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 Post subject: What's the point?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:04 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:25 am
Posts: 2
Hello

New to this site, new to any site relating to the 11+, but I have something annoying me at the minute so had to start somewhere.
Will try and keep this as brief and as simple as possible, sorry if it all sounds rather formal.

My eldest son is starting secondary school in September, he's passed his 11+ and has been lucky enough to get a place at the school he wants.
He worked hard for this place.
He worked through a lot of practise papers and he visited a tutor at least once a week for nearly a year.
Even took practise papers on holiday with us so that he was in the best position he could be to do well at the 11+ and thus have the choice of the schools in our area.
Like I said, he passed and got the school he wanted, but it wasn't without a years worth of extra effort, anxiety, stress, "falling's out" and just plain hard work.

Now, what's the point?
Have found out just recently, that the local Grammar school is struggling to fill it's places for this Septembers intake and as a result of this, they have been writing to parents of children who didn't pass the 11+ to invite them to join the Grammar school instead of the school they had already selected.
And not just the near misses or the appeal cases, just anyone it seems?
Had I known this was going to be the case, we needn't have bothered, he would have been offered a Grammar school place anyway, regardless of any sort of 11+ result.
(I'm aware that it's been a pretty poor year results wise for this area, hence some schools were never going to fill the places they had available).

Out of the 29 in my sons current year group, 20 of them passed the 11+!
The remaining 9 had all taken places at other schools, but have all been contacted by this Grammar school and offered a place?
Do Grammar schools, or schools in general have a legal obligation to fill their places or is it just purely monetary? (More pupils, more funding sort of thing)
It's really annoying me at the minute, I feel it completely undermines this local Grammar school, but not only that, it undermines all the Grammar schools in the area?
What's the point in striving to achieve something when you can achieve the same result without doing anything, other than failing to pass something in the first place?
I see it as being rewarded for failing to do something and that isn't how I've always perceived a "Grammar" school education.

Perhaps it's not this Grammar schools fault, perhaps they are forced to fill places at all costs?
Just annoying me at the minute and I don't really know where or who to contact/moan at, hence this post :wink:

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated and thanks for taking the time to read this.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:14 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:05 am
Posts: 580
Goodness. How frustrating for you. Obviously your DS has done so well to pass and get his place.....but yes I can imagine how you must be feeling. Are they taking the top 10% of schools to fill places? Otherwise I imagine whole class teaching may be difficult?

Although saying that, of course there is a huge range in ability in a grammar school class anyway, through all the subjects.

What area are you in?


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:41 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:57 pm
Posts: 20
I imagine they are trying to stay afloat until birth rates and hence numbers increase in future years, (pupils = funding!)
I think you should concentrate on the fact that he worked hard and got in on his own merit - don't worry about other pupils, your boy worked hard and got what he deserved. AND how lucky for the other children to be given a chance at a school they would have otherwise missed out on! I guess the only negative would be if the standards slipped with having those extra who didn't make the grade in the class, but I hardly think that those who don't have a good work attitude would want to go there or would last very long? I guess if I were in your shoes I would be miffed at having spent the money on the tutoring, but how were you to know what would happen? As far as I can see you just did what was best for your son at the time. Good luck to him for September!


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:46 am 
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Posts: 938
I agree with Lincsmum. :) Be pleased that he's there!
Whilst there's no legal obligation to offer the other places, they are funded per capita so will be able to offer more options if they have a larger number of students in the school.
Could you PM me the school please as I'd be very interested to know where you're talking about? Thanks.


Last edited by ourmaminhavana on Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:45 pm
Posts: 212
Location: Lincolnshire
I can understand your gripe to a certain extent,but I would personally just be thrilled that you have the Grammar place you wanted. We were unfortunate to chase a place in a very oversubscribed year,so I'd have been jumping for joy had I been in your shoes.
You only have to spend a few short minutes on these boards to know there are thousands of very disappointed parents & children across the country who would move heaven & earth to be where you are now.
Hopefully all that hard work & effort,has instilled a real work ethic into your son & should see him fly through his Grammar school years. Also 20 children passing out of a class of 29 shows you chose the right primary ? I wish ours had been so good ! If his best friends from primary are amongst the 20 this should make the transition from primary to secondary school easier too ?
Pat your son & yourself on the back,& enjoy the summer safe in the knowledge that you acieved what you set out to do.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:20 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:10 pm
Posts: 1068
Location: Lincolnshire
defgimp wrote:

My eldest son is starting secondary school in September, he's passed his 11+ and has been lucky enough to get a place at the school he wants.
He worked hard for this place.



