Beyond the "sharp elbows" mantra

Helen Flynn's picture
I have just been reviewing a few recent threads on the site, and it strikes me how overwhelming the "me, me, me" mantra dominates, in such a way that we don't even notice it any more.

Of course, this is what Gove is able to manipulate so well by directly appealing to the self interest that lies behind the take-up of both his free school and academies initiatives.

We have been sent the message for over 30 years now that we should all only care about education in the way that it affects our own child/children at the point when we are actually "using" the system. It is seen as being manifestly reasonable, in fact absolutely justifiable, that we strive to get the best deal for our own children, even as we trample over others with little regard for their children.

Is that the best way to run a state-funded education system? By actively fomenting rank hysteria over securing the "right" place for our own child at a "good" school? Such hysteria only serves to perpetuate the hysteria!!

Every member of society, whether they are childless, has children themselves or are grandparents, has a vested interest in the sound education of all our children. The fact that education is no longer treated as a public good, but something you consume, whilst you have a direct interest in the outcome via a pupil or student, speaks of a very narrow and ego-centric focus.

Why would anyone with half a brain think that such a system is going to produce better outcomes overall? It's a recipe for a sink school in every area.

I wish that education had a much higher focus in the national psyche, one that lives beyond its demonisation in the media as being a system that fails any child who sets foot in a comprehensive school.

We do not do enough to celebrate the 90% of our schools that are comprehensive, some of them operating under the most challenging of circumstances. Of course they are not all perfect or even anywhere close to it in some cases. But to think that the solution is to put schools in direct competition with each other, and encourage a system that will directly create winners and losers is madness.
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Marianne Harman's picture
Wed, 13/07/2011 - 11:25

I wholeheartedly agree. I have just had lunch with a fellow town councillor who sits on the youth forum with students fro m the town community college and is also a gree party member but has said "over my dead body" will her daughter go to the local school. It is a level of hypocrisy that I face on a daily basis and unfounded since the school is good and rapidly improving but seen to have a poor catchment. This school is in competition with a grammar and a school that survives on its reputation as an ex-grammar and so attracts "the right sort of people." Our school has lost the pushy parents that will drive it forward and yet continues to do very well. It adds far greater value to its students than a school that selects the top 2% and then threatens them with expulsion if their parents don't pay for tutors to make sure they make the grade. It would be far better for the school, the students and the community as a whole to take away choice and make people send their children to the local school and work on making it the best it can be.

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