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 Post subject: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 15:19 
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Apologies if this has been asked before, but I'm just re-reading 'New Mistress' and was wondering: is it honestly plausible that people of 12 nearly 13 (the Trips) and a 16+ year old (Yseult) would be in the same form? How realistic was that in schools of that time?
If the Maynards were to be at the main school until they were 16 / 17 years old (the same age as the prefects in New Mistress), did they then spend the next four years in the fifth and sixth forms? Seems like an awfully long time to cover two years of school!

I'm also confused by the number of forms in the school - there's 'Lower-this-a' and 'Upper-that-a' and 'Upper-this-b'. Did it depend on how many girls of a certain age were in each academic group? And does the a/b division exist because there were, for example, 30 girls all of same academic ability and so were randomly split into a and b divisions, or were the divisions representative of academic ability, so the 'a' girls were cleverer than the 'b' girls?
It must have been very confusing for both girls and mistresses alike if people were moving between forms during the academic year; if one form were doing one Shakespeare play and one were doing another, there must have been a lot of catching up to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 15:31 
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I think the form structure confuses everyone :D. They seem to have Lower IVa, Lower IVb, Upper IVa and Upper IVb, which would make sense if a and b were streams, or if they were two forms at the same level because there were too many girls in that academic year for one form, as you say, but it seems as if everyone eventually moves from one to the other, which would mean taking four academic years to complete the second and third years of secondary school :roll:. Va and Vb usually seem to be Upper and Lower Vth, which makes more sense, but sometimes there are Upper Va and Upper Vb forms as well.

EBD got in a muddle with the triplets. She set the original cut-off age for going to Switzerland at 12, but made an exception for the triplets, who were only 10, so they were put with girls two years older than them. Then she must have realised that, at that rate, they'd be way too young when they reached the VIth form, so she created Inter V, and put Yseult in it because she wanted the problematic new girl in the form on which she planned to focus for that book.

The triplets leave school in the July before they turn 19 in the November, so they spend 6 years in the V and VI forms!

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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 16:28 
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Historically (particularly in boys' schools) the form you were in was entirely decided by your academic attainments. Your age was irrelevant. (We have seen this in a minor way with the CS when the Ozannes are removed from school when it becomes clear that they aren't going to progress above the fifth form academically)

In this case, the idea of Inter V as a "remove" form does make the age difference more likely and the explanation in "new Mistress" is very clear as to its purpose. You would expect the form to be quite small, for there to be a lot pf individual coaching and for people to move out of the form once they had attained the academic means to keep up with a mainstream class.

The problem really comes when EBD forgets that Inter V was supposed to be a "remove" or "shell" and Inter V becomes an ordinary class through which people pass on their way through school

Specifically, in the Maynards' case, there's an issue of emotional maturity. Regardless of whether they could (or have) covered the work, there would be a problem with them being with a form where people's thinking and views are more mature, are more adult. Universities are reluctant to take people much under 18 (and where they do the child usually lives at home and is accompanied to lectures by a parent - clearly not a possibility in this case) so the Triplets are going to have to be coped with in school until they are 17 -18. Extension teaching where a subject is broadened rather than advanced or where there are sidesteps into subjects not usually learnt (perhaps an extra language - step forward, Miss Denny!) is a good means of doing that and a form like Inter V should have been flexible enough to allow that.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 16:42 
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I think EBD had to keep the triplets on that extra year because by that stage she would have found it very difficult to write the CS without them.

Is it a good idea having girls of very different ages in the one class? More than just their academic ability comes into it such as physical and emotional development, maturity etc. This can happen at different ages anyway but it was making it more difficult. What, too, about bedtimes and being with girls of a different age the whole time?

Maybe it would be better pupils being in forms decided by age but if they were really exceptional being with older pupils for that subject only, say Con with English. That would be difficult for timetables but would be best where managed.

Edited to add after seeing Victoria's post

Going to university at a young age can be more of a problem in Scotland where pupils can have all of the necessary qualifications at the end of their second last school year. Therefore a pupil whose birthday is at the end of a year/beginning of the next could go to university in another part of the country at 16. This is perfectly permissible although I don't think good.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 17:09 
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I can't understand how the triplets could have possibly have 'covered' the work necessary for a remove to any fifth. Their French after one/two years at a French-speaking convent would make them better than the rest while the school consists of all British girls. But History, Geography, Science and English? How?


