Friday, May 25, 2007

Restricting excellence just to those whose parents can afford to pay....

The full quote from today's Economist (26th May UK edn I suspect ) is:

    "Restricting excellence just to those whose parents can afford to pay for it cannot make sense".

It goes on to say ...

    "Social mobility is a good thing, and the Tories are right to want to foster it. But so is an elite. After all, there's not much point in moving upwards if there's nowhere to go."

The point they make is that Grammar schools allowed state pupils to access that elite. The fault isn't that middle classes parent monopolise the resource, but that other children aren't prepared to get their fair crack at the places going ( and that's without the argument on the only surviving schools being were Conservatives could protect them - ie more middle class areas away from the Socialists and their Lib Dem side kicks).

The full article is here - but its a subscriber only link, so like a good education in Britain you'll now have to pay !

Iain Dale my try to talk David Willetts up this week on his blog citing a good commons performance, but only a policy rethink is going to convince me, and I suspect many other aspirational voters.


dexey said...

I probably don't understand your point but while I am in favour of giving all bright pupils the best chance the previous methods of selection were grossly unfair.

I 'passed' the 11 plus but failed to get the last place which went to a local councillor's son. My father was not articulate enough to argue a case and our relationship was, and remains, strained. I left home at 15. I gave up work in my late 30's and took a BA degree at a local polytechnic. Grants were available in those days but my family had to go without many ordinary comforts for four years because I followed through with a PGCE.
I have an IQ of 161 which I feel has largely been wasted through lesser levels of education.

My concern is that the middle classes have absolutely no interest in bright working class pupils, but every interest in ensuring that their own children, bright or otherwise, get the best chances as cheaply as possible. The bright working class will be left struggling on the edges, as has always been the case.

Man in a shed said...

Hi Dexey, thanks for your comment.

My point, which is recycling The Economists viewpoint, is that by taking away the schools likely to give an equivalent education to the private sector you ensure that the ellite who run the country only come from a private educated background.

The fact is that Grammar schools do by far the best at getting state educated pupils into the top slots in education and life.

What worries me is that some sort of middling also ran system will be set up - that will do OK, but never well. Hence wealth will determine your position in society and that of your children, rather than equality of opportunity.

Things didn't work out well for you. I got a good enough score at 11+ to go to grammar, but didn't get a place ( I'm not as bright as you are ). It was my good fortune that my mother could afford private education at the local ex-grant maintained school ( the same one Jack Straw went to before his party kicked the ladder away. )

Grammar schools are a simple idea - we all know how they work and that they do work. Any other initiatives can be measured against them.

I also think that there is a bit of anti-middle class thinking in David Willetts proposals also. After all everyone paid for a good education through their contributions to tax - why shouldn't everyone get the same opportunities ?

I think your wrong about the middle classes having no interest in working class children. But every parent will do the best for their child. Ask Tony and Cherie Blair, Diane Abbot, Harriet Harman and many others !

dexey said...

"But every parent will do the best for their child. Ask Tony and Cherie Blair, Diane Abbot, Harriet Harman and many others !"

....and everyone of them middle class.

Man in a shed said...

My point would be that its a people thing, not a class thing. People do the best for their children - it really only seems to surprise the socialists that its the case (and currently Willetts and Cameron).

This is what people want from their government and what they will vote for - with their ballots and if they can afford it their feet.

It is also to the greater populations benefit if all the potential in our younger citizens is realised. That means good education for everyone, and indeed excellent education for those who can use it.

Just wrecking middle class education with the latest educational experiments serves neither cause.

But on your specific point I agree they're all middle class.