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Welcome to Dave’s transport caff (and free school)


2:03 pm - October 25th 2010

by Dave Osler    


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Poor Fraser Nelson seems genuinely mystified. The editor of The Spectator did ‘Any Questions’ on Radio Four last weekend, and it turns out that the audience was somewhat sceptical on the central plank of Tory/Lib Dem education policy.

‘When I said that free schools would give the poor the choice that only the rich can afford, the audience laughed,’ he laments. ‘This is precisely what the new schools would do – yet the very proposition was seemingly risible to those in the hall.’

But public cynicism is all too well grounded, if this morning’s Financial Times is anything to go by. The opening paragraph of a story on page four announces: ‘New “free schools” will be allowed to employ teachers without teaching qualifications and could open in pubs, takeaways, shops and houses without the need to seek planning permission.’

Read that again, slowly, so it sinks in. I had to. Nelson wants us to believe that free schools will offer all and sundry an education on a par with the one he enjoyed at £22,000-a-year Dollar Academy, the best school in Scotland in terms of exam results. The clue’s in the name, I guess.

But the reality will be a free-for-all that will allow anybody so minded to tap state coffers if they can recruit a couple of mates to give lessons in a spare room over a dodgy kebab joint in New Cross. Free house, free school … not that much difference, now you mention it. Rodney, you plonker – start brushing up on your maths now.

 The FT also reveals that education secretary Michael Gove has decided that free school head teachers need no professional qualifications whatsoever. And I’ve even got a bleedin’ degree, innit.

The rate shops are closing down on my local High Street, I could easily set up a chain of the damn things. Anybody else up for it? This time next year, we’ll be free school millionaires.

Meanwhile, I await the free market right’s proposals for the reform of driving instruction with a certain degree of trepidation.

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


1. margin4error

hmm…

If my school was above a pub I might have turned up more. Might have learned less while I was there though.

That’s a trouubling thought.

it turns out that the audience was somewhat sceptical on the central plank of Tory/Lib Dem education policy.

Not surprising, given that the audience was a rent-a-mob of lefties from the University of Derby.

a spare room over a dodgy kebab joint in New Cross…

You may mock, but many of the free schools in Sweden started out in empty office blocks and are now educating 15% of secondary school kids – and doing so with rather more success than conventional schools.

I may indeed mock, Flowerpower. Indeed, I just have.

Do you think that a room over a pub with an unqualified teacher equates to a little Eton for the proles?

The ex-Trot academy for proletarians. La Revolucion before an assembly on the Labor theory of value. Literature and revolution. The real value of maths. Extended school how-to guide on swerving ice-picks. Permanent after-school club.

I’m game if you are, Dave.

5. Bill Kristol-Balls

I’m confused.

Wasn’t it Govey The Meerkat who said a few months ago that teachers would need a 2:1 or higher to get into the profession?

@ Dave

As a Marxist it was probably too much to expect you to support the right of parents to have their children educated in any environment not under the direct control of the state.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/00123f37b8d505552fdd34.jpg

I’ll take my chances with the kebab shop for my lot, thanks.

7. margin4error

Bill

Please don’t confuse anything professed by Ministers with statements of intent, or policy. At least not for more than a few days after it was initially said, by which time another pofession may have usurped it.

Pagar

That might just say something about how much you value your kids education, no?

9. the a&e charge nurse

[6] “I’ll take my chances with the kebab shop for my lot, thanks” – yes, I’m sure it would suit Grove for poor kids to go to the kebab shop, while the rich still prefer places like this
http://www.charterhouse.org.uk/

“‘New “free schools” will be allowed to employ teachers without teaching qualifications and could open in pubs, takeaways, shops and houses without the need to seek planning permission.’”

Absolutely great!

Some of these will be, it has to be said, entirely shite. Others of them will be just great. And as long as there is exit from the system (ie, not just that peeps can set up new schools, but that the bad ones go bust) then the system as a whole will get better.

It’s called a “market”.

Wonderful things, markets.

11. the a&e charge nurse

[10] “Wonderful things, markets” – any EVIDENCE when it comes to education?

12. Flowerpower

Dave @ 3

Do you think that a room over a pub with an unqualified teacher equates to a little Eton for the proles?

Depends what you mean by “unqualified teacher”. You might mean a complete numpty without a pair of GCSEs to rub together, or you might mean a bloke with a first in Greats from Balliol, who was Permanent Secretary at the Department for Quangos ’til Osborne threw him out on his ear, and is now embarking on a new career. Or something in between.

As for the room above a pub – once a school can attract 200 pupils, it’s really in the money and will be able to afford premises at least as good as ordinary schools. Signs are that these free schools are going to be over, rather than under, subscribed.

13. Flowerpower

@11

“Wonderful things, markets” – any EVIDENCE when it comes to education?

The evidence is the superior performance of independent schools.

Tim

Has the market delivered free universal primary and secondary education? In any country? At any time in the history of the world?

15. margin4error

Tim

I’ll overlook that education is the classically taugh example of market failure in economic study.

And I’ll overlook that inertia with education results from vested interests more than market pressure.

Do you not fear that without proper training, a great many potentially good teachers will enter free-schools and fail to become good teachers because of their lack of training?

After all, knowing a subject is one thing. Imparting it is an entirely different skill-set for which there is little in the world of work to that can prepare one. And even in the private sector there is a big problem with companies not training their own staff adequately.

16. the a&e charge nurse

[13] “The evidence is the superior performance of independent schools” – ahh, now we are getting somewhere – independent schools outperform state schools because of ‘the market’?
I can think of one or two other reasons – can you?

By the way, the presence or absence of ‘kebabs’ is not a key variable.

Do you not fear that without proper training, a great many potentially good teachers will enter free-schools and fail to become good teachers because of their lack of training?

The point is that schools that hire inadequate teachers will fail because nobody will send their kids to them. The ones that make good decisions will prosper.

Good teachers will have jobs and bad ones won’t.

We’ll be going back to teaching the kids myths and legands if a teacher doesn’t have to be trained. And it doesn’t matter if the teacher is no good as long as the parents agree with them like religious people then it will not bother them.
Welcome to the new dystopia and social factions.

19. margin4error

Pagar

That requires that the market functions close to perfectly. ie that parents have perfect knowledge, and that the schools themsleves do too.

In reality though we know that often parents don’t appreciate subtle differences in schooling and don’t thus know the difference in value between two educations.

For example – flowerpower demonstrates an utter lack of perfect knowledge about school performance in #13

High final marks at expensive schools may not mean a good education. After all, consider the intake and relative improvement in pupil standards from start to end of school. (A school that takes on highly literate pupils that gets only marginally better results than a school taking on illiterate pupils might not actually have provided a better education)

That is before we add in the complication of different types of exams and study. Judging only on GCSE results might overlook whether a school is better at practical learning than theory work. So that is little basis for choosing where to send your practically inclined child.

and so on.

20. margin4error

I have to say – some of those who come on LibCon to espouse the virtues of the market seem either to…

1 – not know very much about economics
2 – deliberately ignore very basic economic understanding so as not to undermine their support for a policy or point of view.

Either way – up your game guys and girls.

Dave, shudder all you like. It will be parents – not unions, bureaucrats, councillors or ministers – who judge if these schools are worth attending. In Sweden, the ‘free school’ system has seen schools spring up in office blocks, but with brilliant (and well-paid) teachers – because parents place more value on quality of tuition than the real estate. The main beauty of the market is that it allocates resources better, and according to parents’ priorities. I, for one, would send my kids to school in a converted pub if I though the quality of tuition was strong enough.

And much as though I hate to spoil your class war narrative, the RAF paid for me to go to Dollar Academy when my dad was posted abroad. My family could never have afforded it otherwise. I enjoyed an independent education, thanks to the state. Precisely the outcome I wish for more children today.

22. margin4error

Fraser

do you therefore not think the state has a role in regulating markets to ensure minimum standards of practices and to protect consumers (as pupils and parents would thus be)?

Seems an odd opinion to have.

Why is it right-wingers love to extoll the virtues of Sweden, but always forget that it has the second-highest tax burden in the developed world?

“Precisely the outcome I wish for more children today.”

Fraser, what will happen to the education budget if we give each child a £22,000 a year voucher to pay for their education?

“Why is it right-wingers love to extoll the virtues of Sweden, but always forget that it has the second-highest tax burden in the developed world?”

I dunno, why do you think left wingers extol the virtues of Sweden when it has a highly marketised education system and very high consumption taxes partnered with much lower personal and business taxes?

@25

Plenty of cherries for everyone to pick, I suppose… Still, I wish people on both sides would stop saying “but look at Sweden!”

27. Flowerpower

the a&e charge nurse @ 16

– ahh, now we are getting somewhere – independent schools outperform state schools because of ‘the market’?
I can think of one or two other reasons – can you?

Yep, many independent schools are selective, which would explain a huge part of the difference. But some, of course, aren’t. And the funny thing is that independent schools outperform at all levels of ability.

And yes, there are other factors – pupil/teacher ratios etc. which contribute.

But in the end you have to ask yourself a common-sense question: which set-up is likely to perform better – one that’s run by ideologues & bureaucrats who don’t give a rat’s arse what parents want or think, or one highly attuned to parental wishes?

I don’t suppose many have heard the Hancock’s Half Hour episode Hancock’s School? Motto: Cattus Sattus Mattus? 7s to 10s in the dining room, 11s to 14s in the lounge, 14s to 16s in the kitchen, over 16s in the bathroom and, as Sid James points out, ‘I think this is gonna be a nice little number and if it don’t work out we can always move to another district and start again.’

29. margin4error

Well played CS

I hadn’t thought about HHH in years. Now I’m listening to it on youtube. Can’t find that episode though.

