Why is it only the right that gets angry about how state schools fail the poor?

(280 Posts)
longfingernails Sun 23-Jun-13 19:08:09

A truly fantastic article.


My favourite snippet:
This is what separates British left and right now. The left, in their post-Blair phase, is no longer very worked up about the poor doing badly at school. (?It may matter or it may not,? Blower said about poor children not going to top universities). The standard left response is to talk philosophically about inequality in society, as if this has the slightest bearing on whether the concept of a sink school ought to be tolerated in this day and age.

By contrast, the right are hopping mad about educational inequality. When the subject is raised in front of Michael Gove, it?s like flicking a switch. He blows his top. When I last interviewed him and raised the subject about whether it poor kids should be expected to do as well as rich, he replied in a crescendo of anger.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 21:37:50

Because the left are the establishment and defend their own status quo. The right want to fix hospitals and schools and change things for the better. The left oppose those changes because they do not want to admit that they are in any way responsible, which is why they are fully behind their status quo.

DrDolittle Sun 23-Jun-13 21:40:33

Problem is, when the right change things, they don't always get it right!

DrDolittle Sun 23-Jun-13 21:40:55

And then no one trusts them anymore....

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 21:45:52

'Problem is, when the right change things, they don't always get it right!'

True. But at least they try and do something.

Does education being dumbed down matter to the left? They say it hasn't been dumbed down, and for some of the children of the wealthier leftists it has not been dumbed down, because they are in private fee-paying schools.

It matters that there are gagging orders on NHS staff and that elderly people die of dehydration on our wards and thousands die unnecessarily in our hospitals. Who was responsible for all of this?

Jeremy Hunt is trying to make things better and make people accountable. Let's hope for the sake of the people that he can get it right.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 23-Jun-13 21:48:21

That's very interesting. Totally agree. I have no idea why this is the case but it does indeed appear to be so. Fifty years ago children growing up in real poverty all left school reading and writing, and being educated in huge classes. What has changed?

Balls. I consider myself of the left and think that schools are terrible for those less well off.

If the "right" were so concerned then why don't they make state schools more like private schools? Smaller class sizes, shorter terms? Eh Gove?

I'll tell you why - because they don't want to spend the money as they love the elitism.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 21:51:30

Dumbing down has occurred, and it was ideological and it was hidden by grade inflation and trumpeting how well the left had done, but when the deceptive veil was lifted all that remained was a bag of bones and thousands of A* grades.

meditrina Sun 23-Jun-13 21:56:35

Didn't the attainment gap widen under Blair/Brown?

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 21:57:08

'If the "right" were so concerned then why don't they make state schools more like private schools? Smaller class sizes, shorter terms? Eh Gove?'

Maybe free schools are the first step in that direction.

'Balls. I consider myself of the left and think that schools are terrible for those less well off. '

It's not leftists like you, it's the ones in government think tanks and charitable trusts and taxpayer funded positions on taxpayer salaries above £100,000. They are the establishment and they hold tight to their status quo and don't want to rock any boats in case their taxpayer funded roles disappear.

DrDolittle Sun 23-Jun-13 22:00:47

Grammar schools wouldn't cost more, would they? That would increase the chances of the poor getting to a good university. But no politician seems willing to legislate for more of them, despite the demand (e.g Kent grammar schools expanding, using a loophole to do it).

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sun 23-Jun-13 22:00:53

scarlettsmummy actually literacy/numeracy rates have remained fairly constant post-war, drifting upwards if anything.

Studies here and here for example.

Free schools won't change the issue of class sizes. And gove wants longer school terms?

I don't think the left are in establishment. The government is currently of the right and they only listen to those of the right.

The issue is that people tinker - but we need something radical. We need to celebrate and champion doing well at school, not just make people good enough.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sun 23-Jun-13 22:03:07

DrDolittle, I suggest you take a look at the many, many threads on here about how much people are spending on prep schools or tutoring for the 11+ before you suggest that as a leg-up for poor kids.

JakeBullet Sun 23-Jun-13 22:06:23

...and cutting the education budget is going to help the poorer students how exactly?

And that budget cut will hit the children with SN even more .

I don't think that the Left got things right but I doubt the Right have all the answers either.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:06:40

'DrDolittle, I suggest you take a look at the many, many threads on here about how much people are spending on prep schools or tutoring for the 11+ before you suggest that as a leg-up for poor kids.'

Then why don't some of these charities and think tanks and trusts and home flippers and people who try and charge £12000 a month for asking questions, set up some charities that provide free tuition on weekends to poor children who can't afford tuition?

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 22:11:25

Because TB had an absolute fixation with sending huge numbers to universities. The only way that he could do that was to make it easier for kids to go onto higher education, and the only way that could happen was to make it easier, rather than more difficult, for them to pass with grades that universities look for, ie lower the bar. I regularly sit on interview panels, and can assure anyone who doubts that literacy and numeracy levels are not improving.

On a societal level, education is not seen as the way out of poverty anymore.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sun 23-Jun-13 22:12:09

Someone, somewhere is probably doing just that - I don't know, I don't live in Kent fortunately. But it's pissing in the wind really, isn't it?

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Jun-13 22:13:51

Labour started the academies program to help turn around failing schools.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Jun-13 22:14:30

Oh, and wasn't the Pupil Premium for poor students down to the Lib Dems?

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 22:14:34

Only in certain parts of the UK Noble

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:18:16

'But it's pissing in the wind really, isn't it?'

I don't think spending money on free tuition for children is pissing in the wind. It is a start and a move in the right direction.

What really is pissing in the wind, is all these think tanks and taxpayer funded experts advising more windfarms and windmills that end up pissing and blowing our taxpayer money in the wind and handing taxpayer subsidies to rich landowners.

Let's spend taxpayer money on poor children and education to give them a future for themselves and for us rather than handing taxpayer money to rich landowners.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Jun-13 22:22:41

There was a pot of money for free one-one tuition for pupils that were underachieving in English or Maths. Ten free one hour sessions after school with a qualified teacher for pupils identified by their school.

Guess who cut that funding?

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:23:37

Yes, noblegiraffe, that was a good initiative and it was a shame that that was cut.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 22:24:48

Agree Claig - the wind farm industry is massively subsidised, and that's money that could be better spent on education. As for the 'charitable' status that private schools enjoy, I'd like to see them contributing far more than simply providing a couple of bursaries or allowing the state school plebs to play on the fields occasionally.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:31:49

This is a quote from the article

"Now that Labour takes 80pc of its funds from the union, it seems to be on the side of the system, no longer on the side of those failed by the system."

But Labour has always taken most of its money from the unions. That hasn't changed. What has changed is that the left and leftist media and think tanks and charitable foundations etc are the system, that is why they don't want to change the system

longfingernails Sun 23-Jun-13 22:33:25

It's only the right of the Labour party (the ultra-Blairites) who even vaguely support school reform. But their voices have been drowned out. It's a shame, but not surprising given Red Ed's obesiance to the union barons.

More money doesn't really make schools better. Getting rid of crap teachers does. Implementing performance-dependent pay does. Eviscerating teaching unions, local education authorities and other defenders of teachers over pupils helps immensely. Restoring the rigour of examinations does. Getting rid of requirements for tickbox qualifications like PGCEs does. Allowing academies (and especially free schools) to flourish and unleash parental choice drives up standards in surrounding schools. Providing proper technical qualifications in conjunction with an academic hinterland for those who wish to pursue alternative paths is necessary too.

noblegiraffe The pupil premium was in both the Conservative and Lib Dem manifestos; Gove was a big fan (I asked him about it on here before the election). I like the idea of quasimarkets a lot as engines of opportunity, but I am not sure it has made a huge difference in practice. Quasimarkets can only work if they are sufficiently narrow in focus - in teaching terms, that means we need a "time premium" rather than a "money premium". It doesn't seem that the extra money has translated into extra effort being directed towards improving results for disadvantaged pupils.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:34:22

Why did people vote for UKIP in such large numbers recently?
Because they wanted to register a vote against the system. the people swung to the right, away from the system which is left and progressive.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sun 23-Jun-13 22:35:57

Yes, the Pupil Premium was one of the lib dem manifesto pledges they managed to actually get included in the coalition agreement. I'm struggling to think of - oh, raising income tax threshold to 10k was another.

claig, I'm using the phrase 'pissing in the wind' to mean 'making a contribution which is dwarfed by the size of the task'. A couple of hours after school tuition is not the equivalent of six years at an expenisve prep.

DrDolittle Sun 23-Jun-13 22:38:55

shrug grammar school worked for me. No tutors, as my family were too poor (mum wiped arses in a care home, dad was a school caretaker). I was the first in my family (even my extended family) to go to Uni.

Maybe if there were more grammar schools, people wouldn't feel the need to tutor their kids? Or maybe offer free tutoring (as suggested above)?

longfingernails Sun 23-Jun-13 22:39:53

In any case, the wider point (beyond any scheme or individual programme or funding priority battle) is this.

Voices on the right are genuinely angry about the lack of opportunity for all. The bog standard comprehensive has ruined the lives of millions - and yet we hear nary a peep from the establishment left.

No doubt there are some exceptions, but they make my point all the more by virtue of their rarity alone.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:44:31

'making a contribution which is dwarfed by the size of the task'

I understand what you are saying Boulevard, but I think that this is negative, defeatist thinking. Anything is better than nothing, a thousand mile journey starts with a single step.

We mustn't have any more excuses, any more gagging orders, any more officials saying covering up for deaths and failures and shocking standards in hospitals and we mustn't have any more excuses for a poor education system that blames the pupils and their parents for not doing enough. Some of our brightests PhDs come from poor backgrounds and tghey are not uniquely clever, the potential is there in huge numbers and all it takes is a single step to unlock that potential and improving our education system is that step.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:51:18

All we have across society - in our banks, in our politics and in our hospitals - is excuses and excuses and no one ever takes responsibility or is ever accountable and no one ever goes to prison or accepts blame for the decline of our society.

All they do is apologise - we're sorry that so many people died in hospitals or "sorry, there's no money left" or sorry that we got things wrong and didn't regulate properly. meanwhile ordinary people are left to bear the brunt of that failure.

It's a sorry state that thinks that sorry is good enough.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Jun-13 22:52:56

Why does the article paint Blower's comment about inequality in society as 'blame the parents'? Surely if we're looking at inequality in society and children going hungry etc we can look at tax breaks for the rich, welfare cuts, child poverty. Is the right getting angry about that?

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 22:56:39

noblegiraffe, Labour left a note saying "sorry, there's no money left".
The government has had to be unpopular and make cuts, including to the huge welfare bill.

Do you think George Osborne enjoys people mocking and blaming him? He is in this position because of the total incompetence of the shower that preceded him.

beatback Sun 23-Jun-13 22:59:45

The left have always wanted a "EVERBODY WINS" nobody loses education system. One of the ways they did that was to increase the number of people going to University to massive proportions and make impossible promises that everbody would be a winner this was also done to make the ilusion that people were getting brighter. Our maybe, the left for their own reasons want ten of thousands of graduates coming home to no jobs causing frustration and anger and then the left can come out with the "VOTE FOR US WE SET YOU FREE" type dogma.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Jun-13 23:01:54

Claig, if the Tories are so angry about schools failing the poor, why are they seeking to make more people poor while at the same time letting large companies off their tax bills? If that graph is correct and poverty correlates to results, then the quickest way to try to improve results would be to reduce poverty.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 23:04:28

Noble - the left have already said that they would cut the welfare budget if they got in next time round, and they had 13 years to get the banks and tax avoidance/evasion under control. They did FA, other than create a society dependent on benefits where the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, with businesses getting away with paying crappy minimum, rather than living, wages while the Govt topped them up.

And where is TB now? Currently lining his own pocket - the most wealthy ex PM this country has ever produced. A man of the people? Bollocks.

Crumbledwalnuts Sun 23-Jun-13 23:05:44

Yes I agree with Claig and longfingernails but I"m too tired to write anything so I'm just going to say, I agree with whatever you say probably to the end of the thread. I hope that covers it.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 23:10:21

Good points, SirChenJin.

Only now when the Tories are in power have we heard about all this tax avoidance by large coroporations and individuals with accounts in Jersey etc. But this stuff was going on throughout the Labour years.

I only heard this the other day when a UKIP MEP was interviewed and I thought there must be some mistake, surely he is joking, but it looks like it is real

"Hundreds of expenses claims by Tony Blair have been shredded, it has emerged.
The claims and receipts, relating to Mr Blair's final year in office, were destroyed even though there was an ongoing legal bid to have them published.
Westminster officials say the documents were destroyed by mistake, as they did not realise they were the subject of a legal challenge."


claig Sun 23-Jun-13 23:11:31

And someone probably said sorry

That's alright then.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Jun-13 23:11:37

Sirchenjin, I'm no fan of new labour either, but an article championing the Tories as the saviours of the poor really does stick in the throat. They don't give a toss about the poor unless it suits their political aims of e.g. privatising education and slamming the unions.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 23:17:02

"Claig, if the Tories are so angry about schools failing the poor, why are they seeking to make more people poor while at the same time letting large companies off their tax bills? If that graph is correct and poverty correlates to results, then the quickest way to try to improve results would be to reduce poverty."

They don't want to make people poor. But we all know that huge corporations have more power than them. We see them at Bilderberg meetings with the heads of the large corporations. We know they are funded by business. We know they can only do so much.

