I sent my kids to the local comp despite having indifferent exam results

Nigel Ford's picture
I'm a Conservative voter and a great believer in state education which isn't a contradiction in terms.

I was educated in the private sector and educated at prep and public school as a boarder although I would have preferred to have been educated at the local grammar school (there were no comprehensives back in the early 70s) but my father thought state education was inferior.

When my son was 11 back in 1995, and due to go to comprehensive school, in the town where I live there were 5 comprehensives but the local comp had the worst academic results with just 21% of pupils gaining 5 or more GCSEs and that was any mishmash of GCSEs, not inclusive of English and Maths. Most parents tried to avoid the school like the plague but me and my wife were determined to give the school a chance and put it down as our 1st choice.

It was at this stage I realised I could never vote Labour as Tony Blair and Cherie had creamed off a Grant Maintained, faith based school miles away from their Islington home. Although I had no problem with them choosing a religious school, I did object to the fact that he publicly opposed GM schools and that he had passed up 50 nearer comprehensive schools. This was in complete contrast to Shadow Education Secretary, David Blunkett, who chose a local comp in Sheffield with similar results to mine.

Shortly after my son started, a new Head was appointed although it took several years for the school to turn itself round. When my son left in 2000 just 32% of pupils passed 5 or more GCSEs (A -C). My two daughters started at the school in 1996 and 1998 respectively and I truly believe that all the children achieved their potential gaining good GCSE grades before going to 6th form college for their A' levels.

Myself, as a graduate of a redbrick university (I should point out that my tertiary education did not immediately follow my public school education as I attended a further education college in between) I did have some input into my kids GCSE exams and I really enjoyed having a hands on approach into their studies. Most importantly, I was glad to give the kids the social mixing at school, that I never had, where they were able to meet a wide range of children, some from straitened circumstances. Through my kids I was also able to lever up standards in raising the GCSE bar and more parents were attracted to the school for their own offspring. My children have said they're glad they never went through the private system.

Finally I have to say I really admire Melissa, Francis, Fiona and Henry for the principled stance they take on state education and I hope that my kids will take a leaf out theirs and my book when it comes to the schooling of their children.
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