They should open up Eton and the rest of the public schools as free schools. This will surely break down the class barriers.

“But in the end you have to ask yourself a common-sense question: which set-up is likely to perform better – one that’s run by ideologues & bureaucrats who don’t give a rat’s arse what parents want or think, or one highly attuned to parental wishes?”

That is how you think schools currently operate? What world do you live in?

Christ on a bike, it is all well and good to model the world in crassly reductionist terms, but you have to recognise that those models are not the real world.

School administration is, at worst, less interested in pupil welfare than their own at the margin, and a market in education (the Tory’s Free School is an idea to approximate this) is meant to ensure schools administrations that do this close down as parents exit.

The world you describe is not the real world.

“And yes, there are other factors – pupil/teacher ratios etc. which contribute.”

How much use are small class sizes? I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than you think.

http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2003/09/class_size_does.html

32. Chaise Guevara

21

“Dave, shudder all you like. It will be parents – not unions, bureaucrats, councillors or ministers – who judge if these schools are worth attending. ”

In other words, you’ve removed the experts from the process and left the education of children in the hands of two people whose only qualifications are: 1) having had sex at least once and 2) managing to keep the resulting progeny alive for five years.

As someone says above, you’re opening the system up to schools based on religious anti-sciencism or political dogma (EDL Academy, anyone?), as well as exposing the kids of bad parents to the perils posed by who-gives-a-damn-ism.

I’m pleased that I don’t have childrens education to worry about.

@ 10 TW

Isn’t it sad that some people aspire to an education system where some schools ‘will be, it has to be said, entirely shite’.

34. Flowerpower

Chaise @ 32

you’ve removed the experts from the process ..

“Experts” is a funny term to use of a group of people who have made such a mess of the nation’s education system and condemned hundreds of thousands to a dismal future of worklessness in the pit of ignorance. Expert at what, precisely?

“‘New “free schools” will be allowed to employ teachers without teaching qualifications

In the same way that independent schools are allowed to employ teachers without teaching qualifications.

And much as though I hate to spoil your class war narrative, the RAF paid for me to go to Dollar Academy when my dad was posted abroad. My family could never have afforded it otherwise. I enjoyed an independent education, thanks to the state. Precisely the outcome I wish for more children today.

Heh.

Isn’t it sad that some people aspire to an education system where some schools ‘will be, it has to be said, entirely shite’.

You mean, like the one we have now?

Um… we still have one of the best educated populations in the world, and one of the best to have ever existed.

Schools are bad compared to how good they could be, but are good compared to how bad they could be. The apocalyptic terms of this debate can sometimes be unhelpful.

England also has a history of underperforming in education, our late 19thC development was retarded by the poor educational quality of our population vis a vis Germany and America, however, I think that has little impact on current debates, I just like History. I could be snide and say that this is what happens when the state refusing to take a role in education, but I’m not going to go confusing state provision and state funding for a service.

In other words, you’ve removed the experts from the process and left the education of children in the hands of two people whose only qualifications are: 1) having had sex at least once and 2) managing to keep the resulting progeny alive for five years.

Quite, it’s a miracle how poor people manage to dress themselves, let alone their offspring. No-one should expect them to pay attention to their education as well. Far better that such complicated things be left in the hand of experts.

39. John Meredith

“Schools are bad compared to how good they could be, but are good compared to how bad they could be. The apocalyptic terms of this debate can sometimes be unhelpful.”

I agree with the sentiment here but it understates the degree to which the bad schools are concentrated into the poorest areas, often correlated with non-white ethnic groups.

“I’m not going to go confusing state provision and state funding for a service”

It’s a shame so many do confuse those two things viz. every single debate on the NHS.

41. John Meredith

“Isn’t it sad that some people aspire to an education system where some schools ‘will be, it has to be said, entirely shite’.

You mean, like the one we have now?”

I have had exchanges like this with countless people and it is baffling. People keep telling me that we will end up with a ‘two tier education system’. Have they ever been to a failing school, I wonder. Do they really think that we don’t already have tiered state education according to parental income?

42. John Meredith

“Meanwhile, I await the free market right’s proposals for the reform of driving instruction with a certain degree of worry.”

That’s an odd sign off. Have driving schools been nationalised while I wasn’t looking?

43. James from Durham

I thought I read somewhere recently that the Swedish govt had decided that these free schools were more trouble than they were worth and were trying to reverse this scheme?

Anyway, none of that matters. The UK is NOT Sweden (or Norway or Finland). The cultures are quite different. It is perfectly possible that something would work in Sweden brilliantly and be totally inappropriate in the UK.

What the private schools teach us is that a well-funded educational system with motivated parents (the kids are all the same) will have better outcomes than an underfunded system where the parents don’t give a toss and may actively undermine teachers’ authority.

By the way, where is Oldandrew when we need his comments?

44. margin4error

Does anyone have any suggestions as to why education should be made an exception to the rule that where there is a clear likelihood a market failure that damages the consumer – the state should intervene and regulate?

In this instance by requiring teachers to have teaching qualifications.

45. margin4error

James

Free schools have been popular in Sweden with right wingers – but the left tend to dislike them and they remain highly controversial for many of the reasonhs discussed on this board.

It is easy to forget that Sweden, while often held up as a left wing country, does of course have a left and right wing much like any other country.

46. John Meredith

“Does anyone have any suggestions as to why education should be made an exception to the rule that where there is a clear likelihood a market failure that damages the consumer – the state should intervene and regulate?In this instance by requiring teachers to have teaching qualifications.”

This only makes sense if you imagine that having a teaching qualification in some way qualifies someone to teach. It is a belief that is quite common in the general population but rare to find among teachers.

47. Flowerpower

Left Outside @ 31

The world you describe is not the real world.

Sorry, but it is. State schools fail around half their pupils, sending them out into the world without 5 GCSEs A*-C. 30,000 plus leave with no qualifications at all. Where the State is in loco parentis as well as education provider, the number getting 5 GCSEs at the A8-C standard reduces to only 7%.

How much use are small class sizes? I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than you think.

No, it’s more complicated than you think. Leftie educationalists are always chanting the mantra about there being no evidence that smaller class sizes have any benefit. But when you look into it, there’s been plenty of evidence available since the 1970s that they do. Thing is, the benefits only kick-in when you get under 20 (and boy, do they kick-in then) , so it’s easy to be misled by studies that show no difference when reducing from 30 to 27. Independent schools understand this and aim for class sizes of 17-19.

48. John Meredith

“Free schools have been popular in Sweden with right wingers – but the left tend to dislike them ”

Popular with immigrants as well, but then they do tend to be conservative. Sections on the left do dislike them but not so much that they will actually try to put an end to them or enact policy to oppose them. I wonder why?

49. John Meredith

“Sorry, but it is. State schools fail around half their pupils, sending them out into the world without 5 GCSEs A*-C. ”

It is much worse than that because many schools disguise their results by preferring dismal courses like GNVQs which are ‘equivalent ‘ to multiple GCSE passes and pretty much impossible to fail (although some, amazingly, manage it).

It is upsetting enough that we have accepted 5 GCSEs at grade C as a measure of success at school.

‘New “free schools” will be allowed to employ teachers without teaching qualifications and could open in pubs, takeaways, shops and houses without the need to seek planning permission.’

Peter Stringfellow is planning to open a girls’ free school in a lap-dancing club even as we speak.

51. Chaise Guevara

@ 34

““Experts” is a funny term to use of a group of people who have made such a mess of the nation’s education system and condemned hundreds of thousands to a dismal future of worklessness in the pit of ignorance. Expert at what, precisely?”

Education, perhaps? Our school system isn’t perfect, but I really don’t see how you can improve matters by putting it into the hands of people who don’t know what they’re doing. My computer crashes a lot, but I still don’t think I’d be better at building them than Packard Bell.

You’re right to complain about the problems we have, but that doesn’t mean we should rush to replace the current flawed system with something far, far worse.

52. Chaise Guevara

@ 38

“Quite, it’s a miracle how poor people manage to dress themselves, let alone their offspring. No-one should expect them to pay attention to their education as well. Far better that such complicated things be left in the hand of experts.”

No, no, I’m over here. Over HERE. You appear to be addressing some kind of straw man…

53. margin4error

John

Experienced drivers argue that driving licenses don’t really qualify some one to drive. Yet we still sensibly require drivers to have one.

Likewise five years after qualifying most doctors admit that the qualification has become largely meaningless as so much is out of date so quickly. Yet we don’t suggest a free market that allows unqualified medical practicioners.

So the fact that experienced teachers bitch and moan about some of their colleagues not being much good at their jobs is hardly unique to teaching.

So again – why should education be an exception?

(I also appreciate you are largely arguing this not from a point of view of consistency or common sense, but of support for a policy – but I’d like some consistency or common sense to be convinced of the policy’s value)

54. Flowerpower

Chaise Guevara @ 51

My computer crashes a lot, but I still don’t think I’d be better at building them than Packard Bell.

My Apple Mac has never crashed once. So, though I couldn’t build a computer either, I know that next time I’ll be specifying a Mac and not a Packard Bell.

As a parent, I don’t want to roll up my sleeves and teach in the classroom myself. But I do want to play a part in what is taught and how it’s taught in my kids’ schools. And I want my experience to be able to inform real choices about that process of specification at least to the extent I can when buying a laptop.

Your “experts” are not expert in education. They are demonstrably bad at it. As ever, the victims tend to be mainly the children of the poor. But even the children of the sharp-elbowed middle class are ripped off too.

It’s not as simple as ‘THE MARKET PROVIDES’ though. We’re essentially throwing a generation of schoolkids to the mercy of what is basically blind luck.

