Surge in school admission lotteries??(144 Posts)
Makes me shudder and be grateful that my two are safely in their naice, leafy, MC comp, one that I got them into by buying a house in the catchment.
"The head of one major chain of academies said it was no longer “inherently fair or good for our society” to let parents move into the catchment area of a leading school to get a place."
So, the only DC who will stand any chance of 'getting the good jobs' will be from a private or academically selective school, in other words. Until that glaring inherently unfair loophole is closed, I shall do what I can for my DC. FGS don't take that away, the only thing that us less well-off parents can do to increase our DC's life chances! And no, I have no problem whatsoever with my DC sitting in classes with 'forrin' DC, working class DC or managed SEN DC (DC whose SEN is being properly attended to so the DC can participate in mainsteam education before I get flamed for that)- providing they're all singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of values. As are the DC at my DC's school. What I do have a problem with is that my DC's academic band could condemn them to a school miles away in a grotty area with a disastrous disciplinary record.
All this may do is 'dumb down' all schools since it has been shown that you actually only need a couple of drop-kick DC in a class to wreck the lesson for the rest. Sure, there are potentially such DC at my DC's school but they are utterly in the minority and their behaviour is rigorously managed.
I am glad that one can still effectively buy that. And yes, there are council houses in the catchment, and small 3 br flats. Though yes, I also concede the housing is largely 3-4 br privately owned and most parents in the area are here because of the school.
No, I want a publicly funded school that can limit the impact of the less engaged on my DC's education.
I have never said 'Less bright'. I do not necessarily equate being less bright with being disruptive. I'd agree that being able to be MC tends to mean you are someone who is maybe brighter than average, someone who's done well enough financially to be able to exercise some choice in a DC's schooling, and your DC's IQ is related to your own, but my DS2 is not particularly 'bright'. Which is entirely why I chose this school- because its lower 'sets', such as they are (they don't make a big deal about setting at all, the DC's sometimes aren't exactly sure which 'set' they're in relative to others) contain just the less academically able, not, as can happen in so many schools, the bright-enough-but-can't-be-arsed. Who go on to wreck the lesson for everyone else, for fun. You so often see it on TV, teachers lamenting a DC who is obviously bright but also absolutely determined to piss their future up against a wall via truancy, marching out of lessons, abusing teachers, throwing things around- a 15 year old behaving like an ill-disciplined toddler having evidently not been developmentally guided past that behavioural point by a concern parent.
You don't tend to find this in a MC-valued school. So DS2 is endlessly heaped with accolades for his 100% effort level. He tries his best all the time, but his best is a B, tops, maybe a C. So he sits in classes with other genuine B/C graders.
I have also said that I don't care how rich or poor the DC are because I don't equate being 'MC-valued' with income. What I care about is that my DC's fellow pupils are school-ready, ready to be taught, ready to listen, ready to contribute when asked, ready to shut up where necessary. DC who will do their homework, will recognise the importance of qualifications. That's not god-given to the wealthy but it has to be said, and I'd be being disingenuous if I denied this- because of the sort-of meritocracy we live in now, by and large those that can attain, have attained. It's not like the 1940s days of The Grammar School which suddenly gave a leg-up to loads of very much working class but very bright DC, those who had previously been held down 'in their place' by the virtual feudalism of pre-war England (my own father is a case in point, his dad being a clerk at a mine); these days I think you'd find 'the clever' of those communities long-gone, fled to leafier areas for MC employment- and MC schools. As an aside, my mum's farm-labourer dad paid to send his non-RC DDs to the local convent school rather than the state secondary on offer as he wanted 'better' for them.
amber -"I'm certainly not suggesting that that's what parents should be doing, or that children who attend seriously underperforming schools will find it easy to leave with reams of top exam results or, for that matter, a tolerant outlook (and why should they tolerate poor teaching?)." You see, we have to disagree here, because it's not poor teaching that 'fails' these DC, by and large; you are falling into that political trap of blaming schools for all our social ills because that's far easier than pointing the finger where blame lies: inadequate adults casually birthing DC, sure in the knowledge they'll never be made to 'pay' for it. These are the crap parents who send unengageable, aggressive DC into school, that make the act of teaching practically impossible.
