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Editor

John - you are completely boring on the subject of Iain's Cllr stuff.

I have asked you to stop this personal abuse before.

You haven't and so I've banned the four IP addresses you have used up until now.

Alas, I fear you'll pop up through other addresses but this playing the person rather than the ball is not welcome on this blog.

Rick

"Sorry about my disgraceful spelling. Thats what a comprehensive education (and a hang over) does to you. I am amazed I even managed to get into university."

Superb answer !


Mollie Sugden was Jimmy Clitheroe's TV mom !

Rick

"He came to the north today, and went to a safe Conservative seat."


Truly wonderful that he could find one !! No doubt they will have another in a few years time !

Stephen Alley

This has been a brilliant discussion and Cllr Lindley has lent his expertise to this discussion. I do feel, Editor, that it is a bit harsh to show John the red card, but as we know "The editor's decision is final.", no sarcastic clapping please.

Back to the discussion, there are a few points that have been raised by Cllr Lindley, Buxtehude:

For Grammar schools to work:
1) There will need to be compulsory 11+ examinations.
2) There will need to be significantly more Grammar schools than DD suggests. What is the right percentage 30%, 40%, 50% of secondary students attend a grammar school?

And by Stefan Fraczek on why Grammar schools work:
1) 800 gifted and talented youngsters, really want to learn and do well.
2) Disciplinary problems are so insignificant as to be laughable.

I, myself am not in favour of selection, as I see it to be socially divisive. I agree with Stefan's points, but there is the other side of the coin:
1) 800 "untalented" youngsters not wanting to learn in a defeatist environment.
2) Disciplinary problems at non-grammar schools will surely be exacerbated.
Although these statements easily countered by the arguments that students who don't attend grammar schools will receive more appropriate teaching and the discipline/authority they require.

What I don't understand is why the option of straaming students by ability within the same school does not receive more attention. This way you can have your cake and eat it. If as Cllr Lindley says, there are on average 200 pupils per year group, you can have 6 classes of 30 each taught at a different pace for mathematics, english, sciences and other core subjects. This also removes the social division, as outside of classes, which is in effect the majority of time, all students are together. There are issues of discipline, but then perhaps guidance can be given on dealing with this.

Lastly, surely the only way to solve this issue once and for all, in whether to select or not to select, is to have a sufficiently large case study, where one city (Manchester) adopts 50% Grammar schools, and another city (Liverpool) sticks with its comprehensive schools. I'm sure it will not be that easy, but you get my drift.

Now for a similar discussion on the health services. As I have said all along, public services will unavoidably be the main issue at the next election, and the challenge is for the Conservative party to find conservative solutions that are palatable to the electorate as a whole.

Editor

It's a kind of yellow card, Stephen; JC has agreed not to personally attack other bloggers in future so his ban will be lifted after 48 hours. I'm a softy really.

Rick

"I, myself am not in favour of selection, as I see it to be socially divisive."


How gratifying not to be living in a divided society at present..........the comprehensive ideal has obviously brought harmony into our society after the thuggery and ignorance of Grammar School boys who terrorised their neighbourhoods.

I think that about paraphrases your argument, doesn't it ?

BTW. Do you see schools like Eton, St Paul's, Harrow as "socially divisive" ? Do you think they too should become comprehensives ?

Stephen Alley

Rick,

Of course, public schools are socially divisive. But, the state has no right to prevent people from attending private school. Furthermore as long as public schools charge over 20,000 pounds per year, this will always represent the minority, less than 5% of students.

I just don't believe that introducing Grammar schools will:
1) Significantly improve the academic results of all students nationwide.
or
2) Improve social cohesion.

Your argument is similar to that of the smoker who says: "The air is so polluted, I might as well smoke anyway.". Yes, the air is polluted, but smoking is only going to further aggravate your health. Yes, public schools are mildly socially divisive, but introducing Grammar schools will divide society into those are intellectually able and those who are not.

I hope my analogy makes my argument clearer and does not confuse it.

Rick

Well since public schools and boarding schools are predominantly in the South and Grammar Schools were predominantly in the North I see this as highly divisive. In fact, I would go as far as to say if we are to have a comprehensive system without Grammar Schools then public schools should lose charitable status and be forced to charge VAT on fees.

The Grammar Schools would never have been abolished if the Middle Class had been unable to buy their children into schools which their intellectual ability would not have merited under any other system of selection.

In fact I should like all schools to be means-tested and school fees introduced across the board but under VAT regulations State schools would not levy the tax

Rick

£20.000 is only for boarders.........and in many cases the taxpayer meets these costs for Military, Diplomatic and other government employees. There are hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money spent on school fees at Wellington College and other establishments.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Excellent post Stephen, your analysis about what is needed for a grammar system to work is spot-on, and if Davis wants to persue the return of grammar schools (something on which he has my support) he needs to work on those lines, and outline clearly how the "modern secondary modern" fits into the equation and how it will avoid the problems of exclusion and indifference from those who do not make it to the grammar school.

