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BBC news Kent 11+

(113 Posts)
Startail Tue 19-Mar-13 11:03:09

stopping coaching

I am confused how does making the 11+ maths and English based reduce the value of paying for tutors.

Surely it increases the value of paying a current teacher to tutor your child to the very very top of the primary curriculum. Well of parents are still not going to leave it to chance that their DCs class teachers have.

I'd be quite happy to buy a few bond Verbal and non verbal reasoning books and tutor my own DDs (I'm not Kent and in the end DD2 decided not to try for our grammar which is a very long day).

DD1 gets 131 on non verbal reasoning without having ever practiced at all, she just likes them.

English on the other hand I certainly would need to pay someone, I've tried marking SATs practice papers the mark scheme is in gobbledygook teacher speak. It's not simply right or wrong like maths or VR/NVR

Owllady Wed 20-Mar-13 18:12:04

Mintyy, it's an old boys thing innit <sweeping statement>

seeker Wed 20-Mar-13 18:37:09

I think the stereotyping of schools- and children- on here is shocking. Grammar schools are full of sensitive little flowers who would be "eaten alive" at a comprehensive and so have to be kept separate. Comprehensives are full of knife wielding knuckle draggers, and as for secondary moderns- well, I don't think mumsnet has words for them! When actually, most kids are OK, there are a few disruptive people and a few bullies in all sectors (including- gasp- grammar schools and the private sector!) And top set kids do what top set kids do anywhere. And the figures support that view. Or there would be loads more A*s and As in selective LEAs than in comprehensive ones. Which there aren't.

Startail Wed 20-Mar-13 19:04:04

What I was trying to say, badly, because RL got in the way, is that we need a system that gets the best out of children of all abilities who value education and want to learn. Not selective at 11, but flexible allow DCs to move groups as they mature in ability and attitude to learning.

Alongside that we need a way to enthuse the ones who only want to talk about Xfactor and engage in petty bullying to look good to their peers.

At present this disengaged group really effect the learning of middle and lower ability groups.

Blu Thu 21-Mar-13 10:21:31

Agreed, Startail. smile

I picked up on your post because of the general stereotyping and pigeonholing that I have seen on MN generally of the kind Seeker describes.

It is true - I work with many teens from what could be described as the margins of society and the vast, overwhelming majority are lovely people and good kids. Schools in general are not the bear pits that some were in the 80s. Hair raising incidents occur, but are not indicative of the whole school population, and occur in all sectors. When there are specific issues and problems, and when individual children are unhappy, or causing trouble, it needs dealing with.

Talkinpeace Thu 21-Mar-13 15:18:10

The only way the 11+ should be kept is if it becomes an untutorable test of innate knowledge

20 x maths questions
20 x comprehension questions
20 x logic / spatial questions
20 x current affairs questions
20 x spelling / punctuation / grammar questions

each of the exam setting teams should be forced to write 200 of each question fresh every year
and the 20 picked at random by computer
so the exam could vary massively year on year
NO past papers should ever be released
NO sample papers should ever be released

if your kid is up to the mark they will get a mark in the top fifth
and Prep schools will no longer charge fees to get well heeled kids through into free secondary schools at the expense of bright poor kids

ReallyTired Thu 21-Mar-13 21:19:14

Surely it might be cheaper to pay for the bright, but poor kids to have small group tutoring for a year than make a complex exam every year.

Tutoring can only take a child so far. No amount of tutoring will get a thick kid through the eleven plus.

Schools already use tutors for SEN kids or kids on free school dinners who aren't making progress. Why not use some of the tutoring budget to prepare children who are level 4 standard at the end of year 4 for the eleven plus. A tutor in a school costs about £30 per hour. Thirty sessions would cost £900 for five chidlren or £180 per child to have a decent shot at the eleven plus.

This would be far less than the cost of redesigning an exam. I think with tutoring that there comes a point where it makes little difference how much tutoring a child has had.

seeker Thu 21-Mar-13 21:23:10

Please somebody explain to me why grammar schools and secondary moderns are better than properly setted Comprehensives? Please!

