Will free schools drive up standards? Read Toby Young's guest post and join the conversation

(706 Posts)
ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 10:46:14

Are free schools ready to fall or fly? Do they really drive up standards or are they a snobbish gimmick? And should more parents be setting up their own schools? Journalist and producer Toby Young explains why he set up the West London Free School and what makes the free school proposition an exciting one. Join the conversation that Toby's begun and have your say on free schools.

BarryShitpeas Thu 01-Dec-11 11:33:41

.

BarryShitpeas Thu 01-Dec-11 11:40:42

Toby,

how can you say your school serves it's local area when it has an intake from all over West London.

From the first intake the furthest child came from Harmondsworth Primary- do you know how far this is from WLFS?

BarryShitpeas Thu 01-Dec-11 13:25:41

.

montmartre Thu 01-Dec-11 20:42:31

May I ask why this is on blogging as opposed to education?
Will get a very different audience/response I think...

DogStinkhorn Thu 01-Dec-11 20:43:00

Are non Bloggers allowed to post?

ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Thu 01-Dec-11 21:11:54

Hi there,

Non-bloggers are definitely allowed to post here. The topic is in Bloggers and not Education because Toby Young wrote a guest blog for Mumsnet and it was organised by Mumsnet Bloggers Network. But we'd love to hear your views, whether blogger or not!

DogStinkhorn Thu 01-Dec-11 21:25:18

How can Toby Young justify the money spent on free schools when there are schools in this country that are falling down or leaking and have their funding cut?

rightlymoaningminnie Thu 01-Dec-11 21:59:03

Toby, I think you said in your Spectator column that it cost £24 million to set up (or was it run?) a secondary school, compared to your Free School, which costs £16 million (to build, or run).

Why is there such a large difference in cost? Is it because your Free School relies heavily on the support, and unpaid labour and expertise, of your highly motivated parents? Do you think that your, 'style' of teaching and ethos of discipline will save the time and money that bad behaviour involves?

Is it necessary to be a free school to drive up standards? Is there room for imaginative heads at state-run comprehensives to put Latin on the curriculum and drop Food Technology? And isn't it about the head teacher/figure head/Toby Young-type person running the show, regardless of being in or out of the state system?

FWIW, I'm pretty convinced by the WLFS argument and hope that these free schools are a success. I wish my DCs had a chance of going to a school like that.

wwbd Thu 01-Dec-11 23:47:06

'I’m proud to say the West London Free School remained open yesterday with not a single member of staff going on strike. A majority of them are members of teaching unions and they’d face no repercussions if they did. They just decided not to.'
So you're proud that your teachers will have less to live on in their retirement than they were originally entitled to? They just 'decided' not to strike. You really think that these two statements are not related?

montmartre Fri 02-Dec-11 00:27:21

wwbd= what would Beezus do???

hocuspontas Fri 02-Dec-11 07:31:04

And only the 'majority' are members of teaching unions? Are some of these not qualified teachers then? I would have thought it was a must for their own protection that the first thing you do on becoming a teacher is to join a union.

Grumpla Fri 02-Dec-11 08:44:27

Toby, I loathe you and all you stand for.

wwbd Fri 02-Dec-11 08:55:22

what would bono do grin

ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Fri 02-Dec-11 09:29:39

Hi all,

We're moving this thread to 'Education' because we think it's an important topic and want everyone who's interested to be able to see it.

BarryShitpeas Fri 02-Dec-11 09:35:35

Thanks

SpringHeeledJack Fri 02-Dec-11 09:51:30

wot Grumpla said

<marks place>

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 09:53:25

What SHJ and Grumpla said.

Snapespeare Fri 02-Dec-11 09:57:16

what SpringHeeledJack said.

My understannding of free schools is highly motivated parents, who want the best for their children, who don't want them to mix with potentially disruptive children who don't have that support at home.

what happens to those kids? the ones that don't have parental support?

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 10:04:56

Everything about that blog is either offensive, stupid or both.

How can you have it as an aim that 'all our children will go to top universities'? Unless of course you don't take any children who are going to get anything less than a handful of As at A level?

You do know that children in normal schools read Shakespeare, yes? And I've yet to hear of any of them watching soap operas at school.

The (unattributed) Arnoldian notion of 'the best that has been thought and said' is pretty half-baked, too.

Dillydaydreaming Fri 02-Dec-11 10:17:52

"Our ambition is for all the children at the school to go to top universities, no matter how lowly their background".

Hello Toby, I just want to pick up on this comment from your blog. Am I right in assuming that this is a "hope and aim" rather than an "expectation"? If it is an expectation then how do you overcome admissions to the school without selection.

I don't think there is anything wrong with aiming high and I like the goal of supporting every child regardless of background. However, I wonder how you will achieve the above statement without some kind of selection process at the start.

By the way, my son has NEVER watched a soap opera at school and even in his Y4 group they are looking at Shakespeare appropriate to their age group so I think some of your beliefs regarding state schools are erroneous.

I support the idea of Free Schools and as my son is autistic believe they could be set up to meet needs of specific groups of pupils, I think they should be open though so that people are not hiding behind statements like " we are just a normal school with normal admission procedures" when in fact they are entirely selective (and yes I realise this happens in the State system too).

wonkylegs Fri 02-Dec-11 10:25:41

Nope free schools are going to be a very expensive experiment. Some will do ok but at the expense of main stream funding and an erosion of the education system as a whole

wwbd Fri 02-Dec-11 10:42:56

I would like to know what percentage of children admitted to his school
- had a statement
- were already at school action plus
- were already at school action

DogStinkhorn Fri 02-Dec-11 10:47:16

Its all very well to say you loathe Toby, but don't you think you are playing in to his hands a bit? Can't we shoot all his arguments down with reason? Shouldn't be that difficult.

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 10:53:16

But I think people are doing that as well, and asking him questions as well as place-marking via statements of loathing wink

montmartre Fri 02-Dec-11 11:10:15

Aha! As I predicted- a very different response in Education!

thansk wwbd grin

coppertop Fri 02-Dec-11 11:14:58

I'm interested in the "strict code of conduct, which is rigorously enforced". I would like to know how it is enforced and what allowances (if any) are made for children with SN?

Hullygully Fri 02-Dec-11 11:20:45

How can they "drive up standards"?

It doesn't make sense.

Drive up whose standards? Their own? Schools in general? Mine?

GypsyMoth Fri 02-Dec-11 11:41:50

We gave one about to open on our doorstep. Am confused by the while thing! And we also have the 3 tier schooling system here still

BobblyGussets Fri 02-Dec-11 12:08:27

I remember watching the programme about West London Free School's set up. We gasped and laughed at the very long narrow "catchment band" on the map which neatly cut off the British Asian areas surrounding it.

Has this been changed? How many token students do you have from ethnic minorities and do you let the pupils of left wing parents in grin.

The whole system seems quite autocratic to me; is that how it is in reality?

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 12:19:26

Is TY planning to join this conversation?

BarryShitpeas Fri 02-Dec-11 12:38:28

Toby Come back and talk to us.

CecilyP Fri 02-Dec-11 12:51:20

Perhaps their understanding of conversation is different from ours.

Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 13:04:39

Maybe conversation means something different in Latin.

CecilyP Fri 02-Dec-11 13:09:10

Maybe there is a conversation being conducted in Latin elsewhere that we are not party to.

Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 13:19:51

Maybe we should read Shakespeare if we want the answers?

hester Fri 02-Dec-11 13:27:35

I was a great admirer of Toby's father.

WillbeanChariot Fri 02-Dec-11 13:45:39

"Will free schools drive up standards?"

No.

HTH.

Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 13:47:19

Hic puer est stultissimus omnium!

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Dec-11 13:58:38

A Question for Toby

Will you and all the founders still give as much time and attention once all of your children have grown up and left the school?

Because from what I can see this is little more than a short term vanity project.
Home schooling at the taxpayers expense.

I would like to see evidence that the founders are contracted to stay fully involved for at least 4 years after their last child leaves - as proof that it is about all children.

onceinawhile Fri 02-Dec-11 16:27:56

It is very laudable that a group of parents would devote so much time to this enterprise, I wonder how many parents in the future will dispose of the time/finances/energy for this if it relies so heavily on volunteers.

Everyone wants the best education for their child and the school looks great - however I can't help but think this is yet another nice school for already priviledged children - it would be good to see how TY comes back to tell us all by maybe revealing how many FSM children attend the school.

ElenMumsnetBloggers (MNHQ) Fri 02-Dec-11 16:54:13

ElaineReese

Is TY planning to join this conversation?

Hi Elaine,

Yes, I think Toby is planning to join the conversation a little later on - so if you have a question, feel free to put it to him!

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:24:00

DogStinkHorn, I deal with your point in my blogpost. We need more school places; free schools deliver those places more cheaply than the Building Schools for the Future programme did; therefore, allowing parents, teachers and voluntary groups to set up free schools means there's more money in the DfE's budget available to spend on existing schools. If your main concern is to protect the budgets of existing schools, they you should be supporting free schools, not opposing them.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:25:53

rightlymoaningminnie, The average cost of building a new secondary school under the last government's Building Schools for the Future programme was £28m. Free schools will, on average, cost half as much.

For instance, the estimated set up cost of the West London Free School is £15m. The cost of setting up a neighbouring Academy that is of identical size, – set up under the last government – is £34m.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Dec-11 17:30:40

Toby
Everybody knows that BSF was a stupid plan.
How do your costs compare with refurbing and extending existing buildings ?
Eton has not pulled itself down and started from scratch, it just adapts and extends buildings
and an Oasis academy building is currently going up near me for 900 pupils costing £13.6 million - are YOU catering for 900 pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds for your money?

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:31:01

LemonDifficult, You're absolutely right. It would be perfectly possible for a local authority-run school to do exactly what the WLFS is doing. The ethos of Fortismere in Muswell Hill, for instance, isn't wildly different. But most are disinclined to do so, mainly because the head teachers and their local authority overlords misguidedly believe only children at the higher end of the ability spectrum are capable of accessing a classical liberal curriculum. Hopefully, our first tranche of GCSE and IGCSE results will prove them wrong and more schools will duplicate what we're doing.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:32:31

wwbd, I tried to answer the question of why none of the staff at the West London Free went on strike in my most recent Spectator column:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/columnists/all/7437958/status-anxiety.thtml

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:34:29

hocuspontas, We currently employ one full-time member of staff who doesn't have a PGCE. She's our Head of Classics. To describe her as non-qualified would be a stretch, though, as she was formerly the Head of Classics at a leading independent school. For what it's worth, she's currently doing a PGCE part-time at Birmingham University.

Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 17:37:24

In Norfolk there seems to be a pretty empirical link between school losing funding already agreed for building repairs and free schools being established. The Norwich free school is in a leased building in the centre of the city which will have a lot larger long term cost to the tax payer. The Norwich free school also causes congestion in one of Norwichs busiest streets in rush hour with lots of cars dropping individual children off.

Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 17:40:10

What is the wlfs doing to make sure it includes children from disadvantaged backgrounds or children with special educational needs? What percentage of the school is looked after children?

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:43:08

Snapespeare, I would imagine very few parent wants their DCs to be educated alongside disruptive children, but free schools don't have special status in this regard. You're assuming free schools can refuse to admit children they've identified as potentially disruptive, but that would be a breach of the School Admissions Code of Practice which all state schools, including free schools, are bound by. In addition, free schools are legally obliged to take their fair share of hard-to-place children in their local area, i.e. children who've been permanently excluded from neighbouring schools.

We don't tolerate any disruptive behaviour at the West London Free School. Any child disrupting a class is immediately removed from that class and there's a steadily escalating series of punishments. So far, this has worked well and we haven't had to permanently exclude anyone.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:44:41

ElaineReese? Are you an old-fashioned Tory? I can't imagine anyone other than a die-hard defender of the English class system describing the aim of wanting all the children at a mixed ability, fully comprehensive school to go to top universities as "offensive".

hocuspontas Fri 02-Dec-11 17:46:22

I've just read your Spectator column and the reason your teachers didn't go on strike is probably because there was no point! If you were intending to cover with volunteers then the effect of the strike would be nil.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:47:37

Dailydreaming, free schools are no more selective than ordinary comprehensives and nor could they be since they're bound by the School Admissions Code.

I don't think expecting all the children to go on to university, no matter where they sit on the ability spectrum, is unrealistic. All the children at the Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney went on to university this year and Mossbourne is a non-selective school in England's most socially deprived borough.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Dec-11 17:48:05

Lumi
"looked after" is a bit of a mean one to spring on the poor boy as the numbers are so small - in Hampshire there were only 11 looked after children who started state secondary school ....
SEN and FSM is a different matter

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:48:48

Dailydreaming, You're right that there's nothing to stop free schools being set up that cater for children with particular special needs. Indeed, I'm currently in touch with a woman who wants to set up a free school for dyslexic children.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:49:26

wonkeylegs, See my answer to DogStinkhorn above.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:50:08

wwbd, We estimate that approximately 25% of the children at our school have Special Educational Needs of one kind or another.

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 17:51:37

still waiting for the % of children with SEN
-statements
-school action plus
-school action

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:51:52

coppertop, You can view our Code of Conduct here:

http://www.westlondonfreeschool.co.uk/userfiles/conduct.pdf

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Dec-11 17:53:32

"of one kind and another" yeah right
How many Statements and School Action Plus

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:55:52

Hollygully, It's not fanciful to suggest free schools will drive up standards in neighbouring schools. Two researchers at the LSE looked at the impact the academies set up under the last government had had on neighbouring schools and discovered that it had been almost universally positive. In education, as in most walks of life, competition drives up standards. Similar studies have been carried out in various American states where charter schools have been set up and the findings were identical. You can find the study I'm referring to here:

http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps//ceedp123.pdf

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 17:59:11

BobblyGussets, That scene in the documentary in which my wife and I create a long, thin catchment area to enable us to get our children into the school was intended to illustrate the difficulty of setting up a school at that particular site which was three miles from our home. It was never our intention to actually create a catchment area long those lines.

In fact, that site proved impractical for other reasons. Our admissions policy is 10% musical aptitude, 45% straight-line distance and 45% lottery within a five-mile radius. You can see the policy in detail here:

http://www.westlondonfreeschool.co.uk/userfiles/WLFS%20Admissions%202012%20FINAL%20Vo5.pdf

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 18:00:14

This all depends on what you consider to be the benchmark of a successful school of course.

Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 18:03:38

Why is looked after children unfair.?They are first on most state schools admission criteria. We have at least 3 looked after children in our primary school. Toby doesn't answer any questions he doesn't want to anyway.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:03:59

TalkinPearce2, I'm currently the Chair of Governors and yet none of my children are at the school. If my youngest ends up getting in and stays until he's 18 then he won't graduate until 2026 by which time I'll be 63. So even if you're right and my interest in the school will cease as soon as my own children have passed through its gates, it's hardly a "short term vanity project".

The problem you identify is not unique to free schools. Nearly all schools are governed by volunteers and those volunteers eventually move on and have to be replaced. We currently don't have any parent governors at the West London Free School, though we intend to appoint some in due course. That's no different from any other school. You can see a list of our current governors here:

ttp://www.westlondonfreeschool.co.uk/governors.html

Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 18:04:56

So wlfs admission policy doesn't include looked after children or sen at all?

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 18:05:14

agree with Luminescene - I was thinking exactly the same question

The school's admissions policy states that looked after children and children with SEN are given priority

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:06:03

onceinawhile, at present, 23.5% of the children at our school are on free school meals. That's a higher percentage than at three of the neighbouring maintained schools. As an exercise, why don't you compare it with the number of children on free school meals at your DCs' school. You can find the data on Edubase here:

http://www.education.gov.uk/edubase/home.xhtml;jsessionid=2C57C1759A123A06BEBCF8B70A4DD020

GetOutMyPub Fri 02-Dec-11 18:07:54

backdoor privatisation resulting in under-funded state schools and even more social division.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Dec-11 18:09:18
Luminescence Fri 02-Dec-11 18:10:06

Yes, but what percentage of looked after children and registered sen are at the school?

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:11:12

TalkinPeace2, I take my hat off to Oasis for building a new school so inexpensively. At full capacity ours will educate 840 children – 120 in each year group from 11-18.

I'm not sure it is any cheaper to enlarge existing schools. You'd think it would be, but it isn't – at least, not always. For instance, Ealing Council submitted an application for £300m in BSF funding, £75m of which was earmarked for extending the borough's existing secondary schools by five-and-a-half forms of entry.

Another factor to bear in mind is that enlarging existing schools is extremely unpopular with parents, mainly because it means reducing the amount of play space per child (that's assuming you're adding classrooms, but not enlarging the site's total footprint – which would, of course, be even more expensive). At my local primary in Acton, for instance, the parents are absolutely up in arms about the fact that it's about to be enlarged.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:13:10

Luminescence, I think you're imagining that link. Capital funding for state schools would have been reduced whichever party had won the last general election.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Dec-11 18:14:42

Toby
please name the academy that you say cost £34m so we can check your assertion

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 18:16:01

Toby ...the figures for children with SEN and looked after children please...and what's your favourite biscuit?

