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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:02 pm 
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Location: Maidstone
...that parents feel the need to put their children in to years of tutoring,put them forward for numerous tests to try to secure a place and then when successful have said child travel long distances to a school or move to the schools locale with all the upheaval that this entails?

I realise that I am probably opening a can of worms here but I ask this in all innocence because unless the local comp is drawing its intake from the local sink estate or in special measures I just don't get it. It appears that for many parents the Grammar is the be all and end all of secondary ed. and nothing less will do.
I understand that parents want to do their best by their children. My son goes to a primary a mile and a half away rather than the poor one 200 yards up the road.The consequence of this,however,is that he has no friends locally and having friends over involves car trips and planning.
I also understand how fortunate we are to live less than 5 minutes walk from a good (from its ofsted reports and results) Grammar and that should my son do well enough in his 11+ he will almost certainly be offered a place there. The thing is that unless it impresses more than the Comp (next to the school that my son currently attends) that most of his friends will attend and has only average results then I can't see how I can persuade him that this is in his best interests.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:30 pm 
All 11 year olds would put as first priority going to a secondary where they will already know people. But my experience of my own children and many pupils I have tutored is that they end up with an entirely different set of friends, even when old primary school friends actually do go to the same school.

At primary school children are often friends through habit and familiarity rather than choice. Regardless of which school your child attends (comp. or grammar) they are most likely to end up with a new set by the end of year 7. Therefore I would not let it influence your decisions.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 10:18 pm 
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You have possibly asked this question on a day when I have good reason to feel incredibly biased.

I would say the direct answer to your question is no but as you say some comprehensives possibly are. I know one in our locality is very bad and I certainly wouldn't have wanted my children to go there. However our local one is not SO bad. That said I still opted for a Grammar school.

Why? Firstly because there isn't a 6th form at the comprehensive. Secondly because my DC are not geniuses but they are above average academically. Also, the eldest in particular will try and get away with doing the bare minimum, so not particularly ambitous as yet. The value added score at the Grammar was higher than the value added score at the comprehensive, for me that was an important figure. Thirdly because at the Grammar he would have been in a class of 27/28 where as at the comprehensive only the children in the lower sets are in classes of less than 30.

The reason for my extra bias today though is this morning I found out why that value added score is higher and it reinforced what I had always felt to be the case. That children who are bright but not the brightest benefit from the higher expectations of most Grammars.

My son has been at his Grammar school for half a term. I spent three years trying to get his primary to give him extra support in English due to his early education in a Welsh medium school, because he was not below average he received none. He left with a level 4 even though he loves reading and writing, his other scores were 5's. If he had gone to the local comprehensive nothing I would have said or done would have got him extra help as a level 4 is an average score therefore not perceived to be a problem. This morning we received a letter from his Grammar school telling us that he had been targetted as a child who would benefit from extra english lessons. Once a week he will work with a small group tackling the problems that I know are there.

My son doesn't like this at all, let's face it who does like being picked out as needing extra help, but fortunately he does love his school. What I know though is that if this problem wasn't tackled now then his written work would never be of a high standard and the knock on effect would have filtered through many of his other subjects.

Ultimately that would mean lower GCSE results than he was capable of and why? because he was above average not below average.

Just one scenario I know but enough to reinforce my belief that what we did was right for our son even though he intially was opposed to the whole idea. He has made plenty of friends though and there is always public transport for when he wants to meet up with them. Living in a village moving to secondary school was always going to result in far flung friendships anyway.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:07 pm 
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I think the problem for many people in areas where there are grammar schools is that there is no comprehensive option. The "other" secondary school available if you do not pass is not all ability as 25% of the kids have gone elsewhere - it also may have no sixth form.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:48 pm 
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I think I'd better clarify my position. I fully understand people who make the choice between a comprehensive, be it good or poor, and a grammar. All things being equal, most people,myself included,will probably opt for the best education available to their children. All I'm suggesting is that all the factors should be weighed equally. I see no problem with tutoring in order to fine tune before an exam nor with applying to more than one grammar if,as in Kent, they don't require children to travel great distances
What I struggle to comprehend are the parents who pursue grammar school places almost beyond rationality. This manifests itself in multiple applications to schools all over the south-east( and I mean all over- Kent, Surrey,London and Herts!) and long-term focused tutoring in order to guarantee a place, any place. The financial commitment is often huge. Surely,under these circumstances, private education would be a more sensible option. There would definitely be less uncertainty and less pressure ,intentional or otherwise ,on the children.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:52 pm 
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Quote:
long-term focused tutoring in order to guarantee a place, any place. The financial commitment is often huge. Surely,under these circumstances, private education would be a more sensible option.


