Why more academies will make education worse


4:20 pm - February 2nd 2012

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contribution by Natacha Kennedy

It has become a media consensus that turning a school into an academy will automatically turn it into a more successful school, improve its results.

But a closer look at the figures, which the mainstream media has conspicuously failed to carry out, shows a very different story.

So let’s have a look at the reality.

The percentage of pupils making expected progress in English, the most important subject on the curriculum, in Community schools, Foundation Schools and oluntary Aided schools all of which are run by their local education authority was 71%, 73% and 79% respectively.

Compare this to academies however and their pitiful score is just 65%. So much for the “dead hand of local authority control” as Michael Gove likes to call it. The deadening hand of direct control by Mr Gove from Whitehall is far worse.

But what about overall GCSE results? Well, 27% of academies saw their results fall last year, some quite dramatically. The normal yardstick is GCSE results grades A-C. One school, St Aldhelm’s Academy achieved a score of just 3%.

The important thing to remember here is that before it converted into an academy its score under this measure was 17%, not fantastic but a whole lot better than it is now.

If we focus the figures to the all important English and Maths scores the dire performance of academies is laid bare; the percentage achieving 5 GCSEs including English and Maths is as follows:

• Academies: 47%?
• Community Schools: 56%?
• Foundation Schools: 61%?
• Voluntary Aided Schools: 67%

The government has said it would force any school to convert into an academy if its GCSE A-C score fell below 35%. However just over a third of academies themselves failed to achieve that level. Does this mean Gove will turn them into…academies again?

The figures would suggest that if Gove were serious about “not tolerating failure” he should in fact convert them back into community schools. Indeed out of the top 150 performing schools in the country, there are only three academies, and those three are selective grammar schools. There are no non-selective academies in the top 150.

Chillingly Gove has said that he wants every school in the country to become an academy.

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Reader comments


Aye wee Govey the house elf was going to have volunteer schools until he found out that hardly any were interested.

So now it will be compulsory so that his brain wave can be a success.

Just like Climbdown Cameron’s Big Society.

The unemployed and the mildly criminal will be forced to do the volunteering so that Cameron’s legacy will be achieved.

How incredibly shallow are these people.

Thank god for the Scottish government and the fact we don’t have to put up with this nonsense.

Ah, the old “lies, damned lies and statistics”. Would the auther of this article care to explain;

1. What the previous results of the schoold tunred into academies were, and the progression in those results?

After all, it fine to say that only 65% of kids in academies are making sufficient in English, but what was it like before those schools were academies? Is the rate of improvement better than those of other schools?

2. What of the other 63% of academies which DIDN’T see their reuslts fall last year? One single example of a particular school really isn’t a scientific approach.

3. Given a lot of academies were amongst the most poorly performing schools to start with, is it fair to suddenly expect them to be amongst the best? Again, rather than the outright level of performance, what was the RATE of improvement in results in these schools, compared to those in other schools?

As it is, this article really is a very poorly written and researched piece. Where is the hard data? Little more than a smear. Especially from someone who claims to be a researcher and PhD student.

Aha! Natacha the Plagiarist.

Looks suspiciously like these figures (and false conclusions) were simply lifted off Henry Stewart’s post over at LSN.

But Henry has been corrected by Charlie Ben-Nathan thus:


Latest government data show that academies over perform!

The Value Added measure based on the best 8 GCSE and equivalent results gives the following results:

Academies 1002.08
Community Schools 997.46
Foundation Schools 1000.28
Voluntary Aided Schools 1004.75

Now none of these values with their confidence intervals fall outside the range of the confidence intervals of the other values, so you can’t draw statistically significant conclusions, but it shows another story.

In terms of the intakes the following is the case:

% of pupils starting KS4 in ____ prior attainment Band

Low Middle High

Academies 27 53 20
Community Schools 19 51 30
Foundation Schools 17 47 36
Voluntary Aided Schools 13 47 40

http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2012/01/latest-data-shows-academies-underperform/

These academies were started by Labour in particularly “challenging” areas and have more low prior attainment kids and fewer higher attainers.

@ Flowerpower

THanks for some real comparative data! I was pretty sure that the article was misleading at best

Oh Natacha!

It gets worse………

St Aldhelm’s Academy achieved a score of just 3%.

Why oh why did you neglect to tell us that until September last year this school was called Rossmore Community College…. and that the local authority made such a mess of it that the Church of England were called in to take it over and start an academy?

The academy had these kids for only 8 months before they took GCSEs. The LEA had them for 9 years!

An honesty FAIL there N.

My children were at an Academy in a “challenging area”. It proved impossible to see any way in which it functioned differently from any other secondary school. It proved impossible to obtain any information about what the “sponsor” was doing to improve education: as far it was possible to ascertain the “sponsor” did nothing but carry out basic management and administration. In fact some of the support functions for special needs and those with non-English home languages was obtained from the LEA.

It proved impossible to obtain any data about “value added” measures. While at first it was said that being able to opt-out of the national curriculum would mean a special imrpoved curriculum, in parctice the Head has said that 99% is national curriculum. So I am not surprised to find that there is very little difference in value-added measures between types of school. I have seen no indication that the “sponsors” of Academies have found the answers to the challenges of secondary education in challenging areas. While New Labour presented Academies as a trial (while saying that they were bound to improve standards) Gove is simply going ahead with more Academies. The results do not justify removing schools from accountable LEAs to unaccountable sponsors and central government.

Well I’ll have a wonderful example of the effects on academy conversions in a few years. The school around the corner from me is currently consulting on changing its status and it looks like the changes will go ahead since the Conservatives and Lib Dems are supporting it.

A local Lib Dem councillor recently sent round a newsletter praising the school for it’s record GCSE results. I can remember the numbers off the top of my head but it’s something like 95% achieved at least 5 grade C’s. This by all accounts is a very good state school so how much do they think that they can gain by turning it into an academy? It’s more likely to have a negative effect on the children since they can’t realistically improve much more.

I’m sure the head teacher will be getting a nice pay rise after the change.

@Tyler @Flowerpower

The problem with your argument is that those advocating academies, especially Gove, are the ones who also say that elements such as value added should no longer count, only the raw GCSE scores. Indeed Gove has just decreed that value added should be removed from the league tables stats.

The advocates of Academies are effectively trying to have it both ways.

BTW a lot of those advocating academies also advocate grammar schools, yet grammar schools’ scores for value-added are amongst the lowest there are.

However the hypocrisy of the pro-academy camp gets worse; Gove is now trying to brand many schools which have low raw GCSE scores as “failing” or “coasting” whilst ignoring their high value-added scores, so he can force them into becoming academies.

