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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 6:57 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Everyone

This is not of immediate relevance, but as there are a few "appeal veterans" on Bucks, I thought I would post it now.

The Head's manual for administering the 11+ in the current year is now online, and Bucks have changed the OoS process for this year.

On this link go to "11+ Transfer to Secondary School - September 2009 - Headteachers' Manual".

The outline of the new system is in Section 13 (pages 17 - 21).

https://schoolsweb.buckscc.gov.uk/schools/leadership_and_management/admissions/manuals.asp

Children will still be given an individual ranking, just as they were before. However, instead of then trying to list the children in descending order within each ranking, the Head will simply submit the total numbers of children within each ranking.

The key advantages of the new system are:

a) that parents who receive a copy of the OoS for their child's appeal can no longer identify other children's scores, because scores will no longer be shown individually. That was certainly possible before, and wasn't a comfortable situation.

b) the Heads no longer have to try to list the children within each ranking in numerical order. So, for example, all children ranked 2:1 will be considered equal. That will be helpful because previously a child with a 2:1 ranking who was 10th on the OoS would perhaps be seen by an appeal panel as superior to a child with the same 2:1 ranking, but ranked 20th.

Etienne and I have discussed the changes and we feel that they are broadly positive. (So, a small posy to Bucks at this stage - the full bouquet may follow later! :lol: )

The main reservation we have at this stage is this statement:

Quote:
Do continue to discuss your recommendations with your class teachers (both last year’s Year 5 and this year’s Year 6 teachers).

Increased liaison at this point will reduce the circumstances in which a class teacher, if prevailed upon by parents to add a separate comment, contradicts the headteacher’s summary.

If you and your class teachers feel there is value in recording their comments separately on the headteacher’s recommendation sheet then you may do this, adding in an appropriate heading and ask them to sign this. This is optional, but you may find it reduces parents’ separate requests to class teachers if you find this particularly prevalent in your school.


We are very glad that this is stated to be "optional", because there is a risk that class teachers will feel that, having signed the Head's sheet, they should no longer provide supporting letters to parents. Alternatively, a more domineering Head could use this to actively prevent teachers supporting appeal cases.

Obviously we cannot yet tell how all these changes will really work out during the Appeals season, but there don't seem to be too many risks involved.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:52 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 11:33 pm
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Location: Bucks
Page 10 also makes interesting reading, eg:
"Whilst there has been a change, therefore, in the professional advice we are now required to take account of, our advice to you, as headteachers is still not to make further practice or coaching available to your pupils. It is not your role. Therefore please still ensure that further repetition of the familiarisation and practice pack, or further practice or coaching with unregulated test materials is not undertaken in schools either during the school day or on other occasions."


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 3:40 pm
Posts: 359
Location: Chiltern District, Bucks
Well spotted Pippi ! :D

It's worth reading the whole passage. Paraphrased, it says:

"The experts say that additional coaching works, but despite that, we in Bucks are still going to insist on only the basic familiarisation pack for schools. If parents want to pay for something more to fill the gap, then that's up to them."

Or alternatively: If you want your child to be properly prepared for the 11+/grammar school, you'll have to pay for it. :shock:

This seems to be an extraordinarily open admission but seems to fit with Marion Clayton's recent admission in the Bucks Free Press that passing the 11+ is down to "socio-economic factors" more than anything else i.e. if you are well-off, you are more likely to pass. [There has been no reaction to this in the paper apart from an Editorial where the editor effectively "choked on his chips" at the Clayton statement].

One can tentatively conclude that Bucks feels its education system is no longer under threat and no longer feels it has to pander to a crumbling left-of-centre government....

So today's thought for the day is: the credit crunch has saved the Bucks education system.

Well it's just a thought ! :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:10 pm 
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I would just say that I think there's a distinction between coaching and paid coaching. I wouldn't dream of sending my child into the eleven plus without having taught him all the methods and practiced them anymore than I'd throw him in the deep end of the local pool without giving him a few swimming lessons. But I've 'coached' him for the eleven plus and I taught him how to swim - not paid for someone else to. To some extent socio-economic factors might dictate which parents choose to take the time and trouble to find out what happens in the exam and teach their kids some techniques but actually I doubt it. But I know lots of 'poor' parents who have coached their own kids and lots of 'rich' ones who couldn't be bothered. At the end of the day what matters most is how 'pushy' a child's parents are and by 'pushy' I mean 'concerned, motivated, interested and determined' to help their child. And that comes down to character - not money, location or any other socio-economic factor. We're not talking about war-torn Iraq here or even crime-ridden Hackney - it's Buckinghamshire - the 'poorest' parent can flick through a couple of books at WH Smith or ask the library to order them in and believe me they do if they are 'pushy' for their kids to succeed. It's not about money, it's about character.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:15 pm 
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PS I'm talking of course about parents who feel their kids should be in a grammar school! If you don't think your child would be happy there then of course it's no criticism to choose not to go down the eleven plus route. My distinction was between parents who bother to think about it and parents who don't and I don't think that comes to down to socio-economic factors in a reletively affluent area like Bucks. If you want 'em to pass, teach 'em yourself - it doesn't have to cost a fortune.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:39 pm
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Location: Bucks
Dear Bucks Mum

