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Class and Education - Lampl

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Xenia Sat 15-Sep-12 21:41:36

In today's FT:

Break down the barriers in English education

By Sir Peter Lampl

English schools are undergoing another major shake-up as Michael Gove removes them from local authority oversight and introduces a broader range of providers. No wonder, then, that the first fortnight of the new school year has been a turbulent one. Many headteachers are angry that Ofqual, the exam regulator, regraded GCSE English papers downwards midyear. Teaching unions are threatening a work-to-rule protest over pay and pensions. And many more schools have become academies, with more control over funding, governance and the curriculum.

This is the battleground of English education. But another piece of news this week was even more significant. On Tuesday the OECD reported that our schools were the most socially segregated among advanced economies. This underlines the biggest problem facing England’s schools: the close relationship between family income and how good a school a child goes to. The result is that children from poorer backgrounds have fewer opportunities to move up the ladder.

English education has improved under successive governments. Standards of teaching, and especially school leadership, are better. There have been significant improvements in London schools, particularly for some ethnic communities. But this is not good enough. We have to outpace other economies, particularly in Asia, that have improved faster. The UK languishes in 25th place in the OECD’s league tables for reading and in 28th place for maths, where Shanghai is now the best in the world. This does not reflect the position of all our young people. Rather it is a stark reminder that levels of social mobility have worsened since the 1960s and remain very low, despite government investment and reform in education.

I believe one reason for this is that governments have focused on structural reform, such as creating academies or free schools, rather than on improving teaching. Yet it is good teaching that really matters. Teachers’ salaries account for four-fifths of a school’s costs and this reflects the value they deliver. Research by McKinsey has shown that the world’s best-performing education systems are those with the best teaching. The OECD now rates leadership in English schools highly, but we still have much more to do to improve teaching.

First, we need to attract more of the best graduates to the classroom. Ten years ago I helped establish the Teach First programme in England, modelled on the successful Teach for America programme. Teach First is recruiting almost 1,000 graduates this year from top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, to teach in inner-city schools for a minimum of two years. Approximately half then leave to pursue other careers.

It has been a great success. But with 36,000 teachers recruited each year, it is only a part of the solution. In Finland and South Korea there are 10 applicants for every teaching place. Here we regard it as a success if every place is filled.

Even more important will be to improve the quality of the existing 440,000-strong workforce. Sutton Trust research shows that English schools could move into the world’s top five education performers within a decade if the performance of the least effective 10th of teachers were brought up to the average.

While improving teaching is crucial, we also have to address inequality in our education system, which has a substantial cost to society and the economy, since it prevents many of the most able children from non-privileged backgrounds from achieving their potential.

The best schools in England are world-class. But they are also socially exclusive. Seven per cent of English pupils go to fee-paying independent schools, which are out of reach for the rest of the population. Another 4 per cent attend the remaining selective grammar schools, which draw just 2 per cent of their pupils from the poorest households. The top-performing comprehensives – mainly faith schools and comprehensives in well-off areas – take just 6 per cent of their pupils from the poorest households. This compares with a national average of 16 per cent.

We should address this inequality in three ways. First, we should use random ballots to determine admissions to our urban secondary schools, rather than basing admissions on how close you live to the school or how religious you are. This would ensure a good social mix. Second, grammar schools should select more fairly, attract able students from poorer backgrounds and provide them with the extra help that better-off pupils get in prep schools or from private tutors.

Third, we must open independent day schools to all. Their students are 55 times more likely to win an Oxbridge place and 22 times more likely to go to a top-ranked university than a state school student from a poor household. The absence of poorer students from these universities is a shocking waste of talent.

My independent day school was totally funded by the local authority. Indeed, seven out of 10 independent day schools were principally state funded until 1976 through the direct grant scheme and local schemes.

Between 2000 and 2007, I co-funded a pilot scheme at Belvedere, an independent girls’ day school in Liverpool, replacing fees with admission based on academic ability. Parents paid according to means. As a result, a third of pupils paid no fees. Academic standards improved and it was a happy place for pupils of all backgrounds. Moreover, the cost per pupil was less than at the average state school.

More than 80 leading independent day schools would back such a state-funded scheme, which would benefit more than 30,000 able students, whose parents could not afford full fees. It would require selective admissions, which political parties oppose. Yet far from creating new selection, such a scheme would democratise existing selective schools and break down the barriers between the independent and state sectors.

Taken together, I believe that these measures to improve teaching and reduce inequality would transform social mobility and unleash a wealth of talent to fuel our economy. And they would put England in the education premier league.

The writer is chair of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation "

GnomeDePlume Sat 15-Sep-12 22:02:46

I dont want my DCs to go to an independant school or a grammar school. What I would like is for my Hobson's choice of one state comp not to be as poor as it is.

There isnt a choice.

