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Secondary Modern provision v Comprehensive schools

(41 Posts)
Iamthegreatest1 Sat 13-Aug-16 00:42:49

I've been reading a bit on the above just to gain a bit more understanding about educational provision in the U.K but would like more clarification on Secondary Moderns in particular.

I gather that Sec. modern provision has been very poor but as of 2016 what is the provision like compared to comprehensives in terms of
A. curriculum (is it still geared towards. Vocational career)
b. Teachers
C. Extra curricular activities
D. Equipment
E. Access to information about university applications etc.

Would you say they have caught up? Will A child who goes to a SM have just as much chance as a child attending a Comp gain entry to uni?

Just5minswithDacre Sat 13-Aug-16 00:45:48

The only real difference is the intake; secondary moderns are in areas where the most able will have been roughly creamed off by the grammar schools. Otherwise, no real difference; same qualifications available, help with university entrance etc.

Iamthegreatest1 Sat 13-Aug-16 07:58:48

I get the feeling from threads here that the differences are much wider than just simply the intake? After all the whole purpose of them was to provide learning for children who would not follow an academic route. Have they now all become comprehensives? E.g the ones in areas where grammar schools still exist.

HerdsOfWilderbeest Sat 13-Aug-16 09:17:35

They all have to follow the same curriculum really as schools are measured in the same way.

Iamthegreatest1 Sat 13-Aug-16 12:14:35

Do they get the same funding though? And all the other things listed above? I'm finding it hard to believe there are no differences save for the intake because why then all the angst about more grammar schools?

tiggytape Sat 13-Aug-16 13:15:31

The angst arises from worries about fewer opportunities for bright children at secondary moderns who, for whatever reason, don't get into grammar school.
Grammar school entry is determined by a test at the age of 10 - it is entirely possible to fluff the test, have a bad day, be very nervous, be brilliant at maths but less good at English or even be a late bloomer. It isn't infallible.

By fewer opportunities I mean both in a tangible and less tangible sense. So grammar and comprehensives for example tend to offer triple science to bright pupils but secondary moderns may not. Grammars and comprehensives may offer 2 or more foreign languages but secondary moderns might not.
And in a less tangible way, the worry is that less may be expected of a child in terms of academic outcomes at a secondary modern so a child might not get to work with so many other children of a similar ability and not be stretched. Or they might not get the support to apply for RG universities that comprehensives and grammar schools routinely offer. Or they might not be expected to take as many GCSEs as they are capable of if that isn't the timetable norm etc.

Whether those fears are founded (and how much better a particular grammar or comp is in comparison) is dependent on each individual schools of course but that's the general perception.

HerdsOfWilderbeest Sat 13-Aug-16 13:16:05

Yes all same funding and same stuff as you list.

There is the angst because some feel that schools should not select on ability.

HerdsOfWilderbeest Sat 13-Aug-16 13:16:56

Sorry, to be precise, some feel state schools should not select on ability. About 10% attend fee paying schools, many of which select on ability.

Iamthegreatest1 Sat 13-Aug-16 13:42:51

Thanks very much for all your answers. domyou think there is anyway which sec.mods can shake their negative image? Either way I think of it, as long as there are grammars, sec.mods will always come second best.

I like the idea of grammars, to me it means, good behaviour, good results high aspirations etc but I keep wondered about what happened to those who fail until, what are their outcomes from the sec.mod? Would o be happy for my DC to go there? No.

The comprehensives come in all different shapes and sizes. The Comps I've near me are Below average then there are some a bit further fling that are like private state schools all singing and dancing. So even that doesn't seem to be an answer. Perhaps the whole education system, primary to secondary needs restructuring.. Is there any country that successfully has a different system that is totally inclusive?

What should be the provision for DC with behavioural issues but who are academic? I have DC with ADHD.

tiggytape Sat 13-Aug-16 15:04:12

There are some areas that have grammars with comps not grammars with secondary moderns. They are areas with so-called superselective grammars.

The system works a little differently in that the whole top set does not get to go to grammar school. Only a few of the brightest children from each primary school within a very wide geographical area go to the grammar. Everyone else goes to a comp.
Therefore the grammars take the top 8% or so and the comps still have scores of children who were in the top group all through primary and who will go on to do two languages, triple science, gain a place at a RG university etc.

