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Grammar schools to give priority to disadvantaged pupils

(24 Posts)
Retropear Sun 04-May-14 11:40:29

I don't either.

HercShipwright Sun 04-May-14 11:32:54

For us, the practice of getting to the school was actually invaluable. The practice day at the other grammar (which was our first choice and where Dd2 will be going) was free. And was similarly useful for logistical purposes. Dd2 went to a couple of the cheap 3rd party practice sessions and they were more helpful in terms of practising speed. Clearly some kids had been doing them for months but I don't that that's necessary.

Our grammar has also introduced the FSM priority if you pass the test thing! but I do wonder how useful that will be for people who won't qualify for free transport.

Retropear Sun 04-May-14 11:28:05

Herc shock that is bad! What is the point of them if they aren't free?confused

HercShipwright Sun 04-May-14 11:13:36

Retro - the practice days weren't free last year. We complained about that. There are other, cheaper, practice sessions available in the area though. Which might complicate matters since they are quite well established.

Philoslothy Sun 04-May-14 10:15:50

I have seen lots of average children tutored to get into our local grammars.

I think that it is not just a case of getting children from disadvantaged homes into grammars but what they do with them when they get there. My eldest is at a grammar on a managed move - so not our choice really- and I have been shocked at the lack of SEN provision and pastoral care, to the degree that I have has to threaten legal action repeatedly.

Even when you look at grammars in their heyday of providing social mobility you are only looking at about 5% of working class children who attended grammars achieving 2 A levels.

My son has done Weill, despite being at a grammar school, not because of it.

I would rather see schools improving educational standards for working class children at all schools - and addressing their abysmal employment prospects would be a huge first step- rather than tinkering with the few grammar schools that are left.

Retropear Sun 04-May-14 10:06:33

Would just like to point out some schools list suggested practise papers,exam technique and offer free 11+ taster days on their website.Ours does.More of this kind of thing and day trips from primary schools on open days would be very useful.

Retropear Sun 04-May-14 09:52:44

Hmm I think there is a lot of ignorance re the 11+ and I think this will disadvantage the kids just above the cut off not on fsm who may well not be those going to a private school and tutored for hours.

Would just like to point out that the 11+ material although by no means impossible needs kids who are quite switched on and all the tutoring in the world won't get unsuitable candidates through.Our dc have to do 85 VR questions in 50 mins,an essay in half an hourshock and a challenging Eng Comp in 20 mins.You need to have excellent reading comp and VR skills already.Ditto the maths,it's level 5 with some challenges of level 6. If you're weak at maths already tutoring ain't going to help you.

Tutoring also doesn't equal success.A tutor can only identify weaknesses and allocate study,a child has to do the work his/herself.To drag yourself up to a guaranteed space if a weak candidate would take hours of diligence entirely separate from a tutor and needs little money to fund.

Personally I think this us another stick to bash the middle classes with and money would be better spent on more info re the 11+,standards in state primaries and access to a few after school classes re VB and exam technique.

But then what would I know I'm just one of those evil pushy middle class parents who are ok when it suits.hmm

meditrina Sun 04-May-14 09:11:30

there is now an AIBU on this

hertsandessex Fri 02-May-14 14:11:15

Really needs to be a radical overhaul of grammar school admission. The current system is just too biased in favour of children who receive coaching or go to private schools that cram for 11+. I genuinely believe it is possible to create tests that would pick out aptitude and talent rather than level of attainment for which coaching would help very little. It would be much fairer although perhaps a lot more trouble for the grammar schools come year 7! The problem is they have an incentive to get the best possible GCSE and A level grades and hence have an incentive to pick children who have the highest level of attainment in English and Maths at 10-11 rather than the highest intelligence and aptitude. In fact might best be served by scrapping grammar school system completely. If those children were spread out among comprehensives then the top sets in those schools should achieve just as highly.

MillyMollyMama Fri 02-May-14 12:32:16

If it is a state grammar though, Pantone, the school will not be allowed to coach. I suspect this is why they have suggested private coaching. A real shot is not the same as a dead cert though.

No-one seems to come up with a practical solution to this problem. Surely the only way, in a state grammar County, is to allow coaching in school, open to anyone who wants it. Tinkering with admissions policies does not help. We have county-wide grammar schools with lots of out of county children in them. If we could coach our own children in school, they would stand a far better chance and, at least, the playing field would be level.

jacketpotatowithtuna Fri 02-May-14 11:44:22

I think this is an excellent idea and I hope it will work in practice.
We are not on FSM but I despise all that private tutoring which makes grammar schools similar to private schools only paid through tutoring.
This defeats the purpose. I welcome the idea.