If schools shut down because of underperformance, that will have meant that the pupils who passed through their doors will have underperformed. Will the market give them those years back?

In ten years, we could have a solidly evolved network of free schools that provide a great education, but we’ll also have ten years’ worth of drop-outs who made the mistake of making the wrong choice.

Information is never perfect, and markets are never rational, and we’re basically toying with our country’s future just for the sake of an ego-satisfying economic experiment. Make it stop!

If schools shut down because of underperformance, that will have meant that the pupils who passed through their doors will have underperformed. Will the market give them those years back?

Does the Government at present? The Free School aspect of the Academies legislation is very much a sideshow in any event. It is the provision of operational independence to all schools that choose to become Academies that has the potential to revolutionise education. The critics of Free Schools can’t decide whether they’re going to be awful (no qualifications! in a pub! OMG!), or so good that they’re socially divisive (working class children will be excluded! if you create a good school everyone will want to go there! OMG!) and end up saying both at the same time.

It’s very much an argument of vested interests against change, and once it has been implemented no-one will be able to remember what the fuss was about. Like the privatisation of BT – you had to wait three months for a landline?

And the pupils underperforming now?

“I agree with the sentiment here but it understates the degree to which the bad schools are concentrated into the poorest areas, often correlated with non-white ethnic groups.”

V. good point!

I am dubious whether marketising schooling will help at the margin. Under-5 intervention is probably a better focus for the cash and effort going into free schools.

59. Chaise Guevara

@ 54 Flowerpower

“My Apple Mac has never crashed once. So, though I couldn’t build a computer either, I know that next time I’ll be specifying a Mac and not a Packard Bell. ”

Ah, but that’s because you (presumably) care about the quality of your computer. Some parents will be happy to send their kids to whatever school is close enough that they don’t have to ferry them there and back.

Also, if you choose a bad computer, you only have yourself to blame. If parents send their kid to a bad school because they don’t care, or because they know it’ll fill their kids’ heads with their preferred brand of religious superstition, it’s the kids that suffer.

The service user is NOT the parent. Bear that in mind.

“Your “experts” are not expert in education. They are demonstrably bad at it.”

How so? I was state educated for the most part and I turned out fine (cue people scanning back through my post to find SPG errors). The fact that some schools fail does not mean that educational experts are crap.

The problem we do have is politicians pushing their noses in too far, either to promote their agendas, to skew education stats to favour themselves or just to save money. The solution proposed doesn’t solve this; in fact, it’s an example of politicians screwing up kids’ education for financial reasons.

“Sorry, but it is. State schools fail around half their pupils, sending them out into the world without 5 GCSEs A*-C. 30,000 plus leave with no qualifications at all. Where the State is in loco parentis as well as education provider, the number getting 5 GCSEs at the A8-C standard reduces to only 7%.”

You’ve shifted the goal posts, you were describing why this state of affairs exists:

“But in the end you have to ask yourself a common-sense question: which set-up is likely to perform better – one that’s run by ideologues & bureaucrats who don’t give a rat’s arse what parents want or think, or one highly attuned to parental wishes?”

Now you’re describing what the state of affairs is. You have a habit of doing this.

As I’ve said “Schools are bad compared to how good they could be, but are good compared to how bad they could be. The apocalyptic terms of this debate can sometimes be unhelpful.”

Why they are underperforming is why I was challenging you, and you changed the subject, shall I assume you concede on that point?

@53. margin4error

I was lucky enough to attend a very good independent school. Nearly all the teachers there were MA (Oxon.) or MA (Cantab.) but very few had a PGCE. Since a formal teaching qualification isn’t required at the best (independent) schools, I can’t see why you set so much store by it. Clearly, it is possible to be a very good teacher without one.

@55. Gwyn

I think you are misunderstanding how the market mechanism will work with the introduction of free schools. The idea is not to drive schools into closure… it is that the existence of a free school (or maybe even just the possibility of a free school opening) will prompt existing schools to raise their game. Tesco used to have a near-monopoly where I live and it was crap. The arrival of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose hasn’t made Tesco close and no one has lost their job, but the Tesco is really quite good now.

21 Fraser Nelson

The reason you got the drubbing you so richly deserved on Question Time (a DEEPLY unimpressive performance by the way) is that people don’t buy the free schools concept, any more than they buy the Big Society, or than they fell for the ridiculous concept of “choice” in education and the provision of health services under New Labour and the Tories before them.

What most ordinary people want are decently resourced schools near them: they don’t want to bus their kids miles away, they don’t want academies and specialist schools (still less faith schools for pity’s sake). The only reason SOME parents are in favour is because they feel they don’t have any alternative, NOT because they thing free schools are a brilliant idea, or that they are desperate to run a school themselves.

Free schools need to be seen for what they are: an ideologically based policy to turn the clocks back.

61

Of course it’s POSSIBLE, particularly if you are teaching tiny classes, with highly motivated pupils who are already pre-selected to avoid having any with learning difficulties (in fact generally selected to exclude even the below average), with good facilities and equipment etc., etc. No doubt the private schools concerned have the resources and time to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and the person concerend is given lots of support, as well as having the other benefits of working in the private as opposed to the state school. It’s hardly a valid comparison.

I know people who went straight from University to teach at private schools, and I wouldn’t have put them in charge of a stall in a church fete, never mind the education of my kids (particularly if I was paying handsomely for the privilege!).

Education isn’t the same as gorceries, and if you think it is, your private education wasn’t as impressive as you think.

I know people who went straight from University to teach at private schools, and I wouldn’t have put them in charge of a stall in a church fete, never mind the education of my kids (particularly if I was paying handsomely for the privilege!).

I’ve known people with PGCE qualifications not fit to teach performing fleas; I’ve known people go straight into to teaching from university who were brilliant. Also, the reverse. The plural of anecdote is not data. The idea that all teachers must have qualifications or education will suffer would seem to be rather dented by the fact that schools that do not insist on qualifications are on the whole better than those that do.

Jay:

The arrival of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose hasn’t made Tesco close and no one has lost their job, but the Tesco is really quite good now.

The arrival of a Death Star-sized Tesco near where I live helped drive Kwik Save out of business (and it probably wasn’t the only local business to go under).Elsewhere, a big Sainsbury’s helped shut down the local Co-Op and another branch of Kwiksave. Even an Oxfam bookshop can clobber commercial secondhand booksellers. I don’t see why a ‘market’ in schools wouldn’t end up with some being driven out of ‘business’ if it’s the ‘other guy’ that goes bust for your benefit.

Ah yes, Mc Schools.

The tory obsession with de skilling, and their love of the race to the bottom. This is all about destroying the so called power of the teachers unions.

@ M4E

In reality though we know that often parents don’t appreciate subtle differences in schooling and don’t thus know the difference in value between two educations.

Yes. The vast mass of the population are too stupid to choose what TV channel they want to watch far less select the kind of education they want for their children. Much better that people like YOU decide what they can have, then they won’t make a bad choice.

That is what you’re saying, right?

@ Galen 10

What most ordinary people want are decently resourced schools near them: they don’t want to bus their kids miles away, they don’t want academies and specialist schools (still less faith schools for pity’s sake). The only reason SOME parents are in favour is because they feel they don’t have any alternative,

So why not let SOME parents have SOME choice, if that’s what they want. That’s all free schools will do.

And I think you’re wrong. What most ordinary (and extraordinary) people want is the best for their children. And many are currently not getting that.

Tim J:

The idea that all teachers must have qualifications or education will suffer would seem to be rather dented by the fact that schools that do not insist on qualifications are on the whole better than those that do.

…and the idea that they all needn’t would rapidly prove that some schools will do worse if practically anybody with no qualifications or training taught them. (My guess is that money is a far more influential factor when it comes to the performance of private schools)

69. Cynical/Realist?

I’m just amazed at how many people with a left/right axe to grind think this makes them an expert on education provision.

I do however think that the argument at the start, which was basically, ‘throw open schooling to the markets because markets are always brilliant’ was excellent. I hope they didn’t get that from a school (state, private or otherwise), because if they did, they need to join the PTA and get the economics department sacked for the sake of future generations.

Unless they did learnt it from a buk.

70. Flowerpower

Left Outside @ 60

…shall I assume you concede on that point?
Heavens no.

You’ve shifted the goal posts, you were describing why this state of affairs exists…. Now you’re describing what the state of affairs is.

Sorry, but I thought you’d gone into denial about how grim things were – an interpretation of your post somewhat reinforced by your comments that

we still have one of the best educated populations in the world, and one of the best to have ever existed.
and
Schools are bad compared to how good they could be, but are good compared to how bad they could be

which is just a truism that doesn’t get us anywhere.

So yes, I do think that the cause of the underperformance is largely down to the fact that our state system is in the hands of bureaucratic ideologues who don’t give a rat’s arse. And not just at the margin.

Example (only anecdotal but over the years I’ve gathered so many like it that pace Tim J they’re close to achieving the status of data) : my neighbour came back from picking up her son on Friday in tears. He’d just finished his first half term in primary school reception. My neighbour had asked the class teacher how he was doing. She was answered in jargon-gobbledygook about whether he was meeting certain standard attainment levels. “Yes,” pressed my neighbour, “but is his reading better or worse than the class average?” She was then rudely informed that she would be given no information about his relative position because that would “encourage school-gate hierarchies” and that to discuss the performance of others. Even in broad terms, in the class would “breach school policy on data protection.”

All she wanted to know was whether little David was keeping up….

Chaise Guevara @ 59

Some parents will be happy to send their kids to whatever school is close enough that they don’t have to ferry them there and back.