All they can seem to do is have media campaigns and pressure to try and get the corporations to ever so kindly agree to chip in a little more. And New labour are no different despite what they may claim.

That is why the brunt of austerity always falls on the ordinary people and not the mega rich and the huge corporations. That is the real world and wishing it weren't so won't change it.

beatback Sun 23-Jun-13 23:17:18

The country that new labour inherited in 1997 was in the best financial state since "EVER" . labour got away with huge unaffordable spending for 10 years instead of the standard 3 years that was because "MAJOR" despite the reputation had run the finances of the country very competently. Yes i know about the E.R.M fiasco, but the country was still in a place that stood up to ten years of labour spending madness and this was from the most right wing labour leader ever. labour will never be able to say no because their paymasters and voters mostly public sector demand higher pay better working conditions even when it is incompatible with the economic situation. The money that has been wasted on windfarms and "SOLAR PANELS" that was another waste where whitehall mandarins over estimated the costs associated with it by three times, the result was many very wealthy people made fortunes .Even in these difficult financial times if the money was properly accounted for enough money for first class education for poor people, they could even bring back "ASSISTED PLACES" to the best private schools or better why not have Boarding Grammar Schools for kids who are not in selective areas. The state could cover the cost of the boarding this could take bright but vunerable kids out of inner cities and place them in a enviroment that would be right for education.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 23:17:23

Do you know what Noble? I don't think any Govt is really that interested in the poor. They pay lip service, that's all, whilst filling their own large pockets with the family silver, and that goes for the left, right, and everything in between.

Arisbottle Sun 23-Jun-13 23:17:36

Because no one from the left cares about education or the poor, that is why most teachers, social workers, charity workers, nurses etc are all rabid right wingers.

I don't think George Osborne really cares wat the average man on the street thinks of him.

By all means highlight the mistakes of the labour government, although I think that sure start has helped poor children as has much of the money pumped into inner city schools . But don't say the left don't get angry because I am furious and actually trying to do something about it.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 23:19:06

I don't think most teachers, social workers etc are rabid right wingers! confused

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 23:21:08

And that is why approx 25% of people in the local elections voted UKIP, a previously fringe party, because they are fed up with what is happening.

They gave up on New Labour years ago, they put their faith in the Tories, but now that faith is starting to wear thin too.

Arisbottle Sun 23-Jun-13 23:21:23

I was being sarcastic, I was trying and clearly failing to make the point that it is bollocks to say the left aren't angry and don't care when most of the people at the chalk face are left wing.

By all means say they are getting wrong, but don't say they aren't angry or don't care.

southeastastra Sun 23-Jun-13 23:22:00

the 'poor' how bloody patrionising that phrase is

the 'poor' to the midde class are kids that don't go to a 'rulssel group' university

most 'poor' kids i know accept that they aren't going to be leaders in industry but know they aren't so easily written off

beatback Sun 23-Jun-13 23:22:30

MEANT TO SAY. Even in these difficult times if the money was properly accounted for there would be enough money for a first class education for all poor people.

Crumbledwalnuts Sun 23-Jun-13 23:23:11

I think Gove and IDS are extremely interested in poor people. It's just prejudice to say they aren't. All the evidence shows that they are. It just doesn't suit the Labour agenda.

For other Tories, poor people may be seen as a wasted resource, a drain of the purse, a resource which with investment (education) can better itself and the whole country.

For Labour, a drain on the public purse is a bonus - it's an extra vote, or family of votes.

ravenAK Sun 23-Jun-13 23:23:59

I think Arisbottle was deploying sarcasm, SirChenjin.

Speaking as a teacher, I only know two right wing teachers. One's thick as mince & the other one's a nasty piece of work.

The rest of us are lovely, talented, & irreproachably lefty.


Arisbottle Sun 23-Jun-13 23:25:47

I come from a background I am happy to label as poor, that meant we went hungry , wore old clothes, pissed in an outside loo and lived in shit housing, nothing to do with not going to a Russell group university.

I am angry that children from my background , in particular boys, are failed by parts of our state education system. I am angry that children from my background are statistically likely to do worse than middle class kids in just about every state school in this country.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 23:26:38

Good points by beatback. There is lots of money in this country that is being wasted by the establishment, by the system. Not just on MPs' expenses, and home flipping, but hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money being wasted that could be put to much better use in our schools and hospitals.


Arisbottle Sun 23-Jun-13 23:29:03

I do actually think that Gove does want to raise standards for children from "poor backgrounds". I do think he was right to address the issue that in many schools students from my kind of background who are seen as trouble are pushed into doing qualifications that will not open doors for them in later life. I do think there are schools in poor areas that are more focused on trying to control behaviour than getting them a decent education. I might not agree with the exact way he is going about it but I think he and Michael Wilshaw are certainly right to raise the issue and demand something is done about it.

Crumbledwalnuts Sun 23-Jun-13 23:29:28

I know loads of right wing teachers, and they're all marvellous.

Arisbottle Sun 23-Jun-13 23:30:40

Lol crumbled. I have to say that I would struggle to think of any. I suspect I am possibly the most right wing at my school.

beatback Sun 23-Jun-13 23:32:06

Crumbledwalnuts. I am a person who is right wing but when i hear I.D.S i want cringe the man tried to say he could live on benefits and when he was shown up as prat gave the most pathetic interview to the daily mail saying he knew what it was like to be unemployed when he left the guards as an officer married to a daughter of a titled family. With amazing luck this Unemployed ex Eton ex guard officer got a job with jane"s defence magazine "THE SORT OF JOB EVERY UNEMPLOYED PERSON CAN GET" and then gets a safe politcal seat. I.D.S is probably the most clueless member of a useless cabinet.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 23:32:47

I work in the NHS (definitely not one of the suits) and know people who are right wing, lefty and solidly SNP - some are nasty, others are lovely, regardless of their politics.

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 23:38:32

beatback, IDS didn't go to Eton.

moondog Sun 23-Jun-13 23:40:50

Gove is an absolute hero.
Blower is a terrifyingly stupid woman.
I've spent 20 years working in scores of different schools and what I see chills my blood.
I spend a large proportion of my time teaching my children basic things they have not learnt in school.
I would swim through a sewer to have my children in a free school far from the clutches of lunatic unions and the idiocy of the national curriculum.
I read that 39% of kids in Toby youngs free school are entitled to free school meals. Rather puts paid to the evil untruth that only posh film will use them.

Startail Sun 23-Jun-13 23:42:04

Personally I think the Tories think there are votes in improving (making a noise about improving) education for the 'poor'.

Less uneducated people, equals less people who have an excuse not to work, equals less benefit scroungers.
This pleases the MC.

Better education for poorer DCs and better teaching in middle to lower sets may well please those working class parents with 'average' DCs, but no choice of school.

Do the Tories really expect education standards of the poor to rise hmm I'm not sure, but if in trying they can win votes and make the NUT look foolish they are happy.

Many educated labour voters are teachers, HCP and social workers. They would like to see the poor in society get a better deal, but when it comes to education they know that many of their pupils, patients, service uses are genetically not very bright.

Arisbottle Sun 23-Jun-13 23:43:41

WLFS has about 23% of its students on free school meals, think in 2012 that went up to 25%. That is between 7-10% lower than the local schools.

beatback Sun 23-Jun-13 23:44:24

CLAIG. APPOLIGIES . Your quite right but it has been reported that he did looking at his biography it is quite anormal state school in solihull and training on the merchant navy so why does he say such stupid things then. It just goes to show that the left learning media will let people believe things that are not true.

beatback Sun 23-Jun-13 23:46:47

Sorry Bad grammar. Quite a normal state school in solihull and in to training with the merchant navy.

moondog Sun 23-Jun-13 23:48:31

Apologies if figures are incorrect. I can't locate original source. My point still stands nevertheless.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Jun-13 23:48:55


"But Toby Young, an author and journalist who set up the West London free school, disputed the figures for the proportion of children on free school meals in his school's local authority. According to the data, 23.3% of children at his school are entitled to free school meals, compared with 32.1% in secondaries across the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham."

And "At least three-quarters of the coalition's flagship free schools have admitted a lower proportion of deprived pupils than is average for their wider neighbourhood, government data shows."


moondog Sun 23-Jun-13 23:51:10

Your point being?

southeastastra Sun 23-Jun-13 23:53:17

toby young isn't a great embassador for the free school movement is he

claig Sun 23-Jun-13 23:57:07

"but when it comes to education they know that many of their pupils, patients, service uses are genetically not very bright."

This is a common argument of the left and they use it to explain the failure of the education system and ti prop up the status quo. I don't believe it for one minute.

300 years ago, nearly all of our ancestors were peasants on the land and the elite looked down on them and thought that they were genetically inferior and "genetically not very bright" and women were denied an education.

But the reality is that we the people are far brighter than most of teh privileged elite. There are tens of thousands of working class people with higher grades than Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry despite their riches and privilege.

Let's not write off large swathes of our population as being "genetically not very bright", because I don't believe it. With the right education, they can excel and surpass some of the "Tim Nice But Dims"

claig Mon 24-Jun-13 00:01:18

Gove is spot on about this, and he won't accept the defeatist leftist views which consign ordinary people to the scrapheap.

"It is snobbery to say that working class people cannot achieve in the same way as others and I’ve had it up to here with people saying oh don’t expect too much of them, these are high-falutin’ expectations."

beatback Mon 24-Jun-13 00:01:22

Moondog. Its great to hear a teacher not afraid to air opinions different from the mainsteam within teaching. As for gove he thinks he is the new Keith Joseph and like Keith Joseph comes across as a bit weird and unable to listen to other people. I am sure gove has some decent ideas but he needs to think deeper,and how his changes will work before he sets out unrealistic timetables.

Arisbottle Mon 24-Jun-13 00:02:14

I do think Toby Young is providing more of a service to children from "poor" homes than most free schools . I think the average free school meal intake of free schools is 10% although of course you have to bear in mind that his figure is much lower than the other schools in his area and the average figure will of course vary according to regions .

Like Gove, I think that Young has laudable aims.

noblegiraffe Mon 24-Jun-13 00:03:25

The point being, moondog, that rather than helping the poor, free schools appear to be selecting against them in some way as they are ending up with fewer of them than they should have by rights.

Arisbottle Mon 24-Jun-13 00:03:47

I agree Claig, I was considered thick for much of my time at school because my family were notorious, my parents barely literate and usually pissed. Luckily my potential was spotted and I managed to escape.

Startail Mon 24-Jun-13 00:30:39

Yes, if you go back to before the wars I think intelligence was more evenly spread through the classes, but gradually working class educational opportunities improved.

I have relatives from relatively humble backgrounds who got trade guild scholarships to Cambridge, a grandfather who got a technical education in the RAF and went from working class to MC collage lecturer, his sons both went on to grammar school (one is a history lecturer at a an RG uni).

Grammar schools allowed may be two or three generations of DCs into university that might not have got their otherwise.

Then Universities started letting in large numbers of women.

No longer did you marry the handsome dim lad next door, you married the geek from the other end of Britain.

Ie. a lot of bright people became MC and they were and are determined their DC will be too.

Crumbledwalnuts Mon 24-Jun-13 01:26:36

I would swim through a sewer to have my children in a free school far from the clutches of lunatic unions and the idiocy of the national curriculum.

Yes, me too Moondog, very good phrasing.

moondog Mon 24-Jun-13 16:39:55

'The point being, moondog, that rather than helping the poor, free schools appear to be selecting against them in some way as they are ending up with fewer of them than they should have by rights.'

Eh? So there are over 20% of kids in that school who qualify for free meals but according to you, they have all been cherry picked to ensure the proletariat remain oppressed.

I thought I was a conspiracy theorist but next to you, am a mere amateur.
Hilarious logic.

MiniTheMinx Mon 24-Jun-13 23:10:22

Interesting historical summary of social mobility Startail only thing I would add is that over that same period of time there was less wealth inequality, not because of education but because of progressive taxation, creation of welfare/social programmes, state spending and investment and a larger percentage of profit/value going to workers.

I agree that Labour has given up on the working class. Labour appeals to a guardian reading MC, who are not left but liberal. These doctors, teachers, social workers and community -add role of choice- workers actually benefit from having a working class. Their trade relies on an expanding welfare state, widening inequality and rising poverty.

I don't believe though that Gove et al are serious about changing the one institution that upholds class privilege like nothing else. Gove's constant assault upon teachers and state education has nothing what so ever to do with raising standards. STATE education is not about educating, more about containment, training and socialisation. Always has been an instrument of state violence upon the creative capacities of working class people, simply a moulding of replacement labour power. This is why Gove is obsessed with a knowledge based education over encouraging natural inquiry and critical thinking.

WafflyVersatile Mon 24-Jun-13 23:13:17

The right don't give a shiny shite about the poor. Don't kid yourselves.

