Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

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The NSC
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Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby The NSC » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:23 pm

Having given up 3 years of my life from 2009 to help open one of the early free schools (campaign tagline: ‘a local comp for ALL’) and then lost the family home in the process (so much for Big Society), am I the only one now appalled at the retrograde step that grammars will bring?

Selection of the few means rejection of the many.

So on what basis does Theresa May talk of ‘equality of opportunity’? This is pure Orwellian DoubleSpeak and SnakeOil given her plans for ‘selective education’ (which by its very definition cannot deliver equal opportunity). Grammars will do nothing to improve Social Mobility and in turn will reinforce an ongoing vicious Poverty Cycle. We do indeed live in a world of #PostTruthPolitics.

Grammars were neither in the manifesto nor did I vote for Nick Timothy's beard. Using the free school policy to backdoor the grammars is disingenuous at best. And there is no evidence that grammars improve Social Mobility. It’s a scandal.

Is the Nasty Party back (playing to its voter base)? Disraeli will be spinning in his grave.

PS, The solution? A ‘grammar stream’ in existing state schools. There is for example precedent for this model at Swindon Academy.

2009Kat
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby 2009Kat » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:22 pm

I am saddened to hear they are pushing ahead with this - why not put the funding into existing schools to raise standards and repair crumbling infrastructure? We already have enough educational apartheid in this country.

Bunnypigeon1
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby Bunnypigeon1 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:34 pm

Why shouldn't the brightest and most motivated students from families who cannot afford private schools have access to the same calibre education? Where is the incentive to try harder if it leads nowhere? Equality for all shouldn't mean the best just have to go along with the mainstream. I apologise if I have differing views here, but I'm all for this.

The NSC
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby The NSC » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:13 pm

BP1

I said equality of opportunity not equality for all. They are two different things. That aside, I don't disagree with you. No one wants a race to the bottom. So what if we introduced a 'grammar stream' to existing state schools? Following in a recent press article by a governor from Swindon Academy where they have introduced this. Point is no segregation, its all done in the same local state school.

"Good schools all stream their pupils to some extent, at least for the big subjects like maths, English and science, and this isn’t regarded as an insult to comprehensive education.

Back to Swindon Academy where they do stream their pupils but where they have also just introduced a ‘Grammar Stream’. This allows children who have put Swindon Academy as their first choice the opportunity to take a test to be entered into the Grammar Stream. Those that are successful, have a regular academic and EBacc curriculum including Latin lessons at Marlborough College which partners and supports the school.

Sport, music, drama and other extra-curricular activities are undertaken with the rest of the school, as are meals and assemblies.

Having a Grammar Stream as part of a comprehensive offer seems to me to offer the best of both worlds. There’s no cliff edge exam at 11-Plus, and the Grammar Stream is porous with pupils able to move in and out of it where progress dictates. There’s no segregation on the bus routes, no segregation by school-blazer, just streaming with an aspirational flavour."

Forget the specifics about Latin, Marlborough etc, why couldn't that generic model work to the benefit of all local kids? Why segregate them?

Theresa May and her unelected SPADs are harking back to their own education experience decades ago. But the country has changed. The re-introduction of grammars will for example leave white working class boys falling even further behind. And so the Poverty Cycle grinds on. Its wreckless.

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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby Bunnypigeon1 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:26 pm

The main difference that I can see, having done plenty of volunteering in inner city schools, is that in mixed ability schools very often those who are smartest and most motivated, and therefore more likely to be in this 'grammar stream,' have to put up with social suicide. Clever and motivated kids are subject to teasing at best, outright bullying at worst. It will never be the same as having a school full of like minded students and parents who are all focused on the same end result, and to think that grammar streams can deliver this is, in my opinion, overly optimistic. I think the real thing that needs to be addressed is the structural / cultural reasons why certain groups fall behind. Why are white working class boys so far behind, for example, the children of asian and oriental families? Schools can only do so much, a lot has to start and come from the home.