Talkinpeace Thu 21-Mar-13 21:30:01

NO, the whole point is that IF you are going to select it needs to be totally fair : ie what is in the normal day to day curriculum.
But the sharp elbowed would never have that
I therefore firmly come down against ALL FORMS of selection in state funded schools (by religion, purported ability etc etc) and encourage all schools to take all pupils and once they have them set them accordingly to get the best from each.
Something that the Grammar system always failed to do and nowadays fails dismally to do.

muminlondon Thu 21-Mar-13 23:05:09

I found out an interesting statistic the other day about grammar schools in the 1950s, supposedly the heyday of working class mobility and academic rigour ... in 1955 about 25% of pupils were in grammar schools (like Kent) and less than 5% at private schools. The school leaving age was 15 in the other schools so only grammar school pupils got a chance to do exams. Yet only 10% of the country passed 5 O-levels - so only about 40% in grammar schools actually made the most of it and the rest coasted or failed. About 70% of Oxbridge students were still from public schools. There never was a heyday for grammar schools. It wasn't effective or fair then and it isn't now.

cory Thu 21-Mar-13 23:18:57

seeker Wed 20-Mar-13 13:29:06
""Selective education is fantastic for those who would be a square peg in a round hole at a comprehensive. That does not neccessarily mean that it will lead to better results overall, but it may be a happier time for many children."

But in a comprehensive school, the top sets will be the same children who would, in a selective area, be in the grammar school. "

This is what it is like for my dc in Hampshire (no grammar schools).

academically able and ambitious dd has enough of academically able and ambitious peers in top set not to feel out of place

less academic and ambitious ds gets to see that it is normal and not weird to work hard and be successful

what's not to like?

particularly as today's mentoring meeting showed that ability at age 11 is not necessarily set in stone: 12yo ds, who was regarded as of low ability at junior school and was struggling badly with reading and writing, has gone up two whole stages in a core subject in the last year

saintlyjimjams Thu 21-Mar-13 23:19:27

You could leave grammar school at 15. My dad did (to join the navy - his family needed the cash). He said that only the richer pupils stayed on to do exam s and go to university - until the mid- 60's when it began to change (he's always been a bit hmm at having just missed the chance to tour around Europe in a VW I think).

seeker Thu 21-Mar-13 23:29:01

I struggle so much with this. Sometimes there is a flash of honesty on threads like this- like the time somebody said they didn't want their child to mix with lower ability children in the dinner queue. But surely there must be more solid reasons for the system surviving? It can't just be snobbery and fear, can it? Or can it?

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 12:55:04

it can

SO glad to hear your DS is thriving other than at the Purple school - actually I think yours has orange bits grin

those stats are fascinating. Any chance of a link - for stamping on future variants of this thread wink

muminlondon Fri 22-Mar-13 17:29:30

Talkinpeace, there's a treasure trove of facts in this parliamentary briefing on Education: historical statistics and another on Oxbridge 'elitism'. I worked out the 5 O-levels percentage from the numbers.

Also see this page on LSN website where it quotes the 1959 Crowther Report ('38% of grammar school pupils failed to achieve more than 3 O levels'; 'A non-manual worker’s son [was] nearly three times as likely to go to a selective school as a manual worker’s”; '40% of professional and managerial sons left before 17 compared with 81% manual workers.')

Phineyj Fri 22-Mar-13 17:42:59

Startail if Glos ended grammars it might 'release' teachers into the independent sector (and some of the grammars might go private anyway). That was what happened in the 60s.

Phineyj Fri 22-Mar-13 17:49:23

I don't, personally, see what's wrong with wanting an academically able child to go to school with other academically able children (would certainly agree that any form of testing will lead to unfair results in some cases, however). People rarely advocate for mixed ability sports teams, orchestras etc. But mixed ability teaching is somehow supposed to produce good results. hmm The alternative to selection by ability is selection by parental income, faith or house price. None of those is very fair either.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 17:56:02

an academically able child : define?
Aspergers, great at maths, rubbish at English
or amazingly artistic but dire at maths
or a budding author who hates science
or great at sport and middling at all academic subjects

because a grammar school test - like the one that currently exists - will exclude all of those children - who add richness to the upper sets in comps

and remember, neither Seeker or Cory or I are demanding mixed ability classes just mixed ability schools

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 17:57:42

PS : in the 60's private school fees are (allowing for inflation) less than half what they are today. Therefore unless private school fees drop back to what they were when my parents put five of us through, expansion is a fiscal impossibility.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Mar-13 18:10:26


Comprehensive schools don't do mixed ability teaching.

