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Six things we learned from Justine Greening's grilling by MPs today

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Sep 14, 2016.

  1. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    There has to be a "historical" aspect to this because for the vast majority of the country grammar schools were got rid of in the 1970s! Let us just consider that too for a moment. It is well documented that the era of the grammar schools of the 50s and 60s saw a close of the social divide. In whose interest therefore was the removal of the grammar school then? Certainly not that of bright working class children. I mention people like myself from that strata of society because the majority of girls I went to school with came from that. We were not wealthy, independently educated at prep or independent schools girls but girls from working families, from council estates and from all areas of Blackpool. There was no class division at the grammar school because class didn't come into it. There was just the simple expectation that we would work hard and get our exams and aspire to higher education. It wasn't "banged out" to us morning, noon and night because it was just that - an almost unspoken expectation. There was no ceiling, there was no standing back to promote boys, there was equal opportunity for all in that school. Plus the 6th form was certainly open to girls from the other Blackpool schools as 2 of my lifelong friends moved to us from one of the good secondary moderns. Again there were some good secondary moderns - not all of them "failed" their pupils, though I do agree that they were underfunded etc but that does not mean the grammar schools failed/let them down etc.
    peter12171 likes this.
  2. s10327

    s10327 Occasional commenter

    So, having thrown loads of money into Free Schools and academies, let's start another system! How much more money can we spend on a new thing?
    palmtree100 and needabreak like this.
  3. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    Also where is the justification for all tax payers paying for an education that specifically sets aside money to promote those most likely to succeed anyway because they are by definition the brightest students.

    If we are going to continuously sink to the "in my experience of education" mode, I know hundreds of people who's lives were changed in the comprehensive system from poor working class backgrounds to successful professionals, not just myself and my friends or our children, but literally hundreds nay thousands if I go back through my teaching career. It is one single reason I entered the profession and had I not had such outcomes I would deem my duty as a failed one.

    When done well with appropriate staffing, on the whole the comprehensive system works as is clear from much of the evidence out there, as well as alleged rising standards in terms of the number of A*-C's if that is your measure of success.

    As @Scintillant said at the start of the thread, deny it or not the evidence is out there. There are however always some who will argue that from their frankly individualistic point of view things are not so.
    palmtree100 likes this.
  4. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    You are a teacher?

    Then why are you not aware of it?
  5. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    If any group should be hived off for special treatment, it is IMO, the lowest achievers and those who by their behaviour impede the learning of their peers.
    pepper5 and needabreak like this.
  6. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    There may be a case for those with severe special needs to have specialists in separate schools to cater for their needs, although poor behaviour is not indicative of lack of intelligence, just perhaps poor decision making.

    Decision making can and should be taught while I do believe if behaviour is as poor as some people describe there are pupil referral units for this purpose, what is really needed is the removal of the barriers to school referrals to them as it currently reflects on the schools performance not that of the child.

    If schools were free to refer those who were genuinely uncontrollable to existing provisions then that is the problem solved right there and all the rest (probably the majority) can achieve to the best of their ability. Then perhaps the £50m can be spent on other necessities or school improvements.
    pepper5 and Scintillant like this.
  7. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

  8. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    If there are enough grammars for all the high ability (or well-coached) children who are able to pass the entrance exams, the remaining schools, whether they are called comprehensives, academies, free schools, faith schools, will all be see as schools for failures, kids who didn't make it, kids who aren't suited to an academic education (not necessarily true of course). They will be secondary moderns with a different label. Call it choice if you like. I don't
    pepper5 and needabreak like this.
  9. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I too know of hundreds of lives of bright kids who did not do as well in the comprehensive system - bright kids who tried to keep their heads well down because to be called a "swat" was nearly as bad as being called "fat" by the other kids. Where is your evidence on how well the comprehensive system has worked? Probably the comps in the leafy suburb areas or the over subscribed ones where the HT has some power over admissions - one "grammar"comes to mind there as a school whose charter kept its grammar school name but was supposed to be a comp whose HT virtually said which kids got places. As for the rise in GCSE A to C grades,...come come ...we ALL on here know how the rise in these "statistics" have come about - soon to plummet by the way as Gove style, "old grammar school" type exams are reintroduced. Will that mean it is insurmountable "evidence" that comprehensives are failing? In which case bring 'em on.The last 10 years of "improving" GCSE grades has not indicated an improvement in the exam results the most academic children have achieved but rather more the training of a cohort of children to pass the exam criteria supplied.
  10. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I taught in a secondary modern - a good sec mod even if the HT was a .... well never mind about that. It had good facilities, was well resourced and offered a maybe slower less pressured academic education for those it suited as well as a practical education for those with that aptitude. I also taught in a tech high for a short time and my friend went to one. I would transport everything back to that triumvirate system if I could. I would also bring back specialist special schools as the disabled are another strata of young society who have been thoroughly short changed by successive governments saving money by suckering the working people of this country. All those ploys... the faceless comps, the removal of expensive special schools were designed not for the betterment of our children but to save spending money on them.
    delnon and pepper5 like this.
  11. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    The problem is the lack of fluidity between the systems. You are deciding that a child needs a slower, less pressured (dumbed down) academic education, or a practical education, for the rest of their school life based on what? Based on one test, on one day, at age 11.