The NSC
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby The NSC » Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:18 pm

BP1

I've also been to plenty of inner city schools inc a local PRU. To assume/imply that the majority of 'lower class' parents don't also want the best outcomes for their kids is unfortunate. Cutting them off because of the 'bad apples' is wrong. Segregating these aspirational kids who cannot afford the tutoring for grammars cannot be a long term solution to the inequality of our education system. Finland historically has one of the best performing education sectors in the world for example. They have no grammars or private schools. Their system is based on "protecting and enhancement of equity and equality in education." Theresa May dropping a few breadcrumbs to FSM kids with the proposed grammars is as pointless as it is cynical. Those FSM kids will get crushed in the stampede of middle class parents getting DD1/DS2 into the shiny new grammar.

papinian
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby papinian » Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:47 pm

Grammar schools are unnecessary and undesirable.

If Theresa May and Justine Greening had children of their own they would not have the ridiculous and dogmatic attitude in favour of them that they are exhibiting. David Cameron, Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan were all very dubious about grammar schools - and all sent their children to state schools (including state secondaries in the case of Cameron and Gove).

It really disturbs me that someone like May, whose last experience of the U.K. school system was in the early 1970s, is driving this forward when it was not in the Conservatives' general election manifesto.

There are many problems with the English education system, in particular the ridiculously narrow A levels which means that the vast majority of even good students drop modern foreign languages at 16, which are obvious to those of us who come from other countries. Allowing new grammar schools will not solve them.

Bunnypigeon1
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby Bunnypigeon1 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:57 pm

The differences between the finish education setup and ours is vast and complex. Their entire education ethos is different and trying to emulate it here would pose an enormous social, economic, cultural and logistical challenges (much better paid and trained teachers, schooling commencing at 7, no private schools, etc etc). Therefore that comparison is akin to comparing apples with steaks.
I never assumed or implied that lower middle class parents do not want the best for their children- you extrapolated that from
me saying that cultural factors are at play when looking at the reasons why working class white boys come bottom in educational attainment (a theory I stick to). All I said is that not everyone can be the best (nor does everyone choose to push for it). For those who can, both because of hard work and motivation and / or natural ability, the system should be in place to allow them to excel. To have children who could be absolutely brilliant being brought down for the sake of bringing up the average, to me personally, is a much sadder indictement.

The NSC
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby The NSC » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:19 pm

BP1

Not extrapolation. You said the clever kids were subject to bullying and social suicide in a typical state school. The solution is that you would prefer an education system based upon ability to pay for expensive tutoring to pass the grammar test. But leaving the clever poor kids behind who cannot afford to pay. How do they get to excel? As I initially said, no equality of opportunity. Selection of the few equates to rejection of the many. There is no evidence that grammars help social mobility. If one supports grammars one opposes a fair society.

liverbird in london
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby liverbird in london » Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:37 pm

Agree with BP1 - although not impossible it is very difficult for a bright child to attain the same sparkling A* grades in a non-selective secondary state, it is certainly much more difficult because there is not the same ethos that it is "ok, even good" to be bright and get top marks. I tutor GCSE maths to several children in secondary state schools (not grammar schools) in SW London and it is depressing to hear first-hand of the truly atrocious behaviour and attitude of some students in these schools. Paper being thrown around classrooms, teachers being verbally abused and generally shouted down. It's sad that a small minority are affecting the education of many who do wish to learn. However, such teaching conditions are just not conducive to learning and a quick glance at these school's GCSE and A level results (where in the latter A* in maths is as rare as hen's teeth).

I think a grammar stream within a comprehensive or academy type school is an interesting idea, and may quite possibly be an option. However it doesn't get around your "apartheid" problem - one stream for "A students" and another stream for the rest...

PS I love Papinian's comment about Gove / Cameron sending their children to secondary state schools - I hardly think Grey Coat Hospital School (or indeed the London Oratory School, where Blair and Clegg sent their little darlings) - with their double digit Oxbridge high achievers are comparable to the local comprehensive that most people have on their doorstep.