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 17:31 
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The triplets should have been in Lower Third when they came back from Canada, so even Margot the so-called lazy one is a form ahead of where she ought to be. Bride is moved up to Lower Third at age 10 in Lavender and it's considered a big deal, so for Len at the same age to be put into Upper Fourth (and when she's just missed a year of the school's curriculum to boot) with girls of thirteen and fourteen is ridiculous. She must have missed tons of the groundwork that the Thirds and Fourths do before going onto more advanced stuff in the Fifth. She's said to be clever, so being a form ahead sounds perfectly reasonable, but she's not described as some sort of Matilda-like child genius, so her being three forms ahead is just silly. If EBD had held off the Swiss move for one more year, and kept the triplets in the Third form for the Barbara/Does It Again/Kenya year, then it would have been less jarring, but I suppose she was running out of ideas by the final St Briavel's year and wanted to get on with the move back to the Alps, and she couldn't bear leaving the triplets behind at Carnbach for a year.

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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 18:07 
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I've just been re-reading Kenya, in preparation for this week's discussion, and they do have ten and eleven year olds starting at the school that term.

(More EBDisms there, though, because Ailie is among this group of new starters; no way was she ten when the triplets were only eleven and a half. She is, or should be, younger than Stephen Maynard.)

So the ban on under twelves held good only for two terms, so EBD might just as well have taken them from the start and had the triplets in the proper form for their age.

With Len being in UIV in Changes, it is made clear that it's only for that term, because the school is so full, and that she probably won't stay there.

But really EBD seemed to be in a complete muddle over forms in the Swiss years and hardly anyone was in the right form for her age.

I think the triplets' fluency in French and German would be an advantage in all lessons; they'd understand what the mistress was saying, and be able to follow instructions, so they could be getting on with work in class while the mistress was still explaining the work to those who were less fluent. And they'd be able to do the prep in the required language.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 19:39 
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I think the whole language thing was cloud cuckoo land. I can see them having to speak the three languages out of school but to be taught in languages when often the girls were new to them was surely not possible? What extra work it must have given and what a disadvantage for girls who hoped to sit public exams having to concentrate on what was actually being said as well as the subject matter.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 19:54 
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Audrey25 wrote:
Is it a good idea having girls of very different ages in the one class? More than just their academic ability comes into it such as physical and emotional development, maturity etc. This can happen at different ages anyway but it was making it more difficult. What, too, about bedtimes and being with girls of a different age the whole time?

Maybe it would be better pupils being in forms decided by age but if they were really exceptional being with older pupils for that subject only, say Con with English. That would be difficult for timetables but would be best where managed.
Considering that Excitements more or less opens with the prefects concluding that Inter V is a problem to deal with because of the mismatch of age, maturiity and ability among its members, I think EMBD realised things had got into a tangle - and I seem to remember that we hear a lot less about inter V after New Mistress.

I can't think it's a good idea to have a form of that size composed of the two extremes - girls who are the right age but are less bright (or haven't covered the work), with girls who are younger but academically precocious. Aren't the slower ones having their noses rubbed in it, and the brighter ones either feeling superior or getting frustrated at the necessary greater attention the others need? You might get away with it in a form of up to ten or a dozen, but surely not in one of twenty-odd? I could believe in Inter V rather more if there were an a and b stream, one for each of the two groups. And how good an idea is it to give an experimental form like Inter V to a new and inexperienced mistress?


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 21:10 
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That always annoys me. I know that the focuses of the book were Kathie and the triplets, so she had to be form mistress for that form, but it's an experimental form, with an age range of 3 1/2 years, and contains several known troublemakers (Margot, Emerence, Francie). Someone in their first job is hardly the obvious choice of form mistress.

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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 21:20 
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Wouldn't happen in real life, maybe, but Kathie had to have a range of girls like Margot, Emerence, Yseult, to give her some challenges. A form full of Jo Scott, Rosamund Lilley and Len Maynard types wouldn't have made a very interesting book.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2017, 21:34 
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Another problem in Inter V would be uniform. Don't the girls wear skirts and blouses on their fifteenth birthday instead of tunics? The poor girls of 15+ would stand out like sore thumbs.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 12 Sep 2017, 02:45 
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And as far as I can tell, the triplets are the only young but bright girls in the entire form. The rest are older girls who are either discipline problems or behind in academics (Rosamund, Joan, Heather, Jo, Betty, Alicia, Francie, Emerence, Caroline, Maeve) and a batch of new girls who need to be brought up to speed, but are presumably too old to just put in Upper Fourth. (Yseult, Eve, Charmain, Pamela, Marguerite, Iris and Janet). So the triplets are being held back for a year of review in a class of girls who are much older and struggling to master the work.

