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Source: (consider it) Thread: Educational elitism
mr cheesy
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So let's try to unpack this idea that one shouldn't be considering one's own child over-and-above everyone else's child.

Imagine you are in an African village. You happen to be in an unusual situation whereby you can afford to send your child to a secondary school. Is the argument that you shouldn't make this choice for your family because you can't pay for every child in the village?

Is that mentality the same for everything else? I shouldn't be able to pay for decent sanitation and clean water unless I can afford to pay for everyone? I shouldn't be able to have a car unless everyone can have a car?

If not, then what's the difference?

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Doc Tor
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But in that case, you're not heaping disadvantages on those who can't afford it. Most of us here are arguing - actually just stating, since there's no real counter-argument - that Grammars deliberately disadvantage those who, for whatever reason, can't get in.

Also. Terrible analogies. Talk about the actual thing. It's not difficult.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
But in that case, you're not heaping disadvantages on those who can't afford it. Most of us here are arguing - actually just stating, since there's no real counter-argument - that Grammars deliberately disadvantage those who, for whatever reason, can't get in.

In what sense does having a car not disadvantage those who don't? I might be able to get to a better job than the person who has to use public transport?

quote:
Also. Terrible analogies. Talk about the actual thing. It's not difficult.
Right, because the examples are difficult, they're obviously terrible. Rather than in education where the actual thing is an easy choice.

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Doc Tor
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No, the examples don't have to do with the state of education in England. They're not difficult: they're irrelevant.

But t's not difficult to see how the presence of a Grammar deliberately - knowingly and in measurable ways - affects the education of the children who don't get in. Either you acknowledge that, and say you don't care, or you deny the facts and we can draw our conclusions thusly.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
No, the examples don't have to do with the state of education in England. They're not difficult: they're irrelevant.

That's the nature of thinking about parallel examples. It isn't irrelevant if it clarifies how the argument works with education by using examples that are not education.

Obviously. Feel free to not get involved.

quote:
But t's not difficult to see how the presence of a Grammar deliberately - knowingly and in measurable ways - affects the education of the children who don't get in. Either you acknowledge that, and say you don't care, or you deny the facts and we can draw our conclusions thusly.
Just making the same argument again - without any recourse to facts or anything resembling reasoning - is not helping.

The only data presented in this debate was by me and which suggested that grammar school children improve by 5 grades and non-grammar school children slip by one grade.

I'm not sure this is particularly useful or accurate, but it is a damn sight better than constantly parading your opinions as fact and then refusing to actually discuss the morality of your position because - according to you - it is plainly obvious.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
It isn't my fault that the paper you linked to reported on grammar schools that were better resourced. You've also made clear, from information on Gloucester, that where grammar schools don't receive a significant resource advantage that the local comprehensives are considered the better schools.

It certainly isn't my fault that you can't find studies which meet your idiosyncratic standards for comparison, particularly given I found the paper in question in response to your claim that you didn't know of any relevant studies.
It's not very idiosyncratic if the question is "are selective schools better than non-selective?". (leaving aside for the moment what we mean by "better").

If someone was to come along and demonstrate that better resourced schools (better buildings, more books, smaller classes, more motivated and generally happy with their job teachers etc) produce better exam results (as a proxy for educational quality) than poorer resourced schools I wouldn't expect anyone to go "wow! that's a surprise". It is pretty much undeniable that better resourcing leads to better schools.

Therefore, if we want to actually compare selective with non-selective education we need to account for any differences in resourcing. The simplest way being to only consider schools with similar levels of resourcing. That's rather elementary to the design of any study - as far as possible only change one variable at a time. That hardly seems idiosyncratic to me.

OK, I'll accept that it may be a very difficult, if not impossible, standard to meet. Which may explain why I don't know of any such studies (I admit, I haven't had time to search very hard).

We have plenty of anecdotal evidence presented here that where grammar schools are better resourced that would be the preference for most parents wanting the best possible education for their children. And, anedotal evidence that where grammar schools are not better resourced then the preference for most parents wanting the best possible education for their children would be one of the good local comprehensives. I don't think that addresses the question, because all it really shows is that quality follows resources.

However, if selection is significantly better than comprehensive education then I would expect equally resourced schools to do better if they were selective rather then not, indeed maybe even to do as well or better if less well resourced than comprehensive equivalents. I've not found any study showing that, admittedly with little time to look. But, maybe over the next few days I'll find some time to delve into the literature, or even have a look at some raw data (eg: exam result tables for economically similar areas where the only difference is whether the education system is selective or comprehensive, hopefully being able to identify areas where selective education is not accompanied by significant variations in resourcing between grammars and non-grammars).

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
But t's not difficult to see how the presence of a Grammar deliberately - knowingly and in measurable ways - affects the education of the children who don't get in. Either you acknowledge that, and say you don't care, or you deny the facts and we can draw our conclusions thusly.
Just making the same argument again - without any recourse to facts or anything resembling reasoning - is not helping.

The only data presented in this debate was by me and which suggested that grammar school children improve by 5 grades and non-grammar school children slip by one grade.

Exactly. The only evidence presented, by you, shows that the presence of a Grammar school adversely affects the grades of those who don't get in. Which is what Doc Tor said, and you took objection to because it wasn't backed by facts.

OK, perhaps you were objecting to the "deliberately - knowingly and in measurable ways", which I agree is more difficult to prove. The motivation behind an action is a lot harder to demonstrate than the effects of that action.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:

If someone was to come along and demonstrate that better resourced schools (better buildings, more books, smaller classes, more motivated and generally happy with their job teachers etc) produce better exam results (as a proxy for educational quality) than poorer resourced schools I wouldn't expect anyone to go "wow! that's a surprise". It is pretty much undeniable that better resourcing leads to better schools.

It is deniable. Some of the "best resourced" schools are the worst. Because of the whole Academy programme which poured money and resources into failing schools.

