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Grammar schools are an excellent tool for social mobility

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    I was reading this week about a new (well technically it's not new, it's a satellite, but you know what I mean) grammar school that is going to be opened in Kent.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17534910

    Unsurprisingly the teaching unions have been getting angry about this as they seem to think that selection is inherently wrong without ever providing any reasons why. The main argument against grammar schools is stuck in the 1950s, and is that those who didn't pass the 11 plus would end up in a sub-standard secondary modern. This argument is irrelevant now as secondary modern schools no longer exist, yet it is still trundled out time and time again.

    At present we have a far more elitist form of selection, which is selection by house prices. Rich parents can buy a property in close vicinity of good schools.

    How is this any less elitist than the grammar school system? I admit that in order to pass the grammar school exams a child needs to practice past papers and tuition as well. Admittedly that's not cheap.

    But it's still cheaper than buying/renting a new property, furthermore if grammar schools became commonplace, talented primary school students could receive free training towards the exams in lessons.

    Many talented children are stuck in poor comprehensive schools, where they are forced to put up with classmates who don't want to learn and worse, discourage others from learning, thus exacerbating the poverty trap.

    Another argument against grammar schools is that it is unfair to select children at the age of 11. I agree with this and I would argue that 13 should be the age of selection instead. In addition, less able pupils could, at this age, be taught skills to ready them for employment, for example learning a trade, rather than wasting time and money pushing them into further and higher education in order to allow the government boasting about increased numbers of university pupils.

    In conclusion, by raising the age of transferral to secondary education from 11 to 13, we can more accurately tailor education to individual pupils and improve social mobility by ending selection by house prices.
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    I totally agree with OP

    in theory the system does encourage social mobility, but (as you said) I think the majority of places are weighted towards kids with pushy middle classed parents who know how to work the system and can afford 11+ tuition; as opposed to genuinely intelligent children.

    I normally wholeheartedly disagree with Peter Hitchens on every issues, but I think he epitomizes my position on grammar schools in his blog, after debating at my (grammar) school.

    I do understand that the surviving grammar schools of England are besieged by so many parents that they are not really grammar schools, as such things existed before 1965, but super-super-selective academies falling far short of the demand for good selective secondary schools


    ALSO, I hate the whole 'elitism' argument. I will probably never be able to go to Oxbridge, that does not mean I am inherently against it.
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    Whilst the government does not propose to reintroduce the grammar system i very much support it.

    There were 3 aspects to the grammar school system and only two of these failed..

    1) Grammar Schools - Brilliant, has been statistically proven that those who get D/C/B now would get A*/A/B in grammar schools because those people are generally coasters.

    2) 11+ - This was a failure in that one test decided your future in some cases, what they need is a mixture of coursework and exams with a 3 year rolling average, grammar schools can then take those who achieve 70%+.

    3) Technical schools - Failure for the masses but good for a few, for the most part you need not make changes to comprehensives now to reintroduce a working system.
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    I completely agree with you OP. However my main concern is the 11+ system, we need a new system; which scrutinises the child further, for example, their ethos in primary school, their behavior and motivation. However, this is clearly difficult to judge at the age of 11. I am wary of changing the age to 13, as this won't really indicate any further change...

    More transparency is needed from grammer schools, as well as greater links with comprehensives; so children in comprehensives do not feel in any form less educated or less valuable than those in grammers.

    Forgot free schools and academies, this government needs to look at the core of our education system to make us more competitive and successful in the long term.
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    (Original post by Rakas21)
    Whilst the government does not propose to reintroduce the grammar system i very much support it.

    There were 3 aspects to the grammar school system and only two of these failed..

    1) Grammar Schools - Brilliant, has been statistically proven that those who get D/C/B now would get A*/A/B in grammar schools because those people are generally coasters.
    Well it's not only good for the coasters, but also good for those who don't want their studies to be interrupted by disruptive students. The whole atmosphere created by a grammar school helps the assiduous student to get on and do better.

