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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:29 pm 
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My husband is from a working class background and grew up on an Essex council Estate in the 70's, failed 11+ and went to a Comprehensive/Sec Mod. He has 3 academic degrees, an MA and is now embarking on a Phd. I, on the other hand, from a Professional Middle Class background was coached intensively and passed the 11+ (on the pass mark). I was always at the bottom of my Grammar School, hated every minute of it, lost confidence and was made to feel stupid. Being at the bottom in a highly competitive school is no fun! I left at 14 and transferred to a Comprehensive where I was far more valued, however, because of my lack of academic confidence, I left with one A level, went to secretarial college and have spent my life in mediocre, admin jobs. So I would plead with parents, PLEASE don't push your kids. If they are borderline, think to yourselves, is it worth it,would they not be better at the top end of a High School? Make sure its not you projecting your ambitions on to them- otherwise its cruel and counterproductive. Believe me, I know!

hope this helps.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:38 pm 
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Location: Herts
Emma, I am sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your school. Do you think your life would have turned out differently had you gone to a comprehensive from the start? I see things differently. I went to a comprehensive in the 1970's but the opportunities available to my dd's at a semi selective school are so much better than what was open to me. Many parent at the school have expressed how they wish they could have gone to the school and I feel the same. My dd's are inspired by the other children and have raised their game to compete with them. The entrance exam is designed to sort out who will be able to contribute to and thrive at the school. All Y7 classes are mixed ability so everyone has the same opportunity. DG


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:54 am 
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I'm certainly not saying that Grammar School/Selection is bad per se. Far from it. There are many people who thrive at competitive, selective schools. All I was trying to say was that in the understandable anxiety to get kids into selective schools and frankly who wouldn't? some will inevitably be border line and its the parents of those children who I'm really appealing to. It looks as though the school you are wanting for your DD does the right thing in terms of selection. I'm all in favour of non selective schools banding their pupils. That way the more able can progress at a robust pace, while the less able can take things more gently. My husband's school had been a former Secondary Modern but the year he went it became Comprehensive following a merger, introduced banding and my husband was in the top band. His brother went to the Grammar School, left at 16 and has worked as a Clerk all his life (nothing wrong with that in itself but perhaps not the destination for a typical 70's Grammar School boy). My husband feels that he benefited from the more practical things they were taught such as woodwork, design and tech and cookery - all things that we now take for granted but in Grammar Schools in the 70's it was Latin, and Economics instead and this just didnt suit everyone. It was the same for me. We all did compulsory Latin. Only the Comprehensive/Sec Mod girls did Domestic Science. Personally I'd rather be able to boil an egg than learn Latin conjunctions.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:27 am 
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Location: Chelmsford and pleased
I know several children who went in through the waiting list/just scraped in to the Chelmsford grammars. You can't tell enough from the exam. I know one who is very near the top of the year who was on the waiting list.

The Chelmsford grammars are so selective, top 2-5%, that many children who don't make it would thrive. I would say that many children who are used to being the best in their primary class find it hard to be 'normal', others thrive on feeling normal having been bullied at primary for being clever. Plenty don't feel as clever in grammar as they would have done in a comp, but they have great opportunities in these schools.

DD was placed towards the middle in the 11+ and has always been very near the top of the year. DS was placed very near the top but due to a lack of application was in the bottom 20% in yr 9, no idea now.

The Southend grammars have a lot of children with 303, the passmark. They take children from the top 20-30%. Some struggle and the schools make good provision for them.

We don't live in the 70s anymore, pastoral care has improved and they all learn to cook! I used to teach in a non-selective school and many of our pupils suffered from a lack of self-esteem at the beginning yr 7 because they had failed the 11+, but they picked themselves up quickly and settled happily into school. Lots went on to get great GCSEs and to grammar for VIth form.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:56 am 
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Someone has be bottom of any school. Sounds like both your grammar and comprehensive were truly terrible Emma if you only got one a level, or there was some reason why you did not do one stroke of work.

You wanted your post to be helpful - well it was saddening to hear the bad educational experience you had, but I don't think that your analysis after the event is necessarily one that holds true.

I hope that life after school has provided you with some better experiences of good teaching and learning.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:24 am 
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I think Mystery has it spot on.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:57 am 
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Location: Herts
Well we are different again Emma! I had to do domestic science and needlework while the boys did metalwork and woodwork. In my English course at University I was the only student who did not have O Level Latin. We had to learn Anglo Saxon in the original and then pass an exam ten weeks later in order to be allowed to continue with the degree. This was impossible for me without a background in Latin. I failed it, but later on in the year having taught myself and really learnt to love it. I got a really high mark but this was not enough. When I pointed out to the Professor of English that they needed a prerequisite of O level Latin on the course to stop this happening to state school students like me he laughed at me and said "You state school students will be asking us to teach you how to read and write next." I was told I had to move onto another course or leave. I chose to leave because I wanted to do English. I then had to battle for another year to get my grant moved to another University because the first one claimed I had abandoned the course. So my dd's will be doing Latin rather than learning how to boil an egg and I continue to do a GCSE/A level each year at evening classes to mop up all the things that my comprehensive did not teach me that I would like to know. Have you considered doing this in order to restore your confidence in your ability to study? I was very motivated to prove my English Professor wrong and will forever be grateful to the wonderful English department who took me in mid course. There should always be heroes and villains in every story. Where are your heroes? Education is for everyone and is available everywhere. Evening classes at our local college are free if you don't have the qualification. I have to pay much more because I already have them, I am just updating them. Your husband's education at this point is all about him and not about his school. The same is true of you. If you choose to remain impacted educationally by what happened to you at school instead of doing something about it then that is not the fault of your parents or your school. DG


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:22 am 
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At the risk of sounding rude, please could I ask Emma what led you to start this thread?? I see you have only posted on this particular subject... You were obviously looking at the forum for some reason, I just wondered how it came to be.. Inquisitive as ever..


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:02 pm 
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Daogroupie wrote:
Education is for everyone and is available everywhere. DG


That is not strictly true.

Most people can only comment on their own fairly narrow experience of their own and their DCs experience. You happen to live in a mixed, densely populated area with good transport links and a wide range of schools to choose from.

My own example: I live in a very rural area with very poor public transport. There is a selective system in place and only the grammar schools have sixth forms. I am about to embark upon finding a place for my DC who did not pass the 11+. Although he is predicted to get very good grades, I suspect he will not be offered a place. (There are only about 25 places for pupils not already at the grammar). That only leaves our nearest college (more than an hour's bus ride away), which offers a very limited range of A levels, many dubious ones (social science?), no languages at all but a very wide range of vocational courses.
If a child has special needs the options are even more limited. Our libraries are closing and evening classes are also limited and you have to be able to drive to get to them.
Education is for everyone, but is not available everywhere - we are a very long way from equal access to education in this country and IMO it is getting worse, not better.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:10 pm 
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Yes it is pretty rubbish round here too. If my children do not pass the eleven plus round here the secondary moderns ( which they were still calling them a decade ago here ) are poor for the most part. The access to education once you have left school here is poor too.

And a lot of the primaries are not great. I for one long for a tutor who could scrape my children through the eleven plus!

You write eloquently Emma. Why did you only manage 1 a level?


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