There we have it: the authentic expression of the Left’s condescending attitude to the working class. Blimey.

I’m just amazed at how many people with a left/right axe to grind think this makes them an expert on education provision.

No, itz cos we all went 2 skool. (Why else do the defenders of grammars, for example, keep pining for the school system of their youth? You don’t catch many ex-secondary modern pupils doing that.)

64 Tim J

“The idea that all teachers must have qualifications or education will suffer would seem to be rather dented by the fact that schools that do not insist on qualifications are on the whole better than those that do.”

The point is that such schools do better for the types of reasons I gave, not because some of their teachers don’t have teaching qualifications. It’s not rocket science.

67

“So why not let SOME parents have SOME choice, if that’s what they want. That’s all free schools will do.

And I think you’re wrong. What most ordinary (and extraordinary) people want is the best for their children. And many are currently not getting that.”

Because it’s NOT all free schools will do, as the ideologues who have sold the snake oil know full well.

Of course many parents aren’t getting the best; the issue is whether this is the right solution to improving the current system, or if it’s just the same old English anal pre-occupation with social climbing, re-instating grammar schools, and being obsessed with class.

74. Chaise Guevara

@70 Flowerpower

“There we have it: the authentic expression of the Left’s condescending attitude to the working class. Blimey.”

Who said anything about the working class? Was it me or you? Uh oh…

You’ve ignored most of my argument, straw manned one point, and revealed your own prejudices in the process. Well done!

“My neighbour had asked the class teacher how he was doing. She was answered in jargon-gobbledygook about whether he was meeting certain standard attainment levels.”

That’s exactly right. All through state comp we wanted to know how our child was doing, and we’d get reports as in ‘He can do X and has demonstrated that he understands the concept of Y” – a tickbox exercise from the National Curriculum expected attainments and one which must be mind-numbing for the teachers.

The child we sent private comes back with reports like ‘An able child but easily distracted in class. He would do well to learn that work and play do not mix’ – which at least lets us know where improvement is required.

Free schools won’t be a panacea though. But they could be a lifesaver for intelligent working-class kids currently condemned to the sort of school where being a ‘boff’ is liable to get you beaten up on the way home, and also for not-so-bright but hard-working and well-behaved kids.

Professional bleeding-heart Martin Narey made the political understatement of the last four decades last year :

“Certainly education has not become the great leveller that many people, including me, believed it would be”

I support the government, but if Dave is reporting accurately and not just making it up, then this is a bloody terrible idea. We cannot be quibbling about our money going to useless quangos and benefits, and then put taxes into substandard schools.

77. Flowerpower

…it’s just the same old English anal pre-occupation with social climbing, re-instating grammar schools, and being obsessed with class.

There would have been some truth in that once, but things have changed. When I listen to the fears of middle class parents round my way (as I do often!) I’m struck by the fact that what they really want is not a return to the grammar school and selection, but rather schools where middle class values aren’t completely swamped.

They fear that all the inculcation of good manners they’ve been doing will be undone by peer-group pressure to talk and behave like a yob. They’re worried that their kids will emerge with a coarsened sensibility and a nasty, nasal estuary accent like Ken Livingstone’s. They think their kids will be bullied and called swots for taking academic work seriously. They recognize that these days inverted snobbery is more common and more pernicious than snobbery. They’re worried too that their kids will be stabbed or pick up a drugs habit, or both. On the other hand, they genuinely DO want a diverse social and ethnic mix. They see it as a matter of critical mass. If the average comprehensive excluded between 10 and 20 per cent of the most “challenging” pupils, they’d be a lot happier. In fact, quite a number of those who opt for private schools would stay in the system. And they’re not alone – the same concerns are shared by many working class parents too. In fact, if you were to ask a set of parents to name the three kids in their child’s class they’d ideally want excluded, you’d get the same set of names from all the parents, irrespective of background/race etc, except (of course) from the parents of the habitual offenders. Maybe DE-selective education is what the majority really want?

For all those posters who believe that a state teaching qualification means little, does this mean that a state qualification in medicine has no benefit and that you would be happy to receive surgery from someone who may have learnt their trade via a postal course. Be careful what you wish for.

@78 steve b: “For all those posters who believe that a state teaching qualification means little, does this mean that a state qualification in medicine has no benefit…”

If your GP or consultant is aged 40+ and was educated in the UK, it is likely that they s/he was educated at secondary school by people who did not have a PGCE and by university lecturers lacking similar training. The really serious education — clinical medicine — is still provided by people who are not required to undergo any form of teacher training.

A medical degree acts as a signal to potential customers. But what is most important is the licence to practice. If a doc is UK/EU educated, the licence normally comes with the degree but it isn’t guaranteed. And there are more hoops to jump through for those educated elsewhere.

79
Correct, they would have received a state endowed qualification in one form or another.

Load of nonsense all of it. Human beings are capable of ‘learning’ in almost all environments. Trust me on this one, have seen children and adults being taught in the most atrocious conditions and they were all better than some of today’s products of mainstream education. They also had a comprehensible second language This reads more like teaching unions trying to protect their own overrated non-positions and third rate teachers. Good teachers will always triumph over adversity whatever its form.

81
Perhaps you can produce evidence for your assertions.

83. Chaise Guevara

@ 81

…and provide a definition of ‘better’.

84. Flowerpower

Chaise Guevara @ 74

Who said anything about the working class? Was it me or you? Uh oh…

Oh silly me….. all those feckless parents you were picturing in your imagination who allegedly didn’t have the slightest interest in their children’s progress at school, and whose kids were really in need of Nanny State, were doctors, solicitors and investment bankers. Yeah, right.

85. the a&e charge nurse

[81] “Good teachers will always triumph over adversity whatever its form” – then why are the best Uni’s over represented by a small minority from the upper classes?

Instead of Sweden, shouldn’t we be learning from the most highly performing education system in the world ?

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/01/19/cameron-isnt-the-most-socialist-education-system-in-the-oecd-brilliant/

@ 85

– then why are the best Unis over represented by a small minority from the upper classes?

IQ distribution between social classes is not equal. According to some studies, at 18 a child from the professional/managerial class is > 20 times more likely to have an IQ of >130 (in the top 2%, Oxbridge standard) than a child from the lowest social class.

There may be many reasons for this…..

88. Chaise Guevara

“Oh silly me….. all those feckless parents you were picturing in your imagination who allegedly didn’t have the slightest interest in their children’s progress at school, and whose kids were really in need of Nanny State, were doctors, solicitors and investment bankers. Yeah, right.”

Are you saying that only working class people can be bad parents? 8o

Face it, mate. In your head, “lazy parent” = “working class”, and you’ve rather foolishly revealed that by projecting it upon me. Feel free to go back through my posts and prove that I’m the bigot, though. Have fun!

Leaving your personal problems aside: regardless of what class they are, I’m saying SOME parents are lazy or desperate to impart their religious beliefs to their parents, and therefore cannot be relied upon to choose the school that’s best for their offspring. I’m saying, in fact, that procreating does not make one perfect. Are you denying that?

[Awaits inevitable dodging of points and straw man attacks.]

89. Chaise Guevara

I love the idea that the right* thinks the statement “not all parents are paragons of reason and virtue” = “I hate the working class”, though. I guess that’s the founding philosophy of this “free schools” idea! “If you criticize free school, you are a middle-class snob of the highest order!”

*Some of them. Well, at least two of them.

@82 and 83

Can’t produce ‘evidence’ as you put it as it was all observed by me in worldwide work and travel. However, I’ve kept contact over many years with two of the individual from that time and I assure you they have done very well – without state intervention. Apologies on that point, wish I could answer your question more fully.

91. Flowerpower

@ 88

regardless of what class they are, I’m saying SOME parents are lazy

I agree. And I clearly jumped to the wrong conclusion about what you meant – apologies. But unlike you, I don’t think the number who are lazy/feckless is sufficiently significant to warrant denying 93% of the population any real choice in where and how their kids are educated, or denying those who want to start their own school the chance to do so.

or desperate to impart their religious beliefs to their parents

Since grandma or grandpa’s religious observance is seldom a big concern when picking a school, I’m guessing you really mean to their children. I’m relaxed about parents wanting to educate their kids within a faith community/tradition. Communities based on shared faith often seem to me more authentic than the somewhat arbitrary and artificial “communities” based on just happening to live in a geographical area. And since adherents of the CofE, Catholics, Jews and Muslims pay taxes too, the ‘taxpayers’ money’ argument seems to me wrongheaded.

I was state educated for the most part…

So, you had a bit of each. Notice any differences?

Jay

Not “lucky enough” – “priveledged enough” – there’s a difference.

And if you read back you’ll see my view on people being so superficial as to judge independent schools “good” by grades alone. Doing so only serves to illustrate a lack of market knowledge by parents and pupils as it overlooks the comparative improvement in pupil performance and the different teaching routes that different children respond to.

For example – Only a fool would likely argue that a school with a highly literate intake that gets marginally better grades than a schoool with a largely illiterate intake provides better teaching. Actually for all we know your school was not as good as teaching as my school – a bog standard comprehensive with a significant deprived intake but that still got around half of pupils their five good gcse’s. (Some many years ago now)

That is less of a concern at a level of education where children are generally well motivated, well fed, and have good aspirations – and where there is plenty of cash to throw at facilities and extra staff. It may prove much more significant at the other 90 percent of schools.

87
Source please.

90
Has no-one ever told you that two swallows don’t make a summer.

95. Chaise Guevara

@91

“I agree. And I clearly jumped to the wrong conclusion about what you meant – apologies. But unlike you, I don’t think the number who are lazy/feckless is sufficiently significant to warrant denying 93% of the population any real choice in where and how their kids are educated, or denying those who want to start their own school the chance to do so.”

