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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:00 pm 
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I see on the front of the DT today that grammars are going to be allowed to expand. Will this eventually lead to more selective schools being created? have the flood gates been opened, or is it just a glimmer of light through a barely open door? From reading the article, one would think that it would be the obvious next step, what with all the comments about social mobility, world class education etc etc. Back in the day when the DH (scholarship to indie) and I (state grammar) were at school, it was obvious that grammars offered the best chance of social mobility. Please Michael Gove, be our friend and allow the creation of more of these wonderful institutions! Anyone else have any thoughts?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:49 pm 
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I think they are fantastic for the people who are in them, but I worry about the children who are not, particularly here in Bucks where we have no comprehensive schools (you are either "selected" for grammar school or you aren't). I think provision needs to be made for those who are in the Upper Schools (ie the non grammar ones) to make sure it isn't a two tier system. Also selecting at 11 seems too young to me (I know several people whose DCs didn't pass at 11, but entered GS later on), so I think I am your ultimate hypocrit - I'm not sure I really agree with them, but am happy for my children to take advanatge of them :oops: . I think it was different in the 1960s when people weren't coached, now it is largely about children having parents who can afford the coaching or are prepared to do it themselves. I know there will be children who sail through without any coaching, but it won't be many. Ooh, I think this cold be an interesting thread...


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:03 pm 
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scary mum wrote:
I think they are fantastic for the people who are in them...


My thoughts too, I am in Kent where we still have a fully fledged grammar system. My DD didnt pass and I didnt feel the local upper schools would meet her needs so having more grammars alone isn't going to fully solve the problem. My gripe is the quality of what you will be left to choose from if your child is not deemed suitable for a grammar place. It seems to mean your child has to do mickey mouse subjects and foundation GCSE or whatever they are called where the highest grade you will ever get is a C. You find VERY few students in our local comps doing separate sciences for example and classics are virtually non existant and those that claim to do them have 5 student the whole year group doing them.

I too echo the points that at 11 some children just aren't mature enough and haven't reached their full potential so to write them off that young is just sad.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:05 pm 
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There's a big difference (in cost) between letting an existing school expand and starting up a new one.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 7:36 pm 
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Quite agree that the cost of a new school would be far more than expansion!

We live in an area where the 11 plus is optional, as it was when I sat it, though am fairly sure that when my eldest brother did it (4 years earlier), it was mandatory. There used to be many more grammars in the area, and therefore logically more children would be able to benefit; these were culled in the mid-80s. Now there are fewer schools and no catchment area, it does seem a less fair. I do believe that increasing the number of schools, and introducing a catchment area would allow more able pupils to benefit from a grammar education. I also agree that there must be a suitable alternative for children who do not pass, and also other points of entry for late bloomers.

Social mobility for all! my brothers and I come a from fairly humble family, neither of our parents possess any 'O'-levels yet we all went to grammar school, all went to university and all now have good careers. Would this have happened had we attended the local comp? who knows. Whilst I know that you can't turn the clock back, I will always believe that the best way to educate children is to place them with peers of a similar ability, be that high, medium or low, so that they can be taught at and challenged at an appropriate level without becoming either bored or left behind.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:11 pm 
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The thing is....the local comp should not prevent anyone from going to university. If there are more grammars that means that the 'other' schools if you like by dint become secondary moderns, and expectations drop. I think the world is just fine as it is, it would probably on balance be better if grammars were abolished altogether and everyone had access to the same education. I think Mr Gove would dearly love to increase the number of grammars, but recognises that this would be very unpopular amongst voters as the number of parents with children at grammars is not a high proportion of the voters' role.

I also think that the original idea of the grammar school as a vehicle for social mobility has gone out the window, those who can access grammars have had to pay extensively for tuition to make this happen. Before I'm shot down in flames, yes I do know that there are children who have never seen a paper before the test and still passed, but they are very few and very far between nowadays.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:07 pm 
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Looking for help, I think you have summed it up perfectly. I wouldn't want to go back to how it was year's ago when if you didn't get into a grammar you were viewed as a bit of a failure. I also think you have made a very good point, when you say that most children who get into grammar these days are tutored privately, this can add up to quite a large sum of money. There are lots of people who just can't stretch to this. Many children who would be suited to grammar school don't get a place because the competition is so fierce and their parents just can't afford to get them tutored.

I have two sons at grammar and we were lucky enough to have had them tutored and worked with them ourselves at home. This doesn't prevent me from recognising the unfairness of the system. I have another son at an excellent comprehensive. Thankfully, just because he doesn't go to grammar doesn't mean he is written off. There are no limitations placed upon him and his ambitions for his future. I wouldn't want this to change.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:00 am 
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I live in a county which has grammars right across it. Few people here would realise that their children could probably get just as good if not better results at a good comprehensive in the city I used to live in.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:50 am 
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We live in Calderdale where there are some ok comprehensives, and some truly awful ones. Considering the 2 remaining grammars admit pupils from calderdale and the neighbouring authorities, I cannot believe that abolishing them and divvying the children out amongst the other schools would affect the standards in these other schools one jot; might just drag a few of the brighter children down though, don't you think?

I totally take the point that most children seem to be tutored extensively for the exam, and therefore it has become less of a vehicle for social mobility than once it was; one of the prep schools in our locality has been known to put in its adverts in the local paper that it gets 100% 11 + pass rate! so if the children from the local prep schools take up quite a few places, and the tutored children take up some more, where does that leave the bright but poorer children? however thinking back to the 80s when there were (if memory serves) 3 grammars in Halifax, and 2 single sex ones elsewhere, tutoring was less of an issue and it was a great aid to social mobility; everyone bar one child in my brother's year passed, and I'm fairly sure it wasn't a year of hothoused geniuses (? plural of genius?), just a reflection that more children of slight to above average ability could get through .

Do people who fail feel stigmatised for life? or is this a refection of the pressure they were put under to pass. It shouldn't be the be all and end all, but unless there are any decent alternatives, aspirational parents will always want the option of the 11 plus.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:20 pm 
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scary mum wrote:
I think they are fantastic for the people who are in them, but I worry about the children who are not, particularly here in Bucks where we have no comprehensive schools (you are either "selected" for grammar school or you aren't). I think provision needs to be made for those who are in the Upper Schools (ie the non grammar ones) to make sure it isn't a two tier system...


How do you have a selective system that isn't two (or more) tier?

I actually agree with some of the concerns expressed here, though I don't think the fact that non-grammars may not be good enough is reason to abolish grammars.


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