The downside of course is the crazy competition for grammar places (even if your child is in the top few at their primary school it can still take a lot of effort to get them a high enough pass mark on the 11+ to get to a superselective). The upside is that the comps cater for the full range of abilities and some people who pass the 11+ actively choose to go to the comps instead (those who need support in other areas or who fast-paced grammars may not suit).

There's so much variation area to area and school to school really that it is impossible to say which school type is best for any one child. It really does come down to weighing up whatever options your area has.

catslife Sat 13-Aug-16 16:23:37

Very few areas of the UK still have secondary modern schools OP and so any data on such schools that you can find will only be on a relatively small number of schools so not that reliable statistically.
For children who are academically able but with additional needs, I would say that the best option is a comp but one with good support for SEN and pastoral care and where they cater for bright children with additional needs.
The main advantage of a comp is that they cover the whole range of abilities and most do group the children for each subject according to ability. If children are placed in an incorrect group aged 11, then it's usually relatively easy to move them from one group to another but if a "bright" child takes the 11+ and ends up at the secondary modern, it is very very difficult for them to be moved to a grammar school later on.
I wouldn't be too concerned about the type of school though - there are good (and bad) schools of different types in most areas of the country. Your best bet is to look at the individual schools and ask key questions to find out whether they would cater for your dcs needs.

Iamthegreatest1 Sat 13-Aug-16 17:33:39

Could the answer then be to have more super selective grammars? (The children in this category are very small in number anyway) admission would also take into account academic progress over the last 5 yrs as well as the CEA exam. This would ensure that only the very very brightest get in, the rest go to a very good Comprehensive with support for children with additional needs. Vocational subjects introduced into the curriculum for students as electives (like at Uni) who want to follow this path and they could swap it in place of more academic subjects.

Blu Sat 13-Aug-16 19:10:02

some people who pass the 11+ actively choose to go to the comps instead (those who need support in other areas or who fast-paced grammars may not suit) As well as very high achievers who do not even take the 11+, for a whole variety of reasons - they have a good comp on their doorstep, the super-selective would require a long journey, the parents prefer a faith place, or make an ideological decision, or who may not even know that a super selective exists or is a possibility, or known that aged 10 their child might be a contender.

But Tiggy is right - it would seem that super selectives have little impact on the comps on the area, either in removing a cohort of bright kids, or, crucially, in determining the breadth and depth of curriculum.

Schools called Secondary Moderns don't actually exist any more. In selective areas (e.g Kent) I understand that the non-grammars are called 'high schools', or community schools. Secondary Moderns were a feature when there was a two-tier exam system: O Levels and GCSEs, however, at least high schools now teach the same GCSE curriculum.

I have seen MN parents say that high school students are not offered the option to do more than one MFL. Latin is beloved of many grammars, but may well be more rare in high schools.

So does one day, in the life of a summer born boy, for example, which sends them to one type of school or another, determine outcomes for their future? Well, for a child who is a bit of a late starter, such as your summer born boy, who may well have gone on to be a classicist at Oxford, yes, almost certainly.

On the other hand, for a child who is practical, determined, ingenious and keen to learn vocational skills and get out earning in a skilled trade (the new sort as well as the trad ones), hopefully a Comp, as well as a high school, can offer a good range of BTECS, and have the facilities to do so.

You can read about the old secondary moderns here

Blu Sat 13-Aug-16 19:18:13

Just out of interest, IAmTheGreatest, why do we need more super selectives? If there are more the competition for them will drop and they will become like trad grammars! Top sets in good comps offer a fast paced broad curriculum.

Do you think that in principle it is important to remove a percentage of high achievers and put them somewhere else?

Personally I would look at providing a wider range of provision for children who do not thrive in a typical secondary school environment, whatever their ability.

titchy Sat 13-Aug-16 19:32:02

What on earth have you been reading OP - your questions suggest you've looked at something that describes the secondary moderns of 50 years ago! Those sort of school don't exist nowadays!

HPFA Sat 13-Aug-16 21:27:24

School terminology can get very confusing. There are comprehensives that still have Grammar as part of their title and schools that effectively are secondary moderns but call themselves comprehensives. Then there are schools that are officially secondary moderns such as Wellington in a wealthy part of the country. You can see from this results table that over 50% of those sitting Triple Science get an A or A* - so hardly a school where all the children are academically incapable.

