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Grammar Schools

(105 Posts)
johnep Fri 05-Apr-19 12:41:47

In my day (1950s) we had excellent education. Locally I had a choice of six Grammar schools. There were also two technical colleges teaching the trades and a couple of Seconday Moderns. Children could have another shot at a scholarship at age 13. We had a couple of boys attend my Grammar School as a result. At sixth form level you could enter for a State Scholarship which i did not do, but I was awarded a County Major Scholarship (£90/year) on my A level (Higher Schools Certificate) results.
No charge at University then.
Grammar School pupils eg Ted Heath , Margaret Thatcher achieved as much as the privileged Public Schools.
it is my belief that the establishment was determined to keep out the "Hoi Poloi" from the top jobs and hence the destruction of what had been a world leading education.

PernillaVanilla Fri 05-Apr-19 12:47:01

My DH had a family who were not very well off, his mother had Mental health problems, he had polio as a baby and spent time in a childrens home pre-school. He will shortly retire as a well respected highly qualified professional who has (with me) been able to support our children through university too. He would no;t have been able to achieve this without having gone to Grammar School. Me? my parents just thought it wasn't worth educating girls had it not been for Grammar School I would not have had opportunities either.

DoraMarr Fri 05-Apr-19 13:32:41

All very well for those who got a place at grammar school based on one examination, but for the rest there was secondary modern school, which did not prepare children for higher education, and in fact most children left at 15. The comprehensive school system is the best, allowing all children to achieve, even late developers. Unfortunately the existence of private schools, public schools and grammars means that true comprehensive education can’t be achieved.

nightswimmer Fri 05-Apr-19 13:57:07

Agree with you DoraMarr great if you manage to get a place, needless to say I was written off at 11, didn't pass the exam, (dyslexia), back in those days, 50s and 60s, written off as lazy and stupid. I seem to have managed to have made a very good life in the interim. Grandkids are home educated and seem to be doing fine.

GrannyGravy13 Fri 05-Apr-19 13:57:50

I am all for choice, fortunate enough to live in an area which has 4 Grammar Schools, hopefully we can keep them open.

Our Comprehensive Schools are of a good standard, as are the several Private / Boarding Schools.

Let's hope once this H of Cs debacle is over some focus on all educational establishments can happen.

Greenfinch Fri 05-Apr-19 15:03:28

I am with DoraMarr.I just wish that more money could be poured into the Comprehensives so that the children could have text books and other basic equipment. I also think it is important for boys to attend co-ed schools but that is another issue !

DoraMarr Fri 05-Apr-19 15:31:09

The trouble is, if there isn’t a true comprehensive system, comprehensive schools can never compete. Grammars, public schools and to a lesser extent private schools will all take the most able, so the results at 16 and 18, which are what schools are judged on, will never be as good as they could be. Also, grammars and fee-paying schools can easily expel unruly and underachieving children, who then go into the state sector.

johnep Fri 05-Apr-19 15:57:37

Grammar schools were the state sector. The Technical Colleges existed for those wanting to learn a trade.
We did not have mobile phones, tablets or computers and at one Grammar school, the boys wee encouraged to use old envelopes etc to take notes instead of using a school
provided rough note book. We had to fund our own transport to school and I soon used my bike. Very few cars in those days. I took sandwiches to save lunch money. Never had a school outing or overseas travel. My parents could not afford it.
I taught in a comprehensive and found the children noisy in class and wanted to "play up" more than learn. In the end I managed to keep them reasonably quiet by teaching pontoon where at least they had to count. Great reliance on calculators but they often put in wrong figures and also got the decimal point wrong.
Unfortunately I think that bog standard comprehensives level down instead of up.

M0nica Fri 05-Apr-19 17:38:26

There is not much fairness in comprehensives either. Get a place in a school in an inner city area and you are sunk, poor teaching and poor results. get a place in a good comprehensive and they are as good as any grammar school.

When DC were young there were grammar schools in the town we moved to. They drew the intake for the grammar school evenly from all the state junior schools in the catchment area.

The biggest and noisest opponent to the grammar school was the head of the best comprehensive in town, set in an expensive area, which children could only get to if their parents could afford one of the extra expensive houses. Extra expensive because people paid a premium for them compared with similar houses in the town that were not in the catchment.

