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 Post subject: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:51 am 
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Location: Rugby
David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said he wanted institutions to look for "potential" when it came to selecting students.

He said: "If you get an A and two Bs at a school where the average A-level grades are a C and two Ds, then I think that shows you're achieving something exceptional.

"Someone who is getting perhaps even better grades, but at a school where everyone gets good grades, may not have achieved something so exceptional and what universities have to be able to do is to look beyond the headline A-level grades to what that individual's potential might be."

Do we believe this? Are we prepared for different individuals to be treated differently when it comes to university entrance criteria?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/ed ... rules.html

A direct consequence of this policy appears to be:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/ed ... ities.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/tele ... rooms.html


Last edited by Sassie'sDad on Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:27 pm 
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I think there comes a time when "potential" has come to an end and someone is just not up to it.
I think 18 is when potential ought to have appeared however poor the school. As I have said before most A level subjects are not rocket science and a pupil with this magical "potential" should be able to get themselves down to W H Smith and purchase some good books. (I am aware that weak students would not be able to do this but that is not what we are talking about here).
Miss Magwich does indeed attend a good grammar school but she has still had some weak teachers and teachers who only teach to the standard of the idle wastrels in the class. She has had to do an incredible amount of work at home compensating for indifferent teaching in some subjects (whilst other teachers have been fantastic).
To conclude, it does not have to be a sink school to have poor teaching but by the age of 16-18 anyone with any potential should be well able to sort themselves out.


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:35 am 
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As others have pointed out elsewhere, Willetts reveals a strange understanding of "achievement" when he says, '"If you get an A and two Bs at a school where the average A-level grades are a C and two Ds, then I think that shows you're achieving something exceptional'.

The objective real-world achievement is exactly the same - you have attained three reasonable A levels. Why that should give you a free pass into a higher echelon university than other school leavers with equal attainment is not even argued. It is taken as being axiomatic, despite having no substance whatever.


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:05 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
If my son gets 3Bs and gets into a top uni, after having been to the comprehensive compared to someone who has been at a grammar with 3As, then I applaud a system that allows it.
It is only fair. The problem with a comprehensive as Magwich and daughter must know is NOT poor teaching, it is mixed ability, and even the best teachers in the world must have difficulty with teaching a broad range of abilities. So positive discrimination is a must.
Sorry sassie's dad, dont have time to read the articles, just know how this is going, apologies, if I've got the gist wrong


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:45 pm 
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Location: Rugby
No need for apologies LFH. What is going on here is very much a product of Coalition policy. Liberals preoccupied with 'fairness' and 'social policy'; Conservatives preoccupied with market competition: both conflating attainment and social justice. Worst of all a blueprint for university education which is ill conceived and destined to fail all parties.

Magwich may think otherwise but I don't see this as being about Comprehensives. It is about a Minister with the gall to suggest that grade of academic award has differing merit according to the institution which entered the candidate. A very poor attempt to justify positive discrimination. One which Richard Partington Chairman of Cambridge University's admissions working party flatly contradicts. - I wish now I had suggested a poll those in favour/against positive discrimination!


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:29 am 
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No, I don't see any of this as being about comprehensives (although I would not send my child to one unless it was a private one). Most comps stream for many subjects anyway or could be made to do so by the government quite easily which would demolish that particular line of argument.
I just think it is time that people realised that 18 year olds should stand on their own 2 feet and stop making excuses for themselves. By the time we've heard that its not their fault they've only got 3 B grades at A2 or its not their fault they burgle houses of its not their fault they "fell" pregnant I get very fed up indeed!
If you know you need top grades at Alevel get working for them and if your school is not great get on with it by yourself. If you cannot work out how to do this then admityou were never clever enough to get in to a top uni wherever you went to school. Six months down the line you are going to be working by yourself anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:07 am 
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Yes I do kind of agree with Magwich that by 18 all this stuff should have sorted itself out and that it is not, as she says, beyond the wit of a sensible A level student to get the study guides and swallow it all whole, irrespective of what sort of school you are at.

Now in some schools you will have lower achievers than others sitting A levels, and possibly therefore a paucity of good discussion in lessons which would benefit from that. This might be where David Willets argument holds a little water. But otherwise I am not that convinced. Some people get the most fantastic a level results from otherwise sink schools. The teachers are so pleased that someone intelligent has stayed on to do their A level subject that you get the most fantastic rapport and intellectual discussions with them for two years, whereas in another generally higher achieving school you would just be another number doing A level.

You could argue that if you have not been taught well or had disrupted lessons up to 16 that you have a bigger step up to A level. Again I'm not really sure if you could distinguish between grammars and comprehensives and secondary mods on this basis. I think grammars have their fair share of poor teachers (maybe more than average as it provides an easier life in some way for the teacher with weaker classroom control, and a hiding place for poorer quality teaching as able kids of sensible parents can still do well despite poor teaching) and some disruption of lessons.

Maybe if there is an effect at A level of the type of school you are at dramatically affecting your results, it could just be that if you are surrounded by A grade children you are more likely for some reason to get A yourself than if you are surrounded by D grade children.


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:47 pm 
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I think we need to be a bit careful here of falling into the trap of thinking that by working hard enough anyone with intelligence, motivation and a few revision guides should be able to get A/A* grades at A2. Some subjects (and I am thinking particularly of science subjects here, but that’s my background so the area in which I feel best qualified to comment) are hard. They’re hard, even if you’re “good” at them. With the best will in the world you can enjoy sciences and work very hard and yet not have the natural ability to get an A or A* grade. My daughter got A* grades in biology, chemistry and maths and is in her first year of biochemistry at Oxford. She worked hard for those grades. Her twin brother also worked hard, got an A in chemistry and B’s in maths and physics and is studying chemistry at York. It is true to say that however hard my son had worked he could not have matched his sister’s grades. York is a great university, as are many others, and for many science courses here and at other highly rated universities it is not necessary to have AAA or above to get in. To speak of getting “only 3 B grades at A2” in the same breath as burgling houses or becoming accidentally pregnant I think is pretty insulting to a lot of very hard working students. Hard work is unfortunately not the only criterion required for high academic attainment – and this applies at any type of school, but good teaching and interested supportive parents can certainly help – and I agree that teaching in grammar schools is certainly not always of high quality.


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:06 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
You are quite correct wirral-wombat, it is wrong to suggest that. I also think Magwich is in a very privileged position to have access to the choices that allow her to choose not to go to comprehensive school under pain of death, but has kind of kicked herself in the foot - as why would she be so against these schools if A Level results have nothing to do with the school and are determined merely by the amount of work a pupil is prepared to do independently? If it was all about that it wouldn't matter which school you went to or who taught you. Of course though that's not the case,as we all know, otherwise we wouldn't be trying to access the kind of education we believe our children deserve. My experience of 6th form at a grammar school is spoon feeding children with everything they need to get the grades....come back to me in a few years and I'll tell you whether the comprehensive is better/worse :D


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 Post subject: Re: David Willets claims
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:24 pm 
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The main reason I would not send my child to a state comp is because of the parents. I think that most grammar school parents do care about their childrens academic and moral welfare (although with some surprising exceptions!) and that most private school parents care if only because it is costing them a lot. I know these are sweeping generalisations and that others will not share my views. We are not well off and if there were no grammar schools we would have had to home educate rather than go private. I just don't like the idea of a school where they will just take anyone who applies whatever they are like.
I was not comparing 3 Bs with burgling a house - just comparing the snivelling excuses teenagers and politicians make for their various shortcomings!


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