This school isnt a sink school, it is a town school. There is no other school in the town. It is quite simply badly managed, in and out of special measures like it is caught on the door handle. The latest head has been parachuted in to save the day. What has he done? Introduced blazers. That's it. When has an ill-fitting polyester jacket improved a school?

TalkinPeace2 Sat 15-Sep-12 22:36:11

When the Economist comments on the issue
and is concerned that Gove's plans are Napoleonic its time to worry

TalkinPeace2 Sat 15-Sep-12 22:36:27

stargirl1701 Sat 15-Sep-12 22:37:06

The comparison with other countries is flawed. In my last class (Primary 6 - 24 children) one quarter of the children had Additional Support Needs (including Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Dancing Eye Syndrome, Deafness and one child with severe SEBD). The attainment of these children is included in all of Scotland's returns to the international comparison. This does not happen in Singapore, Shanghai, etc. Some countries exclude data from children with dyslexia - children with ASN don't generally even attend mainstream school.

There is an issue with NEET attainment but it involves societal change - schools cannot 'fix' deprivation on their own.

Xenia Sun 16-Sep-12 06:50:51

Gn, you could move to an area where school are better if the children mattered that much though surely? Parents do all the time. People move continents to improve their children's chances or try UK state boarding even if you agree with boarding schools.

jabed Sun 16-Sep-12 07:50:56

I have never read such twaddle as the OP in all my life including my twenty odd years of teaching at all levels.

Several things come to mind.

As a young boy in the 1960's and a man in the 1970's I can tell you schools were very different places then and the “social mobility" you speak of was largely a result of WW2. The deaths of many middle class young men made room for the recruitment of other from slightly lower groups into their midst.

This mobility was little more than one step up for the 10% or so who could manage it, and most of those were recruited from backgrounds with middle class connections (although most times these would be hidden as they were within wider families).

The second thing was that the classroom was a different place. Most working class children were receptive to learning because they knew they would leave school and go to work. Economic downturn upon downturn has left most boys (especially boys!) without a place or a role in adult society. You might look at Frank Ferudi and Norman Dennis for an exposition of this.

I won’t even mention feminism and what that has caused economically, socially and other ways. Too many ladies of a certain class here. But the working class lasses would tell you as would Catherine Hakim. Go and look at her work.

Then of course there have been structural changes in the classroom. The issues of inclusion are many and are not addressed properly.

Most other countries, certainly the ones you ciompare this one with unfavourably do not have inclusion and they have a culture of complaince and politeness.

That is all over and above the behaviour issues of most children in the UK these days This:

I believe one reason for this is that governments have focused on structural reform, such as creating academies or free schools, rather than on improving teaching. Yet it is good teaching that really matters

It is not about teaching. You will not improve anything until someone gets a grip on the overriding culture of working class children and their families. They are not able to take instruction. They see no reason for it. They are not prepared. There is no future for them in it. It’s the children who need changing, the culture that they come from and aspire to, not the structure or the teachers. It’s a cultural issue that needs addressing and has been for many years.

Until you look at that and address it you will not improve learning, you will not improve the structure of schools and you will NEVER get those best graduates you crack on about. Not as they are necessarily the answer anyway. However, mostgood teachers in my experience get a belly full of the above and either leave for better posts out ofteaching or leg it into the independent sector where they can teach and where , despite many tles from dissenters, most of the children are polite and will listen and come from a culture where education is valued.

No one wants to work in a school with loud, outspoken, over familiar, thuggish, disdainful, rude, crude and generally poorly behaved pupils who disrupt learning for everyone. That is the reality of most classrooms in the state comprehensive system these days and it’s caused by the culture of the children, not poor teaching.

Most children in this country are over schooled and under parented and under socialised. Get them out of school and get them proper a home life. Thats whats needed. Then get the dregs out of their classrooms. You will see a difference immeidately.

No smke on that - as I know you all will. smile

Xenia Sun 16-Sep-12 08:46:44

We could excluded more and have more of the more difficult children educated elsewhere.
The rise of women is a huge improvement. If working class men are left behind that does not matter if working class women do well.

However what most people want is opportunities for the brightest to rise to the top whatever their gender or class.

Furedi is sexist and I am not a fan. Hakim simply says as a woman use your erotic capital and your skills and that women have an advantage (although as yet that advantage over men has only secured us about 20% not 80% of positions of power so it is clearly not much of an advantage).

jabed Sun 16-Sep-12 09:07:37

The rise of women is a huge improvement. If working class men are left behind that does not matter if working class women do well

But neither working class men nor working class women are doing well. Working class men cant and working class women on the whole do not want to. Thats the thing Xenia - middle class feminist women wanted it all for their sisters but their sisters didnt want it for themselves and got lumbered - sorry. I am Ok with career professional women but I dont think any have the right to impose their views on others be it their sisters or men. If you read hakim she does talk about this.

