Wednesday, February 28, 2007

BBC NEWS | Education | Schools to give places by lottery

BBC NEWS | Education | Schools to give places by lottery

Typical isn't it. You push yourself to your physical, emotional and financial limits to buy a home in a nice area, then the government announce that places at the local school are to be allocated by lottery!

What I resent about the coverage of this issue is the pejorative use of the term "privileged" assigned to the parents and children who live near these popular schools. It implies "undeservedly privileged".

So if, like me, you work hard through school, choose a good degree at Univeristy that will get you a steady job (rather than the sexy fun subject you'd enjoy!), and then work hard for 20 years in a competitive fast-moving industry to keep yourself in employment and able to support your family, don't expect people to recognise that you earned the privilege to live in a nice area and send your kids to the local state school.

Perhaps the government secretly want to drive people into private education. It's the logical alternative if you can't get into a decent local state school (provided you can afford it of course). As a kid from a state comprehensive school I have no natural affinity with private schooling, but for the first time in my life I'm starting to sympathise with its attraction.


Scott said...

Since when were YOU hard working? :P

As usual, I can see another side to this! Not everyone CAN make it to/through university, so regardless of how hard they work they may never get to where you are. Shouldn't the kids of someone who works hard as (e.g.) a nurse or a fireman have a chance to do better if they can by getting to go to the "better" school?

If Oliver got the chance to be educated somewhere better than a workshy layabout like you (:P) could afford, should he be denied it?

Steve said...

The issue is access and in my opinion that should be addressed by improving standards across the board, giving more help where more is needed, rather than by undertaking this rather crude and insensitive method.
To answer your question, I would prefer Oliver to go to his local school even if an expensive alternative were on offer. (And that local school includes kids from some pretty tough areas by the way. But that shouldn't surprise you given that I was educated in a comprehensive in a council estate.) This isn't just about money. It's about having the right to school your kids the way you choose. I don't believe the lottery is the right way to support that while extending choice.

Unknown said...

"To answer your question, I would prefer Oliver to go to his local school even if an expensive alternative were on offer. "

I think you missed my point. I meant that if there were two local state comprehensive school in your area and one was better than t'other wouldn't if be fairer to allocate places at 'random'?? That way you get a mix of abilities at all the schools and improve the general level of education i.e. improve both schools? Rather than the school near the more expensive house getting progressively better and the other one getting worse?

Steve said...

I don't think it logically follows that the one near the expensive house necessarily gets better, provided funding is directed appropriately.

There's a balance to be struck here between the egalitarian agenda that requires equality of opportunity for all and the libertarian agenda that requires people be allowed to prosper from their industry and (unequal) talents. I think the lottery method isn't the right balance.

There are other factors too, like wanting to go to a school in your local community. The "Think Local, Act Global" strategy doesn't work so well when people live so far from their places of schooling and employment. I've found the area where I live and the fact the whole family live and work there not only beneficial to the family but also to what we put back into the community.

Anyway, as you well know (tsk tsk!) I don't really want to encourage long philosphical debates on this blog (even if I started it!), it's really not its purpose. I'd much prefer you (and any other friendly neighbourhood debaters) to perk up my day by conducting this debate via email tennis. :)

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