Ten years after taking office, can there be a more blatant acknowledgement of the bankruptcy of this government's education policies than the decision to encourage entry by lottery? This is the latest wheeze emanating from the Department for Education, and one Labour council has picked it up - Brighton and Hove. The idea is for local authorities to allocate children to schools through a lottery. That way, you don't get to choose where to go, and some people can get forced to go to the bad school down the road whether they want to or not. It might, of course, have been more honourable - and certainly more in the spirit of can-do politics - to see what can be done to improve the state of schooling in those areas where it is seen to be failing. The lottery idea is simply an admission that improving education is no longer a part of education policy. All that matters now is social flattening.
Of course, there is an education system that seeks to improve students' opportunities regardless of social background, and which in the past proved one of the best engines of social mobility around. It's called the grammar school system, but unfortunately it worked - so had to be abolished! All that remains are the 164 lonely institutions standing atop their educational hills, ready to repel all-comers, Tory or Labour.