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Greening opens way for new grammar schools

Discussion in 'Education news' started by FrankWolley, Jul 17, 2016.

  1. delnon

    delnon Lead commenter

    In urban Manchester, my grammar school was two train journeys away: one train into Victoria and another out to a different suburb.
    Later they laid on coaches for us.
    It can be done - if the political will and the resources are there.
     
    ViolaClef and HelenREMfan like this.
  2. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    Because there is public transport in urban areas. There is no network here unless the political will to blight kids to a label of failure includes laying a train track for the chosen few.
     
  3. delnon

    delnon Lead commenter

    Or laying on buses, as in the days when our lords and masters would sometimes invest in the future of the country.
     
    HelenREMfan likes this.
  4. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    It saved your life? Really? I went to a comprehensive school where I think I received an excellent education, instilling in me a lifelong appreciation of the joys of history, literature, philosophy, learning languages, culture and the arts. I'm pretty sure you would have these too even if forced to rub shoulders with the academically less able.
     
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  5. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    The problem is, at present pupils haver to be offered for secondary schools long before such tests are sat.
     
  6. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    Grammar schools were abolished because of the outrage by so many well-heeled middle class parents when their darling offspring failed the Eleven Plus or failed to secure a place at their local Grammar. Also, there was real and genuine concern about the pressure put upon very young pupils by these tests. I still see it, as a teacher in a selective Grammar School - Common Entrance Day is mind-boggling. Berserk. The whole school has to be on lockdown to guard against cheating.
     
  7. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    I taught at a school that had been a technical grammar back in the day. It was closed down and I was involved in a project to write a history of the school which involved interviewing dozens of people who went there as pupils. I was greatly struck by the love and pride the pupils of the technical grammar had, and how grateful they were for the lifelong skills their education had given them.
     
    ViolaClef and HelenREMfan like this.
  8. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    Deciding a child's life chances at 11 based on one test is unfair. Children who haven't had years of coaching or attended a good primary often only show their real potential once they get to secondary.

    A good comprehensive school streams children for each subject so a child can be in the top set for maths but not for Spanish, for example. This system is more flexible as children can move up or down between sets. Moving schools is impractical and in -year admissions to grammar schools are rare, so there is no chance for bright children whose potential is only realised After the 11+.

    Equally, some children who were coached to pass the 11+ are not particularly intelligent and struggle through grammar school, achieving lower grades than some of their peers who narrowly missed the 11+ and went to good comprehensives. I have seen this time and time again.

    Don't split children so permanently into academic and non- academic based on one exam at 11 years old. The system needs to remain open and flexible for them to develop at their own pace and in the subjects they are good at.
     
    chelsea2 and bonkers 704 like this.
  9. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    The problem is that schools don't operate in a vacuum. It is unrealistic to expect schools alone to counter the economic and social trends to increasing inequality and poverty.
     
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  10. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    Your experience - awful yes.... but not the fault of the system but of the way the school you went to was run.

    How much more of a failure must a lot of children feel stuck in comprehensives following a watered down "academic" curriculum that is often meaningless to them? I worked for a head in a sec mod who boasted that every child in his school learned French - that was because he timetabled the poor year 8 remedial class I had tried to teach English to in year 8 to start to learn French in their Year 9 - news to the SEN teacher and Head of French. I gave my notice in - he was a looney anyway.
     
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  11. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    The new grammar school initiative only serves to justify those MATs, who reject students with learning difficulties or whose behaviour is challenging or who simply don't reach the targets set.. It is not about enhancing everyone's life chances at all.
    One of the chains cited by Michael Wilshaw as successful is notorious for thinning out a significant percentage of its students by the time they reach year 11. I could envisage this method would legitimise an annual cull and swap system if selection by exam results from primary were to become the norm.
    Schools will be required to make money for the investors. The concept of education being a public good; a framework into which grammar schools fitted, ended in the last century.
    Besides which, many would argue that grammar schools led to lazy, complacent teaching in pre Ofsted, pre academy chain days. Now everyone is micro managed to a point where it has become expedient to cheat. This means pretending those who are hard to teach, don't exist.
    Half of this year's y6 cohort nationally did not reach the new standards which require 10 year olds to analyse a text with a reading age of 14+ and read for inference. That ability gap cannot be eliminated merely by redefining the norm or assuming that anyone's progress will follow a fixed trajectory.
     
