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Come and tell me some of the benefits for children in going to a grammar school

(108 Posts)
piprabbit Sat 13-Apr-13 22:57:06

DD's school have suggested that she should sit the 11+ as she has the potential ability to go to a grammar school.

DH is not convinced that going to a grammar school will be especially beneficial for DD. I tend to think that it would probably be a Good Thing, but I don't have a cogent argument as to why it is a Good Thing.

Neither DH or I went to a grammar school, so it's all outside our experience.

Please can you tell me why going to grammar school is a Good Thing (assuming DD is capable of keeping up academically).


CountingClouds Sat 13-Apr-13 23:59:31

Because they are better schools, and your DC will get a better education.

Jobforlife Sun 14-Apr-13 06:36:01

I'm not sure you can bunch all grammar schools together and call them 'good'... and not all children 'fit' the mould that thrives in a grammar school environment. You may have a child that is academically capable of passing the 11+ and gaining a place, but the particular school may not be the best all round for him/her.
My DS went to a super selective grammar, and it was superb. Academic results aside, (and actually, my son under achieved at GCSE at this school), the pastoral care was exceptional, the opportunity to compete in sport was fantastic and the house system ensured a very close and cohesive student body. But there were other boys at the school who clearly didn't enjoy that same experience and would have been better off at a different school.
My DD has not gone to a grammar and is taking her GCSEs this summer. I suspect her results will exceed her older brother's, without the hothouse environment that you get at a grammar school. It's horses for courses really.
I'd go and have a look at all the options in your area and then take a view as to whether it is worth going for it.

mumblechum1 Sun 14-Apr-13 06:59:41

DS is at grammar (Upper Sixth) and has been there since yr 7. It hasn't been a great experience for him but I'd say these are the pros and cons:

It is expected that you will excell academically and that in itself may be a good thing.
You get the same facilities as at a private school, or better. Eg at DS's school there are national-level rowing, fencing and equestrian teams.
No-one is allowed to fall between the cracks academically. If you get a B, you will be expected to do better.

The pressure is intense. DS unfortunately got a bit fed up of it and it had the result of him caring less, not more.
The cohort certainly at DS's school is 98% white, "generally very affluent" - Ofsted, middle class types. Many children here live in homes with pools, tennis courts etc, which in my view leads to them having no clue about how the other half live.
The teachers are under such pressure to provide results that pastoral care can be very very poor.

I'd say it depends on your child and whether they are quite robust as well as academically extremely able.

GiraffesAndButterflies Sun 14-Apr-13 07:08:25

The principle is that the teaching can be targeted at your DD's ability, or at least closer to it than at a non-selective school. So teachers don't have a full range of capabilities to deal with, which reduces one challenge for them and enables them to teach better. For example they can then stretch the brightest further, and support the "lowest" ability kids better where in another school they might be average ability and not given any extra assistance.

QOD Sun 14-Apr-13 07:49:45

Anyone who struggles gets extra help

Dds is very mixed race, and very mixed affluence. Her primary had one mixed race family

Far far less disruption and distraction as no boys to show off to

MTSgroupie Sun 14-Apr-13 08:40:16

hmm at mumble's MC white comment.

I went to a white WC catchment school. Looking back, I don't feel that the experience made me a more rounded person. Also, its like saying that our relatively affluent children can't understand what it's like to be a poor African kid because our DCs don't go to a school with such children.

Anyway, we chose a selective education for DS because we noticed at primary that he only does enough to be on the top table. Most kids would get 7 out of 10 for spelling for example. He didn't see the point in aiming for 10/10. Getting 8 or 9 was good enough. So why spend 15 min on revising when 10 min would get him a result that he was happy with, was his thinking

At his selective he has kids that are cleverer than him and this pushes him to work harder

sashh Sun 14-Apr-13 09:40:47

I think you need to look at the actual schools in your area.

My experience (from my mother) is of a hugely inflated sense of self importance.

Would dd thrive in a grammar, or a comp?

mumblechum1 Sun 14-Apr-13 10:57:23

at mumble's MC white comment

DC is mixed race and has had a lot of racism at the almost all white grammar.

MooMooSkit Sun 14-Apr-13 11:06:18

I don't agree ALL grammar schools are better at all. I think she should take the 11+ though but for example round my area, the top performing secondary school is a normal comp school, not any of the grammar schools, so it's probably worth looking at league tables over the years, ofsted reports all that sorta stuff too.

seeker Sun 14-Apr-13 11:09:29

What % of children go to grammar school in your area?

piprabbit Sun 14-Apr-13 11:13:01

Thank you all so much for replying. We are planning to look at schools when they have open days this summer, I think I've convinced DH that would be a good step.

MTSgroupie - your DS sounds a lot like my DD, she is quietly competitive but if the competition isn't there she lets herself coast. She wants to fit in with the the rest of the class and doesn't want to be a tall poppy.

Our local area isn't very mixed - mostly white WC. I think DD will meet a wider range of people at grammar so that is an interesting point to consider.

Unfortunately, I was unhappy at my secondary school, left to get on with things myself because I was always going to do OK, bullied for being a swot etc. It is a long time ago now, and I try not to let it influence my feelings about DD going to secondary. But I would feel I had let her down if her experience was in any way like mine. So I am assuming that grammar would be 'better' because it is different and it does sound as though it would be academically more nurturing But these are my issues, and I'm looking for other people's thoughts for when I speak to DH again.

seeker Sun 14-Apr-13 11:15:57

Are you in a wholly selective area, or are you talking about a super selective grammar?

piprabbit Sun 14-Apr-13 11:26:50

A super selective grammar.

