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Tell me about 11-16 comprehensives

(37 Posts)
HilaryM Tue 11-Dec-12 14:17:06

In our county we have a mixture of 11-16 comprehensives, and 11-18s. There are a smattering of FE colleges for A-Levels but no "Sixth Form Colleges" as such. In the 11-16 schools students leave for various destinations including the Sixth forms at the 11-18 schools.

The county school strategy is for any new school to be 11-16 - it seems to be the model they prefer.

I come from a part of the country where all secondaries are 11-18 so I am not really sure about the pros and cons of 11-16 schools.

The two comprehensives where we have a realistic chance of a place are both 11-16s, so I really need to get my head around this by the time DS1 applies for secondary in 2-3 years.

Thank you smile

indiegrrl Sun 16-Dec-12 17:41:20

Just backing up these comments, I'm an admissions tutor at a Russell Group university. We interview, and I'm very struck at interview and in their First Year how well students from VI Form colleges perform. They're mature, motivated and have often had a great time - I include in that kids from various social backgrounds and both shy and more assertive. I'd want to know how selective the colleges are, though, as some seem very academically selective and I'm not a fan of that, having seen a lot of great students who have clearly only begun to shine in Yr 12. That said, many of them have come from big FE or VIth Form colleges which suggests that these colleges do really provide space for these kids to grow and find their strengths. I do a lot of college talks as part of our widening participation strategy and am struck at the close links that many colleges have with local comprehensives - that's particularly true of colleges in areas with low levels of FE participation, actually, where they make a real effort to engage the kids at an early age. Very impressed all round.

prettydaisies Thu 13-Dec-12 17:53:53

I grew up in Hampshire, so went to 11-16 (actually I think it was 12-16) school and then changed at 16 to a sixth form college. All ok.
My younger daughter's school is 11-16. It is our catchment school. I know she the admission criteria for the local sixth forms prioritises their own children, followed by those coming from a school with no sixth form, so hopefully she'll get into one of them. Her school has good GCSE results including As and Bs, so I think they do push the more able children. We live in quite a rural area and not all the schools have sixth forms. There are no sixth form colleges here, although there is a FE college in the city.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 13-Dec-12 12:39:56

mince pies - nom
BUT you are not completely wrong - it will be the case in some areas, just not round here!

Abra1d Thu 13-Dec-12 12:32:24

Seems I am completely wrong. Humble pie eating going on. Can they be mincepies, though?

JWIM Thu 13-Dec-12 11:31:55

Just backing up the Hampshire comments...

Hampshire have had state Comprehensives (11 to 16) and sixth form colleges and also more vocational further education colleges since the mid 70s. I went through it at the end of the70s - successfully - and DD is now applying to 6th forms locally.

Based on family friends a bit further down the education road a fair proportion of privately educated 11 to 16 children also step into the state sixth form option rather than stick with their private school.

HilaryM Thu 13-Dec-12 09:40:10

... in which case you can see why the 'best' teachers might be happy enough teaching to 11-16 and another group might prefer teaching 16-18/adults.

This is all very interesting and reassuring, thank you.

Am especially heartened by the Hampshire example as I know the schools are well regarded there.

sashh Thu 13-Dec-12 00:38:30

I wonder if 16-18 education is more like adult education

Very much so. A 16 year old learns like an adult not like a child. Motivations are different, maturity is variable.

The onus is on the student to produce work not the teacher to chase it up.

HilaryM Wed 12-Dec-12 21:06:11

I wonder if 16-18 education is more like adult education, though. I'm not a teacher but I have got an education qualification, and I can see that teaching younger teenagers might well involve a whole different set of skills than teaching to a perhaps more motivated and more mature cohort.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 12-Dec-12 19:33:10

we seem to get reasonable teachers at the schools in Hampshire - which do not have 6th forms

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 19:17:53

If people want to teach just A level they would teach at a 6th form college surely.
In rural areas there is often only one secondary school anyway so parents don't really have any choice.

Abra1d Wed 12-Dec-12 19:04:57

I'd be wary of this. I think many of the better teachers probably want to teach A level, don't they? So why would they go to a school that didn't teach A levels?

HilaryM Wed 12-Dec-12 18:56:06

My year three copes with a proper tie!

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 16:56:37

Yes I do agree with what you say about the younger ones in a very big school.
The clip on tie thing does seem a bit silly. Most year 7 cope with proper ties.
Leicestershire county are switching to 11-16 or 11-18 I think. Not sure what happens in the city. It's was a long experiment.....from the 1960's when they were one of the first counties to ditch the 11+.

guineapiglet Wed 12-Dec-12 14:11:35

nagy that is interesting about the experiment in Leics- I guess I didnt really mean to keep the younger ones at separate schools from the older ones, I wish someone could come up with a system where they are not in contact with the older ones during the day, but I do take your point about year 9s - maybe year 9/10/11 separate, although whatever systems you come up with their will always be an intimidatory older year. Whilst my son seems settled, there are constant allusions to what the older ones have been up to - the new year 7s for example HAVE to wear a clip on tie, which the older ones come past and flick off at will - this is quite scary for the young ones, it is only a tiny example, but there are issues of PE bags being kicked around, PE kit being taken out and thrown around etc, I think we underestimate just how much of a huge transition from primary to HS is and coping with older kids is part of it- the size of the schools means this can be difficult for teachers to police at all times.

NamingOfParts Wed 12-Dec-12 12:53:59

My DCs all attend or attended a 11-16 Comp. The choice after that is:

- local consortium college (post 16 education spread across a number of sites)
- 6th form college in a town 45 minutes away
- 6th form at an out of catchment school

DD having done well at GCSE went for the 6th form at out of catchment school. This is a high achieving school and a popular 6th form option for many of the independent schools as it has excellent facilities and a wide range of subjects.