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:17:44

TalkinPeace2, We currently have 28 children on free school meals, i.e. 23.5% of 120. We recently disclosed this in response to an FOI request. I can assure you it's accurate.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:18:08

TalkinPeace2, The Hammersmith Academy

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:18:46

roundcornsilkvirgin, One looked-after child and approximately 25% SEN.

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 18:20:01

thanks for that Toby
of the 25% SEN how many have statements of SEN and how many have SEN with no statement?

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 18:22:31

This is how the info is laid out on the site that you linked to Toby

Number of pupils with special needs with statements
Percentage of pupils with special needs with statements
Number of pupils with special needs without statements
Percentage of pupils with special needs without statements

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:22:50

roundcornsilkvirgin, Not a single statemented child applied to be admitted in 2011. I think that's understandable because our SEN provision is limited given that we only have 120 children at present. Several have applied to be admitted in 2012.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 02-Dec-11 18:23:27

Toby
I can find the tender document stating £20 million here
where does your other £14m come from?

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 18:24:04

thanks for that Toby
why would your SEN provision be limited though?

moondog Fri 02-Dec-11 18:25:20

Toby, I have followed your developments very carefully for a number of years (particularly enjoyed your piece in last Saturday's Telegraph) and applaud you every step of the way.
Peopel have no idea how terrfiyingly bad schools are and how the concept of a swchool as a place of proper education and learning has been all but lost, in the name of a vague all embracing touchy feely curriculum

Children with Special Needs come out of it even worse, as such is the benign neglect and patronising assumption that they need entertaining as opposed to educating, most come out having done little more than lolling in hugely expensive 'sensory rooms' and having teachers fill in files of downloaded photographs

Vicky Snyder sums it up perfectly in her devastating attack on liberal 'education' in this cracker of a book.

As an educational researcher and a professional in the public sector, I despair of what is on offer, and I speak as a parent of a child with special needs, who is only able to do what she can because I have taken almost complete responsibility for her education, using what I know works.

I would swim through sewage to get my kid into a free school and am seriously thinking of setting up myself. I applaud you and your heroic battles against the spite, jealousy and vitriol of the unions and the loathsome Fiona Millar.
Keep on inspiring and entertaing. Atttaboy!

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:25:32

TalkinPeace2, Construction work generally accounts for only two-thirds of the total cost of a new build. I got the £34m figure from an official at the DfE.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:26:10

roundcornsilkvirgin, Because we're funded on a per-capita basis. Economies of scale.

lljkk Fri 02-Dec-11 18:26:33

there's a steadily escalating series of punishments.

Would you elaborate? Presumably you think that your staircase of consequences is much more effective than... usual. Why would that be? Do you have any powers/options for discipline that ordinary state schools lack? Or is your approach superior because of will to implement?

Oh, and when you remove them from the class, exactly where do you remove them to? For how long, doing what during that time, etc. Can you share with us the detailed policy?

I had a look at your website but couldn't find any published policies(?)

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:26:49

Thanks moondog. Appreciate it.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 18:27:27

I've got to go and help my wife who's at the local sports club with our four kids (aged 8, 6, 4 and 4). I'll return to this thread later and answer any additional questions you have.

BoffinMum Fri 02-Dec-11 18:28:28

1. They haven't driven up standards overall in Sweden.
2. They pushed the overall education budget up in Sweden by 10%
3. There is adverse selection of pupils with SEN in Sweden.
4. In the US, for example Boston, areas with Charter Schools receive considerably more funding than other schools, reducing the amount available in areas of social deprivation to remaining pupils.
5. In the UK, subsidy is being received for capital investment, with no guarantee that any profits will accrue to the public purse should Free Schools fail.

roundcornsilkvirgin Fri 02-Dec-11 18:29:41

Thankyou for your replies Toby - very interesting thread

wonkylegs Fri 02-Dec-11 19:31:03

Toby I don't believe that your answer to my point is actually realistic or understanding of the wider impact of the free school program. Just because BSF is a failed procurement process does not mean we need a whole new education system we just need to procure school building and maintenance contracts better - we have been involved in doing this for SEN schools outside of the BsF process with great success but because these a procured on an individual basis they don't get the press that BSF does. Free schools are an expensive experiment that detracts from providing a good quality education for all. I am not the only one of this opinion, in fact I was discussing this with one of the foremost educational consultants in the uk who is dismayed but not surprised that the government has allowed and encouraged this as it will mean less resources for those areas that he battles to raise standards in the most such as the poor and neglected areas of the NE and Yorkshire.

GypsyMoth Fri 02-Dec-11 19:47:54

We have a free school here about to open, but only recruiting yr 6 and yr 9... Why?

wonkylegs Fri 02-Dec-11 20:04:49

I'm sure they are set up with the best of intentions but that is not enough. I think CTC's were the beginning of this (under the previous conservative govt) and although some were excellent schools (I went to one) it was the beginning of deciding that instead of fixing education for all we'd opt out and tinker.... Labour continued this with academies and the Tories are back at it with free schools.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 20:15:01

lljkk, The Code of Conduct is here:

http://www.westlondonfreeschool.co.uk/userfiles/conduct.pdf

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 20:17:28

wonkylegs, You've committed the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 20:20:19

SaraSidle, There's a free school in Bedford and Kempston opening in 2012 that's admitting Year 7s and Year 9s. Is that the one you're thinking of? The reason they're admitting the Year 9s is because of the peculiar, three tier education system in Suffolk whereby some children attend middle schools up to Year 8. You can learn more about that school here:

http://www.bedfordfreeschool.co.uk/

lljkk Fri 02-Dec-11 20:21:05

Ta, I will give WLFS full credit for that being easy to read & understand.

I wonder how different it is in practice from ordinary state schools (does anyone feel qualified to comment?); I understand for instance, that at our local secondary, weekend/afterschool detentions aren't possible for children who come from the villages by bus, because of the legal obligation to provide transport (and the need to keep that cost-effective).

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 20:26:04

By the way, if anyone out there is interested in setting up a free school I've just written a how-to guide for Penguin. You can download it for £1.99 here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Free-School-Penguin-Special-ebook/dp/B0069YVXA2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322052996&sr=8-1

moondog Fri 02-Dec-11 20:26:10

Wonkylegs, the generic state funded school was set up with the best of intentions too.
But that isn't enough.
Thinking you do a 'good job' just isn't good enough.
It's not good enough for my kids and it shouldn't be good enough for yours.

I deplore this kneejerk vaguely lefty/liberal assumption that cos it is state funded and has been in existence for donkey's, it is good enough, yeah?

There is nothing more terrifying than a public sector worker convinced that thewir way, and only their way is the best and the proper and that any attempt at reforms is nothing but a toff conspiracy to crush the proles.

People like Christine Blower, head of the NUT.
Jesus, with 'advocates' like that, kids are stuffed from the word go.

moondog Fri 02-Dec-11 20:28:03
moondog Fri 02-Dec-11 20:29:50
wonkylegs Fri 02-Dec-11 20:46:42

I am a private sector worker and I'm not a lefty liberalist more of a common sense centralist. Somebody has to remember those who won't benefit from the free school experiment - if we neglect them (which is what this does) then we drag down the whole of society. It's not joined up thinking, it's ignoring the majority for a vocal minority.
Yes as parents we want the best for our kids but I don't agree that this is the way to get it.

microcow Fri 02-Dec-11 20:49:43

blimey toby do a free link grin

who buys the land that the free school will go on?

wonkylegs Fri 02-Dec-11 21:05:31

Thankfully society is made up from more than those who can quote a dead language! I happen to agree with that particular authority - his passion and dedication both given freely and as a professionally reflects a true dedication to children's education. He works within the system to improve it rather than writing it off because not everybody in the uk are pretentiously middle-class/ religiously ideological etc has the same ideals.
I understand the idea behind wanting the best and to assist our future generations which is why I mentor kids within our local school system but don't agree that free schools is the way to do it.

BoffinMum Fri 02-Dec-11 21:07:38

Toby has strategically ignored the factual points I made in my post. The data on this are so very inconvenient, aren't they? wink

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 21:48:28

Am I an old-fashioned Tory? Well, I've been called many things in my time, but never that.

Any normal state school with a normal catchment area, though, would surely have to say that not all of its pupils are going to want to, or be able to, go to 'top universities' (although I suppose that depends on your definitions). To set that up as your plan and intention seems to me a bit blinkered. What about children who don't want to do that, or who don't get the grades? Not everyone can get the results needed for RG or Oxbridge!

10% musical aptitude places, eh? That must really weed out the middle class children, I imagine!

microcow Fri 02-Dec-11 21:49:55

the musical intake part made me snigger.

ElaineReese Fri 02-Dec-11 21:56:29

It's also slightly odd that an actual Tory would consider it an insult to call someone an 'old fashioned Tory', actually!

And you did also ignore all the rest of my post. I think it would be a noble aim to say 'we will do our absolute damndest to help any child who wants to go to an excellent university to achieve that goal'. To say that it is your expectation that they all will, or will all want to, seems very blinkered and a bit daft.

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 23:11:35

microcow, The musical aptitude test is designed so as not to favour children who have any prior musical knowledge. We don't ask them to play an instrument or read music. They're simply played a note and asked to sing it back, etc.

coppertop Fri 02-Dec-11 23:12:38

Thanks for the link, Toby.

Does the school really categorise spitting as being in the same category of seriousness as smoking and gambling? confused

TobyYoung Fri 02-Dec-11 23:13:19

ElaineReese, I don't understand your opposition to high expectations. As Max Weber said, "It's only by reaching for the impossible that we find out what's possible."

Greythorne Fri 02-Dec-11 23:15:51

Toby
Why is there a music appitude test but no maths appitude test?
Why music?

TY - 'I hear these arguments whenever I go to a dinner party.'

Oh, man, can I imagine those dinner parties.

I hope you get a fucking knighthood, I really do.

smallwhitecat Fri 02-Dec-11 23:23:17

Message withdrawn

noblegiraffe Fri 02-Dec-11 23:31:07

What will you do with students who look like they will not achieve 'at least 6 GCSEs or IGCSEs at grade C or above, including Maths, English, English Literature, History, Science and a Foreign Language', given that your objective is to ensure a 100% pass rate?

Also, how can you afford such small class sizes?

GypsyMoth Fri 02-Dec-11 23:57:43

Yes Toby, thanks, that's our school dd old maths teacher is opening it. Thanks for the link, seriously considering it.

But I am also a fan of our 3 tier system, so feel torn.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 07:20:39

There is evidence that children who have had training in practical music and aural tests can respond to these so-called aptitude tests better.

The evidence on class sizes is that putting pupils in small classes doubles the number of teachers required and puts costs up accordingly, for an improvement if two-thirds of a grade point at GCSE, but the same outcome can be achieved by extending the school year by two weeks or removing the worst 10% of teachers.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 08:59:27

I notice you haven't answered the question about why your SEN provision should be limited.

If your school selects 'by musical aptitude' then it is a selective school. There is plenty of research that indicates that the more barriers you place in front of access to a school the less likely it is to admit disadvantaged children.

It is also very odd that you should place such value on musical aptitude. Why? What about those pupils who haven't got any?

I have taught many children who would lack the confidence to perform your musical aptitude test especially since it involves singing notes back etc.

lljkk Sat 03-Dec-11 09:09:54

Oh heavens, I'd never get in; very clever at academics but completely hopeless at music (as a child, anyway).

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 09:16:59

Using Music and Modern Foreign Language aptitude tests also helps schools screen for middle class, pro-school children. If you find a school selecting for design technology or PE, the social profile of pupils tends to be less affluent. He's not daft - favouring non-SEN middle class kids will allow him to give the impression his school is successful, especially if they boot anyone out who is remotely challenging to teach.

moondog Sat 03-Dec-11 09:30:23

Children with special needs don't generally do well in integrated schools.
It makes all the trendy liberals feel good ('Gosh yes, little Chloe wears the overalls and hands out the goggles in Chemistry. She takes part in everything! The fact that she is sitting there flicking a piece of paper all lesson and staring out of the window is conveniently overlooked.)

Additionally the use of labels in SEN is so meaningless and arbitrary that there will never be any realistic allotment of children to purposeful education until it is sorted, so that is a whole different matter.

Boffin, I'm not sure why you expect TY to explain, interpret and account for issues with charter schools elsewhere in the world and their respective governments' decisions on funding. To draw an analogy, it is like asking me to draw up a service revies on Nurundi's provision for non verbal children with ADSD who require A/AC. hmm
I was in the States this summer and spent a lot of time with people who have children in charter schools. Needless to say, most of them are massively oversubscribed as indeed is the London Free. TY's articles in the Telegraph last Saturday gave the figures as well as those for teacher applications. He seems to modest to link/quote, so I hope he will now.
Doug Lemov runs a chain of very successful charter schools in the States and is a very inspiring man indeed.

I think you might find your energies better directed to home and considering such worrying factors as to why we are pouring taxpayers' money into unions.
Here's a helpful link.

Wonky, your embarrassing dismissal of 'quoting a dead language' with regard to Latin is a fine example of how access to a glittering treasure trove of knowledge has been denied to those who consider Latin the preserve of anachronisitic pedagogy.

I use my knowledge of Latin nearly every day of my life. It served and continues to serve me well in understanding words from unfamiliar languages and unencountered ones from those I do speak.

CecilyP Sat 03-Dec-11 09:33:24

Does the school really categorise spitting as being in the same category of seriousness as smoking and gambling?

I think they are just trying to cover all eventualities. Does a lot of spitting and gambling go on in schools? It is difficult to imagine those sweet 11 year olds in the pictures doing any of those things.

moondog Sat 03-Dec-11 09:42:26

And I am really irritated to see an advert for a bloody teaching union appearing on this site!

CecilyP Sat 03-Dec-11 09:45:17

BoffinMum, while I agree that using Music or Modern Foreign Language aptitude tests helps schools screen for middle class pro-school children, it is something that all secondary schools are allowed to do - and it is only for 10% of the intake.

Given what TY says, it does seem odd that WLFS has chosen to do this. It would be different for a school that already had a great orchestra or established choral tradition.

CecilyP Sat 03-Dec-11 10:21:55

ElaineRees, I am amazed that TY thinks you are an old-fashioned Tory simply for thinking the ambition for all the children at the school to go to top universities is a little unrealistic. I am assuming you might be a teacher though. I doubt if TY has ever taught if he assumes that this could be achieved simply with good teachers, good discipline and high expectations.

He goes on to reference Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney where indeed all but a handful of last year's sixth form went to university. Note university, not top university. He also failed to mention that entry to Mossbourne's sixth form is selective.

ElaineReese Sat 03-Dec-11 10:31:32

I'm not a teacher, but I've worked in schools and have kids in them, and thank you Cecily : that's pretty much what I wanted to say!

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 10:47:33

Toby, I have noticed that the fiercest advocates of exclusive education (or exclusive anything really) are those who know or assume that their own kids will fall on the right side of the divide. In the extremely unlikely event that your own children don't get a place at this school (you use the word 'if' earlier in the thread) or, worse, that some do and some don't, I wonder:

a) will you still be as positive about the school and free schools in general?
b) what school would be your plan b (a private one?)?

p.s how many music lessons do your own children do?

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 10:56:09

'Wonky, your embarrassing dismissal of 'quoting a dead language' with regard to Latin is a fine example of how access to a glittering treasure trove of knowledge has been denied to those who consider Latin the preserve of anachronisitic pedagogy.'

I personally am not dismissive of teaching Latin but I do question why it is valued over other subjects and even, other languages. The fact is that Latin is a prestige subject associated with a particular social class and it is pure snobbery that means it is perceived as more worthwhile than say, Japanese, when to a group of urban, 21st century kids, it, frankly, isn't.

ElaineReese Sat 03-Dec-11 11:04:24

I think there's a lot to be said for Latin, my daughter does it out of hours and it helps with French and German and English: but I do agree that one of its main values does seem to be snob points.

lljkk Sat 03-Dec-11 11:47:06

y5 DD studies Latin, within a special state school scheme, we are supposed to consider it a great privilege, etc. I am NOT impressed or convinced. It would be SO MUCH better if she could study Spanish as a MFL. I speak a lot of Spanish & have found it enormously useful (lifelong).

The "top universities" thing is amusing me; there's a horsey-boarding private school in Northern England (QEthelburga's) that boasts about a very high % going to "top universities". They conveniently publish numbers that go to which Uni, to verify their assertions.

A minority went to Oxbridge/RG, a fair few went to ex-polys, that's their definition of "top universities". So we shall see what def. WLFS end up using, too.

moondog Sat 03-Dec-11 12:08:46

'Toby, I have noticed that the fiercest advocates of exclusive education (or exclusive anything really) are those who know or assume that their own kids will fall on the right side of the divide. '

I'm not sure I understand this.
There is no such thing as 'exclusive education'.