Yours is therefore a fools errand. The best schools are not the best funded/resourced. The worst schools are not the worst funded/resourced.

This isn't surprising. And you've not taken account of the fact that grammars in a place like Kent (which contains a high proportion of the grammars in England) take students from a very wide area, and therefore isn't anything comparable to a comprehensive that has a catchment comprising of a large area of deprivation.

You can't compare the things you want to compare because the things you want to compare are totally different and therefore not easy to compare.

What is certainly true is that the poorest are under-represented in grammar schools. Nobody is denying that, and I've said all along that this is a bad thing.

But it must also be true that a child who is able to get to a grammar school from a deprived estate has a better chance at upwards social mobility than being forced to attend a poor local comprehensive that all the middle class parents are avoiding. What argument are you using against that point?

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Jane R
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mr cheesy:
quote:
So let's try to unpack this idea that one shouldn't be considering one's own child over-and-above everyone else's child.
Obviously my child's welfare is more important to me than any other person's child, but that does not mean I would be happy to stand by and watch these hypothetical other children being thrown under a bus.

quote:
Imagine you are in an African village...
I don't need to. In the (English) village I live in, there's effectively a choice of three secondary schools. The one we're in the official catchment area for has a very bad reputation and has just been reorganised after going into special measures. Most parents try to get their children a place somewhere else.

[ 19. September 2016, 14:34: Message edited by: Jane R ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
I don't need to. In the (English) village I live in, there's effectively a choice of three secondary schools. The one we're in the official catchment area for has a very bad reputation and has just been reorganised after going into special measures. Most parents try to get their children a place somewhere else.

Thank you Jane. So do you feel morally obliged to send your child to the school with a bad reputation?

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Some of the "best resourced" schools are the worst. Because of the whole Academy programme which poured money and resources into failing schools.

And, I've said that "resourcing" isn't just about current spending, even recent spending. There's a legacy effect of decades of spending decisions. Recent initiatives to attempt to turn around "failing schools" are laudable (the particular implementation may not be perfect, but what is perfect?). But, quite often these schools failed because of decades of under resourcing, so the new funds need to produce a lot of catch-up - almost certainly including structure of the buildings, new equipment, as previously noted the school may have been built without adequate sports facilities (or had sports fields sold off) that may be impossible to rectify. And, the legacy persists in expectations as well. Parents in those catchments are living with a community acceptance that these are "bad schools", even after improvements mean that's no longer the case. Which as you note, does mean those able to do so move to different catchments. The reputation of a school is a part of the "resources" the school has - something that works the other way too, a good reputation helps a school that would otherwise be sliding down in assessments of quality.

quote:
But it must also be true that a child who is able to get to a grammar school from a deprived estate has a better chance at upwards social mobility than being forced to attend a poor local comprehensive that all the middle class parents are avoiding. What argument are you using against that point?
My argument all along has been that there should be resources made available (in the community as well as the schools) so that there are no poor local comprehensives. If upwards social mobility results from good grades at GCSE/Standard and A level/Higher, and attendance at university, then there should be no reason why the local comprehensive is unable to facilitate that.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
So do most secondary schools, leo. Lots of 11-16 secondary schools. Not that many 6th forms in schools in some parts of the country.

I have always refused to work anywhere without A'level. It encourages teachers to keep their knowledge up to date.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
OK, perhaps you were objecting to the "deliberately - knowingly and in measurable ways", which I agree is more difficult to prove. The motivation behind an action is a lot harder to demonstrate than the effects of that action.

I think that once someone's pointed it out - using the other person's data - then it does become 'deliberate'.

Where we live, we don't have Grammars. But we do have a partially-selective 'Christian ethos' Academy. The CE Academy is officially allowed to select about 10% of its pupils, and unofficially it excludes a lot more of the problem kids, both at entry and throughout the years. Consequently, its demographic make-up is quite unlike the area it serves.

32% of pupils of secondary age in the area attract the pupil premium. The CE Academy has just 8% of pupils on PP. My kids' school has just over 50% because the CE Academy won't have them. Why won't they have them? Because their presence might affect their status as an academically high-performing school.

This is pretty much exactly how Grammar schools work now, and would work in the future. We pick off the kids from the middle class families, plus a few of those from the poor families who actually make it on merit. And then we can act all surprised when the school does well in a league table based solely on exam results.

This is not rocket science, mr cheesy. This is simple statistics, and they're exactly the same statistics you're using.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
So do most secondary schools, leo. Lots of 11-16 secondary schools. Not that many 6th forms in schools in some parts of the country.

I have always refused to work anywhere without A'level. It encourages teachers to keep their knowledge up to date.
You'd struggle to find a place to teach around here.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I think that once someone's pointed it out - using the other person's data - then it does become 'deliberate'.

Where we live, we don't have Grammars. But we do have a partially-selective 'Christian ethos' Academy. The CE Academy is officially allowed to select about 10% of its pupils, and unofficially it excludes a lot more of the problem kids, both at entry and throughout the years. Consequently, its demographic make-up is quite unlike the area it serves.

That's nothing like a grammar, though is it?

10% selection is nothing like 100% selection.

quote:
32% of pupils of secondary age in the area attract the pupil premium. The CE Academy has just 8% of pupils on PP. My kids' school has just over 50% because the CE Academy won't have them. Why won't they have them? Because their presence might affect their status as an academically high-performing school.
Well that's now mixing two completely different things together and then pulling them out and shouting "aha! see, I told you so!"

No grammar school I know actively selects against children on the pupil premium. In fact I know of several who would be a lot better off if they could get more children on the pupil premium.

