Schools shouldn't be judged on whether they have problems, but on how they deal with them.

Peter Keane's picture
Idea after idea about school organisation; grammar schools, faith schools, free schools, academies, have been mooted as ways of avoiding difficulty. Avoiding difficulty by selecting, in one way or another, so as to reduce the number of pupils who will be challenging going to a particular school, with no thought to where else they will go. Money, social background, articulate and savvy parents, religious belief and narrow academic achievement have all been tools in this attempt to get the best for my child now at the expense of all children always. The comprehensive system is flawed, incomplete, weakened by the harvesting of the able into private education, but has the tremendous benefit of not trying to evade and avoid the academic, social and behavioural problems of a significant number of its pupils, instead attempting to stand it's ground and deal with them, alongside their peers. It's great achievement is not necessarily to develop the top end of pupils, although I would claim that their needs (and I was an academically able boy from a classic immigrant working class background who went to a comp in the 70s) were not neglected, but in raising expectations and achievement for those who in the past would have been abandoned - not an option in an age where the unskilled and illiterate have no foothold in the workforce, which they did in my parents time which was no educational golden age.
I'll say it, I would give up an educational system, however high achieving, that will primarily benefit the top 40%, academically and financially, at the expense of casting the rest aside, for a system which gives real opportunity to 100% of children - so you know where you can put your grammars, free schools, academies etc. We really are all in this together, and we will stand or fall by what we do for everyone, not a privileged minority, even if they are running the country.
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