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Are top comprehensives more 'exclusive' than grammar schools?

10:30 UK time, Monday, 12 April 2010

England's top comprehensives are more socially exclusive than the remaining grammar schools, a report says. Do you think there is more competition to get into top comprehensive schools than to get into grammars?

The Sutton Trust report finds that in the 164 most socially selective comprehensives, only 9.2% are from poor backgrounds compared with 13.5% in the 164 remaining grammar schools, which are wholly selective on the basis of ability.

The report also reveals some of the lengths parents go to to get their child in to the desired secondary school. These included renting or buying a property close to a good school, or encouraging their children to underperform in fair banding tests, which seek to allocate a fair spread of different ability pupils to schools.

Are comprehensives more socially 'exclusive' than grammars? Is your child in a top comprehensive school? What lengths did you go to to get your child a place?

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    There will always be inequality in our schools system. It is inevitable when parents with money can afford additional tuition for their children.

    However, it is my opinion that any child that excells in our comprehensive system despite being from a poor background has more potential to succeed as they have risen to the top despite their background.

    Children who get to the top from deprived schools, are the true champions.

  • Comment number 2.

    Impossible to answer without traipsing round all the schools, surely ? The Sutton Trust would no doubt love to think so.

  • Comment number 3.

    Please let us just ensure that every School delivers an education, no ifs & buts, then we will lay to rest this nonsense of the School lottery & notion of exclusivity.

  • Comment number 4.

    Every parent worth their salt does his/her best for their child. I would have walked over hot coals to get my children into a well established school with a good exam record so cannot fault others for doing the same.

    Elitist schools are often cited as exclusive and devisive - far from it. In your ordinary secondary school the bright pupils are often held back because of slow learners and disruption by those who don't want to learn.
    Surely if our brightest or least able pupils are educated apart from the rest they would each reach their potentil and subsequently lower the pupil/teacher ratio for average students. I can think of nothing worse that a clever child being trapped in an evironment that doesn't stretch it enough or, for that matter, a child with learning difficulties constantly struggling and failing to keep up with its peers.

    I was, by the way, the parent of two children at opposite ends of the spectrum so I know how difficult finding the correct education for your offspring can be.

  • Comment number 5.

    Could it be that there is a higher percentage of poor parents who don't care about their children's schooling?
    Could it be that ability to learn is partly genetic and those with "learning genes" are not poor as their parents are educated?

    Whatever social engineering the government tries to do it would not work as it based on socialist dogmas that are not necessary correct.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is a shame that so much money has been wasted on The Sutton Trust report - any parent could tell you that this kind of social exlusion has been happening for years. Most top comprehensives are in wealthy areas where poorer people cannot afford to live. It is small wonder that parents are lying to get their children a decent eduction. I didn't lie, my daughter didn't get in to the school I wanted and ended up at a school where the teaching was on the whole dreadful - she hardly had a maths lesson for the entire last year of her GCSEs and was then entered for the wrong GCSE level. Total disgrace.

  • Comment number 7.

    If all schools, primary and secondary provided the same level of education this situation would not arise.

    50 years ago, all children, whatever their background had the same chances. Then there were 3 types of secondary schools, the system worked and would work again.

    Children are individuals, some are academic and others more practical, this is why the education system needs urgent reform.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well, presumably the people that wrote the report and researched it know better than any ill-informed HYS contributor (me included), so let's just say that they're right. So what. What are you gonna do? There will always be rich, pushy, helicopter parents who want to control their kids' lives and use fair means or foul to secure a perceived advantage for them.

    You've only got to look at the media, acting or broadcasting professions (I'm looking at YOU BBC!!), for examples of how a little help from Mummy and Daddy secures the job for their spoilt offspring whilst the rest of society fights to get a foot in the door. It's the same with education. I hate the league tables, but it doesn't matter whether they exist or not - people always 'know' what the 'good' and 'bad' schools are in their area and try to get their kids into good ones. Rich parents can afford to oil the wheels, and pushy parents will try other means. I know kids that thave been coached for years to get them into a grammar school. Nobody wants to teach unruly kids, no school wants trouble-making kids with no chance of passing an exam, and few parents want their kids' education to be ruined by a rubbish school.

    Personally I'd abandon selection at the top end and 'select' from the bottom - removing the most badly-behaved kids into specialist schools where they can be watched more closely, and allowing more schools to flourish. But whatever system you have, someone will worm their way around it. It's no different when they grow up.

  • Comment number 9.

    Of course parents go to these lengths, Comprehensive education itself is unfair, why should students who want to learn and who want to work hard be shoved in a class with those who can't even be bothered to show up with a pen and spend the rest of the lesson accosting the teachers attention being idiotic?
    Any child who excels in this kind of environment should get a medal.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just look at how MP's, such as Diane Abbott, espouse the virtues of comprehensive education then arrange for their own kids to be privately educated. It says it all, doesn't it?

  • Comment number 12.

    It makes one wonder just how long it takes to identify and fix a poorly performing school. If "bad" schools really were being fixed then surely this should be reflected in these reports.
    As it does not seem to be then maybe the results are indeed due to the catchment area rather than any selection criteria.

  • Comment number 13.

    7. At 12:06pm on 12 Apr 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:
    """If all schools, primary and secondary provided the same level of education this situation would not arise.

    50 years ago, all children, whatever their background had the same chances. Then there were 3 types of secondary schools, the system worked and would work again.

    Children are individuals, some are academic and others more practical, this is why the education system needs urgent reform.""""""

    No they didn't and the system was anything but fair, Money still bought you a place not in the Posh Comp they called them Grammers Schools then. Their were a lot of children in the Top stream in my Secondary Modern that walked the 11 plus but did go to Grammer there places were stolen by People who had Money. It happened to two members of my family my Mother who passed her 11plus and my brother both denied places at Grammer school.

  • Comment number 14.

    The government should institute a selective state school sector properly through the re-introduction of the grammar school system. That was an education system that worked for the brightest and highest-potential children from whatever background, and produced more Oxbridge/red brick university entrants than the current "lowest common denominator" comprehensive system.

    Despite the class-based, politically-correct "trend" against grammar schools, a properly functioning grammar school system would improve social mobility, reduce the need for expensive independent schools and stream children towards a career that best suits their capabilities and aspirations.

  • Comment number 15.

    I disagree! Tried to get both my children into our LOCAL grammar school

    and I really, (now) believe they didnt get in because we are not

    rich!!!! My Partner said they wouldn't get in because "we are not

    rich". Both children have always been top, all of their time a primary

    school, yet the rich lads .... they got in!

  • Comment number 16.

    At 12:51pm on 12 Apr 2010, Neil wrote:


    No they didn't and the system was anything but fair, Money still bought you a place not in the Posh Comp they called them Grammers Schools then. Their were a lot of children in the Top stream in my Secondary Modern that walked the 11 plus but did go to Grammer there places were stolen by People who had Money. It happened to two members of my family my Mother who passed her 11plus and my brother both denied places at Grammer school.

    Neil - based on your comment, I'm surprised you were able to spot the people in your Secondary Modern who passed the 11 plus. Grammar schools taught proper spelling, grammar and sentence syntax; yours contain none of these attributes, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 17.

    My children go/ went to an over subscribed school which sets non verbal reasoning tests and takes students from each band. Most of the 160 odd intake are from the middle bands, fewest are from the top and bottom bands. In each band twice as many places are available for inner city council wards compared to more average and the positively affluent areas. I don't know how common this arrangement is - but I feel that it really makes a difference to social mobility.

    Another factor in helping social mobilty is the placing of the school - right in the city centre. Easier to access from many poorer areas than other oversubscribed schools which are out in the suburbs, meaning out of area children would have to travel in to the centre and out again to get there by bus.

    On the OFSTED report, the school is described as having an ethnic mix which reflects the city and free school meal uptake which also reflects the city average. What doesn't reflect the city so much are the results - well above average. The school has an outstanding rating.

    The placing of the school and the advantage given to children living in poorer areas ensures that parents here do not believe that fewer less able children apply.

    Ballots are not free of class bias - richer parents can afford more travel for their children. Poorer families will restrict their entries in the ballots to the schools they can get their children to easily.

  • Comment number 18.

    Lynn from Sussex wrote:
    50 years ago, all children, whatever their background had the same chances. Then there were 3 types of secondary schools, the system worked and would work again.