The issue is that children on the pupil premium and free school dinners either don't get to sit the grammar school test or don't pass the test when they should pass on merit. That's a systemic problem with no easy solution, but I fail to see how that's actually somehow miraculously a grammar school's fault when there are plenty of comprehensive schools which draw their catchment areas to avoid the "worst" areas - which is something by definition grammar schools cannot do.

quote:
This is pretty much exactly how Grammar schools work now, and would work in the future. We pick off the kids from the middle class families, plus a few of those from the poor families who actually make it on merit. And then we can act all surprised when the school does well in a league table based solely on exam results.
Sorry, who is acting surprised? In fact, what the hell do you think it is that you're proving with this flight of fantasy?

quote:
This is not rocket science, mr cheesy. This is simple statistics, and they're exactly the same statistics you're using.
What exactly are you talking about?

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mr cheesy
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Grammar schools indirectly selects against bright students who do not have supportive parents. Comprehensives directly select against pupils who live in the wrong catchment.

I'm failing to see why the latter is better than the former. It isn't.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
No grammar school I know actively selects against children on the pupil premium. In fact I know of several who would be a lot better off if they could get more children on the pupil premium.

*cocks gun* *aims into fish-barrel*

quote:
The issue is that children on the pupil premium and free school dinners either don't get to sit the grammar school test or don't pass the test when they should pass on merit.
*boom*

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:


quote:
The issue is that children on the pupil premium and free school dinners either don't get to sit the grammar school test or don't pass the test when they should pass on merit.
*boom*

This is supposed to be a reasoned argument, is it?

[ 19. September 2016, 15:29: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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arse

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Doc Tor
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Well, you're the one making it. You tell me.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Well, you're the one making it. You tell me.

Right, so you get to play games.

Whaddever.

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arse

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Doc Tor
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So, seriously. You say "Grammars don't exclude on the basis of pupil premium", then give the exact reason why the system that splits children at age 11 is prejudiced against children on the pupil premium.

I am in awe of your cognitive dissonance.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
So, seriously. You say "Grammars don't exclude on the basis of pupil premium", then give the exact reason why the system that splits children at age 11 is prejudiced against children on the pupil premium.

I am in awe of your cognitive dissonance.

The system is biased. Poor families often believe that grammar school "is not for them". Junior schools in poor areas often do not put their students in for the test. Poor parents often lack the educational aspirations for their children.

That's nothing to do with the grammar school - which isn't allowed to directly select against students based on whether they're on the pupil premium or, in a lot of cases, anything to do with where they live.

I'm sorry if this complexity is hard for you to grasp, I'm sure it is easier to believe that the evil nasty grammar schools just don't want the pupil premium students dirtying up the place.

[ 19. September 2016, 15:40: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
The system is biased

Yes! Yes it is!

The only reason Grammars exist is because of the biased system. Grammars literally wouldn't exist if the incredibly divisive and biased 11+ system didn't exist. Therefore, if you have Grammars, you have a biased system.

(I can keep going, but saying it's not the school's fault, it's the system, when the system results in the school, is... interesting.)

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Yes! Yes it is!

The only reason Grammars exist is because of the biased system. Grammars literally wouldn't exist if the incredibly divisive and biased 11+ system didn't exist. Therefore, if you have Grammars, you have a biased system.

(I can keep going, but saying it's not the school's fault, it's the system, when the system results in the school, is... interesting.)

Err... no, selection by attainment is not inherently biased against poor people, unless you are trying to make out that poor people are thick.

Whereas selection by geography is, almost inevitably, always biased against poor people.

I guess that must be too hard for your massive brain to compute.

[ 19. September 2016, 15:53: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Yes! Yes it is!

The only reason Grammars exist is because of the biased system. Grammars literally wouldn't exist if the incredibly divisive and biased 11+ system didn't exist. Therefore, if you have Grammars, you have a biased system.

(I can keep going, but saying it's not the school's fault, it's the system, when the system results in the school, is... interesting.)

Err... no, selection by attainment is not inherently biased against poor people, unless you are trying to make out that poor people are thick.

Whereas selection by geography is, almost inevitably, always biased against poor people.

I guess that must be too hard for your massive brain to compute.

(Protip. If you want to personally insult me, call me to Hell.)

You've already just argued that the 11+ system is biased. You've already just acknowledged that it's biased against the poor. You have nowhere to go after that, but backwards. If you want to now argue otherwise, go ahead. But those are your words, and you're free to re-read them at your leisure.

Selection by geography - catchment areas - are, for the very great part, nothing to do with the school, and to do with the council who draws up the catchment areas. It is, however, solved by extending the school, changing the catchment area, or bringing all the local comps up to the same high standard.

But if you're arguing that the 11+ is better than a network of good, local comps? No. For all the reasons you've previously stated.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
(Protip. If you want to personally insult me, call me to Hell.)

You've already just argued that the 11+ system is biased. You've already just acknowledged that it's biased against the poor. You have nowhere to go after that, but backwards. If you want to now argue otherwise, go ahead. But those are your words, and you're free to re-read them at your leisure.

I'm saying it doesn't have to be. Just as Alan's local comprehensive doesn't have to be crap, grammars don't have to be biased against the poor.

quote:
Selection by geography - catchment areas - are, for the very great part, nothing to do with the school, and to do with the council who draws up the catchment areas. It is, however, solved by extending the school, changing the catchment area, or bringing all the local comps up to the same high standard.
I'm sorry to break it to you, but it is Kent County Council which sets and administers the Kent 11-plus. Not the schools.

quote:
But if you're arguing that the 11+ is better than a network of good, local comps? No. For all the reasons you've previously stated.
It is certainly better for a smart-but-poor brainy child with supportive parents to go to a grammar than to a crap comprehensive that all the middle-class parents have abandoned.

Pro-tip: if you want a debate, try to remember to bring an actual argument rather than repeating the same guff.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
grammars don't have to be biased against the poor.