Ehhn Mon 24-Jun-13 23:24:38

I know that these threads tend to turn into "ime" but... In my experience... My mum was born into grinding, shitty poverty (going hungry, one set of clothes, couldn't go to school when her knickers were being washed... The kind of poverty we don't really get any more even in the most deprived areas) at the end of the war. She contracted TB and was saved by the very young NHS. She then got into grammar school and it opened her up to a world which she eventually entered on her own terms as a business woman. She had me in 1986 as a single mother. No grammar schools where I live and the one traditionally good state school started a slide downwards from the 1980s. So private school for me and then to an RG university.
How 40 years of mismanagement by left and right have ruined the post-war ideals of hard work, free health care and a solid education to lift people out of poverty. (My aunt, 15 years younger than my mum, was brought up in 1970s on full blown welfare and no g school. She lives on benefits and 2 of her 4 kids have been in prison.)

moondog Mon 24-Jun-13 23:25:22

Your second paragraph is true mini although it is not a working class this particular cadre feed off, rather a. Underclass. Your final paragraph is however paranoid guff.

MiniTheMinx Mon 24-Jun-13 23:31:41

debunk it then Moondog

Minifingers Mon 24-Jun-13 23:39:01

There are a fair number of completely illiterate people in their 50's and 60's as anyone will tell you who has taught basic literacy classes will tell you. It's rare now for children to leave school being unable to read and write.

When children were expected to learn information by rote it was possible to have large classes. Easier too when the poor knew their place and the children of the working classes could be beaten into silence and compliance at school.

It's not state schools which are failing children - even in the worst state schools there will be children from poor families who achieve highly. But if these children come from poor families they will overwhelmingly be from poor immigrant families who come from cultures which hugely value education and instil this belief on their kids.

My dad was born into a big working class family and bought up on a housing estate in Dagenham. He didn't get on in life because he had brilliant schooling but because his father was a rabid socialist who encouraged debate, got his sons to attend evening lectures at the local working men's college, and because my dad was a reader.

It's working class culture which has 'dumbed down', not schooling. And the belief that a few hours a day of schooling can make up for children having absolutely no intellectual stimulation or opportunity for creativity in their lives outside of the classroom is false.

beatback Mon 24-Jun-13 23:44:50

Minitheminx. You are obviously of the belief that both right and left use education as a device to keep working class people in their places ,and therefore keep a large number of people who are totally reliant on social services. These people are clients of the state, and will in all probably be for life so are keeping the guardian reading educated in careers. EHHN. After the 2nd world war many families were rehoused in prefab buildings ,but many of these families had desire and determination to improve their surrondings, and in time achieved great things. The thing is i dont think people on the estates today have the same desire or determination to improve their own circumstances.

TabithaStephens Tue 25-Jun-13 00:42:00

State schooling in this country is an absolute mess. It is no surprise whatsoever that anyone with the means to do so is sending their kids to independent schools. The national curiculum needs to be abolished and the teachers unions broken. Teachers that are not up to scratch need to be sacked and prevented from teaching in the future. Throwing money at teachers and building shiny new buildings is not the answer. Labour made a complete mess of things, the jury is still out on Gove but I believe his heart is in the right place.

WafflyVersatile Tue 25-Jun-13 01:15:19

Teachers and teacher's unions know a lot more and care a lot more about education than Gove does. The man knows nothing about education. He's only interested in privatising education to further enrich his mates same as all his Tory mates in charge just now.

Crumbledwalnuts Tue 25-Jun-13 06:04:51

"Teachers and teacher's unions know a lot more and care a lot more about education than Gove does."

This gave me a giggle. Union leaders are afraid of Gove because they know this isn't true. They are all huffy and puffy like Mr Toad. I think moondog is super on this thread.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 07:36:49

Moondog, the suggestion on this thread was that free schools were to give the poor the chance of a great education.

In which case you'd expect to see them encouraging poor students through their doors, rather than whatever it is they are actually doing that seems to be favouring the nom-FSM kids in their area.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 08:52:24

Of course Noble!
The only real way to help the proleteriat into free schools is to set up government funded inititatives to enable this.
I foresee street theatre, drop in sessions, leaflet drops and specially trained facilitators to drive to their abodes in the morning and escort them there in an environmentally friendly walking us formation.

In this way we might then achieve our goal of ensuring free schools are only frequented by semi feral urban youths.

Thank you for your flash of insight.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 09:13:23

Having a fair representation of them in free schools would be rather a start, if free schools are supposed to be the solution to the state school underachievement problem.

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 14:08:23

And Moondog that is probably not too far from the truth!

Just because social institutions are being privatised, don't think for one minute that these "free market" entities can survive without state intervention and huge levels of state investment. It isn't the people who benefit from state spending in the free market model but the profit driven free market racqueteers. Something like 47% of GDP in the UK is still generated through government spending, even under neo-liberalism. The difference is that before 1980 when governments spent money it had several positive effects, benefiting the working classes/MCs, increased GDP, increased tax revenue and brought down government debt. Not so now. Thatcher and the Conservatives of today crow about cutting welfare, cutting spending, government intervention in the market and having a "small" government. This isn't possible because government spending rises due to several inherent contradictions within capitalism itself.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 16:48:29

Mini, not being a journalist on a women's magazine, I do not 'debunk myths' any more than I pamper my pooches. Where did you learn to write like that? grin
I laud your cynicism but I cannot agree that education (whether private or public) is as sinister as you think it is. I don't think there is anything wrong with 'training' and 'socialisation' however. How else are we meant to share the planet. Even evil capitalist pigs eventually work out that if workers are to be productive they need a basic modicum of shelter, nutrition and literacy and numeracy skills.

'STATE education is not about educating, more about containment, training and socialisation. Always has been an instrument of state violence upon the creative capacities of working class people, simply a moulding of replacement labour power.'

'This is why Gove is obsessed with a knowledge based education over encouraging natural inquiry and critical thinking.'

What intrigues me is the assumption that knowledge is a bad thing. Good God, what sort of lunatic actively discourages acquisition of knowledge? Bizarrely, it seems to be the lefties, those who once fought for the emancipation of the proletariat. When did it all go wrong? You can't think critically without knowledge.
You remind me of myself, years ago, strutting off the university to study Philosophy. I rather naively assumed it would be a chance to talk about me, me, me. I remember my lecturers telling me no one really cared what I thought., but that I was there to learn what other people thought.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 16:53:03

'Having a fair representation of them in free schools would be rather a start, if free schools are supposed to be the solution to the state school underachievement problem.'

So Noble what in your eyes is a 'fair representation?
30% 40%
When are you happy?
Are those that choose to attend these schools to be punished for the fact that others don't attend?
I think back to various state funded trendy arts initiatives I have been involved in for young parents from deprived backgrounds. Most didn't attend, even when offered cut-price sessions, or with the offers of free lifts from right on public sector workers.
The middles classes couldn't get in fast enough. I remember a visit once from a well known politician at one of my Sure Start sessions, and the approving nods that I, a public sector drone, got for my work. Little did he know that my 'clients' included a vet, a physio, a social worker and a good few teachers.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 17:01:43

'Something like 47% of GDP in the UK is still generated through government spending, even under neo-liberalism. The difference is that before 1980 when governments spent money it had several positive effects, benefiting the working classes/MCs, increased GDP, increased tax revenue and brought down government debt.'

I'd like a reference to your source there Mini.

I'm also not sure what your argument is. I have no truck with people profiting handsomely as and when they deliver the goods and what goods are of more asset to our country that literate, numerate socialised young people.
The public sector mandarins are the most dangerous of all as they disguise themselves under a cloak of respectability. Look at the fiasco with the Care Quality Commission. Have you read about the size of those salaries and pensions and the brazen arrogance and lack of accountability of these servants of the state?
The disgusting decadence of people like Polly Toynbee's husband wining and dining his cronies?

The utter lack of accountability of the public sector? Tootle over to the Special Needs section and read the nightmarish accounts of parents trying to secure a basic education for their children in the face of Kafkaesque lies, bullying and cover ups.

I sat last night and watched my child complete the most pathetic piece of homework I have ever seen in my life (and believe me, I have seen some dross). It was for music and comprised a worksheet (the worksheet, beloved of the state school) and a fill in the blanks section. 'Today I'

The target phrases were in a 'wordbank' (another appalling artefact) this all the cvhild had to do was pick one and copy it in.

Critical thinking?
My arse.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 17:46:50

A fair representation would be the proportion of poor kids in the area they are supposed to serve, not fewer poor kids than the other schools in the area.

Minifingers Tue 25-Jun-13 17:50:01

Moondog - whose fault is it if the most disadvantaged people in the UK refuse to take up offers of antenatal education, support from Sure Start centres, fail to take advantage of libraries or free learning resources on the Internet? These things are there for everyone, and those of us who live in areas of high immigration see that many new immigrants who come to the UK to live in poverty stricken boroughs take every opportunity to advance their children's learning. What is stopping working class English people from doing the same?

My children's state school is in a poor part of London but many of the children achieve very highly. Those who don't are usually poorly supported at home.

Minifingers Tue 25-Jun-13 17:54:21

Moondog - it's heartening to see someone calling for massive increases in taxation to fund a reduction in class sizes to those found in private schools, and hugely increased help for children with special needs. I assume that this is what you support?

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 17:55:16

You assume wrong.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 17:57:05

'A fair representation would be the proportion of poor kids in the area they are supposed to serve, not fewer poor kids than the other schools in the area.'

a. how do you define poor?
b. how do you get the 'poor kids' into the Free School?
c. how do you know the % of 'poor kids' in a state school is a fair representative of 'poor kids' ?

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 17:58:23

'Moondog - whose fault is it if the most disadvantaged people in the UK refuse to take up offers of antenatal education, support from Sure Start centres, fail to take advantage of libraries or free learning resources on the Internet? These things are there for everyone..'

Mini, that is my question!
I'm hoping someone can answer it.
What do you think?

beatback Tue 25-Jun-13 18:01:46

Goverment spending can only be created by taxes in other words taking off people so if the money is taken off people how is that creating G.D.P all it is doing is robbing peter to pay paul. The only other way to create G.D.P is though quantivtive easing and hope that stimulates the economy. The downsides are inflation and devalution of currency. The average take up of F.S.M in Schools is 10% then surely a School that has 25% take up is still getting many kids from the same background however F.S.M does not include the working poor in many instances. Moondog. The problem in the public sector over many years was a lack of control on spending and a attitude of its not my money so it does not matter if we pay two times to much for the goods. What has happened with the cuts athough drastic have made the public sector more cost conscious and in time that will be a very good thing. However private companies when dealing with social problems tend to go to far over profit rather than care, you only had to watch panorama last night on how kids in care are being sent to homes that are poor or satisfactory.

Bonsoir Tue 25-Jun-13 18:11:35

"My children's state school is in a poor part of London but many of the children achieve very highly. Those who don't are usually poorly supported at home."

I can well imagine. I live in a (affluent) part of Paris, but even rich kids who are poorly supported at home regularly fail to achieve when they are contained within the state education system.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 18:18:52

a) fsm is the criteria in the article in the OP
b) same way other schools seem to manage it? The fact that free schools control their own admissions and end up with fewer fsm kids is worthy of investigation, especially if they claim, as Toby Young did, not to be simply setting up schools for the kids of the middle classes in the area.
c) well the poor kids are unlikely to be at private school are they?

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 18:42:55

I wonder if there has been a dumbing down of the working classes or if it is just that there is a shrinking working class and that everyone is so keen to label themselves as middle class.

It strikes me that as soon as someone shows an interest in education they are described as middle class, that there is a middle class style of parenting and therefore if you read with your children at home, eat at the dinner table etc , you become middle class. So it is not that the working class are dumbing down but that we describe anyone who is not conforming to the parental ideal as working class.

Of course it is just as possible that class is an irrelevant nonsense today and we need to therefore look at an " underclass" a term I hate that has always existed and has not in fact dumbed down.

I work with lots of " working class" families or families from council estates who are very aspirational for their children.

I also work with children from homes who could easily afford to pay school fees and they choose to keep them in the state sector, so whilst I am not claiming that all of the state sector is great it is equally wrong to say it is all not working. That does not mean that we could not do more, teachers like any other professionals are always trying to do a better job.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 18:56:05

a) fsm is the criteria in the article in the OP

Faire enough-you have a definition. Not a great one, but a definition nonetheless.

b) same way other schools seem to manage it? The fact that free schools control their own admissions and end up with fewer fsm kids is worthy of investigation, especially if they claim, as Toby Young did, not to be simply setting up schools for the kids of the middle classes in the area.

Your touching naivety in assuming that state schools throw open their doors and welcome all and sundry is astonishing. Again, I direct you to the Special Needs threads.

c) well the poor kids are unlikely to be at private school are they?


Theodore Dalrymple is my favourite writer on the issue of the underclass.

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 19:03:04

Moondog, you'll find a reference to the 47% approx half way through this www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUaVeixiVLc

"Big government’ slashed the debt

The UK’s sovereign debt varied up and down prior to the mid 20th Century, mainly according to the costs of wars against the other big powers. In the initial and classical capitalist period, there was little or no state welfare, and the income and wealth of the rich was barely taxed; British sovereign debt was over 100% of GDP from 1750 to 1850, spiking at 250% of GDP in 1815 following the war against France. During the late 19th Century and until 1914, the national debt continued to fall fairly steadily, even though this was the period in which the beginnings of the modern public sector emerged and expanded, with for example free and compulsory schooling for children, the road network, sewage, the water supply, gas and even telecommunications being arranged by the state at national or local level. Subsequently, the cumulative effect of two world wars and the intervening massive economic crisis sent UK’s sovereign debt back up to two and a half times GDP at the close of the Second World War.