In the New Labour period spending on Education increased by an adjusted 50% near enough .The OECD recently concluded , that the UK had made absolutely no progress in that time
Clearly the status quo will not do. Aside from anything else our awful educational standards ( comparatively speaking) are the single largest threat to the UK`s long term prosperity .
So what are the forces of inertia determined to sacrifice our children’s future to their present ? Partly teachers themselves whose unaccountability overpayment and pensions defraud tax payer and student alike. Equally important is the educational establishment, which exerts influence through teacher training courses centred in London .
That establishment is currently busying itself in seeking to discredit the broad satisfaction that (otherwise perfect in every way) Swedes have expressed at breaking up the supply side monopoly of educational method .
In the long term Academies represent a shift of power from supplier to consumer of state funded education . The teaching Unions sniff competition and fear it but for educationalists, worse still, it represents the end of their prestige and with that , their income
Under threat also are the myriad sinecures attached to education whose worth is likely to be scrutinised when parents find they have a free-er market in methods. We may have our own suspicions as to how much these meta-bureaucrats add

The idea that parents ought to have say in the way their children are taught is the vilest anathema, to those accustomed to think that only they have the necessary expertise . So ,we may expect a defence of insiders and vested interests determined to stop reform.

Most of what emanates from such sources can be dismissed on these grounds alone

I am puzzled by these arguments. I recall that when Academies were first proposed, opponents argued that Academies would get more money (ie a diversion of funding from mainstream schools) and that they would cherry pick bright entrants. Then New Labour came along and said that Academies were OK and let’s have a few more.

Today, Gove appears to be saying that most secondary schools should be Academies (that it would be unusual for a non-selective state owned school not to be an Academy). The logical response of supporters of comprehensive schools should be to demand that all state owned non-selective secondary schools become Academies. To make life simple, Academies could be renamed Comprehensives.

Labour must commit to make all schools into comprehensives and outlaw private schools. Anything else is Tory policy.

@ Natacha

“The problem with your argument is that those advocating academies, especially Gove, are the ones who also say that elements such as value added should no longer count, only the raw GCSE scores.”

I can’t believe I’m lining up alongside the Tories here, especially on this issue (I’m no defender of Gove’s academy mania), but your own position looks just as slippery as Gove’s.

If he thinks value added should no longer count, then yes, he should regard academies as a failure.

But the question is: if you think value added *should* count, why do *you* regard them as a failure? Or are you trying to have it both ways too?

Those aren’t just supposes to be rhetorical “gotcha!” questions; I would genuinely like to hear you make a more substantial case against new academies.

“Labour must commit to make all schools into comprehensives and outlaw private schools. Anything else is Tory policy.”

Being a foreigner, I don’t get this about British schooling. Why couldn’t you just fix the comprehensives, if they are bad?

Being a foreigner, I don’t get this about British schooling. Why couldn’t you just fix the comprehensives, if they are bad?

Because of the way ‘parental choice’ works, comprehensives tend to end up with with the body of pupils from the impoverished side of the socio-economic scale, with all the attendant social problems poverty presents. The net result is that controlling the unruly classrooms takes up so much time and effort that there is very little left for actual teaching, and obviously leads to predictably poor results. The only confirmed way to fix that is to have a greater mixing of the student body so that the problem students are not all collected under one roof but more evenly distributed, where their disruptive behavior is reduced, and maybe even discouraged rather than encouraged, by their peers.
However middle class parents don’t much like the thought of little Porthos Brigglesworth the third mixing with the rough lower orders, and have the means to ensure it doesn’t happen. ‘Parental Choice’ ya see, with your ability to choose being directly proportional to your pocket book, be it by private schools or buying strangely expensive property within certain school catchment areas.

“Labour must commit to make all schools into comprehensives and outlaw private schools. Anything else is Tory policy.”

Personally I find the idea of the government being able to dictate where and how every single parent educates their child a tad on the authoritarian side, but then I’m a Tory, so my opinions are probably invalid.

Paul Newman: parents have no say whatsoever in Academies over how their children are taught.

17. So Much For Subtlety

13. pjt

Being a foreigner, I don’t get this about British schooling. Why couldn’t you just fix the comprehensives, if they are bad?

How do you fix a failing school? Failure is such a team effort. Everyone does their little bit. So who do you sack? How can you tell a good teacher from a bad teacher? Especially when the Teachers Unions will fight you tooth and nail to prevent you from sacking anyone. Or even trying to work out who the good teachers and the bad teachers are.

Comprehensives were set up to benefit Teachers, or more specifically Teachers Unions. Not children. The Unions won’t allow any change. So where do you start? Look up Michelle Rhee and the Washington DC school system.

14. Cylux

Because of the way ‘parental choice’ works, comprehensives tend to end up with with the body of pupils from the impoverished side of the socio-economic scale, with all the attendant social problems poverty presents.

Naturally Cylux trots out the party line. In reality Middle Class flight from Comps is a result of their failure, not a cause. By any reasonable standard British Comps do worse than Secondary Moderns used to so it isn’t the pupils.

The net result is that controlling the unruly classrooms takes up so much time and effort that there is very little left for actual teaching, and obviously leads to predictably poor results.

And naturally Cylux prefers to blame the children rather than the real culprits. Why are children so ill-disciplined? Ask any teacher. They will tell you the Heads will not back them up. The Department won’t either. There is no sanction left for teachers. The Department of Education caved into progressive education experts and the Unions and banned virtually all forms of discipline – and virtually got rid of expulsion. It is not that working class children are inherently disruptive – although I am willing to consider the idea that the attempt by the Labour Party to replace the British working class with Third World immigrants has produced a body of students with their own special approaches to schooling – it is that the ever more feminised and un-manly educational apparatus is incapable of keeping order in the classroom.

The only confirmed way to fix that is to have a greater mixing of the student body so that the problem students are not all collected under one roof but more evenly distributed, where their disruptive behavior is reduced, and maybe even discouraged rather than encouraged, by their peers.

So what Cylux really means is that the only solution is to hide the problem by abolishing the competition. If Britain no longer has a functional non-Comp sector, no one will know how f**ked up the system really is. Otherwise the idea of bussing inner city thugs to schools where they can beat the crap out of effete suburban white kids would be too obviously stupid for words.

However middle class parents don’t much like the thought of little Porthos Brigglesworth the third mixing with the rough lower orders, and have the means to ensure it doesn’t happen.

Yeah, funny how parents take against their children being raped and beaten.

‘Parental Choice’ ya see, with your ability to choose being directly proportional to your pocket book, be it by private schools or buying strangely expensive property within certain school catchment areas.

The whole point out Academies is that they are intended to give poor Inner City (and often Black Christian) parents the choice that White Middle Class parents get. Parents who cannot afford to buy a nice house in a nice suburb. Parents who have no hope of sending their children to a private school. Unlike Cylux I would guess. So of course that has to be stopped. How will the Labour Party rule Britain without a reliable source of underclass votes from those that should have been given a better chance in life?

