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Would a bright child do well at any school?

(110 Posts)
stubiff Mon 05-Aug-19 13:28:02

Following on from my offer here

Question: Would a bright child do well at any school?

To provide information for you to make your own conclusions I wanted to look at:
Do similar pupils do better at Grammar/Selective schools.
Would similar pupils have the opportunity to do as well at an 'average' school.
Do similar pupils do worse at schools in disadvantaged areas.

Your gut reaction could be along the lines of - should do better at Grammars, could do as well at middling schools and would probably do worse at schools in deprived areas.

Data Source EPI
"Pupils attending a grammar school achieve, on average, one third of a grade higher in each of 8 GSCEs, compared with similar pupils in comprehensive schools"
"Pupils who attend grammar schools do no better than similar pupils in high performing comprehensives (those in the top 25% for value added)"

Data Source ffteducationdatalab page 26
"The child scoring highest at KS2 who goes onto a non-selective school outperforms their peer who ‘just’ passes their 11+"

Conclusion: pupils do better at Grammar but could do equally as well at decent non-selectives.

Data Source Ofsted
"Students eligible for free school meals, boys and White British students are not doing as well as other groups and make less progress from their starting points at the end of KS2."

Data Source Sutton Trust
"While high attainers overall make an average level of progress between KS2 and KS4, those from disadvantaged backgrounds fall substantially behind, with a Progress 8 score of -0.32."

Conclusion: disadvantage can have a big impact on attainment/progress.

Data Source Government
See attached graph where I created a subset of data from the Gov data. Data is school based rather than pupil based.
The plot is a bit of a splodge, rather than obviously bottom left to top right.

Conclusion: a pupil CAN attain the same progress regardless of the percentage of high prior attainers at the school.

OP’s posts: |
TeddTess Mon 05-Aug-19 13:44:32

and what about one crucial piece of information - would my child be happy and therefore reach their potential at any school? That's the most important factor i would argue.

Hoppinggreen Mon 05-Aug-19 13:48:03

Agree Tedd my DD gets quite distressed by disruption and there is very little at her current school. A teacher at the local comp ( who knows my dd) told me to do everything I could to avoid sending her there as although it’s not a bad school overall it wouldn’t be right for her
So yes, some bright children can do as well at any school some can’t, it depends on both the school and the child

fatbottomgirl67 Mon 05-Aug-19 13:50:12

Is this just up to GCSE? I've got 2 girls one went to ss grammar the other only scored 98% in 11+ so missed out. Both got very similar GCSE results. The difference I have noticed is the grammar girl was far better prepared for A levels/ib . The school finished the syllabus early and extended their learning. The daughter at comprehensive found gaps in her knowledge at A level. She feels she was taught to pass the exam rather than the subject at GCSE. Her A level results are out soon so too soon to see what the difference is.

OtraCosaMariposa Mon 05-Aug-19 13:51:07

The key is a "decent" non-selective.

We don't have state selective education in Scotland, only the private schools select and there are no grammar schools.

However, obviously some schools perform better than others. My kids are at a high achieving state comprehensive, regularly in the top 10 state secondaries in Scotland. Their classmates are the children of doctors, lawyers, pilots, accountants - it's a professional, middle class demographic where the parents hugely support the school and their kids.

Other schools have very different catchments. A friend teaches at a school in the lowest 10% of exam results in an area of considerable deprivation, with high levels of truancy, social problems, disinterested parents and kids who don't see the point. Stick a kid in a school like that and it's a constant battle for them; they're differnet, they're a snob for doing their homework, bullied for trying hard, the teacher is dealing with behaviour for 75% of the time rather than teaching, high staff turnover.

It's all a bit pie in the sky to say an able child will achieve anywhere. An able child will find it much easier to achieve surrounded by similar, motivated children,

IHeartKingThistle Mon 05-Aug-19 13:51:19

I went to a crap school and did really well. I'm now a teacher. I don't think it's about being bright - loads of bright kids underachieve even in good schools. But I've always said that a good kid will do well anywhere. By that I mean has potential, works hard, has a good attitude, is nice.

stubiff Mon 05-Aug-19 13:54:48

@TeddTess, agree, but you can't really measure happiness with data!
Personally, I think a lot of 'progress' is the pupil having, and being happy in, the environment to learn.

@fatbottomgirl67, yes, the graph is GCSE P8.

OP’s posts: |
TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 05-Aug-19 13:58:31

DD2 went to a crappy comp. She was mostly in the top sets so avoided the worst of the disruption. She was in set 3 for French and said it was an absolute zoo. (She dropped French).

