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It’s the 11-plus that should be the real bogeyman, not grammar schools

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    ‘…If you look into this a bit deeper and read what anti-grammar school lobbyists have to say when they’re busy lobbying, what you find is it isn’t really the grammar schools they hate. The most vociferous clearly have little knowledge or any experience of them. They condemn from a very distant kind of ivory tower: made from recyclable plastic but almost identical to the real thing.

    No, it’s the 11-plus that’s their real bogeyman. The idea you can separate children at eleven on the basis of a single test, for which only some will have been carefully prepared – and cart them off to two very different types of schools for the rest of their education – appeals to very few reasonable adults today.’


    Do you agree with Joe Nutt? If the 11-plus was scrapped, would you be in favour of grammar schools?
  2. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    I am completely in favour of the Eleven Plus and Grammar Schools.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  3. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    Both the 11 plus and grammar schools are ridiculous and divisive.

    Ridiculous because it was based on a pseudo science that intelligence is inherited and that like IQ, scores are fixed. I live on the border of one of the few remaining 11 plus regions in the UK. I know a girl who has had an 11-plus tutor since the start of year 5. If there is such a thing as immutable intelligence, why do parents pay above the odds to give their kids extra tutoring to pass?

    And it is divisive because the act of creaming off the bright (read middle class kids) might create a cosy and well achieving school, but the corollary of that is all of the other kids (including all the problem kids, for various reasons) being put together in one school and making it harder to teach, greater staff turnover, more likely to be failed by Ofsted, etc etc.

    So the educational experience of the kids who have to go there will be many times worse than those who passed. It this day and age, it is simply wrong.
    TCSC47, palmtree100 and needabreak like this.
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Nothing wrong with the grammar schools, apart from the secondary modern down the road.
  5. Sally006

    Sally006 Occasional commenter

    Nothing to add except to be in complete agreement with you.
    TCSC47 and baxterbasics like this.
  6. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Wrong question. "Would you like a return to Secondary Moderns?" is the one that politicians avoid asking.
  7. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    And the reason they don't ask that question is because Tory policy has always focussed on the successful minority and rode roughshod over the needs of everybody else.
  8. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    In my experience, there are 3 kinds of children. Those who will pass with no tuition (but probably have it anyway), those who won’t pass no matter what they do, and a fair few in the middle who could pass, but probably need extra help to do so.

    Most grammar schools in my area (berks/bucks) no longer use pure ‘IQ’ tests (VR and NVR) but also include English and maths. These can absolutely be improved by tutoring.
  9. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Nut has clearly lost his! Apart from the inflammatory language- dismissing perfectly capable and successful schools as the ‘bogeyman’- his comments show a woeful ignorance of the social, demographic and employment realities of many towns and cities. For many parents, their child passing the eleven plus is a huge achievement and rightly so. In London, the competition is huge. Frankly, academisation has utterly failed. Utterly. Coupled with this, we are seeing top level, experienced and gifted teachers across all cash-strapped or cash- conscious sectors booting out their best teachers. A lot cannot relish the delightful privilege of returning to other jobs in other schools, either because we became ill, lost morale, or became totally disillusioned with edubusinesses Schools. Oddly enough, a lot have gravitated naturally towards exam tuition. And don’t kid yourself that I and others like me are fat cat Tories offering an elistist service. Sure, I coach some wealthy kids. I also teach those in low incomes at reduced rates, ESOL learners, unfairly excluded SEN students...I know EXACTLY what goes in in some state academies, and it’s a disgrace. When you coach kids across the whole area, you start to see the patterns and join the dots. I now have complete curriculum control and can contribute more towards social mobility than I ever could whilst working in schools. Pundits and bigmouths should be very careful about slating the eleven plus. It is flawed, as are most systems, but if you saw the educational alternative some kids are faced, and knew that many WILLINGLY travel a daily 20 mike commute rather than attend the local academy, then you might see why these grammars are so popular. They work for the kids who get into them. Academies are all **** and teeth, all fur coat and no knickers. Grammars, in the main, encompass academic rigour, a love of learning and pragmatism. Far too many academies (not all, just a lot, especially in London) Academies seem hellbent on persecuting and demotivating most staff and students, snazzy signage, and creaming off the profits. Parents will pay a lot of money to avoid dumping their kid into a system which, all too often, is broken. They can’t all be wrong.
  10. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Ironically, a good tutor will look after the needs of BOTH sets of kids. I’m seeing a lot of GCSE students who have been utterly let down by their schools. If I can help aspirational and able year 5 and 6 kids secure offers at schools which boost their life chances, I’ll do it. If I can help struggling kids at unbelievably crud academies, one of which rejected my job application in favour of a cheap trainee (!!) and which is also guilty of child-bullying and disability discrimination...I’ll do that too. I have to earn a wage and need to be paid. Several parents have said their child gets more homework and resources from me than they do with their teachers, due to constant turnover and supply. The system is broken. Tutors play a vital role in keeping things going, yet get slated from all sides and are rarely acknowledged.
    needabreak likes this.
  11. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    I think you are missing the point. Grammar schools may well provide a better opportunity for those able to get in. However, for those conigned to the bin of secondary moderns, their chances are significantly worse, as all the problems are lumped together in one school, leading to stressed out teachers, more disruption and failing schools.