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 14-Apr-13 11:27:12

Dd1 and ds are both at single sex grammars. Both very mixed, ethnically and financially.

Dd2 is at a good comp, with some of the highest results in the borough, which is much whiter and probably has a narrower financial range.

Just comparing their schools, as they're the only ones I know.

Pros of grammars:

in both grammar schools everyone has a locker in their classroom. At the comp, only y7 (possibly 8) have lockers, randomly scattered about the school. This may sound trivial, but it certainly makes a difference.

At the grammar schools, they get text books and can keep them for the year and bring them home. At the comp, no. Although lots of homework from both is from photocopied sheets.

Both the grammar schools, despite being smaller, offer more MFLs, plus Latin.

Academic expectations at the grammars are just higher, so even if you coast, you're coasting at a higher level.

Behavioural expectations are higher. People just don't really mess about at the grammars, whereas at the comp, even in the top sets, there's more disruption.

I don't actually have any cons, my kids are very happy at their grammar schools.

You also should consider your child's personality. If she's done well at primary school, will it be a discouragement or a challenge to be in a class full of clever kids? Dd1 has never really been bothered about comparing herself to other people, but dd2 finds being at or near the top of all her classes a real confidence boost.

piprabbit Sun 14-Apr-13 11:27:37

we're in Essex - so the percentage of children going to grammar schools is tiny.

seeker Sun 14-Apr-13 11:32:25

If it's a super selective, then the chances are that the schools everyone else goes to will be nearly comprehensives, and will therefore have effective top sets.

It's very important that you check not just the academic aspects of the schools- if your child is able she will do well at any school. What you need to look at is the extra curricular stuff, at the pastoral care, at the atmosphere of the school, at the travel, and at where her friends are likely to be drawn from geographically. This last one looks trivial at this stage, but will become increasingly important as she becomes more independent.

piprabbit Sun 14-Apr-13 11:35:57

Thanks seeker. I do feel like this is such a minefield.

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 14-Apr-13 11:39:54

I also don't really believe that for each individual bright child that where they go to school will make that much difference to their gcse results (A levels, I'm starting to have a different opinion). My daughters are in y11 and y10 and I'm really not expecting the grammar school one to do better than the other! I think what can be changed is how happy you are for those 5 years, which depends on the company.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 12:21:46

We faced a similar issue. DS, though passing for a highly selective grammar in the next town, attends the local comprehensive. For him (he has many ASD traits), continuity of friendships and maintaining a local friendship group was really important, and given that the schools are very similar in quality (yes, the grammar gets slightly better results BUT the difference in results is tiny given that one is highly selective and the other one is not) that was an over-riding feature for us. Another issue was that the comprehensive is mixed and the grammnar single-sex, and he flinched from the testosterone-filled macho-ness when we toured the single-sex schools - he is a gentle soul.

For DD, who is entirely NT and very socially adept, continuity of friendships is much less important, as she has the skills needed to make friendships wherever she goes. If she passes for the local super-selective, then we might well send her there. Equally, single- sex would not be an issue for her.

It really is a matter of looking at the individual schools, looking at the comprehensive's results for high achievers compared with the results of the grammar, considering journey and peer groups etc. Not all grammars are great - many rely on the excellent intake + minimal effort from staff = excellent output equation, whereas others go all out to do excellent input + fantastic input from staff = superlative output, though that is not always devinable from league tables.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 14-Apr-13 16:51:54

Seeker if your child is able she will do well at any school

That's really not necessarily true, you know.

Yonihadtoask Sun 14-Apr-13 16:58:29

DS attends the grammar school in our area. It is selective. It is definitely not white, middle class. It is very mixed.

We didn't choose because it was a grammar, but because it is the top performing school in our LA, better reslyts than the independants.

It would be much more convenient for DS to attend either of the local comps, which are walking distance. But he likes his school and is prepared to put up with early starts on public transport to go there.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 17:00:43

Russians, I agree - definitely a function of ability, character and peer group, as well as school.

Moderately able, hard working, group of similar friends - will definitely do well anywhere.

Moderately able, lazy, lack of any appropriate peer group at all - more doubtful.

Exceptionally able (1 in 10,000+ type stuff), socially inept/ ASD, shunned by peer group - may in fact do better in a school especially for children of exceptionally high ability.

Phineyj Sun 14-Apr-13 17:01:03

Reluctant "tall poppies" may do better at a grammar where everyone is academic or at least expected to be. Most grammars are single sex and there is evidence to show girls achieve more highly in a single sex environment especially at STEM subjects (which may or may not be important to you but many of the well paid jobs now require science, maths etc). Superselectives draw their students from a wide geographic area which can be good, however it may also mean your DD makes friends who live a long way away. However, although I was in that position myself, it encouraged independence as I travelled on public transport to meet up with them.

teacherwith2kids Sun 14-Apr-13 17:20:07

(I am not, by the way, suggesting that any of the groups of children described will necessarily do better at a grammar school - unless the grammar school is so selective as to effectively become a Special School for the exceptionally able, 1 in 10,000 types. Just that it is not necessarily true that all schools - of whatever type - are equally good for able children. Of 3 comprehensives in a single town, 1 may be more suited to him / her than another, and not necessarily because of their 'better results')

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