Cecily
'I doubt if TY has ever taught if he assumes that this could be achieved simply with good teachers, good discipline and high expectations.'

What extra magic ingredient do you think needs to be added to the mix?
An ability to get down with the kids?
A cunning way with chickpeas?
Membership of a teaching union?

I know what the extra magic ingredient is-evidence based educational methods. It worked in the biggest educational experiement of all times, Project Followthrough in which disadvantaged kids from ethnic backgrounds out performed middle class white kids time and time again. I bet you've never heard of it, right? Most peopel haven't. It was all quietly shelved and effectively ignored and dismissed by the people who were (and are) resaponsible for the education and liberation of the disadvantaged.
Project Followthrough

Educational failure is a nice little industry. It creates a plethora of parasites-'advisory teachers', 'outreach', social workers, 'community liaison officers' not to mention the raft of courses, resources and consultants. Heaven forbid we might actually sort this mess out once and for all. Thousands will be forced to find something useful to do.
The Centre for Policy Studies have written a withering report on the SN 'industry'. I agree with all of it, and I am part of that industry. I have it on pdf if anyone wants it.

Fivecandles, the idea that inm our present state system a group of 'urban' teens could learn Japanese to a high enoguh standard for it to be of use, makes me laugh out loud.
My 20 year old nice did a French 'A' level, as did I. Not only can she not actually speak French, she has a shaky grasp of the grammar and has never read a French novel in its entirity. She got a B by the way.

ElaineReese Sat 03-Dec-11 12:09:47

Yes, what QE do is to make all the non-academic kids be in the 'faculty' at VIth form (ie no A levels) while the academic ones are in the 'collegiate' sixth - thus their results don't get messed up. They're notorious for it.

moondog Sat 03-Dec-11 12:13:43

Ah, the myth of success for all.
Better to have everyone together pursuing one thing and being crap at it than allowing peopel to focus on what they are good at.
Fits beautifully into Toynbee-esqe fantasy of everyone excleeing at the same thing.
(Only of course the peopel who beat this drum the loudest have al lthe resources and provisions to side-step the systems and procedures that the proles have to go through-Millar, Toynbee, Benn, Diane Abbott et al. Their kids won't be hanging out with da yoot on street corners.)

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 12:41:11

Moondog, when people talk about 'exclusive' education they generally mean schools that exclude children through a process of overt or covert selection. TY's free school does exactly this.

'Fivecandles, the idea that inm our present state system a group of 'urban' teens could learn Japanese to a high enoguh standard for it to be of use, makes me laugh out loud.'

And yet presumably you think it makes some sort of sense to teach Latin (a language which hasn't actually been spoken for centuries) to these same children? I think you may have missed my point.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 12:44:51

Moondog, I think you may have also missed Cecily's point. For some children there is NO 'magic ingredient' that will get them into a top university. And it's pretty bloody obvious that if every kid can and does get into a top university then said universities won't be considered 'top' any more. There is a vested interest in keeping the little oiks out of them not least the trebling of tuition fees.

ElaineReese Sat 03-Dec-11 12:49:23

Diane Abbott is an idiot who doesn't beat any sort of drum on the subject of education, actually. And Polly Toynbee did send her children to private school (and I think less of her for it) - but I don't think you're right about Benn and Millar. Who cares anyway - what's the argument: some people are hypocritical therefore no principles are of value? Doesn't really say much to me.

Of course everyone shouldn't be 'crap' at 'one thing', and I don't see anyone saying or thinking that they should.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 12:49:27

I am also deeply uncomfortable with the way you seem to lump all 'ethnic backgrounds' together assuming them to be all educationally disadvantaged. In fact, it has been well documented that Chinese children significantly outperform other children regardless of parental income.

Come to think of it, Moondog, what actually is your position in this debate as regards free schools? Because some of what you say does seem to be a leetle bit contradictory.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 13:59:57

Moondog comes across as aggressive and irrational to my eye.

Teaching unions have absolutely nothing at all to do with Free School funding.

Similarly it is appropriate enough to engage with TY on the international position because he regularly discusses things like this in his Spectator articles.

I have issues with pushing the education budget up, potentially by 10%, in times of financial crisis. I think this is an interesting project but we are ten years too early in establishing these schools.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 14:59:45

I assumed that Moondog was Mrs Young.
I am surprised that after agreeing to come on here Mr Young expected us to accept his assertions without evidence.
His view of the world is so incredibly narrow that I guess the only good thing is that the experience of running his school will make him shut up about ours.

CecilyP Sat 03-Dec-11 15:21:14

^Cecily
'I doubt if TY has ever taught if he assumes that this could be achieved simply with good teachers, good discipline and high expectations.'

What extra magic ingredient do you think needs to be added to the mix?
An ability to get down with the kids?
A cunning way with chickpeas?
Membership of a teaching union?^

I don't think anything needs adding. Because I don't believe that you can take a mixed ability class and expect them all to go to top universities.

I know what the extra magic ingredient is-evidence based educational methods. It worked in the biggest educational experiement of all times, Project Followthrough in which disadvantaged kids from ethnic backgrounds out performed middle class white kids time and time again. I bet you've never heard of it, right? Most peopel haven't. It was all quietly shelved and effectively ignored and dismissed by the people who were (and are) resaponsible for the education and liberation of the disadvantaged.

Have you ever taught a mixed ability class, though? And no, I have never heard of Project Followthrough, though I can guess it's American. You do know that 'disadvantaged from ethnic backgrounds' is not synonymous with low intelligence, don't you? No more than middle class white means very bright.

CecilyP Sat 03-Dec-11 15:25:18

^Ah, the myth of success for all.
Better to have everyone together pursuing one thing and being crap at it than allowing peopel to focus on what they are good at.
Fits beautifully into Toynbee-esqe fantasy of everyone excleeing at the same thing.^

But surely that is what TY is suggesting if he expects all his pupils to go on to top universities. Whereas I am quite happy to accept that pupils will have different abilities and will go on to a variety of different things.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 15:33:34

If everybody is going to do academic subjects and get degrees, is TY planning to rely on immigrants to mend his car, decorate his house, sweep the streets and empty the bins, or are those graduate jobs now?

Xenia Sat 03-Dec-11 16:25:30

You will never compete with the private sector until the state accepts that selecting by IQ is the best way for many children. It's why schools like my daughter's get 96% A - A* in GCSE (and our local comp gest 34% A - C in GCSEs.

The state is ridiculously PC over no competitive entry by exam. Why? If they think the Good Burghers of Kent deserve state grammar schools why did people from the NE where I came from lose their grammar schools in abnout 1970s/ What is so special about Kent and Bucks which means the state is more than happy to allow selective education but not many other places? Typical British fudge.

Anyway having choice of education is great. Obviously the worse the stae schools do the better for my children in private schools but plenty of people make unwise career choices as teenage girls or boys which means they cannot buy a good education for their children. They put their desire for a fun career, art, journalism etc above doing right by their children. They then pay the price by having to find some state schools that is half decent.

Poor mr TYoung is going to be hanged if his children do get in to his school and hanged if they don't. He might have been better off spending his time (and the children's mother - plenty of women these days fund school fees) earning money to pay for a proper school rather than fiddling around with a system which must be open to all however disabled or low IQ they might be. What a weird Alice in Wonderland situation the state has got itself in to by refusing to countenance academic selection criteria.

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 16:30:16

Message withdrawn

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 16:31:56

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smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 16:32:29

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Xenia Sat 03-Dec-11 16:35:11

I think a goodly amount of segregation does children the world of good. Have the clever ones in schools for the bright, the musical ones often do really well in the specialist music schools, schools for the blind have produced some wonderfully confident children etc etc. I don't see any problems with non inclusive schooling.

Indeed some of the best dyslexia teaching in the UK is in the private sector in schools which particularly specialise in that.

However although I am principall behind privatisation of all schooling and vouchers for all parents which you can top up, I would support Mr Young and his programme. I think it's wonderful that we live in a country where you can choose a school ike Summerhill with no compulsory lessons or else a fundamentalist private or state Muslim school or home educate or go to Eton etc etc However without doubt one of this country's greatest products is its leading private schools which are emulated the world over and we are very lucky to have them.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 16:58:41

Xenia
I am afraid I have to utterly and fundamentally disagree with you about segregation.

Religious and racial segregation are breeding grounds for intolerance and hatred.
Socioeconomic segregation results in a lack of understanding of the breadth of society by those on all parts of the spectrum.

I went to selective Girls private schools and then an RG University.
Until I was 21 and started work I had absolutely no comprehension of the fact that there are thick people, lazy parents and those with no curiosity.

Those in our government (past and present) who attended exactly those schools you praise got us into the economic mess we are today.

A lot more mixing and understanding at all levels of business and government can only be for the good.

zazizoma Sat 03-Dec-11 17:03:03

A question about the perceived exclusivity of free schools; wouldn't a state school which determined or prioritised admissions on a catchment area, giving priority to children in the local area, also be considered a form of exclusivity?

I believe that any single education programme cannot address the needs of all students and communities. I embrace the idea of free schools because it provides a publicly funded means for communities of parents to tailor their children's educational experiences. Since this option is publicly funded, any perceived 'exclusion' is not based on finances, which as I mentioned above is not even the case for state schools where admissions are prioritised for high-value property catchments.

I'm with Xenia and others on the value of diversity in educational offerings. The more education options that are available, the better the education system will be. While I personally wouldn't chose the WLFS offering for my dc, I understand that it appeals to other families, and I strongly support their right to choice and am proud to live in a society where they have that choice. (Technically, I'm in Wales and do NOT actually live in such a society.)

Criticisms of the WLFS curriculum are not the same as criticisms of free schools. Don't like a free school offering? Don't send your kids there. You may on the other hand find one that is ideal for your family if you are interested in taking advantage of the programme.

It seems to me there is this general idea on here about fairness and anti-exclusivity, which when taken to the extreme, means that if a exciting educational offering can't be made available to everyone, then it shouldn't exist at all. How sad!

Xenia Sat 03-Dec-11 17:08:43

TP, I'm not into segregation. Indeed I delight in the fact that the very very academic selective day schools of NW London have some of the best racial and religious mixes of any school system in the country. We all benefits hugely from it and I love lving in a melting pop of entrepreneurs where talent and brains and hard work will out etc.

However I hope we'dll all defend almost unto death the rights for parents to choose instead to segregate on whatever grounds they choose and in particular have the right to home school.

if you want pure comprehensiveness people would need to do what Brighton did and the Deep South in the US which is bus children of one kind from one area ot another. it's the only way in some cases (although there are a good few bits of the UK where thre is one comp in the area and nothing much else and most children go there. Cities are very different.

I just tghink the Toby Young and free schools fudge is a laughable British compromise. If the parents want children subjected to a very academic curriculum with a parent body who supports that why not just test their IQ and let in the bright ones as the private schools (those that are selective) do so well. If you want only posh children in then interview and have questionnaires. If you want everyone including those with very low IQs as well as the very bright then make that your criteria but I don't see why we have not allowed selection by IQ in these state schools when the good people of Kent and Bucks are lalowed it. What is so special about the DNA of the Buckinghamshire people that the state deemds them allowed selective state education which the people of Newcastle are denied? Presumably the only difference is that they're richer and posher.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 17:13:17

but Xenia the results from the pupils in Bucks, Kent and Lincs (the three counties that have the tripartite system) are no better than in any other county and chances are the kids that get stuck in the secondary moderns never get to achieve their true potential - at least in a Comp kids can move up the sets

however I utterly agree with you that the state should not be funding backdoor selection like that at TYs school.
You want selective elitism, fine, get out the cheque book. My family did.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 17:19:28

zazi, you are a teeny bit naive if you think that public funding means that children are not excluded because of parental income. There has been so much research that indicates any barrier to a school i.e. faith, transport, 'ability', 'aptitude', fancy uniform etc, etc leads to a corresponding reduction in intake of children on free school meals.

'wouldn't a state school which determined or prioritised admissions on a catchment area, giving priority to children in the local area, also be considered a form of exclusivity?'

Well, of course, that depends on your catchment. If you need several million to buy a property within the catchment then yes. Many people would like to see an education system where the local school is a good school for EVERY CHILD.

'I believe that any single education programme cannot address the needs of all students and communities.'

A 'single education programme' by which I assume you mean comprehensive education does not mean a homogenised education. A single school should be perfectly able to cater for the needs and aspirations of all of its pupils offering support and challenge and a range of academic and vocational subjects.

I have always struggled to see how a 'specialist sports college' or 'specialist musci school' benefits has a particular benefit for those pupils who do are not sporty or musical. Interestingly, the school near me which became a 'specialist language college' saw its results in languages and the number of people continuing a language at A Level drop after receiving this status.

Since you cannot have as many schools as there are children it is common sense that EVERY school should be able to meet the needs of EVERY child bar those who fundamentally cannot cope with mainstream education (i.e. those who attend schools for EBD).

'It seems to me there is this general idea on here about fairness and anti-exclusivity, which when taken to the extreme, means that if a exciting educational offering can't be made available to everyone, then it shouldn't exist at all. How sad!'

But who on earth is arguing for this extreme? I've never come across a school or a person who says 'no we can't offer x, y and z to everyone therefore it shouldn't exist'. That's just stupid scaremongering.

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 17:24:42

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CecilyP Sat 03-Dec-11 17:31:37

What is so special about the DNA of the Buckinghamshire people that the state deemds them allowed selective state education which the people of Newcastle are denied? Presumably the only difference is that they're richer and posher.

You know fine that that the state has not deemed that Buckinghamshire people are allowed selective state education while those in Newcastle are not. It was a decision devolved to local authorities, and those two authorities have made different decisions.

ElaineReese Sat 03-Dec-11 17:54:15

I love the idea of a melting pop of entrepreneurs. Like a big old Tory fondue/firework.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 18:03:39

I'd spotted that but chosen not to comment.

Just picking up on the "disability" thing.
There is a HUGE difference between Bert Massie, Peter White, Tanni Grey Thompson, Eric Sykes
or a person with severe learning difficulties who will never cope in the outside world
please do not make the mistake of lumping people together under any badge
be it skin colour, lack of foreskin or mobility issues

Xenia Sat 03-Dec-11 18:09:35

I said mix with those of very high IQ. I believe in academic selection (and indeed most comps have some setting but there are lots of good reasons to have more total segregation by IQ). So if you are thick as a plank and white or black or have no legs then you would and indeed are excluded from state grammars and academic private schools. If you're disabled and very bright then you will often do pretty well in the academic schools.

Then the specialist music schools they segregate so that children who are very good at music Chetham's etc go there.

Some parents like I am prefer single sex schooling so that's segregation by gender etc etc.

Also some parents want everyone mixed together although even there you rarely get a child who lives ni Herts being bussed in to the worst comprehensive in inner London to ensure proper mixing do you?

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 18:19:15

you have a lot of faith in IQ tests
and a complete lack of realisation that the bell curve of learning rates means that not all children are at the same place on the same day

my DS is a late August birthday
if he sat the Grammar test he'd be up against children 361 days older than him
he is in fact in top sets at school but his maturity is well behind many of the older kids both physical and cognitively
at least in a comp he can excel gradually, ready for the crunch of GCSE
in Kent he'd be left to rot in a Secondary modern

zazizoma Sat 03-Dec-11 18:28:28

fivecandles, I think we agree that the question of exclusivity as applied specifically to free schools is a bogus one. That was my point, and you've stated it clearly and better.

However, I disagree with your statement that "A single school should be perfectly able to cater for the needs and aspirations of all of its pupils offering support and challenge and a range of academic and vocational subjects."

My idea of diversity in education goes far beyond content offerings such music, latin or IT. What if a child is better suited to non-traditional classroom environment, such as a montessori or summerhill environment? What if a child is better suited to a non-exam based and more experiential educational programme? What if the family wants knowledge of a divinity to be more explicitly present in all aspects of teaching? Are comprehensives supposed to address those needs as well? These are just three examples of many. The state is making the choices about the educational priorities in the national curriculum, and many people are satisfied and comfortable with those choices. For those parents who aren't, free schools provide a mechanism for options. Otherwise, only those parents with disposable income would have the options described above. Some people may argue that if you want anything other than the state mandate you should have to pay. I don't agree.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 18:48:21

zazi, I think there is a debate to be had about how well our state schools meet the needs of all their pupils. But I think your vision is naive and unworkable.

How is it possible for there to be a school tailored to the needs of each child (and/or those of their parents) within travellable distance??

So my children 'require' a secular, arts focused education but actually dd1 wants an education with lots of sport and lots of academic rigour and competition while dd2 wants an education which allows her to go at her own pace with more play and less drive. My neighbour on the other hand wants a science-based, co-ed, Christian education and the people across the street want single sex Muslim schools for their children. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Of course, we can't all get the precise tailored education we want especially not if the number of children in our local area only supports 3 schools. And what would be the impact of separating our community in this way?

