Monday, October 21, 2013

Education, education, education (again)

It's funny, I thought that parents who sent their kids to independent schools were guilty of depriving state schools of the sort of articulate advocates of high standards and rigorous education that they desperately need if they're going to improve. Or possibly that the education you get at a state school is much better than an independent one, which are much less responsive to parents' wishes.

Apparently not.
Pushy parents who want to put their children into selective surroundings with others of either their background, beliefs or ability – or, indeed, all three – should put their money where their mouth is and pay for their indoctrination.That would then free up places in the better comprehensives and take pressure off the state system.
The subheader is even starker:

Pushy parents who want to dictate how their child is educated should send them to private school, not set up a free one.
There are two not terribly pleasant ideas that underpin this line of thinking. The first is that parents (or their children) are not consumers of a state-run service, but recipients of a gift from a magnaminious government. Rather than have any say in how that service should be provided, they should just be grateful to get it at all. The related belief is that it is the state's money that pays for all this stuff, so naturally the only voice that matters in its administration is that state's.

As the piece is about the iniquities of Free Schools, there's also a category error - Free Schools are explicitly not permitted to select on the basis of background or ability, and they are no more permitted to select on beliefs than any other religious school. But there, it's in the Guardian, so a crippling misunderstanding at the heart of an article is only to be expected.

The really weird thing is that there is tacit agreement with the idea that Free Schools will be better than the "one-size-fits-all comprehensive" model that parents are turning away from - and that this is a bad thing. There's an echo of John Prescott's lament that

If you set up a school and it becomes a good school, the great danger is that everyone wants to go there.
Melissa Kite's argument is that if you can't afford private schools then you don't deserve a voice on how your children are educated. Perhaps the least surprising part of the piece was the bit at the top where she says how relieved she is that she doesn't have kids. Me too.


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