The Instigator
xonyo
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
brian_eggleston
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

There is a large gap of intelligence within UK schools.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2009 Category: Education
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,326 times Debate No: 7363
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (3)

 

xonyo

Pro

It may be my own personal experience but I feel that there is a large gap between the smart people and those not so smart in compulsory education within the UK. In my school there is a division of pupils by intelligence into 'bands'. They are called M, A and Y going in descending order of intelligence. Being in my last year the bands have become more mixed and, as a result of this, teachers have had to try and teach at different paces, use different vocabulary and include entirely irrelevant information in certain subjects. I see this as a consequence of the education system's division of pupils. It seems from the age of seven your life can be changed depending on one seemingly unimportant test that means you spend the next nine years trying to catch up whilst going at a slower pace. I know I can't support these facts but some ex pupils came back to the school to talk to teachers about their GCSE results and some were very amazed at being able to spell "fudge" using their grades. Also my school may be considered below the national average but within the school the average grade of someone in A band is a D whereas for someone in M band it is a B.
So please debate and correct me if this is a shambles of an arguement.
brian_eggleston

Con

I would like, first of all, to thank my opponent for posting this interesting debate and also like to take this opportunity to welcome him to debate.org.

Unlike my opponent and myself, many members of this site are not British and will, therefore, be unfamiliar with our education system. I should like to point out that schooling, therefore, that like so many things in Britain, education is very much class-orientated here and at the age of 11, kids in the UK go to one of the following types of schools:

The very rich and bright kids go to "public" schools. These are not aptly named as the child's parents have to be very rich and well-connected even to get their offspring on the waiting list for a place in one. There is a tough entrance exam to pass, as well as sky-high fees to pay. Consequently, places are only occupied by the very elite, who are easily identified by their plumby "received pronunciation" accents in later life.

The dim but rich kids go to "private" schools, which are also very expensive, but the entrance exams are much, much easier to pass.

Then the bright kids (the top 1-2%) from middle and working class families who cannot afford private education go to "grammar" schools, which are state funded but the entrance exams are very tough indeed. There are not many of these - I went to one (I fluked my entrance exam) but it was miles away from where I lived.

Everybody else, the vast majority of children, go to "comprehensive" schools which are state funded and educate the vast majority of British youngsters.

In my opinion, children should not be advantaged or disadvantaged on the basis of their parents' wealth, since they have no control over that, but rather that there should be selection purely on the basis of academic ability. I would suggest three tiers of schools: grammar, high and comprehensive, with the grammar schools focusing on academic qualifications and the comprehensive concentrating more on practical subjects.

This would negate the problems my opponent has highlighted. That said, however, since the vast majority of kids presently go to comprehensive schools and the subjects are divided into "sets" (M, Y, and A) according to academic ability, there is no reason for a bright kid to be held back by a slower child - or a less academic kid to feel out of his or her depth in more accomplished company. Therefore, my opponent's argument, as it it stands, is null and void.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
xonyo

Pro

Thank you for taking up the debate.

I would like to comment on your system of focusing on academic subjects in grammar schools and practical subjects in comprehensive schools. I think that this may be neglecting some students aspirations. If, for example, a less academic child wanted to become a doctor, the chance to become one should not be denied to them. Your system of dividing students into academic ability instead of basing their level of education on money is excellent however the children's family is the largest influence on their life and intelligence, not education. An article from the times shows that the performance gap was 20% between rich children and poor children at the age of 7. By the age of 16 it was 43.1% showing a huge gap of intelligence and performance. So in an education system where money is not a factor and academic skill and knowledge affects the school you attend it would still be the rich children at grammar school and the poorer children at comprehensive.

Also, the division of sets cannot be perfect, there are not enough resources to accommodate a less academic child in a more academic subject. If someone in a lower set decided to take law then it would be their choice and the teachers duty to teach them that subject. The lower set child has no choice but to move up a set in order to take the subject because of it's academic nature. I believe that because that person has come from a lower set they would be less academic regardless of their potential and consequently other students would be affected by them. The reason would be because of the child's background and because they were put in a lower set. Once in a lower set it is very hard to advance as pupils in the lower set generally don't behave as well and work less, so even a well behaved, hard working pupil would find it hard to proceed onto a higher set due to the obstacles they have to overcome.

To conclude the students' separation creates a larger gap of intelligence and money will always have an effect on the child's education, opportunities and career. The nature of certain academic subjects means that pupils will have to move up or down sets creating mixed groups and thus the problem emerges.

Thank you.