Well done to him!

Quote:
Have found out just recently, that the local Grammar school is struggling to fill it's places for this Septembers intake and as a result of this, they have been writing to parents of children who didn't pass the 11+ to invite them to join the Grammar school instead of the school they had already selected.


Quote:
The remaining 9 had all taken places at other schools, but have all been contacted by this Grammar school and offered a place?


I have to agree with your concerns about this if it is indeed true. I would imagine that the non-selective schools in the area would also not be happy about this. They are losing students and possibly the more academically able ones when they already lose the top 25% to the Grammar schools.

Quote:
Do Grammar schools, or schools in general have a legal obligation to fill their places or is it just purely monetary? (More pupils, more funding sort of thing)


Grammars do not have to fill their places. They can turn away children who do not qualify (whose parents then have a right of appeal). Other schools must fill their places up to their Published Admission Number if there are sufficient applicants. It is, indeed, a question of finance. Small schools are relatively expensive to run and can become unviable below a critical number of students.

Quote:
I feel it completely undermines this local Grammar school, but not only that, it undermines all the Grammar schools in the area?


I tend to agree that there is a danger that once more than one or two schools do this then the Grammar schools as a whole in Lincolnshire can no longer claim to select the top 25% academically.

The Boston schools started the trend by changing the way that they decided the pass mark for the 11+ tests. Whilst they continued to use the same NfER tests as the rest of the Consortium Schools they used the lowest score which would have attained a pass for any child (remember scores are age standardised) to set the pass mark. Some say that it has been lowered still further but I have no idea if this is the case. Then this year Skegness Grammar apparently invited those appealing non-qualification to do further tests (I think CATS) and if they scored well enough they were offered a place. I have no idea what the scores required to obtain a place in this way were.

I understand that the Boston schools are no longer a part of the Consortium and I would imagine that any school which changes its admission requirements would also be likely to have to leave the Consortium.

Quote:
Perhaps it's not this Grammar schools fault, perhaps they are forced to fill places at all costs?


Well no, they don't have to legally, but I wonder what their financial position is to have taken such a step.

Quote:
and I don't really know where or who to contact/moan at, hence this post


I think there are three possible avenues of complaint. The first is the Governing body of the school in question as it is they who are responsible for these decisions. Second is the Lincolnshire Consortium of Grammar Schools as they have the interest in upholding a county-wide standard. Third is the School Admissions Department at Lincolnshire County Council because it appears that the school have not followed their own admissions policy - it would depend on what type of school this is (Community, Foundation or Academy) whether they would take up the complaint themselves or forward it to another body or tell you where best to take it.

For you and your son personally though, it does not undermine his achievement. He did well and this is the same school that you chose and I am guessing will still be offering the same sort of education, ethos and facilities which attracted you to it. I hope he will be really happy there.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:35 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:07 pm
Posts: 501
This is not the first year I've heard of grammars ringing or writing to parents. It has been happening since the birthrate fell (our local grammar has not been full for 3 years) and it is a number of years until it rises again. In order for grammars to maintain their standards of teaching they have to maintain a quality staff. More pupils = greater income = good quality staff. I'm pleased they are trying to fill their places; if not staff will not be replaced, specialist and more experienced staff will definitely be lost, none of which is good for the pupils attending the school.

I do not think they will accept less able pupils, it just isn't in their interests, though perhaps more will be around the borderline. If the grammars have anything about them they will also speak to local primary heads rather than just base their ringing round on 11+ scores, though I haven't heard of this.

I do agree the non-selective schools will be worried; they won't be full either and they are going to lose a well motivated, able group of students. And their staff will also be in danger. The knock-on effect is damaging.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:13 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:57 am
Posts: 4
Hello, just wanted to chip in here, as something similar has been going on in our local primary school - a few children who failed but were borderline were accepted by one of the grammars in the area (it may be the same one being discussed above - not sure if I'm allowed to say the name here), then more children were accepted, who appealed and were asked to sit a test at the school. My DD seemed to think these latter children failed by quite a margin as her classmates were open about their scores. But now they've been accepted by that Grammar.

