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New Grammar School?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by millergra, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. millergra

    millergra New commenter

    I am interested to hear how TES readers feel about the proposed new grammar school in Kent?


    Although building new grammar schools is not possible under current legal legislation this one has got away with it because they are expanding an existing school.

    For me it links to differentiation in school. We are expected to differentiate in lessons so surely we should differentiate our schools? What does this lead to though? Increased inequality? Richer getting richer?

    Top Ten Teacher
  2. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I think I'd be OK with Grammar Schools as long as provision was equal at the non-Grammar ... and also that if ability shifted that there were later chances to shift over.

    I'm sure we've all experienced the bright kid who declines and the not so bright kid who shines later in life.

    Other than that I'm too young to remember Grammars... I'm sure the Oldies can keep us informed. :p
    bostonbill1982 and millergra like this.
  3. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    The actual school concerned seems to be an 'annex' of an existing grammar school. I think the application of this is going to be limited so we are not going to see an expansion of grammar schools.

    The problems with grammar schools were various. One was availability which meant a postcode lottery where in some towns it was easier to get into grammar schools than other towns.
    Second, was the profound feeling of failure and rejection of children at failing the 11+. (and it was seen as failure despite official rhetoric).

    Third was provision of secondary moderns was very poor. They were poorly equipped and (often) poorly staffed with some staff having very poor qualifications to teach. (by this I mean some teachers did not have any formal qualifications and had almost no subject knowledge.

    Fourthly, secondary moderns had nothing to offer, they ended up as places to go and wait until you could get a job. This problem ultimately led to the CSE which was damned at birth by the equivalence of Grade 1 with O-level 'C'. I remember one (ex)secondary modern where the entire school was run for the convenience of the staff. Even after the worst OFSTED report I have ever read the staff and the governing body simply refused to accept it. Many students actually regressed during their stay there. Despite this there were many secondary moderns that thrived and did well for their students despite the structural problems heaped upon them, but it was an uphill struggle.

    It had to be said that many grammar schools had their own problems. I remember one ex-pupil telling me about the fact that their lessons in one subject consisted entirely of copying notes from the board which the teachers copied onto the board direct from their university notebooks.

    We still have the same problem, university is only a suitable destination for some people simply because of the nature of universities. We still need other students to have routes into apprenticeships that are worthy of the name as well as other ways into the post education world. It is good to see that apprenticeships are being discussed again but the same problems of abuse exist. I remember 50 years ago at school being told about one particular firm's apprenticeship scheme as being worse than useless and this was a big firm with a household name.

    Combine this with the broken nature of the education system generally and we have a situation that is failing the next generation. No wonder we have teenagers who are unhappy with their school experience.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
    millergra likes this.
  4. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Differentiation should allow pupils to access the curriculum. It does not mean splitting them off and giving them a different curriculum.

    What do you mean by "provision was equal", lanokia? They could spend the same money and have good facilities but a kid whose parents failed to engage a tutor for the entrance exam might not get the chance to access the same exam system.
    needabreak likes this.
  5. millergra

    millergra New commenter

    Grammar schools already prefer to employ teachers from a grammar school type background. It is unlikely they will have the same provision. Financially they would probably get less as there tends to be less pupil premium students.
  6. maurice-r

    maurice-r Established commenter

    Both my daughter and I went to one of the surviving grammars . They should be re-established nationwide. Their decimation at the hands of both Labour and Tories (albeit for different reasons) only forced parents over to the private sector and helped to further polarise our class-conscious society.
    bostonbill1982 and oldsomeman like this.
  7. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    It would be a shame to bring back a system across the board that decided ability at age 11 and thereby affected young peoples life chances at that single point.

    Furthermore do students not feel a failure if they fail to achieve the entry requirements? Do better off parents not tutor their children while the children of less better off families not have the same advantage?

