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A politically acceptable proposal?

(107 Posts)
heritager Tue 23-Aug-16 20:33:52

Educationally, we seem to be stuck, in this country. Lots (not all) people feel the comprehensive system doesn't work well enough. Lots (not all) people like grammar schools as an alternative - sometimes because it seems to be the only alternative on offer, see recent thread. Lots (not all) people hate that idea. Lots (not all) people go private, or wish to go private, to avoid perceived deficiencies.

Any solution has to be politically acceptable, as well as rational.

Here's a proposal I might call pupil premium on steroids.

Every pupil has an "educational cost" attached to them. This cost is higher if the pupil lives in a historically deprived post code (perhaps in several bands). It is higher if the pupil has diagnosed SEN (definitely in several bands). Add your own criteria here (discuss).

State school places are allocated more or less as now, with the modification: the school's funding is the sum of the funding allocated to all its pupils (perhaps plus a basic allocation for stability: discuss). The money doesn't have to be spent specifically on the child who brings it (optionally, we also keep PP: discuss). The effect is that schools with more deprived intake are automatically better funded, and so middle-class parents have an incentive to choose mixed-intake schools, thus discouraging segregation.

To make this acceptable to Tory voters: you can also take your child's educational cost to an independent school, topping up to the fee level from your own purse to what the school charges - but what you can take is discounted by say 20% (discuss), eg if your child's educational cost is £5k per annum, you get £4k pa off the school fees, and the state saves £1k compared to having to educate your child. At the same time, independent schools are encouraged to take more deprived pupils (topping up with bursaries) because they take less bursary funding than middle-class bursary recipients. For particular combinations of SEN and deprivation, the educational cost might fully meet the independent school fees: that is, the state might outsource the education of this pupil, as occasionally happens now, but more systematically.

Do you vote for that? Why, or why not? What would need to be changed to make it work?

prh47bridge Tue 23-Aug-16 22:59:14

Your proposal regarding school funding sounds similar to what happens today apart from the bit about allowing parents to take the funding to an independent school.

At least 80% of the funding received by a state funded school comes from pupil led factors, consisting of a basic lump sum per pupil with additional funding based on deprivation, looked-after children, low prior attainment, English as an additional language and mobility. The basic lump sum is the largest part of the per-pupil funding.

You could, of course, abolish that part of the funding that is not pupil-led but that would cause problems. For example, some schools receive sparsity funding - this is for small schools where there is no alternative school nearby. Small village schools, for example. If you abolish this funding and lump sum funding and make them survive purely on per-pupil funding such schools would not survive.

heritager Tue 23-Aug-16 23:07:00

That's interesting, I didn't know the funding per pupil was already variable in that way. Would it help to change the numbers so that more deprived children being more funding by a larger factor, then? Make that factor large enough, and you get schools in the most deprived areas having more funding than they know what to do with, able to have multiple TAs per class and/or tiny classes or whatever they think helps? We don't see that - do we? Wouldn't it help social mobility (and the economy, perhaps) if we did?

sandyholme Tue 23-Aug-16 23:07:05

Australia gives parents the choice of using their state school funding to reduce cost of private education !

If you look at fees for Australian private schools it shows the amount given to the school from the state.

This is able to happen in Australia because they don't have the hang ups about the class system...

heritager Tue 23-Aug-16 23:08:24

I take the point that you need some core funding so as not to leave areas without schools, of course.

heritager Tue 23-Aug-16 23:09:34

Is it a good thing, the way it works in Australia, would you say?

sandyholme Tue 23-Aug-16 23:20:06

From the little i know about yes !

The problem in England/Wales is that Private schools get dragged in to a 'Snob' fest rather than how they could educate more 'normal' children.

This was one of the reasons the 'Assisted places' scheme was abolished in 1997 . This is because the Labour party wanted to play 'class' war without taking in to account the children affected were not the 'upper' class !

HPFA Wed 24-Aug-16 06:32:48

I think the issue is that the government has stuck itself with this competitive model and we're now seeing its limitations. Remembering the days when quite a few comprehensives were getting 2% of their pupils with 5 GCSEs, those days have gone. In Redcar and Cleveland (deprived area), only one school gets results in the twenties, two in the forties, and the rest (about 70% from memory) are all over 50%. That's a big improvement.

