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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

saintlyjimjams Sat 23-Mar-13 11:55:15

And of course the structure of the 11 plus means that ds3 has no chance to demonstrate his Latin prowess grin - he has to be good at maths & English to get to study Latin (especially maths)

saintlyjimjams Sat 23-Mar-13 11:53:35

Gah phone typos still - I am educated honest

saintlyjimjams Sat 23-Mar-13 11:53:01

Yes she was a bit of a one off seeker. Not sure whether to say that's a good or bad thing grin

saintlyjimjams Sat 23-Mar-13 11:52:04

Cecily - I'm not sure o levels were seen as that important if you were leaving straight away to get a job for which you did not need any qualifications - which may well reflect poor results I just think you cannot compare results then with results now - education then didn't have the same goals and expectations as it does now. You're arguments against the grammar school system has to come from the results now, not then.

FWIW - it's always interesting to look at GCSE versus A level results. Our grammar school results are fab at A level (after another round of selection to get into 6th form) but our local comp (out 2nd choice which many aren't keen on due to the catchment) gets A level results just below the grammars - which is pretty impressive. GCSE results at the grammar are okay (well excellent for the country but I think okay given it's a selective school) - much higher than the local comp - but if you look at points per pupil taking GCSE's the local comp is doing really well - on some measures it is outperforming the grammar. And this is with an unpopular catchment.

I do like what the schools here do at a level which is get together in consortiums (comps & grammars) to offer a wider range of subjects. Ds3 will be next for the 11 plus - I'd be quite happy for him to go to the comp & bypass the whole bloody thing except that he is obsessed with interested in Latin - and the only school offering Latin is the grammar. It would be a logistical nightmare but would be good if there was some open access for that sort of subject between schools - that does seen to happen more with vocational subjects.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 11:51:22

That's true about the new middle classes.
Margaret Thatcher is an interesting case. The establishment figures who let her rise through the party could never have expected her to become leader- being female and a grammar school girl would have ruled her out in their minds. The shock they felt when she got to be leader must have been extraordinary. Notice they haven't made the same mistake again!

saintlyjimjams Sat 23-Mar-13 11:41:46

Well they might have allowed the new middle class some social mobility (thinking someone like Margaret Thatcher daughter of a shopkeeper iyswim) but I don't think the numbers of people in that sort of class was particularly high, so they could not have effected great social mobility. I suppose you could say it allowed some upward mobility of some individuals. But not the working classes - because they still had to leave school to earn money. My dad greatly values his academic education btw - even though it was cut short by a need to work.

I suppose my point is at that time your prospects were limited far more by your family than by your education.

I do think Kent sounds particularly bad. Ds2 is going to the grammar school in sept - but it takes kids from 3 LEA's and from such a wide area that the non-grammar schools do still have a mix of abilities. We would have been quite happy with our second choice (local comp) and we didn't hire a tutor (yes we practiced past papers because you have to - a lot of the primary schools here run 11 plus prep classes for the ones that are having a go though). I can't find too much to get incensed about in such a system - other than the pressure on the kids, although a lot of that is whacky parent generated. I'm more bothered about what they're doing to special schools & SN education tbh.

CecilyP Sat 23-Mar-13 11:32:52

This article sums up the report that muminlondon was referring to earlier. Sjj, most grammar school pupils at the time did stay on to take O levels, although not necessarily doing very well in them. Most did not stay on to take A levels and go to university. I would agree that grammar schools did not especially see their purpose as providing social mobility; 'social mobility' seems to be a more recent mantra, the one that replaced 'parental choice'.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 11:03:31

I've long suspected that the grammar school as a engine of social change was a myth. But it is a very tenacious myth- and one which people use with absolutely no sense of irony nowadays as they congratulate themselves on "saving on school fees"!

saintlyjimjams Sat 23-Mar-13 07:44:26

Phone typos

saintlyjimjams Sat 23-Mar-13 07:44:01

It wasn't the grammar schools that prevented social mobility in the 1950's. Exams were not as he was needed to bring money into the household. Granmar did however, give him an academic education & had his family not been quite so poor would have given him the option of university.

To say that they weren't creating opportunity in the 50's is daft - that wasn't their role at the time, and they didn't hinder it - there were few options for social mobility outside school at the time I'm not sure they even favoured middle classes (other than the affording the uniform business) - my dad started at grammar in the east end on London - very few middle classes there at the time. The middle classes may have got better results but that's because they were taking exams, the working classes were leaving to earn money. That was expected. Despite my grandmother moaning for the rest of her life about being made to leave school at 14 to go into service my dad was still in the navy giving most of his earnings to her at 16. That was normal for the working classes. School (of any sort) wasn't seen as a great opportunity because it couldn't be. M

Sure, complain about the unfairness of the 11 plus but don't assume grammar schools were trying (and failing) to offer social mobility in the 50's. I don't think the concept even existed.

muminlondon Sat 23-Mar-13 00:29:11

The point of 1950s stats is that little has changed - grammar schools favoured the middle classes then, but created little mobility for the working classes. The schools themselves weren't effective in engaging the whole school and those outside the system had no opportunity. There are still a few people who hark back to what they think was a golden age, the type who write in green ink and phone Any Answers. For contemporary arguments (Kent and Lincolnshire are anachronisims) look at link to Chris Cook's blog.

If you live in Kent though, you're sucked into that system.

CecilyP Fri 22-Mar-13 20:56:21

The alternative to selection by ability is selection by parental income, faith or house price. None of those is very fair either.

These things are not mutually exclusive; assuming that all the academically selected are happy with their selective option, this still leaves 80% of 11-year-olds, most of whose parents will want to choose the best of the remaining non-selective options.

Owllady Fri 22-Mar-13 20:28:40

regarding year 6 sats. My son goes to a mixed ability and mixed socio economic background middle school and he has no tutoring and has been put on the level 6 papers for his sats :because he scored 39/40 and 40/40 on the level 5 papers
and we aren't even middle class

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

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.

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...

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...

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.

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.

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...

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.

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

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.

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.

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.')

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