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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:18 am 
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Location: Berks,Bucks
I wanted to say 'What is the difference between a grammar and the top group of a good comp?", but was running out of space in the subject box.

I have no answer to this question.

Typically, what's hard to get is more desirable. But is it better?
Overall, comps gets lower results than grammars, but it's expected with a wider ability range intake. My son's friends who went to our local secondary are thriving, and older children got splendid GCSEs results.

I am wondering what features make the difference between grammars and the top group of a good school.

Any opinion?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:22 am 
Last year I was desperate for my son to pass his 11+. He did not make it scoring 117 but in the end we decided not to appeal as did not want him to struggle or feel out of his depth. We opted to send him to the catchment secondary (Chalfont Community College) and his is thriving there and loves it. There are plenty of bright children so he is not coasting and they have done so much at the school to convince the children they are not failures and have everything to thrive for. He loves being in the top sets and his confidence is soaring. How would he have done at a Grammar - I don't know and no longer care. 1 year down the line is just doesn't seem so important. I guess at the end of the day if all depends what the alternative to Grammar is in your area.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:52 am 
My oldest son didn't get into grammar and is attending the local comp. This comp gets very high GCSE and A level results. But, he is coasting and his teachers also say this at parents' evening. However, there doesn't seem to be any encouragement to get him to put more effort in, even though they say with a little more effort he will do better. He's in the gifted and talented and a member of NAGTY, but these seem devalued by the fact that he can achieve so much for so little effort. If he was in grammar school, he would have to work much harder and the sense of achievement would seem more worthwhile. But why should he bother if he can just coast through school and do the bare minimum to get his results?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 2:44 pm 
Anonymous wrote:
My oldest son didn't get into grammar and is attending the local comp. This comp gets very high GCSE and A level results. But, he is coasting and his teachers also say this at parents' evening. However, there doesn't seem to be any encouragement to get him to put more effort in, even though they say with a little more effort he will do better. He's in the gifted and talented and a member of NAGTY, but these seem devalued by the fact that he can achieve so much for so little effort. If he was in grammar school, he would have to work much harder and the sense of achievement would seem more worthwhile. But why should he bother if he can just coast through school and do the bare minimum to get his results?


Hi Catherine and Guests,

In answer to your question, Catherine, I think it's all hinges on how well the top of the ability range is catered for, as illustrated by the Guest above. Some excellent comprehensives do this very well, others don't (even though they might still have a "good" reputation!)

Just my take on things from observations gleaned first-hand over the past few years…

The teaching in a grammar school is pitched at a very high level, with the emphasis being on levelling up i.e. pulling up those who might be struggling. After all, if you have had to pass an exam to be there in the first place, then you should be able to hack it ... that's the theory, I suppose. (That said, the selection process means there will always be some who are there who should perhaps not be, and vice versa.) The high achievers in a comprehensive school should ideally also be taught at this level, but this is not always the case – e.g. if the school does not set according to ability until year 8 or even 9 for some subjects.

In an excellent comprehensive, not only will the high fliers be challenged to achieve their full potential, but this entire ethos of achievement will filter down to other sets so that academic success is seen as something to be celebrated - not necessarily for everyone, granted, but certainly not something to be dismissed as being only for "swots". This requires firm discipline so that those who are inspired to succeed are stretched to their full potential - whatever that may be - and those who do not wish to learn are not allowed to spoil it for the rest. This is where so many comprehensives seem to fail (even "good" ones) – with bad behaviour tolerated and expectations set too low. There are two comps in our area with a similar socio-economic intake, one that openly supports its gifted and talented pupils (G&T policy mentioned in school prospectus, runs its own summer schools etc.) and one that does not (or, at least, not until recently) and seems to have more discipline problems than the former. The former consistently gets better GCSE and A-level results than the latter and is always oversubscribed.

On the subject of G&T, I might be wrong but suspect that the budget for SEN in a grammar school is more likely to be targeted at gifted pupils, where there are always going to be fewer children with learning difficulties as normally defined by the authorities – i.e. struggling to keep up. For example, a very bright child with Aspergers, who is not achieving their full potential but still performing above average, might not be seen as having a problem in a comprehensive school but will get extra help in a grammar.

Feel free to disagree…


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:30 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 3:47 pm
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Location: Berks,Bucks
Thank you, guests, for answering. It is very interesting.

I personally don't have a strong view, just questions. I don't know the 'inside' of secondary schools other than what I gathered after a few weeks of my son's school.

Any other comments welcome.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 12:00 pm 
Hi Catherine
I think when you have a son such as your and mine come to that, he will coast whichever school he attends. My son went to a top 10 private school and with all the opportunties offered, he still did the bare minimum and often, less than that. We were hauled over the coals weekly and it mattered not a jot what we said, or his school come to that. Top of his year, he scraped his three A's, just, without revision or care for our sweating it, and got his top choice uni. It is a struggle to keep them interested and working when they acheive easily. The talented will do well. The industrious, better.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 6:56 pm 
Anonymous wrote:
Hi Catherine
I think when you have a son such as your and mine come to that, he will coast whichever school he attends. My son went to a top 10 private school and with all the opportunties offered, he still did the bare minimum and often, less than that. We were hauled over the coals weekly and it mattered not a jot what we said, or his school come to that. Top of his year, he scraped his three A's, just, without revision or care for our sweating it, and got his top choice uni. It is a struggle to keep them interested and working when they acheive easily. The talented will do well. The industrious, better.


It's a boy thing. I have one the same.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 4:01 pm 
I wonder if someone can answer a query that has been niggling me.

I don't know if this is fact or some sort of urban myth. At our very good local comp unless you are in the top set or second set you dont sit the full gcse but a lower paper, where even if you get top marks you cannot achieve an A* A or B.

Is there such a thing as two types of gcse's i've only just heard of this and am now concerned that if my son does end up there he must get into the top set and stay there. I of course want him to do that anyway.

Does anyone else have any info, i've tried to speak to the school but haven't got through. Is this quite normal? I'm sure it doesn't happen at the grammars. Do all comps do this?

Sorry to sound ill informed but it wasn't mentioned at any open evenings.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 4:42 pm 
Karen,

Most (don't know if all) GCSEs do have two levels, a foundation level and a higher level. I think the highest grade you can get at foundation level is a C but am prepared to be corrected!

You can see examples of the different levels on the following revision website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/german/ (and other subjects)

Hope this helps.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:46 pm 
Further to my last message, Maths GCSE also has an Intermediate tier in between Foundation and Higher. Not sure what happens for science, though - I seem to remember hearing that everyone sits one exam and then there is the option of an extra extension paper. I too would appreciate some further information on this from anyone who knows for sure!


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