    Since you are being anecdotal, my child failed the 11+ by one point, went to a comprehensive and achieved A*s across almost across the board. He was in top sets accompanied by other very bright and hardworking children and was allowed to flourish in a very academic environment. Under your system he would have been considered unsuitable for a fast-paced, academic environment. He had not been tutored for the 11+, just did a few practice papers in the weeks before, but the threshold was high due to the numbers taking the test from non-selective boroughs (which included us, last minute decision). We weren't worried at all by this result as we knew about the excellent comps in our borough, although we didn't quite expect his school to be as amazing as it was.

    In a comprehensive school, the top sets (for individual subjects) are something within easy reach at any point for those who work hard and have the ability in any given subject. Not so easy to move schools, should a child demonstrate great ability in certain areas at age 12 or 13. It takes time for children to overcome barriers they may have faced in early life: poverty, having EAL, spending time abroad (e.g. services children.) Not everyone is on top form on the day of the dreaded 11+.

    The thriving comps in non-selective boroughs in London would change completely if they lost all the high ability children due to a sudden appearance of more grammar schools.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  12. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    You see people are ignoring the point(s) I was making. I am no fan whatsoever of the 11+ I have enough faith in most of my fellow professionals to feel that teacher recommendation as to school best suited at aged 11is the way to go from continuous assessment throughout Junior school. I also advocate fluidity between the schools. I also believe in easy transfer between the schools in the system - down as well as up; add in to that also moving children chronologically up a year group if their ability warranted it and repeating a year if they didn't "pass" it. (One aspect of the American system I do agree with as well as summer schools to help kids keep up)

    As I said previously we were "sold the pup" of wonderful large comprehensive schools to replace the expensive triumvirate schools. What a shame those triumvirate schools catered for 600 - 800 max with staff who all knew each other and the pupils really well. Oh no they were scrapped and we got the "faceless" comps with the streaming which everyone ignored which labelled children just as much as ever grammar, sec mod or tech high ever did. Oh and "more choice" that was another sop we were given as it for the most part didn't materialise.

    Also don't put words in my mouth. I am far from an advocate of "dumbed down" academic education as I feel it is a waste of time and purgatory for too many children. There is a powerful sector of our society who do not wish to see an "educated" working class whether they have the ability or not - hence the creation of the large, impersonal comps.
    delnon likes this.
  13. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    In my view comprehensives have failed; academies have failed -from where I am standing they are either inadequate or outstanding- the outstanding ones are sometimes selective and usually in 'good' areas; not sure about free schools - I have never met the products of one. It is time for a change. This could be selection. Has anyone ever consider selection by motivation? Put those who want to try and succeed in one school and those who can't be bothered into another school.
    I teach in FE and meet the products of academies, comps, independents after their progression through their various systems
  14. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    I'd change you last few words to - hence the desire to return to a segregated system.

    Mixing all social classes and abilities in one comp allows everyone access to the same standard of education and the same facilities. It would then be in everyone's interests to make sure those comprehensive schools are nothing short of excellent.
    needabreak likes this.
  15. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    Not anymore. I don't know why it's changed but it has. Perhaps the influx of immigrants into deprived areas has helped raise aspirations and academic achievement, perhaps investment by the last labour government - The London Challenge, rebuilding schools programmes, perhaps OFSTED forcing change. I worked in an inner city comp in special measures in the 90's but it is now been rated outstanding for several years(same deprived catchment area) and another local one recently moved from R.I. to outstanding. In fact nearly all schools in this (comparatively deprived) borough are good or outstanding. I have personal experience of these schools and I know they are excellent.

    It's almost as if the system has worked so well and got so many children from poor backgrounds to good universities that someone has decided enough's enough, we have to put a stop to this. Perhaps middle class people somewhere don't want all this competition for their children, they want to maintain their position of privilege?
  16. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    No, it doesn't give everyone the same standard of education as the year groups are streamed/setted. Poor little souls who would have been nurtured in special learning schools are thrown into "units" within the large, impersonal comps where they have to spend their lives trying to avoid some of the less savoury, thuggish kids. Children and young people can be little beasts - even the footballing Neville couldn't protect his disabled daughter from the cruel taunts of some boy who was insisting he didn't want her on "his" team. (well done Mr Neville for nigh shaming that odious child) However no matter how well meaning and hard-working the staff are children do target weaker others whether they be disabled in some way, ethnic, academic - they are all targets for the street-wise stronger kids found in so many of the large, impersonal schools.