I live in an area which has suffered enormously from the divisions exacerbated by faith schools. And you only have to look at Northern Ireland to see how badly this can go wrong.

And actually how much of this is about what the parents want for their children or assume their children want? How can you possibly know what sort of education will best prepare a child for where they want to be at age 20?

While I might assume that my kids, like me, will be arts-focused and atheist, I am hugely grateful that they attend a school which makes no such assumptions and encourages all children to try all sorts of subjects. If I had got the sort of education I might have asked for for dd1 she might never have discovered her talents in sport and science.

In fact, a fairly large school with excellent facilities and a wide range of expertise (in the full curriculum plus the full range of support and extra-curricular activities) is likely to cater better for the local catchment than a range of schools with very particular specialisms.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 18:51:50

'What if a child is better suited to non-traditional classroom environment, such as a montessori or summerhill environment?'

Then the obvious answer is send them to a montessori school or summerhill.

But there cannot be a montessori school or summerhill school in every single LEA. And that would certainly not be financially viable option.

I would also reiterate my point that whose making the judgement that a child would be better suited to such a school? There have been some heart-rending accounts of children who went to Summerhill and wished they hadn't.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 18:52:07

fivecandles
that is a REALLY important point
DH and I are both science / maths based. The school our kids are at is a sports / language specialist
so actually the school balances our prejudices and our kids are coming out better than if I'd followed my own narrow prejudices

also, when I was at school I had teachers categorically saying that there would be no paper in offices or schools within 20 years

and my university had 2 computers when I was an undergrad

we MUST not narrow our children's choices with our own blinkers

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 18:54:00

'Who is' that should be.

It is common sense that taxpayers money must pay for the system that will benefit the most.

It's the same with hospitals. Imagien if each town had a specialist heart hospital and specialist maternity hospital and a hospital only catering for Muslims. It's just ridiculous.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 18:56:43

When you're ill or about to give birth or need physio, you want to be able to go to your nearest hospital and you want them to be able to give you the best possible health care whatever your condition, faith, aspirations.

Same with schools.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 18:57:24

Which is one reason why it's so stupid to apply the principle of competition and 'choice' to public services.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 19:12:47

There's evidence to suggest that children with surnames beginning with letters in the first half of the alphabet do better than those in the second half of the alphabet. That doesn't mean we stick them in a separate school. It means we spend too much time arbitrarily categorising, classifying and listing children at the expense of developing their brains. That also explains why we have so many children in the SEN category - these are often simply non-standard children in a lot of cases, stuck in a system that prefers homogenised clusters of predictable pupils because they are more convenient to teach. Education needs to be much more nuanced than that if it is to work properly in the 21st century.

Here is what happens if you categorise children arbitrarily.

A class divided

For Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes, read race, class, gender or whatever you like ...

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 19:22:21

Well, it's also September birthdays vs summer birthdays. Some ridiculous percentage of Oxbridge entrants and athletes are September -December born.

But why do so few people talk meaningfully about ways we could improve the comprehensive system rather than assuming that dismantling it and exacerbating the divisions in society will help?

zazizoma Sat 03-Dec-11 19:22:32

I can certainly understand how people who believe that if one wants choice, one should have to pay for it, would object to the idea of free schools. I am of the camp who believes there is actually a place for choice within public offerings.

fivecandles, from your "But there cannot be a montessori school or summerhill school in every single LEA. And that would certainly not be financially viable option," are you willing to go further and say therefore that there shouldn't be ANY publicly funded Montessoris or Summerhills?

I don't think it logically follows that "since you cannot have as many schools as there are children" that "EVERY school should be able to meet the needs of EVERY child bar those who fundamentally cannot cope with mainstream education." I think both statements are equally extreme; opposite ends of a continuum if you will. I believe the solution is somewhere in the middle and the best arrangement will be constantly evolving.

I also think comparing public education with public heathcare is too many apples and oranges.

Free schools are a good mechanism for efficiently promoting a diversity of educational offering, and wouldn't that ultimately benefit the most?

TalkinPeace2, I strongly believe that it's ultimately my parental responsibility to see that my child is appropriately educated. I attempt to do so based on my child's needs and desires rather than my own or my dp's, but I'm sure this is an ongoing challenge that all parents face in many aspects of parenting. Just because it's difficult doesn't mean I'm prepared to abdicate my responsibility to a Balls or a Gove.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 19:29:23

'I am of the camp who believes there is actually a place for choice within public offerings.'

I'm not clear why you think there need to be separate schools in order to offer 'choice'. Please explain.

Why shouldn't a child who is a gifted musician also be a gifted scientist?

I have spent most of my working life in a huge variety of schools. What is truly amazing is how most schools cater so successfully with so many different abilities and needs and interests.

You are not responding to be argument that one large school is likely to cater for the needs of students in the catchement than several small schools with particular specialisms.

In fact, Toby Young put this perfectly himself when he said that parents of statemented children have not applied to his school since it was too small to have a decent provision for them!!

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 19:30:57

zazi, summerhill and montessori schools are independent. They are not state funded.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 19:36:22

'Free schools are a good mechanism for efficiently promoting a diversity of educational offering, and wouldn't that ultimately benefit the most?'

Argh!! But they DON'T promote diversity. What they actually promote is social divisions. They have less children with SN and on free school meals. Toby YOung's school offers a very narrow curriculum and as he has confessed himself doesn't even offer a provison for statemented children. Your child cannot go to this school unless he or she has a 'musical aptitude' and is willing to learn Latin etc, etc. That's the opposite of diversity. That is conforming to a 1950s model of a 'good education'.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 19:40:26

And they have taken a disproportionate amount of taxpayers money to educate a very few of our children.

'I also think comparing public education with public heathcare is too many apples and oranges.'

In what way? We pay our taxes and expect to be equal and good treatment in our local hospital. We don't expect to be barred on the basis of our faith or particular illness or ability to pay.

How would you feel if you tried to make an appointment at your local GP and she said she was only seeing Catholics from now on? Or people with diabetes? But you are perfectly entitled to go to the GP 5 miles away which will take anyone (even though it has a higher mortality rate).

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 19:47:26

And lets not forget the boy sent home from the WLFS for having the wrong hair cut!! www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/oct/21/free-school-punishes-short-haircut

So much for diversity!

zazizoma Sat 03-Dec-11 19:47:47

five, I believe that one of the benefits of the free school scheme is that schools that offer alternative approaches and methodologies now have a place in the state-funded system. I only use Summerhil and Montessori as examples of alternatives to the traditional classroom and exam focused methodology, Summerhill because it's already been mentioned, and Montessori because it's vaguely understood across a large audience. Under the free school system, there could be publicly available montessori or summerhill-like schools. (Though I think there are actually several Montessori schools in the state system.)

I don't see how a traditional classroom methodology and a montessori-like methodology are compatible within a single school, again as an illustration. If you were to set them up in the same school, they'd be such diverse offerings that the two sections of the school for all intents and purposes would behave as two separate schools. They would need separate heads! So why not have two separate schools?

I certainly believe that a child could be both a gifted musician as well as scientist, most of us would. And I wouldn't be personally inclined to send my dc to schools with a specific focus on content, unless of course they were really keen to do so.

I do think the question of curriculum CONTENT and teaching METHODOLOGY gets very confused in these discussions. While I think a conventional comprehensive could and perhaps ought to offer a wide range of CONTENT at different levels, I don't see how it can offer a range of METHODOLOGY. I hope this addresses your question of why I think numerous small schools are better at addressing diversity than one big school. I also have a prejudice toward smaller schools, as I see them as more flexible and responsive, compared to larger schools, which I perceive as more cumbersome and bureaucratic. Whether this prejudice stands up to scrutiny is another matter.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 19:48:24

So, Mr Toby Young

we have read, reviewed and digested your blog and your responses
and found them wanting

are you willing to come and rejoin the discussion?

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 19:53:20

'The data she received showed that on average, a quarter of children attending the five schools nearest to each of the free schools were eligible for subsidised lunches, compared with just one in 11 of the pupils at the free schools.

At the West London Free School, founded by the journalist and author Toby Young, just over 23% of pupils are eligible for free lunches, compared with just over 32% in the five neighbouring schools. At Batley grammar school, a free school in Kirklees, just 4.3% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, compared with 19% in the five neighbouring schools.'

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/nov/14/free-schools-lower-number-deprived-pupils

zazizoma Sat 03-Dec-11 19:53:34

Diversity in educational offerings is not the same as social diversity within a given school. In my posts, I've been using diversity to refer to a variety of state funded educational offerings, and would argue that the social diversity question is valid and common to all state schools, free or conventional. I would further suggest that once would increase the social diversity within alternative educational offerings by bringing them under the free school umbrella, as this at least eliminates the parents must pay criteria.

Xenia Sat 03-Dec-11 19:54:03

Variety within the state provision is good. I would come down on the site of free schools operating alongside others, along side home schooling private, state selective and all the others mentioned as that is more of the libertarian view.

The alternative answer would be one type of school only in all areas, ban home schooling as in Germany and prohibit private schools and injunct parents who choose to send their children abroad to school. Then bus those from rich areas to poor areas and ban all religious teaching in all schools. That way you would achieve uniformity.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 19:54:53

am so tempted to get my DH to charge Toby up to 1,000,000 volts
it being part of DH's day job after all

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 19:58:21

Message withdrawn

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 20:08:30

merely that 1,000,000 volts is quite fun - both my kids enjoy it and so do I
Van de Graaf machines are wonderful - and part of the National Curriculum

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:10:41

Yes, I see your point a bit more clearly zazi, however I still take issue with it.

It's interesting that you should see free schools as potentially offering an 'alternative methodology' which may offer more tailoring to the individual needs of the child when TY's school, as I have already mentioned, is, in contrast, very much a throwback to a sort of 1950s, traditional education where children are expected to conform right down to their study of Latin and their haircuts.

I also think there is very little evidence that alternative 'methodologies' of the sort that you suggest have any advantages. You do not respond to my point that the choice of a Montessori school or a Summerhill sort of school or faith schools are much more about parental preference or percpetions of a child (which may well be unhelpful) than about educational advantages. I'm not sure how far the state can or should cater for such preferences especially where, as I've indicated, they could exacerbate social divisions and conflict within communities.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:13:38

Back to the hospitals analogy, I would not be happy about my taxes paying for a hospital with an 'alternative approach' to healthcare if there was no evidence that this would have any benefit to patients purely to meet the preference of a small group of patients. IF people want to have alternative therapies with no evidence that they work then that's up to them but they should pay for it themselves in my view.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 20:14:08

There's a lot of work done on schooling and social inequality, with particular to state schools and comprehensive schools. Google 'comprehensive schooling social inequality' to find interesting research on this.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:15:44

'I've been using diversity to refer to a variety of state funded educational offerings'

But I fail to see how free schools offer diversity of any kind. They offer a narrow curriculum and set of values to a small group of largely privileged children. Where's the diversity?

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 20:17:37

Message withdrawn

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 20:18:56

Message withdrawn

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:24:34

In fact, if you click on the free schools now opened on the bottom of this link it's even more worrying than I had thought www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14747635

The majority of these schools are faith schools with a couple of schools defecting from the independent sector.

I think this will certainly exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions in our communities and help prevent integration.

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:28:45

he wants is to return to traditional models that served us well over a long period

Ah, yes, the golden age. Latin, proper haircuts, the ability to sing a perfect c sharp. Those are certainly the skills we need for the modern world hmm

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:32:49

And it's so great that we're increasing the number of our children who are segregated by their religion what with Northern Ireland providing such a wonderful example of social cohesion.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 20:33:12

smallwhitecat
WHY oh WHY would we want to go back to a pre 1950's education system.
We are not in a pre 1950's world.
before WW2 the European countries "owned" the world
now there are more engineering graduates in China than in the whole EU
we have reached the global limit of outsourcing
the public school ethos of creating the worlds adminstrators is less arrogant than daft
the ONLY way that the UK will get back to being competitive / growth is to find the hidden talents which frankly involves finding the kids that the current system (eton etc) miss completely cos they have dumb parents and slur their words

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:39:45

I think so much of it is generated by a horrible nostalgia. What kids need today is a good dose of Latin, old fashioned haircuts and a good spanking like we boys used to get at Eton hmm And look where we are today. In charge of the country and doing such a good job.

Xenia Sat 03-Dec-11 20:39:51

50% of children at the best universities, 73% of the judiciary, a large number of the cabinet, large number of board posts are all children with that type of education. It is the best on the planet and these days you have to pay to get it. Lots of us work very very hard to pay school fees to b uy that advantage. I have no objection to the state sector seeking to follow that model even though it will make more competition for my children.

My basic point is that I like parents to have choice. The best choice would be a voucher to all to use at any school private and state of course and those of us who pay fees (600,000 of us get our £5k a year or whatever it costs to educate a child at a state school)

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 20:41:19

'It is especially important that a leading Northern Irish politician is discussing the need for more integrated institutions. It is high time for the matter of the immense potential harm of separating children into different schools on the basis of their parents' religion to move up the political agenda. The opening of a debate in Northern Ireland contrasts with the situation in mainland Britain where our leading politicians are all committed not only to keeping our existing faith schools but also to making more of them.'

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/29/northern-ireland-segregated-schools-peter-robinson

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 20:46:45

Xenia
FINE, pay for it out of the excess earnings over and above the £19,000 median wage in the UK
but DO NOT expect those of use who do not have the spare cash to be happy to subsidise people like Mr Toby Young in his little vanity project in discrimination

PS You find me the private school that has its fees at £5k per year and I'M THERE (my brother pays £13000 and we that taxpayer an extra £14000 for his son to be at Winchester)

fivecandles Sat 03-Dec-11 21:01:30

'Faith schools, of course, are not just ethno-religiously, but also socio-economically selective. A community school is likely to have about 50% more pupils requiring free school meals than a voluntary aided (faith) school is. Pupils are also, on average, weaker academically when they start at the school. Why is this? It is because the simple fact that the school is selecting at all means that wealthier, more ambitious parents can work harder to manipulate the system and get their children into the stronger schools. In other words, the selection in itself cuts out the pupils from the poorest backgrounds, and so the school attracts pushier parents from wealthier backgrounds, and so the cycle perpetuates. And this, rather than anything inherent about the religious ethos of the school, is what leads some faith schools to achieve such outstanding exam results.'

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jun/13/faith-schools-fragment-communities

LondonMumsie Sat 03-Dec-11 21:05:39

I don't understand this choice thing. Where is the choice? All the high schools in our borough have specialisms (science, maths, art, etc). But they have catchment areas by location. So are they really saying that children in one area of the borough are more naturally mathematical, and others in another area are more naturally arty???? They are all over-subscribed, so it is not as if you can realistically choose another option.

My friend's children are at the school below. She lives two bus rides away. Her sister's children live far, far closer (walking distance) but cannot get in as they have cleverly written their criteria to favour the more affluent areas (an old story, but the policy has stayed the same - they even became an academy to keep it)
www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23575550-state-school-broke-rules-by-barring-children-from-local-estates.do

As for all this streaming / separation is great stuff, people seem to have forgotten that children develop at different rates. My son's teacher called me yesterday to say that he was moving him to the top set for maths (year four, state). I said how relieved I was that maths was finally coming together like his reading did. He queried what I meant, and could not believe it when he heard that in reception DS was on a watch list for possible SEN as his reading was so poor. He is apparently now one of the top few out of ninety. I am very grateful that he is in a school which has had the fluidity to allow him to develop at his own pace, and to recognise when he has done so. (sorry if this seems boastful, I wouldn't usually spell out his achievements like this, but am doing so to prove my point that some children are late bloomers and that a rigid selection process that leads to permanent placement could harm them).

LondonMumsie Sat 03-Dec-11 21:15:44

Zazi - a former colleague moved to NZ and chose the Montessori strand at this school:
www.otari.school.nz/Otari_School/About_the_School.html

It has three educations styles within one school - so different approaches could coexist with some creativity. (interesting to not that the "original" and "Montessori" strands speand their first two years together).

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 21:28:56

The only reason the judiciary etc are stuffed full of public school (largely male) alumni is because a couple of generations ago, that was the norm.

The world is a very different place now and we are not well served by hanging on to a legacy of arbitrary discrimination and inequality. We need to dig harder for talent and nurture it better.

Extended schools are a good way of promoting social inclusion and raising standards.

Xenia Sat 03-Dec-11 21:33:24

We're doing worse because when we had selective education at 11 with the 11+ for all poor clever children got on in life. When we dumbed everyone down and coralled them into comps those paying school fees found the competition was not so good and did better or so says the Sutton Trust.

