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Social mobility and grammar schools

(333 Posts)
JessM Thu 28-Jul-16 20:30:15

There are mutterings that under Teresa May there may be a relaxation of the rules about opening new grammar schools. But will they just be another route by which privileged parents give their children an additional advantage?

whitewave Thu 28-Jul-16 20:36:31

I think as far as I can work out what happens in Kent. There was a local television report about how the middle class parents paid for their children to be crammed for the exams. Something other parents simply can't afford. In fact some of the parents who paid would normally have sent their children to be privately educated but have been priced out of the market.

Beammeupscottie Thu 28-Jul-16 20:46:48

I was trying once to convince a bright working-class white student to become a doctor, because it was what she wanted. She said she would be a nurse because doctors are middle-class and she would become alienated from her family if she became a doctor.
Interestingly, Asian young people have no such cultural problem ,as, generally speakingtheir parents are more ambitious for them. Likewise the Eastern Europeans being educated here.
So yes, the places for grammar schools will be taken by ambitious immigrants and our own middle-class who can pay for prep schools or coaching to gain entrance.

TriciaF Thu 28-Jul-16 21:04:06

I grew up in a NE coalmining town, started GS in 1947. Nearly all the others who passed were from working class families, miners, shipbuilding workers.
We all did well, but most had to leave at 16 and go to work to support the family. No higher education.

gettingonabit Thu 28-Jul-16 21:28:42

I went to GS in South Wales, as did both my parents. Everyone was poor, and everyone got a crack at the 11+. Obviously no-one was tutored; there was no money.

As far as I can see, the GS system now only caters for those with money to tutor, who can afford to live in GS catchments. So not a level playing field.

annsixty Thu 28-Jul-16 21:31:11

I grew up in a midlands mining village Tricia and went to GS in 1948. It was one of the best things that happened to me. I learnt so much more than just academic subjects. My horizons were stretched and I became socially aware. I also had no choice about leaving at 16 as my F died in my first year at the school but I am so glad I had that chance. I have never thought comprehensives fulfilled the hope of levelling education and providing the same for all.

GrandmaMoira Thu 28-Jul-16 21:32:32

I was a grammar school girl and got a good education though like most of my age did not go on to higher education. My children passed the "London Reading Test" at Band 1, equivalent to passing the 11+ but there were no good schools to go to. Instead they had to attend a comprehensive with mixed ability classes, reading children's books at 14 and repeating primary school maths so they had little chance of higher education and a good career. I strongly believe grammar schools should be available to those with the appropriate academic ability and it is not elitist to want bright to be educated to their ability.

Tegan Thu 28-Jul-16 21:56:56

I think academic ability is often due to the ratio of teachers to pupils, though.

daphnedill Thu 28-Jul-16 22:15:20

I mark GCSE papers and a very high percentage of grammar children candidates have Hindu or Chinese-sounding names. I also know that not all grammar schools candidates produce excellent results. Comprehensive school candidates obviously have a wider range, but the ones at the the top are just as good as any grammar or independent school.

London schools have improved greatly over the last ten years. On average, they produce some of the highest results in the country.

daphnedill Thu 28-Jul-16 22:16:09

Why would anybody want to introduce a system which condemns 80% to secondary moderns?

daphnedill Thu 28-Jul-16 22:18:29

I meant 'grammar school candidates'.

Lillie Thu 28-Jul-16 22:21:38

I'm not sure we should measure everything by academic achievement and a bright child will do well what ever type of school he /she attends.

I went to an inner London comprehensive and learnt more about life than was probably appropriate for my age. I have no idea how I came to be Head Girl and went on to study at a top university ... I can't remember being pushed or working very hard. The only difference between me and the GS or private students at university was that I had a "bad" accent.

I agree with Tegan that class size plays the biggest part, and today teaching in many schools is more like crowd control.

Lillie Thu 28-Jul-16 22:22:44

Echoing Daphne here! X post.

Coolgran65 Thu 28-Jul-16 22:28:48

I went to secondary school plus two years at a 'tech' to do secretariat certificates. Totally working class.
My son passed his 11+ without tutoring, went to gs and is now a Phd. His gs is 5th in the league for NI.
No way do I see the grammar schools in our area as being for the privileged. At the time my then DH was ill, unemployed, I worked part time,, and we were in receipt of benefits,

Coolgran65 Thu 28-Jul-16 22:32:19

The f2f of a close friend went to a comprehensive school, did A levels and uni. She is now teaching, is head of dept, is on the board of governors of two schools, and heading for vice principal.
Ability and determination.

Coolgran65 Thu 28-Jul-16 22:33:37

f2f = dd

daphnedill Thu 28-Jul-16 23:03:09

The situation in NI is different from England, where there is a patchwork of provision. Some counties, such as Kent, have a traditional system with grammar schools for about 20% and secondary moderns (which they call 'comprehensives' but aren't) for the rest. Other areas, such as Essex, have just four grammar schools, which makes them highly competitive and, until the rules were changed a couple of years ago, attracted pupils from a huge radius.

My children were the first in my direct family not to go to grammar or independent school. They went to the local comprehensive and both have excelled academically, taken part in all sorts of extra-curricular activities, made good friends and are (relatively) sane with good social skills. I couldn't ask for more.

varian Thu 28-Jul-16 23:23:18

The people who want to bring back grammar schools never seem to consider that their own children or grandchildren might end up in a secondary modern

daphnedill Thu 28-Jul-16 23:52:59

Exactly! What people forget is that the first comprehensives were in response to the rising number of white collar/middle class parents, who couldn't get their children into grammar schools nor afford independent schools.

Iam64 Fri 29-Jul-16 08:09:20

Support from me for daphnedill's approach - no to the reintroduction of grammar schools. They're elitist and put 80% of children into some nether world. Yes we can improve, we can always improve, on the system we have but not by going back to the 1940's and 50's.

Lillie Fri 29-Jul-16 08:13:10

I agree AND grammar school can be hot houses interested only in results. I would want my child to have a soul as well as a brain.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 29-Jul-16 09:43:05

No way do grammar schools make for elitism. They simply provide a good education.

Elitism comes from the nature of the child. And possibly the abilities of said kid.

There is life outside of school.

daphnedill Fri 29-Jul-16 09:55:30

Comprehensive schools also provide a good education.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 29-Jul-16 09:57:28

They certainly can. Especially if a child is willing to learn. And wants to.

(And there's the rub)

Anniebach Fri 29-Jul-16 10:03:11

When I was a cub mistress one thing was really upsetting. All those boys who were good friends, attended the three junior schools in the town, come 11+ And the moving up from Cubs to scouts, the msjority of boys who,passed the 11+ went onto scouts, the boys who failed and went to the sec mod , try dropped out of scouting , happened every year, friendships ended , the sec mod boys knew as soon as they failed that exam they were on a different life path to their friends who passed this vile examination .

My three grandchildren attended the local comp, youngest still there doing A levels, grandson went to university , a1st in economics, elder granddaughter at same university and doing fine, third grandchild hopes to get in the same university next year.