It was then that what could be decribed as ‘big government’ was established in peacetime conditions. The utilities and much of industry was nationalised (with compensation paid to previous owners), and the main institutions of the welfare state were set up and expanded- to the extent that by the mid-1970s, government-managed expenditure (including transfers, ie benefit payments and interest) was almost half of national production, and state spending on investment and services- ie, excluding transfers- had risen to 27% of GDP by 1975- compared to between 10% and 12.5% during most of the years between WW1 and WW2.

Yet at the same time as this huge growth in ‘government’, the sovereign debt was reduced so rapidly that between 1946 and 1975 it fell from 252% to 45% of GDP" 21stcenturysocialism.com/article/sovereign_debt_is_a_capitalist_issue_02079.html

Now, government spending accounts for around 47% of GDP and yet debt to GDP is around 85%. In short we have a "big" spending government and they have nothing to show for it except rising debt.

Basically the government is now spending money, be it welfare, health, education, R&D or defence etc,.....and this money is finding its way into the hands of private businesses and individuals. I could explain further why that money never finds its way back into government hands, workers pockets or R&D and investment into production. You're probably already yawning grin

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 19:07:39

On the contrary. I find this stuff fascinating.
Thanks for the link. Will watch once I have finished supervising the latest piece of idiotic homework and calmed down.

Exactly what The Spectator's Ross Calrk has been saying this week then?

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 19:21:46

I don't have a problem with the acquisition of knowledge, what I question is A)who's knowledge B)how useful is it to those coerced to attain it c)who gets to decide what is useful

Taking history as just one example, history is assumed to be a jumble of happenings that spontaneously happen without any reference to what went before. History is taught as though it were a collection of random events unconnected to the material conditions. Why? I believe this is because we like to think that people shape the world with their ideas. Ideology and culture take precedence over economic/material realities. History itself shapes the way people view their own social conditions. The likes of Gove with his emphasis on facts over enquiry prevent critical thinking in favour of creating state sanctioned group think. Nationalism is manufactured through history teaching and is extremely useful to the state.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 19:26:33

Moondog, re b) and c), what I'm saying is that in any given area there are fsm kids and these kids have to go to school. So if in these areas you have a couple of comps and a free school, and the comps have loads of fsm kids and the free school doesn't, you can assume that the comps are taking at least their fair share, and the free school isn't.

Unless the free school is slap bang in a suspiciously middle class area. But if they are, what is Gove doing approving that given that he is supposedly passionate about free schools and poor kids?

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 19:35:54

oh, and someone mentioned up thread about the dumbing down of working class culture. I agree this has happened. I would though put forward the argument that this is state sanctioned and manufactured through popular culture, TV, Music, tabloid news, fashion, art, (list is endless) There are quite obvious ways in which this dumbing down actually benefits the wealthy social power brokers who make party donations, take state welfare to shore up their businesses, write the news stories of the day, report on the radio and take up almost all public space, employ people and appropriate the product of their labour only to sell it back to them, provided they can get credit!

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 19:46:00

Agree with you Mini that dumbing down is a useful political tool.
Your paranoia about history and history teaching is unfounded.
Everyone has a different slant naturally-and not always the one you think.
As an example, the elite in the French Caribbean are taught about the history of slavery in a very different way to that which you would expect.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 19:47:06

So Noble, assuming free school is in a place packed to the gills with deserving great unwashed, how would you, as head of said free school ensure you got your share quota of poor kids?

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 20:16:55

If the area is chocka with fsm kids, then they should apply to the school. School is not a Surestart centre where you don't have to go. If the local kids are actively choosing to go to a different school, and snubbing the Free school, then questions should be asked why, because that would be odd. If the kids are applying and not getting in, then the admissions need looking at. If a school was in an area with loads of black families and yet was short on ethnic minorities, then that would be worthy of comment.

I think I read Toby Young's school came under fire when it came up with a planned catchment area that was a very odd shape and avoided quite a few poor areas.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 20:26:04

Haha at idea of people actively avoiding free school and your skewed logic.
So if not enough of them for your liking, radar twitches. They have not come! Why?
It must be due to sinister forces at play. Tripod shaped catchment areas and so on.
Do you then tell them they must come to fulfil the quota of bisexual one legged Albanian travellers as decreed by your council.

What if demand exceeds supply?
What does that tell you?

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 20:31:51

Surely you would be concerned if you set up a school for the local community and any sizeable part of that community was actively choosing not to attend.

As has been said on this thread, if the purpose of free schools is to provide a quality and aspirational education for the poorest sectors of society's , it is a failure if they choose not to attend or you set your catchment to exclude those students.

If the purpose of free schools is to save wealthy parents from having to pay school fees, they may not have failed. .

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 20:33:42

Well if at least three quarters of free schools have lower intakes of fsm than is average across their area, then why wouldn't your radar be twitching?

From the article I linked to above
"According to the data, at St Luke's, a primary school in the London borough of Camden, the percentage of pupils registered as eligible for a free lunch is zero. The average proportion of children claiming the benefit in state primary schools across Camden is 38.8%.

At Nishkam free school, a primary in Birmingham, just 6.4% of children are eligible for free lunches. Across the city's primary schools, 33.2% of children are entitled to the benefit. At Bristol free school – a secondary school – 8.8% of children are eligible for free school meals, while across the city's state secondary schools, 22.5% of pupils are entitled to the benefit."

I'd be interested to know why.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 20:39:09

free school

'it is a failure if they choose not to attend'

Are you suggesting that people a. do not exercise free will or b. cannot be trusted even if they do?

There are many state schools in Britain whose pupils are predominantly non British. Are people querying why this is the case? Of course not, for fear of being branded EDL supporters or worse. People blindly close their eyes to the fact that, quite rightly, people always have chosen where and where hot to send their children.

Choice-branded as a wicked thing.

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 20:46:16

One of the problems with having so many choices and so many different types of school with varying ethos and curricular, plus wide differences in academic attainment, is that only savvy MC parents research all of the available information. Many disadvantaged working class children are literally dumped in the most conveniently situated school for various reasons, ranging from travel logistics and costs, parental laziness to ignorance. But of course these parents are the product of state education themselves. Maybe having facts parroted at you 9-3 pm everyday ensures that parents only work with the very brief information they are offered, rather than research their options. Alternatively as I suspect many feel that school is a necessary sufferance that didn't do them any harm but equally no good. They are ambivalent because their lives are largely mapped out through lack of opportunities and social mobility.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 20:49:44

So you commence your argument suggesting there are too many choices to make but end it saying people in question do not have enough choices. Again. Eh?

Is everyone to suffer because some can't or won't make choices?

Helpful link

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 20:52:18

Surely if you set something up and and you intend for a group to attend and they don't there has been a problem.

I am not saying choice is wicked , I chose not to send most of my children to a grammar school, I chose to send most of my children to the local comprehensive .

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 20:58:08

The point I am making is that only some are in a position to make choices. I am not against choice but then I am in a position to make use of that privilege, others aren't and quite likely their children won't be either.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 21:02:24

So are you saying those that can make a choice shouldn't be allowed to because others can't make a choice?
Aris, why do you assume there is a chosen demographic (unless you are opening a madrassah perhaps).
Is it not a case of throw open the doors and see who will come (in manner of Kevin Costner in that appalling baseball film)
Isn't deciding who you will have beforehand (from whatever caste) social engineering?

MrJudgeyPants Tue 25-Jun-13 21:11:35

I firmly believe in meritocracy yet a quick glance around the top table of top jobs (CEO's, politicians, judges, barristers, journalists, doctors and even Olympic medallists) shows that those who are privately educated are massively over-represented. 7% of our children are privately educated yet they take something like 70% of top jobs. This is little short of a disaster. Our state education system is locking the majority of our children out of a wonderful future and leaving them unable to reach their true potential.

Education is too important to leave to politicians with their short term priorities.

If private schools are somehow doing the job of educating children better than the state is, surely there's an argument for more private schools. If state schools were privatised en mass and parents issued with a voucher for their child’s education, surely the market would be a better system of separating the wheat from the chaff.

Similarly, the competing number of examination boards which allow schools to choose the easiest qualification for their charges to attain makes no sense. If politicians do have a role in education, it should be to mandate the complexity of the universal examinations (and, in doing so, setting the curriculum) and then leaving schools to 'get on with the job'.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 21:18:05

Indeed JP. Something is rotten in the state of education. Yet, rather than address it, many believe in clinging even more firmly to this failing model. Where is the social justice in that?

beatback Tue 25-Jun-13 21:21:08

Mr Judgey pants. And the majority of state educated kids who come though and get to the top come from selective schools. ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD. Comprehensives dont get many kids in to the elite "EVEN AMY CHILDS AND JODIE MARSH WENT TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS".

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 21:22:27

Moondog - why do you think poor people haven't sent their children to those free schools? Is it because they have been intentionally excluded in some way - catchment area, or a lack of information available? Do you think it's ok?

My problem in general with the right's attitude to the poor is that they want the poor to help themselves, then if they don't, the right can shrug and say 'well, we tried' and go back to speaking the language of middle classes who know how to research complicated schools admissions procedures.

And longfingernails - are you a teacher? Because to pontificate at such length about what should be taught, how and why, I assume you are a trained and experienced teacher? I would not speak with authority on healthcare, defence or banking crises unless, y'know, I was a specialist. But education - teachers are seen as the lowest of the low by the right. I really don't understand why. Unions - all they are is a great big crowd of trained teachers who want to be allowed to do their job without countless twiddling from above. That music homework made me laugh aloud - I bet you 20p that music teacher has been told to produce evidence that the children have progressed and learned things.. that they can self evaluate and they need the lesson objectives recorded... he didn't want to waste time doing that in the lesson and has probably been told he has to set homework weekly and log it... what kind of homework would you like a music teacher to set? Think about it. This is the last thing this teacher wants to do and he has to. He hates it, it's the most soul destroying part of his job, the endless tick boxes, the endless showing he's doing his job, the endless measuring that means no growth is ever actually made.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 21:23:19

Moondog - who do you think is best placed to make the necessary changes? Genuine question. I think it's teachers.

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 21:25:14

I am not saying there is a chosen demographic, however IF Gove has said that free schools will raise standards for children in deprived areas or from disadvantaged backgrounds and those children do not attend , there is a problem.

My children, with one exception, attend the local state school. The intake for that school is the local community, if a section of that community chooses not to attend surely we would have to ask why. Or of we know that our local area has 25% of children on FSM and yet we only have 6% of children in receipt of free school meals we would ask ourselves why that was the case.

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 21:26:39

I agree about competing exam boards.

claig Tue 25-Jun-13 21:26:42

Amazingg some good points.


"I would not speak with authority on healthcare, defence or banking crises unless, y'know, I was a specialist."

It doesn't seem to stop the New Labour front bench talking about them!

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 21:28:25

I am not quite sure why you are quoting Jodie Marsh and Amy Childs.

claig Tue 25-Jun-13 21:29:07

It may be the case that parents prefer their local comp to a new untried, untested free school

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 21:37:28

I think education needs to be depoliticised as far as possible. I don't know about healthcare, but it's probably the same. Layer upon layer of management between the people on the ground and politicians who latch on to the latest new idea or money saving plan - it's such a recipe for disaster, and both Labour and the coalition are guilty of over-meddling.

It is by far the worst thing in schools atm - either the management of a school is halfway up the govt's rear and shoving all the initiatives at teachers, giving reams of unnecessary and crippling paperwork and requirements, and making any member of staff who protests' life a misery - or you have a school where they try as hard as they can to filter out all the bullshit from ground level so teachers can get on with their jobs. I've taught in both types of school and know which is happier, with staff who feel empowered, strongly unionised and defensive of their autonomy. It seems opposite to rightwing thinking, that teachers are just mistrusted so much. Surely a light touch, hands off approach would be best? It's such a bloody circus - 4 years then the next lot will be in to 'innovate' and 'reform' leaving another generation of fresh young teachers scarred. A ridiculously high proportion of new teachers drop out within their first two years - almost all citing the paperwork. The kids are lovely, teaching is back seat to chasing your rear to fulfil the endless crap imposed, new curricula, new exams... God.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 21:37:49

That turned into a senseless rant, sorry

beatback Tue 25-Jun-13 21:38:19

Aris. The point is that because jodie marsh and amy childs went to private schools they were able to mix with the right people and get their careers moving. Anyway Jodie Marsh was actually quite academic. The other point is that if both of them had gone to the school in educating essex they both would have got nowhere. Which just goes to show where you go to school ,who you know and who you mix with is the most determing factor on your future success.

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 21:41:04

How do you know they would have got nowhere, I teach in a comprehensive/ secondary modern and send students off every year to top universities. I went to a school that would make most MNers blush but managed to get into a top university and have had two successful careers.

I am not saying that all state schools are great but to say that children are doomed if they go to state schools or non selective schools is daft.

I am not sure I want my daugter's to follow in the steps of either of those women tbh.

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 21:49:41

I agree that politicians as individuals and as separate parties have short term priorities but I would like to go back to MrJP's point about the percentage of top jobs taken up by the privately educated. Firstly the political class is not the state, they are two distinctly different things with different functions. Those who are privately educated of a certain class have two dichotomous tendencies, on the one hand they do the bidding of the state on the other they have a desire to fill the pockets of their chums. Their chums in turn benefit hugely from the apparatus of the state in terms of it's institutions like law because the main function of the law is to protect their private property rights. However, in giving free reign to markets they undermine the states ability to protect their interests.

