What are states schools like? Are grammar schools and comprehensives very different?

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grapefruits
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I hear about states schools on the media a lot, so I'm curious if their portrayal is accurate or if it's a distorted image.

Are there 'ranks' among state schools, too?
How do you feel the teaching quality is?
Is it true the students make their own uniforms?

Thank you
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Mesopotamian.
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State schools often have a bad reputation but just like almost anything else in existence, you’ll have a bad bunch, an intermediate “okay” bunch and a good bunch.

I’ve studied at state schools all my life and my grades are on par with or even better than those who’ve studied at grammar/ private schools. My state schools were well equipped, had some very good quality teaching and amazing teachers who knew what they were doing. There are also other schools I know of which are absolute rubbish - it’s not a one size fits all.

Obviously this is anecdotal so different people will say different things.

As to your last question, what do you mean by students making their own uniforms? Each school has a standard uniform that every student purchases before they attend, I would’ve thought it was the same as grammar/ private, no?
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Rockmeteller
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I think it can vary from school to school. I have attended a couple of state schools, and the ones I experienced left a lot to be desired - the class sizes were overwhelming, there was no discipline, many students (and teachers) were totally stressed out. As a result of all this, the teaching quality was poor. I too have seen state school portrayals in the media and, at least in my experience, they’re pretty accurate. In answer to your question about uniform, we did have proper uniforms, and they actually weren’t too bad (when they were worn correctly!)
What type of school do/did you attend?
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Nautilus
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I assume you don't live in the UK. The vast majority of children go to state schools. They are free at the point of entry - no fees involved. Some are good, some not so good and some not very good at all. State schools are funded through our taxation system and funds are released via local authorities or academy chains. Most state secondary schools are compehensive schools, and children of all academic abilities attend them.

Some counties still have the (IMO not great) grammar school system, where children have to pass the 11+ to attend. This benefits children of parents who can afford to pay for private tutors, and often bright children from poorere families miss out on grammar school. This is a very unequal system IMO.

Private schools are fee paying schools, and only children of people who can afford to pay for their children's education send them, and occasionally children who manage to get scolarships. The percentage of children who go to private schools is very small - less than 10%.
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deadroseex
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I failed my Grammar school test by one mark...with NO revision or anything. I just showed up to the test...so sad..

So I ended up at a private school where I gained mental health issues! How exciting!

I am now in a state school where I am recovering from trauma of the past!

It all started with failing the Grammar school test...............

That's my story 🤍💎
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shortgirl96
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Hi

This is a mini essay apologies in advance. All state schools are virtually the same in terms of lessons, and exams. Here most families send their kids to a local good public school. It is cheaper than private school. My first bit of advice is to carefully research all local schools and then arrange a behind the scenes visit on a normal school day to observe a actual lesson in progress in a classroom. Have a typed up and printed out short list of questions to ask the pupils, teachers and headteacher as well.

Find out as much as possible. Read the latest inspection report and also trust your gut feeling in addition. Take a look at the website of the school and make a few brief notes in response to answers to your questions. Request a school information pack or brochure then make a informed decision. At some point during your school tour, ask to see the toilets and if it is a boarding school try to discreetly view two or three of the bedrooms. Also be sure to view some of the pupil artwork and see if the kids love it there or not.

Only then will you know if it is a truly good school for your child. When asking about exam results, ask them to demystify it for you in simple terms. Discuss whole school events and make certain to get contact information in case. Talk about previous school trips, and insist politely on seeing a copy of any school policy document when it comes to exams etc. Do politely also request access to off limit areas of the school and ask parents for tips. How does the school deal with bullying? What is the school culture like? Use the responses as a guide to making sensible decisions.

See a copy of a current school menu. You can either find this online or at the school. If there are any parent or pupil surveys that were recently conducted, then find a way to at least see the results. Remember that while yes pupil exam results are important, they are only one slice of the entire pie. Pick up some information on before and after school clubs and levels of homework. More importantly retain your faith. Be sure to enquire about pupil absences and detentions on top of that. Have a meaningful conversation with the careers advisor if there is one regarding possible career choices and goals. Another excellent fireproof way to learn more about a local school which you are considering is to speak to some local shop and restaurant managers privately and ask for their opinion.

How is natural talent encouraged at the school?

Is teamwork fostered or not? Teamwork is a important life skill and any good school will encourage this. Do not just pick the first local school in the area. View at least two. Do your preparation and research the school in question properly. Read beyond the lines. A good school will not expect impossible things from the kids currently attending and have a well developed link to the local community. You could also see a published laminated copy of up to date pupil waiting lists and discover more about what exactly the school does to help army and special needs families. Best of luck.
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grapefruits
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Thank you for all the responses so far. It looks like there's a lot to learn on this subject!
(Original post by Mesopotamian.)
Each school has a standard uniform that every student purchases before they attend, I would’ve thought it was the same as grammar/ private, no?
I see, so the rumour was wrong then - it is a rumour after all.
I can't speak for grammar schools, but certainly at private schools we purchase our uniform beforehand, too.

