Monday, January 09, 2012

The School Dilemma

Two developments today highlight the continuing dilemma over just what type of state education gives the nation's children the best chances in life. Kent County Council has announced an expansion of its grammar school system by setting up a new 'satellite' grammar school in Sevenoaks in response to the huge demand for grammar places. Education Secretary Michael Gove has relaxed legislation sufficiently to allow such an innovation. In addition, for those who may not pass the 11+ necessary for the new grammar school places, Gove's free schools legislation is being taken up by a local priest who is hoping to set up a new Christian comprehensive.

By contrast, Tottenham MP David Lammy is tonight addressing a meeting opposed to the conversion of a failing Haringey primary school into an academy. This has provoked controversy on the right, with Spectator columnist James Forsyth blogging that such opposition will keep the pupils of the Haringey school mired in the morass of inadequate teaching and poor results. Certainly Lammy appears to be allying himself with dyed-in-the-wool opponenets of any educational change such as the NUT's Christine Blower and Fiona Millar.

Education has become one area of significant change and challenging ideas under Michael Gove. The problem is delineating any form of consensus on what might pass for good teaching - given the diversity of several million pupils passiong through the state system this is, of course, inevitable, but it is surely a good thing that a one size fits all policy is no longer applicable. The permanent revolution in education may yet yield real leaps forward and, importantly, a sense of ownership for parents and pupils.

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