Society needs ALL children to have the best education they can get.

Leyla Mohan's picture
My daughter has just turned one, so I know it's early to be thinking about schools, but a few factors have recently converged for me:
- My politics are left-leaning and I'm furious about the current state of affairs;
- We're new to the area and trying to buy a house we'll want to live in for years and years;
- I've been told that Bristol's state schools are generally poor because there is a high concentration of independent schools here and they're taking the 'cream' leaving the state schools floundering;
- I don't believe in sacrificing my child for my principles, but if we all opted for independent schools, where would we end up as a society?
- I want to believe that education is improving - for the sake of my child and for our society.

I wonder if there's a role for parents of very young children to support our local schools so that things improve for those currently attending and so that we create a legacy that makes change over decades, not just when our children start at the school. I see this as being for our community, not just our own kids. I want to know what I can do to make a positive difference.
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Fiona Millar's picture
Sat, 12/02/2011 - 15:00

Thanks for posting this Leyla. All the founders of this site have chosen to educate their children in their local state schools, primary and secondary. I also have two children who have now left university so I know that it is possible for every child to get an excellent education in a local school, and also for parents to play a powerful role in their local communities by supporting those schools.
You might be interested in this piece I wrote some time ago about my involvement, over 18 years, with my local primary school. There were ups and downs along the way, but I don't regret a minute of it. The school was an important formative influence on all my children and they remain passionately loyal to it even now.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 12/02/2011 - 15:29

First, you'll need to do some research so that you don't have to reply on hearsay. The DfE gives info about schools (number on roll etc) and SAT results for Bristol schools here:

But bear in mind that league tables don't give the whole story - they often tell more about a school's intake than about the quality of teaching.

OFSTED reports are here:

It's important to read the whole report because you may find that a school judged "inadequate" because of its SAT results may still have teaching that is "satisfactory" or above, and other qualities that you want (like the children feeling safe).

LEA maintained schools are receiving a huge amount of bad press such as "1 in 4 don't reach expected standard in reading". This fails to recognise that if a particular standard is deemed to be "average", then on a normal distribution curve there would have to be about 1 in 4 below the average. This poor view of UK state schools is encouraged by the Government (see other posts about the misrepresentation of OECD international results for the UK, and the airbrushing out of good news, such as the 2007 TIMSS survey which showed English pupils gaining the highest scores in Europe in Maths and Science). Take heart in the fact that most children in the UK go to state schools, and most of these do as well as can be expected, despite what you hear.

Leyla Mohan's picture
Sat, 12/02/2011 - 23:12

Thanks for your suggestions, Fiona and Janet.

The more I read, the more I see that there's scaremongering and demonising going on. It's hard to keep that in mind when you're new to an area and don't know many people with direct experience of the local schools.

I do believe that I can channel my anger into positive action though, and a supportive community like this is exactly what I need to help me do that. I'm so glad I found the Local Schools Network!

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