@ 8 Natacha

No, that is not my argument at all. My argument is that you article is deliberately misleading.

You say that academies are simply worse than other schools, and give “evidence” to show as such.

Yet in truth, most of those academies were failing schools before academy status, and have since improved. Granted, schools which already perform well will not have such large improvements, but that’s not what we are looking at here. You have presented static data with no context or comparative study.

Moreover, it is quite clear that data contrary to what you are saying is available freely. Which makes me think that what we are looking at is simply a very crude attempt to smear the academy program. If this bears any resemblance to your PhD “research” you should simply be ashamed.

What really disgusts me about people liek you is that in the end, you don’t really care about children’s education. Your political belief system and what you think is right is simply much more important than giving them a good education, and it shows tellingly in the levels of academic attainment in British schools compared with other countries. Well you know what? The previous government failed dismally at improving standards, despite extra investment, and their (yes, it was Labour) academy program was probably one of the few policies which will over time reverse some of that. There is simply no justification for continuing with policies which have shown to be flawed, and I for one am glad the Labour party eventually saw that.

@17 You can’t complain about my claiming the problem is the pupils then object to “bussing inner city thugs” about. You either agree with the idea that undisciplined, disruptive kids are the problem, or you don’t. You can’t get away with holding both positions at the same time.

20. So Much For Subtlety

19. Cylux

You can’t complain about my claiming the problem is the pupils then object to “bussing inner city thugs” about. You either agree with the idea that undisciplined, disruptive kids are the problem, or you don’t. You can’t get away with holding both positions at the same time.

I don’t see why not. I don’t think all children are angels. What is more, I think the nature of humankind is inherently evil and so children will be brutal and cruel to each other at the drop of a hat. It is the job of a teacher to beat that out of them. Or at least make the fear of authority more powerful than the pleasure of torturing a smaller child. If teachers fail at that, children will behave like thugs. As they are doing. Especially if their parents are failing too. Or worse, even encouraging. If the teachers succeed, then the children will only be casually cruel to each other and learning can take place.

My position is not contradictory. You can’t blame the children as if it isn’t the teachers’ job to maintain order and discipline.

@17 Furthermore if the problem was the lack of sanctions afforded to teachers that led to unruly classrooms, then the problem would be universal across all British schools and not just within the leftovers the deprived get to go to. Funnily enough teachers at comparitively well-off schools seem to manage all right without the ability to twat kids with a wooden ruler, which if the lack of said ability is what causes ill-discipline would surely not be the case.

22. So Much For Subtlety

21. Cylux

Furthermore if the problem was the lack of sanctions afforded to teachers that led to unruly classrooms, then the problem would be universal across all British schools and not just within the leftovers the deprived get to go to. Funnily enough teachers at comparitively well-off schools seem to manage all right without the ability to twat kids with a wooden ruler, which if the lack of said ability is what causes ill-discipline would surely not be the case.

It is universal across British schools. Simply to different degrees. Although I will also agree parents have some role to play. As does race. If children are told that the system hates them and their teachers are the enemy, they will be more likely to misbehave I expect.

Where teachers manage all right is where they have a threat to expel. Where being there is a privilege. Where, by and large, the teachers are male. I am not sure if that last one matters, but I do notice it a lot. Bad schools get younger, less experienced and more often than not, female teachers. Who cannot control young inner city yoof who don’t want to be there. Leafy suburbs seem to get older, more experienced and more often than usual, male teachers. At least that is my observation.

So the only parts of the education system that work, in the sense they produce literate, numerate students, are the Grammars, a small number of Comps in very nice areas, some Religious schools and above all else, the private sector. I would be prepared to bet that a school’s results is directly linked to the number of male teachers it has.

@20 The problem as I outlined in my original comment is that controlling one or two disruptive pupils is easily manageable by a teacher, especially where their attitude goes against the grain of their fellow classmates, whereas a classroom full of them isn’t. It’s the latter comps have to deal with.
Plus good luck trying to convince parents to let teachers beat seven shades of shit out of their kids, perhaps try suggesting it to their faces and see how far that gets you.

I would be prepared to bet that a school’s results is directly linked to the number of male teachers it has.

How much?

25. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 XXX

“Personally I find the idea of the government being able to dictate where and how every single parent educates their child a tad on the authoritarian side”

Understandable, but how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go on this? What if fundamentalists want to send their kids to schools that ignore English and maths and actively undermine science in an attempt to instill as much god-fearing-ness into pupils as possible? Or, for that matter, what if parents decide that they don’t want their kids to be educated at all?

The actual users of education – children – get little or no say in how they are educated and are too young to make such decisions in any case. Using the above examples, it seems extremely unfair for the children’s lives to be screwed over by their deluded and/or irresponsible parents. I think this is an issue that wants a nuanced response, between “parents should have absolute control over their children’s education” and “all children must have identical, state-mandated schooling”.

26. Chaise Guevara

“I would be prepared to bet that a school’s results is directly linked to the number of male teachers it has.”

Ah, Liberal Conspiracy. In any other forum, this would be attributed to a conservative straw man. Here, it’s just SMFS pontificating.

To make life simple, Academies could be renamed Comprehensives.

Yes, except the difference is they are no longer strangled by the educational bureaucracy and can use all the money they get to educate their pupils. Combine academies and free schools with a parental voucher system and our appalling state education system could conceivably be fixed.

As Tyler and Flowerpower point out above, the statistics used in the OP are meaningless and the interpretation is disingenuous. But what is really pernicious is that the argument is made for ideological purposes and in the full and certain knowledge that, if academies were stopped, children would be educated less well.

On Newsnight last night, a teacher in the audience complained that if she didn’t do her job well, she could be sacked. I think I am right in saying that only two teachers have been sacked for incompetence in the last decade (please correct this if necessary).

At some point the Government are going to have to take on and break the unions if real progress is to be made.

@14, I can see the problem, but it sounds like the fundamental issue is not that schools are broken; it’s that the people are broken. And then you retaliate this to the hated “middle class”, those who are not yet broken? The problem not being that people are “poor” (having little money) but “deprived” (hostile to education). So that everyone has to face the same level of violence and ignorance in school?

I suppose one big problem with your schools is a division to “us” and “them”, like someone writes above, “if children are told that the system hates them and their teachers are the enemy, they will be more likely to misbehave I expect.” This is not an issue at all where I live, and our schools are at the top of PISA rankings. We spend less money on schools.