    That said I guess no one said life is fair.
  8. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Academic excellence is not all there is in life.
    lanokia likes this.
  9. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    I don't disagree, but try telling the parents tutoring to within a inch of their childs entry exam, or moving house to be in the catchment of an "outstanding school" or using other "priviledges" or inside knowledge of admissions to make sure they pass on their advantages to their children.
  10. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    Anyone enlighten me on how they got round the legislation? I know they are claiming it is an annex but surely a judge will throw that out?
  11. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    It's an annexe seven miles from the original school.

    Maybe the next one will be seventy miles away - why not?
  12. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    It's not really academic excellence that these schools give you - it's access to the network - if you can get into one of these schools you are more likely to get into Oxbridge or an equivalent status university, that that gives you access to the old boys' network of jobs, consultancies, ministerial positions etc. etc.... and obviously equally, those with money stick together. Even if the poor kid off the mean streets gets into Oxbridge through sheer bloody hard work, if they haven't got the money to maintain the lifestyle they will be cut out of the network anyway.

    I actually think there should be MORE grammar schools - that way they would not belong to the elite but to everyone. They would be much more common and so not seen as so 'special'.

    Selection for academic ability could be done at 11 and/or 13 so as to give late starters the chance to hope in (or out) before the run up to exams. There could be other 'selective' schools that focused on, for example, sport, or hands-on practical skills (no, sorry, clever rich academic boy, you can't come here because you're incapable of the delicate manual dexterity you need to become a top flight engineer, or a fine-arts jeweller)... I dunno. The education system needs a massive overhaul and has done for years, but I really do think that trying to make everyone 'the same' as with the comprehensive system hasn't worked, and has only led to those who think their kids are elite making damn sure they only get to mix with others like them.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with vocational training and education and we really need more of it. Every school should provide the basics up to an agreed level, and after that education should provide the wherewithal for kids to explore their interests and abilities.... comprehensives cannot provide everything for every child no matter how hard they try, even if they are 'specialist colleges', that doesn't provide enough specific focus on the specialism.
    bostonbill1982 likes this.
  13. mikeshaw

    mikeshaw Administrator Staff Member

    While no new grammars have opened in ages, the number and proportion of pupils in them has been going up steadily since the mid-1980s. It was a bit of an embarrassment to Labour when we pointed this out, especially after Blunkett's "Read my lips - no more selection" promise.

  14. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Where is the graph from?
  15. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

  16. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I love statfights.
  17. mikeshaw

    mikeshaw Administrator Staff Member

    Excellent addition, @Scintillant. I think that's from the same report. The difference is:

    1) That's for the number of schools, not pupils. The point I was making was that, even though the total of grammar schools has remained static, the number and proportion of pupils in them has gone up (see earlier graph).

    2) I think the BBC have actually messed that graph up. Note how it repeats 1950 twice and stops after 2000 instead of 2010. You need to shift the line over to the right by a decade. The Conservatives blame Labour for the demise of grammar schools - but the biggest drop occurred in the 1970s (not the 1960s) in a period when Margaret Thatcher was education secretary.
  18. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Yes, it says that on the graph.

    Yes, though the increase is very small and not reflective of any policy change. Hence you can't see it over a reasonable time scale

    Where was your graph from?
  19. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    The correct graph. Axes as above. Source HoC library again
  20. mikeshaw

    mikeshaw Administrator Staff Member

    @Scintillant - thanks for that. As I said, the earlier one is an extract of the graph from the same report.

    Yes, set on a historic scale, and compared to the 1940s, the proportion and number is tiny. The surprise is the fact the number has gone up at all - remember, this is during a period when new grammar schools have been banned, and selection has been publicly frowned on by education ministers.

    An increase from approximately 3% to 5% of the national school population for that year range is small in percentage point terms (2 percentage points), but very big in percentage terms (66%), especially when you recall this is just expansion within existing schools. Wish I could find the figures for absolute numbers as I believe they are higher; the HOC report states: "There has been a very gradual but steady increase in the number and proportion of pupils at existing grammar schools over the past 25 years as their average size has increased."

    I guess the point I've been trying to make is the "annexe" may not be as out-of-the-blue as some commentators have claimed. Grammar schools have been quietly expanding, on a significant scale for the last quarter of a century. This case stands out purely because it's more blatant.

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