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Greening opens way for new grammar schools

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

  1. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Isn't it a pity, therefore, that to change all schools into academies (which is still the government's intention, albeit not by force) will cost around £60,000 per school. 2 teachers, 5 TAs, updated resources - so much which could be done with this money. Grr!
     
    delnon and JosieWhitehead like this.
  2. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    No, in fairness I went to a large comprehensive where the top sets were as academically able as the local grammar schools could have managed. I can't speak for what went on in lower ability sets. Did your daughters' school not practice streaming/setting by ability?
     
    emerald52 likes this.
  3. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    I am far from being a zealot on the matter of selection. I went to a comp, taught in two comps followed by a selective grammar school, and all these schools, and both these systems had plenty to commend them. The grammar school I teach in is brilliant - it blew me away when I started teaching there, but I have noticed several things. Firstly, all the teaching up to GCSE is in tutor groups, on the fallacious assumption that all the kids are very bright. Quite honestly a fair number are not, and make me wonder how on earth they got in; secondly the school is not rooted in its local community as it should be. It is situated in a small rural town, but takes only 15% or so of its kids from the local catchment area. The rest are bussed in from absolutely miles away, especially from a large city 15 miles away which has no grammar schools of its own; thirdly the kids are very middle class. On parents' evening Maseratis, Jags and Aston Martins fill the car park and on entrance test we have more doctors hanging around our school gates than are on duty in the local hospital. Less than 2% of kids are on pupil premium. Lastly, I have written before of the entrance test day, with closely-coached kids often showing the strain of expectations they are carrying. It's not fair.
     
    DrJay and emerald52 like this.
  4. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    So... Explain to me how all those children left to " languish" in bottom sets didn't get to feel like failures, didn't feel their life chances were affected by learning stuff they couldn't relate to?
     
  5. bonkers 704

    bonkers 704 Lead commenter

    It sounds like the curriculum or the Heads of those Departments have plenty to answer for. If your daughters were of much higher ability than the rest of the set they should have been moved out. If they weren't, the HoD should have ensured a less academic course was laid on for the lower ability sets - I've seen plenty of such alternative curricula used in History in my 29 years in the profession. As for the self esteem of the kids, it is very difficult to dress up being sent to a secondary modern having failed the Eleven Plus or being placed in a low ability set (kids always know!) as anything but failure. Only the complete removal of all competition and all competitive examinations would prevent this, and probably not even then.
     
  6. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    @bonkers 704 it depended on the subject as to whether the pupils at my daughters' school were settled or not. They both were bullied to a more or lesser extent by the "naughty " kids. The staff tended to seat good , quiet, bright girls like mine next to the - well one of them I can only describe as a nut job. A boy who should have been in special special ed but whose parents exercised their "right" to have him at a main stream school. The school's pastoral system was pretty dire and he bullied my elder girl relentlessly, especially on the school bus home. When I took teams from my school for matches there he was on the sidelines yelling abuse at me - of course he wouldn't have been playing.... His smoking and drug taking would have seen to that. Oh yes I forgot to mention he was a main drug dealer at the school. I told the PE staff to get him out of my sight or I would be taking al my teams off and away. Some karma for my girl when a few years later when trying working for the Crown Prosecution service she had to send a notice of prosecution out to him for drug dealing. She delighted in signing her name to it. The school never ever did anything about him despite letters and calls from me. I tried very very hard to get my younger into a different secondary school but was denied my parental choice on distance even though they bused children from the next borough - further to it. Don' t speak to me about parental choice!
    My mantra for both of them was " it will be better in the sixth form" and to be fair it was though the elder met loads of sexist attitudes from the boys I her A level Gov and Poitics set. The younger voted with her feet and went to a sixth form college miles away.
    My girls would have thrived at a small all girl grammar school. I either helped them survive some pretty chaotic teaching or persuaded some of my colleagues to help me out and tutor them.
    Re setting... many comps set so I don't see the argument for them replacing grammar schools holding water at all. You are lucky if you have a good comp on your doorstep but generally they are too big and they do not deliver on the promises people we sold when the grammars were axed. Axing them was more a social ploy than an educative one...... After all we can't have too many oiks getting above themselves now can we ?
     