  12. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    It isn't just a matter of being "forced" to rub shoulders. It is a matter of being in groups with children who cannot cope with quite a bit of the curriculum that has been served to them. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard recently of teachers asking how many of the kids of laughable target GCSE grade C are going to cope with Gove's grammar school "rigour"and new curriculum. Maybe you weren't expected in your school to either sit by and "civilise" some of the non too academic or well motivated or even....to "help them" with their work. Both my girls experienced that!
     
    JosieWhitehead likes this.
  13. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    In an 'ideal' world, the following caveats would be in place to ensure that the children who MIGHT benefit from the type of education provided by a grammar school (whatever that is these days, given the NC is for all) go there:

    - the way chosen to select the 'suitable' children is a way that cannot be coached or tutored;
    - it is equally fair for girls & boys;
    - it is equally fair wherever you live in the country;
    - whatever your background, you are equally likely to get a place if your ability (whatever THAT is) merits it;
    - the fallacy - sorry, concept of parents having a choice - sorry, preference for the school their child attends is removed;
    - the school can provide an appropriate education for the child who is brilliant at maths - or IT, but only average at English - or science;
    - the education provided for those who do not get a place at a grammar school is just as good, if not better;
    - those who have attended a grammar school are not seen as 'better educated';
    - not getting a place at grammar school is not seen as a failure which you carry through life.

    I would suggest most of these are impossible to achieve.
     
    delnon likes this.
  14. curlyk

    curlyk New commenter

    Somebody please tell me how going back to a 1950s style, rigid system of education ,with 11 plus exams, 2 tiers/3 tiers of schools etc , will help matters in 21st century GB?.My education at an enormous Comprehensive, from 1967 - 1974 ,set me up for a fantastic University education ( the first member of my family to attend University),gave me the opportunity to work in France and study in Italy , earn a PGCE ,spend 35 years teaching modern foreign languages in two very large Comprehensives,engender a life long appetite for learning and an open minded attitude towards all classes of people.Yes, at school in the 1960s/70s, the classes were banded by ability and subjects taught in sets,but children were able to move up and down bands and sets easily .The 11 plus did not decide your future. I passed my 11 plus with flying colours ,but my parents chose to send me to the local Comprehensive ,not bus me into the nearest grammar school and their faith was justified.Add the current obsession of academisation of all schools into the toxic mix of Grammar schools, free schools and maintained schools and social engineering will once again raise its ugly head . I despair and thank God I am now retired.My grand children may be the ones to suffer .
     
  15. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    I agree with this to some extent; I experienced what your girls did until KS4 when we began exam courses.
    However, in some excellent comprehensives nowadays, children are set according to ability and are taught to their level from year 7.
    Unlike separating children permanently into different schools, there is always the possibility to improve and move up to the top set. One of my own children was at such a school and the top set was almost like a grammar stream, offering Latin and astronomy, fast-tracking children to early entry exams, and full of very academically-minded children. The difference between this and the grammar school system was that children could easily move up into or down from top sets and could be in different sets for different subjects. Streaming in year 7 was based on the school's own assessment as well as primary results but there was always fluidity and the opportunity for children to move up or down.

    The 11+ is so final and permanent. It decides a child's life in one day.
     
    chelsea2 likes this.
  16. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    @curlyk it is the comprehensive system which brings about "social engineering". All those fooled into believing they had "parental choice" is a laugh!
    We have , and it is to the eternal disgrace of the Labour party, postcode schools. So if you live on a huge (ex now) council house estate, or the poor end of town, inner city you go to the local comp. I too disagreed with the 11 + and all its failings - just where is it cast in tablets of stone that a return to a grammar school system would mean 1550/60's ways? Er surely we can learn from the failings of the past and make a triumvirate system work!

    It is accepted that it was the grammar schools giving bright working class children the chance to aspire academically. Yes, some children did have to travel to their secondary school. I took 3 bus journeys from my village to my first secondary school, then a slightly shorter 2 bus journeys when in Blackpool. My cousin went on the train (till Beeching closed the line) from his village to Macclesfield Kings school. It didn't kill us ! The era of those grammar schools saw a huge shift for bright working class kids. Kids who like you were the first to go to University (and "proper " universities at that! ) from their families. Those kids filled many professions - alas one outcome was that some, seemed to feel guilty that they had received something their peers hadn't. That might well have been the case for some secondary moderns but that doesn't mean that the ideology behind the triumvirate system was wrong. I have no doubt that there might have been some poor teaching/teachers in the grammar schools as there probably was in the sec moderns. It was a different era where children were often told they would never make a pop star and better be going off to train as a dustman! I do though think that we might have gone just a little too far on the alternate road to that though as so many of our performing arts kids think they are going to make it big in the world!