    England's 'staggering' adult illiteracy

    The fact that as many as seven million adults in England have more or less severe problems with literacy and numeracy is staggering, and indeed shocking in this rich country

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/302972.stm


    That was in 1999 when a large percentage of adults had been through the old tripartite school system.

    You only have to read stories about such people as Sir Jackie Stewart to realise that our education system has been failing people since it was first introduced, claiming that the system worked and everyone got a good standard of education in the past is disingenuous to say the least.
    Grammar Schools tend to be very good but this doesn't make up for the fact that a large percentage of children that were not considered good enough to attend such a school were sent to Secondary Moderns and were then thought of as little more than factory fodder and never had the chance to receive a high standard of education.

    A return to the tripartite system of education would help nobody; a far better solution would be to provide the same level of education that you find in Grammar schools to all of our other secondary schools so that every child could get the same opportunity to attend a good school. Unfortunately this would mean state funded schools could no longer be controlled by the state and teaching unions would no longer be able to protect failing teachers, this means that the government and the teaching unions would never agree to it.

    What we need is for education to be totally de-politicised, all state schools should be turned into independent schools that are owned and operated by the teachers, parents and governors of the school. They would own all of the buildings and land and would have direct control of their budgets, the only role the government would have is to provide a single grant per pupil/per year that would be paid directly to the school from the treasury.
    The PTA and governors would be given the ability to hire and fire the head teacher who would then be responsible for the day to day running of the school, including the hiring and firing of teachers.
    The National Curriculum would be scrapped and replaced with a much less restrictive minimum education requirement that would give schools the ability to cater their curriculum to the needs of their children while ensuring basic skills such as literacy, math, reading and science where still being taught.

    Parents would be able to send their children to whatever school they wanted to, good schools would then be able to expand while bad schools would close down due to a lack of interest. In some cases these closed schools could then be taken over by another school that is oversubscribed and their successful methods would then be rolled out at the new school.

    Charities and other non-profit organisations would be able to open their own schools to serve the needs of children with severe disabilities or other special needs that were unable to be provided through a mainstream school.

    This would require an increase in the amount currently given to schools for each pupil they teach but most of this money would come from the savings that would result from the Department of Education and Local Education Authorities being closed down as they'd no longer be needed. They'd no longer be needed because parents and teachers would have direct control of their schools and would have the ability to make decisions themselves instead of relying on central government to make them for them.

    Education would then be returned to the hands of the people that know and care most about it, parents and teachers.

  • Comment number 19.

    1. At 11:36am on 12 Apr 2010, Steve Clark wrote:
    Children who get to the top from deprived schools, are the true champions.

    And their children ?

  • Comment number 20.

    13. At 12:51pm on 12 Apr 2010, Neil wrote:
    ...Their were a lot of children in the Top stream in my Secondary Modern that walked the 11 plus but did go to Grammer there places were stolen by People who had Money. It happened to two members of my family my Mother who passed her 11plus and my brother both denied places at Grammer school.

    -----------------------
    I'm sorry this happened to your family. However, I also come from a poor family and it didn't happen to me. I passed my 11+ and went to a Grammar School, and things worked out well for me.

    I'm only pointing this out because our experiences of Grammar Schools was very different, and we shouldn't be using our individual experiences to asses them. We have to look at the evidence, and to my knowledge areas (are era's) with grammar schools tend to show a higher level of social mobility than areas without. I could be wrong, but that's pretty compelling evidence that selective education is a good thing...

  • Comment number 21.

    Measure an organisation such as a school and you change it's behaviour; schools more than ever feel the need to be selective because their ratings depend on it.

    However, by cherry opicking it can cause a school more headaches. My exceptionally bright nephew is doing A-stars and his mother was told by a teacher that they needed another A-star pupil like a hole in the head because they had to prioritise teaching the less gifted.

    Let schools get on and teach without being weighed and measured at every turn; let schools stream all pupils according to need so that classes go at the pace that best suits the pupils.

  • Comment number 22.

    19. At 1:37pm on 12 Apr 2010, JohnnyMo wrote:

    1. At 11:36am on 12 Apr 2010, Steve Clark wrote:
    Children who get to the top from deprived schools, are the true champions.

    And their children ?

    And their children will be the children of middle class parents (those who do good at school will not be poor) that would do well at school and spoil the government statistics again :)

  • Comment number 23.

    Steve Clark (#1) wrote: There will always be inequality in our schools system. It is inevitable when parents with money can afford additional tuition for their children.

    Forgive me if I have taken this the wrong way but it sounds as if this is a criticism of parents who can afford tuition.

    Surely it is every parents duty to do the best that they can. In the mid 70s I had extra tuition for my o-levels paid for by a single parent who could not afford it but did everything they could to give me the best start in life. This lifted me out of a 'factory fodder' secondary modern at CSE level school into O-levels and on to university. I count my lucky stars.

    I'm tetchy about this because so often today 'equality' means lowering the bar / lowest common denominator and NOT elevating those at the bottom. The current government think that by ensuring we have more pupils leaving with straight A's is somehow a reflecttion of better education. No, it is playing with statistics. When I sat my exams, poor spelling in a physics exam would result in you being marked down and the pass marks was based on average pupil attainments in the exam and not fixed percentages. It was very hard to achieve an A.

    Extra tuition is often needed because schools are failing to meet the needs of the broadest spectrum of pupils; instead they have to focus on 'the average' pupil. The slow learners are left behind and unless they are particularly self disciplined the gifted are often bored and unmotivated.

  • Comment number 24.

    I live in Lincolnshire where the 11 plus system still operates and I believe it still works.

    I went to a grammar school and consider myself lucky to have had the oppotunities I had.

    Surely its only natural for parents to want their children to attend the best schools in the area - theres always uproar in my town if a child passes the 11 plus and there is no place for them at the grammar school.

    My brother and his girlfriend have my niece's name down for a school and shes only 2 because otherwise she won't get in even though they live just around the corner.

    You can't blame parents for wanting the best for their children.

  • Comment number 25.

    The old education system DID work in as much as it delivered what was expected; at one time the state needed factory workers with low expectations and that is what was delivered. In my school, careers education meant a trip to the local supermarket store rooms or the local garage. I don't recollect anyone telling me about my options in further education... or the possibility of becoming a scientist, doctor or a lawyer.

    My education in the 60s and 70s would have been dire if it wasn't for the handful of teachers that did that bit extra, often giving up their own time to provide extra tutoring. It wasn't just that they educated me - they inspired me and showed me what might be possible. I now worship the ground that these teachers walked on and owe them a huge debt.

    I saw the worst of teachers too - when my CSE-stream secondary modern merged with another (O-level) school, the predjudice demonstrated by a handful of teachers was awful. We were from "that" school!

  • Comment number 26.

    And so they should be.Stop dumbing down the the lowest denominator.

  • Comment number 27.

    What a stupid situation to be in. The education system has been mismanaged under Labour for 13 years - approximately the length of time a child stays in school, for those that leave at 18.

    What happened to having a top set and a bottom set, and catering for all levels of ability in one school? What happened to just going to the geographically nearest school? It's utterly crazy!

    The government has spent over a decade experimenting on children, leaving us with a generation that is practically illiterate, has no real world or job skills, can't construct a sentence and is exposed to, or perpetrating, levels of bullying and antisocial behaviour that were unheard of when I was at school (I am 29).

    Teachers are under pressure, not to do right by the children they teach, but to try and keep up with all the new paperwork and initiatives that the government heap upon them, all the while trying to teach increasingly large classes of increasingly unruly children that they have no power whatsoever to discipline.

    Separating kids into the good, the bad and the utterly useless by sticking the smart ones into the best schools and the stupid ones into the worst ones does not work, nor does allowing a child’s schooling to be determined by how rich, pushy and deceptive their parents are. We need schools that are standardised, and equipped to teach all children, with academies for the exceptionally gifted few.

    Language barriers are becoming an increasing problem in more multicultural areas, and some sort of system that offers children English lessons through play before the reception year would save a lot of time in getting children with different first languages up to speed so that they are not disadvantaged because of poor English.

    There's an old saying that's appropriate here - the children are our future. And what kind of future is there for Britain with standards falling so far?

  • Comment number 28.