^Some parents choosing to send their children to 'nice, mc leafy' schools does not create struggling schools with challenging children.
People who don't parent properly and who don't support behaviour management and provide a positive attitude to education are what creates struggling schools and challenging children.
You are trying to fix the thing that isn't broken instead of the thing that is.^
I disagree. There will always be parents who value education more than others; this is not something that the state has control over. There will always be children who are brighter than others and children who are not bright at all, and that is also something that the state can't control. Also, children are not challenging simply by being average or below average.
The system is broken if one supposedly comprehesive school has a huge percentage of higher abilty children while another school a mile or so away has barely enough bright children to form a reasonable top set. And it becomes a vicious circle as more aspirational parents, or parents whose children are doing well at primary, seeing the raw results of the first school, choose it for there children. Then the second school's results become even poorer as what should be their able children are actually being educated elsewhere. It is not that whole areas have children with below average ability; it is just that less aspirational families, or families of lower ability children are less likely to apply elsewhere, less likely to play the system, less likely to go to appeal. Of course you can't blame the school for the children they have to take, but LA's can do something to try to redress the balance. The ultimate result of failing to do so could leave the struggling school with insufficient numbers so it has to close which will mean that the LA will have to change its catchments anyway.
I can understand that OP being pleased with her choice, but she does seem to want a publicly funded school that excludes the poor and a comprehensive school that excludes the less bright.
Who said anything about being born that way?
Academic achievement is very highly correlated to parental wealth, so a school in a wealthier area will attract higher achieving children naturally.
It's not a genetics thing.
Definitions of struggling can vary though.
It's not all about GCSE results, there are ofsted reports and value added scores to consider as well, and schools can score highly on those even if they do have a consistently low achieving intake.
What is it that's going to cause a school to have, over a number of years, a low achieving intake?
You can't blame the school for the children they have to take, and it's highly unlikely that whole areas are going to have hundreds of children who are all born with lower than average academic ability.
I realise that there will be good parents that 'lost' and ended up at the 'bad' school despite doing everything the parents at the leafy schools did, but the parents at the leafy schools aren't the ones who caused their predicament.
"Some parents choosing to send their children to 'nice, mc leafy' schools does not create struggling schools with challenging children.
People who don't parent properly and who don't support behaviour management and provide a positive attitude to education are what creates struggling schools and challenging children. "
A struggling school is one without enough high attaining children going in at 11. If the children going it at 11 are struggling, the school will perform poorly.
That is entirely independent of bad parenting and behaviour management. If you take in a cohort of below average ability, your school will get poor GCSE results.
Conversely, a 'good' school is merely one with many high attaining children entering at 11.
Parents chase schools which have an above average intake. They run away from schools with a below average intake.
This race is a battle of resources of various kinds, often financial - the parents that lost and ended up at the 'bad' school are not bad parents. What they are is parents at a school bereft of high achievers, because they all ran off to leafy-land.
Some parents choosing to send their children to 'nice, mc leafy' schools does not create struggling schools with challenging children.
People who don't parent properly and who don't support behaviour management and provide a positive attitude to education are what creates struggling schools and challenging children.
You are trying to fix the thing that isn't broken instead of the thing that is.
I doubt many people actively choose 'sink' schools for their children, miss600 - particularly not people who post on Mumsnet education forums! I'm certainly not suggesting that that's what parents should be doing, or that children who attend seriously underperforming schools will find it easy to leave with reams of top exam results or, for that matter, a tolerant outlook (and why should they tolerate poor teaching?).
My argument is that it's the very act of creating the nice, mc leafy schools that OP is so pleased her children attend that in turn leaves other schools to struggle with more challenging children, and therefore to find it harder to give those children the sort of education I think they deserve.