And this has to be good since getting Cs instead of Ds is actually vital to children's futures. But at the top achievement end I think we need co-operation between schools. One Maths superset for instance between three schools. Minority subjects like Latin to be offered at one school in an area. But this won't work if we continue to operate a purely competitive model - understandably no school is going to send its best Maths students to another school if that school then gets all the credit while sending school gets hammered by Ofsted!

I do think though that some parents will always want what they see as the "safety" of private schools or indeed grammar schools. It's obvious on Mumsnet that some people just want their kid to avoid any rough kids and what they think is a certainty of bullying at a comp. Sometimes that's a legacy of people's bad experiences back in the 80s which is understandable, but there's no real way comps can compete with that, is there? Despite popular myth there were plenty of private schools around in the days of grammars! Either we abolish private schools altogether or we forget about them and just concentrate on making our state schools as good as they can be.

Sandy the Assisted Places scheme was abolished to fund the limiting of class sizes in primary schools. I doubt many people want to go back to primary classes of 40+ to give a very few children a privileged education. Although it's rather funny to imagine a Blair government indulging in class war, I wish!!

HPFA Wed 24-Aug-16 06:49:42

Just to add, I get the feeling that behind the scenes at the D of E there may be some pushing towards the idea of partial selection, allowing one school in a MAT for instance to select until High Achieving children were about 40-50% of the intake. The Economist editorial was pushing this idea and people like Toby Young have been campaigning for it.

Advantages to this model - it would be considerably cheaper and less contentious than new grammars. I can see the benefits to children particularly the outliers in poorer areas. Those one school towns where the comp is already very good would be unaffected. Disadvantages? What happens to other schools in the area? Seems rather unfair to take away their brightest students and then punish them when their results go lower.

DinosaursRoar Wed 24-Aug-16 07:39:24

So essentially privatise the state education system.

What would happen is not that middle class parents would chose a mixed intake, but that you'd see a boom in independent schools - partially funded by the state meaning it would be in the price range of many more parents.

Many middle class parents are motivated to keep their dcs away from "problem" children, moving to nice areas, taking on much bigger mortgages to buy their way into good state schools, being able to just top up the difference in schools that are half state funded, would be a bonus.

haybott Wed 24-Aug-16 07:43:16

The assisted place scheme was also abused. Self employed people could fudge their income to get help with fees, while their company paid for cars etc. Assisted places propped up weak private schools which were providing worse education than the local state schools; after assisted places were abolished a number of private schools closed down.

Fell off my chair with laughter at the idea that Australia doesn't have a class system. The secondary school you attended defines you in Australian society and schools are very polarised by post code, fees and (I think) religion. E.g. parents move into the "higher class" suburbs of Sydney to access state schools which bear little relation to state schools in other parts of the city.

OP: your scheme would cost a fortune as it would mean that the 7% of pupils currently educated in private school would all get 4k or so each where right now they cost nothing.

HPFA Wed 24-Aug-16 14:47:10

Posted this about Australia in another thread but in case anyone didn't see it:

heritager Wed 24-Aug-16 17:23:17

Hmm. I take the points about the downsides of allowing children's educational costs to be taken to the private sector. Suppose we junk that idea.

Would increasing the differential between funding for well-off and deprived children improve the system overall? Would it be politically acceptable (to you; overall)?

If not, what would improve the system? I get very frustrated by reading thread after thread here that don't seem to offer much other than a choice between "comprehensives are already great" and "bring back grammar schools". What should we be lobbying our MPs for?

HPFA Wed 24-Aug-16 19:05:17

This blog has been attracting quite a lot of attention on social media

Author is now head of a comprehensive school but was formerly head of a super-selective grammar. So he has no axe to grind and a lot of expertise! Somewhere on the blog there's a more technical piece about school structures but I couldn't find it again.

Although his grasp of finances seems more ropey than his educational expertise:

shaggedthruahedgebackwards Wed 24-Aug-16 19:09:22

Since the global education budget would be unlikely to change, then your proposal simply moves a big chunk of money out of state schools and into private schools - or am I missing something?

