Were Grammar Schools a good idea?


ade_mcfade 15 15.2k 216 England
13 Jan 2009 4:09PM
I was raised in a district with a Grammar and secondary modern school, and at 11, we took a test called the 11+ to determine which school we went to.

The ones who did well went to the Grammar, the rest to the secondary modern.

These Grammar Schools allowed working class kids, like I was, a chance to get a better education and a chance to go to university, for free.

I took that chance, went to uni etc. etc...

So I've always been very pro-grammar school, and really can't understand why other councils abolished them in favour of comprehensive schools.

In Blackburn, Manchester and Leeds and probablty everywhere else, the grammar schools are now fee paying schools, taking away the benefits from the working class families and leaving them in the domain of the wealthy - which to me, defeats the object of them.

Now I hear that back home, the middle class people who want their kids to go to the free grammar school are getting private tuition - which is effectively buying their way into the school.

.....this is turning more into a blog than a forum entry, apologies.

Anyway - anyone else got any views on grammar schools?

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RogBrown 13 3.1k 10 England
13 Jan 2009 4:18PM
They provided a superb education for kids from all walks of life. The trouble is they were admitted on merit which is now considered elitist.
strawman 16 22.1k 16 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 4:18PM
Being Scottish I had a comprehensive education, says it all in its name I think.

Having children at school these days and living in Engerland (intentional spelling) I feel that recent education policies have created a number of problems and a lot of people are far too snobbish about schools.

Where I live for secondary education there is a choice of 3 state provided schools, and a fee paying one. All three are oversubscribed and have people outside the natural catchment trying to get in. One has an over inflated snob value, but its actual academic results and added value scores are the worst (go figure on people).

I just feel sorry for the parents agonising over which school to send them to, and for the teachers who have to work within the system.

We look to have a strategy of creating slum schools, pull the bright kids to one school, send the others to another. Are we giving up on the rest.

and 11 plus, does it work??? I have a longing of a comprehensive education where every child has a fair chance, where resources are allocated fairly.

At what age do you decide what capability a child has. I mean for myself, I have been in a variety of classes as far as education was concerned, from remedial through to having 1st Class Honours. Would I have been able to get as far into further education in the English Grammar School system. I doubt it.
User_Removed 18 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 4:24PM
It is absolutely right that everyone from whatever background gets an equal opportunity at education at all levels.

However, I feel that some element of Comprehensive education mirror what has happened in so much of our society in that everything is brought down to the lowest common denominator.

Therefore, without some form of 'streaming' be it by school, or "class within school" level, it has always seemed to me that teachers have to pander to the slowest learners or those who will not or do not want to learn at the cost of those that can or want to learn.

It also works the other way too in that children who are slower to learn do not feel intimidated by those more able students.

Considering both issues, I feel that streaming both within a school and by school (i.e. Grammar Schools) is potentially of great benefit to pupils
Geoffphoto 13 13.5k United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 4:28PM
Well, Grammer skool never dun me no 'arm !
cambirder 16 7.2k England
13 Jan 2009 4:29PM

Quote:So I've always been very pro-grammar school, and really can't understand why other councils abolished them in favour of comprehensive schools.



Well as someone who got the rough end of the 11+ system, I say good riddance. At the small rural primary school I went to unless you had pushy middle class parents they did not even attempt to prepare you for the exam. All we were supposed to be good for was working the land so only a tiny number of the pupils even sat it.
RogBrown 13 3.1k 10 England
13 Jan 2009 4:30PM

Quote:Considering both issues, I feel that streaming both within a school and by school (i.e. Grammar Schools) is of potentially of great benefit to pupils

I refer the Honourable Member to my previous reply. It's now considered elitist & demeaning to the less able kids. Smile
RogBrown 13 3.1k 10 England
13 Jan 2009 4:31PM

Quote:Well, Grammer skool never dun me no 'arm !

Never dun you no gud either by the luks of it! Smile
ade_mcfade 15 15.2k 216 England
13 Jan 2009 4:33PM
There was streaming within the grammar school in maths - based on your 1st year results, we were divided into the super stars, middle and lower.

There was in football too, but that's not really relevant!

We did have 3 kids who caused havoc in the early years - I can't imagine what it would have been like with a class full of people like that. You'd not learn a thing.

To balance things up, the 6th form allowed pupils in from other schools, and many came from the secondary modern - so the cream from there got to the grammar in the end - to do A-Levels.

There is no fair way/age of testing kids for streaming if you're being PC about it - you've got to draw a line in the sand, and those who CAN jump over it pass, those who can't fail.

Didn't a Labour cabinet minister recently say that we'd never see another cabinet minister who's been through the state eduction system?

says it all to me.
User_Removed 18 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 4:35PM
My working class parents and sister (with very little money in the family) took the attitude that part of their role was to aid my education in any way they could (largely by encouraging my reading etc) rather than rely of teachers alone. I believe that my passing the 11+ and being educated at one of the best Grammar Schools in South London is more down to them than the junior school I was at and the education I received there.

I do believe that far too many parents today abrogate responsibility for their children's education to the schools and feel they have no need to take an active part in it ("what the hell do I pay my taxes for" etc etc)
chris.maddock 18 3.7k United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 4:43PM

Quote:Therefore, without some form of 'streaming' be it by school, or "class within school" level, it has always seemed to me that teachers have to pander to the slowest learners or those who will not or do not want to learn at the cost of those that can or want to learn.

It also works the other way too in that children who are slower to learn do not feel intimidated by those more able students.



Spot on Barrie - not all youngsters are equal in their abilities, so it is not right to treat them as if they are. They need education to suit their needs, not a "one type fits all" system.

When I ran a Scout troop we had one lad join who had always been regarded as a thoroughly disruptive pain in the backside. I very quickly realised that this was because he was actually highly intelligent but with a low boredom threshold. By the time the rest had understood whatever challenge was set them, he'd understood it and solved it - and become bored waiting. once the "problem" was cracked, the solution was easy and he turned into one of the most pleasant, helpful, well-adjusted lads we ever had through the troop.
Another lad was far from physically able and struggled at physical activities to the extent that the others all "walked" the Athletes badge whilst he was in tears because he just couldn't get the one last point needed to pass. He got the badge anyway because as far as I was concerned, by God had he tried. Not one of the other lads objected when I explained my reasons to them, indeed their expressions of agreement were wonderful to hear. The lad got his badge and that boosted his morale such that he felt confident to try taking part in other activities on the understanding that not everyone's best will ever be the same as everyone elses and that his best was all that anyone would expect.

With everyone, you need to identify their strengths and weaknesses then play on their strengths whilst developing the weaknesses. There is no way that a "one size fits all" approach can work, as with those two examples.
keith selmes 16 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 5:08PM

Quote:Were Grammar Schools a good idea?
Mine was started in 1545 by the King as a free grammar school, and I'm sure it was a good idea. Probably better than the choir school it replaced.
agoreira 16 6.0k Wales
13 Jan 2009 5:08PM

Quote:Well, Grammer skool never dun me no 'arm !


No nor me, not much good either! Wink Four of us kids in family, three of us went to Grammar, the one that didn't has more money than the three of us put together!
User_Removed 18 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 5:10PM
It depends on whether your criteria for being a "success" is making money.
agoreira 16 6.0k Wales
13 Jan 2009 5:11PM

Quote:Quote:Were Grammar Schools a good idea?Mine was started in 1545 .


Just checked mine, it's young compared with yours, wasn't started until 1560!

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