Changing the way children are allocated to different schools won’t make much difference here; you’d be merely spreading the misery so that everyone is equal in the suffering. Not a good thing. I don’t claim to have correct answers as I don’t know British society so well, but from the sound of it, “academies” – goal being that the school is a privilege that even the poor can reach – is better than simply trying to do away with parental choice (which is one of the fundamentals of a free society).

All the arguments for parental choice seem to be ignoring one key factor – choice. Where I live there are 3 state schools (and a number of private ones that even the relatively wealthy in the area can’t afford). One of those is an all girls school so my parents would have had the ‘choice’ to send me to one of two schools – both of which achieve relatively comparable results and have similar levels of resources, after school clubs etc. Even if some bright spark was able to set up a new school in my area all that would do is take pupils from the other 3 reducing their intake and funding to the point that they either shut down or were existing on a subsistence budget with steadily decreasing resources and results.

The whole reason that schools can’t exist in a private market is because there is no ‘market’. A school is a social and financial investment for a local area. They get a fixed intake of ‘clients’ who have little purchasing power in reality because they can’t just take their money to any other ‘supplier’. At best all you end up with is an oligopoly/cartel that serves its own interests. Far better that we decide at a national level what monopolisitic position these institutions should be offering and then provide that at as high a standard as possible. All I can see parental choice doing is either forcing good schools to become over crowded which will reduce their capacity to produce the good results or crap schools will become full of those who cannot choose because like me they had nowhere else to go.

The whole reason that schools can’t exist in a private market is because there is no ‘market’.

But that could be fixed by a voucher system.

It’s the only sensible way forward.

@ pagar

“I think I am right in saying that only two teachers have been sacked for incompetence in the last decade (please correct this if necessary).”

It’s not many, but this still misrepresents the picture on the ground. Most people simply jump before they’re pushed. It’s quite easy for head teachers to squeeze out staff who are underperforming (or whose faces don’t fit, for that matter), because going though ‘capabilities’ proceedings is such a wretched experience.

The usual Tory answer to that is ‘aha – so these bad teachers just go off to teach somewhere else then!’ And maybe that happens, sometimes, if they’re the best candidate to apply for a given job. But often these people either realise teaching’s not for them, or go on to do perfectly well at another (perhaps less ‘difficult’) school.

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 31 G.O.

“But often these people either realise teaching’s not for them, or go on to do perfectly well at another (perhaps less ‘difficult’) school.”

Interesting point – a teacher who’s a total failure at dealing with difficult kids might be brilliant at a school where the children want to learn. And others might find their effectiveness differs hugely depending on the age of their pupils. Infant/junior schools require childcare skills; secondaries often need someone who can impose discipline, and colleges probably do best with teachers who can inspire.

We probably often cordon off “teaching” as a single skill or skill set, when it isn’t really.

The Conservatives are trying to make scapegoats of teachers.

The more important insight is that teachers tend to be attracted to academically successful schools and repelled by schools with discipline problems and/or poorly motivated kids. The functioning of the teacher job market therefore tends to reinforce academically successful schools while penalising problem schools.

“But that could be fixed by a voucher system”

Which isn’t a market – it is a market simulation.

The free market approach is simple; do what the hell you like with your money, if you want to send your kids to school (or go yourself should you be an orphan) then pay for it at the private school of your choice, which will choose its own curriculum, term dates and examination methods.

That no sane person advocates the above means libertarians have to advocate vouchers – which is simply a different form of state funding of education which libertarians hope will lead to a lower education budget.

Natacha @ 8

A few points:

1. The key argument in favour of transition to academies is that many well-attested studies from round the world show that giving schools autonomy leads to improvement in teaching and learning.

Schools where teachers and governors are left alone to innovate perform better than schools run by LEA bureaucrats.

2. The second argument is financial. ~ LEAs currently cream off a percentage of the schools budget to pay for a range of services. Many headteachers do not want these services and would rather have the money. Under the academy system, the school gets the money first. The head is then free to buy the services from the LEA if she wishes, but also free to get better or cheaper services elsewhere. For a school, this can mean up to £1000 per pupil.

Many heads would, for instance, prefer to spend the dosh on getting a few extra maths teachers than have a part-share in a LEA ‘Improvement Adviser”.

Many of these LEA advisers are essentially ‘failed teachers’, who were hopeless in the classroom and wouldn’t make it to head of department or deputy head. Instead, they pursue advancement down the bureaucratic route.

Many fine teachers find it galling to be patronized by some jerk they wouldn’t even hire as a classroom assistant.

3. The problem with your argument is that those advocating academies, especially Gove, are the ones who also say that elements such as value added should no longer count

Labour replaced the straightforward VA measure (which considered prior attainment) with Contextual Value Added, which lumps-in other factors such as gender, family circumstances, SEN, ethnicity etc.

In practice, CVA proved too tempting for those who wanted to make excuses for bad teaching and game the system.

It led to schools labeling pupils SEN simply because their Dads were in the Army and likely to go to Afghanistan.

Of course, family circumstances (especially family break-up) affect a child’s performance. But CVA was routinely abused, with heads scrabbling around for ‘social cover’. Gove is right to scrap the measure, because it causes distortions.

Set teachers free from local council bureaucrats and schools will get better. It’s as simple as that.

36. Torquil Macneil

“That no sane person advocates the above means libertarians have to advocate vouchers”

Actually, we already ave a voucher system, funding follows the child (which is all a voucher means – there doesn’t have to be an actual piece of paper you hold in your hand), it is just a very restricted one. I don’t think anyone is advocating a pre-voucher form of funding are they?

“The whole point out Academies is that they are intended to give poor Inner City (and often Black Christian) parents the choice that White Middle Class parents get. Parents who cannot afford to buy a nice house in a nice suburb. Parents who have no hope of sending their children to a private school.”

Can I say again that, from experience, this is not the result. My experience is that Academies are no different from other secondary schools except that they are managed by private organisations and the Ministry, not by LEAs. The impression was given at the beginning that they would get extra resources and a freedom to innovate (freedom to ignore the national curriculum) that would make them different That has not happened. There has been no magic bullet from the “sponsors”. I have seen no innovation and I haven’t seen any examples in the press about innovation in Academies.

The idea that Academies are better able to deal with poor teaching and under-standard teachers is a myth. My children have suffered from teaching at an Academy by too many teachers just out of college, from too many supply teachers and lack of continuity in teaching. If the aim of Academies is to side-step the trade unions, this is being used to employ less experienced teachers at lower cost and not to bring in better teaching.

@28 Re: Parental Choice, tell me, which parent wants to choose a poor school?
Therein lies the rub, every parent wants the best education possible for their children – choice becomes meaningless in this context.

39. Flowerpower

Cylux @ 38

Choice is not meaningless.

The *best* school for one child may not be the best for another. Even within the same family.

My neighbours have three kids attending three different secondaries.

