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Grammar versus State, what's really different?

(43 Posts)
Runnerbean Mon 18-May-09 09:15:37

My dd(10) is presently home educated but is sitting the 11+ in September in the hope of getting a place at one of the local Grammars, (4 near us). This is something my dd wants, and has been influenced by her best (schooled) friend who also hopes to go.
Apart from the obvious difference of more able children being there, what else do grammars offer?
Do they follow the NC?
Do they have better teachers? More funding?
Better choice of subjects? Better facilities?

Being home educators we're a bit 'out of the loop' as regards schools so wondered if the grammar schools are so much better.

Incidentally my dd has been working at KS3 level for the last 2 years.

lilolilmanchester Mon 18-May-09 09:22:28

The grammars where I live ARE state schools, and if your DD is sitting 11+ then sounds like a state school. Some grammars are private. If you clarify what you mean, I can give you my thoughts as DS is at a state grammar

ingles2 Mon 18-May-09 09:24:36

Grammars are state. What are her options should she fail the 11+?

giantkatestacks Mon 18-May-09 09:25:17

agree with lilolil - is your question really grammars v comps? that all depends what your nearest comp is like doesnt it?

Round here they actually have less good facilities and less funding - they dont need lots of lovely facilities like the newer academies because all they do is push them academically through the exams - so if its results you want then they're great but if its extras then you would be better off at a new academy - if you have that choice near you that is...

lilolilmanchester Mon 18-May-09 09:33:29

the grammars here have facilities which are at least as good as those at the local high schools. We don't have comprehensives - it's either grammar or high school, although I am aware of some areas which are largely comprehensive but also have a couple of state grammars. Runnerbean, if you feel you can say which area you live in, it might be better for someone who has experience of the state schools in your area to comment, as there are differences.

giantkatestacks Mon 18-May-09 09:39:49

I would plump for whatever school could manage the transition from home schooling to school the best as well.

Has your dd has proper tutoring for the 11+?

Ponders Mon 18-May-09 09:42:56

grammars mostly better at academic stuff.
comps/high schools mostly better at non-academic & pastoral care.
but it does depend where you are.

Doodle2U Mon 18-May-09 09:44:24

Lilo - I went to one of the grammars in Alty. They are all fab imo. Alty/Trafford are slightly different in the way they're set up though, no?

I'm in Stockport now. The two or three local high schools are OK. The local grammar I've got my eye on - Stockport Grammar, is fee paying and is wildly ahead of the state schools (which, as I say, seem OK) on every level. Activities, facilities, sports, class sizes, everything. I'm astounded at the huge difference between this grammar school and the state provision.

giantkatestacks Mon 18-May-09 09:47:11

doodle - but thats not a grammar is it - its a private school...[looks very confused]

Doodle2U Mon 18-May-09 09:49:54

Oh, now see....I get a bit mixed up BUT it's called Stockport Grammar School and you pay.

My own school, Loreto Convent Grammar School, was a grammar and you/me dad paid BUT there were some free places and bursary/subsidised places.

lilolilmanchester Mon 18-May-09 09:51:51

Doodle, all the Trafford Grammar schools have their own entrance exams now. You're right that previously, Alti boys/girls each had their own exams then Sale, Stretford & Urmston all used the Trafford 11+. But they all have their own now.

We need runnerbean to come back and specify whether she is talking private vs state or state grammar vs state high school and/or selective vs comprehensive. And preferably which area she is is - there are too many variations otherwise!

giantkatestacks Mon 18-May-09 09:52:18

yes theres Kingston Grammar - but its just the name - its really a private day school...they all must have kept the names for historical reasons...

mumblechum Mon 18-May-09 10:30:54

DS goes to a State grammar and it performs way better than any of the local comps. The rules are much stricter imo, so for eg if ds has the wrong colour socks for PE, he has 100 lines and a bollocking, whereas at the comp my friend's child doesn't get so much as a raised eyebrow.

I feel that grammar is best for my ds as he's naturally a bit lazy and the school really does force him to achieve his potential. A child who's not used to regimentation, strict rules and discipline might rebel, at least at first.

Runnerbean Mon 18-May-09 10:52:15

Oh dear, see I told you I was out of the loop!
I'm in SE london/Bexley/Bromley borders.
No grammars in SElondon but can take selective tests for schools in bromley/bexley.
So I suppose it's state grammar as opposed to comprehensive.
Yes she is being tutored for 11 plus.
So many things to consider!

Litchick Mon 18-May-09 12:19:43

Can only speak for the gschools in Bucks and say they are very academic. They live and die by their results. If that's what you wwant, then it'll work because they do exactly what they say on the tin.
But am wondering if you've been used to autonomous learning, and a free lifestyle, whether a Gschool might seem very structured and bookish indeed.

margotfonteyn Mon 18-May-09 12:30:03

As far as choice for GCSE subjects, you will probably have LESS choice at a grammar school in that they will only offer academic subjects, ie no tourism, childcare, media studies etc.

