Friday, June 20, 2008


Ed Balls thinks that Grammar Schools are responsible for making pupils feel like failures. I think that crap comprehensive schools where you can just muck about all day and not learn anything are far more likely to make their pupils feel like failures (a few years after they leave with no useful qualifications). Ed forgets to mention that he was lucky enough to have parents who could afford to send him to a nice public school in Nottingham where he received an excellent education which enabled him to get to Oxford University.

A local grammar school is the only chance (however small) that Wayne Scroggins from Scuzzertown has of going to Oxford too, but you can't say that in education; so sorry Wayne, it's St. Thickchilds for you I'm afraid.

Oh, by the way if your school is trying to raise some money but can't be bothered with a boring old sponsored walk, why not try a Bird Hunt?


The Underdoug said...

Exactly what happened to me in the early 80s. Unless you knew about the grammar school in the next borough (which my parents didn't), my junior school teachers were not allowed to tell you about its existence and the possibility of applying for it. Socialist diktat also said that they had to promote the nearby sink comprehensive at all costs (we did know about that and I didn't end up there).

Bloody socialists. I could have become an Oxbridge-educated bullsh*tting politician if not for them. Instead my lessons in English grammar consisted of "No, that doesn't sound right."

Now I get to boldly split infinitives wherever I go and get to carry a chip on my shoulder so large that the frying oil could fly an jumbo jet from London to New York.

Anonymous said...

The existance of the split infinitive in English is a mis-conception from our educated elite who have studied latin at their posh schools. They use this knowledge to make those of us from poorer backgrounds feel inferior to them.

It is perfectly acceptable to use a spit infinitive in English 'cos the alternative is 'Now I get to split boldly infinitives wherever I go': which is obviously much more correcter.

fatgit said...

No, no, no, Mr Chalk: the crap comprehensive may make them feel like failures (rightly), but this is not "feeling like a failure", it's quite obviously "low self-esteem"! I would have thought you knew that trick by now, I do, and I'm not even a teacher!

MadOldBat said...

When I was 12 years old (many years ago) my father was posted to England with the Australian Army.He took me to the local comprehensive (which was just around the corner ) to enrol.
I still remember my astonishment when the principal asked my father what were his plans for my future.On hearing that I was expected to go to university he said "well she shouldn't come here".He advised that Dad should insist on enrollment at a grammar school (where I spent the next two years.)rcsvqf (My astonishment being that the principal of a school should denigrate it ).

Mr Natural said...

The tripartite system could have worked but
(i) the proportion of grammar school places varied widely between local authorities;
(ii) girls were discriminated against;
(iii) secondary modern schools were hopelessly underfunded;
(iv) technical schools were too expensive;
(v) grammar school teachers enjoyed much higher status than their secondary modern colleagues.

The comprehensive (or multilateral) system might have worked (as it indeed did in 1950s Anglesey) but
(i) oversized schools were cobbled together from existing buildings, and the building standards were appalling (remember high-alumina cement?). I have taught in third-hand Portacabins that would have been judged unfit for the inmates of Her Majesty’s Prisons.
(ii) top jobs were often given to grammar school teachers who had no idea of the needs of non-academic children;
(iii) just as comprehensives were getting under way, local authority expenditure was limited by the Callaghan government and buildings were then left unrepaired throughout the eighties;
(iv) the strategies for maintaining discipline were removed and no effective substitutes found.

A new version of the tripartite system could work if
(i) the grammar schools were highly academic and suitable only for a small proportion of the population;
(ii) the modern and technical schools were very generously funded and staffed with highly trained, well-paid teachers teaching very small groups in manageable-sized schools;
(iii) pupils could move freely between the schools to accommodate talents that developed at different stages.

Lilyofthefield said...

It's the "moving freely" bit that's unworkable. Having a good year just before going off the rails and hitting the E already results in constant movements between bands and sets in comps. You end up with stupidly huge classes in one band and eleven in another; or rather you don't because you start rearranging the kids on the basis of workability.

Similarly we have disruptive reallocations on the grounds that baseline ability upon entry when you've just got off a boat from the Congo and don't speak English tend to shove you into the lower sets. Within a year you turn out to have been jolly clever all along but the changing allocation has already been reached, exceeded and waved goodbye.

Movemnet between academic-based schools and errmmm... the other should be annual at the most. It should never be based on a test that it is in the school's interest to manipulate (SATs). Otherwise I agree that too much talent is being wasted piddling about in the shallows of spoonfed comprehensive edutainment. We've had a lot of focus on doing what we can to bring on the bottom 20% and avoid their education being a waste of time. Now it's time to have a look at the top end. They are losing all expoerience of striving. A bright child in a comp can achieve As with very little personal effort. My own son was bright but bone idle yet was never challenged for it at school. His response was "I get As for doing nothing. I can live without an A*." It's a bad lesson for life.

DorsetDipper said...

there are still quite a lot of students going to Oxbridge from comprehensives, so think you miss the target.

Yes there are crap comprehensives, and there were crap Grammar schools. My local one took the cream of the city and sent them to Oxbridge in large numbers, but from what I gathered if you weren't in that select group you got a thoroughly dismal education.

Anonymous said...

'there are still quite a lot of students going to Oxbridge from comprehensives'

Look up the stats, Dorset Dipper. There are less students from the state sector at Oxford and Cambridge now than there were in 1970.

doris said...

Dorset Dipper - surely the point is that there are good grammars and good comps - so let's find out what they're doing right and copy it. In some case this will mean copying what a good comp is doing. In other cases, this will mean copying what a good grammar.... oh hang on. That's ideologically impure, though.

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