    I worked in a "good" secondary modern. The Head was diabolical and I could write a book about him, but the staff cared and in 1972 the kids at the school did well and were well taught by some quite academic staff too. My elder daughter taught at a Kent comp and worked hard for her classes.... her only frustration was that with the grammar schools taking the brightest kids there seemed to be no appreciation of that when it came to targets etc. I later taught at a comprehensive in the town where no grammar school was available, the aspiration of the kids at our school was definitely dropping by the time I was leaving. Our social demographic had changed somewhat but then no child from our catchment area could get a "parental choice" place at the highest perceived performing school in the borough which was situated well in the leafy suburbs of traditional Cheshire. (Our school historically had been in Lancs till border changes)

    I don't see the difference between one's life being decided by being in a bottom set at a comp or by going to a secondary modern or whatever a modern equivalent would be called. Alas these Tory governments will not allow us to let children do the subjects they are good at - how I felt for the bright academic kids who were useless at Art or whatever when they were "forced" to take a creative subject at GCSE.

    To condemn grammar schools just because of the 11+ and all its issues and problems is just wrong.
     
    delnon likes this.
  17. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    ?? But without the '11+ and all its issues and problems' there wouldn't have been grammar schools for the perceived 'best' and the sec moderns for the rest. People who passed their 11+ went to grammar schools; those who didn't went to sec moderns, perceived by society as less than, inferior. Whether that was true or not is largely irrelevant - that's how they were perceived.

    It's perhaps not dissimilar to how some people see independent schools compared with state schools: they provide a better education; they enable social mobility; you will only rub shoulders with those of similar aspirations & attitudes.

    I'm not saying that's true - but that's the perception which people (literally, in the case of independents) buy into.

    And that's why the UK remains one of the most socially divided countries. Bringing back grammar schools will do nothing to bridge that divide, because such an education system further divides.
     
    bonkers 704 and nearmiss like this.
  18. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    If you want to feel seriously cross, read Peter Hitchens in today's "M o S".
    He states that the current government Cabinet is "the dimmest ever".
    His reasoning? They didn't go to the best schools!
     
  19. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    What Justine Greening probably won't commit to is to increase funding. The shortage of primary school places in some boroughs is now critical. Class sizes are increasing to 30+, TA support is being cut which is not going to give teachers time to nurture children of any ability level. Some children don't have a place at all. That's the priority, not more big ideas.
    So to imagine that government funding will be forthcoming to launch a network of grammar schools is a far cry. Already we have several undersubscribed free schools sucking the life blood out of the system locally. Grammar schools, offering a range and depth of learning that truly makes them worthy of the title won't be cheap. They will need dozens of specialist teachers, science and teachnology facilities to fit the enhanced curriculum, otherwise it will just be another hollow PR exercise.
    The money isn't there.
    The new funding formula can't begin to finance the sort of schools that used to exist.
     
    delnon likes this.
  20. curlyk

    curlyk New commenter

    The teachers are not there to fill these needs .Massive shortages in sciences ,maths etc.what will they do, rob Peter to pay Paul.? let alone the funding issues that could arise .! Academies are already picking and choosing their students, the ones who miss out are the SEND students.Wrong,all so wrong.!!!We do not and have not learned a thing from past experiments with the educational lives of thousands and thousands of our children. Parents have no `choice`in the school to which they send their children ,this is just another lie from the educational elite who ,week in ,week out,meddle with a system most of them have never passed through ,let alone put their own children through. The divide between `haves` and `have nots` is getting bigger ,not smaller,year on year.Social mobility ,ha ! If you can afford the tuition to get your child into the right school,be it a grammar, a high achieving Academy in the `right` catchment area,a private school with small classes ,or you can afford to buy a house in the `right `area to get into the `right` school your future success is set .If not, here, have an attendance certificate and we will see if we can find you a meaningless apprenticeship in a few years .Bitter,moi.!
    I may be retired but the passion and anger burns bright.
     

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