Those on left have a different attitude to the state but the same relation. They want a large state under their control and favour extending state control. They have no interest in allowing the state to function in the interests of those privately educated bods. But equally have no desire to educate and empower the working class, for without it their work is over.

The most common way of measuring the effectiveness of state education is to compare it with private. Without one the other wouldn't exists because no comparison could be made.

Knowing that the class interests of privately educated people is to keep a two tier education system which privileges them is no short term goal. If they succumb to filling the pockets of their chums, if the state system is auctioned off, sold piecemeal to private interests, be aware that these private interests are the very same people, with the same long term goals as the right wing political establishment.

I have no problem with choice when it isn't subterfuge for shoring class interests.

beatback Tue 25-Jun-13 21:53:39

Aris. I know you would not want to follow in their steps, but you would think that most kids with poor academic qualifactions would take them as inspriations and its the same with other celebs who appear normal like lily allen went to public schools. The whole system is totally screwed against anyone from a inner city comp the ones who do get though seem to come from Grammar Schools.

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 22:04:51

I have never heard a child quote either of those two as inspirational. Yec I have heard actresses, singers etc, never those two.

With one exception my children are not at a grammar, they are not screwed . They are aiming for careers like law, medicine , politics etc . My children are not in inner city schools but could very easily have been as we lived in London until relatively recently.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 22:19:56

'Moondog - who do you think is best placed to make the necessary changes? Genuine question. I think it's teachers.'

I feel sorry for teachers. They are hassled (as are all public sector workers) to produce 'evidence' (of the Emporer's new clothes ilk) to cover their arse and those of their managers. Health is exactly the same.
It is now better than Soviet era bollocks about wheat harvest in Uzbekistan and tractor production in the Urals.

I also think most teachers are poorly trained and educated, especially those who work with children who are struggling academically (my area). I know enough about evidence based practice and effecting really change to know these teachers haven't been taught this stuff. My conspiracy theorist alter ego tells me this is so the client state can be extended and perpetuated. The Special Educational Needs industry is a terrifyingly parasitic machine that bays for blood and produces little. Constantly shrieking for more and more people to join its army of utterly ineffectual foot soldiers who go through their careers congratulating
themselves on the pivotal role they assume they play in the wellbeing of the nation.
So, to answer your question, politicians use education as a political football, teachers are largely clueless or led by stupid careerists like Christine Blower. Who does that leave? Parents.
Who sets up free schools? Parents.
Quite a few MNers are involved in this movement (not me sadly, although open to offers)

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 22:21:58

Stephen Twigg was ranting about Gove recently, asking what he knew about education (a damn site more than Blower it would seem who admitted that she had no understanding of phonics despite arguing against its use, despite all the evidence to the contrary) and what right he had to mess with it.

Doesn't stop Twigg though does it? grin

beatback Tue 25-Jun-13 22:27:53

That is very unfair on Amy childs?. She is always well turned out polite on time disciplined and works dammed hard and should be a inspriation for non academic girls, that if you work hard enough at something they can achieve. Sadly i believe that amy"s comfortable upbringing had a great deal to do with her success. The reason i said Jodie Marsh is because people think very negative things about her not her business acumem that has made her wealthy.

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 22:28:56

I don't need pity , I am not clueless or poorly educated. I work in a comprehensive/secondary modern that you are desperate to escape and am surrounded by highly qualified and well educated professionals .

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 22:38:36

Who on earth is Amy Childs?

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 22:39:36

I think she is from "The Only Way is Essex"

MrJudgeyPants Tue 25-Jun-13 22:40:14

Mini I have no problem with choice when it isn't subterfuge for shoring class interests.

Mini, I understand the point you are trying to make here. I've often thought that if the left ever did manage to elevate the proletariat (to use old fashioned language) for a future of true social justice in all walks of life, they would destroy their own raison d'etre. Conversely, if an elite opened the doors to all and sundry it wouldn't be an elite for very long.

Frankly, as someone on the right (who is also pretty far removed from any elite I can assure you), I couldn't give a stuff about the special interest groups on either end of the spectrum - I just want the best for my child and for as many others like her as possible. To that end, I would love for her to have a private education but, like the 93% majority, I cannot afford it.

To go back to your point that privatising education would put education in the hands of the elite and that, in the long term, they have an interest in keeping our kids down, I have to say that I disagree with you. The object of any business is to make money for its shareholders and to achieve this, they have to have customers. Provided that competition is built in to any mass sell off of our schools (and that, I concede, is by no means guaranteed - the states record on privatisation is woeful) the long term goal of any business is attract more customers by being better than the competition. How a school becomes 'better' than the competition is a question that private schools know the answer to yet, after 140 years of state education in this country, the state seems no clearer on.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 22:50:28

Excellent points JP.

MrJudgeyPants Tue 25-Jun-13 22:52:40

Amazinggg who do you think is best placed to make the necessary changes? Genuine question. I think it's teachers.

Whilst I acknowledge that this wasn't a question aimed at me, I'd like to answer by saying that, as with any product or service, the customer should get what the customer wants. In this instance the customer is the pupil or their proxy - in this instance their parents.

Would you accept a supermarket telling you what food to eat, a coal miner telling you how to heat your house, or a journalist telling you what newspaper to read? Of course not. You might ask for their opinion but your instinct would be that there is a huge potential for producer interest to prejudice those opinions.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 22:59:02

Aren't private schools usually academically selective?

I imagine small class sizes, plenty of money sloshing around and the ability to boot out troublemakers help too.

State schools don't have that.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 23:02:19

Teachers are 'poorly trained and educated' and 'largely clueless'?

If this is the generally held view of the right, I am speechless. Really.

Teachers don't just stand in front of kids waffling. They plan schemes of work which develop knowledge, skills and understanding, they track progress of students and change their plans accordingly, they assess, come up with blisteringly unique ways of presenting otherwise tricky or dull concepts, they deal daily with numerous emotional and physical issues. None of this earns your respect. Not the degree in the subject they teach (Gove wants rid of this requirement) and not the PGCE, which is a rigorous and good qualification. It really is. As a teacher, I have trained in and delivered many, many different qualifications, some of which I think are really good and develop the learner and assess them well, some of which I think are less effective. This is my job. And I think PGCE is a good qualification, without going into the boring detail of why.

It's like the word 'teacher' brings out some kind of blind spot with people - you see an authoritative person standing up there at the front of the room, it's fun to tear them to shreds. Gove is enjoying it right now, reducing highly intelligent, passionate professionals to defending themselves and their very life work.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 23:03:46

MrJudgey - you think teachers shouldn't plan curricula because they have vested interests? That politicians should do it because they don't? confused

beatback Tue 25-Jun-13 23:10:48

Amazinggg. Well who is going to teach if ,all the teachers have left the profession. Certain uneducated people like to say things like"IF YOU CANT DO IT TEACH IT" this is the sort of nonsense that makes people believe they could do the job and that teachers are over paid and lazy. The vast majority of teachers are giving their very best everday and being derided every day by people ,who are using them as scapegoats has to why the country is in a mess.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 23:11:02

I mean, I was recently a head of department. Part of that role was choosing which qualifications and courses to offer at 11, 14 and 16. Whether to offer the subject at all at A-level. I met with other HoDs across my borough to discuss borough-wide provision and progression routes. We looked at sharing resources. I run my departmental budget, choosing external providers to bring in services. I interview and employ assistants to work closely with particular student groups, prioritising as I see fit. I take students out on trips to widen their work view. I take them abroad sometimes. I follow my school's guidance for discipline and set punishments which make children cry sometimes. I have witnessed fights and abuse and had to make the right call. I help children choose the right course for them, I refuse to accept some on my subject if in my view they won't succeed and would be better suited elsewhere. I write references which determine how likely a student is to achieve future success.

It's a pretty powerful role in the scheme of your children's lives. That's why I love it. And why you are so scared of it and would rather politicians made our every decision for us. Middle managers in schools are your worst nightmare.

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 23:15:43

Aside from the odd poster on here, people do not think that teachers are lazy or over paid. If anything people hold my job in awe and seem to think that it is more difficult than it is.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 23:17:10

Oh get off your high horse Amazing.
There are some great teachers out there (including, I am proud to say, many of my own family) and there is no doubt that the job is hugely important.
However your argument that all are top folk who 'come up with blisteringly unique ways of presenting otherwise tricky or dull concepts' is a nonsense. It's as ridiculous as those who would have us believe all nurses are 'angels' and all soldiers 'heroes'.
Teaching attracts many who drift into it by default. It shouldn't be like that.

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 23:20:23

I agree teachers, like any other sector of society come as good, bad and many shades in between.

I suppose I have drifted into teaching, it was not my first choice career and I went into teaching wanting more time with my children, that does not stop me from being a good teacher.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 23:24:06

Not on any kind of a horse but sorry I I ranted. In my experience teachers are not how you described in your rather rude descriptions, and it does seem like that is how many in government perceive us - as downright ignorant and playing havoc. Not trained professionals in making decisions which affect children.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 23:28:48

'trained professionals in making decisions which affect children.'

The phrase 'trained professionals' is the sort of meaningless guff spouted by public sector drones.
I always want to reply with a
'As opposed to what? An untrained professional?'

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 23:33:07

Gosh moondog, that is rather harsh.

You picked Amazingg up on a post, after she responded to your point that most teachers were uneducated, clueless and deserving of pity. Rather graciously, I thought, she apologised and then you throw public sector drone at her.

I think I will get back to my book.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 23:35:06

She didn't have to apologise.
I was rather surprised that she did.
It's a discussion about Politics.
If you join in, you should be fighting your corner-as she has been.
Nothing achieved if we all agree with one another.

I'm a public sector drone myself. It takes one to know one.

MrJudgeyPants Tue 25-Jun-13 23:36:48

Amazinggg you think teachers shouldn't plan curricula because they have vested interests? That politicians should do it because they don't?

If, by planning, you are referring to the day-to-day lesson planning, it would stupid to leave that in the hands of anyone other than the professionals who will be teaching the lesson.

Assuming you were referring to my earlier point about having one matriculation board rather than the patchwork quilt that we currently have, it makes sense that one examination board requires one syllabus.

As for who sets that syllabus, there should be input from teachers (as I said), but their opinion should be balanced against opinions from universities, employers, parents and even politicians too.

The important thing is to achieve a balance between the competing interests and to maintain the most rigorous of standards - something which I'm not sure that the current system delivers all that well.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 23:39:01

Moondog - I stick with that description - because the point is that Gove et al are not trained professionals in children's education. It's terrifying to realise how little teachers' training and experience counts, how little we're trusted.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 23:40:37

It's terrifying to realise how little teachers' training and experience counts, how little we're trusted.

That's because the results don't instil much faith.
People expect more than just good vibes and worksheets.
I do.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 23:45:16

IMO the general public perception is that the NHS is tinkered with too much, that there are too many consultants and layers of management, and that money and time is wasted by endless new initiatives, and that staff are over-burdened with paperwork.

No-one blames nurses and doctors for any issues with standards in the NHS - there is a respect for the people doing the job. Teachers should be left to it. That is what would improve things.

There are some posts on here which show complete ignorance of the wide ranging role of a teacher. The more we are limited and told exactly what to teach, the more difficult our job becomes.

Amazinggg Tue 25-Jun-13 23:46:12

That was in response to Moondog's assumption that rubbish teachers are the cause of 'poor standards'

Arisbottle Tue 25-Jun-13 23:58:27

I don't feel the need to fight my corner or join a group and stick with it blindly.

I have seen people blame nurses for things, there have been accusations that nurses no longer care.

TabithaStephens Wed 26-Jun-13 03:07:41

Can a teacher explain why so many school leavers are struggling to find employment? Are employers wrong to distrust qualifications such as GCSEs and A-Levels?

Minifingers Wed 26-Jun-13 06:13:36

Can I add - I suspect the majority of teachers working in the most successful private schools were educated and trained within the state sector.

If state schools are awful because of their teachers, how is it that other teachers (mostly) trained and educated in the same system achieve such superior results with pupils from private schools?

Bonsoir Wed 26-Jun-13 07:05:17

Why do you think that, minifingers? I ask because my anecdotal data tells me the opposite - that teachers in the private sector were mostly privately educated themselves.

moondog Wed 26-Jun-13 07:44:42

Amazingg, and thus we come full circle.
I suspect the reason most people like the idea of free schools is so that teachers can teach free from the constant interference of those who don't teach.
And yet (some) teachers rail against those who would set them free from this nightmare, or rather professional trouble makers like Christine Blower do. (No wonder union rates are plummeting. Their true purpose got sidelined years ago.)
As you say, certainly true of the NHS. If all those sitting in meetings, and tapping out countless emails actually got up and went out to help with the work instead of telling everyone else how to do it, things would improve vastly.
When I go into work, I feel physically ill when I open my email, such is the profusion of directives and information overload.

One more thing however. If teachers are all such heroes, how is it I have met and seen so many at work that I wouldn't trust with a hamster, let alone a child? Yet, they stay in post, year after year. We all know it is nigh impossible to get the sack in the public sector.
My husband (private sector) is incredulous at the tolerance of under performance in the public sector.)

merrymouse Wed 26-Jun-13 08:12:45

Hopping mad about educational inequality? I don't think Johnson and Cameron are that bothered.