I never quite understood this.

Fennel Fri 05-Apr-19 17:46:51

Eldest daughter has taught in a few different types of schools.
About 10 years ago she spent one year in a SE grammar school and said it was very poorly funded. The staffing, equipment, buildings etc were inferior to the comprehensives she's worked in.
She's in an independent school now.

M0nica Fri 05-Apr-19 18:13:51

My biggest concern about comprehensive schools is simply that they are, generally, far too big and children can get lost, ignored or overlooked and either problems are not recognised or quiet children are overlooked.

Several teachers in our DS's state primary privately advised us to send him to a private secondary school if we could afford it, because, as one said, he is quiet, well behaved and clever so he will sit at the back of the class handing in satisfactory work and no-one will realise he should be doing so much better.

We did and they were right, in a smaller school, even with class sizes the same , teachers saw through the quiet adequacy to the quiet full capacity and brought it out.

johnep Fri 05-Apr-19 18:32:52

Oh Yes. Selection now by how much you can afford to live in the catchment area.
estate agents love to say "Fast and frequent trains to town" and in *** School catchment area. Parents have been known to use some ones address to get their child into their choice of school.

eazybee Fri 05-Apr-19 19:11:43

Yes, comprehensives are very much governed by the catchment area, and also by the special needs policy which tries to educate as many children as possible in mainstream schools, under the mantra 'every teacher is a teacher of special needs.' No they are not, and these children are denied the support they were once given in special schools and units, aimed at making them as independent as possible.

Cabbie21 Fri 05-Apr-19 19:34:54

From a working class background, thanks to my grammar school education I was able to go to university and became a teacher. My first job was in a boys’ grammar school, my second was in a girls’ grammar school but by this time it had had to become fee paying or go out of existence. It was a wonderful school.
Then followed five years in five different comprehensives. Few pupils wanted to work and I struggled. If I hadn’t managed to find a job in an independent grammar school, I would have given up teaching. I stayed in my last school until I retired and loved it. Although fee paying, some were there on bursaries, other parents made huge sacrifices to pay the fees. Most of the pupils were lovely, not at all snooty or toffee nosed.
Whilst I accept that other children did not have this opportunity, which is sad, it was a tremendous experience for me, both as a pupil and a teacher. My grandchildren live in an area which still has the 11+ and are all at free grammar schools, where they are thriving, instead of being lost in the crowd, having classes spoilt by those who mess about.
I wish all schools could be as good. The government needs to spend a lot more on education as the shortages are huge, and child poverty means that school are having to bridge the gap for some families.

Hm999 Sat 06-Apr-19 09:43:47

In 1960s, approximately 20% of pupils passed the 11+, so for every grammar there were 4 secondary moderns of a similar size. You cannot have comprehensives in the same area as grammar schools. The teaching is not better in grammars, it's just the pupils know they can be thrown out for upsetting the apple cart.
The people most in favour of grammar schools are people who think their children will get into grammar schools. Having taught in proper (ie no grammars creaming off those deemed most able at 11) comprehensives for 40yrs, I was never aware I was dumbing down.

Sheilasue Sat 06-Apr-19 09:56:23

There are still grammer schools in Kent
My son attended a comprehensive school which had recently been a grammer school. He struggled with his reading and writing and he was out in a class of boys (boys only school) who had behaviour,problems the staff there were the original staff from the old grammer school who had no idea how to run a comprehensive school. I am talking about the early 80s.They were all kept in the class and the teachers would go to the class. None were allowed to leave the class at all only for lunch or break. Naturally I took my son out of there. My daughter went to a comprehensive school and gained 6 a levels, I sent my son to the same school and although he struggled his maths was very good and he got the help with his English. And attended other classes

missdeke Sat 06-Apr-19 10:01:16

I think comprehensives put too much pressure on the less academic children to perform. Grammar Schools, when there were enough of them, gave children from all backgrounds the opportunity to succeed. As the original poster said, they were all given a second chance at 13 if they didn't succeed at 11. The number of home schooled children in the UK are currently at unprecedented levels, parents are taking their children out of these high pressure environments for their mental health.

Secondary Moderns gave the less academic children opportunities of a different kind, e.g. to learn trades that would enable them to have good, well paid jobs in the future, all without the pressure of having to try and pass exams that they didn't want or need for their future lives. The only reason Grammar Schools are so elitist is because there are so few of them.