If the talented are not educate properly in the way the private schools educate pupils then obviously they will do worse at work than they ever did. I accept that 50% of pupils at good universities are from the state sector (and 7% of children only are at private schools) but a lot of that 50% are from state grammars and the numbers in some cases are not really much better than they were. Having free schools and more choice for parents is a great idea although it sounds like most of them are fundamentalist religious outfits but even there we want on the whole parents to have a choice and not to interfere with that choice in my view.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 21:40:14

xenia
all poor clever children got on in life
you are talking out of your fragrant ARSE
at my kids schools there are bright kids with UTTERLY dysfunctional parents (prison, drugs etc) - the school has the attitude and resources to deal with them
a grammar would never have let them in as they do not have good attendance records at primary through no fault of their own

BOY OH BOY do you need to spend a year out in the sticks discovering how the world outside the 1% 50% tax band in NW1 lives

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 21:41:11

Agree with Xenia. We need a diversity of choice, so that the public can choose what they want rather than being dictated to by an Islintongista elite, who very often escape their own straightjacket and educate their children privately.

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 21:47:07

'at my kids schools there are bright kids with UTTERLY dysfunctional parents (prison, drugs etc) - the school has the attitude and resources to deal with them
a grammar would never have let them in'

well it sounds like they are in the right school because it has teh "attitude and resources to deal with them". A grammar school may not have the same resources. Diversity provides different models for different children. SChildren are diverse and one model doesn't fit all, which is possibly why Diane Abbott sent her son private.

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 21:53:43

And agree with Xenia that we are very fortunate to live in a country that still allows home schooling as well. Parents' wishes should be respected. Am shocked that Xenia says that home schooling is not allowed in Germany.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 21:54:53

Claig
so you have tarred the children with the parents brush
even though they are bright
and any grammar that does not have such resources should be failed by ofsted as such things crop up without warning during secondary

I have nothing to say about a london MP.
most of the country is not London

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 21:57:05

Parents care more about education than the experts, planners and social engineers, so anything that gives more choice to parents and less influence to dictats from on high is to be welcomed.

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 21:59:54

Every school in the country can't provide teh same resources for all the different needs of children. I think parents should be able to choose if tehy prefer a specialist school for music or languages etc. or not. One size does not fit all, and in a democracy parents should be able to make the choice that suits them best. The socialists and social engineers should not be able to force one model on every child in teh country.

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 22:01:03

Message withdrawn

southeastastra Sat 03-Dec-11 22:04:38

the money suddenly available for 'free' (haha) schools should have been just given to improving existing schools as it was once budgeted to

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:05:52

Agree with smallwhitecat. If parents want to choose Latin over media studies, what is the problem? I think the school that Diane Abbott's son went to do Latin, so why can't other parents be allowed to have access to the same type of education?

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 22:07:17

Message withdrawn

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:11:18

Exactly, smallwhitecat. Because parents care much more than the experts and planners. Empower ordinary people, let them be stakeholders and reduce teh power of the Islingtonista elites who decide what is allowed and what isn't, and who often sidestep what they tell everyone else to do by going private themselves.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 22:19:15

'Traditional' subjects are available in the state sector if parents want them. In fact every state school I have ever had dealings with happens to have taught Latin, for example.

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:20:30

That is good. But why then attack Toby's school for offering the same?

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 22:28:58

simple
in my kids comp, latin is offered to those who will make use of it
those who will end up putting tiles on the roof need not know the difference between Pb and Mg

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 22:31:13

Message withdrawn

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:32:17

If I understand it correctly, Toby's school will offer Latin to everyone. Nobody knows which child will end up putting tiles on roofs, and even if they do do that, at least they will have had access to our cultural heritage rather than media studies etc.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 22:32:30

Many people haven't - they have only made objections about siphoning money off for this in the present financial climate, given that best practice can already be found in the maintained sector, and could be rolled out wider for a lot less money than this.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 22:33:00

UH
I do accounts for these people
I have known them and worked with them for 20 years
how many builders do YOU know (as people rather than the man who does)

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 22:34:07

out of interest could you provide for the other readers the translation of Pb and Mg

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:34:10

Exactly, smallwhitecat.
The progressives want to deny to working class children, what was offered to Diane Abbott's child. I hope the Tories put an end to this type of arrogance.

LondonMumsie Sat 03-Dec-11 22:34:44

Our local state school (not Toby's) allows children to do Latin if they have 5s in English and Maths at the end of KS2. Not sure how that correlates to rooves or otherwise.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Dec-11 22:36:35

Do you mean me?

Lead and Magnesium.

FWIW I would teach all kids triple science in preference to Latin.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 22:37:17

claig
you are such and EFFING snob
working class DOES NOT equal thick
Thick equals thick
Prince Harry having to get all his coursework done by the tutors at eton - that is THICK

BUT
I deal with people who are damned good at what they do (hanging of the side of skyscrapers mending the window seals) who cannot read or write and see no need to do so as long as I cannot massage their taxable income below £50k

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:37:47

'Many people haven't - they have only made objections about siphoning money off for this in the present financial climate, given that best practice can already be found in the maintained sector, and could be rolled out wider for a lot less money than this.'

But how many free schools are there? We'll soon find out if they are any good or not. We can afford the experiment to see if it is in fact beneficial.

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:41:10

TalkinPeace2, I'm not a snob. My parents were working class and I am now middle class. I have relatives with PhDs who grew up in council flats and they are far more intelligent than Prince Harry and the Labour shadow cabinet. I know that working class children can excel if they receive a good education. I want all children to have teh same education as Diane Abbott's son and the Islingonistas get. That's why I vote Tory.

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 22:43:47

Message withdrawn

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 22:52:24

your academic narrowness is only comparable with mine at age 21

the roofers, wallpaperers, hole diggers, bricklayers, electricians and plumbers who I deal with take a HUGE pride in the skills it has taken them year to acquire.
they find it deeply offensive that people value their tangible, economic growth promoting skills below stuff like Latin, Media Studies an economics
why do you think that Osborne the wallpaperman has just released funds for construction ?
because it is REAL
my lovely painter has all the City & Guild Certs he can get
he pays me to do his numbers
why on EARTH would he want to do academic junk when he's made his own way since 16 and will do till he's 70

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 22:56:46

'why on EARTH would he want to do academic junk when he's made his own way since 16 and will do till he's 70'

Are you saying he should never have gone to school and studied Shakespeare and learnt French or God forbid Latin. We live in a great country that educates all our children in 'academic junk', because we believe it is their birthright to be just as educated as Diane Abbott's son or Tony Blair's children.

No one is looking down on what they do for a living; we are talking about their education.

emkana Sat 03-Dec-11 22:58:08

But where are the comprehensives that offer a truly academic range of subjects to the children and parents who want it? Not even the superselective grammar where I live offers Latin as more than a club in ks3.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 23:08:06

claig
the chaps I deal with got out of school as fast as they could
if there were decent apprenticeships at 14 they would have taken them
we had a lad who was permanently excluded at 15
he worked for us full time with daily probation visits as an alternative to prison
20 years later he's doing rather well (buffs nails for having argued that one with the court)

emkana
my two are at a true Hampshire non selective comp - 60 kids per year do latin GCSE as well as French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German, Triple Science etc etc

PLEASE do not judge all schools by the dysfunctional system that operates where ILEA once was

smallwhitecat Sat 03-Dec-11 23:13:08

Message withdrawn

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 23:14:29

'the chaps I deal with got out of school as fast as they could'

Good for them. No one is saying you need a degree to do well. Sir Alan Sugar left school at 16, I think.
But we have an education system that fortunately does not allow children to leave at 14. We have a duty to educate them, and not in bricklaying. They can learn those skills on teh job and in apprenbticeships. We have a duty to educate them with what you call 'academic junk'.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 23:16:52

Not humble
focused
STOP thinking that books are the only form of skills
ask your pony owning friends about the skills of their farrier
MANUAL skills are what BUILT this country and others
stop demeaning them
merchant bankers are NOTHING without electricity, a carpenter can carry on
the focus is TOO MUCH on "serving" rather than "doing"

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 23:21:13

Are you suggesting new progressive schools that educate children in the skills of the farrier and in bricklaying. I think I prefer Toby's traditional style school that teaches children what you call 'academic junk'.

TalkinPeace2 Sat 03-Dec-11 23:27:31

Nope
I'd rather that the whole country had access to good comps (like my kids attend) that encourage every child to get a basic grounding in the core (maths english not much else) and then let them excel in anything else that can be found to stop them bunking school
my kids school has 11 types of sport including golf to keep the "recidivist" on board through year 11
ant LOTS of tech (metal, plastic, wood, textiles etc)

Toby's school approach would lose them at year 8
nuff said

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 23:31:50

'Toby's school approach would lose them at year 8'

Yes, but that is why we need diversity in our schools. Diane Abbott and the Islingtonistas preferred to choose different types of school, and the public should also be allowed to choose whatever type of school they think is best for their children. There should not be one model for all children. Parents should be allowed choice.

noblegiraffe Sat 03-Dec-11 23:34:37

There is certainly a place in comprehensive schooling for vocational education. Lots of my school's students have done well out of their part-time college placements in car mechanics, hairdressing etc, and got 5A*-C including English and Maths.

I'm not sure what the argument is that Latin would be automatically better for them because that's what the posh schools do.

claig Sat 03-Dec-11 23:36:25

'I'm not sure what the argument is that Latin would be automatically better for them because that's what the posh schools do.'

Let parents decide what is better, not the experts in their ivory towers. Give people choice.

noblegiraffe Sat 03-Dec-11 23:56:42

I'd rather that state education didn't pander to parental choice, personally. Because when you start doing that, you learn that some parents out there are bonkers.

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 07:10:44

I think that's being insulting to the brick layers. I believe all children at school should ideally be exposed to the history of the UK, geography, science, literature and of course learn to read and write. If some at 14 clearly need to learn brick laying etc then those are valuable skills too so let them learn it.

Gosh the number of girls who become secretaries after some pointless degree and debt .. they might as well have done typing and shorthand at 14 with lots of work experience and gone into jobs full time at 16. We infantalise a lot of young people who could be in work much younger.

Obviously the Conservatives who are about choice rather than state imposed one size fits all socialism and state control of the left will bring better schooling and variety of schooling. As Cl says let us try and see how the free schools go and let parents have a choice.

Snapespeare Sun 04-Dec-11 07:34:17

Thanks for replying Toby, but you kind of missed my point. Disruptive kids will be disruptive for a number of reasons, including boredom, lack of parenting etc. What happens to the kids who don't have parents who push for free schools, who aren't involved, who don't care? Do you just leave them in underfunded state schools, barely literate in some instances, while your kids learn Latin.....?

And as an aside, I'm absolutely disgusted by this mornings announcement that free schools & academies will have to promote marriage. The implication is that other relationships or the lack of a relationship are not as 'good' as marriage. That's not education, it's brainwashing.

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 08:17:33

If you ask any group of motivated teenagers at a rough comp they will say the biggest problem is not bad teaching or anything like that. It's low level and constant disruption in lessons by other pupils. If you segregate children by IQ, disruption or whatever you ensure those who want to lear will. if thatm earns you take all the problems ones or the not bright ones and put them in a school which caters to them so be it but why ruin the education of others on the altar of socialist comprehensives?

Segregation by IQ works and it's a pity this govermnent is not brave enough to allow it in free schools when it is one of the key reasons our private schools are the best schools in the world. Luckily some of us chose careers enabling us to pay for that.

zazizoma Sun 04-Dec-11 09:07:34

Thanks LondonMumsie for the interesting link about the multiple methodology school. I can see a huge benefit of this setup to be that if a particular method doesn't suit a child, he/she could more easily transfer to another "strand" without changing schools. Interesting . . . I wonder if that sort of thing would work here?

I also understand the frustration of LondonMumsie with a perceived lack of choice . . . but would argue that there is a difference between a convenient option and no options. There are no alternative options with regards to primary education where I live, state or independent. The closest schools are in England, over an hours motorway drive. I would be happier to take a few buses across town if I only had the option, and prefer that the option exist even if it's not necessarily convenient, or even if I decide not to take advantage of it.

I'm with Xenia and Claig with regards to the importance of parental choice. Am mulling over Xenia's voucher proposal.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 09:24:28

The level of this debate has plummeted considerably. Latin alone does not a good education make. Public schools do not get good results and churn out students who get into top universities and top jobs because they teach Latin. Nor do they get good results because they have better teachers or better teaching. They get better results because they SELECT. How can anyone not understand this?

It's the same to a lesser extent with any school (state or private) that selects even if the selection is less obvious i.e. by 'musical aptitude' or faith or whatever.

FWIW there would not be many people who would object to any school, state or independent, offering Latin to its pupils. However making Latin compulsory for a whole school in London as part of a belief that this will automatically transform results and opportunities is utterly fatuous.

The notion that if only state schools would teach Latin and make the buggers have the right hair cuts then they too could get into Oxbridge and be running the country (forget about the centuries of entrenched snobbery and social inequality) merely validates and perpetuates the snobbery and social inequality.

I find the stupidity (because that is all it is) of those people who hold up schools taking only the most privileged children with supportive parents on good incomes with good educational backgrounds themselves (and most of the top performing state schools come into this category if you look at the numbers of children on FSM and SEN) as models of good practice and expertise to those schools in urban, deprived environments which are genuinely inclusive absolutely extraordinary.

Really, so much for your own education and intelligence, if you can't see the flaws in these arguments.

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 09:28:53

Of course.
My argument is that it is ludicrous that the Government doesn't allow selection because of PC reasons when our best schools are selective.
Allow selection and be done with this farce.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 09:31:14

And those of you arguing that Latin and the ability to sing C sharp are the answers to all our problems in the same week that it's being argued that children should actually be taught computer programming really need to wake up to the 21st century.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 09:34:38

But saying our best schools are selective is a bit like saying the healthiest people are less likely to get ill. It's completely stupid. It doesn't mean that selective schools are better at educating children or even that the curriculum they offer is better. It almost certainly isn't.

And can't you see the problem with all schools being allowed to select??

The level of arguing here is really quite embarrassing. It does seem to emphasise that top schools and lots of money are not the same as intelligence or common sense.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 09:42:40

'And those of you arguing that Latin and the ability to sing C sharp are the answers to all our problems'

No one argued that, so why are you harping on about it?

'Really, so much for your own education and intelligence, if you can't see the flaws in these arguments.'

We can all see the flaws in your arguments, it's only you that can't.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 09:43:38

'The level of arguing here is really quite embarrassing.'

Are you referring to your posts?

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 09:44:19

''I'm not sure what the argument is that Latin would be automatically better for them because that's what the posh schools do.'

Let parents decide what is better, not the experts in their ivory towers. Give people choice.'

That's extremely disingenuous, Claig.

SOME parents (those with the sharp elbows) will use their sharp elbows to get THEIR KIDS into Toby Young's school not because of the Latin (except in so far as what the Latin represents i.e. prestige) but because it IS selective. This is what happens in faith schools as my links earlier indicate. Middle class parents can manipulate any selection criteria to increase the leg-up of their own children. And where does that leave the children of parents who are not in the know about how to manipulate the system? Fat lot of choice they have.

So, what you really mean is let's increase the choice and advantage for those who are already doing ok and sod the rest of them.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 09:47:23

But didn't Toby say that in the main teh school was not selective?

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 09:49:03

Clair, I'm saying it's embarrassing that some people on here cannot seem to see the link between selection and good results. And accept, unquestioningly, that the curriculum of nearly a century ago is the 'best' curriculum for children today purely because that is the curriculum experienced by the likes of Cameron and Gove. And if you attribute their 'success' to their education in terms of what they actually learned from it as opposed to what it represented and the connections they made then that is equally fatuous.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 09:53:10

But let people choose instead of telling them what to do. Empower the public.
If that school is rubbish, then the small number of parents who want their children to go there will have made teh wrong choice. Let's give it time and see what happens, see if it is any good.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 09:53:17

Claig, you may not have read my earlier posts. The school can select 10% according to 'musical aptitude' BUT as research indicates time and again (I've posted some links earlier) any system of overt of covert selection has the effect of excluding children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Such systems, as with faith schools (which comprise the vast majority of the new free schools) are easily manipulable by middle class parents. And that is the intention here. Why on earth would you choose 'musical aptitude' and compulsory Latin unless you were intending to attract a particular sort of parent and put off those parents whose children have the least advantages.

Wake up!

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 09:56:09

'But let people choose'

FGS. Can anyone really be this naive???

Some people CAN make these choices and some people CANNOT.

Parents on low incomes (especially if they have limited education themsleves) have very few choices. By and large they send their kids to their nearest school. And that should be a good school.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 09:58:15

Yes, I agree with you on teh music selection. I don't like it, especially when it turns out that some of the selection may revolve around singing C sharp.

But I think that Toby said that not all teh parents were middle class, so those parents have made a choice that it is teh type of school they want.

Let's expand choice, let teh people vote with their feet. Let's stop deciding what is best for everyone else.