    2) 11+ - This was a failure in that one test decided your future in some cases, what they need is a mixture of coursework and exams with a 3 year rolling average, grammar schools can then take those who achieve 70%+.

    How the more unfair the system is now with many people falling under the catchment area of bad schools at birth. I say let students of merit who care about academia get on, undisturbed at any age. But yes, I do agree that grammars should take in more older students who perhaps preformed less well in the 11+ or even 13+ tests. (But I think they do do this to an extent).

    3) Technical schools - Failure for the masses but good for a few, for the most part you need not make changes to comprehensives now to reintroduce a working system. That is true.
    Overall, I think that good students should be able to learn in an environment that doesn't stifle them, regardless of whether they had pushy parents. My dad went to a grammar, and this helped him get a good education and get to Cambridge, which meant he could provide very well for his family and send me to a private school. I think that the grammar is a brilliant vehicle for social mobility. We need more.
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    The problem with grammar schools is that it channels pupils along class lines more than it does along intelligence lines.

    Middle-class parents are more able to take time off to personally tutor their children, or hire someone else to tutor them. The result is a school with mostly middle-class students and a small handful of working class kids. Whilst the working class kids do tend to excel in grammar schools, there are so many more of them that don't get the education that they deserve and are capable to excelling in. The current system is not perfect, and is divisive, but so are grammar schools.

    Should we be reforming to find the lesser of two evils, or should we be attempting to reduce inequality completely?

    The 11+ is completely flawed as well. It judges children based on one exam at a very early age, where they aren't likely to take their education particularly seriously - and rightly so. It's an exam that determines the course of someone's life, and it's taken at age 11... It's also a system that legitimates class inequality. It creates the illusion that the system is meritocratic, and if you failed the 11+, it was because you weren't smart enough. In reality, the outcome of the 11+ is a mixture of intelligence and wealth of parents.

    Far from social mobility, it perpetuates and reproduces class inequality. Middle class kids pass the 11+ and get the best opportunity to go to university and become wealthy - they do the same for their kids, and so on. Working class kids might narrowly fail the 11+ because their parents can't afford tuition; they go to a mod-com and endure a disruptive class, eventually going on to low-skilled, low-paid manual work, and being unable to give their children a fair chance in life.
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    (Original post by JollyGreenAtheist)
    The problem with grammar schools is that it channels pupils along class lines more than it does along intelligence lines.
    Well, clearly the solution to that problem is to have more places at 6th form and in GCSE years in Grammar schools than at 11+. This will give those diligent working class kids a chance to succeed if their parents weren't so pushy when they were 11, whilst still preserving that stronghold of erudition that is the British grammar school.

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    (Original post by Blutooth)
    Well, clearly the solution to that problem is to have more places at 6th form and in GCSE years in Grammar schools than at 11+. This will give those diligent working class kids a chance to succeed if their parents weren't so pushy when they were 11, whilst still preserving that stronghold of erudition that is the British grammar school.

    I see your point, and agree that it is an improvement on the 11+, but would it not make more sense to really reduce class inequality in educational achievement, before we start dividing people on the basis of GCSEs or end of year 9 tests?

    There's still a massive disparity between the classes for various reasons, and waiting a few years before streaming people will not significantly reconcile this issue.
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    (Original post by JollyGreenAtheist)
    I see your point, and agree that it is an improvement on the 11+, but would it not make more sense to really reduce class inequality in educational achievement, before we start dividing people on the basis of GCSEs or end of year 9 tests?

    There's still a massive disparity between the classes for various reasons, and waiting a few years before streaming people will not significantly reconcile this issue.
    This. Couldn't have said it better myself.
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    (Original post by JollyGreenAtheist)
    The problem with grammar schools is that it channels pupils along class lines more than it does along intelligence lines.