    After 38 years teaching, I conclude that the overwhelming, monolothic fact in school achievement is social class. Deprived scools are staffed by heroic teachers and heads who basically get repeatedly kicked in the teeth (failed by Ofsted, laughed at in league tables, threatened, closed down, turned into academies) by an unjust and uncomprehending system. Oh inspector! - who's just given my lesson a barely satisfactory. Oh Digby Jones! - who complained on Radio 4 today that half of 16 year olds can't "even" get 5 C's with English and Maths. Oh complacent head! - sitting in your cosy green-leaf (probably coasting) comp or grammar, smirking at the league tables - you come and work here for a week mate! You try teaching them! Show me how it should be done! You'd be crucified in seconds! And you damn well know it! So, top comp, grammar, no difference. It's social, not educational. Estate agents know it. Kids taking GCSE sociology know it. It's where you live, and it's what your parents do. The rest is "just propaganda." By the way, Sillitoe's other famous quote - don't let the bastards grind you down!" - remains essential advice to teachers and staff labouring heroically day after day in those "other" sorts of schools. And they don't, thank God.

  • Comment number 29.

    There's an awful lot of snobbery and sneering at 'factory fodder' people here, as if there is simply nothing worse than having a job on a production line. What would you rather have? People stuck on the dole on benefits all day? Our factory jobs going to immigrants who ARE capable of having pride in a manufacturing job? How do you people think things get made, or grown? Not by people too snooty to get their hands dirty. Contrary to the belief here, it is possible to work in a factory and (gosh!!) actually enjoy your work, enjoy your achievements, and take pride in a job well done. Hopefully you can earn enough to get a house, feed your family, and have a drink in the evenings sometimes. Sorry if that sounds a bit 'rough' for you guys, but that's what built the country. That stuff in Waitrose doesn't just appear there by magic, you know! You can't eat an IT project. Management 'consultants' and top-heavy bureaucracy have crippled industries and the public sector. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians (as the saying goes). International companies up sticks and take the work abroad, because they can't find people willing to do a good job here. Kids have their heads filled with dreams at school that can't realistically be fulfilled, and are put off honest work in factories and farms by the prevailing liberal snobbery. You can't ALL be millionaires - it's a basic law of economics. The pyramid gets narrower the higher up you go. The more our education system becomes disconnected from the real world, the worse it's going to get.

  • Comment number 30.

    The National Curriculum would be scrapped and replaced with a much less restrictive minimum education requirement that would give schools the ability to cater their curriculum to the needs of their children while ensuring basic skills such as literacy, math, reading and science where still being taught.

    ----------

    So when it comes to applying for college and university, how are students selected? How will college and universities deal with the different levels of education?

    ---------

    They'd no longer be needed because parents and teachers would have direct control of their schools and would have the ability to make decisions themselves instead of relying on central government to make them for them.

    ---------

    What makes you think parents and teachers know best? Parents will only care about their own child's education rather than the collective and you seriously think giving people control over their own job is a good idea? I mean self control worked so well for MP's expenses didn't it?

  • Comment number 31.

    #28 - David Cheshire: You are spot on!!!

    There are many in deprived areas that want better and deserve to succeed. Unfortunately there is a huge swathe of an 'underclass' who are dragging the education system down - and not giving those amongst them who want something better a chance to achieve in life. There seems to be no way to get through to them with the current teaching resources.

    How teachers from deprived areas cope with the pressure from every direction I just do not know. League tables, Ofstead inspections, high numbers with English as a second or third language, high rates of truancy, lack of respect from pupils, breakdown in discipline, disinterested and unsupportive parents, violence in the classroom. I think I'd either go insane or end up having a heart attack before I reached 50.

    And what of the product of all of this - the school leavers? Many under-achievers are given false hopes through access to a higher education for which they are not prepared; colleges now have to dumb down, spend resources they don't have to bring them up to par, or the students simply don't complete their courses. At the same time the value of a degree in the market place is being degraded.

    Solving this is not just about money and raising people's incomes - first and foremost its about changing attitudes and people taking responsibility. Without a change in attitude money will be squandered. Our Government prides itself on how much it has increased funding here and there, but it always fails to produce a convincing argument that its investment delivered the expected outcome.

    It's a depressing thought but I don't think things will change - I do not think any of the parties have the ability to build "a better society for all". I don't think any one party could agree what a better society looks like let alone how to build it.

  • Comment number 32.

    My mother passed the 11 plus in 1936 but couldn't go to a grammer school as the family was too poor (there were 8 children).

    I passed half the 11 plus and was dumped into a secondry modern, I had to work on the shop floor for 5 years before going to college.

    My youngest daughter went to a good comprehensive after we bought a house (which we could barely afford) in the catchment area. She worked part-time throughout university and now has a PHD.

    We eventually got a decent education but at tremendous cost.

    It should not be required for a parent to have to struggle to achieve the best for their children.

    One of the problems is that we concentrate on the 'gifted' children at the expense of the 'bog standard'. We cannot all be chief's, we do need some indians.

    Stop concentrating on the top kids to the exclusion of others. My eldest daughter went to the same comprehensive as the youngest. The parents of all children in her year where gathered together at a school meeting and told that NONE of our children would be entered for 'O' levels that year (1984) as they were considered not good enough. We were outraged, particularly after learning that the school 'fixed' it's high ranking in the school leauge tables by only letting the brightest sit exams, thereby ensuring a high 'pass' rate for the school.

    As long as schools that have been 'successful' are allowed to syphon off the best new schoolkids (allowing them to get even better results and the rest get the reminder and can therefore never improve)we will have inequality in our education system. Those parents prepared to make 'sacrifices' for their kids will take advantage, and once the kids have got the best education their parents can buy they will insist on a high salary as compensation, thereby continuing the sorry saga.

    To go back to the begining. My mother had no chance of the education she should have had. I had half the education my parents tax payed for. I had to pauper myself for twenty years to ensure my children got the best chance in life, and even then some of them were failed by the system.

    There should be no difference between one school and another. It cannot be that a school with children from whatever background is better year after year from others without some outside influence, be it parents money, involvement, commitment etc.

    Lets stop the rot once and for all. Any school selecting children is to be closed. Any school where the children are not achieving their potential is closed. Test teachers (I know they hate this, but I'm sorry youre responsibility is too great to allow deadbeat teachers loose on our kids) so that those who cannot teach are removed, then pay the rest a decent wage.

  • Comment number 33.

    When access to a decent education becomes a competition it is hardly surprising that people cheat. The more money they have to spend on cheating the system the more succesful that cheating is likely to be.

  • Comment number 34.

    "We have to look at the evidence, and to my knowledge areas (are era's) with grammar schools tend to show a higher level of social mobility than areas without. I could be wrong, but that's pretty compelling evidence that selective education is a good thing..."

    Yet Finland, which does not have a selective system, but rather a truly Comprehensive system, returns consistently superb results in the PISA tests. This seems pretty compelling evidence too.
    I don't deny the value of a grammar school style of education. It always seemed a pity that, in my area, only some 15% received it as places were strictly limited.

  • Comment number 35.

    A state system where the best schools are full of children from rich families is clearly unfair. A good education should be a right for all children and I believe that a system which includes selection and Grammar schools is the only way to achieve this. Selection by ability doesn't discriminate between wealthy and poor families. A place at a Grammar school can be an amazing, life-changing chance for a child from a deprived or poor background. Surely it's better to have a system of true selection by ability whereby all children have an equal chance to "get on" rather than the selection by bank balance we have now.

  • Comment number 36.

    #29. LippyLippo wrote: "There's an awful lot of snobbery and sneering at 'factory fodder' people here"

    I used the expression factory fodder not in a way that I meant to be sneering or in any way derogatory. The point I was making is that the education system seemed to be designed to ensure that children did not achieve their potential so that there was always a supply of labour for the factories and manual jobs. "factory fodder" sums this up quite well.

    Education should be about opening doors and providing people with life options - it should not be about putting people in boxes, closing doors and denying choice - which was what it seemed to me that I was witnessing.

    Judging by what I have read on Friends Reunited I'm pleased to say that many of my classmates escaped from "the system".

    I've done a few factory jobs but a long time ago - hated some loved others but always got on with a job that needed to be done. If necessary I wouldn't be too proud to work in one again. Attitude is far more important to me than a person's class.

  • Comment number 37.

