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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:59 pm 
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Posts: 70
Having children in both grammar and non-grammar, has left me feel somewhat shocked with how differently the children are pushed/taught. My experiences are that
1) No text books (to bring home. My dc was refused when he asked) in non-grammar. In grammar, they have text books to bring home in most subjects (either online or normal book).
2) Hardly any relevant homeworks in non-grammar. Around 3/week and these are often along the lines a) make a poster, b) colour in flags c) write a poem (this was the in maths! by the way dc has only had 2 hw in maths for the past 10 weeks). In gs plenty of hw around 3/day. Usually things to learn and then later be tested on.
3) In non-grammar, the children extremely rarely get to bring their notebooks home (dc had to ask for permission and was first refused. teacher could not understand that he wanted his notebook the day before a test! "You don't need to look in that one" he was told.). In grammar, parents get to browse through their notebooks at least weekly.
4) Standard of maths lesson in y7 far below what happened in y6 in non-gr. Dc in top set and they get to do Rockstar maths (some game practising timestables up to 10) and making posters. My dc was level 5a in y6 and so were most likely quite a few of his peers in his set. No challenges. His friend said regarding their maths teacher "he's the funniest and best teacher, but he'll never, ever teach us anything".
5) In non-gr. they are far behind in most (not all - one or two exceptions) subjects. I've kept older children's notes and eg. in French, in Grammar school, they had covered at least 5 times as much.
6) In non-Gr, only one foreign language is allowed! So, only French. No Latin, German, Spanish.
7) Sadly, I have to spend week-ends trying to keep my dc on track and challenge him in esp maths, French. Not sure how we'll cope for 6 years. I really did not anticipate this. When he didn't pass, I shrugged, and thought they are all getting taught the same since they are sitting the same gcses.

All my dc love their schools and have no problem with friends but I'm quite shocked that grammar and non-gr seem to play in completely different leagues. They're all heading for the same gcse's but children in grammar have a massive advantage. We did choose a non-gr with the best reputation (gcse levels etc) in our vicinity.

I realise this is controversial, but I feel sad that a child who narrowly passes and a child who fails the 11+ are deemed such different education.

I've considered approaching the school and point out that I am convinced that the children could manage more challenges and hw, but I fear that we'll just be stuck with more posters to colour in - and I'll embarrass my dc in the process.

We will of course try for the 12/13+ but I believe there are not many vacant places.

Any advice? Has anyone got similar experiences and successfully managed to change how the children get challenged.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:28 pm
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I don't think this is necessarily typical of all non selective schools. Never the less it is clearly unacceptable for your DC to be in this situation.

You should certainly take up the matter with the school, though I accept if its happening across the board then you may have an uphill struggle.
It is possible that things will improve next term if this term is being used as a settling in time.

I wouldn't worry so much about extra subjects they don't have the opportunity to study. Such things can be taken up later. I would focus on the poor teaching of the basics.

Do make a list of your main concerns, with examples and make an appointment to see the Head of Year to start with. Be clear what your expectations are.

In terms of keeping DC motivated and challenged there are online resources for many subjects. If there isn't any homework to speak of then maybe come up with a programme of work of say an hour a night and 2 or 3 hours over the weekend. If you can use online resources its easier to plan, track work and get feedback without so much input from you. Maybe the Christmas holiday would provide an opportunity to get something planned out? Generally speaking the more input DCs have at this stage the less stress later on.

If there are specific subjects that you need resources for then there are usually people on the forum who can help but you could start with BBC Bitesize as a general overview.

Wishing you all the best with this.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:05 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
Posts: 6685
Location: Herts
I am very sad to read this. Search for posts by eccentric. Your dc might be in the same school that her dd was in.

Thank goodness for the 12 plus. Herts don't have this but I wish we did so there is something for those who find themselves in this situation.

Start working for 12 plus now, meanwhile perhaps you could track homework that your elder dc did in Y7. DG


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:15 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:02 pm
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Location: S E London
That is such a shame, but I don't think it is true everywhere. We have noticed in this area that the bright kids at the comps seem to be under more pressure than those at grammar - my son (at grammar) didn't feel under much pressure at all, whereas the pressure my bright but dyslexic daughter was put under at the comp was overwhelming. It wasn't just their impression either. For example, in year 7 DS target grade for the end of the year in Spanish was a 4, but for my daughter was a 6. Friends with children at other comps say the same. I think they feel under pressure to make sure they get the best possible results our of the bright kids, cos at the end of the day they are expected to get the same percentage of kids their 5 GCSEs, despite not having the brightest end of the cohort. My sister, who did live in London and then moved with her family to further away, did say that she felt there was far more pressure on kids in London schools which seems to diminish as you move away from London. My sister-in-law is also further away, in a non-grammar area, and her kids are under less pressure too. Interestingly, they don't have to get such high GCSEs to be allowed to take A-levels - all the schools here (grammar and comp) require Bs, but there all the colleges only require Cs. So I do think it depends on area and individual school.