  7. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    my family was affected in different ways because we were in education at the time Grammar schools were abolished.
    Older brother had a fantastic technical education at the Tech and has spent his life happily running various garages that service HGVs. Paid to send all his children to private schools as he was thoroughly unimpressed by the local comps to him. Which, having worked in all of them on supply seems a reasonable view.
    Mrs Hammie went to the local Gils' Grammar, loved it. In her words, "my education stopped the day it was turned into a comp"
    I missed the 11 plus by one year, did OK at the grammar that was turned into a comp, experienced lots of bullying as did all the clever kids.
    Older sister loved her secondary modern and was on track to train as a nurse. Moved to the comp and hated the huge impersonal place where he felt regarded as thick. Effectively truanted for the next 2 years until she could leave.
    desperately trying to find a way to afford to pay for grandchildren to go private when they leave Primary, too many of the local comps have bad reputations, especially for bullying.
     
    ViolaClef and HelenREMfan like this.
  8. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I went to a large comprehensive. I was never bullied and I got a great education. Our local small comprehensive has many faults but is generally loved by its pupils and has little evidence of bullying. You can't make decisions according to anecdote! There are bad comprehensives and bad grammars and bad secondary moderns, and good ones of all of them.
     
    delnon and emerald52 like this.
  9. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    Actually I would be much more in favour of halving the size of all comps. They are effectively cut in two for most teaching purposes anyhow. The huge size and lack of personal scale is the biggest problem of the lot for many pupils and adults.
     
    HelenREMfan likes this.
  10. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    I worked in two single sex grammar schools for ten years before moving to various state schools. State schools are currently horrendous in my experience. I spend the vast majority of lessons dealing (or rather, trying to contain) the behaviour of a small minority of pupils, who cannot focus, are determined to disrupt everyone and monopolise my time. Bright students make some progress, but nowhere near the progress they would make if they were in a grammar school. They are given few opportunities to develop as a person and to learn to think and be independent, because activities that would help develop those skills are few and far between; they are impossible to manage with four or five feral students in the class.

    If anyone cared about the bright children, they wouldn't condemn them to the mediocrity that is your bog standard academy instead of dumping them in with uncontrollable semi-******.
     
    Dinay, hammie, delnon and 1 other person like this.
  11. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    I'm still surprised that anyone thinks this is really going to happen. New grammar schools will not be like the ones of yore. They will be academies with sponsors.
    No amount of anecdotes about the comparative merits of any system will bring about a total meritocracy. It never was ideal. There were good grammar schools and very poor ones as with comprehensives.
    Enough money is being sucked out of the system to shore up vanity project free schools without splurging even more on some other twinkly thing.
    We need teachers to be trained and supported in the existing schools, not yet another populist policy that will never deliver on its promise. We need money to be pledged to supporting existing primary schools. We need an assessment system that does not condemn children and their teachers to failure because they can't recognise a subrdinating conjunction rather than enjoy reading what they are interested in.
     
    delnon and emerald52 like this.
  12. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    The original aim of the grammar schools, as I understand it, was to provide an academic education to those from modest or 'poor' backgrounds - as the sixteenth century founders and benefactors would have said. The twentieth century saw the introduction of the tripartite system, where, after the age of eleven, pupils continued their education at either a grammar school, technical school or a secondary modern school. With hindsight it is probably true to say that not enough thought was given to the curriculum and purpose of the secondary modern schools, but I think the motive was to try and provide different learning environments for different individuals and their learning styles and strengths. I am under the impression that in Germany a technical education is well regarded, whereas for some reason here an academic education is placed by many on a pedestal above any other kind of education, which I don't think is right. Sadly, I think, instead of honing the tripartite system and trying to 'get it right', a completely new system was introduced - and if Sir Humphrey from Yes, Prime Minister is to be believed, a much cheaper one than three small separate schools in one location, as @HelenREMfan says.
    An added issue for the few remaining grammar schools now is catchment area. This means that properties near grammar schools are often very expensive and so the intake is not solely based on passing the test well enough, but on where you can afford to live. Catchment areas encourage homogeneity, unless a school is in the middle of a very socially diverse area. Grammar schools should be places for bright youngsters who wish to pursue an academic pathway regardless of their parents' incomes or backgrounds.
    The idea of some flexibility, suggested by @delnon as occurring at the end of each year in Germany, where each pupil's next steps are considered, sounds very positive. I don't know whether this extends to changing schools, but it would be great to think that a child who didn't go to a grammar school at eleven, but who worked hard or 'blossomed' later could access that opportunity further down the line, and that one who started at a grammar school but realised that they wanted a more practical education could move to a school which would provide that.
     
    delnon and HelenREMfan like this.
  13. manc

    manc New commenter

    Grammar schools are great for those who go to them and those who are lucky enough to teach in them. What do you do with everyone else? No one can square that circle. Parents like grammars cos they ALL think their kid is going to one. These are the same blinkered parents who are all in favour of discipline in schools until their precious child falls foul of the law.
     
