Are Grammar Schools the Best Solution

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rov1100 | 13:14 Sat 31st Mar 2012 | News
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With a clamour for more Grammar Schools are we not just turning the clock back before we had Comprehensives. Is there not a better solution?

For instance instead of creaming off the best 10% of pupils leaving the other 90% in the failure rate why not cream of the bottom 10% to study elsewhere?
Misbehaving students could also be added to this 10%.


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I do not know how mixed ability education can possibly be justified.
This is what C.S. Lewis had to say:
"What I want to fix your attention on is the vast overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence -- moral, cultural, social or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how 'democracy' (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient dictatorships, and by the same methods? The basic proposal of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be 'undemocratic.' Children who are fit to proceed may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval's attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT. We may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when 'I'm as good as you' has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish. The few who might want to learn will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway, the teachers -- or should I say nurses? -- will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men."
You all rather ignored my point about children from better off families being able to afford tutors to gain an edge didn't you?

I have no problem with selective education

There is selective education in comprehensive schools - those who are most able get selected into the sets catering for them - those less able get selected into other sets.

This caters for childrens differing abilities in certain subject areas it also allows slower developers to move between sets.

So why are you all so het up about a system that makes a selection at the age of 11 and has so many flaws?

Geezer of course is still obsessed with class war and thinks that any attack on eliteism is an attack on ability!

I think we all know that having a privilleged upbringing may get you into the better schools despite your abilities

A quick look at 11 Downing Street should tell you that!
The bottom 10% and the misbehaving students are usually one and the same thing.
You'll always get that kassee

Sadly too many of them never really get much of a chance

They get behind at school, get bored act up, are excluded or play truant and end up in the Army in Afghanistan.
Hear hear, ^ - and the number of bursaries/scholarships for bright kids increases every's just a question of getting the kids to apply for these wonderful positions - and for the socialist sceptics out there (jake?), most of these kids overcome the stigma of being poor as they are strong in character, offering tremendous talent to the school, and often not just academically based.

In short, the mark of alpha leaders and worth every pound note put behind them.
as to dcf's comments...not jake's.
Well I went to a secondary modern school, having failed the 11+. I loved my school, did reasonably well with O'levels. Did A'levels years later, after having my family. The problem with the 11+, and I was a late July birthday, so one of the youngest in the class, is some children are late developers and educationally they do well towards the end of secondary school, and later in college and Uni, so why should they be written off at 11?

In my day secondary modern schools had the worse teachers, and the poorest facilities for everything. Money was ploughed into the grammar schools and they had much better resources, I know because my younger brother passed his 11+.

In my area the secondary modern was a mixed school, whereas the grammar schools were single sex schools. I had the chance to go to the grammar school at 16 when I left my secondary school - but no thanks - that was the last place I wanted to go - with those toffee nosed girls.
Now having worked in school, teaching is often aimed at the middle of the road student, the less able are left to muddle through, not really understanding what they are doing, and no doubt the bright ones are not being stretched enough.
Bursaries don't pay for tutors to help kids pass entrance exams do they DT?

justify yourself with numbers!

Ever increasing means nothing

1% to 1.5% to 1.7% to 1.9& is ever increasing

You are telling us nothing other than repeating your prejudices
The ethos of some comprehensives is not so far from the Grammar I attended. Maybe we were lucky but son went on to a Doctorate and daughter to M.A. My G.S, had a D stream of unhousetrained apes for the most part while other friends did very well at Sec. Mod.
I also went to a Catholic primary and secondary modern school, and I remember there was a bit of a swindle going on in those days, in that all of the teachers' children were allocated a grammar school place. In my class there were only three girls that went to the girls catholic grammar school (and probably the same number of boys to the boys grammar). But I do remember that each year a teachers child was held back and re-took the 11+ to make sure they got the grammar school place.

I can remember to this day, hearing the marks of the 11+ being read out in class, I was girl No.4, the first girl called out that had failed the 11+. I remember going home to tell my poor mum, who was bitterly disappointed, she was hanging her washing out on the line at the time.

Did it make me feel a failure - not at all !
Jake, //You all rather ignored my point about children from better off families being able to afford tutors to gain an edge didn't you?//

I didn’t ignore it, but it seems you’ve ignored my reply.
Kassee, //Now having worked in school, teaching is often aimed at the middle of the road student, the less able are left to muddle through, not really understanding what they are doing, and no doubt the bright ones are not being stretched enough. //

That's exactly what I meant when I said children at both ends of the spectrum are being failed. They are.
^ Just to clarify, I'm talking about Comprehesive schools there.
I lived in an inner city area as a child. Local primary school had two classes of 40 children at age 11. Three of us were awarded grammar school places. I wonder what I would have done if I had not been one of them. Local employment being the bread factory or slightly further away, the brewery.

Rov, finding good teachers who are prepared to teach the bottom 10% plus the misbehaving students is not easy. They should not be taught together anyway. I had the misfortune of doing just that.

The premises were inadequate, no area for the pupils' recreation, all taught in the same room. Different ages taught in different corners. No area for staff privacy. Pupils and teachers of both sexes using one lavatory.

Whatever one's strength in teaching, everyone on the staff was expected to teach every subject on the curriculum. Oh, and get results at GCSE.

A violent twelve year old, abandoned and in care. A pregnant under 16 girl. A lad on the autistic spectrum. Another who set fires. A 14 year old and a 15 year old on the game. One of each sex.

An inadequate psychological service.

Yes, do let us put them all together.
They don't do the 11+ here, The 2 grammars do an entrance test of there own.
This may be naive, but surely grammar schools are less costly to run than schools that need a lot of support workers for under-achieving pupils and those who are statemented, etc.
No doubt someone will correct me.
I would point out that you too have prejudices, jake, a prejudice against selection and also that, statistically, those that come from well read backgrounds tend to have kids that are more intellectually switched on. And, to be clear, I am not saying that coming from a poor uneducated background will lead to the reverse, it does become more of a role of the school to help identify an, unfortunately in some cases, mentor and nourish these kids.

And its a bit of nerve, your insinuation, as you have no idea of my thinking on education - which for your information is about a pluralistic educational system, one that can interchange between schools as well. There is a role for private schools, grammar schools, well founded (and funded) state schools as there also needs to be exceptional talent schools, for artists, musicians, etc etc - I am also a great advocate of mixing reallybright kids with helping kids that struggle. I am attaching a link to what is considered one of the finest schools in the United States - and it is remarkable.

I did think about sending my youngest there (an IQ high up the charts) but, thankfully, she does not show any intellectual arrogance and is naturally open to helping her classmates who struggle. But the TH Rogers takes it to an amazing level and has achieved astounding results with their students who struggle with life at well as the placement of their Gifted Students into top universities.

We could do with more of this thinking, actual schools being established, and pluralistic approach to education in this country.
Reading what everyone has posted so far, what stands out is:
1) a good school is a good school, no matter what it's label - and in that past that 'goodness' resided in the relationships generated between kids and teachers

2) state education is a political football

Unlike in our day, schools cannot concentrate on creating a curriculum that responds to the kids' needs because ofsted is breathing down necks. Woe betide the happy class if boxes remain unticked. Oh, and a common phrase used at present is 'satisfactory is not good enough'. Hmmm.

But more importantly, why are we not as a nation re-examining what we teach, how, and why? It's gone way beyond the purpose that schools were set up for - and to pretend that mass employment will suddenly appear is a fallacy. The kids aren't fooled by this, especially when the media bombards them with examples of people who make good through other means.

I went to a grammar school, hated it but knew it was a way out. I know many who were at sec mod schools and loved their time there.
A truer word not spoken, Mosaic....

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