But they are, and no amount of magical thinking will ever change that. The system is biased. You said that.

quote:
I'm sorry to break it to you, but it is Kent County Council which sets and administers the Kent 11-plus. Not the schools.
The only reason the schools exist is because of Kent County Council. The schools are the result, and the evidence of, the biased system you acknowledge exists. And you're not "breaking it to me". Unsurprisingly.

quote:
It is certainly better for a smart-but-poor brainy child with supportive parents to go to a grammar than to a crap comprehensive that all the middle-class parents have abandoned.
Because of Grammar schools. Grammar schools, and the 11+ test, are the problem. But you've already said that.

[ 19. September 2016, 16:21: Message edited by: Doc Tor ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
But they are, and no amount of magical thinking will ever change that. The system is biased. You said that.

I don't think there is anything inevitable about it. It is perfectly possible for poor people to value and push their children's education up the agenda. If more of them in a place like Kent did that, then more of them would get into the grammar schools and the bias would reduce.


quote:
The only reason the schools exist is because of Kent County Council. The schools are the result, and the evidence of, the biased system you acknowledge exists. And you're not "breaking it to me". Unsurprisingly.
Yeah, it's a conspiracy. It must be, you just said it was.

Funny that. Grammar schools don't set the test in Kent, so obviously they're at fault. Grammar schools don't prevent people from taking the test, so obviously they're at fault. Grammar schools do not select against people who are on the pupil premium, so obviously they're at fault.

Surprisingly all those people who condemn poor people to going to a crappy local comprehensive school aren't at fault. I wonder why that could possibly be.

quote:
Because of Grammar schools. Grammar schools, and the 11+ test, are the problem. But you've already said that.
Crap comprehensives exist outside of grammar school areas. The test is a problem, the idea of selection is not.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
But they are, and no amount of magical thinking will ever change that. The system is biased. You said that.

I don't think there is anything inevitable about it. It is perfectly possible for poor people to value and push their children's education up the agenda. If more of them in a place like Kent did that, then more of them would get into the grammar schools and the bias would reduce.
The bias between poor and middle class would reduce. The bias between those who pass and those who fail the 11+ would be just the same.

But, what would happen if more poor kids sat the 11+, and more of them achieved the grade to get to grammar school? Well, there are a limited number of places in the grammar schools, and the middle class parents who somehow feel their kids are entitled to a "proper education" at the grammar school will be squeezed out. How will they respond? By paying more for tutors to coach their little darlings through the 11+ most likely, whatever it takes to prevent their kids ending up in the other school. The poor parents won't be able to afford tutors, so the bar for the poor kids has just gone up. Apart from a windfall for tutors, what has changed?

Or, maybe those middle class parents will get vocal and demand that there are more grammar school places so their kids have a chance of the education "they deserve". Which is, of course, what the Tories have now decided should happen. So, more children go to grammar schools. But, at what point does it then become pointless? Grammar schools were designed to select the academic elite. The top 10-15% of kids certainly count as an elite. What about 20%? 30%? when more than 50% go to grammar school, is that still an elite? Perhaps at that point you need to rethink the 11+ - instead of an examine to test academic ability for the minority of grammar school places you need a test for practical abilities to select for the minority of secondary moderns to make sure that they have the good pupils for their courses aimed at the next generation of plumbers, electricians and hairdressers. Is that getting absurd? Of course, but the 11+ as it stands is absurd already.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Funny that. Grammar schools don't set the test in Kent, so obviously they're at fault. Grammar schools don't prevent people from taking the test, so obviously they're at fault. Grammar schools do not select against people who are on the pupil premium, so obviously they're at fault.

Oh my. I can just imagine the scene in the staff room where the headmaster storms in, demanding to know where the hell all the poor kids are, and all the teachers look blankly at each other.

Okay, so I can't make you say it, but hopefully we can agree that Grammar schools are at least complicit in the system that sets the exam that selects their pupils, rather than they're victims of some bizarre social experiment where they have no idea how all these middle-class kids turn up outside their gates at the start of the school year.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
The bias between poor and middle class would reduce. The bias between those who pass and those who fail the 11+ would be just the same.

If it is a true and fair assessment of ability, that's not a bias. A child who is selected on ability to join a county athletics team is not preferentially biased against the child who is not providing the assessment is not based on spelling ability (or some other irrelevant factor). Nobody says "Oh that Mo Farah, he's a good runner but a product of a biased system" because his abilities were seen at an early age and he was given extra support to develop. Because that would be stupid; allowing people with no talent to have access to olympic training would be absurd.

quote:
But, what would happen if more poor kids sat the 11+, and more of them achieved the grade to get to grammar school? Well, there are a limited number of places in the grammar schools, and the middle class parents who somehow feel their kids are entitled to a "proper education" at the grammar school will be squeezed out. How will they respond? By paying more for tutors to coach their little darlings through the 11+ most likely, whatever it takes to prevent their kids ending up in the other school. The poor parents won't be able to afford tutors, so the bar for the poor kids has just gone up. Apart from a windfall for tutors, what has changed?
What has changed is that poor children have gotten the education that they otherwise wouldn't have. According to you, they ought to sit on their hands and wait until someone, somewhere provides them with a good comprehensive rather than applying for a grammar (or grant to attend a independent school) if one is available.

They should get all pissy and cross about the inequality but then sit there and take any shit that is dished out to them without doing anything about it. They shouldn't move, they shouldn't apply to a better school, they shouldn't find some way to get an advantage in the system.

Well bollocks to that. I support ethnic minority parents fighting for better lives for their children if necessary by paying for extra tuition. I support black supplementary schools looking to improve their children. If there was a better school available, they'd be fighting to get their kids in and not resting until they had.

quote:
Or, maybe those middle class parents will get vocal and demand that there are more grammar school places so their kids have a chance of the education "they deserve". Which is, of course, what the Tories have now decided should happen. So, more children go to grammar schools. But, at what point does it then become pointless? Grammar schools were designed to select the academic elite. The top 10-15% of kids certainly count as an elite. What about 20%? 30%? when more than 50% go to grammar school, is that still an elite? Perhaps at that point you need to rethink the 11+ - instead of an examine to test academic ability for the minority of grammar school places you need a test for practical abilities to select for the minority of secondary moderns to make sure that they have the good pupils for their courses aimed at the next generation of plumbers, electricians and hairdressers. Is that getting absurd? Of course, but the 11+ as it stands is absurd already.
See even this is a non-argument compared to the inbuilt inequalities of a system that allows students who happen to live in the tiny catchment of the Jordanhill School in Glasgow to have an excellent education whilst down the road at Drumchapel it is objectively worse.