(Original post by NoraSmith)
the ones I experienced left a lot to be desired - the class sizes were overwhelming, there was no discipline, many students (and teachers) were totally stressed out. As a result of all this, the teaching quality was poor. I too have seen state school portrayals in the media and, at least in my experience, they’re pretty accurate. In answer to your question about uniform, we did have proper uniforms, and they actually weren’t too bad (when they were worn correctly!)
What type of school do/did you attend?
I'm sorry you had an unpleasant experience at school. I hope you are having a better time now!
I attend a public school.
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grapefruits
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(Original post by Nautilus)
I assume you don't live in the UK. The vast majority of children go to state schools. They are free at the point of entry - no fees involved. Some are good, some not so good and some not very good at all. State schools are funded through our taxation system and funds are released via local authorities or academy chains. Most state secondary schools are compehensive schools, and children of all academic abilities attend them.

Some counties still have the (IMO not great) grammar school system, where children have to pass the 11+ to attend. This benefits children of parents who can afford to pay for private tutors, and often bright children from poorere families miss out on grammar school. This is a very unequal system IMO.

Private schools are fee paying schools, and only children of people who can afford to pay for their children's education send them, and occasionally children who manage to get scolarships. The percentage of children who go to private schools is very small - less than 10%.
Thank you for sharing your views - and explaining the system for me!
I am British and live in the UK. I do feel embarrassed that I'm so ignorant about my own country...

(Original post by deadroseex)
I am now in a state school where I am recovering from trauma of the past!

It all started with failing the Grammar school test...............
I hope your current school suits you!

(Original post by shortgirl96)
This is a mini essay apologies in advance. All state schools are virtually the same in terms of lessons, and exams. Here most families send their kids to a local good public school. It is cheaper than private school. My first bit of advice is to carefully research...
...Best of luck.
Thank you for taking the time to write this all up!
I'm not looking to apply for a state school, but I found your post interesting and informative nonetheless.
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Nautilus
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"Thank you for sharing your views - and explaining the system for me!

I am British and live in the UK. I do feel embarrassed that I'm so ignorant about my own country..."

I guess you didn't go to school here?
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denaturedenzyme
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They really vary depending on the area they are in, in a well off area they’re amazing
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grapefruits
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(Original post by Nautilus)
I guess you didn't go to school here?
I do go to school here, so in fact I did know where the state schools are funded from and which types there are.
I just wanted a first-hand view of what the learning environment there is like.
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Nautilus
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What kind of school do you go to?
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grapefruits
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(Original post by Nautilus)
What kind of school do you go to?
I board at a public school
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Nautilus
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(Original post by grapefruits)
I board at a public school
Your lack of knowledge of the education system that most pupils go through does the image of public school educated children no favours.

At least you know now. Do you like boarding?
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grapefruits
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(Original post by Nautilus)
Your lack of knowledge of the education system that most pupils go through does the image of public school educated children no favours.

At least you know now. Do you like boarding?
In defence for myself and other 'public school educated children', we are keen to learn more about the state sector and to take part in community and social work. The problem is that we have limited resources, one of which is the mass media as I mentioned earlier. I'm sure that you can relate - how much information do you get about public schools?
This year we were meant to have a volunteering programme to help out at an academy that our school has a partnership with, but it unfortunately got cancelled due to COVID restrictions. Although definitely not a replacement, I thought that perhaps asking on TSR will help me reduce my naivety. I need to start somewhere!

I do enjoy boarding.
Sometimes I feel like I want a break - but it's nice to have so many peers around you throughout the day, so you can ask homework questions any time or hang around with your friends after tea.
The teacher-pupil relationship is quite unique at boarding schools. You have to make sure that you're polite and courteous, but at the same time they know you quite well outside the classroom, so the teachers are sort of like mentors. Sometimes they invite you for dinner. It's quite awkward at first but you can have fun with them.
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tazarooni89
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(Original post by Nautilus)
Your lack of knowledge of the education system that most pupils go through does the image of public school educated children no favours.
I wouldn't necessarily agree that it "does their image no favours". In many cases that's precisely the image they want - that of someone so far removed from common society that they aren't at all familiar with the average person's experience of it. They're just as proud of being oblivious to what life is like at a state school as you might be for not having first-hand experience of life in foster-care, or a slum, or prison. Having attended private schools all my life, I can tell you that those are indeed the terms in which state schools are often spoken about there.

It mainly tends to be members of the elected political class who try to avoid this sort of image (whilst in view of the wider public), just because their careers depend on it. But otherwise, I think most private school attendees and their parents would be perfectly happy with it, or even actively aspire to it.
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Nautilus
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I think it is credible that the OP wants to broaden his/her horizons. I know a couple of people who went to private nursery, prep school and high school - all run by the same foundation. They fell apart at university because they had moved schools with the same cohort since the age of three, and didn't know how to be independent. They were also used to being "handheld" all the way through their school life. This wasn't boarding school though.
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