I am fairly sure (ready to be corrected) that my DCs follow the National Curriculum but they tend to work at a faster pace, which is obviously because the children are all of the same ability to a certain degree.

Many, many children are tutored to take the test which is a contentious issue in itself. Beware of over tutoring, rather than familiarising with the test, or she may find the pace too fast once at the GS if she passes. Also be very aware that many GSs are very oversubscribed and even if you have a very bright,'academic' child there is absolutely NO guarantee they will get a place. Our GS only takes the top 120 scorers.

Having said all that, mine love their GS and aare/were very happy there which counts for an awful lot. As far as results go, the school as a whole gets absolutely excellent rresults but some of the children are a lot more self motivated than others (i.e. mine) and it is a bit sink or swim, although they have got a bit better in helping those who are, shall we say, 'lazier' than others.

mumblechum Mon 18-May-09 12:43:29

Agree with MargotFonteyne, the GCSEs are v. much geared towards academic subjects. Our ds has to take 12 GCSEs and only 1 is allowed to be non-academic, ie either drama, dance, tech, art or music.

It is good in lots of ways, and I suspect quite unusual that even the boys are highly competetive in terms of getting the highest marks possible.

MrsBartlet Mon 18-May-09 13:33:20

I don't think grammars have better facilities than comprehensives. In fact the headteacher at dd's grammar school has said that they are often at the bottom of the pile for extra funding for facilities as they get excellent results anyway with the pretty shabby facilities they have at the moment! As a result they try and get parents to donate money on a regular basis. They also have 3 specialisms so have got more funding that way.

What we have noticed though is the wonderful rapport between teachers and girls. The vast majority of children there are motivated to work and the teachers are very relaxed and informal with them as a result.

As for whether grammar schools are better or not it depends on the child. Different schools suit different children. For our dd a grammar school is certainly better but I didn't want to go there when I was her age and so for me our comprehensive was better.

margotfonteyn Mon 18-May-09 13:50:08

Just another point, against popular misconceptions, I actually think the GS my DCs went/go to is LESS pressured than the local high achieving comp where some of the children are desperate to stay/get in the top sets. That pressure is actually removed at the GS as they are all much of a muchness. Although you will get the odd ones who desparately want to be 'top of the class' all the time.

But agree with MrsBartlet, it does depend on the child and how self confident they are in their abilities.

zanzibarmum Mon 18-May-09 18:08:09

It's simple really... public schools are really private schools; Grammar schools are state schools but not if it's Manchester Grammar School then it is private or independent. The schools for the public are state schools although Grammar schools are state schools too though selective through tests which in practice means selective by the amount of tutoring your can cram your child through - and therefore not available on equal terms to the public. Public schools were founded to educate the poor and now they do very little of that; public schools are also often selective by academic ability and socially though ethnically they can be more mixed albeit of socially advantage children or bright children who the bursaries that are now growing. Voluntary aided schools with a religious character are attacked as "faith schools" whereas other voluntary aided schools are ok particularly if your child goes there. How can you not undertand it?

margotfonteyn Mon 18-May-09 18:20:22

Absolutely zanzibarmum

BodenGroupie Tue 19-May-09 14:04:14

I've got one DD at a comp, another at a state grammar.

Grammar - superb academically but all girls which I regret. Also, distance for us has meant problems with social life and after school activities which had never occurred to me when we were looking around when she was 11 blush. However, on balance still the best choice for DD1. She will be going to local college for A levels as she deserves a life and it's excellent academically. I wouldn't say she's ever felt under pressure.

Comp - possibly a more rounded education in terms of things DD2 gets to try, after school clubs, social mix etc but you have to be really committed at this particular school to rise above the behaviour and the anti-geek mentality of some of the children. Fantastic teachers and DD2 is extremely happy but worries about not achieving in noisy classes.

I'd ask how they would cope with a child so far advanced academically. DD2 hasn't made much real progress which really worries me. I don't know about your area but it's easier to move from the grammar to the comp if things don't work out - places at grammars don't come up.

Good luck - my much older and wiser sister said I won't know till they're 25 if I made the right decision!

Litchick Tue 19-May-09 21:29:29

That's interesting BG as I'm currently coosing a school for DD to go on to at 11 and I just can't imagine what's she's going to need at 15. I live in mortal fear of becomming a taxi service.

BodenGroupie Tue 19-May-09 22:29:59

Litchick - doesn't help that we live in a small village, school is in a big town 20 miles away and DD finds most of the girls have completely different interests. I've encouraged as many activities as possible which aren't school based so she does have some friends locally but she's had to get used to buses and trains pretty much from day 1. She's just started to go out in the evenings so I'm picking her up from parties then having a forty minute drive home - it's certainly cut down my alcohol consumption!

waterdog Tue 19-May-09 22:34:23

At grammar schools the pranks are more sophisticated.

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