    Middle-class parents are more able to take time off to personally tutor their children, or hire someone else to tutor them. The result is a school with mostly middle-class students and a small handful of working class kids. Whilst the working class kids do tend to excel in grammar schools, there are so many more of them that don't get the education that they deserve and are capable to excelling in. The current system is not perfect, and is divisive, but so are grammar schools.

    Should we be reforming to find the lesser of two evils, or should we be attempting to reduce inequality completely?

    The 11+ is completely flawed as well. It judges children based on one exam at a very early age, where they aren't likely to take their education particularly seriously - and rightly so. It's an exam that determines the course of someone's life, and it's taken at age 11... It's also a system that legitimates class inequality. It creates the illusion that the system is meritocratic, and if you failed the 11+, it was because you weren't smart enough. In reality, the outcome of the 11+ is a mixture of intelligence and wealth of parents.

    Far from social mobility, it perpetuates and reproduces class inequality. Middle class kids pass the 11+ and get the best opportunity to go to university and become wealthy - they do the same for their kids, and so on. Working class kids might narrowly fail the 11+ because their parents can't afford tuition; they go to a mod-com and endure a disruptive class, eventually going on to low-skilled, low-paid manual work, and being unable to give their children a fair chance in life.
    Sorry, but that is such crap.

    Pupils from all backgrounds went to my Grammar Schools, be it footballers, doctors, or children from single mothers who had nothing. This tuition theory is utter ****ing garbage
    Even if it was true, anyone can afford tuition. However, some parents would rather buy fags and beer over helping their child, so that should be the consequence.

    The 12 + and 13 + helped those who were late bloomers.
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    I think one of the main issues here is that children and adolescents develop at different rates. Some 11 year old children may be more mentally mature than their peers. Quite simply, they're are early and late bloomers.

    Now this places a problem on an 11+/13+ test. Let's imagine a hypothetical example. Two boys of 13 years are both taking the same Grammar school selection test. Boy A is an early bloomer, he has the mental maturity of a 15 year old. Boy B is of average development, he has the mental maturity typical of his age, he thinks like a 13 year old boy.

    Now, Boy A passes the test while Boy B fails. Just two years later, both aged 15, Boy B, who is at a secondary school, has caught up and Boy A, who is at a Grammar school, is now typical of his age group.

    It may be said that Boy A did better on the grammar school test, not because he was more intelligent or academic, but because the 'test ceiling' was too low, simply the test was too easy for someone of his mental, not biological, age.

    Now, for the sake of argument, let us say that Boy B, our Secondary school boy, is actually more intelligent (if such a thing can be defined) than Boy A, our grammar school boy. In this particular circumstance, Boy B is now disadvantaged because he has been deprived of the education he really deserved. If he was to now take a '15+' he would easily be defined as worthy of going to Grammar school. Boy B will never reach his potential because the most talented teachers have been 'siphoned off', as it were, by the Grammar schools.

    I think this is a key danger in the two tier system (perhaps three tier if we include private schools), the best teachers are not divided fairly amongst the entire system, instead they are allocated to teaching a select, perhaps not even deserving, few.
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    I think grammar schools are, from what I've seen, extremely good schools that provide a good working atmosphere and not only get kids into good universities but seem to give them self-confidence and the belief that they can do well in life.

    But I do believe there is a big problem. If the majority of 'clever' (in my opinion, at the age of 11, judging who is clever and who isn't is ridiculous, but i'll go along with it for now) kids go to grammar schools, then what hope do normal state comprehensive schools and the rest of the children have? Knowing that you aren't one of the 'clever' kids and going to a school which most likely has an atmosphere that is nothing like the positive working atmosphere of a grammar school. You may only not be one of the clever kids because in primary school you missed a lot of time due to illness and or other reasons that weren't your fault. So by providing a great education to some kids, you are harming the education of others.

    At 11, I had the choice of going to a grammar school or going to the school that my brother and sister went to, which was the school that most of my friends would be going to. At 11, I had no idea that some schools are a lot better than others so I went where my friends were going, ended up with average gcse's compared to the people who went to the grammar school and zero confidence compared to them.