Boy1. – is extrovert, confident, good at sport and second stream at academics. Has no problems with a 1400 pupil school. Loves the brilliant facilities they have. Thriving.

Boy2. is shy, timid, uncertain of his sexuality and has always been regarded as “sensitive”. He preferred a much smaller school that specialises in arts and drama, has very progressive pedagogy, isn’t strict or forbidding (all a bit hippy actually) and which has v. good pastoral care. He was bullied at primary school, but has no bullying troubles in his new school. Thriving.

Girl – Went to the same mixed comp as Boy1. for one year. Academic work went down the toilet. Had multiple friendship/boyfriend issues. Felt lost in big class where all lessons were group work. Parents managed to move her to a single sex school, v.traditional, old-fashioned teaching. Thriving.

Put them all in the same local school, or allow diversity and choice?

@38: “every parent wants the best education possible for their children ”

If only that were true. There are serial news reports of teachers being attacked by parents for disciplining their badly behaved children.

The value of education tends to be a middle class fixation – neighbourhood peer groups in tough areas are more likely to be impressed by football skills or worse than by academic aptitudes. In such places, it’s smart to be dumb – school swots tend to be despised and to get bullied unless they conform with the norm.

“Actually, we already ave a voucher system”

Well yes, but most bloggertarians pay no attention to education policy and leglislation and think the system is exactly the same now as it was in the 1970s. So the abscence of the pretty piece of paper means they can’t see that they are advocating very minor changes.

“The value of education tends to be a middle class fixation – neighbourhood peer groups in tough areas are more likely to be impressed by football skills or worse than by academic aptitudes. In such places, it’s smart to be dumb – school swots tend to be despised and to get bullied unless they conform with the norm.”

This is exactly the elephant in the room. We can debate ways of organising education all day, but until we accept that a minority of the population has a deeply anti-educational attitude that frankly harms their children far more than anything else we’ll miss the point completely. Its why the pupil premium is a waste of money – as long you have the required resouces to run a school, provide textbooks, computers, good staff etc, additional funding has diminishing returns.

Pagar @ 30

But that could be fixed by a voucher system.

You free market fetishists need to think about it for a Second. Just adding the words ‘the free market’ to anything does not automatically make it better.

No, there is no market for mass education! Gimmicks like vouchers will not create a ‘market’. Christ almighty, you cannot take your education back to the shop if it doesn’t work, like you would a TV, nor do you switch brands halfway through a term like you would with a brand of beans. Education is a lifetime commitment, not a commodity that can be bought and sold as easily as that.

It is a one shot deal, you cannot take your child back to being a five year old and start again.

That school has no control of the quality of its clients, nor has it any control how able that child will learn. If a failing school fails because of the quality of its pupils, how can they improve their standards? How can the market change that?

Markets only work when the customer has freedom of choice and freedom of choice is only really possible when there is an oversupply of suppliers. The ‘best’ schools will be oversubscribed and they will have the whip hand as to who gets in. The school cannot ‘add a wing’ to accommodate that over subscription. The surplus pupils will be denied access to the best education and the school will simply coast along. The worse schools will have no incentive to improve because there will be a shortage of supply, they have a captive market of everyone who is rejected from the other, better schools.

What kind of market ‘works’ by the ‘best’ suppliers vetting his potential customers, then the rejected customers move to the next tier down, right across the board until the bottom of the market picks up those people who have missed out?

Let us imagine Tesco did that with beans. Let us imagine that two hundred people request beans and Tescos gave two hundred vouchers out for tins of beans. Let us say the store has fifty tins of Heinz, fifty tins of Branston fifty tins of Tesco own brand and fifty value tins. In that order of superiority and we all agree with that

Then each customer submits a request for the best beans and the Heinz rep decides who get the beans, based on whatever criteria he wants. Then the Branston manager does the same with who is left and so on.

You would laugh at such an arrangement, but basically that is what you want for education. The best schools will choose the best pupils and everyone else will go down a sliding scale and the worse school will end up with the ‘worse’ pupils. The market will be for the benefit of the supplier of the service, not the consumer.

Ludicrous, Pager, just plain ludicrous.

@39 I noticed you omitted the relative academic achievement between the three schools, which leads me to believe they’re all quite good and have relatively similar standards. Which would imply that the parents made their actual choice for their children’s education when they moved onto your street within range of three decent schools.

45. Flowerpower

Jim @ 43

Your picture of how a market would work is plain wrong.

1. Parents have a range of criteria when choosing a school and their eventual decision is often a trade-off. They might consider factors as varied as: academic reputation, quality of facilities, expertise/specialism, proximity to home, bus & travel routes, ethos of school, whether co-ed or not, whether their children’s best friends will be applying there too.

2. Vouchers can be weighted. Thus, an ordinary voucher might be worth, say, £6k while a voucher for a kid on FSM could be worth £8k, one for a kid from a v. deprived postcode, £7k and a kid with serious SEN £12k. This would mean that popular schools would be incentivized to take a proportion of more challenging pupils – but even if they didn’t, what you call the worse schools would be better resourced.

3. The market you claim can’t work is the one that actually DOES work in the independent sector. Within a few miles of my home there are a dozen independent schools. Their fees are all pretty much the same. You could say that anyone who can afford these schools effectively has a voucher. There is no rigid pecking order. Some have higher reputations for Oxbridge entry etc. – but this isn’t the main consideration for most parents. They choose having considered the same criteria as above. There are no “sink independents” among them.

” popular schools would be incentivized to take a proportion of more challenging pupils ”

What you haven’t considered here is that in your system its supposed to be parents choosing schools not the other way around – that you think there is a need for an incentive suggests you know that the reality is that good schools end up choosing pupils.

You also need to realise that a large proportion of ‘challenging pupils’ also have ‘challenging parents’ – meaning people who probably shouldn’t be deciding which schools to send their kids.

I’ve never personally understood this touchingly naive faith in changing the structure of accountability of a school leads to improvement in standards.

More like it will lead to stagnating standards and opaque accountability.

Under Labour average GCSE results had already improved markedly from their Tory lows.

Ridding ourselves of the remaining grammars and maintaining investment in comprehensives, alongside ensuring we have a decent economy not weighed down by rightwing economic gibberish would be a more successful model than daft Academies.

In 1997, following 18 years of Tory neglect, just 35.9% of students achieved 5 good passes at GCSE including English and Maths.

By 2010 that had increased to 50.7%.

Labour’s investment in schools was working without wasting time with Academies.

49. Flowerpower

BenM @ 48

As you well know, what happened in the intervening years was that Labour introduced thousands of iffy vocationally-based courses, some of which *counted* as 4 GCSEs. Many had only minimal external moderation or assessment. The wonder is, given that practically all the student had to do was turn up occasionally, they’re still stuck at 50.7%. Meanwhile, in many cases, the *real* GCSEs got easier.