The other problem with Inter V in later years is that it adds a year to the schooling. Girls in Inter V are typically 14 and 15 years old. If they're 15 at the end of the term, then go through Vb, Va, VIb, VIa, there should be a lot of girls who are nineteen in VIa, or even twenty if they've been held back a year. But we never, ever, over the whole series, see a girl who is nineteen while still at school.

In a boarding school, being out of sync by age must have been harder than at a day school, because their whole life is dominated by forms. They share a common room with their form, they go on walks and expeditions with their form, they do prep with their form, they do games and gardening with their form. So girls like the triplets or Yseult would pretty much never get to interact with girls their own age. In a day school, you'd at least have the option of playing with neighbours, or joining an age-appropriate extracurricular activity, and if you were a total misfit in class you could still go home to your family at night.

I've known a few people who started university at sixteen, by being late fall birthdays and having skipped a year. And it's not been easy for them socially. We actually have a student in our department who is an former child prodigy who did start university at age twelve, and is finishing a PhD at nineteen. It's interesting, because he's at an age where he's no longer obviously really young for his position, so he doesn't get the automatic pass for odd behaviour, but he's missed a significant portion of normal socialization and is behind a normal 19 year old in social skills.

The form naming is all over the place. I would say that the most common version is that Upper and Lower indicate forms, and the a/b indicate more than one class at the same form level. But it's far from consistent.

Two other math issues with forms - in the Swiss years, however the naming goes, you have eight fourth forms and three fifth forms (one of which is Inter V). So either half the girls leave school between the fourth and fifth forms, or fifth form classes are twice the size of fourth form classes. And in the first term in Switzerland, they've got ~100 students and eight forms (L4b, L4a, U4b, U4a, Vb, Va, VIb, VIa) which means an average of twelve students per form.

My theory, in general, is that EBD was bad at math to the level of a learning disability.

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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 12 Sep 2017, 03:31 
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Alison H wrote:
The triplets leave school in the July before they turn 19 in the November, so they spend 6 years in the V and VI forms!


So they do the same curriculum over and over? No wonder they were good at it though may be that was also why they were given specialised lessons because they would be bored to death repeating the same lessons they had done for five terms.

Mel wrote:
Another problem in Inter V would be uniform. Don't the girls wear skirts and blouses on their fifteenth birthday instead of tunics? The poor girls of 15+ would stand out like sore thumbs.


Having an age thing on uniforms is quite strange because you end up with half the form wearing skirts while the rest wear tunic. Makes much more sense to make it a form thing so you wear skirts from Va onward regardless of age.

Audrey25 wrote:
I think the whole language thing was cloud cuckoo land. I can see them having to speak the three languages out of school but to be taught in languages when often the girls were new to them was surely not possible?


I can't see that happening either. And we get glimpses of classes where one question is passed around the class till someone can translate it/or can answer it. Or the teacher ends up translating her entire lesson. Which sounds like a waste of time.

From my own experience, I speak and understand Cantonese to a conversational level with my parents. I did a uni degree in Hong Kong with mainly Chinese students where the lectures were in English but the tutorials conducted in Chinese.

The tutorials were basically the students who were more or less bi-lingual translating the lectures for their classmates.

And I could barely follow the tutor when he spoke in Chinese and had to have it translated back to English for me. And I have heard Chinese spoken around me all my life. Conversational language is very different from academic language, so I think the teachers spend most of their time translating.

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Last edited by Joyce on 15 Sep 2017, 10:46, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 12 Sep 2017, 08:07 
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There are a lot of language students in Taiwan who are of Taiwanese parentage but grew up overseas, and have returned to actually learn the language properly, which takes about a year of full time study. Learning a level at a 'family' level (ie, your parents or grandparents speak it, but you use another language outside the home) tends to be limited in subject matter and vocabulary.

I agree that the switch-about trilingualism of the school, and a student population that consists of a wide range of native languages, wouldn't work in practice. A bilingual program aimed at English speakers, or an immersion German or French system aimed at non-native speakers would both be doable. And I could picture a program where they have a concentration on language classes, teach things like science, math, geography and history in English, and have things like P.T., meal times and out of school activities used for language practice.