Many women still want to be SAHM with their partners (men usually) being the breadwinner. Thats something a lot dont want to hear. But its what your lesser sisters want Xenia!

But then maybe that isnt an issue because room in the muddle class and professions is limited anyway and is best taken by those with the appropriate culture and value of education. They fit in.

The real problem is with the new working class (and underclass) culture.

I think state schools would be greatly improved by two things really (bottom line now)

a) getting more special schools to deal with those who have learning difficulties and special needs (I know a lot of MNers with kids in this group will rail against that here)

b) finding more places for those who have behaviour difficulties

c) dropping policies of inclusion generally - that wont go down well ...... but it is essentially what the best of the private sector does and therefore I would think its what parents are paying for when they chose those schools.

Its also what many parents are looking for when looking for good schools and moving houses to find them.

Addressing the cutural issue takes longer . Its taken 30 years to create it, it will take longer to change it even if you start today. The media could play a big part there by not bigging up the trash culture that these working class and under privledged kids buy into so readily.

jabed Sun 16-Sep-12 09:09:51

However what most people want is opportunities for the brightest to rise to the top whatever their gender or class

Have you ever considered the unspeakable? That most of the brightest are already in the middle class now? That in fact, the working class and underprivledged are just that because they are not the sharpest tools in the box? OK I said it.

meditrina Sun 16-Sep-12 09:25:28

I have a lot of respect for the work of the Sutton Trust, so hope that this article is kite flying, rather than their serious viewpoint.

As pointed out above, social divisions are not just about what is happening in schools. I agree that good education is a route out of this, but you will not achieve this in areas where education is seen as pointless either cross-generationally or amongst teen peer groups. No amount of busing children around to other schools is in isolation going to be enough.

Lotteries for school places are most definitely not the answer. Even the theory only works in certain geographic areas, and in practice it will simply add traffic and difficulty to everyone's lives. And is he proposing that independent schools lose control over their admissions and must take any lottery-selected pupil, backed by Government voucher? Or will this entrench them as selective schools, leaving the chances of the rest to fate in drawing lots?

jabed Sun 16-Sep-12 09:38:03

I think state schools would be greatly improved by two things really (bottom line now)

Sorry I listed three things. I dont seem to be able to count this morning.

Xenia Sun 16-Sep-12 09:39:24

On the private schools, about 2 weeks ago 100 of them including Manchester Grammar and many others wrote to the Times supporting that idea -blind admission as it were for all and if fees could not be afforded the state should pay half and the school would match the other half. Half a day private school place cost is what the state pays for the state school place I think.

jabed Sun 16-Sep-12 09:45:36

On the private schools, about 2 weeks ago 100 of them including Manchester Grammar and many others wrote to the Times supporting that idea -blind admission as it were for all and if fees could not be afforded the state should pay half and the school would match the other half. Half a day private school place cost is what the state pays for the state school place I think

So this is a bid to bring independent schools into the state system by the back door and to have a ready made supply of grammar schools by the back door. and following logically, brings back the grammar school selection system by the back door?

I cant say as I am entirely for that.

I think it would be a far more equitable idea if pupils are selcted by any school by behaviour rather than anything else. Intelligence is a useful tool but it isnt the be and end of all. It will be a sad day. Many people in the old grammar schools "failed" just as much as those in the SM schools who were their lesser halves.

But I can see Goves logic. He has to be gbehind that. Privatise the system so that grammar schools are in the private sector and sink schools the state sector. Easy option but it wont address the real problems and I can see it creating many more.

jabed Sun 16-Sep-12 09:46:01

sorry about the typo's.I am in a hurry. Have to go.

meditrina Sun 16-Sep-12 09:51:19

The aim of needs blind admissions is espoused by a number of private schools in UK, but none have yet amassed a big enough underpinning fund to guarantee to provide every household of certain income level with a bursary of a specified size.

The introduction of state funding (a voucher scheme by the back door?) then puts the Government into the "independent" school's admissions procedures. It is incompatible with a lottery system, for it is illogical to say that state funded family A can choose a particular school (or be chosen by the school) whereas state funded family B must go through a lottery.

orangeberries Sun 16-Sep-12 11:20:21

I am uncomfortable with the idea of independent schools offering bursaries as a way of plugging state system gaps for the following reasons:

1 - independent schools have different admissions' criteria, so who would be monitoring that?
2 - just like grammar schools, those that can afford it would coach to death
3 - why not just expand grammar schools?
4 - people like us who are not "poor" but far from well off would probably not get anything, but still we couldn't really afford full private fees - so where would that leave us? (No grammar schools around where we live either)

The most equitable system would indeed seem a lottery for all, the only huge problem I see with that is transport, it would be a logistical nightmare especially in non-urban areas where there is already one school in a 20-50 miles radius so it would see children potentially travelling 70-100 miles a day for school, so I don't really see a way around that one.