    There are a number of comments here claiming that wealthy parents are "stealing" a good education by paying for private schooling.
    There are also the usual claims of privates schools "poaching" the best teachers.
    Firstly,If the state system was up to standard,there would be no advantage to paying for private education.
    But we have suffered from at least a couple of decades where education has become less about providing an impartial grounding on which to build on ,and more of a political tool with which the government can persecute those that can afford to either pay for education,or move to an area with a decent state school and also more recently education is being used to push the policies that surround it's social engineering dogma.
    Socialists have done everything in their power to close down or make private education unsustainable,even going as far as attempting to remove charitable status from some schools.They say such institutions are "elitist"and exclude those that cannot afford to pay.
    What is wrong with being elite?Why do certain individuals and this government have an issue with those that want to be the best that they can be?.Is there an advantage to being mediocre?.
    Many grammar and private schools have closed in the last 20years.If they were so bad why hasn't the standard of education in our state schools improved?
    On the issue of private schools poaching the best staff.
    State education doesn't have the exclusive rights to teachers skills,and the government is skating on thin ice in its efforts to bar private establishments from recruiting high quality motivated staff.
    Ask yourself,until the economic downturn,why were record numbers of teaching staff leaving education altogether?
    Could it be that couldn't care less children with couldn't care less parents were destroying the efforts of teachers to provide a decent education to those children that wanted to learn.
    Has the box ticking culture that is more concerned with statistics and inclusiveness than expanding young minds played it's part?
    Are teachers sick of political interference?
    Has the apparent increase in classroom violence and the stress generated by it influenced staff?
    Has the spectre of performance review and job interview by pupils pushed staff to look elsewhere for employment.
    Our education system is in a desperate condition,but it isn't the fault of the well to do.It is because of bigoted placemen and government officials that put political dogma above all else.

  • Comment number 38.

    Good schools always attract more pupils. It is not about comprehensive education versus grammar, that argument only applies in the empty hollows of socialist thinking. There are many more comprehensives than grammars, therefore poor statistical handling favoured by certain groups show the slant they want!

    Our Nu-Lab GovUk showed this, the only one’s who’s kid’s went to the local comp (under the searching eye of the media{poor kids}) had just bought second homes in the catchment area of the chosen school.

    Good schools are good in isolation; it is the participation of the teachers, the parents and the compliance of the pupils. In a fairer society if they want it, they achieve it, why should they not have for themselves? Fairness is not the old soviet; every one has the same, except party members! Should that read soviet or Nu-Lab?

  • Comment number 39.

    My 3 children went to our local comprehensive, the one near us, in our borough. it was absolutely appalling when the eldest went there BUT committed to comprehensive eduction and knowing that what I DID was far more important than what a school did, where they spend less than 20% of their time, I was confident it would be ok. And it was and is. The school has improved but it needs good parents to use and commit to a failing school in order for it improve. Because people it is down to us, PARENTS, not politicians or teachers or local authorities. if children fail it is OUR fault. we are the greatest influence. If we dont care kids wont care, if we dont read our kids wont read, if we dont enjoy learning and instil this in our family life it wont happen. etcetcetc.
    "i fought tooth and claw to get them to a good school" i read, well whoop de doo! meanwhile leaving the one in your own community floundering. Take responsibility for your own community and the resources it has and you will teach your children hell of a lot more than a GCSE ever will. Step over others to achieve what you think is right and you may as well give up on your kids because the life lesson you are teaching them is ruthlessness which may well serve them in some areas but will come back to haunt them and you in others.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have taught in a "top comprehensive" (classed as good with outstanding features by OfSTED) for 31 years. It is a "leading edge" school.

    It accepts everyone, irrespective of background. It serves a community with a mix of housing from extremely expensive private developments to social housing. We get a very mixed intake, including a small number with severe special needs, very poor social skills and work ethic and some with very negative attitudes to education. In all, our intake is slightly below the national average.

    So how do we get results well above the national average and better (at A level) than 2 expensive local independent schools?

    Simple. We have a dedicated, talented staff and excellent structures. We teach firmly but in an interesting way and we show students what they can achieve with hard work. We have strict uniform codes so rich and poor dress alike and there is no obvious disparity. Discipline is enforced and problem students sent to the Inclusion Unit.

    No social exclusion here, then.



  • Comment number 41.

    20. At 1:42pm on 12 Apr 2010, DT_1975 wrote:
    13. At 12:51pm on 12 Apr 2010, Neil wrote:

    Sorry but I believe Social Mobility is a bit of a nonsense it is designed to make middle class feel better, I'm a C2 and very proud of the fact. My father is or was C2 also, most of his friends are middle class he still lives on the same council estate and I know he doesn't feel out of place in their company. We are a well educated family (well Read). My Brother went to University so will my son, but what if any social mobility will that give, they will still be the same people.

  • Comment number 42.

    The old school system was a much better system - children got 2 chances at school 11 and 13 and then when they lef school if they were late developers they had the chance to go on the furher education to take any exams and carry on to university or train for technical jobs which schools don't cater for. What is the difference between the exams taken at 11 now and the 11+? Too much is made of putting pressure on children - nothing has changed but now they have no idea how to cope when they leave school, they have never had to think for themselves or use common sense.

  • Comment number 43.

    I've no idea.( Too old unfortunately) but I wouldn't be the least surprised. 'Nu' Labour have managed to destroy every other Socialist objectived and attainments, set in place by 'Greater Men (and Women).
    Cyclops

  • Comment number 44.

    The commentor who objected to the words 'factory fodder' should really think again. Can anything be worse that having the ability to go on to higher education but because of the present education system have to try and learn amongst thirty or forty less able, many times disruptive pupils.

    As my daughter approached her senior school age my husband and I visited the only school we were given to choose from (1981). She was and is a very bright person so imagine our horrow when we were told that the school was built specifically for 'factory fodder'. The deputy head's words not mine. As it was a brand new school we had no choice - it had to be filled whether it ruined a few lives or not. We protested, complained and made a nuisance of ourselves to no avail.

    Thankfully my daughter overcame all that stood in her way and attained her degree but certainly she owes no thanks to the school in question. Because we had the audacity to question why she had to attend that establishment she was singled out continually and referred to as 'the girl whose parents think she's too good for this school'. Some example.

  • Comment number 45.

    So people do the best they can for their children?

    Amazing. Who would have thought it?

    And who could be against it except the Sutton Trust?

  • Comment number 46.

    37, 39 and 40 have all written sensible comments but the heartbreaking thing is that children ARE leaving primary state education unable to read or write.

    If these are the products of non caring and illiterate parents then it is even more important that their children DO have these skills.

    Unless a child has a medical diagnosis to confirm that he or she will never learn these very basis skills, then what is the reason?

    Children that start school with no English language skills should be taught separately until these skills are acquired

    42 is absolutely correct, all children had the same chances irrespective of family background.

    Education is no longer valued in this country thanks to the dumbing down started by Labour in 1960.

    Children and parents in poor countries know the value, how an education can change lives and increase prosperity.

    Education in its current form has failed a whole generation thanks to the last 13 years, for the sake of country, reform must be at the forefront of a new government.

    PS, thnk very carefully before you vote, more of the same or improvement under a new political colour!



















































  • Comment number 47.

    Its parenting and not the school that makes the difference. Shoving your kid through one gated community or another probably won't make as much difference as being interested in the child before and after school hours.

  • Comment number 48.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 49.

    I thought that there was lots of research suggesting that the biggest factor in how good anyone is at any particular activity is how much time is devoted to it. Isn't it probably the situation here? Some families regard education as important and instil discipline on their children; others don't (perhaps because politicians and campaigners say that failure is normal among some groups or in some locations).

    The argument about the quality of schools is circular. The perceived quality of the school comes from the quality of the pupils and the quality of the parents, rather than vice versa; the best schools are where the best people cluster and the culture is self-reinforcing.

  • Comment number 50.

    5. At 11:52am on 12 Apr 2010, Serguei wrote:
    "Could it be that ability to learn is partly genetic and those with learning genes are not poor as their parents are educated?"

    A staggering lack of understanding. Intelligent children are found in both poor and wealthy families. The dividing line between them is opportunity, not genetics. Perhaps you'd like to measure cranial sizes to back up your theory...

  • Comment number 51.

    With an Election due in a matter of weeks, I am amazed by how few comments there are on this HYS.

    Perhaps the BBC chould have sked the question differently.

    For example 'How important are education standards'
    'Why are parents taking the steps they do to ensure a 'good education' for their children'
    'Why are standards in the State system so variable'
    'Why are parents having to pay for private tuition'
    My answer to all these questions is pointed in one direction, the failed Labour government.




  • Comment number 52.

    Very often the best performing schools are in affluent areas, therefore the 'oiks' from the local council estate will not fall under the catchment area.