    I believe the only option is to level the playing field by changing the system, if that means getting rid of grammar schools then unfortunately I think it has to be done.

    Also, I'm not out to get grammar schools or those who went to them, I'm now going to a Russell group uni to study physics but that is mostly off my own back after deciding that if the system wasn't helping me then I'll have to help myself.
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    (Original post by JollyGreenAtheist)
    The problem with grammar schools is that it channels pupils along class lines more than it does along intelligence lines.

    Middle-class parents are more able to take time off to personally tutor their children, or hire someone else to tutor them. The result is a school with mostly middle-class students and a small handful of working class kids. Whilst the working class kids do tend to excel in grammar schools, there are so many more of them that don't get the education that they deserve and are capable to excelling in. The current system is not perfect, and is divisive, but so are grammar schools.

    Should we be reforming to find the lesser of two evils, or should we be attempting to reduce inequality completely?

    The 11+ is completely flawed as well. It judges children based on one exam at a very early age, where they aren't likely to take their education particularly seriously - and rightly so. It's an exam that determines the course of someone's life, and it's taken at age 11... It's also a system that legitimates class inequality. It creates the illusion that the system is meritocratic, and if you failed the 11+, it was because you weren't smart enough. In reality, the outcome of the 11+ is a mixture of intelligence and wealth of parents.

    Far from social mobility, it perpetuates and reproduces class inequality. Middle class kids pass the 11+ and get the best opportunity to go to university and become wealthy - they do the same for their kids, and so on. Working class kids might narrowly fail the 11+ because their parents can't afford tuition; they go to a mod-com and endure a disruptive class, eventually going on to low-skilled, low-paid manual work, and being unable to give their children a fair chance in life.
    But as I argued in my OP, good comprehensives are even more elitist than grammar schools. At present we have selection by house prices.

    It's cheaper to tutor a child for an entrance exam than it is to buy or rent a property near a good comprehensive.

    Plus if grammar schools became commonplace, primary schools could teach able children to pass the entrance exams without the need for private tuition.

    I agree with you that the 11 plus is wrong, it decides a child's future too young.
    Grammar schools can only succeed if:
    1) Secondary education starts at 13 instead of 11
    2) Non-grammar schools gear their pupils towards a mixture of academic and vocational qualifications depending on their abilities, with pupils who rapidly improve after 13 catered for by academic qualifications and then having the option to move on to grammar school at 16.
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    In the grammar school I went to for 6th form, there were masses of working class students. Same with the boys' Grammar on the same site. This is largely due to the (decent) primary schools in the area convincing parents that the grammar schools were the best option, and preparing them for the entrance exam.

    Equally though, the primary schools of poorer overall standard did not send many on to grammar school, regardless of background... (mother taught in most of them)
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    (Original post by Jimbo1234)
    Sorry, but that is such crap.

    Pupils from all backgrounds went to my Grammar Schools, be it footballers, doctors, or children from single mothers who had nothing. This tuition theory is utter ****ing garbage
    You are incorrect in asserting that entry to grammar schools is entirely meritocratic. How can it be, when wealth DOES increase your chance? There may well have been a wide range of pupils from the grammar school that you went to, but if so, it was probably not representative of the whole population. Moreover, there is a good chance that it was slanted heavily in favour of the middle class.

    Even if it was true, anyone can afford tuition. However, some parents would rather buy fags and beer over helping their child, so that should be the consequence.
    Sorry, what? There are plenty of families out there that don't waste money on fags or booze, work bloody hard at two jobs that still can't afford it. I go to a city comp in a fairly deprived area; I know plenty of these people, although I accept the unreliability of anecdotal information. The assertion that anyone can afford tuition is ridiculous and sweeping.

