Posts Tagged ‘Grammar schools’

@LucyMPowell @jeremycorbyn Comprehensives aren’t

September 15, 2016

The trouble with comprehensives is that they aren’t.  Especially when mixed in with Public schools and Grammar Schools.
They are too small to comprehensively bring out the talents of all pupils.
Consider the typical urban secondary school.
It’s built to house about 1000 pupils, i.e it has a 7 form entry with 200 pupils per year group.
What’s it meant to provide?
The core requirement is education in English, Maths and Science. English can be split into English literature and English Language. Science is essentially Biology, some Chemistry and a nod at Physics.
We actually have 6 core subjects.
Take in a foreign language (usually French), History, Geography and P.E.
We now have 10 topics.
How about Civics, Drama, Handicrafts, R.E., Domestic Science, Art, Business Studies, I.T. and whatever else may be demanded by various high-minded pressure groups.
That’s 18 topics, which we want to inculcate in a school week of 37.5 hours.

Allowing for movement between classrooms, registration etc., we can say 2 hours per subject per week.
This is jiggled around a bit, with some internal segregation based on staff procurement and administrative whim.
But, basically, we are offering the seemingly attractiveg goal of a rounded education.
Is that what we, pupils included, need?

I contend that we are producing generalists, when we need specialists and when we should be catering for the interests and natural talents of our Children, not squeezing them into a one size fits all.

Comprehensives, as they are, can’t cope with specialists, as well as a dedicated school can.
If we want to develop natural talents then we need a system, which allows pupils to focus on relevant skills, as and where needed.
This means either small class sizes, or bigger intakes.
Both cases call for extra facilities and extra staff.
(last I heard; in UK schools, budgets were 80% staff and 20% facilities, whereas in the USA, those proportions are reversed).
UK Government would never spend that much on Schools (Look at how cheaply built, the buildings are).
Either schools have to be coalesced into one large campus, or individual pupils need to attend more than one school.

Pupils, who may be destined for a sports career, needing extra coaching in caring for their physicality, understanding their bodies and how to avoid long term damage, whilst still young: With an eye to possible alternative careers, such as Physio’s etc.
Those with acting skills need relevant, coaching plus an engagement with literature, stage direction etc.
Doctor’s, nurses etc. need all three Sciences (plus Latin).
Engineer’s need the Hard Sciences, Mathematics and a good familiarity with structural handicrafts.
I’m sure experts from these fields could better outline the extra teaching and facilities required by pupils.

An extra thought is that Friday is the most problematic, in terms of maintaining discipline.  Making this the specialist school day would not only help, here, but would facilitate any out-of-school excursions.

Pupils would also need guidance and advice, which could probably be better provided by a social worker,  attached to the needs of the child rather than the school.  (as opposed to a Head of Year)
Such a person could better co-ordinate pressures from home and school, with power to swiftly change school provision, as circumstances require.
Personally I’d have such people directly controlled by Central Government, to avoid local political pressures on them, but most politicians don’t think in such terms.

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@andyburnhammp @GdnPolitics @dailyexpressuk Comprehensives have failed, So have Grammars.

September 7, 2016

Instead of chanting “grammar schools bad”, “comprehensives good”, step back a minute and think about what it is you want.
I would say most (Parents and Society) want a populace doing what they are best at and what they enjoy most.

Generally speaking these are identical aims.
The old adage that “nothing succeeds like success” merely reflects that we enjoy doing what we’re good at.
It is a crime to force kids to undertake a one size fits all education.

Instead of railing at Grammar schools, we should think about what they were intended to do.

They were intended to “cream off” (an unfortunate allusion) the Academic slash professional classes and fast track them.

They were partially successful and helped Working class kids of my post-war generation to break through the class barrier. The fact that they neglected the remaining 80% of the population was abominable but all that Comprehensives did was kick those working class kids back into the stew.

We’ve had nearly half a century of the comprehensive experiment and only those blinded by political ideology would say it has been successful.
Instead of decrying selection, I demand that we consider greater selection.
We all have different aptitudes and preferences.
In my case the 11+ was ideally designed to select me as a Physicist i.e. good at Maths, seeing patterns and mentally lazy.
In Ancient Sparta selection was for hardiness and stamina. I would have failed miserably.
We need a system that allows people to show their innate skills and predilections.

Throw out SAT’s etc. and work backwards.

What skills are needed to be a linguist? A politician (integrity?), an artist, an actor etc.
Forget about what Industrialists say they need (they’re all pratt’s, antway), see what you’ve got.

