Day 25 – Personal Experiences of Middle Schools

When the subject of education arises, everyone has an opinion, because everyone has first-hand experience of it. That is why teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world – and all of us in SMS passionately support classroom teachers everywhere – some of us are or were teachers. We think teachers in all Bedford schools are doing a fantastic job under the most incredible pressure and uncertainty. Your managers, on the other hand…

Yesterday, SMS started to collect stories of those who have real comparisons of three and two tier to tell…here are three of those…please feel free to add more as comments to Day 25…

The first anecdote is from P, who grew up on the edge of Norfolk and Suffolk. She went to a village primary in two tier Norfolk then on to a much bigger secondary. At age 13-14, pupils joined her secondary from a three tier Suffolk middle school under one of those funny cross-border arrangements that sometimes occur – we have one with Gamlingay Middle School which is Cambridgeshire actually.

P said: “the kids from the middle were so much more mature than us, it took us until GCSEs to catch up with them. The only kids who were considered for Oxbridge entrance from our school had gone to middle school.”

The second anecdote is from R who went to school herself in a three tier authority and now has a daughter in a two tier system. R said her daughter grew up far too quickly at age 11 when she transferred to secondary and did not have time to mature amongst her peer group without pressures and more young adult behaviour from some of the older pupils (hope that was OK James – not all young adults are corruptive influences of course).

For example, her daughter was “skirt rolling” at 12 rather than 14…whatever that is…! R grew up in three tier and said she felt she was better prepared by the system to cope with and resist older behaviour – she still enjoyed the “skirt rolling” but it was only 1 roll not 2 – lol.

The third anecdote came from Somerset and teachers in the system who commented on the blogs in the last couple of days. First of all, thanks guys, your support is so much appreciated. SMS will go on tour to buy a round of apple juice some time. Somerset County Council have been very wise here and allowed individual pyramids of schools in their mainly rural areas to decide what sort of school system fits their needs.

J – a middle school teacher said – “it’s no big shock that in my middle school we always thrash teams in upper KS2 (primary) and Yr 7 (secondary) generally because they haven’t had the specialised coaching and equipment etc that our children have had from Yr 5”. Of course, independent prep schools (age 8-13) have known this for years…

SMS thinks these are powerful anecdotes of why middle school education is so well-regarded by children and parents alike.

If you agree, please support our campaign by signing the petition, writing to the Times and Citizen, and asking your election candidates what they plan to do if elected about this educational scandal.

One Response to Day 25 – Personal Experiences of Middle Schools

  1. Colin Mosedale says:

    The story of Peers School in Oxford is illustrative:

    Peers school in Oxford is one of the 638 “failing” secondaries. Last summer, only 19% of its pupils got five GCSE grades at A*-C, including English and maths, easily the lowest in Oxfordshire and well below the government’s 30% threshold for acceptability.

    Peers, though, was always fighting against the odds…When Oxford’s middle-school system was abandoned in 2003, Peers faced the upheaval of reverting to an 11-18 school. It was one whammy too many.

    Nearly 700 children joined the school in three days, of whom nearly a third had acute levels of need. The school’s approach in the past had been based on giving autonomy and responsibility to an older age group, and it wasn’t prepared for the challenge of dealing with less mature pupils. ,

    Perhaps some of the politicians, local authority officers and civil servants responsible for the succession of upheavals that afflicted Peers should feel uneasy, too. (Peter Wilby writing in the The Guardian, June 2008).

    School reorganisations are complex and difficult to manage. The schools caught up in the changes need to not only consider having the right staff and buildings, but also how they will fundamentally change their cultures and ethos to reflect the needs of their new entrants.

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