    The 12 + and 13 + helped those who were late bloomers.
    Immaterial. Some never get the chance to bloom because the education system unfairly favours the middle class.
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    (Original post by Benniboi1)
    I think grammar schools are, from what I've seen, extremely good schools that provide a good working atmosphere and not only get kids into good universities but seem to give them self-confidence and the belief that they can do well in life.

    But I do believe there is a big problem. If the majority of 'clever' (in my opinion, at the age of 11, judging who is clever and who isn't is ridiculous, but i'll go along with it for now) kids go to grammar schools, then what hope do normal state comprehensive schools and the rest of the children have? Knowing that you aren't one of the 'clever' kids and going to a school which most likely has an atmosphere that is nothing like the positive working atmosphere of a grammar school. You may only not be one of the clever kids because in primary school you missed a lot of time due to illness and or other reasons that weren't your fault. So by providing a great education to some kids, you are harming the education of others.

    At 11, I had the choice of going to a grammar school or going to the school that my brother and sister went to, which was the school that most of my friends would be going to. At 11, I had no idea that some schools are a lot better than others so I went where my friends were going, ended up with average gcse's compared to the people who went to the grammar school and zero confidence compared to them.

    I believe the only option is to level the playing field by changing the system, if that means getting rid of grammar schools then unfortunately I think it has to be done.
    That's all very well if the child is fortunate enough to end up at a decent comprehensive.
    But what if a child lives in a poor area and finds themself condemned to a sub-standard school? Surely the grammar would be a better option for them?
    Besides I also agree that 11 is too young to select pupils.
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    (Original post by turbocharged)
    But as I argued in my OP, good comprehensives are even more elitist than grammar schools. At present we have selection by house prices.

    It's cheaper to tutor a child for an entrance exam than it is to buy or rent a property near a good comprehensive.

    Plus if grammar schools became commonplace, primary schools could teach able children to pass the entrance exams without the need for private tuition.

    I agree with you that the 11 plus is wrong, it decides a child's future too young.
    Grammar schools can only succeed if:
    1) Secondary education starts at 13 instead of 11
    2) Non-grammar schools gear their pupils towards a mixture of academic and vocational qualifications depending on their abilities, with pupils who rapidly improve after 13 catered for by academic qualifications and then having the option to move on to grammar school at 16.
    I did agree with you that the current system is elitist too.

    My argument is that we shouldn't be reforming the education system to seek out the lesser of two evils. We should be looking to eliminate class inequality as best we can, and grammar schools demonstrably do not do that.
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    (Original post by JollyGreenAtheist)
    I did agree with you that the current system is elitist too.

    My argument is that we shouldn't be reforming the education system to seek out the lesser of two evils. We should be looking to eliminate class inequality as best we can, and grammar schools demonstrably do not do that.
    What would be your solution then?
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    (Original post by Benniboi1)
    I believe the only option is to level the playing field by changing the system, if that means getting rid of grammar schools then unfortunately I think it has to be done.
    Getting rid of grammar schools is simply penalising those who deserve to be in a grammar school. I go to a grammar school, and without meaning to sound terribly up my own backside, I would hate to not go to one, purely because of the sorts of students that attend and (thus) the quality of education being significantly lower.

    Whilst it is true that getting tid of grammar schools would mean that across UK schools, the distribution of good teachers and more-intelligent students would be more even, it would still mean that people would be kept behind by the students who do not want to learn or succeed in life.

    You can't make the system better by getting rid of grammar schools, instead we should be looking to solve the problems that secondary schools have without blaming the existence of grammar schools.
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    (Original post by turbocharged)
    What would be your solution then?
    I do not profess to have a foolproof one.

    An unpopular, but probably fairer suggestion would be to standardise the school system completely, offering the same degree of education to everyone and same level of funding, getting rid of academies. That said, there are probably umpteen flaws in my suggestion.

    There are surely hundreds of ideas to reduce inequality. EMA was an effective one, despite it being unpopular with the taxpayer. Unfortunately Sure Start is no longer ringfenced by councils, thank you Tories. Perhaps a bolstering of compensatory education is in order?

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