    The sad fact is literacy has been going down the pan for years in favour of the 'everyone achieves' system, this has left a whole generation without the basic literacy skills to impart to their children. We are now reaping the rewards of the dumbing down of society in general, with illiterate parents being unable to read with their offspring & unable to help with their homework. Kids from poor backgrounds see there is little or no hope of getting out of where they are so, why bother learning to read & write when the government will pay for them to continue the cycle of pushing out kids from a young age because it will give them a home & money.

    The government need to back off of education & allow schools to concentrate on the basics so every child leaving primary school can read write & do maths, instead of filling their heads with the latest political propaganda & league tables.

  • Comment number 53.

    "7. At 12:06pm on 12 Apr 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:
    50 years ago, all children, whatever their background had the same chances. Then there were 3 types of secondary schools, the system worked and would work again."



    It didn't work, so many look back with rose tinted glasses. I and my three siblings all went to grammar school and I can assure you the vast majority of children at these schools were middle class. Today it is just as bad, if not worse, in that children are now coached for many months before the exam. if their parents can afford it, before not many children were coached. The big failing of the grammar school system years back was that it placed children in three catagories. The brightest going to the grammar, next came the technical college and then the secondary modern. The assumption was made that highly intelligent children would not be technically inclined, a big mistake, one that didn't help in the rapidly increasing technology required by the country
    Many children at our grammar school could not maintain the standard required and as a result were considered failures, not desirable for any child. The 11+ assumes factors all debatable, one that all children develop at the same pace, also all will feel in good health on the day of the exam and lastly that a child's potential and future ability should be decided by as little as one mark in some cases
    Within our family we have experienced the public school, grammar school and comprehensive system and we are more than satisfied with our local comprehensive. We have a good number of teachers in the family and so know something of the profession and often less able teachers are to be found in the private sector,there the job is less challenging and the professional requirements not so high. The reason such schools get good results is that the classes are smaller. Quite often within families where there is limited money the less able children attend private school and the brighter siblings go to the local state school

    We are very pleased with our local comprehensive, it is invaluable for children to learn to socialise with others of all abilities, work for themselves and for the system to be flexible enough to cope with different speeds of development and attainment. Unfortunately not all children do well academically and many parents in their disappointment look for a scapegoat, it is so easy to blame the school or the teacher. Not all teachers are brilliant but then which profession is full of top class members. Education has been to the fore in the last few years and has improved markedly, many poorer children have been helped considerably by the EMA grant so that further education is within the reach of any who aspire to acheive

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't ever recall, as a youngster, there being such a furore over education. The fact that so much debate and anger surrounds modern education suggests that there are deep-rooted and fundamental problems - which means that something has gone drastically wrong. That was my education kicking in!!
    In my era, children went to the school of their parents' choice, simple. It was generally the school closest to your home. Mine was a Grammar school. It was a tough, well-disciplined school. Fantastic. Hasn't done me or my 2 siblings any harm. We are all working, well-established and happy (in our late 40s). I struggled to get my children into the local school of my choice. My daughter now finds it impossible to get my Grandson into the school of her choice. A cycle that is getting worse with each generation. Why? Government? Immigration? Falling educational standards? Difficult to gauge - but it does not bode well for the future!

  • Comment number 55.

    This is hardly surprising when you realise that if you don't use exam based merit as espoused by the Grammer school system as the entrance criteria then you are left with favouritism and politically correct discrimination as the only criteria left to allow people in. Lets hope you have a party card or the flavour of the month disadvantage because our political masters make the decisions about who gets to have a good education these days.

  • Comment number 56.

    46. At 7:03pm on 12 Apr 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:

    From what I have seen both Labour and Conservatives are equally as good at screwing up education. The Conservatives think Teachers are all Socialist activists and can't be trusted with the education of children. Labour think you can deliver a education that's 100% fair for everybody instead of just genuinely excellent. I certainly don't believe the Conservatives will increase access to education to poor people in fact
    quite the opposite they will probably just increase middle class avantages.

  • Comment number 57.

    Joe wrote:
    So when it comes to applying for college and university, how are students selected? How will college and universities deal with the different levels of education?

    Are you saying that all children receive the same level of education now ?
    Do you really think that all students on a college or degree course start off with the same level of education and breadth of knowledge and experience ?

    I went to University as a mature student, I'd left school with few academic qualifications and then had twenty years in the military. This was considerably different from the backgrounds of most of the other students on my course yet the University was still able to determine our suitability for the course and cater for all of our needs.

    Under the system I suggested above children could still be sitting exams such as GCSEs and A-levels, they just wouldn't be taught according to the current national curriculum. Private and independent schools have no obligation to follow the national curriculum and in recent years many of them that were following it have started to abandon it.

    There are also some very different teaching methods that have been developed around the world such as the Waldorf School system and the Montessori method that have been proven to work in other countries. There are many parents in this country that would like their children to be able to attend a school following one of these systems and as they seem to achieve good results elsewhere I can't see any reason why we shouldn't allow schools to adopt them if that's what parents want. Universities also accept students from schools following these systems.

    Waldorf education FAQ: http://www.waldorfanswers.org/WaldorfFAQ.htm

    Montessori method FAQ: http://www.montessori.edu/FAQ.html

    There is also a very informative report that was produced by the independent schools council regarding the national curriculum, you can download it from their website at;

    http://www.isc.co.uk/publication_7_0_0_10_349.htm

    There are some countries that have managed to develop a good national curriculum, Japan would be a good example, unfortunately ours isn't very good and fails to provide a high standard of education for our children. The sooner it is replaced or abolished, the better.

  • Comment number 58.

    Eh, who created the points system of assessment of schools? Why was it created? The answers lie in the Labour Party's education programme. They are the ones who, perhaps inadvertantly created 'exclusivity' by introducing assessments to establish efficiency in all aspects of the educational process. There has to be schools at the top of the pile under the system they created so the finger points clearly at them.

  • Comment number 59.

    Yes, almost certainly. Innate ability does not correlate with wealth of parents. Grammar schools while good in theory, and undoubtedly have helped many poor kids on the road to knowledge, select too early and so exclude late developers. Luckily most of this is pure hoopla as the role of schooling is vastly overrated. Those with ability will always eventually prove their worth, while no amount of pushing can make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

    The study implies (or maybe doesn't) a lot about the motivations of the teaching profession. Do they just want to preach to the well-mannered, highly-motivated middle-class offspring? Or might there just be vastly more satisfaction in helping those from the most difficult backgrounds?

  • Comment number 60.

    Do we still have comprehensives? I was under teh impression they are all academies and community colleges now.. locally unless you want a good all round education you have to be studying sciences to get into the nearest secondary school or the performing arts, or information technology, or sports... there isn't one normal secondary school that does the whole lot. If my kids want to 'specialise' (they are asking 10 year olds what career they want now!) you have to choose which school to go to and then theres the logistics of travelling there. I have three so if they all wanted to do different things, they would all be going in different directions so how on earth are parents expected to get them there?? Oh sure there are coaches and buses for all these various schools, BUT!! I was under the impression we were supposed to be living in eco friendly times, shopping locally, walking to work, school etc, locally, so that stops at 11 does it?
    Can someone please install some sense back into the schooling system because at this rate I will have 3 separate uniforms to buy, travel for 3 different schools, and they will be on their own without siblings there to friend and look out for them. They are in the same school now, its a good primary school, why not have a good comprehensive school as well, instead of all these academies and community colleges.
    I don't care what the government or dissenters say, it worked for my generation we turned out ok, why isn't normal, comprehensive schooling ok for my kids now?
    Confused...

  • Comment number 61.

    The basic premise of grammar schools, selecting on ability and pushing our most able has much more merit than the situation the study indicates where those with money buy their way into areas offering better educational prospects for their offspring.
    Of course state education provision should be equal for all areas, however this would tend to need to require a similar level of motivation and discipline amongst the pupils or sufficient measures to prevent those less motivated to learn disrupting the education of others.

    Of course genetics says that brighter parents are more likely to have brighter offspring (the old nature / nurture argument) meaning certain areas are likely to be both poorer and, even with the same education will achieve lower educational standards (although maybe not results if things continue to be dumbed down).