I went to grammar school and worked in an office, my sister went to grammar school and left at 15 because she wanted to go into hairdressing, although she did complete a degree in later life. My brother went to Technical College and went on to become a computer programmer. The 3 tier system is a far fairer system for all children.

Witzend Sat 06-Apr-19 10:06:52

The grammar school I attended was far and away the best academically for miles, regardless of whether you paid school fees.
The main building was a beautiful house that had been painted by a famous artist, and there were extensive grounds, tennis courts, etc.

After the area went comprehensive, that school was turned into a 6th for college, but later the whole site was sold off - and bought up by a local private school that had never been nearly as high-achieving academically.

So the lovely house and grounds are now available only to children whose parents can afford hefty fees.
It still grieves me to think about it.

red1 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:09:09

noooo! Cyril Burt the man behind 11 plus, read about the lies in devising tests.11 plus divides and usually destroys childrens belief in themselves and self esteem.

VIOLETTE Sat 06-Apr-19 10:17:31

In myday (1950's) there was one grammar in my town ...and around 14 'feeder' schools. The Grammar only had 30 places ...result : anyone who passed the 11 plus was given a place IF they were born at the right time of year ...which resulted in most going to Secondary Modern … be fair, I did a lot better in my career than a lot of my friends who did go to Grammar …….I learned on the job from the age of 15 in a solicitors office, learning from the ground up (making coffee, running errands, proof reading all the legal doc for spelling mistakes etc ...then progressed to shorthand typist having paid from my £3 a week wages the fees for the course (£3guineas a term !) then to secretary, then took exams when they became available to do Conveyancing and Probate ...didn't care much for Litigation, but did know the court procedures if I was needed ! My grounding stood me in good stead for life ...I was totally amazed some of my Grammar friends did not have the first clue how to buy a house, or make a Will, get a mortgage, etc etc ……...could not believe they would not know but then of course I had the on the shop floor training ! grin

anitamp1 Sat 06-Apr-19 10:27:54

I don't have a problem as such with grammar schools. But the problem is that not all areas have access to grammars. So bright children in more rural areas don't have the same opportunities.

Craftycat Sat 06-Apr-19 10:38:35

Hmm - not sure about this.
I went to a 'good' Grammar school & hated every moment of it.
They still have Grammar schools in the area where my son lives & it seems the children who are likely to go there all get private schooling from tutors to ensure they 'get in'
My son & DiL have decided NOT to sit their eldest for Grammar school as it seems to put so much pressure on the children & they miss out on other after school activities. The other schools in the area are excellent too.
I think it is OK if your child is naturally very bright but it's not fair to force them surely. They miss out on a lot of fun after school clubs to go to the tutors

rafichagran Sat 06-Apr-19 10:41:06

I have two adult children. One who went to a grammar school and one who did not, they both got the education that suited them.

I have always believed in selective schools as all children are different. My son would not have thrived in a grammar school, my daughter did. The school she went too also helped with her career as it had a good reputation, and I am sure she got interviews in the beginning because if this.

I realise to some they feel this system is unfair, but I do not care, at the time I was a very young Mum and wanted the best education for my child. She got it. The people who say I was wrong and selfish to believe in this system are the one's who live on sour grapes especially if their children did not get through. It worked for us. I agree with the OP.

GrandmaMoira Sat 06-Apr-19 10:56:43

I appreciate the views of those who are anti Grammar school as in my day most secondary modern schools did not provide a very good education. However, when my sons were at school, the comprehensives did the opposite. There were no Grammar schools and no streaming so the brighter children were taught at the level of those with mild learning disabilities or very poor English. I don't think many inner city comprehensives have improved.

123coco Sat 06-Apr-19 11:00:56

As a retired teacher, and someone who went to a Grammar school I say NEVER bring back Grammar Schools! Separating children in that way at 11 is totally destructive and will only perpetuate the horrid class system in this country. Comprehensive schools often get miraculous results compared to Grammar and especially private school where they select the ‘cream’. Research shows over and over again that when attending an interview if the applicant is better qualified he has less chance of getting the job if another applicant is from a private school but less qualified We don’t want and then another layer added to this Through selection at 11 Not everything in the past was good !