater numbers of children being failed. The fairly arbitrary segregation of children at age 11 into those deemed suitable for a grammar school education and those suitable for secondary modern took no account of the complexities of intelligence, ability and performance.

Comprehensive educcation has moved significantly since I attended a comp. Mine was what I would call truly comprehensive, ie mixed ability classes right the way through to 16, which had a lot of downsides, though having said that, I went on to A levels, University and postgrad degrees so it must have done something right!

In contrast, comps now almost always set by ability, the ones in my area do so from Year 7, and if you are in the top sets then it's probably not much different to the old grammar schools. Ours also offers IB at 6th form - all very different from when I was at school.

I agree though Lily,that the future needs to be a merging of the best ideas and principles from all systems.

kathyis6incheshigh Sun 23-Aug-09 12:03:12

"if you are in the top sets then it's probably not much different to the old grammar schools."

Probably true of many good comprehensives, not by any stretch of the imagination true of the one in our area, sadly. If it was I would be very happy to send my dcs there. There's nothing like the curriculum available that a grammar school would have had, nor are there things like a school library you might think are obvious. Only 9% get a modern languages GCSE grade A-C so even in the top set it wouldn't be very grammar-style.

Where we once had arbitrary selection by ability we now have arbitrary selection by catchment which so often means house price. I just don't see that this is an improvement.
Where my dad went to school (grammar, mining village) the three schools (grammar, good secondary modern, crap secondary modern) have now been replaced by one mega sink comprehensive, so everyone gets failed instead of just a third of the children....

violethill Sun 23-Aug-09 12:16:31

Exactly kathy, which is why we need an overhaul of the system so that it isn't a lottery.

I agree it's completely wrong that some people feel they have to either part with huge amounts of money to buy an adequate education privately, or move to the 'right' area, or take their chances in a grammar school catchment area.

I know my friends and I are lucky to not have to need to do those things.

kathyis6incheshigh Sun 23-Aug-09 12:26:52

It's so hard isn't it Violethill?
I am in favour of reintroducing selectivity, not because I think it's an ideal system (it's not - it will always have casualities) but because I believe that pragmatically it's probably the most straightforward, likely-to-be-effective way of restoring opportunity to a lot of children who currently don't have it and who will benefit from it, in a less than ideal world.
But it certainly wouldn't improve things for everyone. It is not the magic cure that would suddenly sort out our education system.

Lilymaid Sun 23-Aug-09 12:27:00

I think it is the usual Telegraph tosh served up to satisfy the prejudices of those who think like DM readers but think they are better than them.
I particularly disagreed with this comment:
"A Chinese minister for education once asked me whether it was true that we put pupils of different abilities in the same class. Inscrutability is a myth: his face was agape with incredulity when I explained the comprehensive system."
My experience is that my DCs were set in ability groups from the age of 7 if not earlier. Certainly at secondary school there were class sized sets for Maths, English, Science from Y7 so that there was no reason that the brighter children should have been "held back" by others.
There are problems with state education - such as a lack of specialist teachers in some subjects (e.g. physics) and government pressure to dumb down education in order to embellish its statistics at minimum cost.

edam Sun 23-Aug-09 12:31:33

To be fair to Walden, the full quote was: "It is right that clever, well-educated children from comfortable families should rise to senior positions, and wrong to try to block their ascent by doing away with the charitable status of independent schools, or interfering with university admissions. But it is equally wrong that expensively educated mediocrities should be over-promoted in so many areas." (My emphasis).

Pointing to Germany as an example is a bit bonkers though - maybe he should read MN before he posts approvingly about their education system.

LilyOfTheMountain Sun 23-Aug-09 15:06:55

True, Edam, it was.

You know, we have a 'great' academic comp here, and people move to be close. it's only all it is amde up to be if you are bright, academic and NT: everyone else falls through the system and there are no other options becuase of locality* so comp system can be just as bad as gramamr.

*Unless, as with ds1, you are fortunate enough to have a statement of SEN that allows you to have first choice of all the city schools. He's bright but late developing (has gained 5 reading years in the alst year) and the key factor is not academic focus, but confidence building- fortunately I have the power (He Man moment wink) to select a school that can focus on that, most cannot.

pofacedandproud Sun 23-Aug-09 15:58:34

'Where we once had arbitrary selection by ability we now have arbitrary selection by catchment which so often means house price. I just don't see that this is an improvement.'

Exactly! Now if you want to get into a good state school you just have to have the money to buy an [almost always expensive] house in the catchment area. Bonkers, hypocritical system and the politicians know it.

It is a bit of a stretch to label those who believe that selective schools have a place in the state system as DM readers. shock grin

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