  • Comment number 62.

    addendum to previous post; Now that I have read the thread, I too would walk over hot coals for my children's education and have done so. We had 3 choices as to which primary school we wanted them to go to. We visited two and were impressed, one very local one I went to see when I could go for a visit and was told they don't do visits for parents, read the Ofsted reports. I queried this and asked if they really expected us to put our child into school without seeing it and was told, please yer sen before the person turned his back. My children do not go to that school, but because it is local we had to wait and see if we really did have a choice or if that was all hot air policy as well. We got our choice, it was the best one we ever made, even though its a hike there and back I would not change a thing. Some schools do not do themselves any favours, just because they maybe in a depressed area doesn't mean they have to act like it or treat parents with a do what you like because it wont matter where your kids go because of where you live attitude.That is dumbing both parents and children down and that isn't fair.All schools should be good, no matter of location or social intake and its not fair to tar all children with the same brush, but equally its not fair to make children choose career paths at 10 years old to fullfil a vision of a policy dreamt up over breakfast at number 10 in a bid to make education look good and fudge the figures. Good all round education, even in bad areas can do wonders for a social area, not to mention house prices(!)

  • Comment number 63.

    @15

    Our eldest daughter passed the eleven plus and has been admitted to a leading girls grammar school in Birmingham. She got there by virtue of her exceptional abilities rather than by virtue of the wealth that my wife and I supposedly enjoy. We live in a Victorian terraced house in what would, in socio-economic terms, almost certainly be described as a "deprived" area of Birmingham. As far as the selection process is concerned, I am given to understand that places are allocated strictly on the basis of a child's score in the eleven plus examination.

  • Comment number 64.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 65.

    Just look at the price of houses within the catchment area of the best comprehensive schools.... yes they have been selective and reduced social mobility significantly.

  • Comment number 66.

    It makes me laugh how people complain about social injustices like this but when the Labour Party steps in to do anything about it they are accused of using class politics to get votes.

    The rich will ALWAYS have an easier time and easier access to the best education. The Royal Family have added to this problem instead of leading by example. Why didn't they go to their local comprehensives ?

  • Comment number 67.

    I really cannot comment on this defititively since I am not familiar with the current British system. From what I have read and what I see in comments by people from Britain, I would believe that education there has degenerated to a great degree. I was educated at a grammar school in Sheffield during the 1940s and received a superb education. In those days, pupils were chosen on their demonstrated abilities and nothing else.Money was not a factor. What happened?
    Peter D South Carolina

  • Comment number 68.

    I really can't comment on this since I am not familiar with the British syatem as it is today. However, from what I read and the command of the language exhibited by Britains on this HYS, it woud seem the quality of edcatinn has degenerated alarmingly. I was educated in a grammar school in Sheffield during the 1940s. It was a rigorous system including some 12 subjects all in depth. In those days, children were chosen on their demonstrated abilites and nothing else and were segregated accordingly.. Money had no bearing on it. That system produced the most highly educated people in the world leading eventually to the Brain Drain of the 1960s because businesses did not recognise the true value of these people.

  • Comment number 69.

    I went to a grammar school in Kent after passing my 11 plus. I lived on a council estate. My score in the examination determined my offer of a place, nothing else. Grammar school places were not for sale.

    It is a fact of life that if England wishes to compete internationally it needs meritocracy. Grammar schools should be reintroduced.

  • Comment number 70.

    69. At 04:16am on 13 Apr 2010, L Hill wrote:
    "I went to a grammar school in Kent after passing my 11 plus. I lived on a council estate. My score in the examination determined my offer of a place, nothing else. Grammar school places were not for sale.

    It is a fact of life that if England wishes to compete internationally it needs meritocracy. Grammar schools should be reintroduced."

    Fair enough as far as it goes, but can it be guaranteed that every child capable of benefiting from a traditional grammar school education will actually receive it? Assuming the local grammar school has an annual intake of 150, then if, in any given year, 200 children pass the entrance exam, fifty will not get the places they deserve, irrespective of their score in the examination.

  • Comment number 71.

    #69 L Hill

    I also gained a high score in the eleven plus, and a place in a good grammar school. I also lived on a council estate. I also remember the "intelligence test paper" in the eleven plus and my parents being told the significance of it provided you also did well in English and Arithmetic.

    But education is much more than selecting "winners" to boast about; it is about finding out what every child's potential is and giving them a best shot at attaining it. Do teachers find it easier to teach the gifted or the not so gifted?

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    It is a common modern point of view to look at exclusivity i.e. some are excluded. It is certainly very British to equate low educational achievement with low income which is not correct. Perhaps high-achieving schools are inclusive - they include the children who are academically the best?

  • Comment number 75.

    When I grew up in Scotland in the 70's, apart from the very few who went to public school, everyone else attended the school in their catchment area. The mix of abilities was obvious and within each year there was streaming, so groups of pupils of similar ability were taught together. There was mobility between the groups every year, and expectations and ability were evenly matched. It didn't matter who your parents were because the bright ones were in the top groups, no matter what their background was. So within a comprehensive system there was a way to encourage those who wanted to do better, a way to support those who required it and the middle ground just got on with it. What changed that was the opportunity for the middle class parents to choose their school and so they took their kids from this system and placed them into a school where most of the intake were middle class, as they were under the impression that made a "better" school.
    This diluted the pool for the local school and so everyone loses.
    The main thing about education is that everyone is given the same OPPORTUNITY to excel. But that was in the days when only 7% of school leavers went to higher education, not the rediculous target of 50% we have now.

  • Comment number 76.

    " 75. At 07:48am on 13 Apr 2010, ih693 wrote:
    When I grew up in Scotland in the 70's, apart from the very few who went to public school, everyone else attended the school in their catchment area. The mix of abilities was obvious and within each year there was streaming, so groups of pupils of similar ability were taught together. There was mobility between the groups every year, and expectations and ability were evenly matched."

    Just because their abilities were similar does not mean they were not disruptive pupils or that they actually wanted to learn.

  • Comment number 77.

    My parents were certainly not wealthy and had to work all hours to keep us. I managed to get into Grammar school not because of where I lived or how much money we had but because I passed the 11 Plus.
    Too many people throw their hands up in despair when testing is mentioned but it seems a reasonable way to determine the way your child is further educated.
    Comprehensive schools should be given all the encouragement possible but so should every child thats keen to learn and put in the effort.

  • Comment number 78.

    "The only school that matters' is Eton if you want a great job"See David Cameron for vacancys.

  • Comment number 79.

    Reading between the lines the question being asked is whether people prefer an excellent 'free' education (comprehensive) versus a good education that you may pay for for (Grammar). The question itself is something of a 'No Brainer'.

    I failed my 11+ and went to the local comprehensive - but turned out to be quite smart - others from my junior school who passed the 11+ went to the local Grammar but returned to the comprehensive to fail their national exams - so in many ways education is courses for horses -

    You can give a child a book - but you can't make them read it - and you can give a child a problem - and similarly not make them solve it.

    You can put a child in a place where the expectation is that they read a book - and the chances are that they will read it - but the child still has to read the book and think about it - to gain the benefits of education for themselves.

    People want to put their children in schools where the expectations are the best. End of.






  • Comment number 80.

    " Children who get to the top from deprived schools, are the true champions." - Steve Clark

    Hear hear! My husband was one of 3 pupils form his enormous 'grammar' school who commenced A Levels. More students from that particular school went to prison than entered the sixth form. He holds a first class MMath with a 95% average grade, has just submitted his thesis for his PhD and was headhunted to become a Research Associate.

    It may be a difficult ride but those who start at the bottom and still reach the top deserve full credit and should make conniving parents trying to shoe-horn their offspring into the favoured schools ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 81.

    Reading this thread I am reminded of the old argument about private medical services v the NHS.

    People demand the right to opt out of the selection and queues of the NHS by paying privately. Those remaining say they have to wait as the doctor they are required to see is too busy with private patients who have 'jumped the queue'.

    People are complaining that they are having to send their children to poor schools whilst the wealthy (supporting with extra finance) use the system to better their children. Which causes a cycle of privilege v exclusion, repeated every generation.

    To my mind there are several considerations that are not mentioned here.

    1 Every child should have the same amount of money spent on them (£x amount) not a penny more or less. This means the end of selection through the 11+ and grammer schools that gave some children a better education by simply taking money from the majority and allocating it to a select few, this is not 'equality'.

    2 Teaching should be a profession not a career. I have heard repeatedly from teachers about the continuing lack of respect and standing in the community they recieve. This could be eliminated if we had a professional body, only concerned with educational standards etc and controling the intake of new professionals. Teachers would be required to have their salary determined by an independant body (as we did have until thatcher abolished it because she wanted total control of public spending, there are somethings governments should HAVE to fund, this is one).