Whilst Shadow's experience of a "sink" school 30ish years ago is all very interesting, I'd really love to hear from parents who have actively chosen equivalent schools for their DC in recent times. Are they all actually leaving with reams of top exam results and tolerance in spades? And say, you were the parent or guardian of a child who fell into one of the "marginalised groups", would your decisions be the same?
I'm a Band 6 NHS HCP. Does that count? DH was til recently a Band 7 Help-desk manager for the NHS. Any good? My neighbour is a taxi-driver, his partner a NHS pharmacist. People next to them are SAHM and a prison officer (of a rank that requires he works nights). Next to them, primary school teacher and a DH who is a cop of the rank that still has to work nights. Yes, like in many non-London catchments, there are some parents at my DSs school who obviously earn a pile of cash, drive this year's BMWs and AWD vehicles and live in 6 bedroom houses on quarter acre blocks- but we significantly out-number them! The majority of their DC go to the comp, a very few to privates (you see the bus come through).
If ours are seen as 'dream jobs' that thrust us up to the dizzy heights of the financial and social ladder to otherwise unavailable opportunity and boundless choice- well, someone's standards aren't that high!
cory I guess the primary point I will disagree with you on is the belief that if you distribute the 'problem' DC evenly, the 'problem' will go away or be wonderfully diluted as these DC are buoyed up on a tide of MC-values. Nowhere has this proved to be the case. Whilst genuine problem DC from dire backgrounds aren't that many in number (though it has been shown that it only takes one or two of these in a class to wreck the lesson for all!), ask yourself how many of the ordinary, every day parents at one's own less-than-good school really are that fussed about how well their DC do. How many shrug with a smile at their inability to understand Y8 maths- though an hour on a PC should bring any average adult up-to-speed where necessary (I've had to do that to help my DS1 with Y10 maths and I failed my maths O level first time round!). How many will actually read a crib-notes version of Hamlet to discuss the use of language in it? How many will make a game go at checking Spanish recital as your DC memorises and chants it at you?
My DSs first primary had quite a mixed intake. I was always amazed at how many of the perfectly pleasant, chatty mums in the playground never checked homework, never read to DC, didn't 'bother' with parents evening, kept all their DC off school one day because one was feeling unwell and it was 'too much hassle' to take the rest along, laughed at how their 9 year old's maths or English was 'beyond' them. Sure, not an O level or GCSE between them, but even so, no real interest in their DC's education.
Classrooms full of otherwise well-behaved enough DCs but with such low familial expectations also don't necessarily lead to good educational outcomes for all, either.
So while we continue in a culture that generally doesn't really value education, appears to have no effective methodology to deal with serious discipline issues in school, an OFSTED that penalises schools for every exclusion and suspension (though there's no money - and a lot is needed- to successfully intervene in turning the whole family of the miscreant's lives around which is often the only way to 'change' that DC's attitude) and, dare I say, and I know this for a fact because there were 2 such women at this first primary- a system where some women will go on having carefully spaced DC to avoid having to go out to work (one, a friend of mine (!) was actually horrified that she'd 'lose' 2 years of benefits because she got pregnant 'too early'- she was actually a caring and committed mother to her 5 DC, but had lost control of the older ones by just having more DC than she could cope with or house properly).
So whilst these factors persist unchecked, and schools can't interview prospective DC and parents, I'd much prefer to be able to send my DC to schools where the vast majority of DC and parents value education, thanks. Even if that makes is a MC-valued 'monoculture', as that's the culture I want to imbue my DC with.
Can I just come back to point out that the reason a lot of dc's friends live in a less leafy area and attend a less MC school is that their parents work in jobs which provide essential infra-structure to the parents of the leafy areas, and are consequently less well paid.
If everybody who was capable of doing it had to be given a well paid job, then the system would collapse. There can be only so many managerial jobs, however many potential managers there may be. The fortunate families are absolutely dependent on work done by the less fortunate: they couldn't function for a day without it.
I am not actually in favour of bussing schemes- I think it would be ruinous to the environment for a start.