Talkinpeace, you do not need a good attendance record to go to a grammar school in Kent, that is not looked at. You "merely" need to pass the 11+. Parents can sway the results a little with coaching and tutoring, on average older children do do better, but it is age adjusted, and my august born ds is at a grammar. Ideally for me it would be mixed sex, but you do you best with what is available. People seem to think grammar= white male middle class privelege, but if you live here, that's the option. I agree with Xenia that a voucher for all would be fairest, and offer most diversity to children.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:01:13

If your child has no 'musical aptitude', you have no faith (and don't feel able to do the going to church to get a letter from the priest thing for whatever reason) and you do not have the money or time to transport your kids across London and maybe you also think (rightly or wrongly) that your child will struggle with Latin then what choice have you got? And you know what? There are parents who don't even know there are options are. I don't blame them. It's only because I am well educated and have worked in the system for 15 years that I feel I have a really good understanding of it. Many parents will send their kids to their nearest school assuming that it will be good enough. That's what happened to them after all. Just as Cameron will send his kids to public school which is what happened to him.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:02:35

But doesn't Toby's school take people from the local catchment. As far as I understand it, there is no selection test for the majority of pupils.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:04:20

What if you've just come to this country? You cannot possibly understand all the peculiarities of the British education system (and its inequalities and snobberies). You only have to look at the noticeboards here. If you come from a country where everyone sends their kids to their nearest school which is a good school how can you be expected to make sense of it?

'Let them have choice' is so much like saying 'Let them eat cake'. If you have no money and if you have no education then you have no choice.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:04:59

'If your child has no 'musical aptitude', you have no faith (and don't feel able to do the going to church to get a letter from the priest thing for whatever reason) and you do not have the money or time to transport your kids across London and maybe you also think (rightly or wrongly) that your child will struggle with Latin then what choice have you got?'

I agree, not everybody is like Tony Blair.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:08:41

Parents look at league tables, even with all of their flaws, and find out what the best schools are. You seem to be blaming Toby's one school for all teh problems of faith schools etc.

It's only one school and it takes local children without selection. Let's create more schools and more choice, so there is no need to bus children across London to get into teh type of schools parents want their kids to go to.

If Toby's school turns out to be rubbish, then people won't want to go there.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:12:15

claig, I have no doubt that you mean well, but you ARE naive. If you read the posts earlier you will see how Young and friends have carefully designed the catchment to avoid some of the poorest areas.

But really you have heard enough for you to understand that Young's school is not going to be easily accessible to kids from deprived backgrounds.

Let's recap:

1.) 10% are selected on 'musical aptitude'
2.) Young himself said that as it is small it made no provision for children with statements because it's too small
3.) Latin is compulsory
4.) Children have to have regulation haircuts

If you look at the other 'free' schools you will see that the majority are faith schools (mostly Christian with some being run by The Ark with one Jewish and one Seikh from what I can see) so these are also highly selective (even if they say they're not).

The children of parents who have little money or little time or little concern or who just expect their nearest school to be good enough have no choices. It's the parents who are in a position to work the system who reep the advantages for their already privileged children.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:17:50

claig, what sort of parent looks at league tables?

What sort of parent can actually understand them?

Probably not the parent with learning difficulties on a very low income. And even if he or she can understand them, if her child has no musical aptitude, no faith and no money, there's sweet FA she can do about them.

Do you not see how your points show that you are not in touch with the real world? And that 'choice' is really only choice for some people.

And, as I've said earlier, if YOung's school gets good results which it probably will I wouldn't read that as a sign that it's a good school with good teachers.

I am not staggered to find that my local independnet school gets 98% A-C. They bloody well should do. They select.

I am not blaming YOung for faith schools. I am merely pointing out that most of the free schools are faith schools. So if the only free school in your area is a Seikh school and you're not a Seikh it's not really expanded your 'choice' has it?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:18:24

Yes, you make some good points, but rather than stopping any change, why don't we ensure that these schools are as open as possible instead.

Don't see the problem with Latin being compulsory. Working class kids are just as bright as middle class kids and can learn Latin.

Haven't read about teh regulation haircuts, but if this means a Gove style cut, then yes that is deeply worrying. and an affront to aesthetics

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:19:59

'Let's create more schools and more choice, so there is no need to bus children across London '

Or how about making sure that EVERY school is a good school and then there's no need to bus any kids anywhere. Sheesh! What a novel idea!

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:22:01

Argh! If the high performing schools were 'as open as possible' then they wouldn't be so high performing would they? The most high performing schools select.

And can you honestly not see how an ordinary working class parent might take one look at the compulsory Latin and be put off?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:22:05

'Or how about making sure that EVERY school is a good school'

But we had 13 years of New Labour and it hasn't happened. It's not as easy as that, which is why trying different models may lead to some success.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:24:27

'And can you honestly not see how an ordinary working class parent might take one look at the compulsory Latin and be put off?'

On the contrary, I think the ordinary working class parent is just as clever (maybe more so) than Diane Abbott and would choose teh same kind of education that her son got.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:25:35

But I would argue that 'different models' are the problem and not the cause. Independent schools, grammar schools and now free schools have increased social division and not increased choice at all for disadvantaged children.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 10:26:54

If you ask any group of motivated teenagers at a rough comp they will say the biggest problem is not bad teaching or anything like that. It's low level and constant disruption in lessons by other pupils.

I am wondering when Xenia gets the chance to talk numerous groups of motivated teenagers in rough comps. Strangely enough, my son went to such a school and one of the worst behaved classes was a Physics class composed entirely of higher ability boys (and one girl).

If you segregate children by IQ, disruption or whatever you ensure those who want to lear will. if thatm earns you take all the problems ones or the not bright ones and put them in a school which caters to them so be it but why ruin the education of others on the altar of socialist comprehensives?

I am sorry but that is rubbish. You are assuming that all motivated children have high IQ's. There are plenty of motivated, average children. Or do you not care a jot about them?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:27:33

Diane said something like she would "go to the wall" for her child, well working class parents would too. But they are restricted in their choices. Let's give them access to more choice, let's hear their voice.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:28:29

Then I think you are seriously out of touch with the real world.

The Latin and the 'musical aptitutde' and the haircuts are designed to appeal to a certain sort of parent and put others off.

There was some interesting research about a faith school in Bolton which ended up taking very few children from its geographical catchment at all. Local parents ended up saying 'it's not for the likes of us'. I'll see if I can find a link. Same thing here.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:31:17

'But I would argue that 'different models' are the problem and not the cause. Independent schools, grammar schools and now free schools have increased social division and not increased choice at all for disadvantaged children.'

But education is not only about social engineering and social division as teh socialists often think. That is not teh only factor. Working class people wouldn't care less if their children attended a school which Diane Abbott's son, Prince Harry and Tony Blair's children don't attend. All they want is a good school, and if there are no Islingtonistas at teh school, they may see that as a blessing.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:31:19

'Shirley Rawlands has a nine-year-old daughter, and will have to go through the secondary application process next year. "We won't be applying, she wouldn't get in," she says. "If I thought she would, I'd apply. But it's really hard to get them in there. I'm not a church-goer, though I do believe in God. I don't approve, because that's my local school, and children ought to be able to go to their local school."'

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2006/jan/31/schools.schooladmissions?INTCMP=SRCH

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:33:40

From the same article:

'Using the Freedom of Information Act, Education Guardian discovered that, in September 2005, Canon Slade admitted 268 11-year-olds, from 87 different primary schools. Over a quarter of those children were not from Bolton - families send their children to the school from Bury, Blackburn, Salford and Manchester. The eight primary schools within easy travelling distance sent just 39 children.'

'On the Tonge Moor Road, parents say they feel shut out and excluded. If they do not apply to Canon Slade, or complain to their councillors, it's because they assume it will be a waste of time. "We can't go to that school," one says. "It's not for the likes of us."'

The two primaries serving the Tonge Moor Road area are Castle Hill and Tonge Moor primary. Castle Hill, which is 10 minutes' walk from Canon Slade, sent no one there in 2005. Tonge Moor sent three children. "We've not considered Canon Slade," said one Tonge Moor parent, Karen Covell, as she took her daughter Nikita to school. "'They have to go to church if they want to go to Canon Slade and that's not something we have ever done."

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:37:43

I'm not sure what your point is? I agree that all working class parents want is a good school. I think most parents of whatever class would like their local school to be a good school. In fact, the league tables and 'choice' agenda means that middle class parents compete for the best school they can afford (in money, time, whatever) making these schools better and better while the rest of schools get worse and worse.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:38:00

So are you saying that faith schools should not be allowed for tax paying parents who wish their children to go to them? Why shouldn't a Sikh parent have teh right to send their child to a Sikh school? Let's not blame teh minority of faith schools, let's create more local schools of high quality that perform better than teh faith schools.

Just because someone is of a praticular faith doesn't mean they are cleverer than anyone else, so there is no reason why a faith school should be any better than a non-faith school.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:39:31

It has also led to 'white flight' in some areas leading to horrible ethnic divisisons and conflcits and ruining social cohesion.

If you put any sort of barrier to a school you are going to keep disadvantaged kids out and make it more appealing to pushy middle class parents. The gulf then gets greater and greater between the two.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:40:54

I am anti faith schools in the same way I would be anti faith hospitals or faith libraries. They are dangerous and exclusive. They do not promote social cohesion and do not foster tolerance.

Did you not see the post earlier about schools in Northern Ireland.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:40:59

'In fact, the league tables and 'choice' agenda means that middle class parents compete for the best school they can afford (in money, time, whatever) making these schools better and better while the rest of schools get worse and worse.'

Why are these schools better? Do they receive more money? Are middle class children brighter than working class children? I don't think so. Why does one good school of 1000 pupils make all teh surrounding schools worse?

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 10:41:32

FWIW there would not be many people who would object to any school, state or independent, offering Latin to its pupils. However making Latin compulsory for a whole school in London as part of a belief that this will automatically transform results and opportunities is utterly fatuous.

Do you not think that that in itself might be a form of selection? Parents will not necessarily be choosing WLFS becasuse they want their kids to learn latin, or because they don't want them to have anything practical on the curriculum, but it is the trade of for being able to send them to a pleasant new school with no history.

There was actually quite an interesting thread on mumsnet about school options in this part of London a few weeks back.

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/1246734-Hammersmith-Academy

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:41:44

Why is it acceptable to exclude a child from a school because of his or her faith or lack of it but not from a hospital?

I find it astounding.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:44:55

Claig, you're just not listening. They are 'better' because they select.

Do you seriously not understand the link?

And can you seriously not understand how if you take all the middle class kids with pushy supportive parents out of a school and put them in another then that school would get better results and become more and more oversubscribed while the school left behind would become less popular and get less good results?

I do find it worrying that this stuff has to be explained to adults who should know better.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:45:47

Because hospitals are a matter of life and death

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:47:17

Eh? What the hell sort of argument is that?

So what if it's not about life and death? What about libraries? Is it acceptable to have Catholic only libraries and Seikh only libraries? Even though all our taxes pay for these?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:48:15

You are a prescriptive socialist who wants to dictate what is available to millions of parents because you think you know what is best for them. You won't listen to them, you won't consult them and you won't give them choice.
You are more interested in social policy, social exclusion, social engineering and socailsm than you are in education. New Labour would love you to join them.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:51:33

Eh? I don't think I've mentioned my politics anywhere on this thread and I'd appreciate it if you didn't make assumptions.

I have never, ever presumed to say what is best for parents.

I am simply saying that having more 'choice' of schools does not necessarily mean more choice at all. Especially not for disadvantaged parents.

Try to stick to the ARGUMENTS.

Can you answer my question about the libraries. Would you be happy if your local library became Seikh only? And you had to travel 5 miles down the road to get to the Catholic one? And then another couple of miles for the secular one?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 10:51:50

A library contains all of teh possible books, so nothing is excluded. You have the choice to choose whatever book you like. A school is limited in what it can choose to teach over teh years of a child's education. Some parents will choose to have their children educated at schools which teach their faith, just as others will choose technology schools or language schools. That's freedom, that's Britain and not the Soviet Union.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:55:34

'You are more interested in social policy, social exclusion, social engineering and socailsm than you are in education.'

I have taught in the state sector for 15+ years. Do you think that could possibly be seen as a sign that I am interested in education?

It is plain stupid not to think about the impact on society of having schools that divide our children according to social class, ethnicity and faith.

The report on the Oldham riots made it absolutely clear that faith schools had a part to play in these and has made some progress in addressing the sorts of divisions in this town.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 10:55:36

I have no doubt that you mean well, but you ARE naive. If you read the posts earlier you will see how Young and friends have carefully designed the catchment to avoid some of the poorest areas.

Actually, fivecandles, they haven't. Although the school is in a very nice part of Hammersmith, they have extended their catchment to a 5 mile radius which, while that was probably designed so that all the steering group could get a place, does take in some very poor areas.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 10:57:42

Here:

'The Cantle report wasn't the only report to blame segregated schools. The Ritchie report into the Oldham riots, commissioned by the government, borough and local police authority concluded that "in our view it is desirable in principle that as many schools as possible should have mixed intake so that children growing up can learn one another's customs and cultural backgrounds and accept that stereotypes and racism are unacceptable."'

'Faith schools, of course, are not just ethno-religiously, but also socio-economically selective. A community school is likely to have about 50% more pupils requiring free school meals than a voluntary aided (faith) school is. Pupils are also, on average, weaker academically when they start at the school. Why is this? It is because the simple fact that the school is selecting at all means that wealthier, more ambitious parents can work harder to manipulate the system and get their children into the stronger schools. In other words, the selection in itself cuts out the pupils from the poorest backgrounds, and so the school attracts pushier parents from wealthier backgrounds, and so the cycle perpetuates. And this, rather than anything inherent about the religious ethos of the school, is what leads some faith schools to achieve such outstanding exam results.'

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jun/13/faith-schools-fragment-communities

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 11:00:25

Diane said something like she would "go to the wall" for her child, well working class parents would too. But they are restricted in their choices. Let's give them access to more choice, let's hear their voice.

Strange that you should be linking Cambridge-educated Diane Abott wih working class parents.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:01:48

'I have taught in the state sector for 15+ years. Do you think that could possibly be seen as a sign that I am interested in education?'

Don't you think that teh people who have taught in private schools and faith schools for 15+ years are just as interested in education as you.

Setting up a free school from scratch sounds like a right load of hassle. My bet is that anyone who goes through that whole process is just as interested in education as you.

We live in a diverse society and people have different views and that includes teachers who teach in faith schools, free schools and private schools etc.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:03:39

'A library contains all of teh possible books, so nothing is excluded.'

That's not true at all and sorry, but it really isn't a good argument. The state could argue that nobody could read all the book in the library so why not just have books with a religous slant?

And I don't get why when it comes to life and death religion doesn't matter (arguably death is when it matters most) which is why hospitals can't exclude on the basis of faith but schools can.

Your arguments don't stand up.

Most countries have a clear division between education and faith and there's no good reason why this country shouldn't.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:05:12

Claig, you're trying to make it a personal attack (presumably because you haven't got any arguments left that stand up).

I'm not saying that other people aren't as interested in education as I am. But you said that I'm not interested in education at all which is patently ridiculous.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:06:26

'We live in a diverse society and people have different views'

Absolutely, what a shame that so many of our schools don't reflect that diversity.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:06:43

'Strange that you should be linking Cambridge-educated Diane Abott wih working class parents'

Working class children go to Cambridge and probably outperform the members of the Athenaeum Club, just as at Oxford they outperform the Bullingdon Club members.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:09:24

'you said that I'm not interested in education at all'

No I didn't say at all, I said you are more interested in social policy, social exclusion etc. than you are in education. What I meant by that is that that seems to be teh factor that you concentrate on most, as opposed to standards, choice of subjects, or teh choice to learn Latin etc.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:11:27

Sigh. Claig, increasingly, I think you're not prepared to acknowledge the education system as it is (riddled with social and other sorts of divisions and inequality) but persist in your vision of the system as you would like it to be (where all parents have choices and everyone can choose a great school for their child).

Perhaps you don't know that 50% of students who go to Oxbridge are privately educated although 7% of our children are educated privately?

Perhaps you've never heard of the extraordinarily disproportioante number of people educated privately in parliament and law etc, etc?

Or maybe you honestly think that Toby Young and the free schools and just a little bit more Latin for the masses will change this situation?

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:13:10

Claig, you cannot separate the two.

I really think you've had enough evidence of that now. The schools highest up the league tables are independent (selective), followed by state grammar (selective), followed by faith (selective) followed by affluent.

Wake up, really.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 11:15:01

^So are you saying that faith schools should not be allowed for tax paying parents who wish their children to go to them? Why shouldn't a Sikh parent have teh right to send their child to a Sikh school? Let's not blame teh minority of faith schools, let's create more local schools of high quality that perform better than teh faith schools.

Just because someone is of a praticular faith doesn't mean they are cleverer than anyone else, so there is no reason why a faith school should be any better than a non-faith school.^

No claig, you are missing the point. We live in a predominantly Christian country and perhaps the majority would describe themselves as C of E. Therefore, on the surface, it seems entirely fair that a C of E school should offer places to C of E applicants first, and other Christian denominations second. However, we are not a nation of churchgoers. And, while there are people of all backgrounds who do choose to go to church, it is only likely to be a certain sort of parent who would attend church just to get their child into a certain school when otherwise would otherwise they would not attend church. If a C of E school makes certified church attendance a stipulation for getting a place, it is the children of these parents who they will be able to select.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:18:18

'Sigh. Claig, increasingly, I think you're not prepared to acknowledge the education system as it is (riddled with social and other sorts of divisions and inequality) but persist in your vision of the system as you would like it to be (where all parents have choices and everyone can choose a great school for their child).'