They have children of mixed ability within the same 4 walls, and, crucially, teach in ability groups FOR EACH SUBJECT. The able linguist who is terrible at maths can be top set for 1 and lower set for the other. Equally the brilliant mathematician who is still at the relatively early stages of learning English can be set appropriately. No crude 'sheep and goats' on a broad brush 'able / less able' spectrum, as there is in the grammar / secondary modern divide - instead, the flexiblity for every child to work at the level that is appropriately challenging for them, subject by subject...

muminlondon Fri 22-Mar-13 18:44:31

'I don't, personally, see what's wrong with wanting an academically able child to go to school with other academically able children'

Grammar schools are the wrong way to do it because:

1. The margin of error with the Kent tests is such that a very large number who get in (1,500 pupils per year) only actually achieved Level 4 in SATs so may just be middle class with parents who can afford time/money for tutoring not academically able. Many others achieve Level 5 yet fail the 11plus. As Talkinpeace put it, there are a whole variety of talents and subjects out there so whether you're testing Maths and English, or NVR etc., no test will ever be truly fair.
2. Less than 3% in the grammars are from disadvantaged backgrounds compared to the LA average of 18.5%, perpetuating inequality.
3. Children left outside the grammars within this system have about half as much chance of being entered for Ebacc subjects as the national average and therefore their options for further training or jobs are more limited.
4. Results very average for Kent considering it's a relatively wealthy county so it's very poor value for money. See Chris Cook's blogs at the FT.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 18:50:16

I know of one Comp that does - and it gets results that whump many, many grammars , but it also magically has 0% FSM !

At my DCs comp I love the fact that my kids - who happen to be top sets for most things - meet such a mixture of kids who are top set for one thing but not another.
A kid in DS class is currently on international tour with his sports team (year 8)
- that is what I call rich education.

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Mar-13 19:25:30


Tbh, even as I was typing I knew that I was makking a crude generalisation. My DS's comp teaches in mixed ability form groups for all subjects except for Maths for the first year - because they prefer to find out how children perform in the secondary school context rather than setting children based on what their primary says about them but sets for increasing numbers of subjects as the years go on.

As you say, I love it that DS is - and will increasingly be - with a mixture of children for each subject, so that he will meet fellow linguists and mathematicians one lesson and then in another lesson be with children of similar (not great) ability in art or D&T...who might be the same children or different ones...

teacherwith2kids Fri 22-Mar-13 19:29:56


"I don't, personally, see what's wrong with wanting an academically able child to go to school with other academically able children'"

My DS will, for the majority of his time in his comprehensive secondary, spend every lesson with children whose ability in that subject is closely matched to his own... surely that's better than a crude 'able / not able' matching, with the benefit that if he finds a subject hard, he is still matched with children of the appropriate ability level for him to succeed within it...

saintlyjimjams Fri 22-Mar-13 19:31:48

38% of grammar school pupils failed to achieve more than 3 O levels

But that's probably because the poorer grammar school kids left to head out to work. Like my dad, who joined the navy straight from grammar without taking an exam. It wasn't that he couldn't take an exam or that he failed them, he was just expected to bring money into the family. He nearly couldn't attend the grammar because his mother couldn't afford the uniform.

I don't think there's much point using 1950's stats really - it was a totally different world then - you didn't need O levels to get most jobs and people like my dad were always going to have to head out to work at 15. My dad said the only people who took exams were those who were rich enough to stay on and go to university (of which he said there weren't all that many at his particular grammars).

I'm not using the above to support grammar schools btw - just saying it's a pointless argument.

Owllady Fri 22-Mar-13 20:26:15

yy my Gran got into grammar school but she was the eldest of 8 and had 5 brothers and her parents couldn't afford the uniform because one of her brothers might get in, so she didn't go sad None of her brother passed the 11+ and she left school at 14

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