@47. BenM: “I’ve never personally understood this touchingly naive faith in changing the structure of accountability of a school leads to improvement in standards.”

And I’ve never personally understood this touchingly naive faith in changing the structure of accountability of banking to improvement in banking practice.

Utter cobblers, of course. If you want something to change, a fine way to do it is by changing the power rules and the responsibility rules.

In households across the country, parents told their children last week that if they didn’t sort out their laundry, nobody was doing it for them. That is an example of power and responsibility. Some of the irresponsible kids did not receive fresh clothes.

@27. pagar
Me: “To make life simple, Academies could be renamed Comprehensives.”

“Yes, except the difference is they are no longer strangled by the educational bureaucracy and can use all the money they get to educate their pupils.”

I was surprised at how long it took for anyone to twig that angle. Of course, the money that enters a school isn’t spent entirely on “education” but on building fabric and general management as well.

The first generation Academies justified the capital letter because they received external funding in huge dollops. I don’t know whether the New Academies get those funding dollops. I presume that they are plain old secondary schools with a new name, new status, under slightly different management.

Pardon me for skipping a few points about which I have nothing original to say.

“At some point the Government are going to have to take on and break the unions if real progress is to be made.”

That is the worst solution to any problem. As a libertarian or classical liberal, Pagar, don’t you recall that government is owned by the people and that government action should be self constrained. To “take on and break the unions” are the words of an authoritarian conservative.

The Academies issue is really so much froth IMO.

The fundamental issues are about that cluster of poorly achieving Local Education Authorities (LEAs) up through the Midland and across the North:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16730017

And why the same LEAs rank at the bottom of the GCSE league table for England, year after year, with such boring regularity.

As for stripping out the soft option vocational GCSE subjects from the league tables, in some places that will mean more and more schools rated as failing. This was the worrying news in the Yorkshire Post:

“THE number of secondary schools failing to hit GCSE targets in Yorkshire could surge as a result of a Government crackdown on the number of vocational qualifications used in league tables.”

53. So Much For Subtlety

23. Cylux

The problem as I outlined in my original comment is that controlling one or two disruptive pupils is easily manageable by a teacher, especially where their attitude goes against the grain of their fellow classmates, whereas a classroom full of them isn’t. It’s the latter comps have to deal with.

Except it is not true. Even one or two children can completely disrupt a class. And how are you going to manage one or two anyway? In some schools it is more like 10 per class. You will have to bus them ever further away – well, are schools supposed to be local or not?

Plus good luck trying to convince parents to let teachers beat seven shades of shit out of their kids, perhaps try suggesting it to their faces and see how far that gets you.

My experience of interactions between teachers who beat the crap out of their pupils – illegally these days – and those pupils’ parents is that the parents wish they would do it more often. I have seen teachers do it. I know teachers who do it. A single complaint could end a career. I know of no teacher who has had a complaint laid against him by the parents.

ukliberty

How much?

Well it would be hard to show because it is clearly not that strong – I just looked up a well performing school (five out of sixteen senior management were women) and a poorly performing one (eight out of sixteen were women), but I would still think the correlation is there. It struck me the other day that in my experience of the schools I know it is true.

Chaise Guevara

Understandable, but how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go on this? What if fundamentalists want to send their kids to schools that ignore English and maths and actively undermine science in an attempt to instill as much god-fearing-ness into pupils as possible? Or, for that matter, what if parents decide that they don’t want their kids to be educated at all?

And on the other hand how far down do you want to go? What if the State decides to teach children that Jews are evil and need to be exterminated?

The actual users of education – children – get little or no say in how they are educated and are too young to make such decisions in any case. Using the above examples, it seems extremely unfair for the children’s lives to be screwed over by their deluded and/or irresponsible parents.

And yet parents have an abiding interest in their children’s happiness. The Teachers, their Unions and the Department of Education do not. So the real problem for children is not that their parents might screw up their lives, it is that the State is screwing up their lives. All over Britain people are having their future blighted by the incompetence and gutlessness of the State.

I think this is an issue that wants a nuanced response, between “parents should have absolute control over their children’s education” and “all children must have identical, state-mandated schooling”.

That just looks like the usual Leftist Code for doing nothing to me.

Chaise Guevara

Ah, Liberal Conspiracy. In any other forum, this would be attributed to a conservative straw man. Here, it’s just SMFS pontificating.

Yeah. But is it true?

54. So Much For Subtlety

29. Retorik80

All the arguments for parental choice seem to be ignoring one key factor – choice. Where I live there are 3 state schools (and a number of private ones that even the relatively wealthy in the area can’t afford). …. Even if some bright spark was able to set up a new school in my area all that would do is take pupils from the other 3 reducing their intake and funding to the point that they either shut down or were existing on a subsistence budget with steadily decreasing resources and results.

Sorry but you think this is a bad thing? A school that is so bad no one wants to go there is closed down and a school that is better expands. Isn’t the over all result a thoroughly good one?

The whole reason that schools can’t exist in a private market is because there is no ‘market’. A school is a social and financial investment for a local area. They get a fixed intake of ‘clients’ who have little purchasing power in reality because they can’t just take their money to any other ‘supplier’. At best all you end up with is an oligopoly/cartel that serves its own interests.

Now apply this logic to supermarkets. Where I used to live there was only a choice of three chains as well. Plus some expensive corner shops. Why is it I as a shopper can take my business elsewhere and so create a highly competitive market but as a parent I can’t?

Far better that we decide at a national level what monopolisitic position these institutions should be offering and then provide that at as high a standard as possible.

And it would be nice if unicorns sh!tted rainbows too. But they don’t. This is not what we do. It is not what we can do. What you mean is that the Teachers Unions should run a monopoly. In the interests of the teachers. You need some form of unrelenting pressure on schools to improve or at least maintain standards. If you don’t have it, they will get sloppy and lazy. How are you going to provide this under your national monopoly?

All I can see parental choice doing is either forcing good schools to become over crowded which will reduce their capacity to produce the good results or crap schools will become full of those who cannot choose because like me they had nowhere else to go.

Or good schools will expand. New ones will open. Poor schools will have new management. Etc etc etc.

Bob B

The Conservatives are trying to make scapegoats of teachers.

The more important insight is that teachers tend to be attracted to academically successful schools and repelled by schools with discipline problems and/or poorly motivated kids. The functioning of the teacher job market therefore tends to reinforce academically successful schools while penalising problem schools.

OK. Let’s accept the blatantly obvious. Now how do you distribute teachers? It used to be a simple seniority problem – the older more experienced teachers got first pick of schools. That suited the teachers and their Union but almost no one else. How do you produce a fair system under State management? The best way is for teachers in high demand to be offered jobs by schools in high demand. We need to reinforce academically successful schools while penalising problem schools. What we don’t need to do is make this work for the benefit of the teachers rather than the students.