I think educational inequality comes from home, not school. The question has always been how do you give the benefits that some children receive at home to all children via school. Nobody has yet worked out how to do this on a large scale within the budget available.

I wouldn't argue that Labour were successful in doing this, and I agree that the obsession with everybody going away to study for 3 years was not very well thought out. (although the renaming of polytechnics, a good name for what they did, was a conservative policy).

However, much as I personally quite like learning poetry and am convinced of its educational benefits, I think social policy has a greater effect on educational outcome than changing a reading scheme or fiddling with the history syllabus.

As I understand it, currently, the number of poor people is increasing, and the only help being offered by the likes of IDS is a call for people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, which I don't think is helping teachers who have children in their class not getting enough food.

moondog Wed 26-Jun-13 09:37:52

Interesting link about how much less time British kids spend on the three Rs than their counterparts in Europe

Reflects my own findings.
Want to spend an afternoon building a castle out of foam and 'thinking critically'? Go ahead!
An afternoon spent practicing handwriting and spelling? Booooooooring.

merrymouse Wed 26-Jun-13 10:10:47

Is it accurate though?

It says the British curriculum focuses on non core subjects like sex education - does it?

It seems to concede lower down that the 14% spent on social studies includes history and geography - at secondary school this doesn't seem too alarming. I'm not sure how much of the 14% is made up of sex ed, but I am sure I spent atleast 14% of my school time studying humanities subjects, and I would be surprised if 'top public schools' and 'traditional grammar schools' do less.

I agree that teachers seem to be overly burdened with parenting their pupils given the available resources, and that this doesn't seem to be effectively helping the most disadvantaged children. However, what is the suggested alternative? The 'big society?'.

moondog Wed 26-Jun-13 10:16:50

I don't know how accurate it is, but I thought interesting in light of discussion.
It's difficult isn't it? It seems either the home is filling in for what the child isn't learning at school, or the school is filling in for what the child isn't learning at home.
I was talking to a fantastic teacher yesterday and she said she felt that she is being asked to do too many things and as a result, cant; do any of them properly. She would rather focus on fewer and do them well.
I agree.

noblegiraffe Wed 26-Jun-13 10:27:42

My state school has 1 lesson of PSHE/Citizenship a fortnight. This includes stuff like bullying, relationships, learning to learn, finance, politics, depending on the year group. Sex ed is a couple of lessons during PSHE time in Y7, and a couple in Y9 I think.

I think this is fairly standard.

Bonsoir Wed 26-Jun-13 11:52:03

Focusing on the basics has led, in France, to the current situation where children read almost no books in primary school and don't write essays until they are at Lycée (15).

merrymouse Wed 26-Jun-13 12:06:52

Returning to the OP, the thing that I find confusing is it seems to be generally accepted in some quarters that the majority of teachers are left wing. If all of these right wing people are so hopping mad about sink schools, surely the clear solution is that they should become teachers and go and teach in them.

Conversely, if this isn't true, and the majority of teachers are right wing, what is the problem? Surely with Michael Gove in power everybody is in agreement and the NUT are just a rather vocal minority.

claig Wed 26-Jun-13 12:19:50

'I don't know how accurate it is'

If it's in the Daily Mail, I expect it is as accurate as can possibly be.

Minifingers Wed 26-Jun-13 12:32:14

Bonsoir, I'm not aware that there are many graduates with good degrees and a private school education (who themselves are likely to have come from very affluent backgrounds) who would be thrilled at the prospect of a heavy workload as a teacher for less than 50K a year (considerably less than this outside of London and the South East), which is what the majority of teachers in ordinary private schools will be earning, even after several years service. A few of the biggest and more prestigious private schools pay considerably more than teachers make in the state sector, but this is absolutely NOT the case across the board. And often their pay and conditions are worse than teachers working in the state sector.

"It's difficult isn't it? It seems either the home is filling in for what the child isn't learning at school, or the school is filling in for what the child isn't learning at home."

Yes - this is absolutely true!

As an educated parent I expect to have to do a lot for my children educationally, and I expect them to achieve, even if their school is not stretching them as much as I would like.

Obviously it would be better for my high achieving ds if I could clear half of the children out of his classroom (he currently has 31 kids in his class). Preferably all the ones with special needs, or those who don't have English as their first language, and those who are not as bright as my ds. The ones who slow the pace of learning down for the rest of the class by demanding a disproportionate amount of the teacher's time and attention. DS's learning experience would then become very similar to that of children in the schools that Moondog probably holds up as examples of excellence in education. Fast-paced, challenging, creative, rigorous.

I don't blame DS's teacher for the fact that DS is not having an optimal experience of education. It's really, truly not his fault or the fault of his training.

Bonsoir Wed 26-Jun-13 13:34:01

I'm not at all convinced that you are right, minifingers. I know quite a lot of teachers working in the private sector and they were all privately educated themselves - which is of course where they learned the ethos of private education that they are now imparting.

ArthurSixpence Wed 26-Jun-13 13:36:04

It is interesting that no-one at all cares that schools fail the highly gifted.

Viviennemary Wed 26-Jun-13 13:36:07

I think the problem is that the left think the problem of failing schools can be solved by more and more money and resources. Not the case.

Amazinggg Wed 26-Jun-13 14:18:07

Excellent post mini fingers - that sums up my experience of teaching in both state and private. I and my colleagues in both types of school were broadly state educated, and were of a very similar calibre. Private school teachers are not any better than state school teachers. That's not what you're paying for. You pay for the exclusivity. To have more attention from the teacher, smaller class sizes, less riff-raff. It is sooo much easier teaching in a private school! And in my experience (London) less well paid. There are lots of unqualified teachers in private schools who wouldn't get a job in a state school - or last five minutes managing the wide array of needs in front of them.

I hate this idea that free schools will magically emulate private schools. Private schools have money to spend on small class sizes and targeted groups - the state sector doesn't. So as state schools start to look and feel like private, with beautiful PFI academies springing up, the results will never match up.

Minifingers Wed 26-Jun-13 19:13:33

In what sense 'fails'?

At my dd's inner London comp (which is not an academy, has a higher than average intake of poor children and children with special needs and EAL) they get a good old handful of kids into Oxbridge and Russell group unis every year.

Even some of the worst schools in the country will have exceptional children who achieve highly. The worst school in our borough (a school fingered as in the bottom 15 schools in the whole of the UK) had a Eastern European student last year who obtained 10 A*'s in his GCSE's proving that if f children have a strong work ethic, and a gift for learning they can find a way even in difficult circumstances.

It is thick kids we should reserve our concern for, as these children can't compensate for the educational disadvantage engendered by learning in massive classes, and disruption and have limited life chances to begin with. I would like to see the charitable status of private schools being removed from private schools that fail to provide bursaries for mediocre children from poor and unsupportive backgrounds, as these are the ones who really thrive in a more supportive educational environment and need smaller classes. Instead these schools offer bursaries to the sort of clever and well supported children who actually tend to do very well anyway in the state sector.

Minifingers Wed 26-Jun-13 19:16:05

Vivienne - if smaller class sizes didn't make a difference then private schools wouldn't consistently sell this to parents as an advantage of stepping outside the state sector.

Reducing class sizes costs A LOT of money.

Viviennemary Wed 26-Jun-13 21:48:46

I agree with that Minifingers. But I don't think it's just down to funding alone although schools should be adequately funded the money must be spent wisely.

Amazinggg Wed 26-Jun-13 23:15:29

Yes Vivienne and giving individual schools freedom to spend money how they wish isn't the answer. Teachers need freedom, commissioners who buy equipment and services categorically do not. Academies are wasting money left right and centre because school management - who are either promoted teachers, or managers from business brought in - are suddenly trusted with millions. The results are terrifying. I know of a school first-hand who have committed to spending over £10k a month on Internet access and wireless networks, because they were fleeced. No-one has to face responsibility for this - it hasn't been covered up, it's just one of thousands and thousands of crap business decisions taken by non-business leaders. Which is just a ridiculous use of human resources. What the hell was wrong with centralised funding, ie LEAs, for stuff like that? PFI and schools running their own finances will be the ruin of state education.

dancinglife Wed 26-Jun-13 23:35:00

SirChejin - many private schools are up to 30% bursary now but it not going to happen overnight cos they need to raise the funds - unlike the wind farms who are wrecking the landscape and environment for an outmoded and useless way to generate electricity - 500 million was the cost of one smallish wind farm a few years ago (to a Danish company, not British) and precious habitats lost to wildlife forever under tons of concrete.
So agree - money would be better spent on education

Minifingers Thu 27-Jun-13 08:13:49

Harris City academy in SE London have a head on 250k a year. It hit the headlines last year as the first state school to gain a 'perfect' OFSTED, getting 'outstanding' in all categories. It's the most oversubscribed and richest state school in the area, with more teachers per pupil than any other in the borough. So on the surface a real success story - it used to be one of the worst schools in the country.

However, scratch the surface and you find that it takes only a fraction of the number of children on free school meals when compared to all three of the nearest primaries, the lowest number of statemented/school action plus children of any school in the borough (3.9% - the average for the three nearest primaries is over 20%) and admits three times the number of high ability children as the nearest also supposedly non-selective school one mile down the road (70% compared to 22%). And yet the average GCSE grade for these high achieving children is lower than at the bog standard non-selective comp a mile in the other direction.....

Point I'm making is that there are people making themselves rich in the public sector. Money is being wasted on an EPIC scale and all the Tories want to do is change the rules regulating how schools/hospitals are run to make this sort of sharp practice easier.

Bonsoir Thu 27-Jun-13 08:43:30

Sounds like a success story to me, Minifingers, not an epic waste of money.

noblegiraffe Thu 27-Jun-13 08:59:06

How can you see a success story in a school rolling with money and short on challenging kids that isn't getting the expected results, Bonsoir?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 27-Jun-13 09:23:37

I am confused about that too Noble!

Also re. teachers educated/trained in the private/state sector - if they're trained at all (which of course is not a given), then it must perforce have been in the state sector, obviously.

Minifingers Thu 27-Jun-13 09:38:39

How is it a 'success' when it has a negative 'value added' score?

Minifingers Thu 27-Jun-13 09:40:15

Theoriginal - most private school teachers teaching qualifications. Almost all UK educated and qualified teachers will have had their teacher training in a public sector institution.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 09:42:12

Very good points by Amazinggg and Minifingers about the possible waste of public funds. I hope the expenditure is all transparent and people are accountable, because the mood of the nation has changed and waste of public funds and taxpayer money by state bureaucrats or business people profiting at the expense of the public is now one of the public's major concerns.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 27-Jun-13 09:44:17

Mini that's what I mean - if you trained to be a teacher, you did it in the public sector, right?

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 09:45:41

Instead of setting up a parallel structure of schools which have more freedom, why not reorganise current state schools and give them more freedom?

Do they think that free schools are better than state schools and if so what are they going to do for the millions of children in state schools?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 27-Jun-13 09:59:04

Bugger only knows, Claig!

noblegiraffe Thu 27-Jun-13 10:01:32

Claig, isn't that what Labour was saying the other day? Give those freedoms to all schools without forcing them to become academies?


claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:05:11

Yes, that is what Labour said the other day and is right.

But of course, it took Labour a very long time to come round to this position. It is only because the Tories started changing things that Labour have now also changed and updated their views. And I guess there may still be questions of whether Labour's change of mind is for real or just more of their usual spin.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:10:32

"Harris City academy in SE London have a head on 250k a year."

How many state comprehensives have heads on salaries like this?

I presume these salaries come from taxpayer money. If this starts looking like a gravy train with the public being milked and bilked, this might all end in tears for the politician who implemented it.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:13:04

No wonder private businesses want to get into this game if the rewards are so huge and if the taxpayer is the one who pays for it.

This might be easier for them than banking.

noblegiraffe Thu 27-Jun-13 10:16:21

The problem with heads is that no bugger wants to do it at the moment, so silly money is justified to 'attract the right candidates'.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:20:44

But that is the argument that the CBI and Institute of Directors use to justify the huge salaries of business executives who often face shareholder disapproval.

These state roles seem to attract huge salaries - in the health service, in charities, in social trusts, in the BBC and tax-exempt foundations - and the argument is always that these people are so skilled that no one else is capable of doing the job and they therefore deserve to be paid so much by the taxpayer.

The public is beginning to wonder if they are being taken for a ride by a self-elected clique who profit from the public purse.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:24:07

We know that they are all philanthropists now. We know that hedge funds are investing in schools and financiers are setting up priivate schools and universities and we know that students are paying £9000 a year in fees, but what's in it for the hedge funds and teh private businesses and are the public and the taxpayer and the students losing out?

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:28:07

And Amazinggg and noblegiraffe are right. There are lots of brilliant hardworking teachers and education professionals who have been involved in education all their working lives and they don't charge the taxpayer what some of these businesses want to do, and they are being told by people who have little experience of education, that the job can be done better by philanthropists and businesses and parents.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:30:17

Instead of giving more freedoms to free schools, give freedoms to state schools, and cut the tick box red-tape target culture and get back to spending time and resources on education without being micro-managed by bureaucrats in ivory towers.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 10:55:25

Who pays for the land on which these free schools are built and who owns the land?

Will charities own the land, could some philanthropists be owners of the land?