    The fact that the entry to grammar schools is partly based on parents' ability and willingness to pay for a tutor (neither the fault of the child) makes the system doubly unfair.

    I have not even mentioned the stigma of success and failure at such a young age. (And yes, life is all about success and failure, but to deliver this blow to such young children iand affect their life chances from that day on, is inexcusable.

    Dont use the red herring of acadmies. Every other nation can provide well funded comprehensives where teachers are respected and not bullied, and kids have opportunities to follow high quality academic or vocational routes, so why can't we?
    TCSC47 and phlogiston like this.
  12. pwc9000

    pwc9000 New commenter

    This article is a nonsense nothing article.

    It doesn't actually say anything.

    How can you write an article saying grammar schools should stay but the 11+ shouldn't, and then not explain what selection to said grammar schools would look like without the 11+?

    I cannot believe TES has published this drivel.

    FWIW I am wholly against all forms of selection by state funded schools.

    Every day of my career has been spent in Secondary Modern schools in an area where 25% go to grammar schools. I know the flip side of grammar schools very well.
    palmtree100, Mrsmumbles and Brunel like this.
  13. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Thing is, I’m not sure I have given a red herring with academies. I accept that some must be ok, especially the higher performing ones which opted into local trusts and were previously strong LEA funded Schools. But what we have now is, in the main, a disaster. It has failed. How many comprehensives did we see hauled over the coals or megatrust Heads done for stealing cash or running their schools into the ground in the 1980s or 1990s? Of course I would like good quality state education for all. But academisation has taken it back to Victorian ‘standards’, thanks to Gradgrind Gove. I agree, why the fleck can’t Britain provide well funded and effective schools, well paid and welltreated teachers and create high- achieving kids? I don’t know, but it can’t. It has had decades to sort out UK education and has failed. Both parties. Utter disaster. Teachers could have done a better job of it drunk. Until the powers that be do resolve it -I would hope by axing academisation and boosting cash reserves in reformed LEAS- grammars are here to stay. Multi academy trusts were the death knell to our kids’ futures, not aspirational kids and a few grammars. I am supporting at ten academy students through tuition. All deserved better. I taught far less able in independent schools. I also coach for grammars and independents which offer generous bursaries. These kids are getting their offers. They have to do it this way because their local state provision is not fit for purpose. Remember that indie patents have already contributed for a service their kids won’t ever get as they pay tax but also pay private fees on top. It’s their choice to do this. I’d love a Uk system of three tier education with great academic and apprenticeship options for the whole wave. Lord knows we need the skills. GNVQs seemed fine to me...why not develop these courses? Remove the stigma of ‘learning a trade’? Because far too many English policy makers and educationalists are elitist snobs. They quite link the Them and Us stays quo. So everyone suffers. Consequently, parents will do all they can to find the best local or not so local provision. It’s just a pain that not much of it is provided by academies. Seems you need more than a Tory photo shoot to guarantee credibility and survival.
  14. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    It is indeed drivel. The issue is very complicated and the desire for good free education for al, gets lost in the reality of the dire situation. I just get cross because it is my job to tutor and help kids from all backgrounds. It’s not about the 11 plus, it’s the fact that out whole system is broken and they ain’t gonna fix it. Scapegoat city.
  15. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter


    Normally, I’m a big cat fan, but I guess the cartoonist Chris Riddell here has to stick with the DFE -supported ‘MAT fat cat’ metaphor! The scandals over academies are just going to get worse. Admittedly, grammars have been depicted as dead horses by the hugely talented Steve Bell. What a total mess.....Why oh why can’t they just axe underperforming academies and create Modern Grammars with streaming to cater for all the kids who want to study some sort of academic programme, coupled with separate properly staffed and funded vocational centres leading straight into jobs for those who cannot be bothered with school? Because they cannot be bothered to. Yes, grammars maintain a level of social of division whilst ensuring at least some of our brightest and least wealthy get a few rungs up one of life’s ladders. But as far as I know, their Heads were in it for the children, genuinely and completely, not in it for the scams, the stealing of public land and other assets, rewarding their mates and bankrupting their own Schools. They are often very cagey about their senior management recruitment, employment policies and financial health. I wonder why. Give it time...Sweep it all under the MAT...
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  16. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    Fair enough, then. If your approach is pragmatism in the face of a failed system, then I can see why parents and tutors are making an effort to get kids into grammar schools. However, the bigger picture is that the success of these kids in grammar schools is only benefiting a small proportion, and is doing nothing to address a much bigger problem.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  17. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Yes, it definitely is pragmatic realism. And yes, I agree, there is a far bigger problem. It’s so big, it’s hard for the Tories, it seems, to admit to it. Privatised state education has not worked. At least with Tuition it isn’t one to one, bespoke and very targeted. It’s also reliable and weekly, compared to shocking staff turnovers and inconsistencies in many schools.
    I do defend what I do as the system IS broken, it HAS failed, plus there are many other complex reasons that kids should need tuition apart from the entrance exam coaching. It is a case of an imperfect choice in a mad world. I think what riles me the most is the shameful under-provision for non-academic kids who would thrive with a few trades and skills and the chance to go straight into work thereafter. As you say, other countries have nailed this issue far better than the UK. Until it is sorted, the grammars we have should be allowed to stay. Most offer a caring, collegiate and driven culture that frankly I’ve just not seen in local academies, many of which seem like war zones. Of course there are some good academies. Somewhere. But if you didn’t live near any and did live close to top band grammars, what would you do for your own child? A good tutor who gets involved boosting the achievements of year 5s and 6s costs around three grand in total over those precious two years. I feel that if that child gets a good grammar place, their life chances have improved, but they WORKED to get there. Tutors really cannot so it all, the kids have to have ability and drive as well. It’s a wise investment for parents because a typical private school of comparable quality wants a staggering £18K per year. So multiply £18K by 7, compare that to £3k, and, to many parents, it’s a no-brainier. How are we ever going to challenge Tory policies unless the aspirational kids from grammar school systems who come from normal backgrounds can continue to break through into the top jobs?
    There’s also the other point that several academies near me are just not safe places for bright and able children, either academically, mentally or socially. The current system disadvantages most kids, really. Able kids need stretching and non-academic kids need proper options and training. You do what you can for the students who ask you for help, and you pay your bills,
  18. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    Mrsmumbles, I can see where you come from with this pragmatism.