But I do hate this idea of relying on the work done by other people and writing them off as lazy and disengaged at the same time. If everybody living around or below a living wage were actually lazy and disengaged, this country would have collapsed long ago.
((sigh)) I don’t think we will agree on this Tansie. I just find your position on the issue unfathomable. I just don't see the benefit of extremes so lotteries, whilst not ideal, do seek to break up very extreme cases that some areas now see.
I don't think a school with significant levels of disruption is a good environment - of course not. However if you reserve one school just for the mc-valued people then you by default (in a mixed community) you create a school elsewhere that is going to struggle. It will be disproportionately skewed the other way.
That is not a good thing and not something I would defend or seek to preserve. It is definitely not good for the children forced to attend that school and in many cases it isn't great for pupils in the more exclusive school to be sheltered totally from every value alien to their own.
If all schools had a genuine mix of all children terrible schools would not be the result as you seem to fear. A well led and well managed school will do very well in those circumstances and many do. A school that gets all the difficult cases however will almost invariably struggle. By creating schools that get 95% very easy intakes you are by default creating schools that become very difficult environments for other people’s children. And all without really gaining anything for your own children that they wouldn’t have had any way in a slightly more mixed environment. You don’t need to cling so tightly to a socially engineered ideal of a mc-valued school and a mc-valued intake for a child to have an exceptionally good education.
But we won’t agree on that point or any other I suspect.
Well said, woowoo.
So, tiggy, I do wonder why less well off parents whose DC are at 'less good' schools with a significant proportion of disruption are in the slightest bit concerned about their DC's future.. when their DC, surrounded by 'challenge' will obviously rise up above the snobby, studious, well-behaved, spoon-fed naice MC DC at A level and university- I mean the evidence that poor schooling and a disruptive, non-engaged background in no way hinders your future- so why worry?.....
I think you'll find that, by and large, your 'anecdote' aside, the DC from MC-valued families do tend to be those who become the MC-valued of the next generation.
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Maybe you're right, but that's a choice that should be left up to individual parents.
And let's be honest, proposals to introduce lottery systems aren't there for the purpose of teaching the easily led kids that they should try not to be so easily led, are they? The idea is to dilute the effect of the negative and disruptive behaviour so that schools have half a chance of being able to deal with it when it happens and to try and use the
And it's not as if there aren't plenty of opportunities to misbehave in schools that are considered to be leafy MC comprehensives. A child doesn't need to be surrounded by dysfunction to learn that they have to motivate and trust themselves before other people if they are going to succeed in life.
But you don't learn to cope with being easily led and needing a constant kick in the bum to work hard by avoiding being in any environment where you might be easily led or left to coast too much.
It just defers the problem to A Level age or university age.
Plenty of people at my RG university came from very nice, middle class families and very nice middle class schools where they had been spoon-fed though their A Levels and sheltered from the wilder options that teenage life has to offer. They were generally the ones who disappeared in Year 1 having been thrown off the course or who partied, did the absolute minimum and left with a 3rd. I'd argue that age 10 is exactly the right age to learn not to be lazy given half a chance and to be in real trouble due to being easily led and then learn not to be so tempted / trusting in future.
Shadow, I am admitting it. I don't actually care where other people's children come from and it's not that I want my dc to be educated with only MC kids. It's that I don't want my children's education to be disrupted by children from dysfunctional families.
If that makes me a snob, then I'll happily be a snob.
Shadow, you may have done well at your sink school because of who you are and good for you. But what if who you were wasn't able to do that? I'm reasonably confident that one of my dc would be the same if put in a sink school, but the other one, who actually has more natural academic ability, probably wouldn't because he's easily led and needs a constant kick in the bum to go in the right direction.
It's not a risk I'd want to take when my child is ten years old. You only get one chance at secondary education, and at 10, how do you know if your child is going to be one that manages to float or not? I could easily look back at my dc in ten years and see the assessment I've made above was completely wrong.
Like I said, school is not (IMO) there to teach tolerance and understanding, but either way, children will get some of that no matter what school they go to because oddly enough 'naice MC' families have plenty of challenges, economic diversity and ethnic diversity amongst themselves.