I'd also like to see a suitable flexible mechanism proposed for moving between the two schools. Some children develop late and some peak early and stall...

Rick

"modern secondary modern"

You forget the Technical Schools which are very sadly lacking - with those the country could have had a solid base.

The British however despise technical education and subvert such institutions into liberal arts as fast as they can. Technical institutions cost money for equipment, lathes, workshops, laboratories etc. Forget your secondary moderns - let's have some focused technical schools. It is hard to find mechanics today who can spot or mig weld, and the basic skills are lost which is why there are bodyshops here with Poles and fundamental skills are in short supply. I want people who can build and strip engines, panel-beat, maintain lathes - not a bunch of people with a fake NVQ in ICT pretending it is worth 4 GCSEs...............just what can they do with it ?

Cllr Iain Lindley

Rick those are exactly the sort of points that need to be raised in terms of what goes alongside a revived grammar system...

Stephen Alley

Cllr Lindley,

I do like your idea of promotion and relegation in the Grammar school system in principle. It would give ambitious students something to aim for. I'm really uncomfortable with sending students to schools where they are predestined to academic mediocrity. However, in practice I don't think many parents would agree with their child leaving a Grammar school, so called "relegation". If this is to work it should be a one-way process, where the best performing students are invited to join Grammar schools.

However, Cllr Lindley, what is your position on straaming students by ability within the same school?

Rick,

I agree with you in so far as Grammar schools should be available in the South and in the North should they be resurrected, even though I am against them in principle. I think VAT is not levied on school fees, as education is deemed to be in the common good, in much the same way as books and milk are in the common good.

I do agree with you when you say that middle class parents who have been unable to get their children into Grammar schools are responsible for the demise of Grammar schools. However, I think this reiterates the point that conservative solutions for the public services should be good enough for all, or at least most. Hence, Grammar schools and paying half of private health care are not policies that appeal to the middle classes. I think in the Editor's dictionary of conservatism he calls this the "And theory of conservatism". "Good for me and good for my neighbour".

Rick

Having worked on the shop-floor in both British and German factories, and in the boardroom in Germany I know which country has better training, and I know what Azubis learn in Germany. I also know that the US has no national certification for mechanics and the like, and that it gets fun when you deal with German, Swedish and Japanese engineers assessing each other's products.

Cllr Iain Lindley

what is your position on streaming students by ability within the same school?

I'm absolutely 100% in favour of streaming. If done correctly it provides many of the benefits of grammar school education with much more flexibility if you end up in the wrong place - it's easy to change set, much more difficult to change school!

It also allows children who excel in certain areas to progress in all areas at the pace which suits them best. For example, I had several acquaintances at school who excelled at English yet struggled at Maths - they could quite easily fit into a high English stream and a lower Maths stream.

Are independently-run, parent-backed, mixed-ability streaming schools, accompanied by the right ethos, the direction in which we ought to head?

Ronald Collinson

The restoration of grammar schools would induce greater social mobility in society, and would the potential of the most intelligent fifth of the population from being wasted. Many of those people I am acquainted with – articulate, intelligent, knowledgeable people – find themselves failing at school. The GCSE syllabi are simply too shallow, with too little emphasis on understanding of topics, to maintain the interest of the most intelligent. Furthermore, being surrounded by people who are less academically successful is conducive to arrogance, and causes people to be satisfied with examination results far below their potential – and so, it follows, to become accustomed to 'coasting', confident that their natural abilities will allow them to get a free ride through life.

If I might present some anecdotal evidence: I know a man who is of great intelligence, with an exceptional memory and insatiable thirst for knowledge. Such was the extent of his reading that he was able to gain four As at A Level despite rarely attending school. His attendance was so low, in fact, that he was unaware of the date by which his UCAS form had to be handed in, and, consequentially, has spent the last two years working in a supermarket. This is a waste of his talents. Whilst I can hardly condone his behaviour, it is understandable why he – and the hundreds like him – find themselves unable to enjoy school.

Grammar schools cover more material, more thoroughly, and encourage both high standards and an appreciation of the value of other people. The constant, crippling pressure involved in a streaming system is also removed, to be replaced with a more long-term pressure towards getting sufficiently good GCSE results to remain in the school.

Teachers have different preferences. Some find that they work best with bright children; many others are much more comfortable with those who have greater difficulty. By seperating the majority from the most gifted, the danger of a sense of inferiority developing is removed, and it is likely that teachers more suited to teaching such students will be employed.

There is no reason that less intelligent people should be more disruptive. That is simply a matter of discipline, and of establishing the correct ethos within a school. Malton High School in Yorkshire, for example, may be a comprehensive school, but it excels many of the existing grammar schools. Its headmaster is a Quaker, and has been able to instil his own work ethic into the student body. It might get lower results if the most intelligent were removed, but the remaining students would undoubtedly do better.

Of course, twenty schools will not help a tremendous number of people, but they will at least ensure that there remains some representation of the lower classes in our elite. It would be a start.

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