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 Post subject: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:06 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:33 pm
Posts: 329
Is the blunderbuss approach the new 11+ tourism?

I’ve been on this forum for a few years now and if one can take forum posts and questions as a reliable indicator of trends, there seems to be an increase in a tactic I’d only seen sporadically before. The regulars among us have seen the effects of 11+ tourism, particularly when the new testing regime came in and the tests were sat on the same day, before other regions’ tests and those of independent schools. That seemed to me to be a way of exploiting the Bucks system as a practice for parents’ real choices closer to home. That seems to have reduced now that the Bucks test is sat slightly later.

This year, I’ve noticed a lot of questions from people who live in neighbouring counties who seem to be serious about sending their children to Bucks grammar schools as an option, usually as part of a blunderbuss approach of sitting any and every test they can find within a 30 mile radius, yet have entered the test without even conducting basic research into things such as:

• Going to the school(s) to have a look around; "Which school did you prefer when you looked around?" is usually ignored...

• What the qualifying score is and how places are allocated; "My child scored ***, is that enough for **** grammer school?"

• Assessing the likelihood of being allocated a place, given the distance; "We live in town x, what's the likelihood of a place?"

• How their child will get there and back every day for seven years. "Anyone running a private bus from ****?"

What’s going on here? Is this something that’s happened more this year or am I reading too much into what is a crude count of forum posts?

It’s been difficult not to be too sarcastic or scathing when replying to some of these posts, particularly those that are clearly copied and pasted across the regional forums. In some cases, the posts are insensitive to the emotions of genuinely local parents whose children are perhaps deserving of a qualifying score, but whose children have missed the cut because of the skewed standardisation arising from the blunderbuss gang. I have no personal interest in the system any more, my daughter now through it and almost out the other end, but I do feel for the many Bucks and catchment families who are disadvantaged by the blunderbuss approach, particularly when their noses are somewhat rubbed in it by people asking daft questions that a bit of preparation or research would have answered for them.

More importantly, if this is a phenomenon that is growing, what can the schools do about it?


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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:35 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 5:24 pm
Posts: 186
Interesting post!

There's No way to prevent way-out-of area families applying apart from to eg have a county-wide rule for all Bucks grammars that would be based on the previous last-spaces
Eg no-one more than 5 miles out of county border can apply.
Or no-one more than 10 miles from their nearest Bucks grammar can apply.

This does not account for parents who are genuinely relocating to Bucks (not just because they have obtained a place, but because they were going to love anyway irrespective of results).

When DD sat the test there was a girl there whose family are living temporarily on another EU country (dad working there on contract). They had a house in Bucks that they lived in for a decade before the foreign job, and at contract end they were coming back to Bucks.
Because on Oct 1st they were still living abroad she had to come back to sit the test, but the family is clearly long-term a Bucks family. Any such family would be penalised if you disallowed out-of-cachement applications.

I do think banning all out-of-county applicants is a bit too far, but I wouldnsay that as we are just out of county ourselves. Having said that, there is only one Bucks grammar going on the CAF form because that's the one within reach for us: we are nearer geographically than many of the in-cachement applicants. And even so, we are planning a "trial run" of the public transport route DD would use to ensure it's not too onerous.

Lastly, it's possible some of the more "out-there" requests are just trolls.
I've been on mumsnet sometimes and last year there was a user in a chat thread boasting about how she/he occasionally came on this forum to post a joke thread "we live in Timbucktoo, how can I best get my DS to Dr Challoner's".... just to get some "are you crazy" repsonses.


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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:43 am 
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Probably a daft suggestion and unworkable but... couldn't all Bucks students be marked as one group, standardised and then allocated a place, while out of area students are marked as another group and allocated remaining places?


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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:05 am 
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It isn't just Bucks anotherdad; we are seeing it here too in Gloucestershire, where we do not have any residence restrictions and people really can apply from anywhere. And then the children do end up commuting long, sometimes ridiculous, distances - some of the little ones fall asleep in the lunchtimes as they are so tired. I wonder then whether the parents, seeing what the schools are actually like (one or two of our grammar schools are really not that great to be honest) have any pangs of regret. But I doubt it as they probably don't even know their kids are so exhausted.