    3 Remove parental influence in school control other than through the board of governers. I can recal a parent turning up at school to ask about a teacher (in 1966) and it was a rare event. Now I know teachers who are continously approached by parents about low marks, detentions etc. This would allow the introduction of discipline. I am not going to go on about what we had in my day. That wasn't discipline, it was deference, 'do as I say or else'. My wife worked in several schools on project work in the 1980's, she was struck by the difference in discipline between schools, all in the same area, so no social exclusion. One school had children, in uniform and well behaved and good exam results, the other schools had no uniform policy, chaos, bullying and poor results.

    3 Stop the political football mentality and promising to 'change' things for the better. That means stopping tinkering with the system, the curriculum, targets etc. About 25% of school places are empty in some schools but the school is kept open as it is in some politicians constituency. Stop the influence and just close bad schools. In particular stop going on about 'choice', this is not about choice between one school and another similar, it is about the choice between good and bad, that is no choice, none at all.

    To go back to the analogy with the private v NHS conflict. This is now old hat as the NHS has had more funding, is less of a political football, and more importantly is now managed properly, (yes I know one or two chief executives have spolied the system, but the majority have improved NHS from what it was).

  • Comment number 82.

    The Sutton Report fails to mention that many of the 'best' comprehensive schools have committed parent input and involvement with those schools?

    If parents only regard their child's school as a 'child-sitting' service, then their children will get the poor education the parent condones?

    If the only time you get involved in your child's education is when the school has a 'problem' with your child - then you only have yourself to blame? Formal education is a crucial aspect of your child's development - but never has, and never will be a substitute for educating 'by stealth' at home too?

    Equally important, but NEVER discussed, is that many schools fail to notice, or even consider, that huge numbers of parents may have difficulty in reading and writing and unable to help children at home? The parents are often too embarrassed to reveal this all their life - and are so used to 'getting by' - they are forced, unintentionally, to fail their child?

  • Comment number 83.

    As a retired teacher, I should like to say that a child, ideally, should have three things to succeed: a supportive home, a good school and a pleasant environment. A child with only two of these things stands a chance i.e. a supportive, even if poor, home and a good school can sometimes overcome the disadvantages of a bad area. If a child has only one of these things, then the prospects are dire indeed. Too many schools are criticised for 'failing' when the truth is that teachers are doing their utmost to compensate for the deficiencies of uncaring homes and appalling social conditions. They cannot do it alone. In the past, schools simply re-inforced the values of society. Now they have to attempt to instil values of self-respect, respect for others and their property, honesty, hard work etc. when pupils see little of these values in the world they inhabit outside school. We acquire a third of our vocabulary before the age of five. Many schools have little to build on as many children arrrive at reception with minimal social, cognitive and language skills and making up these deficiences is hugely challenging.

    I was lucky in that I taught in a comprehensive school in a mixed area - we had families of all types, from the professional middle classes to drug-ridden, chaotic households. We tried to deal with this by 'setting'. The focused, keen pupils were in one set, the not-very-bright but well-behaved in another set, and the real 'hard cases' in another. This meant the bright kids were not held back; the less bright but nice kids were not hassled in class, and the troublemakers could at least be contained. They frequently gave us hell but the other children had a chance to learn unhampered. Often, these troubled youngsters had known no stability and my classroom was for many, the only place where they got the three As that are vital for good learning: authority, attention and affection. I did what I could for all of them and some even made progress. I retired early, not because of the demands of the pupils, huge though these were, but the mountains of paper that swamped us and made the job all but impossible. Before you crticise a 'failing school' or 'incompetent' teachers, follow them round for a week and see what they are up against.

  • Comment number 84.

    Comment 7. Lynne from Sussex "50 years ago, all children, whatever their background had the same chances. Then there were 3 types of secondary schools, the system worked and would work again."

    Not so. I was brought up in Leicestershire and 'failed' (sic) the 11+. I was a late developer. My secondary modern school assumed I was adept at technical skills so offered me woodwork, metalwork, rural science and 'digging'. They did not offer a modern language. At the age of 15 I achieved 9 CSEs some at grade 1. My school career was about to end.

    Fortunately, just in time for me, Leicestershire, under a Tory council, was the first authority, in 1968, to go comprehensive. I was able to go to the newly named upper school, the ex-grammar school. There I achieved 8 O' Levels and 3 A' Levels, then went on to get a good honours degree. Interestingly their woodwork and metal work departments were far superior to my secondary modern school. The school offered better facilities for agriculture and horticulture too. I was able to learn Italian and Arabic whilst there also.

    If the then Tory council had not had the wisdom to recognise that children develop at different rates and have various aptitudes that do not necessarily fall into the academic / non-academic slots I would have been a 15 year old in a dead end job. Instead, now, I am a teacher.

    For old-times sake, the upper school still likes to call itself a grammar school, even though it accepts all children, and it is definitely elitist. It sets children according to ability in a range of subjects. Children change set according to performance measured by regular assessments. So a late developer like me gets the chance to excel when they are ready.

    Unfortunately, in this country, despite Labour's best efforts, we still do have schools that underachieving and not offering children the best. Often these schools are in poorer areas. However this problem cannot be solved by going back to the old selective system. It is a problem to do with school leadership, local funding, and 1 dimensional catchment areas. The solutions follow from that.

  • Comment number 85.

    Barnabas wrote:
    A staggering lack of understanding. Intelligent children are found in both poor and wealthy families. The dividing line between them is opportunity, not genetics.

    This is just a socialist dogma. We all are influenced by our genes. It is not the only thing that influence us (environment does too) but it is still a factor.
    Hundred years ago when education was unavailable to poor people there were the same number of intelligent people among rich and poor. Since the education becomes more and more accessible, those with genetic predisposition for learning tend to go to universities and marry other university graduates producing children with predisposition to learning. This is how biology works.
    This does not mean that all poor people are unable to learn or that all middle class people are clever, but it means that with time the share of those with predisposition to learning will grow among middle class and decrease among working class. The only way to stop it would be to make education again unavailable for working class so that clever working class children are not joining middle classes.

    PS in no way this means that someone should be in any way prejudiced base of class or money when getting education, but this is an explanation why we can't avoid disproportional number of middle class children going to universities whatever the government does.

  • Comment number 86.

    I, like some other posters went through the old 3 tier system and was fortunate enough to pass my 11+, go to the same grammar school that my father and uncles had attended and then on to university. Meanwhile my mother and two aunts were teaching in local secondary modern schools. It may be rose tinted glasses, but the system worked. Virtually all the pupils at my school wanted to learn, do O & A-levels and go into the professions. OK, there were exceptions and mistakes, but pupils could be moved up and down the system even in those days. Even the only boy to be expelled from my school whilst I was there was later seen on point duty outside Charring Cross Station!

    Call it elitist (I prefer meritocracy) but that is what made this country a major world power in its day. In a way it was made easy for the more gifted to progress. Today it's made difficult and look where that's got us.

    Sadly the comprehensive system has ruined education. With the PC brigade insisting that everyone should have the same education with dumbed down exams that no-one can fail, the good pupils are held back and their qualifications are, to say the least, suspect. So yes, even if it smacks of grammar / technical schools by the back door, this country needs schools where academic excellence and real skills are prized and encouraged and where there is no place for the disruptive slacker. I wouldn't say that top comprehensives are more exclusive than grammar schools, just taking their place.

  • Comment number 87.

    Serguei wrote:

    'We all are influenced by our genes. Since the education becomes more and more accessible, those with genetic predisposition for learning tend to go to universities and marry other university graduates producing children with predisposition to learning. This is how biology works.'

    This is conservative rubbish. It goes back to the 11+ and selecting a few to be 'educated' and the rest dumped on the scrap heap. Who decides who has the 'genetically predisposition' to receive a decent education.

    Well-off parents want to 'buy' their children a good education because it is for them not their kids. I read a letter from a 14 schoolgirl who complained that everytime she got good reports/marks her mother whould go on about it to her friends as if it was the mother who had achieved it. People who do not want to re-live their lives through their kids and instead provide a good homelife are left behind by these 'hothouse' parents who look at their kids the same way as they look upon their house/car as a measure of social standing.

    We end up with two stiuations in which parents find themselves and wish they could get out of.

    1 Lying about their status/religion/location etc to get their kids into a 'good'school. The present system is turning parents into criminals.

    2 Doing home/course work (or employing someone &/or downloading work from the internet) that their children should be doing on their own and then presenting it as the childs own effort. This has resulted in some coursework to be abandoned due to widespread cheating, resulting in the return to exclusive memory-test exams (I did well in exams as I can remember a lot of trivial data but it is not for all, I know some very intelligent people who are physically sick as they approach exams).