The article from the times I used. http://www.timesonline.co.uk...
brian_eggleston

Con

My opponent has made some very valid points and I fully accept that no education system is perfect. However, he misses a fundamental point. Grading into sets, according to ability, is not done across the board. For example, a pupil may be gifted at maths and science, yet struggle with English and art. The fact that they may be in the bottom set for one subject and in the top for another does not reflect badly on their overall intelligence.

By setting the lessons pace according to the overall ability of the class, with a slower approach to those in the less advanced sets and a faster, more in-depth approach to those the more advanced sets, the school can tailor the curriculum according to need, while all the time making sure no child is left behind.

If a student is ambitious, he can devote more of his private time to revising his weaker subjects in order to gain promotion to the next set.

At the end of the day, we all have our strong and weak subjects and it is up to pupils as individuals to take the responsibility for improving where necessary, not the teachers' or the parents.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
xonyo

Pro

Some excellent points. However I would like to point out that in many cases classes commence at the same time across subjects in all sets meaning that some classes would not be able to be attended. There is almost no way of creating a system in which every child is in the right class for that subject. Unless done on a much smaller scale it would be an unavoidable obstacle. If there were ways of getting some children to attend the right classes for them then it would be considered unfair on others, so dividing into sets according to core subjects is the fairest option available.

Other factors also come into play such as the capacity to learn. Many children who fail some subjects do so because of their lack of capacity. The level at which children study at is not high enough to make the most prominent cause of failing subject matter. So a child gifted at English is more likely to be at average or above level in mathematics due to their natural ability and capacity to learn.

Thank you.
brian_eggleston

Con

As this debate continues, I have reached the conclusion that there is no great ideological difference between us - we both want kids of all abilities to have the best possible education. However, it is clear to me, at least, that educational resources should be targeted to best suit the needs of the individual pupil.

Yes, I agree that there are gaps between relative intelligence, but not every child aspires to be a brain surgeon. For example. my father is a humble shipyard worker - he never earned much, but he always worked hard and is proud of what he does, and I am proud to be his son, and that's what is important.

The education system should play to the students' strengths - whether that be academic or practical - after all, we can't all be rocket scientists.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by one-2-won 7 years ago
one-2-won
I am privately educated within the British education system.
In my school, there is a clear division between the students and we are streamed in every subject according to our perceived ability. This streaming i reassessed every term to ensure it is as fair as possible.
In this way, nobody is held back by any other less able student and our placing in sets in reviewed frequently enough for the staff to say that our streaming is a true depiction of our ability.
It is difficult I am sure to find a "perfect" education but I beiieve my school is as fair as possible. This said, I am sure that it is not the same in all schools.
I agree that family wealth should not influence their child's chances to succeed. My school is a prime example as there are students whose GCSE grades average out at around C (average) and so wealth has been a decided factor in their placement when perhaps a poorer more able student has been denied a place. There are also students (like myself) who obtained straight A*s. So I think the difference in academic attainment is apparent although it does not affect any other students sucess.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Reading the entire debate, I still have no idea what the resolution was. However, Con seemed to concede that Pro had made his case.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Puck, Is it really the case that the teacher best at teaching calculus is also the best at teaching arithmetic? Maybe, but it isn't obvious. It seems to me that teaching advanced material requires less teaching skill and more subject knowledge. I think I could teach calculus, but I doubt I could teach arithmetic. Also, there is quite a penalty for keeping the best students bored to tears. Interesting topic.
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
In regards to tracking, Roy, it tends to be that those in the highest level get the best teachers, those in the lowest level tend to fall further behind their peers (including highest achieved level of education) - for the lowest level at least the system is normally self defeating - more an issue of funding and ideology though than the tier system itself, I would hazard.
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
" it appears to be a task designing a study rather than participating in a debate."

Not even that...all he has done is described in rough detail the bell curve distribution of IQ. It's normal.

It appears more to be about education policy than population statistics.
Posted by XimenBao 7 years ago
XimenBao
And this is the point that I learn I can't edit to correct typos.
Posted by XimenBao 7 years ago
XimenBao
I also wonder what the debatable proposition is.

You're opening statement seems to ask if there is a large gap between bands. Assuming that by 'gap' you mean a measurable difference in testable IQ or school test scores, it appears to be a task designing a study rather than participating in a debate.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
This seems like an interesting topic, but I'm not sure what resolution you are supporting. It is "In U.K. schools, students are often assigned to the wrong band"? In the US, the system of sorting by intelligence is called "tracking" ... or at least that's what it used to be called. Using that system seems to wander in and out of favor. I favor the system, but it does need to be done right.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Renzzy 7 years ago
Renzzy
xonyobrian_egglestonTied
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Vote Placed by philosphical 7 years ago
philosphical
xonyobrian_egglestonTied
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
xonyobrian_egglestonTied
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