3amEternal Wed 24-Aug-16 19:55:31

Re comment further up about problems with behaviour in comps in the 80s. My comp was like a Mexican prison. What measures are now in place to manage this? I think teenagers are better behaved generally.

heritager Wed 24-Aug-16 21:16:48

HPFA - isn't that a terribly depressing blog? It seems to accept that some schools are going to be bad and focus on how to decide who goes to bad schools. I'd rather lobby for some convincing way to improve bad schools. (I think we have to do this without attacking good schools: let grammars and privates wither for lack of demand.)

shagged - above, I've already accepted that point. My concern, though, was and is for acceptability. Eg if we decide the solution is an extra 5p on the income tax for everyone, to fund better state schools, education fanatics like me will vote for that, but I fear not enough people will. We need a plan that looks like an improvement to enough people.

TaIkinPeace Wed 24-Aug-16 21:17:32

Australia's total population is less than greater London
due to rather large areas of sea around them there is very low churn in most schools
compare like with like

and anybody who says there is no class system in Aus : Geelong.

sandyholme Wed 24-Aug-16 22:03:17

I knew there were at a lot of 'illegal's' in London but i never thought there were '16' million of them! That would probably explain why London is not England anymore.

The official stats Greater London population: 8.174 Million Australia 24 .167 million.

For the record Sydney's population is 4.91 Million still a major city and comparable to London in transport and educational logistics.

sandyholme Wed 24-Aug-16 22:08:17

Even if you count everywhere from Milton Keynes down to Brighton and across from Chelmsford to Reading the population is 13. 9 million.

caroldecker Wed 24-Aug-16 22:28:25

But some schools are always going to be lousy, or at least worse. Teachers are of variable quality, and even if no bad ones, some will be better.
Good teachers can move more easily and will generally flock together, so you will always have worse schools.
the trick is stop the worse schools being shit.

OverlyLoverly Thu 25-Aug-16 07:45:46

You need to end selective schools completely and have all kids going to their 'local' school.

No religious segregation/selection and no academic selection.

Schools would then need to be able through funding/training etc to cater to ALL their students including those at either end of the academic spectrum.

Schools in deprived areas would need extra support and funding.

Selective state schools are outdated and immoral. Why should one child be able to have a choice of several schools while others have no choice. How can that possibly be fair.

We can't move people into different areas and we can't equalise people's wealth but we CAN and SHOULD equalise children's educations.

I guess private schools can get on with whatever they want but they shouldn't be funded or given tax breaks or anything.

BTW. We could easily have afforded private school so my opinion isn't based on being bitter or jealous wink

2StripedSocks Thu 25-Aug-16 08:29:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SisterViktorine Thu 25-Aug-16 08:51:09

Agree with Striped that if you wanted a 'local' school model with every school starting of a level playing field and making the same 'offer' you would have to have a 100% lottery system across really quite broad areas. This would be the only way to stop geographical selection.

I would quite like to see this system at Primary level. I would also like to see teacher: pupil ratio of 1:15 in Primary. Not to make class sizes smaller, but to increase each pupil's teacher contact time, increase teacher PPA/INSET time, decrease teacher stress, improve teacher retention.... I think this would solve many of the 'issues' in Primary education.

I would also like to see a well staffed complex needs resource base in every Primary school- Maybe equal to 5% of the places in the school.

haybott Thu 25-Aug-16 08:59:37

I guess private schools can get on with whatever they want but they shouldn't be funded or given tax breaks or anything.

But if you remove the charitable status of private schools and fees rise, some parents would have no choice but to remove their children and put them in the state sector, at a cost of 5k or so per child per year. It would probably not be cost effective to remove charitable status.

Banning private schools entirely would also be expensive: you'd have to find 10 billion or so to fund state education for the children who are
currently in the private sector.

And compulsory state education (are you going to ban home education too?) with a lottery system would still not make much difference: I suspect that a parallel system of private "after schools" would emerge (as found in other European countries such as Greece and many Asian countries).

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