    Education is for all, each acording to their needs, not their means.

  • Comment number 88.

    Recommend with most of post#29 @ 3:57pm on 12 April 2010. 'LippyLippo'?

    In addition to post#29, my view is that academic attainment does not always equal social skills, practical skills or 'emotional intelligence'?

    Many of the most 'academic' contribute to science, medicine, research etc., but can often be the worst teachers, the most unapproachable or uncaring doctors and the most closed-minded ambitious for personal glory via 'research' turf protection and duplication of research rather than open and genuine sharing of crucial information for progress of mankind?

    It used to be obvious when a pupil/students' practical or academic abilities were allowed to shine. When a student actually wanted to rebuild an engine; create art on their exercise book or critique a work of literature?

    There has been a growth under Labour that your children can go to University? That's fabulous, fair and totally commendable.

    But snobbery is encroaching in our schools and diminishing the most practical and creative pupils/students in our current education system that is further dividing and impoverishing our society?END OF MY POST.




  • Comment number 89.

    I was educated at a Grammar School and I have to say that in addition to learning scholastic subjects I was taught how to be a responsible adult. This is what I believe is lacking at modern schools. My experience was that in school we had a classless society based on ability and not wealth.

  • Comment number 90.

    We need to be clear about what kinds of schools these are. Private schools select on the basis of ability. There are some children from poorer backgrounds, but most are not. And the problem with this is that it removes from the system the wealthiest parents, many of whom might help improve education overall. And what is crazy is that they are given tax incentives to opt out in this way. If they were encouraged to stay in the system then they could help bring about change for the better.

    However, many of the so-called comprehensives are in effect private church schools wholly subsidised by taxpayers - schools that actively discriminate against pupils and staff who are of the 'wrong' religion (or, even worse, are of no religion). And it's no surprise that they are 'socially elite', because how many drug-abusing parents regularly put enough money in a church plate to get their children into a church school? Not a lot. So of course, on average, those schools tend to have less problem parents to deal with. They claim to have better results, but that's only because they ignore the more challenging sectors of society.

    So let's a) end tax incentives for opting out of caring for education for all, and b) end religious discrimination for admissions and teaching posts. Let's have true education, not discriminatory indoctrination.

  • Comment number 91.

    THE MOST DISTURBING aspect of Conservative ideology of parents opening and operating their own schools is that it is totally retrograde and a combination of the worst of the 19th century and the elitism of the 1920s?

    The Conservative are STILL SO distant from 'normal' people. Tories still believe in the 'Tory fantasy' of their own Tory background of very bright parents with not so bright children : and very bright children with not so bright parents already OPERATE THEIR OWN PRIVATE/INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS?

    ACTUALLY, Mr Cameron, parents can and do start their own schools now AND opt for home education already under Labor?

  • Comment number 92.

    I am quite surprised that only 13.5% of pupils at grammar schools are from poor backgrounds. I went to a grammar school 40 years ago and I am sure that the percentage then was higher than that. Has this percentage changed over the years and is so what is the reason?

  • Comment number 93.

    Education of almost any sort is divisive and elitist. It just can't be helped. Some are better at it than others. Those who take well to education want to be with others of the same disposition, and so gravitate towards schools that facilitate this. These schools get better results, move up the league table, and want to maintain that position by any means. These 'exclusive' comprehensives are just grammar schools by another name. Where the local Authority has decided to abandon the grammar system, a form of educational 'reverse osmosis' occurs - the better learners group together in certain schools and become grammars in all but name. Theoretically, it is all to do with learning ability, but as we all know, certain parents play the system to avoid their offspring getting into those schools lower down the league table.

    It's almost pointless trying to stifle this form of educational Darwinism, because it's the nature of the beast. Far better to roll with it, and offer a form of Grammar, Middle and Lower/Special/Reform (or whatever PC name you want to give the lower bands!!) to ALL children, nationwide. Possibly with 'promotions' or 'relegations' if/when childrens' academic aptitude changes to incentivise or challenge them as appropriate (rather than set them in stone at age 11). Maybe this would eliminate the 'coaching' of children to pass the 11+ to get into a grammar school, who then struggle when the coaching stops. Also, it would offer a route into a 'grammar' school for children who can't afford the coaching, but blossom at secondary level. And get rid of the league tables - you're only comparing apples and oranges.

  • Comment number 94.

    WHY DON'T ALL STATE PRIMARY, MIDDLE AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS MODEL THEIR STRUCTURE AND ETHOS ON 'PRIVATE' AND 'INDEPENDENT' SCHOOLS?

    If private and independent schools are so great, why re-invent the wheel, just copy success?

  • Comment number 95.

    "At 02:44am on 13 Apr 2010, Icebloo wrote:

    It makes me laugh how people complain about social injustices like this but when the Labour Party steps in to do anything about it they are accused of using class politics to get votes.

    The rich will ALWAYS have an easier time and easier access to the best education. The Royal Family have added to this problem instead of leading by example. Why didn't they go to their local comprehensives ?"

    Because then someone would have complained that they were stealing places from kids whose parents can't afford to send them elsewhere.

  • Comment number 96.

    "At 08:18am on 13 Apr 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:

    "The only school that matters' is Eton if you want a great job"See David Cameron for vacancys."

    Actually he's not Prime Minister yet and the man who is didn't go to Eton. Plus, Cameron's sending his kids to state schools.

  • Comment number 97.

    "People demand the right to opt out of the selection and queues of the NHS by paying privately. Those remaining say they have to wait as the doctor they are required to see is too busy with private patients who have 'jumped the queue'.

    People are complaining that they are having to send their children to poor schools whilst the wealthy (supporting with extra finance) use the system to better their children. Which causes a cycle of privilege v exclusion, repeated every generation.

    To my mind there are several considerations that are not mentioned here.

    1 Every child should have the same amount of money spent on them (£x amount) not a penny more or less. This means the end of selection through the 11+ and grammer schools that gave some children a better education by simply taking money from the majority and allocating it to a select few, this is not 'equality'."

    Firstly, on the medicine point, not every private doctor sees NHS patients at all and some do a certain number of hours of NHS or private practice, so it's a bit of a nonsense point - they're not busy seeing private patients, they're busy seeing other NHS patients. Plus anyone paying privately is paying twice to see a doctor, once for the NHS and once for their insurance, so it's not like they're failing to contribute to the system.

    On the relevant education point, is it really the case that grammar schools cost more per child than comprehensive places? I'd love to see data on that, and if it was the case what that extra money was spent on.

  • Comment number 98.

    Yes of course as they depend on a catchment area where the house prices are driven up by the performance of the local schools.

    Good schools always attract the best of pupils and treachers which creates a virtuous circle. Thats life people need to understand that.

  • Comment number 99.

    corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    WHY DON'T ALL STATE PRIMARY, MIDDLE AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS MODEL THEIR STRUCTURE AND ETHOS ON 'PRIVATE' AND 'INDEPENDENT' SCHOOLS?


    It's because of the lack of funding, authority and independence that state schools have.
    A good private school will have more than double the funding per pupil per year than an average state school. The government will deny this but that's because they divide the entire education budget by the number of pupils currently in the education system, totally ignoring the fact that over a quarter of this funding goes straight to the department of education and local education authorities and is spent on administration, fact finding projects and other pointless projects such as diversity training and never makes its way to the front line services being provided by our schools.

    Every time you hear the government say they'll put x-amount of money into their new education project you need to remember that at least a quarter of this will go on administration that is often done twice or three times because the department of education, local authorities and the schools themselves will be completing the same paperwork in order to comply with the governments regulations.
    Very little of this paperwork will ever be looked at again, it will just be kept locked up in a cupboard until the school is next inspected.
    This extra funding is often taken out of the overall education budget too so its not really new money; it’s just a reallocation of existing funds.


    I'm in total agreement with you on this one, unfortunately in order to get state schools working like private schools you need to free them from the shackles of the department of education, local education authorities and the teaching unions. Head teachers need to be given the authority to run their schools and control their budgets as they see fit, they shouldn't be filling in forms, ticking boxes and wasting money on whatever trendy idea the government of the day thinks is appropriate.

  • Comment number 100.

    "The main thing about education is that everyone is given the same OPPORTUNITY to excel. But that was in the days when only 7% of school leavers went to higher education, not the rediculous target of 50% we have now."

    Maybe I'm dull. Maybe I've missed something, but how is the cause of equal opportunity served by cutting back on higher education places from 50% to 7%?

 

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