Tolerance and understanding of people who come from different backgrounds than your own. Tolerance and understanding that some people have significant barriers to overcome to do what you take for granted. The sort of tolerance and understanding that I'd like to see more of in the people that rise to the top in this country.
Tansie, I'm clearly not going to win an argument with someone who can state that keeping the children of unengaged parents out of good schools is a good thing, so I'm not sure why I'm trying, to be honest.
I went to a sink-school full of the un-engaged and unteachable... I floated.... came top, got As in O levels and A levels - because of who I am not where I came from ...
as always I am purely "anecdotal" just because I did it does not mean it hold true for everyone...
but I think it does, people just don't want to admit they want THEIR children educated with naice MC kids, not riff raff from the council estate
Secondly because it encourages tolerance and understanding.
Tolerance of what?
If the children from dysfunctional and disengaged families are bright and want to do well, then there is nothing to tolerate. If, on the other hand, their lack of family support leads to negative and disruptive behaviour and attitudes to education, then tbh, I don't want my children to learn to tolerate that.
It will not make my children better people to be given the view that it's acceptable to be disruptive and we should be 'understanding' of that. It will do nothing to improve their education or outcomes if I tell them they have to try and work as hard as they in the already difficult years of adolescence at the same time as being tolerant of their lessons being disrupted.
So I really don't see how it benefits children to learn to be tolerant and understanding to their own detriment. I send my children to school to learn about stuff that they can't learn at home, not to shape their views on other groups of people in society. I can teach them to be understanding myself without having to have their lessons disrupted.
We don't expect adults to be around people that make their lives significantly more difficult at work, so why do people think it's a good thing to force that upon our children?
Well, we're going to just have to disagree, I guess, tiggy.
I'd say the 'reward' I get for my MC-values is having then exercising the choice of which school my DC go to. And frankly, til I see the reward/punishment model being applied to all DC, very much including the 'reward' of a top public school education available to the innocent, powerless DC of the high earners, I shan't be lining up to rescind what little 'push power' I have.
As for "The higher pay your boss gets is his or her reward for taking on more work and more responsibility."- but what if I'm not capable of that higher responsibility? Should I be punished by not being allowed to be the boss, then?
"The holiday you can afford is your reward for the work you do and for planning your money carefully." But what if I don't earn enough to go to St Lucia with the best financial planning in the world?
I could say that the choices I have exercised in my DC's schooling is a result of careful financial planning, actually! People can be remarkably helpless about what they can achieve in life, given a bit of commitment and delayed gratification. My catchment is leafy but that of adjoining equally good schools have far higher rates of social housing and FSM (the excellent Kings in Winchester encompasses all of the Stanmore council estate, for instance). We only need to see how many are absolutely out of their depth in debt following 2007-8 to see how many people spent (borrowed money) like it grew on trees, like kids in a sweetshop.
Yes, I guess there is a 3 tier system. Just like in Real Life. I wish I could be in tier 1 to give me ultimate choices in life in general, but I'm in tier 2; however I don't expect those in tier 1 to rescind their 'advantage' (though I wish more of it were honestly gained, and that some private schools weren't allowed to flout Charity laws, but that's another story) in order to directly benefit me, inasmuch as I recognise that many (but not all) of the glittering schools that high earners patronise would actually be less glittering if they had to deal with DC from less engaged backgrounds. Cue my anecdote about the boy in the Australian school.
I mentioned earlier that I'd have no problem with being interviewed along with my DC to gain entry to such a school as ours (and also said that many of the DC of high earners might fail that interview as they've summarily out-sourced their DC's childhoods and education!). Such a system would allow the DC of poorer yet committed and engaged families in, wouldn't it? And yes, keep the DC of the unengaged out, for better or for worse. But imagine policing that interview process and how that would be exploited! I mean, we can't even make 11+ exams tutor proof!