Now you can tell me that selection is evil and bad and terrible as much as you like, but the fact in Glasgow is that some have bought themselves an excellent state education by paying £tensofthousands of housing premiums to be in the right catchment.

And personally, whatever you say about an idea of a "good local comprehensive", the reality in Scotland is that students are getting a poor deal because there is no way out of the shitty catchment they are living in. Selection is one way to offer a way out.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
If it is a true and fair assessment of ability, that's not a bias. A child who is selected on ability to join a county athletics team is not preferentially biased against the child who is not providing the assessment is not based on spelling ability (or some other irrelevant factor).

If the children who are selected for the county team all have running coaches who have spent lots of 1 on 1 time with them working on their form, run in new high-tech running shoes, and have the benefit of a couple of years of targeted coaching to increase their endurance, then despite the fact that those were the fastest children in the qualifying competitions, you might reasonably ask if there are not other children whose families don't have the time and money to provide them with new shoes and coaching, who might be as fast or faster than the ones who won the qualifiers if they had the proper coaching.
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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
According to you, they ought to sit on their hands and wait until someone, somewhere provides them with a good comprehensive rather than applying for a grammar (or grant to attend a independent school) if one is available.

There are two separate questions here. One question is "what should our education system look like?" and the other question is "what choices should the families of individual pupils make?" These aren't the same question, and the discussions in this thread are mostly addressing the first, rather than the second.

The only time the two questions meet is when we consider questions of hypocrisy (for example, when campaigners for "comprehensive-for-all" education send their children to a highly-selective grammar.)

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Pottage
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
But, what would happen if more poor kids sat the 11+, and more of them achieved the grade to get to grammar school? Well, there are a limited number of places in the grammar schools, and the middle class parents who somehow feel their kids are entitled to a "proper education" at the grammar school will be squeezed out. How will they respond? By paying more for tutors to coach their little darlings through the 11+ most likely, whatever it takes to prevent their kids ending up in the other school. The poor parents won't be able to afford tutors, so the bar for the poor kids has just gone up. Apart from a windfall for tutors, what has changed?

Actually the situation in Birmingham, which has just a handful of grammar schools gives us an insight of sorts into the situation you describe. A large majority of the schools in the city are comprehensives and the grammars are too few and too small to snaffle more than a small proportion of the most academically able children in any year group.

There are some terrible comprehensives in the city, of course, but most are rated good or outstanding. Nevertheless, the grammars remain breathtakingly popular with parents. All of them could fill their year 7 classes at least 10 times over.

And they are at least as popular with first generation immigrant parents in inner city areas as with snobbish middle class parents in the leafy suburbs. I'm a governor at a primary school in the inner city (>90% are from immigrant families, >65% never speak any English at home, >75% qualify for free school meals). I can tell you that plenty of our parents are keen on their children trying for the grammar schools even though, as it happens, the nearest comprehensive has a shiny new campus, an Ofsted rating of Outstanding in every category, and is a National Teaching School. Their local school is first rate but plenty of them want their children to go to a school where the absolute priority is academic excellence, and somehow they find the money for tutoring.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
But, what would happen if more poor kids sat the 11+, and more of them achieved the grade to get to grammar school? Well, there are a limited number of places in the grammar schools, and the middle class parents who somehow feel their kids are entitled to a "proper education" at the grammar school will be squeezed out. How will they respond? By paying more for tutors to coach their little darlings through the 11+ most likely, whatever it takes to prevent their kids ending up in the other school. The poor parents won't be able to afford tutors, so the bar for the poor kids has just gone up. Apart from a windfall for tutors, what has changed?
What has changed is that poor children have gotten the education that they otherwise wouldn't have. According to you, they ought to sit on their hands and wait until someone, somewhere provides them with a good comprehensive rather than applying for a grammar (or grant to attend a independent school) if one is available.
Would you care to address the point I actually made? I never said anything about sitting on hands and waiting. I said that if the poor kids put in the effort to take 11+ one of the effects would be that parents of richer kids would pay for tutors to increase the chances of their kids passing the 11+. Yes, a very small number of poor kids would get in on the basis of exceptional ability. But, the result would be the majority failing - while well-coached but probably less able middle class kids get in. End result, not much of a change from the situation now. Except for some wealthier tutors and a larger number of poor kids who now think of themselves as failures before they even start secondary education.

quote:
See even this is a non-argument compared to the inbuilt inequalities of a system that allows students who happen to live in the tiny catchment of the Jordanhill School in Glasgow to have an excellent education whilst down the road at Drumchapel it is objectively worse.
As you'll know, I've consistently stated on this thread that there needs to be improvements in many schools. So, you can squeak all you like about how some Glasgow schools are better than others. You could say the same about virtually every city in England as well. That isn't the issue. The issue is how to improve education across the board, so that all children get a good education, and in the process reduce the house price premium on properties near the good schools - because there would be no bad schools (only reduce, because no matter what you do some schools will always be seen as better than others).