Anyhow, she got 8As and 3A*s. I'm pretty sure she'd have got more A*s if she'd actually had teachers and not supply for some of her subjects. This had implications for an Oxbridge application. She didn't like school.

She then went to a fairly selective state sixth form and loved it.

MIdgebabe Mon 05-Aug-19 13:59:07

Pupil can do well in any school, but the probability of pupils doing well is school dependent. So it’s worth finding the right school for your child. One that makes them happy, secure, and teaches them to their ability. For bright children, that means going beyond the basic curriculum

For example, Years ago there was a study that compared private and state pupils. All the bright private pupils achieved good grades at gcse. Only half the bright pupils achieved good grades at state schools.

This is partially offset by the fact that up to 20% of those private kids will fail to live up to expectation at university ( separate study, not following the same kids) ( personal motivation)

SO by the time they left university, around 50% of kids who we bright at 11 and went through the state system achieved well. About 80% of kids bright at 11 and went through the private system achieved well.

Note this is not saying that private is best, just demonstrating that school choice has an effect.

Passtherioja Mon 05-Aug-19 14:01:12

A bright child? Or a focussed, determined, well-balanced child?

A "bright" child in the wrong environment (for them) might struggle to stay on track in a school that is a bit more chaotic than others however a "bright" child who is also focussed, determined, well-balanced and works hard will do well wherever they go.

DingleyDells Mon 05-Aug-19 14:08:00

I think that a child will achieve to the fullest of their ability if they are happy and it is the right school for them as an individual.

My bright dh went to a grammar school and hated every minute of it - he didn't do very well at all despite having been successful at primary level. His brother on the other hand went to the same grammar school, loved it and did brilliantly.

Horses for courses.

steppemum Mon 05-Aug-19 14:11:23

I have heard (from a BBC documentary) that the biggest overall impact is the parents. Their education, their attitude to education and their support of their child's education.

They said that the school can only give about 10% change on top of the differences between parents.

I have to say that amongst the people I know, that is true.

Having said that, we have a lot of bad schools round us, and I defy any child to do well in some of the circumstances eg:
- disruptive pupils in every class, so less than half of the lesson time can be spent teaching
- high turnover of staff, so GCSE courses are regularly taught by sub teachers who do not knwo the subject, and may not even try and teach, but just cover the lesson. One girl I knwo had less than one actual English lesson each week in year 11.
- lack of equipement and ability to do practical lessons. If your science lab doesn't allow any of the kids to do practical science activities, then how do they learn about practical science?

That is what I think of when I think of a bad school. Good comp and ggo grammar are not so different.

Changemyname18 Mon 05-Aug-19 14:20:01

I believe a bright kid will only do well if surrounded by like minded kids who want to do well. Very hard to progress in a class of disruptive kids or where a teacher has to aim the level of teaching lower than the bright child needs.

twilightcafe Mon 05-Aug-19 14:22:06

But if the biggest overall impact on a child's success is their parents, then what happens if a bright child is in a class with children where many parents are uninterested in education?

Echobelly Mon 05-Aug-19 14:43:14

I think a bright child can do well academically at any school - but I think how good it is may affect how gratifying an experience it is for them. Ie the difference between going to a school where kids are generally keen to learn and don't disrupt lessons, and one where the lessons are dominated by a few troublesome kids who are allowed to waste lesson time boringly winding up teachers is quite significant

BertrandRussell Mon 05-Aug-19 14:45:49

A bright well supported child will do well at any school.

missyB1 Mon 05-Aug-19 14:55:32

I was a bright child who didn’t achieve my potential at school. And I believe that was due to a number of reasons;
Disruptive behaviour in most classes.
A bullying culture throughout the school.
Overcrowded classrooms.
Poor facilities.
Apparently deaf and blind teachers who seemed totally oblivious to all the issues.

In other words a shit school! Bright children are not immune to unhappiness and demotivation.

steppemum Mon 05-Aug-19 15:25:37

But if the biggest overall impact on a child's success is their parents, then what happens if a bright child is in a class with children where many parents are uninterested in education?

the impact on that child is still their own parents. And the impact on the surrounding children is their parents.

But as I said, one child can't fight against a shitty school culture, where there are no teachers and every lesson is disrupted.

