Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Guardian:-The scramble for schools


A rather damning article in the Guardian that shows just how bad the situation has got. One parent considering selling a kidney to pay for private education, another having been refused their 5th choice school, appeals consultants making a fortune helping parents (those that can afford it) get the places they want, house prices going through the roof near sought after schools.

Where does this leave the bright kid from the council estate, or the mother of the child with special needs that can only get a place in a failing school with little in the way of the support she needs.

I did not have the benefit of choice when I went up to the High School.

Along with my friends from the local area, I went to the local school which was a short walk away. Some from surrounding villages arrived by school bus. There was never a question as to whether I would get a place or should I apply for a different school. I had a choice of subjects to take at O Level and further choice of A levels. Many went onto University, some to Oxbridge (one came from the local council estate). Writing this now and looking back makes it sound as though I was somehow privilaged, perhaps I was, yet this was the local village comprehensive high school in which I got an excellent education.

1 comment:

Liberal Neil said...

Just goes to show that 'parental choice' is a complete myth.

All it has achieved is growing pressure on places at schools with good results (which is NOT the same thing as a 'good' school) and the 'sink' schools sinking further.

The reality is that schools choose the pupils not the other way round.

It also highlights the difference between London and most of the rest of the country. Here in Abingdon we have three comprehesive schools to choose from and in reality they are not that different from each other. To listen to some parents you would think that one of the three was brilliant and one appalling. The difference is actually marginal and each has strengths and weaknesses.

If you live in one of the smaller towns like Thame, Wallingford, Wantage or Faringdon you really only have one choice.

One of the problems with 'parental choice' is that it puts even more pressure on parents to believe that there is a 'right' choice for their children and that they are 'failing' as parents if they don't get it.

When I was a kid I went to my local primary and then my local (bog standard) secondary. Far less stressful for me and my parents!

What we need is good choice within each school to cater for different tastes and talents.

If there are schools with weak management and poor teaching effort should be targeted at improving or replacing it.

The Government's proposals will just make the existing trend worse.