No sweat, and I see your point. The problem is that the children of that remaining 7% aren’t just going to be random casualties. They’re going to be children who already have bad (or at least subpar) parents, and that’s going to be exacerbated by their parents’ choice of school. The kid whose parents don’t give a fuck and whose teachers don’t either, or the kid whose ear is filled with religious indoctrination at school and at home… they’re not getting a great start in life.

I guess my way’s fairer, yours is more effective across the board. I prefer mine, obviously, but they’re both valid. However, we are assuming these new schools would generally be effective. I doubt it, because policies designed to save money are rarely harbingers of improved services. But I can’t know that for certain until the new laws come into force and we start to see the results.

“Since grandma or grandpa’s religious observance is seldom a big concern when picking a school, I’m guessing you really mean to their children. I’m relaxed about parents wanting to educate their kids within a faith community/tradition. Communities based on shared faith often seem to me more authentic than the somewhat arbitrary and artificial “communities” based on just happening to live in a geographical area. And since adherents of the CofE, Catholics, Jews and Muslims pay taxes too, the ‘taxpayers’ money’ argument seems to me wrongheaded.”

I’m not bothered about my money paying for religious indoctrination, I’m worried about indoctrination in itself. As I said above, these kids already get all that god stuff at home. I like religious communities too, on the whole; there seems to be a lot more ‘community’ there than you often see elsewhere. But it should be a choice, and if every authority figure tells you that Jesus/Allah/Krishna is a real thing, on the same level as chemistry and maths, it’s hard to really appreciate the alternatives. More prosaically, I also object to children’s educational time being appropriated to spread the teacher’s/parents’ beliefs.

“So, you had a bit of each. Notice any differences?”

Hah. Well, in my case, I was bullied a private school and not at state school, so woot to the latter. But yes, my state education was probably not as good as my private education. Smaller classes.

96. Chaise Guevara

@ 90

“Can’t produce ‘evidence’ as you put it as it was all observed by me in worldwide work and travel. However, I’ve kept contact over many years with two of the individual from that time and I assure you they have done very well – without state intervention. Apologies on that point, wish I could answer your question more fully.”

Fair enough as far as your own beliefs go (I have similar things where my personal experience has decided me on some issue but I can’t prove it over the internet). However, we can’t be expected to agree with you on that basis alone.

Yes. The vast mass of the population are too stupid to choose what TV channel they want to watch far less select the kind of education they want for their children. Much better that people like YOU decide what they can have, then they won’t make a bad choice.

That is what you’re saying, right?

If you like.

And you think we shouldn’t license cabs because only stupid women would get in cabs driven by unknown rapists. You apparently think we should scrap consumer protection as only stupid consumers would, for example, not know the intricacies of automotive design and testing when buying a car. And you think we should stop setting hospital cleanliness standards because only stupid patients can’t conduct a forensic investigation of hospital cleanliness before taking up an appointment.

And all of that is fine because people are not so stupid they need someone else choosing their TV channel for them.

That is what you are saying. (Note the lack of question mark)

An interesting debate. It’s difficult to know who are the most ideological. On one side the folks who think the market can solve every problem. On the other side the traditionalists who are resistant to change because we have always done it this way.

Reading literacy

7. United Kingdom

9. Sweden

Science

9. United Kingdom

16. Sweden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment#League_Tables

Little Finland sits at the top of so many international tables that I see they must be doing something right. Their education system hardly sounds like a free market fundamentalist wet dream.

‘ The educational system in Finland is based on a nine-year comprehensive school (Finnish peruskoulu, Swedish grundskola, ‘basic school’), with mandatory attendance (homeschooling is allowed, but rare). It begins at the age of seven (occasionally six) and ends at the age of 15 or 16.

There are few private schools. The founding of a new private comprehensive school requires a political decision by the Council of State. When founded, private schools are given a state grant comparable to that given to a municipal school of the same size. However, even in private schools, the use of tuition fees is strictly prohibited, and any private school must admit all its pupils on the same basis as the corresponding municipal school. ‘
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Finland

Maybe I am missing something about Marxist theory but it seems to me if we want to improve our education system then we ought to learn from others who have a better system than ours. We are part of the Anglosphere so we should learn from Canada, Australia and New Zealand who all do better than we do.

Having read many of the posts here, I am very surprised at the nature of the argument. Many private schools do not enforce the public sector requirement for a PGCE. They have not failed because of this, the PGCE is largely irrelevent if the particular teacher has a natural flair for imparting information and knows is subject well.

Class sizes are an issue, but many of the strategies taught through PGCE are about controlling and communicating to larger class sizes. The private sector just reduces the sizes to the optimum because it has the uses its funds to do so – because it chooses its own rate of charge and allocation of spending.

What about the funding per pupil? Does the state sector spend as much of the taxpayers money as the private educator? I’m not sure, but some statistics would be helpful if anyone has them. The local private school here is about £7,000 per term and has excellent results, even though the buildings are a little the worse for wear.

I have a feeling that it is not the environment we need to change, but what we teach. Pupils are not interested in what they are taught, most of it is light on facts and heavy on interpretation. History is a key example – it has changed very little since the 80s when I was in school and I remember learning very little from it- I now more about my own country from my own reading. We learned almost no English history and what we learned had very little longer term context.

If you have an exam system which fails to set approriate standards or an engaging curriculum, even those who succeed really fail, and the only pupils who gain the right paperwork are those from a background which recognises that the papers you get are worth something despite the fact that you have learned little of any use to get them.

There is little pride, and even less ambition – the culture is one of surviving until you’re 16 for many, and the rest suffer the torment of being educated with the unruly, disruptive or disinterested, especialy where streaming starts late and in the middle ability groups.

We deperately need a change in what we teach, how we teach it, and what we expect of our young. We are failing them utterly, and I fear for my own three children for I cannot afford private education.

100. margin4error

Richard W

But didn’t you know – everyone has a better system than us. Statistics showing otherwise are always damned lies made up by vested interests and blah blah blah…

Well done for pointing out how good the Swedish system isn’t though, and actually how good the UK system is.

101. the a&e charge nurse

[99] “The private sector just reduces the sizes to the optimum because it has the uses its funds to do so – because it chooses its own rate of charge and allocation of spending” – this, I think, is a fundamental point.

One system has far greater control over access to a service, and this access can readily be predicted on the basis of post code, income, occupational standing, family traditions, etc (if we think of populations in general rather than a few exceptions to the rule).

The other adopts a universal and comprehensive posture thereby accepting responsibility for all those pupils who have no realistic prospect of attaining the privileged educational opportunities that has only ever been available to the few. As far as I can tell these inequalities have a profound influence on opportunities in higher education later on.

Earlier it was suggested that these demographics can be explained by a higher IQ amongst the rich – to my mind it implies the difference is hard wired, whereas my instinct is that these differences are better explained by cultural factors.

For example, IQ testing is hardly going to be a reliable tool if they are undertaken by an individual whose parents have received the best our education system has to offer and the individual has also received the best education BEFORE being tested.
In other words we are simply not comparing like with like and issues about IQ tests have already been questioned when it was suggested that ‘whites’ had better scores than ‘blacks’.

This from wiki;
There are differences in intelligence between races that are due in substantial part to genetically determined differences in brain structure and/or function” (Rushton (1995); Rushton & Jensen (2005))
“Differences in cognitive competencies between races exist and are of social origin” (Ogbu (2002), Sowell (2005))
“Differences in test scores that are used to argue for differences in intelligence between races represent the inappropriate use of tests in different groups” (Ogbu (2002))
“There is no such thing as race; it is a term motivated by social concerns and not a scientific concept” (Fish (2004); Smedley & Smedley (2005); Sternberg, Grigorenko & Kidd (2005))
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence

Personally I doubt if Grove’s crazy kebab shop scheme will have much of an effect on these bigger questions?

@21: I, for one, would send my kids to school in a converted pub if I though the quality of tuition was strong enough.

So would I. If I was a parent, and I lived in England and Wales, I’d be interested in free schools or even setting one up.

Judging from GCSE syllabuses and past papers, I’m certain I could do a better job of teaching science and technology subjects than the present system manages, even though I have no teaching qualifications at all. This is because kids are not actually taught any science or technology at GCSE, merely to memorise words and phrases for exams.

103. margin4error

Tony

You’ve hit on why some of us are alarmed at not requiring teacher training. That may be plausible where schools have plenty of cash for facilities and additional staff. It helps as well that those pupils tend to have aspirations, supportive social circles, and are highly literate before they arrive. Such schools tend to face very little by way of serious behaviour problems too.

Most schools are not so priveledged. Presently independent schools all have a similar upper-middle to uper class, well prepared intake – the process of teaching is relatively simple and comparing end results is fine because they all had a similar starting point. They also have a lot more money and so can afford much better facilities and can quickly and easilly expel even the only very moderately disruptive.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4833780.stm

This suggests that in 2006 state school funding ran at about £5,000 a year – compared to £8,000 a year in the private sector (a big difference)

Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_school_(United_Kingdom) suggests the figure now is £11,000 in the private sector (Day pupils only – not boarders)

In state schools where almost none of the first and second paragraphs are true – the ability of the teacher to teach goes from a relative insignificance to the standard of education and becomes the single biggest influence on it.

Controlling a classroom, inspiring a work-ethic, identifying which pupils need which kind of attention and which benefit from which kind of tuition or subject focus becomes absolutely crucial.

So some state intervention would be sensible to ensure that this doesn’t lead to much reduced standards of education even for a relatively small minority as a result of a well documented example of market failure.