And what happens if some of these free schools eventually fail and need to be shut down? Who will own the land, will it be the public or charities, philanthropists and hedge funds? And who will profit if the land is then used to put up shopping centre complexes with blocks of flats etc?

glassylooks Thu 27-Jun-13 11:29:32

Scrap the National Curriculum - that's what holding State Schools back.

PLus State Schools need to STOP blaming parents for everything!! - that's holding them back too!

Amazinggg Thu 27-Jun-13 12:47:02

Claig - thing is, it takes financial savvy to be able to commission the myriad of services required by eg a big secondary. ICT services, performing arts facilities, Library services, Technology, cleaning and general care taking (often sold out massively expensively to big companies like Kier as part of a PFI contract to sweeten the deal), SEN services that have been provided by the local LEA which now have to be paid for my individual schools, so costs are cut, other providers are sought, profits are skimmed and schools are ripped off.

Even if you have a dedicated business manager in schools, which lots do - they title them 'deputy head' and pay them lots - it's a huge ask to organise all this stuff, which is why it has been done centrally by LEAs for so long. Not distant top-down micro-management but sensible pooling of resources. All that is being undone by academies. If schools choose not to buy in various borough-provided services, those services wither and die - even if a couple of local schools desperately need them. Survival of the fittest. Market theory just doesn't work for schools and I have no idea why anyone would think it would. Parents don't want schools that specialise - they want good local schools that aren't tripping over themselves to re-invent the wheel, making mistakes, wasting public money, wasting valuable time and energy. By the time this is realised outwith actual teachers and unions, who can see all this happening on a daily basis as their heads are demoralised and replaced with ex bankers and the like - it will be too late and all the essential infrastructure of LEAs will be lost. Politicians think any idiot can run a school, that teaching is for pansies - let them run our education system into the ground and watch how they do it.

Amazinggg Thu 27-Jun-13 12:51:40

Individual schools shouldn't be concerned with finances - same as GPs shouldn't.

Academies are already forming 'chains' to save money. Banging my head on the table of dissolving LEAs and allowing companies motivated by profit to do the same thing. But without any requirement to serve the poorest, the neediest and the most difficult to teach - look, they can get good results without spending anything on dull essentials like enough TAs.

Bonsoir - that school gets good results because it only takes good students. Those same students would get better grades at the comp. that's what value-added means. Lots of the so-called outstanding grammars in Kent are the same. Lazy to look only at results and not at what they do with what they get.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 13:12:54

"Individual schools shouldn't be concerned with finances - same as GPs shouldn't."

Agree. These are public services and should concentrate on service. However, the centralised LEA bureaucrats should be fully transparent with what they spend money on.

This drive to make every service its own business will eventually lead to teachers being employed on zero-hour contracts and that will destroy the profession and the quality of service that the nation gets from it.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 13:15:10

There will eventually be a management class of bnakers, hedge fund managers and management consultants paying themselves £250,000 and above and teachers, who actually do the work and make the difference, will be on zero hour contracts

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 13:18:58

And the hedge fund managers will donate to the Conservatives and some of them will be knighted for their "services to education".

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 13:25:46

And some ex-politicians, kicked out by the electorate, will get directorial jobs in hedge funds, be paid thousands for philanthropic speeches and be given lucrative taxpayer jobs in social trusts, third sector publicly funded roles and educational charities.

Everyone's a winner except the people, same old same old.

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 13:27:08

It needs to be started as a small experiment and then scaled up. So a bottom up and not top down approach which is increasingly seen as the wrong way to work.

Parkinson summed up why brilliantly in the Economist 50 years ago.

Parkinson's First Law: Work expands to fill the time available.
Parkinson's Second Law: Expenditures rise to meet income.
Parkinson's Third Law: Expansion means complexity; and complexity decay.
Parkinson's Fourth Law: The number of people in any working group tends to increase regardless of the amount of work to be done.
Parkinson's Fifth Law: If there is a way to delay an important decision the good bureaucracy, public or private, will find it.
Parkinson's Law of Science: The progress of science varies inversely with the number of journals published.
Parkinson's Law of Delay: Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
Parkinson's Law of Data: Data expands to fill the space available.
Parkinson's Law of Meetings: The time spent in a meeting on an item is inversely proportional to its value (up to a limit).
Parkinson's Law of 1000: An enterprise employing more than 1000 people becomes a self-perpetuating empire, creating so much internal work that it no longer needs any contact with the outside world.
Mrs. Parkinson's Law: Heat produced by pressure expands to fill the mind available, from which it can pass only to a cooler mind.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 27-Jun-13 13:27:42

moondog have not read the whole thread, in fact for the last few pages have just skipped to your posts as they are the sanest and most sensible I have seen on the education threads over several years of mning.
Christine Blower is a terrifyingly stupid woman, does a complete disservice to teachers and the teaching profession. Her 'logic' a few years ago at the NUT conference that 'Private' (sic) schools getter better results so they should be abolished' tells you everything about her dizzying-lack-of-logic mindset. If indie schools did not exist there would be no yardstick to measure the failings of some her members.
The mindless and casual anti-Gove-ism has made the TES letters section not worth reading now - informed criticism would be fine, but this is just it is just tedious knee-jerk nihilism.

Amazinggg Thu 27-Jun-13 13:34:30

I like those moondog grin

And claig your predictions are really depressing and probably true. I don't want to out myself but I have seen ridiculous honour bestowed on clueless managers of academy chains who have done precisely nothing.

I'd like to see a teachers' equivalent of a military coup though. They are by far best placed (the good ones, of which there are plenty) to say what should happen. It's simply not true to say that teachers have vested interests. Teachers should ensure LEAs do their jobs properly. And be properly consulted on curricula and examinations issues. Politicians really should stay out of it other than to listen and observe.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 13:36:28

I wonder if outsourcing teaching is next. Big service providers will offer to staff entire schools with the teachers that they have on their books. It would be a bit like large-scale facilities management IT contracts. There will be competition on price and once a service provider has staffed an entire school, they won't look to closely at how good individual teachers are because each teacher is contributing to their bottom line.

Slowly, slowly teachers' conditions will deteriorate and there will be nothing they can do about it as the big service providers will have sewn up all the service contracts in schools.

Minifingers Thu 27-Jun-13 13:36:53

Don't be fucking stupid. How do you measure the performance of state schools by comparing them to private schools which have a completely differ intake, spend much more money per pupil and have tiny class sizes?

State schools that are highly selective (ie super selective grammar schools) tend to get bloody wonderful results and turn out highly accomplished and bright pupils at 18.

Moondog is actually talking bollocks, but doing it in such an articulate way which is blinding some of you to the basic faults in her argument.

Amazinggg Thu 27-Jun-13 13:42:37

Stop it claig, you're seriously depressing me. sad

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 13:45:54

And if you have spent time training to get a PGCE, that won't count for diddly squat, because you will be at the same level as an ex-banker with no training or one of the troops to soldiers, and they will be considered as better suited to teahing because they have experience of the "real world".

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 13:46:34

troops to teachers not troops to soldiers

MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 27-Jun-13 14:00:58

Would be interesting to have a ne experiment running of two schools side by side with equivalent intake, School A staffed by ex business people and soldiers and School B staffed by teachers who have never done any job outside the education system. I don't think there would be a shortage of parents refusing to send their children to School A, and I predict after a few years School B would struggle to attract any pupils at all.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 27-Jun-13 14:02:27

'shortage of parents happy to send their child to school A'

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 14:12:45

"School A staffed by ex business people and soldiers and School B staffed by teachers who have never done any job outside the education system."

We already have dumbing down due to New Labour, but I think that school A would lead to even more dumbing down. Is there any other country in the world that follows such a model?

Our infrastructure and our services are being dismantled and the result will be worse service for the customer. Our Royal Mail is one of the best, reliable postal services in the world and if we privatise it and allow competitors to enter the market, we risk ruining one of the great service institutions of our country.

We have to solve the dumbing down in our education system and there has to be change, but it should not be so radical that it throws the baby out with the bath water and ruins a system that has served us well.

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 15:08:21

I think 'training' and 'qualification's have become so arse covering that most no longer mean very much. Combine that with the inflated sense of self of those sitting on professional councils and licensing bodies and it is little wonder that we are in the position we are in.

An ability to exercise 'reflective practice', fill in pointless paperwork, and learn how to pick up a box correctly, stand for more than whether or not the job is actually getting done.

A coup by teachers? Sounds great. It would quickly deteriorate into the establishment of yet more layers of 'regulatory' bodies, where the sharp elbowed scramble to the top of the heap. The sad fact is, many public sector workers don't want to be at the coalface. They love all that time wasting, sucking pens, and sitting around flipcharts and developing 'ice breaking group exercises'.

As someone pointed out over the fiasco with Staffordshire and the CQC, the only likely outcome is the establishment of yet another tier of management to oversee the CQC.

I am rapidly veering to a nihilistic model of politics. Outcomes likely to be far better and cost considerably less.

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 15:10:12

Thus my conclusion is that an ex soldier/navvy/pole dancer could quite possibly do a better job at teaching than many of the current crop who are of course the pawns in the game. They know no better because no one trained them properly to do the jobs they do.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 27-Jun-13 15:29:15

I'd be giving School B the very widest of berths, personally!

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 15:33:08

School B is the one with teachers.

School A is the type of school Tony Blair might like other people's children to go to - one full of ex-business people, philanthropists and soldiers

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 15:34:51

School A is probably a charity or social trust supported by third sector taxpayer funding.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 27-Jun-13 15:41:42

Ah, sorry - it's school A I'd be avoiding then! I think it's Gove et al who like the idea of soldiers and business people in schools, rather than Blair, though.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 15:55:55

Yes you're right, it's not Blair who wants that, it is Gove.

Minifingers Thu 27-Jun-13 16:49:58

"Thus my conclusion is that an ex soldier/navvy/pole dancer could quite possibly do a better job at teaching than many of the current crop who are of course the pawns in the game. They know no better because no one trained them properly to do the jobs they do."

Bollocks. The super selective state grammar that all the local parents want their children to go to is staffed almost exclusively by people who have spent the bulk of their career working as teachers. They train in the same institutions as those teachers in the rough comp down the road. And yet the grammar school sends dozens of children to top universities every year and excels in sport and music. Can you imagine parents whose children plan to train in medicine or do a phd in English or go on to music college will find it acceptable that their children should be taught by people who are neither experts in their subjects, nor fully trained teachers? Or is it that these sorts of arrangements will be fine for ordinary kids, but not for bright and well supported children who by and large do very well in the state sector, particularly if they are in schools which exclude low ability children by selection.

Have to ask you moondog - you are a teacher, yes? What sort of schools have you taught in?

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 18:05:25

'Can you imagine parents whose children plan to train in medicine or do a phd in English or go on to music college will find it acceptable that their children should be taught by people who are neither experts in their subjects, nor fully trained teachers?'

Yes I can. In your fit of pique, the point made earlier has eluded you. Many of the best private schools are staffed by people who have not gone through the TT sausage machine. They prefer it like that! Less likelihood of some dullard banging on about 'reflective practice' or 'experiential learning'.

I should know.
I went to one.

Bonsoir Thu 27-Jun-13 18:10:19

My DD's class teacher this year was not a trained teacher. She was a trained actress, who had been employed by the school as a supply teacher for a couple of years. She fell into being my DD's FT teacher because the teacher employed in the job was ill with cancer.

DD has had the best year ever at school and a truly fabulous teacher and has made huge progress. This teacher has been more popular with parents and DC alike than any teacher I have yet come across in her (huge) school.

Arisbottle Thu 27-Jun-13 18:23:15

I don't see what is so wrong with reflective practice.

Often after I have taught a lesson I will take time to reflect on how that lesson went and to consider if it could have been improved.

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 18:26:36

Yes, and I am sure that anyone who is as naturally gifted and talented as some here purport all teachers to be does not need CPD* to learn how to do that.

*All public sector drones will know what this is

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 18:33:27
moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 18:35:27

Plenty more where that came from

All of these are notable in that they exist to tell folk how to do the job that they are doing in the first place.

Minifingers Thu 27-Jun-13 18:36:26

"Many of the best private schools are staffed by people who have not gone through the TT sausage machine. They prefer it like that!"

Moondog - any clever person with a good personality and a love of their subject can teach a class of 16 intelligent, compliant children. Fuck - half the time hey teach themselves! You throw children like this a morsel and they run with it.

You need a completely different skill set to deliver education to 30+ children of whom in a good number of schools a fifth or more will have specific learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural problems, while others will have English as an additional language. In my son's class (of 31) there are 3 children who need additional support. The ability range goes from my ds, who has autism and went up into juniors with a level 1C in his writing (ie, he's hard pressed to write a sentence) to a little girl who is half way through writing her first novel. You NEED training or long experience teaching in a similar environment to work with a class like this.

And yes - there are exceptional people who can thrive in any setting. But most people are not exceptional - by definition! Doesn't mean they can't be good at their jobs, dedicated and hard-working. But they need training and support.

Your ire about 'reflective practice', and 'experiential learning' - why so angry? These things have their place in teaching. I've found them quite useful concepts in my work of teaching (in the private sector) generally highly appreciative professional adults, who (according to the feedback I get) seem think I'm farking marvellous. grin

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 18:42:01

I agree Mini.
Able kids teach themselves. The staff have very little to do with it, however much they flatter themselves otherwise with Dead Poets' Society vignettes in their heads.
The morsel throwing analogy is perfect.