But the reason I find this trend most worrying is not for the casual disregard some people seem to have for the health of their children at a time when our children's mental health is worse than ever - though that is awful enough in itself - but that it looks from here as if what I see as a rather skewed and probably unique model, that of Buckinghamshire, is going to be used as a blueprint for education policy in England. I am sure those who live in Bucks think it is lovely - it may well be - but what it is not is typical of the rest of England. The demographics are atypical - it has a southern edge which is largely commuter territory and a semi-rural northern bit; it is a largely conservative (I wouldn't dare say 'reactionary' and I left conservative with a little 'c') area and there is a lot of serious money around so many people can afford private primary schools, a private secondary back-up, tutors, educational psychologists if a child doesn't pass a test - that kind of thing. It also, if this forum is anything to go by, has lots of what I will call very...'engaged' parents who will often do pretty much anything to get their child into a particular school (no offence intended - I have three absolutely lovely friends who live in Bucks who aren't like this at all). From the outside it looks like a kind of a hothouse where the pressure to get into a grammar school starts to mount up when children are still in single digit numbers and leads to perfectly reasonable parents becoming desperate. The rest of the country is not like this. And the rest of the country is also rather nice - this forum is very Bucks-centric - just look at appeals - there is a beautiful north to this country; there is an east and a west too, and nowhere else do you see this kind of nonsense. I worry that the kind of thing being seen now in Bucks is leading to a view that has always prevailed among some people becoming more widespread - that a grammar school is some kind of hallowed institution which will lead to a child being a 'cut above' other children, or maybe (worse) being recognised as already being a cut above.

I think recent rhetoric around schools 'failing' and 'coasting', which the Government needs to feed us in order to persuade people of the need for reforms which will take us back to the good old days of nice neat class distinctions where everyone knew their place, has terrified some people into believing that their children need a grammar school place to avoid the workhouse. (Actually this may be well-founded - Teresa May is probably thinking of renaming it a 'childhood excellence academy' or something but it would solve a few issues around trade deals and Brexit if we could get people into work earlier I suppose - about 15 years earlier).

I agree re the trolls. But in a way good luck to them - anything which gets this topic out there for discussion is good and it will be a sad day when satire and lampooning are stifled.


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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:33 am 
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Location: Essex
Not sure about your comment re the east of the country, Amber - there seem to be plenty of people who want their DC to go to Colchester. But only for a visit, mind you, not actually to up sticks and move there. But they would like the visits to take place every day, five days a week, for the next seven years. Plenty of time to get to know the quirky old town that is Colchester, that's nice, you may say. But no, these visits are to be strictly for the duration of the school day, preferably straight in through the door from a private minibus at half past eight and straight back on said minibus at half past three. Probably a good thing, given how long that minibus journey is going to take, though, and with a good supply of Kwells, they can probably get quite a lot of homework done on the way home :)

So every cloud has a silver lining and we are just meanies who don't understand that the best place for a child is the one at the top of this year's league table, even if that is fifty miles away from home.

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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:39 am 
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 5:27 pm
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Location: london
anotherdad wrote:
Is the blunderbuss approach the new 11+ tourism?

Yes. It is utter madness. Seems to me to be much worse across the country, not just Bucks, this year. What really shocks me is three things:
1: That people think it is OK to treat children this way
2: That people have the intellectual capacity to work out where all the grammar schools are but lack the ability to use Googlemaps before their DC sit the test and identify that the journey cannot be done or indeed read the admissions page :roll:
3: That people every year are so ill mannered as to pop into the forum, demand an instant answer to a question they should have been asking themselves 6 months ago and then get the hump when people do not instantly wave their magic wand and provide them with a private teleporter to the schools of choice. All this at a time where there are forum members struggling with bad news and seeking appeals advice is just beyond insensitive.

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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:41 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:51 am
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BucksBornNBred wrote:
Probably a daft suggestion and unworkable but... couldn't all Bucks students be marked as one group, standardised and then allocated a place, while out of area students are marked as another group and allocated remaining places?



That is something that happens for some of the North Yorks exams - the "passmark" is set by the score achieved by a set percentage of in area children - then the OOC have to achieve that score to be considered for a place. This has the effect of the "passmark" not being artificially elevated by OOC or 11 plus tourism


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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:44 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11956
It's a shame parents don't have to be tested on the admission rules before they decide to enter their poor child for every 11+ test going.

It is utter madness and I agree with all the above posts - thanks anotherdad for starting this thread which should 'pop up' as required reading before registering for every new poster.


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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:48 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:45 pm
Posts: 4608
As if by magic viewtopic.php?f=12&t=48703


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 Post subject: Re: What's going on?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:33 pm
Posts: 329
mad? wrote:
3: That people every year are so ill mannered as to pop into the forum, demand an instant answer to a question they should have been asking themselves 6 months ago and then get the hump when people do not instantly wave their magic wand and provide them with a private teleporter to the schools of choice. All this at a time where there are forum members struggling with bad news and seeking appeals advice is just beyond insensitive.


That's generous...I'd say ten years ago. After all, it's not as if these children have just appeared, is it? :lol:

I'm now awaiting the first post to ask for details of the teleporter service..."Can you PM me details please. Looking for options from Pinner/Harrow."


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