103
It’s your subjective belief that you can do better job that scares the s..t out of the rest of us whose children might have to be educated by anyone who can find the funds to set-up a school.

whoops. I meant 102

102

Lots of people probably “think” they could do better, but I wouldn’t want to bet my kids education on their misguided delusions of adequacy when it came to trying to teach whichever subject they fancied trying their hand at; nor would I be particularly keen to send my kids to an institution set up by a bunch of amateurs (however well-meaning or enthusiastic).

The answer to trying to fix the things that are wrong with our system isn’t free schools; they will simply make education provision in this country more fractured, less equal, and more of a lottery than it already is.

“nor would I be particularly keen to send my kids to an institution set up by a bunch of amateurs”

Well no-one will force you.

“and more of a lottery than it already is”

But it isn’t a lottery, is it?

We know that the poor do badly.

So this *might* help *some* of the poor do better.

Worth a try.

86 – Well, if you want to return to rigid academic selection Finland definitely has some interesting lessons to teach. Based on a voucher system too.

107

The fact that the proponents of free schools have convinced themselves that they are some wondrous “cure-all” doesn’t necessarily make it so.

Lots of different approaches might be “worth a try” to improve the chances of poorer children doing better, the issue is which of the many alternatives that we might use would be preferable.

Nothing I’ve seen or heard from countries where this is already done, or from those in this country who are keen to do it, convinces me that this is the right approach; it’s a typical British (or more correctly probably English) muddled response rooted in the atavistic, ideologically motivated desire of those on the right to turn the clock back to the good old days of grammar schools, and misguided parents who have been duped to swallow the message whole.

nor would I be particularly keen to send my kids to an institution set up by a bunch of amateurs (however well-meaning or enthusiastic).

How do you think schools were founded before 1900? Eton (to pick at random) was founded by the King, and the headmaster and some students of Winchester College – in other words a group of amateurs. Any school founded earlier than the late 19th century, in fact, is likely to have been set up by a bunch of either amateurs or clergymen.

111. the a&e charge nurse

[107] practice should be informed by EVIDENCE not a casual attitude toward a group based purely on social characteristics (‘the poor’).

I know it sounds like a dreadful cliche but every child matters and speculative experiments like kebab shop therapy is not a good enough solution simply because it might involve a nominal level of choice.

We have heard some ideological rhetoric but little in the way of proof that this is the right way to go – education has been going for time now, surely somebody, somewhere must have data demonstrating that kebab therapy is a viable model?

110

How is the establishment of early educational institutions centuries ago relevant to the current debate?

The debate isn’t whether “some” people might actually be great educators even if they are amateurs, it isn’t even about whether free schools “could” be successful and produce good results. I’m sure some of them could, just as some faith schools have great success. The debate is more about whether they are desireable (which I obviously don’t think they are in either the case of free schools or faith schools), or whether they are the best response amongst other alternatives in trying to address shortcomings in the current system.

M4E

And all of that is fine because people are not so stupid they need someone else choosing their TV channel for them.

Good. But, according to you, they do need someone else to choose what kind of education is best for their children?

The aversion to the free schools experiment is founded in a mindset that says everything must be controlled from the centre with the aim of uniform delivery of education (and what is taught) in the classroom. The theory is that will ultimately produce equality, or at least equality of opportunity. The same curriculum for all and the same standards for all- even though the bar has been set pitifully low.

The state, supported by strong unions, has generated and perpetuated this folly and the potential success of free schools threatens to expose the scam for what it is.

No wonder the vested interests who want to strangle this idea at birth.

112 – because your implication is that only the state is capable of setting up schools. And that’s is nonsense, illustrated both by the fact that historically very successful schools, both public and grammar, have been established by well-meaning groups of amateurs, and because in other educational systems (Australia for example) schools are still being set up by non-state groups.

If your argument is simply that education should only ever be provided by the state and that non-state institutions like academies or independent schools are ideologically unsound, well, that’s a point of view. It’s not one I share.

114 Tim J

No, you are putting words in my mouth.

I have never said that only the state is capable, or that non-state schools can’t be successful: I was casting doubt on your assertion that because it worked historically it was the best solution now. Obviously my belief that it isn’t the best solution reflects my own ideological perspective.

I think there is a pretty clear dividing line in this country (and has been for a long time). On the one hand those who believe as I do that in general education should be provided by the state, that it should unashamedly be a vehicle for the promotion of greater equality or at least equality of opportunity (pace pagar’s criticism at post # 113), and that there should be a uniformity of approach.

On the other hand there are those who believe in a much more de-centralised approach with a role for faith groups, free schools, voucher systems and are suspicious of the role of central authorities and setting any centralised policy or direction.

The demarcation line is pretty stark I think, because I honestly believe that the proposed move towards promoting free schools, more faith schools, academies etc will NOT solve the problems the modern education system faces.

110
yep, I know a good snake oil salesman that can cure all your ills.

117. margin4error

113

Nope – you are utterly wrong and arguing against absurd straw men.

According to me, like mini-cabs and consumer protection, I don’t think people need some one to pick the cab they ride in or the car they buy. I just think they need the state to ensure some basic standards and requirements to overcome the market failure that occurs where people do not and cannot know the market they are entering perfectly.

So just as we license cabs and require car manufacturers to meet minimum standards – I see no good argument here not to require free-schools to have teachers trained to a minimum standard in teaching.

And still not one single proponent of free schools has come forward with an explanation of why education is a perfect market with perfect knowledge when buying a kebab is not. (we have health inspectors for such things).

The weak comparison to resource rich public schools filled with attentive and literate pupils falls down for the obvious reasons as previously discussed.

The notion that being able to work out which TV show you enjoy proves perfect knowledge in all market interactions is utter fantasy.

So why? C’mon, give me a good reason why we should not require teachers to be able, in some form, to demonstrate a technical ability to teach.

118. margin4error

Pagar

Have you studied economics at all? Do you know about basic (GCSE level) concepts like perfect and imperfect markets, market failure, and so on?

I ask as if not, any case for market power determining allocation of resource probably goes somewhat above the level of your own comprehension.

So if that’s the case – I apologise. I’ve approached this from not a political point of view, but an economic one. Free Schools are in themselves not a problem. Failing to recognise and take action to counter obvious market failure is.

115 – yup, that’s a pretty clear demarcation. You believe in monopoly state provision, and in uniformity of delivery. I believe in plurality of provision and in schools’ autonomy.

I have never said that only the state is capable, or that non-state schools can’t be successful: I was casting doubt on your assertion that because it worked historically it was the best solution now.

Maybe I am putting words in your mouth. Who do you believe is capable of setting up a school?

119 Tim J

There is a big difference between the acceptance that it is possible for non-state actors to establish and run an acceptable or even excellent school, and thinking that it is desireable for it to be the norm, or even a good thing.

Setting up grammar schools centuries ago, or a highly privileged institution such as Eton more recently, would it appears to me be of only tangential relevance to current plans to promote a wholescale alteration in the provision of much of secondary education in theis country.

So, to re-iterate, I accept that groups of well meaning individuals are CAPABLE of setting up schools; I just think it isn’t something progressive, it’s regressive. Everyone knows grammar schools had their good points, but I wouldn’t want to go back to a grammar/secondary modern system; similarly many faith schools perform well, but I still think they are deeply repugnant. I don’t expect someone of faith to agree with me, or a supporter of grammar schools either, I just feel that the movement for free schools is something anyone on the progressive left should be fighting against.

@106 Galen10: Lots of people probably “think” they could do better,

Kids are effectively not being taught science and technology. I do not think it is particularly arrogant of me to believe I could do better than nothing.

but I wouldn’t want to bet my kids education on their misguided delusions of adequacy when it came to trying to teach whichever subject they fancied trying their hand at; nor would I be particularly keen to send my kids to an institution set up by a bunch of amateurs (however well-meaning or enthusiastic).

As others have pointed out, no-one’s forcing you to.

The answer to trying to fix the things that are wrong with our system isn’t free schools; they will simply make education provision in this country more fractured, less equal, and more of a lottery than it already is.

Schooling will never be totally “equal” because some teachers are better at teaching than others, and because some schools offer a wider range of subjects than others. The only way you could make all schools absolutely equal would be to make them all equally bad.

I don’t want all schools to be the same. I want schools to be able to try new things out. For example, near where I live is a school (actually a unit within a school) that teaches all subjects through the medium of Gaelic.

It happens that Gaelic Medium education is popular with some parents in Edinburgh. Would you ban it? — after all it is different from how most children are educated, and therefore more “fractured”, less “equal”.

Under the existing system, the only way Gaelic Medium education can happen is if interested parents grovel to the local council, and hope the council accedes to their requests. I think that, on the contrary, parents should be allowed to educate their children in new, innovative ways. Which is why I support free schools.

@112 Galen10: The debate is more about whether they are desireable (which I obviously don’t think they are in either the case of free schools or faith schools), or whether they are the best response amongst other alternatives in trying to address shortcomings in the current system.

It’s not as if free schools prevent other reforms of education from taking place. One way to achieve better education might be to trial many different reforms in different parts of the country, and then select what works best.

121
This is a straw man argument, we are talking about the market versus state-regulation of education, Gaelic isn’t precluded just because a school is subject to strict regulation with regard to teaching.

121

You as an individual possibly could do better, but you are one person; conflating your individual abilities into a general national policy is rather a different matter. there are plenty of talented, motivated teachers out there doing hard sciences. My daughters experience of doing 3 sciences, maths and further maths at a local comprehensive seemed pretty positive; certainly better than my experience some 30 years ago.