I understand the argument that these schools want to maintain their teaching staff etc, and this is definitely a low birth rate year, but it begs the question: why bother practicing for the 11+ when your child can gain a place easily anyway?

My DD chose a different Grammar School, but I can understand how disappointed other parents are, when their children have studied hard to pass an ability exam. The children who were offered late places were in the lower ability groups in the primary school. I suppose only time will tell if they can manage the workload set by their 'Grammar' next term.


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:49 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:22 pm
Posts: 710
Audreybee wrote:
Hello, just wanted to chip in here, as something similar has been going on in our local primary school - a few children who failed but were borderline were accepted by one of the grammars in the area (it may be the same one being discussed above - not sure if I'm allowed to say the name here), then more children were accepted, who appealed and were asked to sit a test at the school. My DD seemed to think these latter children failed by quite a margin as her classmates were open about their scores. But now they've been accepted by that Grammar.

I understand the argument that these schools want to maintain their teaching staff etc, and this is definitely a low birth rate year, but it begs the question: why bother practicing for the 11+ when your child can gain a place easily anyway?

My DD chose a different Grammar School, but I can understand how disappointed other parents are, when their children have studied hard to pass an ability exam. The children who were offered late places were in the lower ability groups in the primary school. I suppose only time will tell if they can manage the workload set by their 'Grammar' next term.


I'm amazed this is happening; do not many people live in the local area?

I would imagine that rather than worrying about whether the children can manage the workload it will be more the case that the teaching will have to be heavily differentiated to cater for the lower ability children. This will just result in standards going down, poorer exam results and the school slipping down in the league tables. Maybe it will eventually become a comprehensive school with just a grammar stream?

Do grammar schools have some sort of regulatory body to maintain standards?


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 Post subject: Re: What's the point?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:07 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:25 am
Posts: 2
Hello again

Would just like to thank everyone that has taken the time to read this and/or responded.

I have written to the school in question, but they seem to be dragging their heels as to getting back to me.
I requested some clarification as to what or who or where or when these pupils/decisions were made, nothing too damning I didn't think.
As yet, they are looking into my request and going to get back to me shortly?
The fact they are taking their time just seems to suggest that my suspicions are more fact than fiction?

I now know of one child who has been accepted into this Grammar school.
Not by passing their 11+, not by appealing their result, but by being offered a "second chance" to take an entrance exam that isn't the 11+.
I'm not really interested in how close or similar to the 11+ this entrance exam may or may not be, that's not the point.
I've always been told and I've always believed that the 11+ is a one off exam that determined where you acquired your secondary school education?
I've instilled that into my children on the approach to their 11+ as it was instilled in me when I took mine, this isn't a rehearsal, this is it.

Having visited all the schools in my area, well within a 15 mile radius, I was in no doubt that a Grammar school education would suit my child and their abilities.
As such, I've encouraged and supported them, as we all have, as a family.
We've paid for extra tuition/support, we've taken practise papers away with us when we've gone on holiday, fallen out over not playing for another afternoon but having to sit and do a practise paper (not everyday by any means, once a week), tried to prepare them for this very important exam.
Which has never been helped by being sat just after 6 weeks off?

But, we need not have bothered.
It appears you don't need to pass your 11+ to get into a Grammar school?
You don't even have to appeal your result?
You don't even have to be close enough to appeal your result?
In fact, you don't really have to do anything, other than sit back and wait.
Someone will contact you and offer you a "second chance", 9 months after you took the 11+ the first time round.
And of course, anyone who's contacted and offered another chance is "definitely" not going to pass if they're not capable?

Sorry for sounding sarcastic, it's just really annoying me at the minute.
I would like to be able to come on here and answer my own questions as well as those raised by others, but can't at the moment as I'm waiting for someone to "get back to me"?
I'm of the understanding that this isn't a low birth rate year, but is definitely a low pass rate year.
I'm also of the understanding that the LCGS (Lincolnshire Consortium of Grammar Schools), is or was the regulatory body (sort of?) and would be interested to hear if they were consulted or involved in this at some level?

Like I said, I've got too many questions and too few answers at the minute.
Will update as soon as I know any more.

Thank you again for your time.


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