@ Charlieman

To “take on and break the unions” are the words of an authoritarian conservative.

Yes you’re right, they are and I am suitably shamed.

But this is not a traditional worker/employee battle because, for a long time, both the government and the teacher unions have been on the same side- the unions accepting the demands for control of the curriculum and direction of education by government in return for a lack of scrutiny of the profession and its standards.

It has been a symbiotic relationship made possible because neither had any particularly compelling reason to seek value for the money spent. In terms of state education they had, literally, a captive market.

Now that the employer is showing some signs of looking to end some of the restricted practises that have built up over the years and extract some more value, the unions are, unsurprisingly, squealing.

They should not be pandered to and, actually, I don’t think Gove will do so.

Ah, the talk of ‘vouchers’ begins.

This is the Tory gameplan on both health and education, I suspect, though whether it’ll be in the next manifesto or the one after that I wouldn’t like to say.

It will begin with a lot of spin about ‘choice’ and ‘incentivising good schools/hospitals to take on challenging pupils/patients’. A range of suppliers will compete to attract pupils/patients to their schools/hospitals by providing services at the face value of the voucher.

Then we’ll be asked why someone shouldn’t be allowed to pay a supplement to get a private room in hospital, if they want to, or to make up the difference between the value of the voucher and the cost of education at a private school?

Gradually it will become the norm that better-off people supplement the value of their voucher out of their own incomes, in order to access ‘premium’ services. Successful schools will ‘go private’ so as to be allowed to charge the market rate. A true market will form, driven not by ‘choice’ but by people’s ability to supplement the value of their state voucher. Eventually the voucher alone will suffice to cover the value only of ‘bargain basement’ services – the minimum the government can get away with providing to the poor.

Finally, it will become apparent that what we have is not a system of vouchers enabling ordinary people to exercise choice about their healthcare and their children’s education, but a system of vouchers to subsidise private healthcare and education for the well-off. The social impact will be perfectly regressive: the highest-income households, who already use private providers, will gain most, as the vouchers will amount to cash in their pocket; those in the next income bracket down will be delighted that they can now afford to use private services; people in the middle will be cheesed off that they now have to pay to use services of a standard they used to get for free; and people at the bottom will simply see the quality of their services eroded.

Now, if someone put that to a Tory politician on Newsnight, they’d be told to stop being paranoid. On a comments thread like this, though, where the Tories tend to leave their masks at the door, I suspect many of they will come right out and say “Sounds good to me”. Let’s see.

G.O. @ 56:

“Now, if someone put that to a Tory politician on Newsnight, they’d be told to stop being paranoid. On a comments thread like this, though, where the Tories tend to leave their masks at the door, I suspect many of they will come right out and say “Sounds good to me”. Let’s see.”

Well, I don’t know what the other Conservatives here will say, but personally I just think you’re being paranoid.

@ GO

Now, if someone put that to a Tory politician on Newsnight, they’d be told to stop being paranoid. On a comments thread like this, though, where the Tories tend to leave their masks at the door, I suspect many of they will come right out and say “Sounds good to me

The doomsday scenario you outline above can be easily avoided by the authorities stating that any school accepting vouchers should not be able to accept fees, or additional top up fees, from parents.

Simple really.

But if we had a voucher system, I strongly believe that the private schools would come under pressure and would eventually wither and die or have to convert to being voucher schools.

Also, Flowerpower explains very well how a voucher system could tend to equalise life chances and have schools with a more balanced intake than now.

Vouchers can be weighted. Thus, an ordinary voucher might be worth, say, £6k while a voucher for a kid on FSM could be worth £8k, one for a kid from a v. deprived postcode, £7k and a kid with serious SEN £12k. This would mean that popular schools would be incentivized to take a proportion of more challenging pupils – but even if they didn’t, what you call the worse schools would be better resourced.

Does that sound like a Tory aspiration?

59. So Much For Subtlety

56. G.O.

Eventually the voucher alone will suffice to cover the value only of ‘bargain basement’ services – the minimum the government can get away with providing to the poor.

I tend to agree with you but I think it is a mistake to see this as driven by Right Wing ideology. It would happen even if the Tories failed to win another election between now and 2100. There has been one long running trend in British politics – the British government is fiscally incontinent. Neither side is able to contain spending or the special interest groups that demand ever more money – and not even the ever more complex and Byzantine bureaucracy that administers that spending. So demands for more money come in all the time. However taxes are probably as high as they can get. Any higher would probably produce even less revenue and would be resisted by the voters.

So the government is simply transferring as much as they can of administrative work they used to do on the rest of us. They are charging us fees for things that used to be free. They are providing fewer and worse services. Anything they can to gouge more money out of us to hand to their favoured clients.

People will pay for their own health care and they will pay for the education of their children. By and large. So the government will inevitably move towards making sure more of us do. Regardless of their ideology in power.

SMFS: “Let’s accept the blatantly obvious. Now how do you distribute teachers? It used to be a simple seniority problem – the older more experienced teachers got first pick of schools.”

Analysis needs to come before policy prescriptions. Apart from pay diffentials to compensate teachers for working in difficult schools, I can’t see an acceptable way of avoiding the consequences of the market where good teachers will gravitate towards academically successful and congenial schools and be repelled by difficult schools with discipline problems and pupils with low motivation.

In other words, the job market works to increase inequalities of school outcomes. The Academies policy at least leaves scope for local initiatives outside the control of the local council. We really need to get away from the presumption that the control of schools by local councils is necessarily benign.

It used to be the case in France – but could have changed since when I knew French teachers – that the ministry of education in Paris allocated teachers to schools and that was that. But I can’t see that extent of central control as being acceptable in England.

61. Chaise Guevara

@ 53 SMFS

“And on the other hand how far down do you want to go? What if the State decides to teach children that Jews are evil and need to be exterminated?”

That’s exactly why I said we shouldn’t embrace either extreme.

“And yet parents have an abiding interest in their children’s happiness. The Teachers, their Unions and the Department of Education do not. So the real problem for children is not that their parents might screw up their lives, it is that the State is screwing up their lives. All over Britain people are having their future blighted by the incompetence and gutlessness of the State.”

Some parents strive to make their children happy. Others are more interested in indoctrinating them. Others don’t care. I notice that you’ve suddenly come over all “parents are awesome!”, which is at odds with your attitude on, for example, teenage criminals.

“That just looks like the usual Leftist Code for doing nothing to me.”

Yes, but that’s because you’re apparently incapable of accepting any solution that isn’t some extreme or another. It’s not my fault that you don’t like moderation and compromise.