As to your point about nobody forcing me, you are (perhaps wilfully) missing the point. Free schools may increase choice for some, but decrease it for others. The town where I live has 3 high schools: one is C of E, so not being religious it wasn’t open to us. The other 2 are single sex (state) schools, so in effect my daughter had no real choice of high school other than moving out of the area or sending her to a private school. Luckily the school is pretty good, she was happy and achieved excellent grades.

The thing is Phil, like all the other parents I know, I wouldn’t WANT to establish a free school. I don’t have the time OR the inclination. I’d prefer my daughter to be educated at a well funded state school, not have her bussed miles to a specialist academy… it really isn’t rocket science. Plenty of other countries manage it and achieve better results than the UK does, and at least in my view their systems are less socially divisive.

Well done on the Gaelic thing.. it is to be applauded, and of course I wouldn’t ban it; again however, it shouldn’t ipso facto be something that has to be done by the parents feeling they have to establish their own school, it should be done so that as many as possible have access to learning minority langauges, and that those with aptitude get more intensive help. Free schools aren’t the ONLY method to achieve this, nor I would venture are the necessarily the best!

122

Yes, and another way might just be to have a coherent plan covering everyone who isn’t in the private sector, rather than atomise the education system altogether!

It’s the same as the daft argument that it was a good thing to have specialist academies for particular things like sciences, langauges, sports and bus pupils to them from all over the place, rather than ensure that local schools provided the best possible education in all areas of the curriculum.

Free schools may increase choice for some, but decrease it for others. The town where I live has 3 high schools: one is C of E, so not being religious it wasn’t open to us. The other 2 are single sex (state) schools, so in effect my daughter had no real choice of high school other than moving out of the area or sending her to a private school.

Um. So if someone decided to set up a Free School in that area, your daughter’s choice would have been increased. How can establishing more schools restrict choice? By the way, CoE schools do admit non Anglicans you know.

“How do you think schools were founded before 1900?”

HA HA HA Right from the horses mouth.

Tim Jerk troll wants to return us to the 1900’s . Fucking priceless,

126

C of E schools admit token numbers of non-Anglicans, and the one near us is obliged to admit some non-religious pupils in the immediate area. Interestingly however it was made quite plain to us at the time we looked at High Schools that someone who didn’t attend church regulalrly probably wouldn’t feel comfortable with the ethos at the school. Of course, the school was stuffed with the offspring of people attending church for no other reason than to get their kids into that school.

Setting up a free school may increase opportunities in the sense that it would be an extra institution, but it depends on what the effect of having that extra school is on education budgets locally. If someone HAD established a free school locally and my daughter hadn’t been lucky enough to get in, it may have led to a decline in the standard of the remaining schools, a reduction in the money available to them, and the necessity for her to go further afield to find a decent alternative.

If someone HAD established a free school locally and my daughter hadn’t been lucky enough to get in, it may have led to a decline in the standard of the remaining schools, a reduction in the money available to them, and the necessity for her to go further afield to find a decent alternative.

I don’t think it’s a zero sum game in that way. Money for free schools doesn’t come out of other schools’ budget except insofar that the money follows the student.

127 – Shh sally, the grownups are talking.

129

Granted it may not be totally zero sum, but are you really sure that if someone in (for example) my town, with the existing 3 High schools, built a new free school it would have NO impact on the funding of the existing schools?

“Money for free schools doesn’t come out of other schools’ budget except insofar that the money follows the student.”

Don’t lecture about adults troll when you write horse shit like this.

132. Chaise Guevara

Sunny, if you’re reading this, can you do something about Sally continually trolling this board and flinging her vapid insults all over the place? You delete other people’s posts in pretty short order, so why is LC’s resident troll given a free pass?

Sunny are you going to allow tory trolls to tell you what can be said here. You allow them to infest this site in their usual brownshirt way. I.e. no Liberal site must be allowed to function without them shitting all over the place and destroying the liberal feel of the site.

If you want your site to just become a tory troll dumping ground for all their bullshit then ban me.

M4E

Lets go back to where this started.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to why education should be made an exception to the rule that where there is a clear likelihood a market failure that damages the consumer – the state should intervene and regulate?

In this instance by requiring teachers to have teaching qualifications.

Apart from the private sector there is no market in education- free schools to be followed by vouchers are an attempt to create such a market in the state sector.

In the private sector, teachers are selected according to the perceived ability of the teacher. If asked to choose between a candidate with a teaching qualification and one without, the school will select the candidate that it believes will add most value to the school.

Free schools, if they are to be free in anything but name, must be able to do likewise.

C’mon, give me a good reason why we should not require teachers to be able, in some form, to demonstrate a technical ability to teach.

We should. But that should be a matter for school board, not the government.

And an educational qualification is no guarantee of teaching ability as everyone knows.

@124 Galen10: You as an individual possibly could do better, but you are one person; conflating your individual abilities into a general national policy is rather a different matter. there are plenty of talented, motivated teachers out there doing hard sciences.

I expect a lot of the free schools that are set up will be set up by teachers who don’t like being micromanaged.

As to your point about nobody forcing me, you are (perhaps wilfully) missing the point. Free schools may increase choice for some, but decrease it for others. The town where I live has 3 high schools: one is C of E, so not being religious it wasn’t open to us. The other 2 are single sex (state) schools, so in effect my daughter had no real choice of high school other than moving out of the area or sending her to a private school.

If there was a free school, then there would be more choice. (Incidentally, I don’t think state-funded schools should be allowed to discriminate against people based on their religion).

The thing is Phil, like all the other parents I know, I wouldn’t WANT to establish a free school. I don’t have the time OR the inclination.

Indeed not. I don’t have the time or inclination to grow my own food — which is why I buy it from the supermarket. Free schools would work like that: a small number of people would set them up and a larger number of people would be their customers.

The fact that free schools could be set up (even if one didn’t exist in the area) might be an incentive for local state schools to pull their socks up where they are delivering a bad service. For example, a friend’s children were being bullied at the school they went to and the headmistress refused to do anything about the bullying, because the bullies’ parents were people of some standing locally. If free schools existed, parents with that sort of problem would be able to take their children (and money) elsewhere). Head teachers’ knowing this would have an incentive to make sure parents are happy about the service their children are getting.

I’d prefer my daughter to be educated at a well funded state school,

That’s what a free school would be.

not have her bussed miles to a specialist academy

I think this is an important point when school choice is talked about. There is obviously going to be more school choice in a city than in the countryside. (This is also true of pretty much every other local service).

… it really isn’t rocket science. Plenty of other countries manage it and achieve better results than the UK does, and at least in my view their systems are less socially divisive.

I don’t think free schools are socially divisive, but I do think the fact that many rich parents send their children to expensive private schools is. It would be better if MPs were legally required to send their children to state schools, as well as to use other public services in circumstances where their constituents would have to. If state education costs £5000 per student per year, then perhaps private school fees in excess of that could be heavily taxed and the money spent on improving state schools.

Well done on the Gaelic thing.. it is to be applauded, and of course I wouldn’t ban it

But if Edinburgh Council chose not to do it, you presumably wouldn’t allow it either.

again however, it shouldn’t ipso facto be something that has to be done by the parents feeling they have to establish their own school, it should be done so that as many as possible have access to learning minority langauges, and that those with aptitude get more intensive help. Free schools aren’t the ONLY method to achieve this, nor I would venture are the necessarily the best!

Then what’s a better way?

@128 Galen10: If someone HAD established a free school locally and my daughter hadn’t been lucky enough to get in, it may have led to a decline in the standard of the remaining schools, a reduction in the money available to them, and the necessity for her to go further afield to find a decent alternative.

If a free school attracted lots of students, then other schools in the area would would have a lower income. But their income per student would still be the same. And every school would be on a level playing field in that they get the same funding per student.

137. Chaise Guevara

“If you want your site to just become a tory troll dumping ground for all their bullshit then ban me.”

LOL. You’re conveniently forgetting that the majority of posters on this site are liberals. Nobody thinks you should be banned for your beliefs. It’s your complete inability to treat other people with a shred of decency that’s the problem.

As always it’s one rule for them and another for poor old electorate. We all have to work hard to make ends meet, the trouble is the ends are continually getting further apart. All designed to keep us working harder and longer!

But their income per student would still be the same. And every school would be on a level playing field in that they get the same funding per student.

Yes, that’s the point I was making. The capital budgets for free schools are separate from the ordinary schools budget. Of course, if a free school attracted half of another school’s pupils, then that schools funding would fall – but remain the same on a per-pupil measure.

131 – I’m afraid you’ll only be treated as an adult when you learn to behave like one.

137 – as the parent of a toddler, I find Sally remarkably useful as a teaching guide.

140. Chaise Guevara

@ 139

“as the parent of a toddler, I find Sally remarkably useful as a teaching guide”

She could double as a bogeyman, too!

135

“Well done on the Gaelic thing.. it is to be applauded, and of course I wouldn’t ban it

But if Edinburgh Council chose not to do it, you presumably wouldn’t allow it either.”

It’s not a matter of me “allowing” it; I applaud the promotion of a minority language, and think Edinburgh Council, the Scottish government and UK government should all take measures to support the teaching of Gaelic. However if the city simply don’t have the resources to devote to it, it would depend what else would have to be cut to devote the resources to promoting Gaelic language education, whether as a second language for non-Gaels or in specific schools where all lessons were in the medium of Gaelic.

It’s a pretty specialised area however, and not one that is likely to have all that much resonance nationally; I can see how it is important in a cultural sense, and to those passionate about preserving and promoting Gaelic language and culture… but me to it doesn’t really serve as a great stalking horse for the wholescale acceptance of the pro free school argument.

Of course, if a free school attracted half of another school’s pupils, then that schools funding would fall – but remain the same on a per-pupil measure.