  14. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    and don't forget Tech schools, in places like Portsmouth the Tech was highly respected and a real destination for children to aim for.
    Do you abandon clever kids to some of the treatment noted above in some of the very poor comps that exist out there. You can fool Ofsted some of the time with various ways of hiding the worst behaved pupils, but teachers know better. Maybe giving a way our for some of them (as opposed to none of them) is a worthwhile outcome
     
    HelenREMfan likes this.
  15. redlamp2

    redlamp2 Occasional commenter

    Grammar schools served a purpose when there was a lack of good schools. Today there are (comparatively) very few poor schools.

    What is a real issue are the families that simply don't give a **** and the accompanying lack of respect and discipline by their children. I'd far rather see an emphasis placed on challenging this than the much simpler job of creaming off the best kids.
     
  16. delnon

    delnon Lead commenter

    In that sentence you have encapsulated the entire problem.
    It ought not to be seen as "creaming off the best kids".
    It ought to be seen as providing every child with the education best suited to their needs and abilities.
    I can still rmember when Rochdale Tech was regarded as a very good destination for pupils with a technical aptitude.
    The Germans - sorry to keep harping on about it - have a much more mature attitude. On a more general note, I recall Bild Zeitung attempting to stir up trouble with headlines about lazy teachers getting away with poor attendance and poor teaching. They didn't get far with that.
     
    wanet and HelenREMfan like this.
  17. redlamp2

    redlamp2 Occasional commenter

    It was the bit just before that sentence that encapsulated the entire problem.

    Those kids who are creamed off do just fine. That's why mummy and daddy work themselves half to death to pay for their tutoring.

    What's left behind are a small number of talented kids who for whatever reason don't go to the grammar and now find they don't get quite the attention they would benefit from because teachers are busy dealing with a larger number of kids that either don't give a ****, are too stupid to give a **** or have given up because they realise they're not that bright and therefore don't give a ****. Although some of their parents will nonetheless give plenty of **** and in doing so take up yet more of those teacher's time.

    And yet in those schools are also some really talented teachers. Talented teachers that unfortunately are too busy dealing with the kids that don't give a **** rather than being able to invest their time, energy and resources into the kids who do. It is for this reason I'd prefer to see that problem being solved.
     
    Dinay and DrJay like this.
  18. DrJay

    DrJay Occasional commenter

    In a comparative study I am currently working on (i.e. researching), Northern Ireland schools--which remain dichotomised between grammar and comprehensive--year after year, consistently outperform schools in other nations of the UK (Scotland, England and Wales) in both the GCSE and GCE A-Level exams. This seemingly speaks volumes about an educational system the rest of the UK discontinued.
     
    delnon and HelenREMfan like this.
  19. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    If only I could believe that by selecting students and placing them in Grammar schools, we can educate them better and at LESS cost thus allowing MORE resources to be directed to schools that cater for the more all students. The reality I fear is that we will see the creation of elite selective schools that receive above average resourcing from government and additional resourcing from motivated parents, with predictable results.

    On the other hand a Grammar school system would encourage good parenting - you want your child to get the best education then encourage them to work hard, behave well and always aim to produce their best work.
     
  20. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    The current situation cannot continue. You cannot keep putting thousands of very bright students in bog standard comps of various descriptions, where they are held back from shining. They are being stopped from developing outstandingly brilliant personal, social and intellectual skills because of the minority of feral students in most classes. Every one of the classes I teach at the moment has three or four out-of-control students, who will not behave, who SLT cannot control and whose parents can't or won't sort out. They are never suspended or excluded yet hold back so many from learning and becoming what they could. It's a national disgrace.

    Grammar schools will return education to those students who are motivated and keep the moor-ons isolated, where they can bake cakes and learn to pump up tyres. We need to stop focussing on the few and start thinking about the thousands, who are denied an outstanding education.
     

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