I don't know which part of Bucks you live in, but not all of it is filled with leafy green villages and suburbs. There are schools in Bucks whose catchments are in areas of high socio-economical deprivation. Where my son went to school in High Wycombe, many children were entitled to (and got) free school meals, and many had English as a second language. These children are certainly at a disadvantage, and it's about time that people began to recognise this. How can it be that some schools have 30, 40, 50% of their pupils getting the scores needed to get into Grammar school, and others lucky if 5% manage this achievement. Something is wrong somewhere.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:59 pm 
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Sharone

I hear what you say but the point I was making was slightly different - that it's not true that you had to have money to have 'coaching'. The original post implied that if you couldn't afford to buy coaching for your child that was the only option closed. I totally agree that there's a difference between kids who are coached and those who aren't hence my swimming analogy. But not between those whose parents do it and those who go privately. Having free school meals doesn't mean your parents are too thick to coach you, just that there's not a lot of money around. Kids failing because they can't apeak English as well as their peers is a whole different issue and one that needs addressing if it's ruling out bright kids.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:52 pm 
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Hi Bucks Mum

Bucks Mum wrote:
Having free school meals doesn't mean your parents are too thick to coach you, just that there's not a lot of money around.


I am afraid that the problem runs much deeper than this. Bright children from poorer backgrounds are far more likely to be "excluded" from the 11+ process for several reasons:

:: Social deprivation stems from low incomes, and low-income earners tend to have achieved poorly at school. Someone who left school at 16 with no qualifications to their name is unlikely to have the self-confidence to tutor their child.

:: In extremely poor households (which do exist in Bucks) the cost of practice materials will be beyond the reach of the family budget.

:: There are many households where the parents themselves are not native English speakers, and coaching their child in verbal reasoning would be a complete impossibility for them.

I am afraid that it is a problem that will not be solved overnight. Bucks CC is well aware of the issue, and has made several studies on the ethnic and geographic bias in 11+ pass rates. All of them give a depressingly familiar picture - non-white children, especially those living in deprived areas are very significantly less likely to pass.

The only solution would appear to be providing further tuition in schools, especially now that GL Assessment have finally admitted that additional coaching does make a difference.

Wealthier, middle-class parents would still coach privately, so the benefit to them would be marginal or non-existent. However, a bright child from a deprived background could benefit significantly.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:01 pm 
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And, of course, poorer families are unlikey to have the internet and access to a website like this.

There is very severe deprivation in parts of Bucks - as many parents will not claim 'free school meals' this is disguised in offical figures,


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:35 pm 
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Hi Sally Anne

I hear what you say and I think it still backs my original point in response to Dad40's comment

'If you want your child to be properly prepared for the 11+/grammar school, you'll have to pay for it'

which is that the difference isn't between privately (paid-for) coached kids (as implied in the original post) and everyone else but between coached kids and non-coached kids. Therefore it isn't about kids who can afford coaching and those who can't but between those who can access it (including DIY coaching) and those that can't (basically because they aren't given the requiste info/access/help to the tools to provide coaching themselves or get it at school). It's clear to see that the easiest solution is for Bucks to give ALL children at least 20 hours VR lessons - I actually think coaching is a misnomer, it's just teaching really- which would actually benefit everyone whether they do the exam in the end or not. VR is really only a form of brain-training after all and might even be a 'fun' change from the NC! My understanding is that 20 hours is what the experts consider the optimum amount and any advantage from outside 'coaching' is therefore minimised.

However I do think it's important to remember that we are talking about a grammar school system here - it is essentially an inherently discriminatory system - that's the whole point isn't it? So there comes a point where if you actually believe all kids should have the chance to mature and move up the system as they get better then what we are really talking about is a non-selective system. Personally I think a world in which there are no grammars, no independents and no public schools would be great - kids just going to their local school a bit like they have in most of the rest of the Western world. But even then there would be those who would say that the non-selective schools in the 'leafy suburbs' give an unfair advantage to their pupils and that children should be given places on random ballots and bussed in to schools around the county - a scheme which is now being embraced in some regions.

It's an interesting debate on the effect of domestic background on academic achievement and of course every home and every family and every child is different. But I do sometimes feel there is a tinge of inverted snobbery about 'leafy suburbs' and coaching - not from you Sally Anne I hasten to add. Which is a shame because I think it's a problem that's easily remedied unlike most issues of inequality - just give the kids a few VR lessons in school - after all there's more grammar school places than applicants county-wide so it's not rocket science to redress the balance.


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