What I've been saying all along is giving yet more money to selective education, and letting those who fail the grade just sink, is not the answer. Simply throwing money at failing schools isn't the answer either, although more money well spent targeting real issues will help. Giving parents and children in poor areas reasons to value an education is essential, which will certainly need to include places on training courses and real jobs for those who have put the effort in at school (note: reward effort, rather than necessarily grades - judge by attendance and behaviour if you need an objective measure). Improve the general social environment, remove the stigma of certain areas which creates un-escapable ghettos (the sort of thing which has local employers looking at an address and saying "I'm not employing someone from there"). I gave a fuller list earlier.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
If the children who are selected for the county team all have running coaches who have spent lots of 1 on 1 time with them working on their form, run in new high-tech running shoes, and have the benefit of a couple of years of targeted coaching to increase their endurance, then despite the fact that those were the fastest children in the qualifying competitions, you might reasonably ask if there are not other children whose families don't have the time and money to provide them with new shoes and coaching, who might be as fast or faster than the ones who won the qualifiers if they had the proper coaching.

Correct. So that's not a true and fair assessment of ability.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Would you care to address the point I actually made? I never said anything about sitting on hands and waiting. I said that if the poor kids put in the effort to take 11+ one of the effects would be that parents of richer kids would pay for tutors to increase the chances of their kids passing the 11+. Yes, a very small number of poor kids would get in on the basis of exceptional ability. But, the result would be the majority failing - while well-coached but probably less able middle class kids get in. End result, not much of a change from the situation now. Except for some wealthier tutors and a larger number of poor kids who now think of themselves as failures before they even start secondary education.

Well, see, this is exactly the inequalities that the supplementary school system is looking to address. If the middle class kids can pay for tutoring, then there are a range of responses, including setting up your own classes to improve the chances for your own children.

You can rage against the system, or you can attempt to find ways to get it to work for your interests. Personally, I prefer the latter.

quote:
As you'll know, I've consistently stated on this thread that there needs to be improvements in many schools. So, you can squeak all you like about how some Glasgow schools are better than others. You could say the same about virtually every city in England as well. That isn't the issue. [/qupte]

No. Sorry, it isn't the issue that you want to talk about but it is very much an issue that reflects on this debate. Some kids in some parts of Glasgow are condemned to go to bad state schools because of geography. That's a fact.

And in my view being selected by educational ability is far fairer and gives far more of a chance to poor bright children than selecting by geography.

Now you can say all you like that all comprehensives should be better. Bully for you. And by that token I can also say that the 11-plus should be reformed and far more effort should be made to include the poorest children in the grammar system.

To me yours is an impossible pipedream whereas including more poor children in grammars where they exist is entirely feasible.

[quote]The issue is how to improve education across the board, so that all children get a good education, and in the process reduce the house price premium on properties near the good schools - because there would be no bad schools (only reduce, because no matter what you do some schools will always be seen as better than others).

And in my view selection by ability is one way to do that. The issue is then about how to improve the education of the 80% who do not go to grammars. And instead of this stupid debate we could talk about places where they actually make this work - like Germany. But no, you just want to keep ranting about the evils of selection.

As if that's the reason poor kids are getting a shitty education. When, fairly obviously, it isn't at all.

quote:
What I've been saying all along is giving yet more money to selective education, and letting those who fail the grade just sink, is not the answer.
Who said that was the answer? Certainly not me.

quote:
Simply throwing money at failing schools isn't the answer either, although more money well spent targeting real issues will help. Giving parents and children in poor areas reasons to value an education is essential, which will certainly need to include places on training courses and real jobs for those who have put the effort in at school (note: reward effort, rather than necessarily grades - judge by attendance and behaviour if you need an objective measure). Improve the general social environment, remove the stigma of certain areas which creates un-escapable ghettos (the sort of thing which has local employers looking at an address and saying "I'm not employing someone from there"). I gave a fuller list earlier.
Agreed. And as the current education system is vastly and overwhelmingly not selective, then the grammar debate currently has almost nothing to do with this.

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ThunderBunk

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quote:
Originally posted by Pottage:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
But, what would happen if more poor kids sat the 11+, and more of them achieved the grade to get to grammar school? Well, there are a limited number of places in the grammar schools, and the middle class parents who somehow feel their kids are entitled to a "proper education" at the grammar school will be squeezed out. How will they respond? By paying more for tutors to coach their little darlings through the 11+ most likely, whatever it takes to prevent their kids ending up in the other school. The poor parents won't be able to afford tutors, so the bar for the poor kids has just gone up. Apart from a windfall for tutors, what has changed?

Actually the situation in Birmingham, which has just a handful of grammar schools gives us an insight of sorts into the situation you describe. A large majority of the schools in the city are comprehensives and the grammars are too few and too small to snaffle more than a small proportion of the most academically able children in any year group.

There are some terrible comprehensives in the city, of course, but most are rated good or outstanding. Nevertheless, the grammars remain breathtakingly popular with parents. All of them could fill their year 7 classes at least 10 times over.

And they are at least as popular with first generation immigrant parents in inner city areas as with snobbish middle class parents in the leafy suburbs. I'm a governor at a primary school in the inner city (>90% are from immigrant families, >65% never speak any English at home, >75% qualify for free school meals). I can tell you that plenty of our parents are keen on their children trying for the grammar schools even though, as it happens, the nearest comprehensive has a shiny new campus, an Ofsted rating of Outstanding in every category, and is a National Teaching School. Their local school is first rate but plenty of them want their children to go to a school where the absolute priority is academic excellence, and somehow they find the money for tutoring.

None of this selection improves education; it's sheer snobbery, and should be abolished forthwith.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Pottage:
Actually the situation in Birmingham, which has just a handful of grammar schools gives us an insight of sorts into the situation you describe. A large majority of the schools in the city are comprehensives and the grammars are too few and too small to snaffle more than a small proportion of the most academically able children in any year group.