No, I agree with you that social mobility declined more under Labour than it did under Thatcher and I agree with you that parents at the moment cannot choose the best schools for their children.

These things were denied to teh population in teh past. I am hoping that with more choice, things will change for the better and Labour's shocking social mobility record will be turned around, because I believe that there are millions of working class children who can do much better if they receive the same education that Diane Abbott's son and Tony Blaiir's children received.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:20:25

I'm aware of all sorts of arguments why free schools, faith schools and other sorts of specialist schools are not good for social cohesion or for increasing social mobility or for improving the life chances of disadvantaged children.

I have heard not one argument why we should not instead put all our resources into makign sure EVERY school offers a range of choice and caters for the needs of all of its pupils (from Latin to vocational subjects, from potential Oxbridgers to those who struggle with basic literacy) and encouraging parents to send their children to this school.

Anyone?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:23:10

'Perhaps you don't know that 50% of students who go to Oxbridge are privately educated although 7% of our children are educated privately?'

That's why we need change. I don't believe that the private school children are any cleverer than millions of working class people. I beleve that teh only difference is that they have bought their way to a better education. Let's increase the standard of education for all of our people and release teh potential of teh millions so that social mobility becomes a reality and the country benefits from teh wealth of talent currently lying dormant.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:23:29

'I believe that there are millions of working class children who can do much better if they receive the same education that Diane Abbott's son and Tony Blaiir's children received.'

Claig, once again, I do think you have good intentions but I do have to repeat the question can you not understand how selective schools by definition cannot be open to everybody and if they were they would no longer get the best results???

Please, think about this.

Having Eton or Harrow or even the London Oratory or even Toby Young's free school accept a small percentage more working class kids is not going to change anything.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:24:24

'Let's increase the standard of education for all of our people and release teh potential of teh millions so that social mobility becomes a reality and the country benefits from teh wealth of talent currently lying dormant.'

Now this I agree with.

But I think the way to do it is by making sure that EVERY school is a good school.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 11:26:03

Why are these schools better? Do they receive more money? Are middle class children brighter than working class children? I don't think so. Why does one good school of 1000 pupils make all teh surrounding schools worse?

I think you might find that,on average, middle class children, especially those with professional parents, are brighter. But even those who are pretty average will attend school regularly, will do their homework and be encouraged to do the best they possibly can. And, if mumsnetters are typical, they will get masses of extra help from home.

In a sense, the one good school doesn't make the surrounding schools significantly worse, but it is a vicious circle as other schools lose what would have been their higher achieving more motivated pupils.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:27:21

OK, imagine that tomorrow all the kids going to my local indepedent secondary school went instead to the nearest sink comprehensive and all the kids from that school went to the local indepedent school. If nothing else changed, not the curriculum, not the teachers, not the buildings what sort of results would each school get in 5 years time?

And what about if you mixed up randomly half of the cohort?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:27:22

'I have heard not one argument why we should not instead put all our resources into makign sure EVERY school offers a range of choice and caters for the needs of all of its pupils (from Latin to vocational subjects, from potential Oxbridgers to those who struggle with basic literacy) and encouraging parents to send their children to this school.'

Because that is what they have been promising us for years and it hasn't happened. It's time for new thinking, but not New Labour.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:32:16

This is interesting:

'By age three, being in poverty makes a difference equivalent to nine
months’ development in school readiness.
 At each stage of compulsory schooling, the poverty gap grows. In
particular, there is a big jump early in secondary school, with poor
children nearly two years behind by the age of 14.
 Children who do badly at primary school are less likely to improve at
secondary school if they are poor. Children who are only slightly
below average at primary school are more likely to be among the
worst performers at secondary school if they are poor.
 Young people with parents in manual occupations remain far less
likely than others to go to university. Even though their prospects
have improved, they have not been the main beneficiaries of
university expansion. Children of non-manual workers are over two
and a half times as likely to go to university than children of manual
workers.
 Children from poor families are more likely to have poor
qualifications. There are more teenagers outside education,
employment and training in the UK than in most other countries, and
the rate has been rising.
 The association between growing up in poverty and being poor in
adulthood has become stronger since the 1970s. This effect is
closely linked to education, but its growth is also associated with a
strengthening impact of child poverty itself on future outcomes.'

www.cpag.org.uk/campaigns/education/EducationBriefing120907.pdf

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:33:26

It tells us that having middle-class, educated parents is a huge educational advantage. So, yes, putting all the middle class kids together in one school will compound that advantage.

Also, it is true that faith schools get more runding (from the church).

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:34:40

'Because that is what they have been promising us for years and it hasn't happened.'

I agree it hasn't happened. But there's no reason why we shouldn't want it to happen and why it isn't the most desirable model.

Every school a good school.

That's my manifesto.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 11:36:19

Must go. Have markign to do.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 11:40:42

^'Perhaps you don't know that 50% of students who go to Oxbridge are privately educated although 7% of our children are educated privately?'

That's why we need change. I don't believe that the private school children are any cleverer than millions of working class people.^

On what do you base that lack of belief? You do know that the sort of private schools that send a lot of their pupils to Oxbridge have stiff entrance examinations. They don't just take anyone who can afford the fees. On the other hand, they do offer scholarships to very clever children whose parents cannot afford the fees.

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 11:49:59

Ther are lots of interesting point.

1. If a society has had great social mobility in the past there is an argument that eventually you reach the point when those at the bottom will stay here because they have the 80 IQ and there has been such success in letting the bright poor move up those at the bottom will always stay there. I don't necessarily subscribe to that view but you might reach a point when social mobiltiy has been so good that those left at the bottom are those rightly so and they will remain there (except IQ tends to rise to the average and two very bright parents have a child a bit less bright etc)

2. I doubt we have reached the point of (1) yet but it's possible.

3. To have social mobiilty you need people dropping down too - you don't move up without others going down as we are all competing against each other, fighting tooth and claw.

4. The country needs children who can spell and read and concentrate and turn up to work on time and not skive off sick. Even Tesco cannot recruit enough who can. Many countries abroad are doing education better than many of our schools and people are sending their children back to school in the Caribbean rather than vice versa to get a better education than here. We certainly could work on the basics more and copy the best aspects of the private primaries.

5. There is an argument that you h ave one type of state school only without religion in it and if parents want something else they pay or you go my route and have no sttae schools and vouchers to spend where you choose or you pay for bright, musical or whatever poor children to go to fee paying schools.

6. I don't agree that clever poor children who get to oxbridge do better than those who aren't. My older children are at post univesrity stage. What jobs you pick can depend on your family background and expectations and what you wear and your accent. not all poor clever children are able to ape the accent of the rich and get jobs where you need the right way of speaking to get on.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:52:53

I am saying that the difference is teh schools, not teh children.
Poorer children have less choice than richer children and they end up in schools that are not as good. I believe that they are just as bright as teh richer children but they are denied teh same quality of education.

I want them to have teh same quality of education as teh rich kids get. But that doesn't mean letting them choose to go to Eton. I believe we can create schools that are just as good as Eton for working class children. That should be the priority. What we have now is not working, so we should try new ideas, provide more choice and new schools and see what works best.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 11:56:54

" You do know that the sort of private schools that send a lot of their pupils to Oxbridge have stiff entrance examinations. "

I have been having a look around the website for Toby Young's school and I am getting the unsettling impression of a cargo cult. Calling the Head 'Headmaster', calling the terms 'Michaelmas, Lent and Trinity'. Teach them Latin and they'll all go to Oxbridge just like the posh kids who passed the entrance exam and went to a fabulously well-funded school with a network of privilege behind them.

I don't doubt that his school will get good results, schools with supportive parents who take an interest in their kids education (the sort who might pick a Free School which teaches Latin, for example) always do.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 11:57:51

'I don't agree that clever poor children who get to oxbridge do better than those who aren't. My older children are at post univesrity stage. What jobs you pick can depend on your family background and expectations and what you wear and your accent. not all poor clever children are able to ape the accent of the rich and get jobs where you need the right way of speaking to get on.'

Jobs is different to clever.
I bet that most of our top scientists, top engineers, top business people were state school educated. It's different in the Labour shadow cabinet and the cabinet, but that has nothing to do with cleverness.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 12:03:05

Where I live, there is no selection and no private schools. Our top achieving school has a very mixed catchment but, sorry to say, it is largely the children from the professional homes that do best there and make its results what they are.

Eton is highly selective. Gone are the days when you put your son's name down at birth. We do have state schools that are as selective as Eton. They are the super-selectives, many of which are to be found in outer London and the home counties. Do they take many working class children? You tell me!

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 12:09:05

State grammars which are hard to get into get good results as do private schools which are hard to get into. However children who do get in are well served too because everyone else is bright and you bounce ideas off each other and it all works well. It is harder to achieve that even if you set in comprehensives and free schools which are not allowed to select by IQ.

There are lots of private schools for children who are not very bright too and some add a lot of value. Toby Young's might manage the same although if he has lots with free school meals from poor homes he might find it harder to add that value.

He could teach them to speak with received pronunciation and what to wear and that alone perhaps unfairly gives children a big advantage when they apply for many jobs.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 12:09:24

calling the terms 'Michaelmas, Lent and Trinity'.

That struck me as odd too, for a non-denominational school.

I don't doubt that his school will get good results, schools with supportive parents who take an interest in their kids education (the sort who might pick a Free School which teaches Latin, for example) always do.

I am sure it will be a great success. And I do have a sneaking admiration for TY and his group for getting off the ground. The danger is if people think that it could be easily replicated.

upthealdi Sun 04-Dec-11 12:12:45

Brighton does not bus children from one end of town to the other. That's nonsense. Everyone is in a fixed catchment of one or two schools. If you're in a 2 school catchment and one is over subscribed there's a lottery between the 2 to see who gets a place there, no matter where you live WITHIN THE CATCHMENT. The others would get the less popular school. The lottery was actually introduced to appease middle class parents who didn't live near the "best" schools.They now have the same chance as others in catchment but living closer .

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 12:14:55

I think what gets me about Toby Young is the impression he gives that any group of interested parents could achieve what he has done. I expect having a dad who is a Lord gives you political and social connections that other parents couldn't hope to cultivate.

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 12:15:18

Toby Young's might manage the same although if he has lots with free school meals from poor homes he might find it harder to add that value.

FSM does not necessarily mean dim, you know.

He could teach them to speak with received pronunciation and what to wear and that alone perhaps unfairly gives children a big advantage when they apply for many jobs.

I don't think he will be teaching in the school and AFAIK they will be wearing their school uniform. They may actually speak perfectly well already. And if the posh ones are the majority, it will soon rub off on their more common brethren.

hocuspontas Sun 04-Dec-11 14:17:05

Toby - if any of your staff are co-habitees are they happy with Gove's latest ill-thought out burblings about how free schools MUST promote marriage as important for family life?

Also, do you not feel hypocritical about the suspension of Kai Frizzle?

zazizoma Sun 04-Dec-11 15:00:11

Xenia, I've given vouchers some thought, and I don't believe they provide the solution offered by free schools, though they do have the advantage of distancing the education offering from state control.

I'm imagining a scenario where I'm the head of a small independent school. Say I need 16 students paying £7k annually to cover operating costs and salaries. (Of course I'm not talking about well endowed historical schools like an Eton.) If I knew that my parents were each getting a £6k voucher toward fees, and were therefore only needing to pay the £1k top-up, I'd be very very likely to say to myself, hmm, we're really operating on the edge here, and if our enrolment drops below 16 for whatever reason I'd have to let someone go, or another administrative hand in the office would improve our offering greatly, or it be great to be able to offer a sibling discount, etc so why don't I raise tuitions a bit, not a whole lot, but by at least £1k or so. I would do so not because I was trying to bring home more money for myself, but because I would want to shore up or improve the current offering. So I think vouchers would result in an overall tuition rise. Perhaps this is fine, but rather than a £1k top-up, parents would be looking at a £2k top-up, thus reducing the accessibility. And of course, parents on benefits would not be able to address top-ups at all, and there would still be the inaccessibility issue, which free schools address.

On the flip side, vouchers may be the only way to get away from the knee-jerk socialist or PC responses such as "I don't want my tax money going toward . . . IQ selection . . . Islamic schools . . . insert prejudice here." Though if a voucher programme was ever implemented, I suspect there would be a string of caveats about where and how that voucher could be spent.

fivecandles, yes, we can all agree that all schools should be good schools. The difficulty arises in that my definition of a good school is different from yours, as even I suspect mine is different from Xenia's or claig's, even though we all support choice. Take primary for example. A good primary school, to me, is one where the content and methodology are chosen according to a clearly understood child development paradigm, not according to social engineering goals. Let me give an illustration. The Rose report of a few years ago stated that IT training in the primary years was of equal focal importance to that of literacy and numeracy. This statement was made, as Rose himself admitted, to ensure a levelling of access to computers for all children, a social engineering goal, not a pedagogical goal. In fact, such a statement flies in the face of mounting evidence suggesting that computer time for young children is not such a good idea. For me, any school that adhered to the recommendations of this report, or any school who believes watching Disney films is an appropriate use of my dc's school time, is NOT a good school.

If you'd like to maintain that any parent who does not agree with or wants something other than the state mandate should pay for it, that's fine, but understand that that is a political statement.

Greythorne Sun 04-Dec-11 15:21:05

noblegiraffe
very funny remaek about cargo cults.

lljkk Sun 04-Dec-11 16:50:05

Nothing I've read here suggests that Free Schools are likely to drive up standards over all. Not in a statistically measureable way, or in a value for money way, at least. Sad, really.

PollyParanoia Sun 04-Dec-11 17:15:57

On a side note, if Claig mentions the word 'Islingtonista' (or sometimes spelt Islintongista) one more time I think I might have to lay myself down in one of N1's busiest roads. What does this mean? My kids go to school in this borough you've mentioned about 7 times and its pupils are 40% FSM and around the same number EAL and very high levels of SEN. Are the parents at this school and all the borough's other schools operating some sort of cabal to dictate educational policy to the rest of the country?
Lots of interesting stuff on this thread though.

Lesmacarons Sun 04-Dec-11 17:42:04

Not if this is the Toby Young who pimps himself out as a professional controversy monger. Why are Radio 4 paying this guy for his opinion?

He is an expert? On what? He has to appear on Come dine with me in order to pay the bills.

I wouldn't send my dog to his training school, let alone a child. Begone with you! Perhaps if everyone ignores him he will just go away.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 17:45:55

Islintongista does not refer to the good people of Islington, it refers to a completely different set of Mrs and Misters

CecilyP Sun 04-Dec-11 18:17:54

Who, the ones who live in Islingtong perhaps.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 18:19:33

No, Islintong

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 18:21:10

iddle I po

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 18:35:50

But we are digressing because Toby Yong is not an Islintong ista

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 18:37:24

unless there's something that I've missed ah

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 19:08:14

Competition drives up standards so of course they will improve standards unless we think all children are birth have their set IQ and that it matters not much at all where they go to school as their genes are the main thing. Most of us(or I do) think it's 50/50 genes and environment so schools and parents do matter.

It is a hard issue for the state - they want every child to be able to get a good education but they also want parents to have some choice about that and that might mean no reading until you're 7 which doesn't do the Dutch too much harm or no lessons or just 6 hours a day Koran or Bible or "learning through play" or latin and Greek etc. My son just finished his latin homework but he's at a fee paying prep school.

It's like upbringing of children. There is probably one good way to bring up children, no smacking, no shouting at them etc but the sate has to allow a broader range of parenting styles than that yet it does step in if there is abuse or neglect. Same with schools. I was very glad Summerhill won its case and most pupils there do choose to attend lessons and I am glad parents can home educate too in whatever ways they think fit within reason.

I think the benefits of that freedom of choice even freedom to make bad choices for your child are as important as uniformity and eveni f that choice is exercised by a parent or school in a way that may not be the best thing objectively for chidlren. Thus I woudl find myself supporting the right of Christina fundamentalists, the FLDS and orthodox muslims and jews to train girls for housework and forbid them an education and ship them abroad to marry at 16 etc even though that is inimical to my own views. Although I have some problems with medical students (Muslim and Christian) absenting themselves from lectures which involve clearly proven scientific proof about evolution). I suppose I would allow the choice, the variety, the good and the bad and hope the free market which tends to work pretty well, prevail.

Over 50% of parents would pay school fees if they could affrord them,. 7% are able to.

NormanTebbit Sun 04-Dec-11 19:17:58

I see someone mention teaching coding at school. I feel frustrated about all this emphasis on Latin and the classics when there is a skill sitting there which, if learned would see our young people completing globally in new media etc industries.