“Yeah. But is it true?”

There’s no particular reason to believe it; you’ve presented no evidence, just a feeling; it ties in with your general attitude that conservative prejudices are always right, therefore giving an explanation for why you believe it despite a lack of evidence. So it MIGHT be true, but there’s no particular reason to think so. I’ve got just as much reason to assume that female teachers, or mixed teachers, have the best effect, i.e. none.

@ pagar

“The doomsday scenario you outline above can be easily avoided by the authorities stating that any school accepting vouchers should not be able to accept fees, or additional top up fees, from parents.”

It could, yes, and perhaps the initial legislation would be framed that way (depending on how confident the Tories were feeling). I remember a time not so long ago when top universities weren’t allowed to accept additional fees either.

But then the message boards on the Mail and Telegraph websites would begin clogging up with comments like these:

‘I work hard and have to make huge sacrifices to send little Johnny to Eton. I pay my taxes while lots of other people are just sponging off the state. Why should they get vouchers worth £6,000 a year to cover the cost of their child’s education, while I have to find every penny out of my own pocket?’

‘Why should the government be able to tell me where I can and can’t spend my education voucher? I’d like to put that money towards the fees at an independent school where my child could thrive, but they insist I can only spend it at one of the awful local comps. What happened to “parental choice”?’

‘When my mum was having her hip done last week, we met another woman having the same operation who was in her own private room. It turned out she was a private patient, but that room only cost £100 more than the value of my mum’s treatment voucher. We had a choice of three hospitals, but none of them gave us the option of upgrading to a .private room. Why not? We’d have happily paid and it would have been worth every penny. What happened to “patient choice”?’

And the situation I describe only looks like a ‘doomsday scenario’ because of the sinister left-wing spin I put on it. I could go into Tory Mode and make it all look terribly attractive, thus:

‘We remain committed to the principle of universal access to healthcare and education. But the one-size-fit-all model of state provision has failed. It restricts choice and crushes aspiration. It ensures that the best schools and hospitals remain the preserve of the few and not of the many.

‘We in the Conservative Party propose to change all that, breaking down the old barriers between public and private and opening up opportunity to parents up and down the country who work hard every day to give their children the best start in life.

‘If a child’s parents decide that an independent school is the right choice for that child, the state should not be turning its back on them. It should be supporting them. That’s why we think they should receive the same contribution towards their child’s education that’s received by everyone else.

‘And in healthcare, we don’t believe that NHS patients should be locked out of services and facilities that are available to private patients. If a patient feels he would be more comfortable in a private room during a stay in hospital, he should have the option of paying a small additional fee for that room. We should no longer tolerate a two-tier health system in which only private patients have access to the little luxuries that can make such a difference.’

Etc., etc.

Then there’s the ‘big picture’ view: a lot of Tories think (don’t they?) that the welfare state should be more of a ‘safety net’ for the poor and less of a universal provider of services and benefits. They’d like to see more people using private providers, and a general shifting of the burden of the cost of education and healthcare etc. away from the state and towards private individuals who ‘choose’ what sort of education and healthcare they need and how much they’re willing to spend on it. (This is the rationale behind variable top-up fees in HE, for instance, or letting people put NHS vouchers towards the cost of designer glasses.) From that perspective, what I’ve described is not so much a ‘doomsday scenario’ as a utopian vision.

Flowerpower @ 43

1 Customers and parents may have a number of criteria when it comes to beans, TVs, shoes and everything else, but when it comes to education, the ONLY thing that matters is the standard of education. None of these things matter when measured against education of your child.

I accept that if you are buying beans, you may put things like price vs distance, cost of travel. However, if you want the best education possible you want the best outcome possible. It does not matter if the nearest school has the best drop off points; It is the quality of education you want. Same as medicine. The cost of parking is irreverent, the only thing that matters is the survival rate of the operation you need.

2) Fucking mindless bollocks.

If a school’s reputation is based on academic achievement outcomes and not measured on academic output against input, you can ‘weigh’ the voucher how you like. The school is always going to be incentivised to accept children from the highest achieving cohort. The school’s reputation is based on scoring as many good GCSE as possible, therefore output is what matters, not input.

However, if you were the send the worse performing primary school children to the previous ‘best performing’ schools and measure the results and reward that school accordingly, you may have a point. Measure schools by how many ‘F’ children you convert to ‘Ds’ or better So far, that is not the plan. You are measuring that school by the number of good GCSE’s then the school has an incentive to choose those pupils who have the potential to return the highest return for the lowest expenditure.

3) And? Yor point? That is an ibuilt system for public schools who can afford a private education system, not a state education system. Fucking crap compariison.

Pagar @ 58

Also, Flowerpower explains very well how a voucher system could tend to equalise life chances and have schools with a more balanced intake than now.

Hang on, the very fact that you recognise the need to ‘balance’ the system means you recognise the inherent flaw in your very system you advocate. The children are the ‘demand’ side of the equation, not the ‘supply’ of the service.

If you ‘must’ bring the market into the system, then it will have to be the school’s job to compete for pupils; we wouldn’t need a system to make pupils more attractive to the school, they should be begging for ‘customers’ to come to the school, not requiring ‘incentives’ to take on ‘unwanted’ pupils.

How can this magical ‘free market’ improve anything if the schools require inducmentsw to take on ‘poor quality’ pupils?

“We really need to get away from the presumption that the control of schools by local councils is necessarily benign.”

We need to get away from the idea that local councils are capable of controlling anything.

In the London Borough of Sutton, which came top of the LEA national league table, all 14 of the maintained secondary schools in the borough have applied to become academies:
http://www.suttonguardian.co.uk/news/9323188.Sutton_gets_best_GCSE_results_in_the_country/

For the past 30 years or so, a succession of politicians have attempted to improve education by devising new types of schools. It has failed every time. In virtually every case the result has been that those schools which improved their intake improved, those that didn’t didn’t.

As an ex-teacher (FE/HE colleges) I found this at first difficult to accept, but the standard/experience/skills of the school and the type of school makes almost no difference to pupil performance. It’s all down to intake. See Cullen Jacobs and Levitt’s paper here:

http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/schoolchoicelottery.pdf

Basically, Chicago guarantees a place at the nearest school, but allows pupils/parents to enter a lottery for another (presumably better) one.

The result: those pupils who won, and went the the better school, performed better by a small but statistically significant margin.

However, those who lost, and went to the presumably worse school dod just as well, within the limits of statistical significance.

The conclusion was that those who applied for the lottery were those who cared more about education, and this, and not the school, was the factor.

It reminds we of Einstein’s description of insaity: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”


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  11. R. Ville

    the ace @natachakennedy on why more academies will make education worse http://t.co/CCZ8AOU3 @libcon #govemustgo





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