The reason the whole debate is so divisive is that there is a ferocious attachment among certain sections of the political classes ( and some of the public) to the idea of grammar schools per se, which seems impervious to any contrary evidence or reasoned debate.

bojorojo Sat 13-Aug-16 23:13:46

I live in a state grammar school county and the schools without the best 25-30% of pupils are, by definition, secondary modern schools. It does not really matter that they now do not call themselves this and describe themselves as 'all ability'. Largely the results do not support that.

In the tripartite system, post 1944, there should have been technical schools and in my County these existed until about 40 years ago. At that point these schools became grammar schools too. The advantage was that a higher percentage got to the grammar schools.

The curriculum is the same in every school but the grammar schools tend to teach at a faster pace and obviously have a large number of academically strong children. However we also have secondary schools with over 30% high achievers and plenty of secondary moderns here out-perform comprehensives elsewhere. There are plenty of comprehensives with around 10% high achieving children so it tells us that some areas would really struggle to fill an ordinary grammar school, never mind a super-selective. Where would these grammar children actually come from? Maybe out of private schools. Around here plenty of the secondary moderns have successful 6th forms and children go to RG universities. The higher achievers often do well and plenty of parents are happy with the schools. With the advent of PP funding and the need to 'use the gap', the secondary moderns get more funding per pupil than the grammar schools. One of the top secondary moderns gets 75% A*-C grades. How many comprehensives get that ?

Lurkedforever1 Sun 14-Aug-16 08:16:05

There isn't a definitive answer. There are comprehensives, in areas with no access to grammars, which are sm's in all but name, from the limited academic options to the expected lack of aspiration or achievement. There are comprehensives that offer everything a grammar does for top sets, and also cater well for the full ability spectrum. And sm's that are better (in terms of what they offer rather than just results) than some comprehensives.

3amEternal Sun 14-Aug-16 09:34:39

Wellington school(example of high performing secondary modern given above) does amazingly for a secondary modern with 40% creamed off to the grammars. However when you look more closely it only has 11.5% FSM compared with 28.5% nationally. There was a 42% gap between the pupil premium children achievements of 5 a-c and the rest of the cohort. So once again it suggests that results are reflecting the advantaged cohort rather than what the school achieves against the odds.

Blu Sun 14-Aug-16 12:51:36

Oh, I thought the FSM % at Wellington was 4.6?

The DoE pages are much harder to get all the data from now - I like the graphs but they have made the 'small print data much harder to see.

HPFA Sun 14-Aug-16 13:23:52

Blu I hate the new way the D of E is presenting the data - I admit I am still quoting figures from 2014 as I find the information so much more relevant. Clearly I can't carry on doing that for much longer.

The more I participate in these Mumsnet debates the more I wish we could just start from scratch without all the historic baggage! For instance, the three schools in my town have a partnership model for sixth form where the schools and FE college operate practically as one school on different sites. Why couldn't this be done from 14? You could offer subjects like Latin, maybe a super-advanced Maths class and potentially improve the vocational offer as well, have one superb Ceramics workshop for instance. We seem stuck in our endless debate about comprehensives and grammars when maybe there are different options out there.

sandyholme Sun 14-Aug-16 13:27:36

Wellington School still has 4.6% FSM the 11.2 % relates to the % of students who were eligible over the 6 years .

CSV, 30KB), (XLS, 50KB)

These are how the new tables are presented

sandyholme Sun 14-Aug-16 13:29:39

(CSV, 30KB), (XLS, 50KB)

sandyholme Sun 14-Aug-16 13:31:41

bojorojo Sun 14-Aug-16 14:11:45

I obviously meant 'close the gap'.

I think there are plenty of parents who accept the difference between the secondary modern provision and the grammar school provision, in a grammar school county, because there is a top tier of secondary moderns. They may not offer Latin (some of the grammars don't either) but the best are capable of delivering a good education. There are hundreds of appeals to get into these schools because they are desirable. Some of the less desirable ones have been in and out of RI for years and lots of people are not happy about this second division of secondary schools. The people who want the better ones move into the appropriate catchment areas.

I think comprehensive schools do not 'federate' enough and sharing of expertise and resources is generally hardly ever done. The length of the school day is a problem. It is too short to do this effectively where travel would be involved and it takes real leadership and imagination to do it effectively and planning resources would be crucial. It also flies in the face of the great mantra of 'choice' which is seen as such a wonderful thing. If schools worked together it would improve chances for many but those who have exercised 'choice' and left no stone unturned to get it, may not be so happy about sharing what they want for their own child 100% of the time.

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