It's the other kids who suffer and those are the people who most interest me.
I know a fair bit about delivering measurable evidence based intervention to children with complex needs. The tragedy is that most of those charged with teaching them don't and are afraid to admit it. Thus they hide behind their smokescreen of 'framework's and 'toolkits' and workshops and 'experiential learning' and multi sensory' approaches, all the while thinking
Very few are brave enough to stop and say out loud
'I haven't got a fucking clue what I am doing here, because no one taught me how to help these kids properly. I am really angry about that.'

I work with many brave teachers who do say that.

zirca Thu 27-Jun-13 18:45:27

I'm a teacher. The children in my class make good progress, but would make so much more if our years were not filled to the brim with 'enrichment' activities. The school day is already stuffed full with all the subjects we need and the P.E. requirements. Then you add in displays (a lesson of their time and 2 hours or so of mine each - 8 in the classroom, three outside, termly!), workshops (literacy/numeracy lessons missed for these), sports weeks (again lessons lost), art week (ditto), enterprise week (whole week gone), trips, class assemblies to prepare (take at least five lessons of their time and these are termly), music assemblies (time out of the curriculum), a school play (up to 3 weeks of afternoons) x 2 in the year, assessment week once per half term (so if there're 5 weeks to teach in you only get 4!) etc etc. All these things are lovely for the children, but there just isn't room in the curriculum, and important time is lost.

If you add it all up, there are 37 weeks in which to teach per year. You will easily lose about ten of these. That's more than a quarter of the available teaching time! It drives me mad, and we try to streamline everything we do, doubling up activities to keep up the learning.

Some things you cannot change though. Children who read regularly at home make faster progress, children who have support with their homework also. They get additional 1:1 time with a parent so of course this accelerates their progress. We do what we can for those who do not get this, but it is never enough.

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 18:51:35

Good examples Zirca.
Most of that stuff is a waste of time.
Who ever looked at classroom displays?
They are there for one set of adults in a school to impress another. set of adults in the same school
No kid cares.
They're all put far too high up for a start.

Arisbottle Thu 27-Jun-13 18:58:01

I use my displays all the time in my teaching. My displays are all at eye level.

My students often out up my displays for me, they like doing it and seem to care. They often take great pride in seeing their work up

MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 27-Jun-13 19:02:21

Love the description of 'class of 16 compliant pupils' where was that stereotype dreamt up? grin The usual MN orthodoxy is that they are arrogant entitled brats - hardly 'compliant'. And I don't know any indie with secondary classes of 16.

merrymouse Thu 27-Jun-13 19:28:00

My DS who has SEN found all of those things very difficult, zirca. He was often quietly sidelined when these things were going on because he found them so unsettling.

We took him out of the state system.

lljkk Thu 27-Jun-13 19:42:09

When I last interviewed him and raised the subject

If OP is a journalist with enough clout to interview Michael Gove, why are they stooping so low as to provoke & trawl MN for content?

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 19:47:43

What is 'low' about finding out what a representative example of parents think about education?
Good grief.

claig Thu 27-Jun-13 20:27:32

The OP is not a journalist, she didn't interview Gove. She was quoting from a Spectator article by Fraser Nelson, who was the one who interviewed Gove.

lljkk Thu 27-Jun-13 20:28:36

Ohhhhh... okay, I'll just get me coat.

moondog Thu 27-Jun-13 21:37:21


Minifingers Fri 28-Jun-13 06:39:51

Moondog - my personal experience (as someone who's been educated in both the private and the state sector) is that you find wonderful and awful teaching and teachers in both. The difference is that weak teachers do more harm in the state sector as the job is more demanding and they are less likely to be sacked.

moondog Fri 28-Jun-13 09:18:23

Yes. Pretty accurate summary.
I have come across people who are jaw droppingly bad yet untouchable, because unless they are fiddling with kids or with money, they are there for as long as they want to be.
As they collect their salaries, someone's future disappears around the u bend.
Compare that with the private sector where, if you don't perform, you are much more likely to be out on your arse.

An under performing teacher gets even more propping up and protecting.

Minifingers Fri 28-Jun-13 09:43:38

Well, maybe things are different now in the private sector, but we had some GOD AWFUL teachers at my Surrey boarding schools in the 1980's. I went to two between 1979 and 1983 - one was later voted 'school of the year' and is still very popular with parents). I mean, really poor. Eccentric (not in a good way), disorganised, dull. I was also aware that some of the boarding pupils were sexually abused by staff. :-(

Minifingers Fri 28-Jun-13 09:47:15

"Love the description of 'class of 16 compliant pupils' where was that stereotype dreamt up?"

Regular disruptive behaviour that impacted on other children's learning wouldn't be tolerated for any length of time in a private school. It's the norm in a lot of state schools. Obviously there are those on this thread who will argue that good teachers don't experience disruptive behaviour or deal with it so effectively it doesn't impact on children's learning. In my experience even fantastic, experienced and inspirational teachers in tough state schools can lose a lot of teaching and learning time from dealing with continuous low level disruption.

moondog Fri 28-Jun-13 09:52:04

We had some rather... odd folk in my school too. grin
I was thinking private sector in a more general sense though.

Mind you, even with the odd ones, a culture of discipline was enforced, which was hugely important.

moondog Fri 28-Jun-13 09:53:15

Yes, that zero tolerance is what we need.
God, the shame at the though of being caught even whispering in prayers kept us all under control.

Minifingers Fri 28-Jun-13 11:12:02

"a culture of discipline was enforced, which was hugely important."

It's easier when you're dealing with only a small number of disruptive children, to devise and use discipline policies consistently.

It's much, much harder when permanent or temporary exclusion is something can only be done as a last resort and when you don't have the support of parents. It's also the case that there may well be signficant numbers of children in state schools who have undiagnosed autistic spectrum disorders, dyslexia, or severe emotional and behavioural difficulties which are beyond the scope of traditional discipline policies.

I have taught in schools at the rougher end of the spectrum and know that you only need one or two children in a group who are persistently disruptive and difficult, to ruin a whole year's work for the class. You lose SO MUCH teaching time dealing with these children. And it's not usually just a couple of difficult kids in a class. If you're talking about a second to bottom set in the sort of comprehensives I've worked in, you're looking at one or two exceptionally challenging children, and maybe another five or ten who are opportunists who will take the chance to misbehave if the teacher is distracted. It's really, really tough and even good teachers find it hard to stick it out for long enough at these schools to develop the sort of relationships with the children that make getting to grips with bad behaviour even remotely possible. These schools have high staff turnover.

I'm out of all that now moondog, but if I was still having to deal with it your posts would make me feel suicidal. Your sneering and contempt for teachers in the state sector is upsetting. Actually I stopped working in secondary because the feelings of failure you get working in a school with a lot of challenging children drove me into a serious depression. It totally lifted when I went to teach in further education - same sort of children, but much smaller classes, and the chance to easily remove kids who were persistently disruptive. But of course that's in non-compulsory education. In compulsory education these children have to go SOMEWHERE. And by sixteen (at least in those days) the most seriously difficult and disengaged children would have left to sign on or take up work. Three other people who I trained with who were very bright, hard working teachers have left the profession in the past year because they have felt ground down by the lack of educational engagement of their pupils, and their disrespect, while experiencing constant pressure from above to improve results.

Minifingers Fri 28-Jun-13 11:15:13

"Yes, that zero tolerance is what we need."

And do what with the massive number of children who'd end up with permanent or temporary exclusions? Put them all in pupil referral units? hmm

merrymouse Fri 28-Jun-13 14:34:57

My son wasn't really tolerated in his school. When we looked at other options in the state system we were told "these children aren't really happy anyway". Thankfully we had the money, confidence and educational background to find an alternative. (Among other things, you aren't greeted by a wall of sound when you enter his current school at lunchtime)

Zero tolerance only works when you have a viable alternative, and you are prepared to recognise the real needs of children with SN (eg all the therapeutic putty in the world cannot make up for a fundamentally chaotic environment).

moondog Fri 28-Jun-13 16:09:29

'Your sneering and contempt for teachers in the state sector is upsetting'

Heavens, if an online chat with a random person makes you feel like this, then you probably are better off out of that world. I loathe the way that discussion of any sort about this sort of thing, ends up with those being challenged taking it all so personally. Get a grip. It's not actually about you.

Merrymouse is right. It requires a massive rehaul and putty, wobble boards and social skills group are not the answer.

TabithaStephens Fri 28-Jun-13 16:31:08

I think compulsory education to 18 is a crazy idea. It just keeps the disruptors there for another 2 years, and stops good kids from getting on.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 16:50:37

I don't mind compulsory education to 18, but I don't think DC necessarily have to be in the same establishment. Selectivity has to happen sometime.

Minifingers Fri 28-Jun-13 18:10:44

I know it's not about me because I'm not in that world any more. Bit if you go around posting sneering generalisations about a whole profession (which is what you've done on this thread) on the basis of the poor practice of some individuals whose practice you have witnessed, then you can expect members of that profession to read it and take offence. And I think you want people to take offence - your language and your stance reveals that you are eaten up with contempt for teachers in state schools.

Minifingers Fri 28-Jun-13 18:15:06

And the 'heavens', 'get a grip', 'it's not about you'' comments? Patronising. And more revealing of where you as an individual are coming from than any other comment you've made on this thread.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 28-Jun-13 18:22:12

It is ironic that state teachers take personal umbrage at any inferred criticism (inferred, not implied ), and yet will blithely stereotype schools, pupils and families in the independent sector of which they have no experience.

Arisbottle Fri 28-Jun-13 19:14:16

Moondog is clearly sneering but it is what she does do it is not personal and most teachers are thick skinned.

As a state teacher I don't make assumptions about people because of their background, in fact I come from the type of background that most mumsnetters live on fear of.

moondog Fri 28-Jun-13 19:25:32

Well your state endorsed critical thinking and reflective practice failed you.
My ire is reserved for the pathetic training given to teachers which does not equip them well to serve those kids that need them most.
We've already established that clever kids teach themselves and that middle class kills have all the gaps filled in by their parents.

The amount of time I have spent with my own children practicing reading, writing, spelling, and maths runs to hundreds of hours, hours I would rather have spent frankly flicking through magazines and designing my garden.
But hey! Needs must!
When they have spent all day making a castle out of foam bricks and listened to some overweight policeman banging on about 'stranger danger' and handing out gonks, there isn't much time for the other stuff like learning your times tables or how to write cursively.

We know how to teach kids with special educational needs, behavioural problems and so on. There is reams of evidence to support this and it is the world I am involved in from day to day, surrounded by colleagues who make a real difference to kids, kids who come to school reeking of piss and hollow eyed from messing out on their Xbox all night.
Trouble is, they are in the minority.

Arisbottle Fri 28-Jun-13 19:56:33

My clever children have needed teachers, although I am open to the fact that my clever children are probably not clever by MN standards and of course we are not middle class. grin

All my children have learnt cursive handwriting and their times tables at their rather bog standards state schools. I have certainly never spent hours getting my children to do basic things the schools should be doing.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Sun 30-Jun-13 16:29:08

I'm grateful that my clever children now have teachers at their indie who are vastly cleverer than me. But much more important than being 'clever', those teachers are passionate about their subjects, inspiring, and the DC love and respect them. But at their state primary, sadly, the teachers weren't and the DC didn't.

Arisbottle Sun 30-Jun-13 20:22:45

How sad, and I hope unusual, that you could not get that in the state sector.

moondog Sun 30-Jun-13 21:58:36

Inside the Secret Garden: the progressive decay of liberal education

This is an excellent read-recommended to me by a Mumsnetter.

FavadiCacao Tue 02-Jul-13 15:40:48

I don't think any party gives a 'minute' thought beyond their self interests.
If Labour had not been bad enough for education, Gove is pushing for privatising the education by the back door. On The Independent earlier:

Academies and free schools should become profit-making businesses using hedge funds and venture capitalists to raise money, according to private plans being drawn up by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove.

Clearly the banking system has been so successful it is now a template for schools! Presumably, in the same way as Cyprus is the new funding template!

TabithaStephens Tue 02-Jul-13 20:25:34

Are banks the only private businesses now?

There are plenty of succesful businesses that provide quality goods and services while managing to turn a profit. If there wasn't, who would fund the public sector?

FavadiCacao Wed 03-Jul-13 00:41:22

who would fund the public sector?

It appears the tax payer! Private schools get private funding:act as a business!
Academy and free schools get funded by the tax payer: should be efficient and deliver goods but should they make profits out of free money (our money!)?!

TabithaStephens Wed 03-Jul-13 00:59:59

Why does it matter? Which would you rather have. An education sector that did its job and made a profit for it's investors, or an education sector that didn't do its job and was a massive money pit for the taxpayer?

Just because something is a non profit organisation, doesn't automatically make it better than a profit making business.

FavadiCacao Wed 03-Jul-13 09:38:24

a profit for it's investors

Are investors also called shareholders?
I would love to believe that a school making profit would reinvest such profit into the school, rather than paying a dividend to its investors. You already have an example of the private sector being involved in the education system: the competitive market of exams boards (remember the scandal?)

What happens if the school is not making profit? Would you close it? After all hedge funds and venture capitalists are volatile markets, where shares go up and down.
Given the size of the education system, how many schools would it take before a bail out is required? ('too big to fail model', we have seen in the banking sector and the EU crisis.)

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