Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Education? A Lottery?


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.

2 comments:

C H Daly said...

Not for the first time, or the last time, your cynicism regarding Labour reforms have clouded your judgement I believe. As an article on my blog explains, the problem is actually a localised one, confined to inner city areas. The issue has been hyped up when in reality 95% of parents have one of their preferences satisfied. The main outcry is not from politicians but from a, proportionally, tiny group of selfish middle-class mothers who cannot understand why the government would change an unfair selection system that they are so happy with.

I also believe that the unfortunate use of the word ‘lottery’ has undermined what is actually a very structured system and led people to believe that parents are complaining that , as you so incorrectly say, “you don’t get to choose where to go”. While I agree that the system is by no means ideal, it is a massive step in terms of increasing parity regarding parent’s choices for their children’s secondary school.

GM said...

Sadly, lottery is the right word. There is no structure to the random allocation of students, but in any case you do not address the main point, which is that trying to manouevre unwilling parents to accept bad schools is no substitute for seeking to create a good schooling system all round, and that's where the present Education incumbent seems so lacking. Pity, really - he seems such an affable chap otherwise!