The NSC
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby The NSC » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:08 pm

The established Academy providers like Ark and Harris have a pretty much zero tolerance policy to the low level class disruption that you allude to. But on the whole we need more teachers on better pay. The govt should perhaps raid the welfare budget to fund this. And at a local level greater middle class parental engagement with their community school. The long term solution cannot be to segregate the 'haves' and 'have nots' based on class but not ability. My reference to apartheid was about separate schools, buildings and blazers. A 'grammar stream' per local school would mitigate that. For example, same sports teams, all the kids would dine together etc. Schools already stream/set.
Last edited by The NSC on Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

papinian
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby papinian » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:20 pm

liverbird: I'm not in favour of grammar schools. I am in favour of streaming. With London secondary schools admitting 150-220 pupils a year on average it should be possible to stream them sensibly. Advantages over a grammar school system include:
- more children can attend schools that are nearer to them, reducing journey times and traffic
- children who are good at maths and bad at English or vice versa can be in different streams for different subjects - same point applies more widely
- children know that if they work hard it may be possible to move up to a higher stream - something that is not possible in grammar schools

The world of today is completely different from that of the early 1970s when grammar schools were (largely) phased out. Then maybe 20% of children attended grammar schools or equivalent (although it varied quite a lot from one local authority). By comparison in Germany, which still operates a grammar school system, about 30% of secondary pupils go to gymnasiums (grammar school equivalent) and that percentage gets close to 40% in some areas such as parts of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

I don't see how grammar schools are going to solve discipline issues in London schools. They may confine most of the discipline issues to the non-grammar schools but they won't make them go away. We can't just write off the 70-80% of pupils who will attend those non-grammar schools.

I'm a small "c" conservative. If grammar schools were the norm today I wouldn't be rushing to abolish them. Their abolition in the 1970s damaged the educational prospects of a generation - schools were shut down/merged and continuity and traditions were lost. That's exactly the reason why I wouldn't propose to bring them back today. They won't solve the discipline issue or any other issue.

I completely agree with Bunnypidgeon that the reason white English boys do so badly at school is the culture among the white English working class and schools can only do so much, a lot has to start and come from the home. Unfortunately, particular post-referendum people are unwilling or afraid to say that the white English working class needs to take responsibility for the consequences of its actions rather than blaming immigrants, etc.

liverbird in london
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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby liverbird in london » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:23 am

Papinian, believe me I have no wish to write off 70 - 80% of children who don't go to academies. I am also 100% pro-streaming. My post was merely to point out that it is much easier to be "academic" in a school (whether that's private or grammar) where the majority of students are of a similar mindset.

Although I tutor maths, I really would much prefer students not to need external tutoring but rather that they grasped maths concepts in the classroom. But the sad reality is (and I'm talking about a top maths stream here, not a "lower ability" set) the feedback I get from some of my students is that the teacher is having to spend a good proportion of their time controlling the class.

Whether any of us like it or not, the top universities still seek candidates with top grades and I think it's a real shame that there are very bright (untutored) children from working class families that are not realising their academic potential because a) they don't have a "love of learning" instilled in their home and b) they are
casualties of a general malaise of "being clever is not cool" that exists amongst some of their peer group.

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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby liverbird in london » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:24 am

Sorry, obviously meant 70 - 80% of children who do go to academies (i.e. not grammar schools).

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Re: Grammar Schools: educational apartheid?

Postby Scottov » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:16 am

I find the arguments against grammar schools somewhat hysterical and nonsensical.

firstly they never went away, there are a large number of them in somerset, dorset & wiltshire amongst other places.

presumably those who do not believe in selective education also believe streaming doesn't exist?

identification for talent exists in all sorts of ways, whether sport, music etc. society does move forward when those with talent are nurtured, and advocating against the identification and nurturing of talent is arguing for a race to the bottom.

a true meritocracy doesn't fear streaming or selection, and should want those of ability without means to be given every chance to flourish. the private sector do a good job of this through extensive bursary and scholarship programmes but they can't (and shouldn't) do it alone.


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