DD did get less homework in year 7 than DS, but it was 'proper' work - maths problems, research stuff in humanities etc. Hopefully things will improve for you next term.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:37 pm 
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One of DS's school friends missed out on a place at QE and ended up at the local comp. He is a bright boy - in Y5 his tutor told the parents he was ready for GCSE English - and the parents were hugley disappointed as they felt the comp just wasn't good enough. Throughout most of Y7 I received many calls and had many conversations about the subjects my DS was studying, his "levels", extra curricular, etc. There's no 12+ option in our area so the parents were very seriously considering the 13+ Common Entrance route.

He's now in Y8 and the parents' views have changed entirely. Their son is a star in the school and receives a lot of support as he's been identified as highly able. He recently visited Christ Church College, Oxford, as part of a programme to encourage able children in non-selective schools to aim higher. Whereas, at QE, my DS is bog standard. Boys like him are two to a penny and he doesn't get any special attention.

When I was trying to complete the CAF for DD and deciding which school to place second, after HBS, I did a lot of number crunching, asked around a lot and finally decided to put the same local comp above two partially selective schools that DD would comfortably qualify for - admittedly I have serious concerns about the validity of the selection process in one of these partially selectives.

Incidentally, the school I mentioned above, HBS, a leading girls grammar, is well know for giving very little homework. A mum who has had daughters in NLCS, Habs and HBS always complains about how little homework the HBS girls get, but, going by the league tables, they seem to do quite well.

If your area has a 12+ route then you should pursue it, but maybe you could try and find out what provisions there are in the comp for highly able children. What you describe in the lessons does sound a bit worrying but it may be worthwhile asking parents with older able children if lessons improve once sets are established. Your son may not get exactly the same opportunities as at the grammar school but they may still be very valuable.

nyr


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:25 pm
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I suspect from your previous posts that your DC goes to the same Upper as mine. Yes I agree it is frustrating that they only get to do one modern language and if they end up doing the wrong one your stuck but other than that my experience is very different.

My Y8 is possibly not challenged hugely by his homework but as my Y11 is being inundated with it then I can't help thinking his time will come and why give him additional stress he doesn't need. He is in top sets which will enable him to do higher papers at GCSE and that is my only real concern. They regularly give out reports on progress so it is easy to keep track on how DC is doing and they hold Parent Evenings, although they are a bit bedlamish and appointments get booked way too quickly. :roll:

My Y11 is heading for good grades across the board at GCSE and that is without any private tuition which some of the Grammar school DC I know get. He has been supporting some of his fellow students though to help them get higher grades which I encourage.

The school supports and encourages the students well and there is something very refreshing about having DCs who are the front runners as NYR points out. The Y11 was very much one of the also-rans when he attended a Grammar and of the two schools I actually prefer this one. Far less grief has come may way as a parent :)

When I did broach the school about an issue (no school is perfect and Y8 DC was in the wrong maths set for far too long there) they did respond so if you do have any concerns then raise them.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
Posts: 4587
Location: Essex
Daogroupie wrote:
I am very sad to read this. Search for posts by eccentric. Your dc might be in the same school that her dd was in.

Thank goodness for the 12 plus. Herts don't have this but I wish we did so there is something for those who find themselves in this situation.

Start working for 12 plus now, meanwhile perhaps you could track homework that your elder dc did in Y7. DG



Eccentric's DD was in an out of county comprehensive, I think? In a previous thread, the OP mentioned trying to find a bus to a Bucks upper. (Apologies, ccl, if I've got that completely wrong :) .

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Last edited by ToadMum on Thu Dec 10, 2015 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:19 pm 
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Eccentric's experience illustrates my point as another poster's DC started at the same school and was satisfied with the education DC was receiving there.

Undoubtedly some non-grammars are not providing a robust academic education whereas I suspect all Grammars do. However there other different advantages to being an academic in a non-grammar environment.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:49 am 
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Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 9:39 pm
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My older DD us in a top grammar, yet she, and almost all of her peers, have one or more external tutors in this, their GCSE year! The parents prop up any deficient teaching! The results gained are certainly not solely the result of the grammar!

Younger DD is at an outstanding comp, only Y7, but already I am impressed at the teaching. Let's see if she needs tutor support later or not!?! :)

Good and bad teachers exist all over, but most grammar school parents act to ensure they counteract the issue if they can. Thus the story perpetuates. At least that's my experience so far!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:52 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:35 am
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Booklady wrote:
My older DD us in a top grammar, yet she, and almost all of her peers, have one or more external tutors in this, their GCSE year! The parents prop up any deficient teaching!


So it's not a 'top grammar' then, just the myth is perpetuated. Similarly DS old primary school has always been seen as a great school producing great results... yet most of those results are due to tutoring for 11+ and Independents and necessity.


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