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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. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    Two responses to the above comments:

    It is not just a red herring, it is a far right Tory solution that will actually make the situation worse for the majority.

    And Mrs Mumbles, you keep talking about the need to help bright, high achievers. However, at the other end of the spectrum, will the experience of lumping all of the problems into secondary moderns not make it a lot worse for both teachers and kids? People who promote grammars nearly always focus on the needs to help the top achievers and grammars, but never have much to say about secondary moderns.
    TCSC47 and JohnJCazorla like this.
  2. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    A town near us still has a grammar and what was a secondary modern, now billed as a comprehensive academy (our county is mainly comprehensive but two towns retained their grammar system). The academy gets amazing results, well above many real comprehensives in the county. I am frankly astonished and a little bit sceptical.

    The thing I dislike most about the grammar system is the idea that there are two distinct sets of children - academic and not academic. This is clearly nonsense. There will be a large number of children who might or might not have passed the test on a different day or under different circumstances. It is blindingly obvious that a comprehensive run properly is going to give the best opportunities for everyone. I'm not saying that that is what we have, but putting a few reasonably bright children into a nice school and the rest in a different school is clearly a nonsense system.
    TCSC47 likes this.
  3. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    You misunderstood my post, I meant the policy is a diversion to prevent people thinking of the points I listed and where it does address any it is presented as a cure all.

    I agree with your second point.
    TCSC47 and Mrsmumbles like this.
  4. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    But are they actually reintroducing secondary moderns? Surely academies have filled this role now. The problem is that the system is now so broken that any more changes seem to be likely to disadvantage some kids. I don't see why we cannot leave the current grammars be and concentrate on the disgraceful underfunded swirling mess that is your typical UK academy. Too many ARE letting down the less academic kids. I tutor two who should get their level 5, vital for progression to other courses. Excluded because of not following the school uniform policy. Utterly outrageous academy window-dressed pettiness.
    needabreak likes this.
  5. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    I know, but to close down successful schools seems very wrong to me. Is the town near you a wealthy one with good employment? Obviously you are lucky to have access to two good options. For many of us, the local state provision has failed and will continue to do so. Kids cannot put their education on standby whilst waiting for Damien to sort out the Fat Cats ( doubt he will.) When sp many are bankrupting and not getting 'rebrokered',/rebroken, you know things are pretty bad now.
    needabreak likes this.
  6. num3bers

    num3bers Occasional commenter

    I passed the 11+. I did so without any tutoring as that never crossed my parents mind, let alone their pockets.

    I went to a Secondary Modern School because there were not enough places in the Grammar school to take all those who did pass . I was assured that "Only the top scores" got places. Then I found out my score had been in the top percentile but I didn't get a place because my primary school head master did not recommend me as being " suitable for a Grammar school education". It seemed "Suitable for a Grammar School education was equatable with where you lived and what your dads job was. It looked a bit like that to me when I looked at who actually got places.

    The SM I went to was rubbish. Sorry teachers but, most of you ( and some may be here who taught me , you are young enough) didn't even try to teach anything much above CSE grade 3 because you were teaching for the "majority innit"? I taught myself. My dad taught me maths ( because he wasnt a "Post Man" as my Primary Head Teacher thought, but in fact a highly paid Executive Officer in the Civil Service who worked in the Post Office - as they did in those days , if they had entered when the P.O was the GPO) My mother taught me English and everything else I had to do with books from the library and anything I could order through the book shops ( parents paid). My parents , firm socialists, genuinely believed in that old chesnut the meritocracy and all could achieve by ability alone and school didnt matter. Despite the odds passed O level and CSE at grade 1 - the only one in the school to do so ( this was 1982). From there I went to A levels and University - and the rest is history.

    I cannot make up my mind on this. Clearly some parents want something better for their children and cannot afford a private school or they can, are skinflints and want an edge for their not so bright offspiring - so one way or another they pay for tuition and get places and people like me will always be left behind.

    But years of hindsight make me ask whether it matters. Looking at those I know who went to SM and those who went to Grammar, the vast majority ended up in the same place - the local factory, shop or office ( with or without O levels or CSE or even GCSE).

    Of the relatively small number who went on to A level, even those who were Oxbridge/Durham ended up teaching ( as did I but I decided to teach after having a higher flying job. I wanted a family and that didnt work with carers then). Two I can think of particularly - one now a Peer in the HoL ( Grammar school, dad was an accountant and a politician) , the other a Top CEO for a major company. I doubt he would tell you he was SM, he would tell you about his University and since he is high up but not high profile, you wont know. Therein lies the disaster that is SM, because the stigma can never be removed. The minute you admit to having been in an SM you are a "Failure" and always will be. Even if you passed the 11+..... even if you achieve well in life..... even if you never blot your copy book unlike Prescott..... the minute you admit it, you are done for. "P:ig S h 88 t thck" and all that usually coming from Grammar school types who didnt do particularly well themselves.