The down side of the school being 11-16 is that they have no interest in post 16 education. This does mean a lot of teaching to the test with no wider study. DD found the transition to AS quite hard in a number of subjects (harder than 'continuing' students) despite have scored straight As/A*s at GCSE. An example of this is that she got A* in French but had to have remedial help with French grammar at the start of AS.

Myliferocks Wed 12-Dec-12 12:19:11

My children do first, middle then upper secondary schools.
Middle school is yrs 5-8 and upper secondary is yrs 9-11/13
The secondary schools in a town near us all do 11-16. There is a very good college for post 16 courses.

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 12:13:25

Certain areas have tried years 7,8,9 in a separate school. Leicestershire was one.
Not good IMO because the year 9s become the 'King Pins' and really year 9 boys do need older pupils around especially on school buses and at break and lunch.

Also they would be starting a new school to start GCSE courses. This will be unsettling for some.

A large comp split up into houses and with sets for most subject is what most rural areas have.

guineapiglet Wed 12-Dec-12 10:40:23

We have just moved from Cheshire, where most of the schools were 11-18 with inclusive 6th forms ( obviously) and most kids went through the system on one site or went on to the local FE College for other subjects/vocational courses etc - it was a system I thought I prefered, although my child's HS wasnt that great, the 6th form had a very good reputation, and I thought it was aspirational for the younger ones to have a 6th form attached. But if the child has had a bad time at HS for whatever reason, there is no opportunity for them to 'escape' and try something else.

We have now moved to a county with 11-16, and they are big schools with good reputations, with good 6th form colleges with excellent reputations, so there is another move for your child to contend with. For my child, the move has been brilliant, she has really grown up alot at 6th form college, they are treated like adults, and it feels like a real move away from 'school' - different site, different ethos.

I am still weighing up the two systems really - for us a family move meant we had to move at this time, and I can see what a difference this change in system meant for my daughter, she was ready to get away from a familiar school environment and have a new challenge.

In general however, I do question large state comps really - my son has just entered year 7, and although has fitted in well, I think that a middle school type system would have been preferable for him, and that the schools should come up with systems to keep year 7,8,9, operating separately from the much older ones - this is just my opinion based on our experience, - children have different needs and respond to different systems.

Bonsoir Wed 12-Dec-12 08:19:02

In France, state schools are comprehensive 11-15 schools (four years) followed by selective 15-18 schools (three years). Private schools are nearly always 11-18 schools, albeit with a cull at 15.

The big issue with state 11-15 schools is that the teachers are less good than at 15-18 schools or 11-18 schools.

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 08:14:40

Only one of my 6 DC chose to go to college instead of a school post 16. He had really had enough of the school environment and some of the teachers (I'm sure they felt the same about him!). He knew what he wanted to do and it didn't for him include all the compulsary add on bits school would have insisted upon. He wanted to do his 4 A levels and his sport outside of school. It really suits him and I have been very impressed with the teaching.

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 08:02:02

I'm sure anyone in year 10 and below will have to stay in education until 18 or do a proper apprenticeship. There will be no leaving school at 16.

I'm sure if DC are at an 11-16 school they have plenty of time to get their heads around the fact that they will have to move on after GCSEs. It is nothing like the massive step moving at 11 was. Some will be unsure of what they want to do but moving does make them really think about things instead of putting it off until they fill in their UCAS forms. It's a chance to get away from pupils and teachers you don't get on with and maybe ditch the school uniform and be a bit more grown up.

sashh Wed 12-Dec-12 07:36:36

One of my friends is now regretting sending her son to VI form rather than college. His school closed so no VI Form there, he went to one at another school. Did really badly in AS levels, is resitting alongside A Levels and probably won't get great results.

Won't your son have to be in education until 18 anyway?

One thing to think about is the funding the school. I'm not exactly sure how it works at the moment, and if it has changed but a VI form student used to be worth 3 times as much funding as 11-16. But the school could spend the money where it wanted so funding for 16-18 can be spent in any part of a school. Worth asking the head.

I'm trained to teach in FE, and that means teaching from age 14. Some schools now send their kids (in the first year it happens it is always the ones the school want out) for a day or a half day at an FE college to do vocationa qualifications.

It works well because many (possibly most) FE teachers have industry experience and teaching is a second career.

There is a long way to go between now and 16, and when ds1 is 16 it everything will have changed again.

Also his choice oof career may make one more appropriate than another eg VI forms don't usually have the equipment for you to train as a chef, hairdressor or mechanic.

PrincessOfChina Tue 11-Dec-12 21:43:28

Leeds That's interesting, as I feel the same about my school. My friendship group were largely ignored (except on the occasions the school needed us to set a good example to others) as we were all pretty much guaranteed to get GCSE's at C and above. They didn't push us to strive for A's and as a result they were pretty rare.

My college on the other hand, was hugely keen to push for good A Level Grades and I felt much more nurtured there.

Leeds2 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:17:40

My friend's son went to an 11 - 16 comp. Her gripe, and the reason that she didn't send her younger children there, was that she felt that all the school wanted was for the children to pass GCSEs at Grade C. She felt that the school had no interest in pushing a student to get a B, or an A, because the child would be going to sixth form elsewhere, and from the school's point of view, it didn't matter. I have no personal experience though!

PrincessOfChina Tue 11-Dec-12 21:16:30

Hilary It was mainly the lads who joined the 11-18 sixth forms. I think it was a classic case of some of them being more immature and needing the security of a school set up.

My college timetable meant I was only in college for 3 mornings and 3 afternoons so I was free for four mornings/afternoons a week. It did take a while to get some discipline about what to do with those sessions but it definitely prepared me well for more self study at uni.

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