    My daughter was a driver of The London Challenge and I know how proud she was of the achievements gained - I could however level some criticism as one of its major aims was to target C/D borderline kids to secure those C grades - again no money, time and investment for the brightest because let's face it they can "get there on their own". How fair is that? How fair is it to sideline the most able because they were born naturally brighter then most? How we would howl if the bottom 10% were left because ... well they're never going to get anywhere anyway? If my kids hadn't had much academic ability I would have been far happier with them doing subjects they liked and could do and progress in, finding skills and activities that they could do whilst appreciating that they needed functional skills in numeracy and literacy. I would not be losing sleep over them not doing GCSE French or German. Extended work experience on KS4 and links with vocational colleges can work well and I am sure no one would be moaning about that being offered and not see it as "dumbing down"

    As for schools moving into or out of "special measures" RI etc etc I have seen enough of all that to know full well the agenda behind many school inspection processes. I would read those judgements with complete disregard knowing how they can be so wide of the mark as to be laughable

    As for working class kids going to "good universities" that too is near on laughable. If by "good" you mean Russell group well thanks to the idiot "New Labour" policies of turning every venue for "higher" education - be it college, poly or whatever into a university whole swathes of working class kids went off to them to do courses which all too often didn't provide them with employable accreditation. For the most part it left them with debt and a concern about the value of university education permeating through to following cohorts of kids. Of course taking teachers away from positions of "Careers advisors" and providing "Connexions" (don't even take me there as to what I thought about the use of "hip" bloody spelling) whose advisors that I ever came across seemed to be set on promoting the "micky mouse" tier of "higher" education we were getting. I constantly had the frustration of them advising kids with projected A*,A and B grades about the "cool" vocational courses at the local vocational college rather than establishing their academic ability and advising them accordingly. I have positively celebrated the demise of Connexions as a very positive step - though alas nothing has been put in their place. I started my own group of academic Year 11s to try to redress the balance and one year we got 10 kids into only 30 places nationwide for a residential course on Physics at Durham university - girls included!

    Reading through this it is almost as if we appear as only valuing academic students as "everyone " must follow academic subjects. Osmosis will overcome and the most limited of kids by being in the rarified atmosphere of academia along with bright kids will flourish! Er no! I see no problem whatsoever with having vocational schools and encouraging them to nurture, value all the skills we would wish all children to have ; those of self confidence, collaborative working, ambition, leadership, endeavour and to give them the positions of responsibility within those schools where they get the chance to lead. One of my most valued GCSE students was the girl who had had literacy help when first entering the school but who was in a group with town and county champions in athletics, gymnastics, netball, hockey, dance and swimming. In every activity we did she was way behind and outshone by everyone else in the group. She achieved an E grade in GCSE PE which was a good result for her and I was pleased but I would not in any way, shape of form have wanted to be her as nearly everything she did in that subject was a struggle. She was lucky in that they were a really nice group of girls and I really looked out for her as I was so impressed with her grit but it had to be hard.
  17. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    You speak a lot about children being born naturally brighter, as if everyone is born with a certain level of intelligence and ability which they cannot change.

    I disagree with this, although obviously some learning disabilities are genetic, upbringing and nurture have a big part to play in developing children's brains. Which is where the class thing starts to have an effect. Children should be encouraged to pursue their talents and interests and allowed to excel in different areas, but should never be written off as "not academic". That's what happened to some posters on here under the old selective system, including Michael Morpurgo, who wrote an article for TES about how he failed the 11+. A lot of us can probably think of a subject we found hard or boring at school which we went on to excel in later on in life.

    Segregating children into categories in such a rigid way, at such a young age, means they are even less likely to realise their potential.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
    stupot101 and needabreak like this.
  18. Calpurnia99

    Calpurnia99 Star commenter

    Then just allow transfer in e.g. Y9. Or do a 13+ instead of an 11+.
    I agree that the exercise and development of one's natural intelligence is not smoothly linear, but this is a state-funded mass education system, not 15m private tutors.
    delnon and CraigCarterSmith like this.
  19. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    As I have said repeatedly - get rid of the 11+ - an abomination of an exam and a dreadful method of assessment. I have said - many times now - to use the professionalism of the junior teachers to recommend which school pupils should be transferred and as I have suggested and @Calpurnia99 agrees, transfers during KS3 where appropriate -in both directions. After all there could well be pupils misplaced who would be far happier applying themselves to the technical or vocational route.
    It keeps being brought up about children being "written off" etc. It isn't proposed to return to the "dark ages"! Surely as educators we have moved on regarding good practice in education and the teachers of the old days who delighted in using the slipper, throwing the board duster or chalk, or telling children that they weren't even fit to be dustmen have been discarded? Maybe there might even be some innovative teachers in the grammar school who will be a little more inventive than "open the text book at page **, read the text then answer the questions" routine!
    stupot101, delnon and peter12171 like this.
  20. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    The fact that we know lots of people who have succeeded and failed means nothing it just makes it clear that it is a null argument to use personal experience of this nature. Apparently 1/3 of those polled are in favour of more Grammar schools.

    As for the evidence... a) I have already provided a link to this effect and b) what @Scintillant said... (you are an educationalist after all).

    No matter what we say or think on here what will be will be and the consequences will in time become clear. Lets just hope we and future generations don't live to regret the decisions made by unelected politicians on our behalf without consulting those who it affects in a systematic manner.
    palmtree100 and Scintillant like this.

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