I hate the curriculum's distinction between 'science' and 'arts' when do many people who are successful creative in ICT industries have design flair and mathematical ability.

DP certainly was unable to take computer science and art together as highers at school as the timetable doesn't allow it. Yet he was painting and drawing and also writing binary code for his own computer games from a very early age.

I find all this talk of classics and Latin rather uninspiring - what exactly does it offer your average kid who wants to work in a skilled industry? And (let's face it ) can't afford university?

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 20:15:08

"I hate the curriculum's distinction between 'science' and 'arts' when do many people who are successful creative in ICT industries have design flair and mathematical ability. "

Here we are, 50-odd years on from CP Snow's The Two Cultures still having this argument.

"Snow's Rede Lecture condemned the British educational system as having, since the Victorian period, over-rewarded the humanities ( especially Latin and Greek) at the expense of scientific and engineering education, despite such achievements having been so decisive in winning the Second World War for the Allies. This in practice deprived British elites (in politics, administration, and industry) of adequate preparation to manage the modern scientific world. "

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 21:19:51

Back again and catching up with thread. Claig, I cannot understand how you can acknowledge, 'Poorer children have less choice than richer children and they end up in schools that are not as good.' and yet persist in arguing that the answer to this problem is more choice.

More choice means more choice for those who are able to make those choices. It doesn't matter how many different sorts of schools (with their accompanying overt or covert selection) you have, disadvantaged parents will STILL not be able to access them and the school they will send their kids to (the nearest that they are allowed into) will continue to deteriorate further.

I do find it odd that, in spite, of all the evidence, there are still people who can't seem to understand this.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 21:25:25

Yes, I do see your point. I had hoped that more choice would lead to more new schools in all areas so that parents would have a greater choice of local schools. But I guess this is not realistic because the budget is only so big, and maybe money is just shuffled from existing resources to new resources.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 21:26:37

'Poorer children have less choice than richer children and they end up in schools that are not as good.'

And again, this is a truly bizarre position. Can you not see the contradictions in it? Eton has the prestige it does because of centuries of snobbery, money, tradition and elitism. It is therefore absolutely not possible to have an 'Eton' for the ordinary folk. It's a total contradiction. But it's also questionable that the Eton model is a good model for education for anyone let alone for working class kids.

I do find it bizarre that those who want to improve the lot of disadvantaged kids (or say they do) not only lack the imagination to suggest getting rid of the bastions of elitism and social inequality but also want to somehow emulate them.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 21:32:14

Forget the snobbery and prestige etc. we all know that exists in society, Apart from that presumably Eton produces good academic results, and I agree that this is partly to do with teh fact that it takes bright children, but I assume it must also be down to the fact that it has good teachers.

If they took the children from a sink school and sent them all to Eton, I guess their academic results would probably improve, which I would put down to the teachers.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 21:35:57

'not only lack the imagination to suggest getting rid of the bastions of elitism and social inequality but also want to somehow emulate them.'

I care more about education than social revolution. I accept that people will be much richer and more privileged than me. Improving education and opportunity is what I care about, not "getting rid of the bastions of elitism".

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 21:37:15

I think if they took the children from a sink school and sent them all to Eton, the teachers wouldn't know what to do with them. I expect that teachers at Eton are used to pliant, obedient and clever classes and would struggle when their teaching methods which have stood them in good stead for many years suddenly completely and utterly fail.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 21:43:11

That's possible.

I tend to agree with Xenia. I like academic selection, because it eliminates teh advantages of snobbery and privilege and creates a meritocracy which allows bright young children like teh ones we read about who pass A levels at teh age of 8 to gain entrance above any Tim Dim But Nice with privilege.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 21:47:46

'The difficulty arises in that my definition of a good school is different from yours, as even I suspect mine is different from Xenia's or claig's, even though we all support choice.'

Well, yes, I think I've been through this one earlier in the thread. We have to accept that there could not be a school EXACTLY suited to every individual child within travelling distance.

As I said earlier, what if I want my kids to have a secular, arts-based school but my neighbour wants a Catholic, co-ed, science based school and the lady across the street wants a single sex, Muslim school with an emphasis on languages but the town can only support 2 secondary schools?

I also made the point that these are by and large PARENTAL preferences and not the choices of the children themselves. If I had had my choice of school I would never have discovered dd1's ability in sport and science. I have taught enough students whose parents have pushed them into science (when their heart was in English or they simply didn't have the ability to become doctors) to know that specialist schools can be dangerously restrictive of opportunity.

Having said that, my view is that schools can and should offer more choice within the school to better address the needs of individual children.

A large school workign cooperatively with others in the LEA should be perfectly able to offer support to the least able, Oxbridge programmes for the most able, science strands, arts strands, vocational subjects etc etc.

There is no good educational reason for faith schools in the 21st century but nothing to stop a school having a Christian union, a prayer room for Muslims etc, etc as extra-curricular activities.

And all schools should be offering a curriculum and methods that are EVIDENCE-BASED as opposed to based on the whims of politicians or anyone else.

It would make much more sense for the whole LEA to work together to offer any specialisms that any single school in the area could not provide i.e. a science summer school for gifted scientists and literacy catch up etc, etc just as they offer coaching in certain sports and competiton.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 21:53:00

Wasn't it Toby Young's dad who damned the grammar system with his Rise of the Meritocracy book?

I always thought the real reason behind scrapping the grammar system was because too many nice middle class kids ended up in secondary moderns, which was of course unacceptable.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 21:53:33

' like academic selection, because it eliminates teh advantages of snobbery and privilege and creates a meritocracy'

WHAT???????

You must have missed the link earlier that said that if you take 2 children born with the same IQ there will be a 9 month difference in school readiness by the age of 3 if one of them is living in poverty.

you have also wilfully ignored all of the information on here and widely publicised about any system of selection (from state grammar schools to faith schools) hugely disadvantaging wrokign class kids.

Look, if you are happy to live in a society whre there is huge social divisions and no social mobility then that's fine but please don't come on here saying you give a f* about kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and then saying more selection is the answer.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 21:54:00

Fivecandles, your vision would be nice, but of course give it a couple of years and there won't be any LAs left to offer science summer schools etc.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 21:59:28

'presumably Eton produces good academic results'

And so it bloody well should. BECAUSE IT SELECTS.

You just don't seem to be moving on in your thinking at all.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:00:40

I went to grammar school and so did some of my friends in my street and none of us were well off, but we were probably all brighter than lots of more privileged kids. I believe there are lots of very bright kids from disadvanrtaged backgrounds and I want them to have access to the best academic schools, and since my parents and teh parents of teh children in my street could not have afforded to pay, I think the state should pay based on academic excellence.

That brings social mobility.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:03:37

'And so it bloody well should. BECAUSE IT SELECTS.'

well why don't we create more schools that select then, because there are thousands of working and middle class children who are much brighter than the kids currently at teh top schools. Let's have some great state schools that select and show the truth that ordinary children can get better results than those at Eton.

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 22:04:28

The grammar schools achieved more social mobility as does selection by IQ. The comps have failed in that. That ought not to bother me as I pay school fees but I do think it's a bit silly that the state school rules and free school rules do not allow choosing children by IQ.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 22:05:02

claig, where there are still grammar schools you get some well-off families tutoring their kids from the age of 3 to pass the 11-plus.

So your bright but poor kids are disadvantaged by because they are now competing against middle class tutored to the hilt kids.

Tutoring won't make a silk purse from a sow's ear necessarily, but it will give a boost and it is another form of money buying educational privilege.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:05:49

'If they took the children from a sink school and sent them all to Eton, I guess their academic results would probably improve, which I would put down to the teachers.'

FGS. There was a programme a while ago where they put the headteacher of some incredibly high performing school into a school in Stoke NEwington (I knew someone who worked there) and she was embarrasingly bad. OFSTED would have failed her instantly.

I don't mean to be unpleasant but I do find your naivete utterly staggering. Private schools take the top 7% of kids in the whole country and educate them with other kids in the top 7% in small classes with more resources and yet you assume that they get good results because they have better teachers???!!!!

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:07:03

'You must have missed the link earlier that said that if you take 2 children born with the same IQ there will be a 9 month difference in school readiness by the age of 3 if one of them is living in poverty'

I don't believe this sort of research. We have poor immigrant children and children of asylum seekers who enter the country at teh age of 9 etc. wityhout any English skills who quickly catch up and often surpass the other pupils. I don't believe these soom-laden reports that suggest that everything is set in stone and poor children are doomed from teh age of 3.

Xenia Sun 04-Dec-11 22:07:50

There are very good teachers in the better private schools everyone knows that. Also just look at the qualifications. You are more likely in a private school to get a teacher with a degree in the subject they are teaching, more likely to be able to spell, speak properly etc etc.

Right to choose by IQ would help free schools. Also rights to exclude chidlren who disrupt lessons is one of the most useful thing to have and ensuring teenagers can learn in a class with other children who allow them to do so.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:09:25

'Private schools take the top 7% of kids in the whole country '

No they don't. I think state school kids are smarter. Is Prince Harry smarter than the kids who get all A's at hundreds of our state schools?

Private schools take children who can afford to get in.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:09:30

'well why don't we create more schools that select then'

Claig, you're not really getting this are you?

What happens to those kids who AREN'T selected? Who don't pass the exam and get into the schools? WHat happens to those kids whose parents can't or don't put them in for the exams? Don't or can't pay for tutors? Don't or can't pay for music lessons? Don't or can't adopt a faith?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:11:21

'FGS. There was a programme a while ago where they put the headteacher of some incredibly high performing school into a school in ...'

The headteacher can't run around teaching all teh lessons. It's teh teachers that make teh difference.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 22:12:15

Xenia, there probably are very good teachers at teaching top set kids in the better private schools.

That doesn't make them a better teacher than an excellent teacher who manages to teach both top and bottom set in a state school. I have worked with some wonderful teachers who were inspiring whether they were teaching A-level Further maths or Y8 set Z.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:12:37

'What happens to those kids who AREN'T selected?'

They go to teh current comprehensives that you say are so good.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:13:52

'I think state school kids are smarter'

Claig, you have your own rather peculiar views.

In the real world if you take 2 children born with the same IQ there is a 9 month difference in their educational achievement by the age of 3 if one is born into poverty.

Your literacy skills are unlikely to be developed if you live in a one parent family and your mother is on a low income with learning difficulties..

Do you think that the child of such a mother is less deserving of a good education because his mother has to send him to the local school.

State grammar schools have a ridiculously wealthy profile. If you have more selection you'll have more middle class kids getting an exclusive education and what's left for the working class kids will get even worse.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:16:23

Do you not believe what I'm saying?

Here look at this,

'This study looks at the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) at the top 200 secondary state schools (6% of schools), and the levels of FSM eligibility in the postcode sectors in which the schools are sited. The study finds that the overall rate of FSM eligibility at the top schools is 3.0%, compared to a national secondary school average of 14.3%.'

[http://www.suttontrust.com/research/rates-of-eligibility-for-fsm-at-the-top-state-schools/]]

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:16:30

'Tutoring won't make a silk purse from a sow's ear necessarily, but it will give a boost and it is another form of money buying educational privilege.'

Tony Blair paid for tutors. That's life. Let's create more grammar schools so that teh competition is less intense. If parents want them why won't the government allow them?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:21:20

'Your literacy skills are unlikely to be developed if you live in a one parent family and your mother is on a low income with learning difficulties.'

That's why we need much better schools. I don't believe that children on FSMs are any less able than middle class children. David Davis MP grew up on a London council estate brought up by a single mother. He went to grammar school and is probably cleverer than the son of Lord Snooty. It is opportunity and good education that counts.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:23:41

''This study looks at the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) at the top 200 secondary state schools (6% of schools), and the levels of FSM eligibility in the postcode sectors in which the schools are sited. The study finds that the overall rate of FSM eligibility at the top schools is 3.0%, compared to a national secondary school average of 14.3%.'

Yes but this is probably to do with rich people moving into teh catchment area of teh best schools.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:29:06

Claig, the point which I have made repeatedly and supported with copious amounts of evidence, is that any system of selection effectively excludes children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Now, how do you feel about that honestly? Because your posts suggest that you either don't follow what I'm saying or you don't care.

So, do you care that more there are some kids are losing out because of selection (whatver form that takes) and do you care that those kids will lose out even more if there is more selection?

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:32:04

'Let's create more grammar schools so that teh competition is less intense. If parents want them why won't the government allow them?'

What parents want them? Because grammar schools provide a 2 tier education system whereby some kids are told that they are second best at the age of 11?

How would you feel if that was your child?

In what way would that make competiton less intense?

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:35:55

'Tony Blair paid for tutors. That's life'

OK. So your position now seems a little different from earlier in the thread. Now you're basically saying if you've got money you can buy a better education for your kids however you choose to do it. And we should just accept 'that's life' and sod the kids who don't have rich mummies and daddies to pay for tutors?

Is that your position?

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:37:09

'copious amounts of evidence, is that any system of selection effectively excludes children from disadvantaged backgrounds.'

But your copious evidence didn't mention Tory MP and leadership challenger David Davis MP who came froma disadvantaged background and doesn't include teh tens of thousands of other disadvantaged pupils who came through teh grammar school system, which created teh likes of Margaret Thatcher etc. That's why social mobility has declined and teh cabinet is now fuill of toffs - because grammar schools were scrapped and teh Thatchers now get less opportunities.

'So, do you care that more there are some kids are losing out because of selection (whatver form that takes) and do you care that those kids will lose out even more if there is more selection?'

No I believe that kids gain from selection and only teh toffs and Islintongistas lose out because tehy then face real competition from teh brighter Thatchers.

No one loses because teh other kids go to our excellent comprehensive schoools. The only people that lose are the toffs because they no longer have an easy run.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 22:39:19

claig, you say that you want grammar schools and selection in order to promote social mobility and better academic chances for working class kids.

The data shows that selective school systems actually causes greater social inequity, the earlier the selection, the worse the outcomes.

"Across the OECD countries, mean student performance in reading literacy tends to be lower in countries with a high degree of institutional differentiation and selection at an early age, as compared to countries with integrated secondary school systems where selection has not taken place at the age of 15. Even more importantly, the share of the OECD average variation in student performance that lies between students and schools tends to be much higher in countries with early selection policies. While this, in itself, is not surprising because variation in school performance is an inevitable outcome of stratification, the findings also show that education systems with lower ages of selection tend to show much larger social disparities.
The reason why the age at which differentiation begins is closely associated with social selectivity may be explained by the fact that students are more dependent upon their parents and their parental resources when they are younger. In systems with a high degree of educational differentiation, parents from higher socio-economic backgrounds are in a better position to promote their children’s chances, whereas in a system in which such decisions are taken at a later age students themselves can play a bigger role.
In sum, PISA 2000 results show that students in integrated education systems perform, on average, better than those in selective education systems, and that their educational performance is less dependent on their background. Many factors may be at play here. A higher average performance suggests that the more heterogeneous student groups or classes in integrated education systems could have a beneficial effect for the lower-performing students. Also, the flexibility offered by an integrated system may allow students to improve their performance while keeping their academic options open."

This is the result of a study of many different school systems in various countries.
www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/20/34668095.pdf (see page 89)

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:40:01

'Because grammar schools provide a 2 tier education system whereby some kids are told that they are second best at the age of 11?

what's teh difference with setting, where some kids are in teh top set and some aren't. That's life. Some children are more academic than others and some are better at sport and some are better at music etc.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:42:25

'The data shows that selective school systems actually causes greater social inequity, the earlier the selection, the worse the outcomes.'

Who commissioned this data? Was it the toffs?

Thatcher and Davis and Ken Clarke and John Major were all in teh top positions in government. Grammar schools were abolished. Now look at it, we now have Etonians.

fivecandles Sun 04-Dec-11 22:42:53

''You must have missed the link earlier that said that if you take 2 children born with the same IQ there will be a 9 month difference in school readiness by the age of 3 if one of them is living in poverty'

I don't believe this sort of research.'

Staggering. Truly.

Here's the report again BTW

www.cpag.org.uk/campaigns/education/EducationBriefing120907.pdf

There's no point discussing this with you if you simply refuse to 'believe' evidence which challenges your view.

Do you also believe the world is flat?

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Dec-11 22:43:04

"what's teh difference with setting, where some kids are in teh top set and some aren't."

Because the 2nd set is only in the class next door and it is relatively easy to move a child from one set to another if they are misplaced. Much harder to move a misplaced grammar/non grammar child.

claig Sun 04-Dec-11 22:46:19

'And we should just accept 'that's life' and sod the kids who don't have rich mummies and daddies to pay for tutors?'

I accept that's life that Tony Blair will be far richer than me and can afford tutors and is more privileged than me. So what?

Being privileged doesn't make you smarter. I don't say sod the other kids, I say give them teh chance to compete with teh privileged by creating great schools, some of them selective, where the Thatchers of tomorrow can go.