It's worth taking a look at the tabloid press in the last few days. For the first time in a very long time, they are starting to wake up to the consequences of a school system which is blighted by social segregation. The News Of The World published an article
which highlights the potentially tragic results of having a school system which promotes choice -- and social segregation. The opening of the article says:
"A DANGEROUS racial split is still blighting Britain's schools, despite top-level warnings ten years ago that it could spark hatred and violence. We can reveal that ethnic segregation of pupils - seen as a trigger for Britain's worst race riots in 2001 - is just as bad as ever. In fact, in some areas we found the splitting of primary schools into either nearly ALL white British children, or almost NONE, has actually grown far worse."
This is something that many commentators have been saying for years: a free-market in schools leads to ethnic segregation. The NOTW highlights Oldham, but you could just as easily say the same of Reading, Kent, many areas in London and other major cities in the UK. Promoting school choice fractures communities. It's the one place where a decent, civilised society has to step in and say social integration is more important than the selfish desires of certain parents.
Similarly, the Evening Standard's campaign to get London reading
contains the same underlying message: when you get all social classes mixing together in schools, there's a win-win situation for everyone. It's a campaign that tries to entice professionals into schools in socially deprived schools to help out with pupils' reading.
Barnados wrote the most powerful report recently on this subject; in Unlocking The School Gates
, they show quite conclusively that it's social segregation that is causing the poorest groups in our society to lose out in the education "game". But is the current government listening? It's agenda of encouraging schools to become Academies and pushy parents to set up Free Schools is actually making the situation far worse. It's a disaster in the making.
Despite communities mixing in our multi-cultural towns, many children are being taught separately - sometimes in classrooms less than a mile apart.