Sure, I recognise that the DC of the unengaged need educating- I too regard 'education as a right' in a developed 1st world country, but I can't see how diluting 'good' schools with DC who are liable to be considerably less 'school focused' and engagable will help any one. Endless schemes, local and national have been wheeled out to try to help such DC but they come to naught, by and large, because those DC's problems can't be sorted with the few in-school hours available, where teachers haven't got time to teach, they're too busy social working and fire-fighting..
I agree entirely that it's very unfortunate that being less well off, if not actually poor will lump you in with the poor-and-unengaged, because though I loathed the woman, one thing Thatcher noted was that it was the 'working class' who have to live alongside the 'underclass' who suffered. But I still don't see how bussing the latter group around a county to school in the interests of some PC idealism will do anything other than make all state school suffer.
Final point: funny old thing but my DS's school wouldn't suit everyone. Some DC would thrive with far more 'input' than Th allows. There's no 'personal development days' for pupils, no 'meet your DC's form tutor' at all; it's huge (1450 DC); setting is minimal; quite a lot of their work is peer-marked; there's quite a lot of cover-teaching, presumably as the actual teacher is doing Leading Edge work; sport is limited to the already committed as is music, by and large; the DC are very much expected to manage their own day, school trips, homework etc (very little is set on-line; they got 'Frog' a year or 2 ago!); getting to talk to an actual teacher can be quite difficult; there's no 'house' or formal pastoral system; the uniform is a daggy polo'n'sweatshirt; the school facilities are quite rundown (bar the lottery-funded performance hall following a fire years ago); and yes, the push is towards 'Buy choice in your future by getting as good a GCSE grade as possible now'. We, the parents, are expected to provided the wider cultural hinterland, the values'n'morals teaching, the cultural extra-curricular. But the school produces the highest GCSE results, Eng Bacc results, 5 good GCSEs inc Eng Maths and VA score among state secondaries in the county. If you were a poor parent from a far distant council estate, used to SureStart, home/school visits, TAs at every turn, free school trips here, there and everywhere, enrichment programmes, open-door policies at school, endless initiatives to promote engagement with your DC's educational 'journey'- I think you'd hate Th. You might even disengage with it....
"Out of interest this MN thread which some of you are on maybe tells one about the pitfalls of 'fair-banding'! (Pg 2 and 3 if that's how you organise your MN is where the discussion 'heats up')."
Well the major pitfall there is that the fair banding is secondary to religious selection, which really makes a mockery of fair banding in the first place.
The higher pay your boss gets is his or her reward for taking on more work and more responsibility.
The holiday you can afford is your reward for the work you do and for planning your money carefully.
I guess I don't see education as a reward.
I don't think the reward for coming from a mc family should be access to a better education. Adults make their own choices in life. They hold values that you may or may not agree with. But children are children. They have no say and should be neither rewarded or punished for their parents holding the mc values you describe or for making life choices that enable them to cluster to particular schools and in doing so actively create more challenging schools elsewhere.
You are describing a 3 tier system. Tier 1 is people who can pay for education in the fullest sense i.e. pay fees.
Tier 2 is where you place yourself. People who cannot pay for a private school but can pay to preserve a more elite school and so, at the same time, create less good schools elsewhere which you can then pay to avoid.
And Tier 3 - the rest. People who lack either the ability, the income, the freedom or the desire to place their child in a good school but who suffer by the actions of wealthier parents who all cluster at certain schools and so creating a totally skewed mix of children at the other schools.
Out of interest this MN thread which some of you are on maybe tells one about the pitfalls of 'fair-banding'! (Pg 2 and 3 if that's how you organise your MN is where the discussion 'heats up').
My DC's school is classified Leading Edge Do I get a tick for that?
I'm sorry, but in the 'utopia' you describe, I don't quite get how you want schools to 'reflect their local communities' unless those communities are more well-off in which case you want those schools to throw open their doors to all-comers from miles away. You seem to regard good schools in MC areas to be not allowable. Why? Why the dual standard?