TeenAndTween Fri 02-May-14 11:22:54

Pantone I am not sure that is right these days.

Ofsted should be checking where PP money is spent and it should be focussed on the PP children. What your HT is doing is effectively just bunging it into the school budget which I don't think is right/allowed/expected these days.

If our HT used my DD's PPP money on swimming, forest school and school trips I would not be impressed. What she needs is help with her spelling!

Pantone363 Fri 02-May-14 10:21:02

PP pays for subsidised swimming lessons for the class. Forest school and school trips.

I asked before and HT told me they are allowed to use it to benefit the class as a whole.

Finola1step Thu 01-May-14 20:29:21

You are spot on Julia. Lots of reasons why children will receive PP. Schools need to be creative in how they use this funding to meet the wide variety of needs of the children involved.

JuliaScurr Thu 01-May-14 19:15:35

get practice books from WH Smiths to use at home

Dd is on fsm because I'm disabled, therefore on benefits. Some fsm families are in poverty for reasons other than low skills/motivation. What % of fsm are due to eg disability?

Finola1step Thu 01-May-14 19:05:29

I think this is a good idea.

Pantone just an idea...Have you thought of asking the Head how the Pupil Premium money they receive for your dd is spent? There's no harm in asking if there is any possibility that your dd (and maybe a small group of others) could have some tuition paid from their premium. It is up to schools how they use the funding and if they genuinely think that she could pass the 11+, then maybe there is something that could be done.

Delphiniumsblue Thu 01-May-14 18:57:57

I only hope they can do it- I have my doubts.

MillyMollyMama Thu 01-May-14 18:57:44

I think the article is a bit light on how this is to be done. As a former Chairman of Governors of a Bucks Primary school with a fairly high FSM intake, we had one or two children a year out of about 55 get to a grammar school. Occasionally it was more, sometimes it was none. The pass rate is about 25% of children county wide but high FSM schools have the fewest go to the grammars. Virtually no parents receiving FSM can afford coaching. Bucks does not allow coaching in school. I spoke regularly about this issue to senior officers at Bucks CC because it is plainly unfair. They have, for many years, not cared about who gets into the grammar schools as long as they are full and achieve highly.

Bucks CC says the new exam is less coachable but one of the main problems is that it takes much more than regular school work to pass it. For whatever reason, FSM parents struggle to give the necessary educational boost to help their children succeed. This might be provision of books, a broad general knowledge, use of advanced language, visits to educational places and doing puzzles and games, not the electronic variety. These do not all cost money, but can be absent in the homes of bright children who should get a grammar school place, but don't. Bucks has started to give classes in the grammar schools to children in the most disadvantaged schools to encourage the children but the most important thing it to level the playing field. The only way to do this is to allow coaching in schools and much more effort to fill in the gaps disadvantaged children experience. This even includes Headteachers not supporting parents in 11+'appeals because they think a child will not fit into a grammar school. (Yes, this happened in my school and I was livid!). The child and parents should have been supported. I wait with interest to see what they actually propose to do to get the FSM numbers up. I don't think it will be the middle classes giving up their incomes around here. They could not afford the house prices!

Delphiniumsblue Thu 01-May-14 18:57:12

Sounds a great idea to me it will try and give a level playing field rather than parents 'buying' a place.

Pantone363 Thu 01-May-14 18:53:24

DD is FSM.

Her teacher said she has a real shot at the grammar if we could pay for some private tutorial for the aspects they don't cover in her school (impossible financially)

This would really really help.

HPparent Thu 01-May-14 18:51:43

Yes, Tiffin Girls is doing this in a small way - the proposals are on their website. How the girls will get through the selection procedure without access to the resources that parents with money have might present a bit of a stumbling block though.

meditrina Thu 01-May-14 18:50:40

FSM and pupil premium. So that's all LAC and former LAC, and all Forces children too.

nostress Thu 01-May-14 18:48:07

Yes I thought that. Kids only have to be on FSM for a short period in the last 6 years for the king edwards ones....

creamteas Thu 01-May-14 17:45:15

It looks like some grammar schools might be changing their admissions criteria to give limited priority to disadvantaged pupils

So will we see a rush of middle-class parents giving up their jobs during the admission round to give their DC an extra advantage?

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