Sunday, 19 September 2010

Mr Gove Invents Something that's Been Happening for Decades. Again.

Is it the comic section of the TES or your local paper? No, it's someone printing Mr Gove's latest little idea. It'll be some journalist who has forgotten more about education than Mr Gove will ever know or understand.

Small Idea Number 1 [not in chronologial order. I think he had another idea sometime around May]: This is the idea that "better" schools could, in their admissions policy, favour poorer children, not from their own locality. But I do think that this means a quota, not the wholesale import of an entire inner city estate.

Especially ever since league tables put out into the open things best left private, poor people has been publicly humiliated for being poor, for not being able to pay for the educational and other extras. That is, no extra tuition, no spacious houses, no relaxing holidays. This list of what poverty does for you is endless, and it is known.

Here follows a quote from the Yorkshire Evening Post from July 2008, discussing the relative merits of two schools, one about to "transform" the other.

In last summer's summer's GCSE exams, 80 per cent of pupils at Garforth gained five or more good grades, making it one of the most successful state schools in the country. At South Leeds, just seven per cent gained five good grades, making it one of the worst performing nationally.

How can we compare these two schools? Average house price Garforth, in leafy lane well outside Leeds? Average house the not so beautiful Belle Isle in south Leeds? The article also states:

Despite its [£25m state-of-the-art] facilties, South Leeds was judged to be failing. . . and . . . South Leeds also has a £1.3m debt, which under the academy plans would be written off from Education Leeds's budget.

Now I would argue that merging two schools, taking over two years to do this, and in the most bizarre way imaginable, then pouring the two schools' pupils together in a badly-built, poorly designed new building, nowhere near either previous schools' estates, or in fact any houses at all, I would argue that the words Despite its facilities should not feature at the beginning of the paragraph.

Crucial now is the mention of the £million plus debt. And this is why, in the end, South Leeds became an academy, so the tax-payers of Leeds could pay for wasteful process that was the merger. And the school itself could afford to continue to exist.

I've digressed a bit from my original intention to expose the utter stupidity of Mr Gove's idea to let the more successful schools include a few poor kids. But I hope I've filled in a bit of background.

The fact is that aspirational poor parents have been sending their children out of their own locality ever since catchment areas were abolished, and parental [so-called] choice was introduced. And this was happening even before league tables were devised, but once GCSE results were out there for all to see and no-one to understand, more and more poor academic/better behaved/less deprived children were shipped out on a daily basis to mingle with the more middle classes, this enriching the intake of the leafy lane schools and denuding the same from the schools from the inner-city.

Go Gove: a George Bush for Education in our time.

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