I applaud Cameron's plan to send his children to his local secondary school

Francis Gilbert's picture
 10
The Sunday Times' scoop today was that David Cameron is planning to his children to his local secondary school, a new state sponsored academy Kensington Aldridge academy which will be built near his old home in West London. From what I can see the academy will be non-selective and non-religious and be in line with other community schools in Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster.

The admissions policy has not yet been decided yet but I don't get the impression that the Kensington Aldridge academy are that keen to "covertly" select pupils: they have been set up by a Labour donor who seems anxious to have a fair admissions' system. This said, the proof will come in the pudding!

This is an important step that the Prime Minister has taken. It appears, though I am happy to be corrected, he has not opted to "play the system" by getting his children into a covertly selective school -- or to opt out by sending them to a private school.

Perhaps now he is seriously considering sending his children to a non-selective, local school,  he and the Education Secretary will consider reforming the admissions system as a whole. Above all, we must end the curse of overt and covert selection throughout the whole country; stop "aptitude" tests; stop "faith" schools creaming off the pupils from the wealthiest backgrounds; and give Local Authorities the power to supervise admissions so that children of all abilities are distributed equitably within a local area.

His first step should be to intervene with the new Education Bill and give the School Adjudicator back his powers to intervene if he/she sees covert selection going on. He also needs to make sure that Admissions' Forums are not eradicated; they were important in making sure admissions were fair. If he wanted to learn more, he should certainly look at the memorandum submitted by Comprehensive Future about the Education Bill, which points these things out.

Above all, David Cameron is a canny politician and a prudent parent: he knows that sending his children to the local school is the best thing for his children in all sorts of ways, educationally, socially, psychologically and, for him, politically. He also knows that this announcement will mean that the school will have been given a very important boost, an added status, which will make it an even better school.
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Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/03/2011 - 13:18

The launch of the OECDs Economic Survey last week said:

"Children from disadvantaged backgrounds underperform more in the United Kingdom than in most OECD countries. Resources in pre-schooling and schooling should therefore be more focused on disadvantaged children and families."

The Government, therefore, should reinstate funding for SureStart.

"The expanded “academies” programme and the setting up of “Free Schools” increase choice for parents. As many of these new schools will cater to better-off families, further reforms are needed so that all children can benefit. One way would be to give other schools similar freedoms."

I would disagree that academies increase choice - look what's happening in Lincolnshire. Also academies are not locally accountable - perhaps the OECD has swallowed government rhetoric about choice. However, the OECD seems to recognise that many academies and free schools will only benefit better-off parents. Therefore, the freedoms offered to academies should be offered to all schools - ie the freedom from the constraints of the national curriculum.
I think we'd find that most schools, given the choice, would still offer a wide curriculum, but one that would be geared to the school's intake and pupils' needs.

http://www.oecd.org/document/42/0,3746,en_21571361_44315115_47385066_1_1...

Fiona Millar's picture
Sun, 27/03/2011 - 15:42

If this story is true - that the Camerons are going to this school and that it will have community based admissions - it must mean he intends to be back at his old home by then, and out of Downing Street. That will be a great relief to many of us.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Sun, 27/03/2011 - 20:57

Janet, yes, I agree the Academies and Free Schools programme will certainly lead to more social segregation if there isn't a proper admissions' policy in place -- which there isn't, and the current Education Bill, if enacted as stands, will make things worse.

Fiona, sadly, I think Downing St and the old home is equidistant with the new Academy so I am not sure he's reckoning on stepping down as PM...

I am probably clutching at straws, but it is interesting thinking about what he has ruled out: private schools and covertly/overtly selective state schools such as West London Free School and Marylebone School for Girls, both of which are "within range". The new Academy looks like it will be much more socially inclusive than the primary his children go to, St Mary Abbots, which has a high proportion of children going to private schools after leaving and is not the local school for his old home.

Fiona Millar's picture
Sun, 27/03/2011 - 21:42

I am slightly puzzled by how the Camerons, or indeed the Sunday Times, can know for sure which school a seven year old child might go to in four years time. Where is this new academy going to be?

Shane Rae's picture
Mon, 28/03/2011 - 11:37

I'll tell you where it WON'T be, in the actual community where he is meant to be resident as our MP-West Oxfordshire. He has turned his back on us since taking the PM's office. He has decommissioned his email address, published to us constituents and refuses to publish dates/times of any open surgeries. Even calls to his office result in simply being refused details as to the timings of his surgery.

What happens when your MP becomes PM? you lose your MP that's what.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Mon, 28/03/2011 - 12:02

The DfE state regarding the site of the school:

The Academy would be built adjacent to a new sports centre on the site of the existing North Kensington Sports Centre. The area does not currently have a coeducational school and the sports centre is nearing the end of its useful life. A new school and new sports centre would play a key role in the redevelopment and regeneration plans for the Latimer area. The new school would lie at the heart of the
local community, providing places for young people within that community to meet local demand.

I believe it will be situated here: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&pwst=1&q=latimer+area+north+kensingt...

Fiona Millar's picture
Mon, 28/03/2011 - 12:16

That is a long way from Downing Street.....

edward daffarn's picture
Sat, 09/04/2011 - 10:41

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2011/04/councillors-still-not-lis...

Francis,
The real story is how the Council have abused local residents despite claiming to do business in public refuse to even meet with stakeholders from the local community
Why dont you give some publicity to this injustice rather than trying to portray Cameron as a man of the people (something that he is clearly not).
Ed.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Sat, 09/04/2011 - 11:48

Thanks for this Edward. I found your blog informative. I quote a relevant passage:

"Still, the project got a big boost the other weekend when David Cameron himself said he “might” send his children to the new Academy. Now we all know this is not going to happen – but it gives Cllrs. Cockell and Moylan a great big PR boost to their pet project. There is a very faint possibility that Nancy could be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and sent for a while to the Chelsea Academy before joining brother Arthur at Eton when she reaches the Sixth Form. But there is no chance whatsoever of her going to the Kensington Academy. This would put her in the same school as those children whom her parents carefully avoided when they sent their offspring to join those of Michael Gove MP and Ed Vaizey MP at the highly selective “state” primary school, St. Mary Abbots – the very fashionable Church of England school where all pupils are hand-picked to ensure that the hoi polloi are excluded."

Sigh. I suppose I was clutching at straws. I am no fan of Cameron, but I did feel that if a "posh" person like him opted for a "community" school (I think this is something you would dispute) it would give all community schools in the country a boost. What with Stella McCartney's husband saying they're going private, the more deprived state schools in that area are getting a rough ride.

Fiona Millar's picture
Sat, 09/04/2011 - 14:30

This comment reminded me of a post by one of our earliest supporters here expressing her dismay that the Camerons had rejected their local primary school without even going to look at it , instead preferring to drive his children some distance away to a largely white, Church of England school with very low free school meals. According to media reports at the time, there were fifteen local schools in between his home and St Mary Abbotts school, where Michael Gove's children are also pupils.

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