For the record, like I said earlier, in the same way as my family background (i.e. the diligence of my parents, the economic, educational and social factors that lead them to where they were when I was of school age, planned and unavoidable) lead me to the school-life I had, one that didn't allow for private education or The Best Comps (in fact, an 'off-day' could have seen me in a dire SM!). Was I a 'victim' of this? As a society we happily allow the DC of the lucky and wealthy to enjoy the fruits of their parents' success, yet when the shoe's on the other foot, society must step in an gerrymander things like school intakes etc etc to 'overcome' this. Should we pluck the DC from poorer parents away from them in case their upbringing reflects their family's circumstance?
I am all for endless (failed) strategies put in place to try and improve the lot of the poor- but I don't see potentially destroying my own DC's good school on that political bonfire to be the answer.
And yes, oddly enough, London conditions do not in any way represent how the rest of the country is.
I also at the no-doubt nobly intended 'ideal' that we should all mix happily together, presumably singing the CocaCola song as well as we all join hands in harmony. There is this idea that the only way you can possibly have a handle on the lifestyles of 'others' is to have them in your face 24/7. I actually believe you'd find quite a lot of opposition from some 'local communities' if you engineered school entry in some areas. Not all racial, religious and social groups actually want to mix it up. (And note the government is doing nothing to force these sacred segregations back together. Faith schools, any one? Grammars?!)
I am fully aware that there are some out there who for whatever reason are socially painted into a corner and who therefore couldn't afford the say private rent of £600 pcm needed to get a 2 bedroom flat in our catchment; I cannot afford a house in the catchment of The London Oratory (nor am I Catholic), or, for that matter, Westgate School in Winchester!- but I can't see how bussing the DC of the 'bit less well off' down to the dangerously feckless into our school will magically improve the educational outcome of all DC but is in fact very likely to drag the standards of the other DC down, thus rendering 'a good school' to being 'an average school'.
As for choosing schools due to tennis courts and swimming pools...um- No. I chose my DSs school due to the fact that the vast majority of its intake come from backgrounds, quite diverse ones ethnically, actually, who value education and who send DC to school ready to learn, to a school that takes this intake and via strong leadership, discipline and high Value Adding, ejects them with good GCSEs.
The short-hand for this is 'MC-valued'.
Where else in life do we attempt to 'socially engineer' like this? At work, my boss gets paid more than me because he's prepared to take on more responsibility than me, works longer hours and often will have higher qualifications than me. When I go shopping I go to Asda because Waitrose's prices are too high for me. I holiday in a hotel on the Med rather than a private villa on St Lucia. Should these things be down to lottery as well?
The scheme I outlined is being used already. Near us, subject leaders from very good schools are lent out either for months at a time or for a few lessons a week to other schools. They teach at the other schools and they also help introduce best practice and new schemes. Staff retention at challenging schools can be a real issue - it is round here - whilst well established and popular schools are more likely to attract and retain experienced staff.
Ditto sports and other facilities. Maybe all your less desirable schools are swimming in Pupil Premium cash but ours aren't. It is directed to additional support for the qualifying children not sports halls for all to share. Less popular schools are also generally less full. This impacts massively on the amount of money they have to spend. There needs to be a minimum number of children just to cover staffing costs let alone any extras. Schools that do not attract enough pupils suffer a double blow of always having less to spend.
As such children from less well equipped schools benefit from sharing facilities and it would even up things at the admissions stage too because parents wouldn't be choosing between schools that have a swimming pool, tennis courts and drama studios and schools that have none of these things. They would no that their children will always have access to good facilities.
In terms of making schools representative of their areas, I am again being London-centric. We have a very diverse community yet we get schools that are 90%mc (using the definitions here) and other schools 2 miles down the road that are very different. If you cannot afford to avoid the less desirable ones, the school you will go to bears no resemblance to the community as a whole and in a very negative way. If both schools had a genuine mix of all children, there is no reason to think they wouldn't both be excellent but if you lump all the children of worried and ambitious parents in one school and all the children of parents too poor to choose in the other, one school ends up benefitting at the direct expense of the other and so one group of children gain an advantage at the direct expense of the other.
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