Do you think there is any benefit to the children who do not get into the grammars in taking and/or being tutored for the test? Do you think that there is an effect on the non-grammars of having parents who want their children to succeed (as shown by them wanting a grammar school education)?

quote:
There are some terrible comprehensives in the city, of course, but most are rated good or outstanding. Nevertheless, the grammars remain breathtakingly popular with parents. All of them could fill their year 7 classes at least 10 times over.
So are you saying that the small number of grammar school places is having a negative effect on the other schools because the brightest are being removed?

quote:
And they are at least as popular with first generation immigrant parents in inner city areas as with snobbish middle class parents in the leafy suburbs. I'm a governor at a primary school in the inner city (>90% are from immigrant families, >65% never speak any English at home, >75% qualify for free school meals). I can tell you that plenty of our parents are keen on their children trying for the grammar schools even though, as it happens, the nearest comprehensive has a shiny new campus, an Ofsted rating of Outstanding in every category, and is a National Teaching School. Their local school is first rate but plenty of them want their children to go to a school where the absolute priority is academic excellence, and somehow they find the money for tutoring.
This, exactly. The one group who are not achieving at the moment are white working class boys, largely because there is little pressure from within the community to seek high educational attainment for their children.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
None of this selection improves education; it's sheer snobbery, and should be abolished forthwith.

I'm not sure snobbishness explains why poor ethnic minority parents are wanting grammar school education for their children in Birmingham, does it?

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Correct. So that's not a true and fair assessment of ability.

Your challenge now is to design a "true and fair assessment of ability" for which spending time and money on coaching and test preparation isn't relevant.

Good luck.

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ThunderBunk

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
None of this selection improves education; it's sheer snobbery, and should be abolished forthwith.

I'm not sure snobbishness explains why poor ethnic minority parents are wanting grammar school education for their children in Birmingham, does it?
Yes, in that I mean purely social, non-educational one-upmanship.

Snobbery is not a purely caucasian activity.

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
Does anyone really think secondary modern schools are better than comprehensives? That is the other side of selective education and something like four or five times as many will attend these as will be able to attend a grammar school.

I've yet to see any arguments in favour of secondary moderns, but I'd like some advocates of grammars to provide some by way of evenhandedness.

I've no intention of defending any school or school system that writes off children as not worth teaching, and does not aspire to give all of its pupils the best education it can. So if "secondary moderns" to you means "those crappy schools where we dump the kids who didn't make the grade at 11" then they are truly indefensible.

But I'm going to assume that that you mean "the schools that select for an ability range below the top 20% or so", with no more connotation of being shit than describing a school as a grammar, comp, independent, or whatever school implies that it is shit. There are poor schools in any category - that doesn't make them all bad. Why should a school that teaches the 'bottom' 80% of the population necessarily be a bad school?


A couple of years ago, I tried, without much success, to help a friend's daughter prepare for her Maths GCSE. She's not stupid by any means (she's rather bright and highly responsible - I'd trust her to look after my kids), but she was struggling, and when I tried to work through some basic exercises, it became clear that she had almost no understanding of anything she'd been taught. Her school was only putting her in for the Foundation papers, which meant the highest grade she could get would be a C, but she hadn't learned anything beyond the most basic arithmetic, and was cripplingly lacking in confidence even in that. She'd spent four and a half years at secondary school chewing her pencil through maths lessons in which the teacher might as well have been speaking Mandarin for all the good it did her, and had never had any sort of extra support or tuition in school to bring her up to speed.

I don't think she was helped much by having moved schools because of bullying issues, but all the same, she'd been failed badly. And these were not shitty comprehensives, but well-regarded schools in a middle class area. Possibly (it fits the facts) she was a victim of the "five Cs" statistic - the effort needed to bring her up to C standard would be considerable, and uncertain of outcome, and the teachers' time may have 'more productively' deployed on two or three promising D graders. I don't know. There's no earthly reason why this girl couldn't, with patience, have been helped to understand, and get a C grade or even better (there was nothing wrong with her brain), but she'd just been left alone to fail.

Would she have done better in a school which had teachers who were ready, willing and able to teach to the level of 11 year olds who hadn't learned their times tables and were just getting the hang of number bonds to 10, and could give her the mental tools to get that and then start to make sense of long multiplication or simple algebra? Undoubtedly. Absolutely no question. But she'd learned literally nothing from a comprehensive maths education, because she fell below the average level of understanding in a mixed ability class, and no one ever tried to teach to her actual level.

And yes, I'm well aware that the people on this thread with teaching experience are going to tell me that they would never let that happen in their school. I'm sure it wouldn't. The fact is, though, it did happen, in two good comprehensives, and there's no need for it. Absolutely no need. There's no reason why she couldn't have had an appropriately focussed education and better selection might have delivered that. Comprehensive education didn't.

Selection isn't just for the brightest. Everyone will benefit from teaching aimed at their range of understanding. And yes, you can "stream" or "set" within a school, but the more selective your school is, the more focussed those sets can be. The argument against it seems to be that putting a child in a non-elite establishment automatically brands him or her a failure for life. But it doesn't have to be that way. It isn't that way in the private sector: there are some academically superb private schools, and a whole range of graduations down from there - and every pupil who gets a place at a third or fourth tier school still feels that they've achieved something. It isn't that way at university level, either. There are elite universities - but getting a place at any of the rest can still feel good. Why assume state selective schools below the top tier have to be regarded as shit?

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Pottage
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# 9529

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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
None of this selection improves education; it's sheer snobbery, and should be abolished forthwith.

I'm not sure snobbishness explains why poor ethnic minority parents are wanting grammar school education for their children in Birmingham, does it?
Yes, in that I mean purely social, non-educational one-upmanship.

Snobbery is not a purely caucasian activity.

Indeed it isn't. But parents are trying to get their children into the limited number of grammar school places for a variety of reasons and snobbishness is only one of them. Some parents think their children will thrive in a school where the overriding emphasis is on academic achievement, even if the alternative is an outstanding school with good results.
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Eliab
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# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
I said that if the poor kids put in the effort to take 11+ one of the effects would be that parents of richer kids would pay for tutors to increase the chances of their kids passing the 11+. [...] End result, not much of a change from the situation now. Except for some wealthier tutors and a larger number of poor kids who now think of themselves as failures before they even start secondary education.

You recognise that one effect of selection is that it might make parents, rich and poor, take an active involvement in their children's education and don't see that as a good thing?