Per-pupil parity might not be such a great deal it the free schools are creaming off the best students, leaving the other schools with the more “challenging” ones… This sort of thing gets even more fun when linked to schemes to tie school funding to “performance”. Basically you end up with a sink school that gets progressively more and more underfunded.

142 – Make your mind up! The OP is saying that free schools are going to be awful, with unqualified teachers and substandard buildings. They can’t simultaneously be creaming off all the best children.

Per-pupil parity might not be such a great deal it the free schools are creaming off the best students, leaving the other schools with the more “challenging” ones… This sort of thing gets even more fun when linked to schemes to tie school funding to “performance”. Basically you end up with a sink school that gets progressively more and more underfunded.

This is solved by a voucher system that gives a higher value voucher to children from disadvantaged backgrounds or to those who have disabilities. This would make the “challenging” pupils more attractive to all schools because they come with more money attached.

145. Chaise Guevara

@ 143

“Make your mind up! The OP is saying that free schools are going to be awful, with unqualified teachers and substandard buildings. They can’t simultaneously be creaming off all the best children.”

‘Course they can. Multiple schools, y’see. So among the free schools that are fairly normal, you’ll have the extremely religious schools, the utterly dreadful schools and the incredibly well-funded schools.

@143: I didn’t write the OP, nor am I in some sort of hive-mind with Dave Osler, so I really don’t see what the fuck you’re complaining about. Do you have some sort of cognitive disability which prevents you from grasping the obvious and straightforward ideas that (a) people who disagree with any given policy might do so for a variety of reasons, and (b) a given policy might have a range of outcomes, or are you just being a dick for the hell of it?

147. the a&e charge nurse

[144] “This would make the “challenging” pupils more attractive to all schools because they come with more money attached” – children more “attractive” because they come with “more money attached” – where does risible belief that financial inducement is the only way to the get best out of people?

Professionals work for money, of course they do, but anybody worth their salt is far more likely to be driven by more complex beliefs that manifest themselves through loyalty, dedication and commitment to an organisation’s aspirations – this is what the marketeers fail to understand, there is a DIFFERENCE between the cost of something and it’s real value.

Or put another way, intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit while wisdom is knowing that it shouldn’t be added a fruit salad?

148. Planeshift

“tomato is a fruit”

Does this make Ketchup a smoothie?

(sorry…)

149. the a&e charge nurse

Or put another way, intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit while wisdom is knowing that it shouldn’t be added a fruit salad?

Eric Cantona was a legend !!!!

There has always been a criticism that schools are motivated to construct entry systems that give them motivated children from middle class backgrounds who are easy and rewarding to teach. Obvious really.

A graduated voucher system would motivate all schools to secure a more balanced intake because otherwise they would be short of financial resources to function.

I do know that money can’t buy you love.

139 Tim J

“Yes, that’s the point I was making. The capital budgets for free schools are separate from the ordinary schools budget. Of course, if a free school attracted half of another school’s pupils, then that schools funding would fall – but remain the same on a per-pupil measure.”

..and the point is of course that it’s a potentially highly disruptive and damaging way to organise a system particulalrly for those unfortunates left in the “sink” schools. State schools will also be competing against free schools for staff, and no doubt free schools will be able to pay more too in this crazy free market you intend to introduce for education?

So what you will end up with (even if that wasn’t your intent) is regression back to grammar schools and secondary modersn. Congratulations… turning the clock back half a century…how progressive!

152. margin4error

Pagar

M4E

Actually there is a market in education, just one with heavy state intervention because of concerns over obvious market failures – and that will continue to be true under free schools, all-be-it with slightly less interevention in regards to the management of the institutions themselves.

In the private sector, teachers are selected according to the perceived ability of the teacher.

Which, when faced with lots of well behaved, attentive, motivated, healthy, academically directed and litterate children while surrounded by plenty of staff, equipment and facilities, seems to work fine.

But we have to accept the distinct possibility that it works fine not because they are good teachers – and simply because the other strengths of private schools overcome poor teaching standards. (I should quip I suppose about Etonian PMs not knowing when WW2 started)

Free schools, if they are to be free in anything but name, must be able to do likewise.

Why? Would allowing them to teach christian doctrine, family values, technical skills instead of GCSEs, and so on – in a wide variety of settings (disused office spaces, above chip shops, etc) not establish some degree of market choice? What does that have to do with teaching qualifications?

We should. But that should be a matter for school board, not the government.

Why should it? No one has explained to me why it should. Indeed no one has properly tried.

The state requires minimum standards of professional ability in a wide range of professions. Football managers even have to pass coaching courses. Meanwehile taxi-drivers, nurses, doctors, the police, firemen, solicitors, and a great many others must pass tests to establish a minimum standard expected by the state.

Why not teachers?

Why are teachers such an exception to this rule for some people on here?

And an educational qualification is no guarantee of teaching ability as everyone knows.

Such a fatuous argument applies just as well to drivers and solicitors. It is hardly an argument against driving tests or law school. So why teachers?

So what you will end up with (even if that wasn’t your intent) is regression back to grammar schools and secondary modersn. Congratulations… turning the clock back half a century…how progressive!

Except that neither are selective academically. What there would be is a distinction between good non-selective schools and poor non-selective schools. Which is precisely the situation we have now.

Look, if free schools (but there will only be a relatively small number of these, the argument is really about academies) turn out to provide high quality education then people will want to go tot hem. If current state schools are unable to improve then yes, they will shrink, fewer pupils will get a poor education and more pupils will get a good education. This is what is known as a ‘Good Thing’. If, however, state schools are able to improve in reaction to competition (and private schools are, even ones with not wildly dissimilar levels of per-pupil funding to the state sector) then, um, fewer pupils will get a poor education and more pupils will get a good education. This is also what is known as a ‘Good Thing’.

Your line of reasoning essentially appears to be that free schools shouldn’t be allowed because they might be better than state schools. That’s a pretty poor argument.

153

“Your line of reasoning essentially appears to be that free schools shouldn’t be allowed because they might be better than state schools. That’s a pretty poor argument.”

No, you infuriating sophist; as usual you try to reduce everything to simplistic zero sum choices. Some free schools would no doubt be better. The issue is why they would be better, and whether introducing free schools or academies for that matter, is the best way of addressing this issue.

Of course free schools will result in a better outcome for SOME pupils, in much the same way that grammar schools resulted in better outcomes for those who attended them than those who attended secondary moderns. What the proponents of free schools cavalierly dismiss is what happens to those left behind, and perhaps more importantly whether this mad cap scenario is actually the best use of scarce resources.

It certainly seems to me that it will be a huge upheaval in our educational system, probably on a par with the introduction of comprehensives, and that there is no convincing case to be made that the proposed change is cost effective, educationally desireable except for a minority, or even morally defensible.

I wouldn’t expect right wingers who are convinced that the market is an answer to all ills to be anything other than ardent supporters of course – just don’t expect the rest of us to be taken in.

It certainly seems to me that it will be a huge upheaval in our educational system, probably on a par with the introduction of comprehensives, and that there is no convincing case to be made that the proposed change is cost effective, educationally desireable except for a minority, or even morally defensible.

That ship sailed long ago – the great sea change in British education was the passage of Blair’s Academies Bill, that allows some state-funded schools to operate independently of local authorities. If some of these academies are recent foundations organised by charities or local groups is pretty much irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. There is virtually no argument to be made against free schools that doesn’t apply to academies – and there are thousands more of them.

155

Holding up academies as some huge success story doesn’t really cut it. They were and are the wrong response, trotted out with tiresome regularity by the right as being the only possible answer: they weren’t and aren’t the only way, they just fitted the existing prejudices of those opposed to comprehensive education, and to funding it properly.

Holding up academies as some huge success story doesn’t really cut it.

I’m not especially. Just saying that their introduction was the most radical education policy since Butler. The model of centrally-administered comprehensive schools has been pretty much broken.

But it’s not going to be a “huge upheaval” is it?

The initial numbers will be small – very small if some of the naysayers are to be believed.
Indeed some Tory and LibDem councils are resistant.

Subsequent growth will obviously be highly dependent upon the success of those first few.

158

Well that rather depends. Of course given my views even a few is too many, but no doubt increasing the number will be popular amogst those who like that sort of thing..al part of the Big Society thing dontcha know… shrinking the state, devolving power…

blah, blah..you know..doing whatever it is that allows the rich to keep more of their riches and deny that there is any such thing as society…. who cares if some of the oiks don’t get a decent education and inequality increases… they probably deserved anywayy right… the undeserving poor not prepared to get on their bikes and set up their own school.. no ambition you know….

I wish the tories and their followers would have the honesty to admit that this is about bringing back grammar schools, and selection but as usual with the cowardly tories they are doing it by stealth.

It was just the same with the Major govt. First you allow schools to opt out (tories like opting out, they like creating lots of little northern Irelands in the public sector where the minority opt themselves out and then ring fence themselves from democratic control) Then you allow the schools to start selecting ever greater numbers of kids. In the Tory manifesto of 1997 the tories were going to allow even greater numbers of kids to be selected. But of course this was never the same as grammar schools they would lie.

Oh yes and destroying the teaching unions. Same old tories have not changed a jot. Can’t understand why all those nice lib Dems teachers want to go along with this stuff, but then they did not realise that Clegg was a traitor to their party.

161. Flowerpower

Galen 10

it will be a huge upheaval in our educational system, probably on a par with the introduction of comprehensives

Most of the free school plans currently being floated are pointedly plans for small schools – 300 or 400 max. In many areas the comps have 1500, 1700 or even 2000 pupils.

Seems to me the worst that could happen is that some oversized comps reduce to a more human scale.


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