    However, do you not think that by putting all the bright kids, and those with supportive parents into a grammar (who decide to pay for tuition), the system is making it worse for all those left behind who go to the secondary moderns - where there is obviously a greater concentration of problematic and more needy kids, and you can bet (in today's financial cuts "con"), there won't be any more support or TAs to relieve the pressure?

    So in effect with grammars and secondary moderns, you are making it better for the few, but probably a worse experience for the majority.

    I might be tempted to doing the same for my kids (tutoring and grammars), but it doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it fair.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  19. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Sort of see your point of view, but I do now feel, rather strongly, having taught in state, private and now as a private tutor, that people who love achievement and learning should not have to feel ashamed of making these pragmatic choices. We all want a fairer UK education system. It is not our fault that no government seems capable of providing us with one. I started teaching under Blair’s government; teaching conditionshave worsened every year, jerking sharply into demoralisaed chaos after 2013 and now in a downward spiral. Couple of points: I believe the ruling classes are happy with the current mess and quite like an educational underclass. At least some working class kids can break through the glass ceiling via grammars. Also, a LOT of my most able grammar school success stories this year were normal but very bright kids attending cash-strapped state juniors, NOT posh prep schools. It was obvious from looking through the books of both the junior and prep kids that there were gaps in teaching and infrequent marking, both symptoms of rapid staff turnover. The dfference is the preps often focus more on the grammar and etymology of words. State junior schools don’t. This effectively disadvantages some state junior kids who want to try for the eleven plus. So I make it a point of honour to target these local kids and this year it really paid off. This is why Tuition is so important..you start to see patterns of strength and weaknesses in all the local state and private schools, and even up the chances for the children. It is also worth remembering that a very bright child will still do ok in an academy. Yes, it’s sad that they won’t be as stretched and stimulated in Buttercup Clover Academy as they would at the local grammar. But, similarly, grammars often reward ‘steady plodder’ learners as well who may otherwise have faded from sight in a bigger and more chaotic academy. A lot of state educated children are now seeing me for GCSE boosters with the plan of private education in sixth form. The whole picture is very complex and it isn’t enough to just say it’s fundamentally unfair. What’s more unfair is the way teachers are now being treated and how appalling modern state education is. I think that’s really unfair. Tuition is not dirt cheap, admittedly, but a lot of us could slap three grand on the credit card, or save up for it over five years. My most successful students are often the least well off. The results are well worth it and helping them get them does make you feel proud, rather than ashamed.
    JohnJCazorla and needabreak like this.
  20. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Oh this old cookie... lets reinvent the wheel... oh no lets not, lets do what we did before, oh lets not it wasn't deemed satisfactory, lets do something new... again!

    Focus on ensuring what we have works should be the priority not more change for change sake to make a particular political point is costly and unnecessary... enough with he fiddling while Rome burns.

    1. What about those taking new 1-9's this summer?
    2. What about schools struggling to meet their financial commitments in order to provide the required curriculum? (Due to increased on costs).
    3. What about the devaluing of the arts?
    4. What about creating well rounded individuals instead of ancient ideas that simply and naively focusing on only providing a pool of labour for businesses when we aren't really sure what skills levels and content is required to work in them?
    5. What about the belief that most children have ability but their choice as to whether they use it or not is dependent on how they perceive educations usefulness to their particular social situation?
    6. What about giving children time to develop? Have we learned nothing form Finland?
    7. What about not labelling children?
    8. What about teacher recruitment?
    9. What about teacher training?
    10. What about teacher retention so as not to waste the investment in recruitment and training?
    11. How about not labelling schools as failing when they are doing their best given their intake?
    12. How about not labelling schools as successful because their students parent pay for outside tuition?
    13. How about not setting schools up to fail?
    14. What about anything else I may have missed that others can feel free to add?

    Honestly talk about a red herring. :rolleyes:
    JohnJCazorla and Mrsmumbles like this.

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