GuinevereOfTheRoyalCourt Sun 16-Sep-12 13:56:02

Jabed - there are a lot of children out there with behavioural difficulties of varying degrees. The benefit to those pupils eager to learn by removing disruptive influences is obvious. What isn't so obvious is what you do with the poorly behaved children. There are too many of them to send to expensive (small) special schools. Large "special" schools stuffed to the gills with the most challenging would prove little more than holding stations for a future generation of criminals and the work-shy.

GnomeDePlume Sun 16-Sep-12 13:57:19

Xenia, I cant afford to move. Moving isnt an option for everyone.

Anyway, why the hell should I?

This is a state school yet the state repeatedly allows it to fail. I dont live in an urban area, there is a school in each town in the locality but you can only get into the school in your own town. Problem is that they are all mediocre to crap.

I want my kids to go to the local school. I believe in state education. I want them to be able to attend a comprehensive school which will allow them to be good at some things, not so good at others but help them improve.

I dont want my kids to have had the quality of their education decided when they were 11.

middleclassonbursary Sun 16-Sep-12 13:58:07

"On the private schools, about 2 weeks ago 100 of them including Manchester Grammar and many others wrote to the Times supporting that idea -blind admission as it were for all and if fees could not be afforded the state should pay half and the school would match the other half."
I have not seen the letter or know which schools are signatories to it but am unsure how this would work. Lets take St Pauls boys one of the top 5 schools in the UK who are very committed to the idea of an needs blind admission policy. I believe they have £5 000 000 in their bursary pot.
The school has 700 places in the best scenario they would have 350 places fpr this scheme but Greater London has a population of just over 7.5 million so the number who would benefit form the type of education the St Paul's boys offers will be negligible in the grand scheme of the thing.
It is state education which needs to be improved so that children of all abilities and backgrounds educational needs are being met.

meditrina Sun 16-Sep-12 14:10:32

If it's truly 'needs blind", then logically it must offer 100% of its places to all-comers. A £5m bursary pot, unless to are going to erode the capital, will be luck to yield £200,000 pa, that's full bursaries for only 20. There are many schools which aspire to full needs blind angry, let's hope they are nearer than this example (or have you lost some zeroes).

middleclassonbursary Sun 16-Sep-12 14:41:17

St Pauls website states
"To honour John Colet’s founding commitment that St Paul’s is open to all academically eligible boys, regardless of their economic or social circumstance."
Dont know how close they are to this and ultimately as I happen to know much of the bursary pot is raised by the parents your going to still need some rich families!
But the point still remains even if half the school were on bursaries it would not have a massive impact on social mobility or the disadvantaged.
The other problem is do you select just on academic ability or do you wait your selection in favour of background? Do you turn away the super bright millionaires child in favour of the slightly less bright child from a disadvantaged background? Or should all things be equal?
Children from middleclass/wealthy backgrounds are often more confident and articulate they have had opportunities that many from disadvantaged backgrounds through no fault of their own wont have done. My own DS on being interviewed for St P's was faced with an Oxbridge style interview deliberately trying to trip him up and make him feel uncomfortable. Luckily for him his background enabled him to answer the questions in a way that many adults would have struggled to do, not schools coaching but the things that he experienced in life and at home. Im not trying to blow my own trumpet here Im no great parent by any stretch of the imagination and acknowledge that many other middle-class children couldn't have done it either. But because of the things that we've chosen to immerse him in he just happened to be what St Pauls was looking for. If the approach had been different; the dreaded tell me about your favourite football team? he maybe might have come across as an inarticulate clod.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 16-Sep-12 15:06:39

You can have the highest bursary pot in the world
Parents will (rightly) protect their children from shame and scorn.

If I lived in a 4th floor flat in Peckham and worked nights at Tesco, nothing in the world would make me ask my child to apply for a scholarship at a top public school

because the dysfunction between term and holidays
the contrast between family weekends in the cotswolds or outsode Maccy ds
is insurmountable.

the answer is that more schools are made more truly comprehensive - no effort for the low attaining parents of bright children to reach.
For the teachers at top schools to commit to doing subject specialist teaching in their local comp each week - as after all the fee paying parents are tols that the teachers are the bees knnes (not that the kids are preselected to be easy to teach)

meditrina Sun 16-Sep-12 15:14:57

TalkinPeace2: I think you're right. The answer is not via private schools; either through their own bursaries nor through partial state funding.

I saw something on a news website recently (I think the BBC, I'll go and look) about how UK has some of the most socially divided secondary schools in the world, a situation that was exacerbated and has seemingly become entrenched in the last 15 years or so.

meditrina Sun 16-Sep-12 15:17:10

This is the article I'm thinking of.

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