Good job you're not sitting an 11+ maths paper :wink: .

I don't know about anyone else, but we haven't made a seven-year commitment to spend c. £1,000 per month on tutoring. Tutoring may not be cheap but there are orders of magnitude difference between that and private education.

Mike


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:59 pm 
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mike1880 wrote:
Quote:
long-term focused tutoring in order to guarantee a place, any place. The financial commitment is often huge. Surely,under these circumstances, private education would be a more sensible option.


Good job you're not sitting an 11+ maths paper :wink: .

I don't know about anyone else, but we haven't made a seven-year commitment to spend c. £1,000 per month on tutoring. Tutoring may not be cheap but there are orders of magnitude difference between that and private education.

Mike


I'm sure I saw figures somewhere a while ago that showed staying where you live and sending your DC to private school is actually cheaper or comparable to uprooting and buying a house in a good catchment area.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:05 am 
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mike1880 wrote:
[I don't know about anyone else, but we haven't made a seven-year commitment to spend c. £1,000 per month on tutoring. Tutoring may not be cheap but there are orders of magnitude difference between that and private education.

Mike


You're right about the 11+ maths,I'd never finish it in time :D but I'm talking about the folks who are prepared to move house to where ever they get a place or rent nearby, those who spend on prep schools at a couple of grand a term or more and those who, on a smaller scale, spend hundreds on rail travel.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:07 am 
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[quote="MasterChief
You're right about the 11+ maths,I'd never finish it in time :D but I'm talking about the folks who are prepared to move house to where ever they get a place or rent nearby, those who spend on prep schools at a couple of grand a term or more and those who, on a smaller scale, spend hundreds on rail travel.[/quote]

People bring their own life baggage to this sometimes too.For example, if they went to grammar or indep schools, then they can be absolutely terrified of Comprehensives and have exaggerated pictures in their minds of the dangers that lurk within.They are very strange, huge and scary places to them.

I also think if people had a bad school experience themself, then they spend their whole life in some cases feeling it has "held them back". They are often very determined when they become parents to avoid this for their children at all costs.

I have also met parents who do not really understand league tables and yet put a lot of trust in them. For example I know a girls grammar school that dropped considerably in the tables this year because they allowed a very troubled girl to sit her GCSEs and she came out with less than 5 and no A*. When it comes to top of the table schools this can cause a massive drop.You need to be able to understand what you are reading to make an informed judgement.
The prime example of this is a parent I know who two years ago uprooted their whole family to move to the school that topped that table that year.There was a school in their area that came in the top ten.The difference in postition boiled down to one less A* by a couple of pupils. To him it looked , from the table, as if it was a significantly different school.


I could witter on but IMHO and life experience the people that pursue grammar with absolute determination from almost leaving the maternity ward, are often doing so because of some of the above reasons as well as others.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:41 am 
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Quote:
I'm talking about the folks who are prepared to move house to where ever they get a place or rent nearby, those who spend on prep schools at a couple of grand a term or more and those who, on a smaller scale, spend hundreds on rail travel


Quote:
I'm sure I saw figures somewhere a while ago that showed staying where you live and sending your DC to private school is actually cheaper or comparable to uprooting and buying a house in a good catchment area.


Moving house would, I think, be difficult to bring in at less than the cost of going private for seven years. However, entrance to the private schools here (Birmingham) is also very competitive and can't be taken for granted.

If renting, the LEA requires a minimum 12 months contract which will add up to something very much like the going rate for a year's private education - but that would still leave you ahead for six years out of seven.

Mike


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