And preparing a child for the 11+ doesn't need to be beyond anyone's means. Specimen papers can be found on line for free. We still have public libraries in some parts of the country. You can fill a carrier bag with children's books for a fiver in most charity shops. Time and encouragement and aspiration are no less available to the poor than the rich. Of course being rich has some advantages - that's what "rich" means - but there's a big difference between being allowed to sit an exam for your preferred school, and being prevented from meaningfully applying for it at all because your parents could never afford to move into the catchment area.

quote:
What I've been saying all along is giving yet more money to selective education, and letting those who fail the grade just sink, is not the answer.
Straw man. No one is suggesting that we let those who fail to make the grade sink.

I want excellent schools for everyone - just as you do. My reason for supporting a variety of state provision which includes selective and non-selective options is that I want to give more families the sort of choice that at the moment you can only make if you have money.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
I said that if the poor kids put in the effort to take 11+ one of the effects would be that parents of richer kids would pay for tutors to increase the chances of their kids passing the 11+. [...] End result, not much of a change from the situation now. Except for some wealthier tutors and a larger number of poor kids who now think of themselves as failures before they even start secondary education.

You recognise that one effect of selection is that it might make parents, rich and poor, take an active involvement in their children's education and don't see that as a good thing?
Yes, that's a good thing. Possibly the only good thing. But, except for a very few, it's going to be an involvement that doesn't achieve the intention of getting a grammar school place. The other problem is that it's possibly short lived - get the kids past the 11+, will that involvement continue much beyond then? Especially as the children progress through school. And the parents, trapped in a sink estate, would quite likely not to have received a good education themselves and so struggle with GCSE maths or history anyway.

I would like to know what better ways there are of involving parents.

quote:
And preparing a child for the 11+ doesn't need to be beyond anyone's means. Specimen papers can be found on line for free. We still have public libraries in some parts of the country. You can fill a carrier bag with children's books for a fiver in most charity shops. Time and encouragement and aspiration are no less available to the poor than the rich.
It takes quite a lot of time and dedication to help children through extra homework (which is what it would look like), and there's always the question of whether parents with limited academic achievement (likely to be the case for many parents unable to escape sink estates) are going to be able to help their children through the 11+. Certainly they're going to struggle more than middle class parents, much more likely to have got decent grades at school or university education, and with the money to pay someone if needed.

Basically, it seems like offering the chance of a grammar school place to the poor has some elements akin to the lottery. It puts a hope out there, but only a lucky few will achieve it. The rest will keep forking out for tickets, and never get anywhere.

quote:

quote:
What I've been saying all along is giving yet more money to selective education, and letting those who fail the grade just sink, is not the answer.
Straw man. No one is suggesting that we let those who fail to make the grade sink.
Yet, the Tory government is advocating expanding the grammar school system. If they're also going to provide additional money to support this expansion without taking money away from other schools I'll eat my hat. Thus, those failing schools, and the children they teach, aren't going to get any help from this plan. To me, that looks very much letting those who fail just sink. I appreciate that the views expressed here are not those of the government.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
The system is biased. Poor families often believe that grammar school "is not for them". Junior schools in poor areas often do not put their students in for the test. Poor parents often lack the educational aspirations for their children.

That's nothing to do with the grammar school

It's nothing to do with the system either. It's to do with the families and junior schools. It doesn't matter what system you have if they don't want to engage with it.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
It's nothing to do with the system either. It's to do with the families and junior schools. It doesn't matter what system you have if they don't want to engage with it.

It is absolutely to do with the system in Kent, both in doing nothing when children in poor areas are not entered for the test and in not engaging with junior school parents to include them.

It certainly is an issue about parents and junior schools, but I'd say that is evidence of systematic failure with no evidence of anyone doing anything significant about it. As I've noted above, parents from ethnic minorities have set up supplementary schools and other support systems to address the imbalances in education. But in Kent, where there are few ethnic minorities in the poorest parts, poor white people do not organise in that way.

I'd also point to the relatively high proportion of children from Eastern European backgrounds in East Kent, and the fact that there appears to be absolutely no effort to include them in the provision of public services they could and should access. That's another systematic failure which wouldn't happen in areas with non-white minorities.

But that's Kent. It isn't the same in all places with grammars. As far as I'm aware, the failings of the 11-plus in Kent are worse than anywhere else.

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arse

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
there's a big difference between being allowed to sit an exam for your preferred school, and being prevented from meaningfully applying for it at all because your parents could never afford to move into the catchment area.

This is the key issue for me, and the only answer the anti-grammar side of the argument has to it is to waffle a load of rubbish about comprehensive education being able to make all schools good.

Most places in the country have had comprehensive education for fifty years and it hasn't happened yet, so why should we believe that it will ever happen? And if it never happens and there aren't any grammars, then you will be left with a selective system whereby the only means of selection is the ability to buy a house in a good catchment area. Yay equality!

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Hail Gallaxhar

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:


Most places in the country have had comprehensive education for fifty years and it hasn't happened yet, so why should we believe that it will ever happen? And if it never happens and there aren't any grammars, then you will be left with a selective system whereby the only means of selection is the ability to buy a house in a good catchment area. Yay equality!

Right, along with a load of guff about selecting on attainment being "biased" - as if selecting on geography somehow is absolutely unbiased. Something is weirdly screwy about the idea that selecting on ability is beyond the pail whereas on geography is just an annoyance we don't even want to talk about.

The simple fact is that the vast majority of educated and intelligent people, including the majority of people reading this, wouldn't be living in a poor area - and if they were, wouldn't send their kids to the school in the catchment.

Yes, some people did and they survived, yabber yabber yabber. If it came to it, no matter what is being thrown around here, I believe the vast majority would send their kids to a grammar in Kent (if they passed the 11-plus) and most likely would send them to a private school if the only alternative was a violent and crap school.

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arse

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