Justgivemesomepeace Mon 05-Aug-19 15:42:04

They'd do ok but not aswell as they would in a better environment. Im thinking of my dd's school. A comp in special measures.
She had a really poor physics teacher. The lessons often didnt start until about 35 mins after they got in as he couldnt control or settle the class.
Disruption and disengagement from lots of pupils in lessons.
Low expectations and lack of inspiration and ambition.
Difficult to recruit and maintain quality teachers.
Weeks of supply teachers in many lessons so not much quality teaching done. And i mean weeks.
No english teacher for 6 weeks until about a month before her gcses.
Issues with chemistry teaching. At parents evening in the run up to gcses i was told by the head of science that they knew there were issues with chemistry throughout the school, but the kids will pull their scores up with biology and physics.
DD says she could do barely anything on the chemistry paper and is not expecting much from her results in science.
She has dyslexia. Very little support in most lessons, some teachers unaware then seemed to keep 'forgetting'.
They didnt arrange for extra time in her exams.
Some of her friends are really bright and will do really well despite this. They would have flown in a different school.
She does however have a really good college to go to so it will be interesting to see how she gets on there.

Helix1244 Mon 05-Aug-19 16:04:52

My dc is primary but a good school makes a big difference. Homework so parents can support etc. Effort from the teachers and teacher listening 1-2-1 to children.
A child's intelligence and attitude make a huge difference but not all bright kids can be bothered when there are no rewards/motivation or feedback to parents.
Possibly this is part of the difference grammar and private vs some comp. If they don't understand the value of feedback to parents.
Imo at our state primary processes have been implemented without enough consideration it is more what is easiest for teachers.
Group reading x
TA reading with dc so noone able to move them up
Not enough assessment of dc and not accurate assessment at the start of reception/other year groups
With maths possibly not enough time for slower kids to finish things or enough keeping them on task. Or eg some kids would improve if given unfinished work as homework.
Options for kids to only do part of the spellings.

I do agree being with other bright kids can only help, it pushes them on

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 05-Aug-19 16:06:05

In her comp DD was without a maths and a chemistry teacher for many months leading up to the GCSE. She used her textbooks, we bought some revision books online and I helped her out (I have a STEM degree).

I think it probably cost her the final polish and insider knowledge that would have turned As into A*s.

CruCru Mon 05-Aug-19 18:05:42

It’s an interesting thread. I’m sure that high achieving comprehensives are schools at which bright children should do well - apart from anything else, if it is big enough, a bright child in the very top sets will be in a version of a grammar school.

It’s more of a problem when the comprehensives are not particularly high achieving - yes, the children can still do well (if they are well supported) but it’s much harder work. I remember being exhausted at school - it wasn’t from the work itself but the sniping and disruption that went on.

It would do my old school a disservice to say it wasn’t good - in many ways it was (and there were a few very good teachers) but, from time to time, there was a lack of ambition for the brightest children. They were measured on their % of A* to Cs so it wasn’t the end of their world if a bright child got a B (I think schools are probably now measured on their % of A / A* now as well). I remember once a teacher in assembly telling us that the school had done well in something and finishing with “... and we’re a state school you know!” in a slightly accusing way. It had never occurred to me before that my school could be considered sub-par in any way.

Brooksey5 Mon 05-Aug-19 18:25:02

I went to a good comprehensive and then a grammar school for 6th form.

I think what made the biggest different was feeling like I fitted in. I got good grades in both places however at the comp kids never seemed to understand why I worked hard or wanted to learn. Then I got to the grammar school and it was full of people just like me.

The provision for specialist subjects like further maths was also a lot better at the grammar school. If I’d of stayed at the comp further maths would have been taught after school once a fortnight. At the grammar school they had 2 classes of 15 taking it. All wanting to do well and pushing the subject matter.

Provision for SEN was also much better, at the comp if you were getting Cs and above they didn’t really care about any SEN

I guess to conclude yes bright children will probably achieve good grades compared to the average at any school but education is about so much more than just achieving a grade.

Punxsutawney Mon 05-Aug-19 21:25:19

My bright child is being failed at grammar school. He passed the 11+ with no formal tutoring and just did about 4 practice papers. He is currently being assessed for autism though and the school's sen support is poor. He is very unhappy and consequently not reaching his potential at all. He absolutely has the ability to do well in a grammar environment but the lack of support for his additional needs mean that he is not.

A child has to be happy and able to succeed in whatever environment they are in. When you have seen your child falling apart and failed by their school it puts everything into perspective, a good education is definitely more than just a set of exam results.

TeenTimesTwo Mon 05-Aug-19 21:49:07

Brooksey Were you actually at a comp, or were you in reality at a secondary modern? i.e. Did other people from where you live go to the grammar so the top set was effectively lost?

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