I recall applying for a job as a fork lift truck driver and being rejected as being TOO brainy. I was told I’d get bored and bugger off, as soon as I was trained. They wanted someone, who would achieve satisfaction by such a job and take pride in being speedy and careful. All jobs have their own requirements.

Instead of shoving stuff into heads that reject that stuff, let’s identify what’s there and draw it out; that’s, etymologically what education means.

Grammar schools shouldn’t be blamed for the failure of Secondary Moderns

August 8, 2016

As a Socialist, who benefitted from a Grammar School education and the taught Physics in a Comprehensive, I would like to see a return to Tertiary Education.
Grammar schools prepare pupils, who have the ability, to go on to career’s in the profession’s. Providing they are not seen as a sort of State sponsored Public School, where the children of the rich can be given an unfair advantage, I see nothing wrong with this intention. It is, in fact, to the benefit of the Nation as a whole.
Of course, there are late developer’s and there are the precocious, who will be failed by the system but that is unavoidable in life generally. At the time that the system ended, there were attempts to cater for late developers, such as the 13+ and State funded night schools. Such schemes helped in many cases.
Other’s, who had ability but were less bookish went on to technical college and provided the nation with the electricians, plumbers and other artisans and artists, whom we now see a shortage of.
60% of pupils went to Secondary Modern Schools, where, we were told, they were “dumped” together. I disagree. There may have been some middle class kids, forced to mingle with those from council estates, but most were given a basic education, which enabled them to earn a living. They were no worse off than they are now, in a modern Comprehensive. In some ways they were better off.
Generally, teacher’s will try to protect and nurture the most talented in their care.
In a modern Comprehensive, that will be those who would have passed the 11+. In the old Secondary Modern it would be the best of the rest.
In a Modern Comprehensive, the intention is to try and give all pupils the equivalent of a Grammar school education but without the Latin.
But who does it benefit, to force pupils to try and cope with subjects and topics, beyond their range.
Pupils, who can’t understand why “should of” is bad English, will always struggle with conversational French and German.
Pupils, who struggle with decimals and fractions are never going to get Trignometry, or Algebra, or any of the hard Sciences.
You can’t make those subjects “fun” for those whose talents may lie elsewhere.
You create resentment in those, who are made to see themselves as failure’s and you fail those who could have benefitted from a stronger pace.
The failure wasn’t in Grammars, or technical schools; it was in Secondary moderns not being geared to cater for those with creative skills, those with physical prowess, musical abilities etc., preferably with separate school sites to accomodate them.As a Socialist, who benefitted from a Grammar School education and the taught Physics in a Comprehensive, I would like to see a return to Tertiary Education.
Grammar schools prepare pupils, who have the ability, to go on to career’s in the profession’s. Providing they are not seen as a sort of State sponsored Public School, where the children of the rich can be given an unfair advantage, I see nothing wrong with this intention. It is, in fact, to the benefit of the Nation as a whole.
Of course, there are late developer’s and there are the precocious, who will be failed by the system but that is unavoidable in life generally. At the time that the system ended, there were attempts to cater for late developers, such as the 13+ and State funded night schools. Such schemes helped in many cases.
Other’s, who had ability but were less bookish went on to technical college and provided the nation with the electricians, plumbers and other artisans and artists, whom we now see a shortage of.
60% of pupils went to Secondary Modern Schools, where, we were told, they were “dumped” together. I disagree. There may have been some middle class kids, forced to mingle with those from council estates, but most were given a basic education, which enabled them to earn a living. They were no worse off than they are now, in a modern Comprehensive. In some ways they were better off.
Generally, teacher’s will try to protect and nurture the most talented in their care.
In a modern Comprehensive, that will be those who would have passed the 11+. In the old Secondary Modern it would be the best of the rest.
In a Modern Comprehensive, the intention is to try and give all pupils the equivalent of a Grammar school education but without the Latin.
But who does it benefit, to force pupils to try and cope with subjects and topics, beyond their range.
Pupils, who can’t understand why “should of” is bad English, will always struggle with conversational French and German.
Pupils, who struggle with decimals and fractions are never going to get Trignometry, or Algebra, or any of the hard Sciences.
You can’t make those subjects “fun” for those whose talents may lie elsewhere.
You create resentment in those, who are made to see themselves as failure’s and you fail those who could have benefitted from a stronger pace.
The failure wasn’t in Grammars, or technical schools; it was in Secondary moderns not being geared to cater for those with creative skills, those with physical prowess, musical abilities etc., preferably with separate school sites to accomodate them.