    No doubt I shall receive a similar response now having admitted to the major holes in my education and I have spent my life trying to patch them up. . That is the problem - then and now.
    TCSC47 and Mrsmumbles like this.
  7. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Firstly, huge admiration and respect to you for doing it your way and getting there on your own steam. Stories like this and the skills you sound like you had innately need to be told more often to today's kids. Some horrible and gut-twisting comments in your post about 'back then' grammar school snobbery and ignorance. You weren't alone, for what it's worth. My father was fiercely intelligent, gained a grammar place to a top school, was sent up North during the war as an evacuee, then returned to find his place had gone (popular grammar) - so he went to a really bad grammar which was arguable worse than the SM. He did ok too. Very interesting to see you also had supportive parents and, like him, some of that healthy 'up yours,, you idiot, I'll do it myself' attitude. True intelligence is not bound by class and true resilience is not the dumbed down word it has become in school assemblies and empty website spiels, but then you already knew that. I always think of Alan Bennett's play 'The History Boys', which shows us the honest realities of grammar school snootiness, being that kid who was about to 'do well and get on', and please the pushy Headmaster. Grammars were not perfect and the stigma of SM, plus the lack of ambition, were wrong. BUT: today's educational landscape is even more polarised, complex and contradictory. Some independent schools will, from what I've seen, take anyone. Others are ruthlessly snobby and reject kids as young as 10. Rejection and a sense of failure cuts across both sectors now. The grammars near me take a mix of students from a wider social and ethnic cross-section - at east in London they do. The problem I am trying to articulate is that the existing state provision doesn't have a unified identity, doesn't have the managerial mindset to promote a fair playing field and doesn't seem to care about the kids at all. Presumably, the secondary moderns had more consistent staff and transparent funding in place? As you say, they may have been poor but some students still thrived despite them. So, by this token, 40 years down the line, one should expect the state provision for all those 'grammar school rejects' to be excellent? You cannot blame the seething mess of academisation failure entirely on the grammars. I hate the entitled arrogance of privately educated brats as much as the next person, but the real 'villain' in all these are the MAT fat cats who got away with financial, education, social, psychological and life-chances murder. Their incompetence failed thousands of local kids. And they keep getting re-employed by their bezzie mates, hangin' at the cringeworthy meetup called 'The Academies Roadshow', bloggin' and generally chillin' while, every day, good experienced teachers are booted out because of 'capability' issues. I'll give them capability issues! Tell this to your friend in the House of Lords. He might be able to help redress the balance yet again, you never know...
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  8. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    I agree this is an issue but do we move forward by repeating the past? Much of which was abandoned as having failed as many children as ot helped if not more?

    State provision has moved forward in many ways and lept back in several others.

    One of the daily battles I see is with those young people who simply cannot see how life changing education can be. They are bogged down in self deprecation and often suffer criticism from others to reinforce it, low aspirations blight their futures. That documentary the other day that Prof Green did on working class white men was the tip of the iceberg.

    Do we simply use these young people as low skilled workers and pat them on the back for their work ethic or do we encourage and expect more of them providing SEN is absent... and help them to expect more of themselves?

    Or perhaps it's ok to shuttle young people with low aspirations to low paid often unstable work and hope it keeps them out of prison.
  9. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    I was part of this system. I went to a SM. All the SMs in my area were very aspirational because they were competing with the grammar schools. Apparently my borough was one of the best in the country... and still is for education. I put this down to expensive catchment area (house prices are ridiculous), parents who value education and children who want to do well as a consequence. It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s your aspirations and parental influence that will make sure you succeed.

    I’ve worked in schools where aspiration and parental support is low. The high achieving students are subjected to so much low level disruption, they may as well teach themselves. If they were put in a grammar school, they may have a chance at achieving their potential. The same reason schools put students in sets: Teachers find it easier to pitch their lessons when students are of the same ability and outcomes are better.

    We need to get away from this idea that if a teacher works with a low ability cohort in a SM, they will hate it/leave/ruin their teaching career. I know plenty of people who love working in those environments, making a real difference to children.

    Attitude and aspirations of parents and pupils is what makes schools successful, if you can change their mindset, a grammar education wouldn’t be necessary. The government should be building teachers and the education system up, not tearing it down with insults and budget cuts so they can academies it for their own agenda.

    Ofsted have been focussing a lot on the lack of challenge for high ability pupils recently from my experience and the government are merely addressing this by talking about grammar schools. They know nothing of the education system and how to fix it, or they don’t want to, so they band about new policy to give the illusion of helping.
    Mrsmumbles and JohnJCazorla like this.
  10. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    BBC 2 generation gifted just stated that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are half as likely to do well so that being the case would they even figure in the selective schools?

    I expect this will be an interesting watch.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  11. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Very true. This government is s9 thick and self interested, it hasn’t a clue what it’s doing. You are so right about aspiration being key. Low level disruption and this stupid attitude in some British school cultures of pulling down th ebright kid, it’s pathetic. And pushy middle class parents may help their kids short term, but they spoon fed kids are often impotent flailing whale students of helplessness in later life stages. At the end of the day, you have to have an innate sense of self-worth in order to succeed. You have to be able to see that you are gifted and could be different, to be ‘better’ academically than your parents. This takes incredible maturity and guts. Frankly, a lot of teachers aren’t fully equipped for helping kids envision this, although I thought the Newcastle teacher they interviewed was very inspiring. I achieved ‘above my station’ and boy was it hard. You spend most of your school and after school life ever fully assimilating into one social group. Even my parents to,d me to not get ‘ideas above my station.’ I remember thinking they were full of it, then started daydreaming about a big North Eastern railway station with coloured words and ideas floating above it! it is only when you’re older that you see there’s an advantage in having this unique world view. You’re sort of standing in the middle of the staircase. Still quite lonely and draughty up there at times, though!
    Lalex123 likes this.

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