Speaking slowly and clearly and pointing and gesturing can go a long way for practical language - I know I can do quite a lot with context and a few key words. It doesn't work so well when you're discussing something like Newton's laws of motion or photosynthesis, where you don't know the material and don't have the vocabulary or grammar to understand the explanation.

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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 12 Sep 2017, 21:04 
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Alison H wrote:
I think the form structure confuses everyone :D.

I'm glad it's not just me then!

Quote:

The triplets leave school in the July before they turn 19 in the November, so they spend 6 years in the V and VI forms!

:shock:
That's a long time for two years of school. What work would they have done? If other pupils were entering and leaving the V & VI forms whilst the triplets 'trod water' there for six years, they must have done the same things over and over. Perhaps EBD just couldn't bear to let the triplets grow up and move on, a la Joey.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 12 Sep 2017, 22:04 
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Obviously, EBD didn't think the form thing through at all :D

To me, the only way it vaguely makes sense in terms of numbers / class sizes / ages is to have the years be:

L4 (13/14 years old)
U4 (14/15 years old)
5 (15/16 years old - O level form)
L6 (16/17 years old)
U6 (17/18 years old - A level form).

And everything else is ability streaming (e.g. Va and Vb).

Of course, EBD gets herself tied in knots with the nomenclature, and all the removes people get, and sometimes forgets about the ability streams and sometimes doesn't. And adds an extra fifth year when the ages don't merit it, but I think thats basically the way it should work.

Maybe!


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 13 Sep 2017, 09:13 
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If you look at the form names through the series, there are some consistencies.

In Tyrol, they start out with Junior, MIddle and Senior forms. By Head Girl, we start seeing mentions of Fourth Form, Fifth Form, etc. We start getting splits of forms in Exploits, when we get 5a and 5b (also called L5 and U5), and we see splits of the sixth and fourth forms as well.

When the school reforms in Guernsey, it's back to Forms 1-6, plus kindergarten. We get splits into Upper and Lower starting in Highland Twins. We don't see a/b versions until Three Go, when we see U2a, L3b, U3a and U5b. Over the next few books they're often muddled, though - Mary Lou's crowd is randomly L4a and L4b through one book, for example - and rampant EBDisms make it hard to follow students' progression. Special Sixth appears after Three Go as well.

In Bride Leads, the form structure gets hopelessly muddled. They explicitly add new forms because of the Tanswick influx, and a bunch of people are promoted, but some of the promotions are promptly forgotten, and some girls are 'promoted' to the same form they were already in.

In Switzerland, the upper forms at least are pretty regularized, and we have L4a/b, U4a/b, L5, U5, L5, U6 (or Vb, Va, VIb, VIa - it switches in Mary-Lou), and students mostly go from L4a/b -> U4a/b -> L5 etc. Inter V is added between U4 and Vb. There are a few outliers - in the last few books there is only one Lower Fourth, and Excitements talks about form IVa. And between Summer Term and Challenges, one entire form goes from U4b to U4a only.

The lower forms aren't references as much, and the third form, for example, gets IIIa, IIIb, L3a, 3a and U3 depending on book. Jack's form is in L3a in one book, and IIIa the books before and after, and go to L4 the next year.

The first form is rarely mentioned, and sometimes seems to be lumped into Kindergarten, and sometimes not.

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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 13 Sep 2017, 10:51 
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I can understand that new forms had to be made for the Tanswick pupils but they must have been temporary parallel forms as there is no evidence of streaming. No pupil is ever mentioned as not making the A group or being demoted (unlike the Marlows and their horror of a B form or even worse - the Remove). Also I don't think that EBD had the experience of a large modern school.


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 Post subject: Re: Inter V
PostPosted: 13 Sep 2017, 12:58 
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Bobcat wrote:
Quote:

The triplets leave school in the July before they turn 19 in the November, so they spend 6 years in the V and VI forms!

:shock:
That's a long time for two years of school. What work would they have done? If other pupils were entering and leaving the V & VI forms whilst the triplets 'trod water' there for six years, they must have done the same things over and over. Perhaps EBD just couldn't bear to let the triplets grow up and move on, a la Joey.


In The Chalet School Triplets Con is studying Anglo-Saxon (no idea who the teacher is) and Len has Spanish lessons with Miss Denny.

As mentioned elsewhere on this forum, the Triplets should have gone to St Mildred's, but EBD wasn't up to creating new characters to take their places.


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