Saturday, 31 May 2014

Tristram needs to read this!

 Selina Todd is a Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, and author of The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010. This is my response to her Guardian article:  

After the recent fuss about state school pupils lacking "character and resilience", largely created by, of all people, the shadow education secretary, how refreshing it was to read a positive article about state education in a national newspaper. (At my college we celebrate comprehensive schools, and the character they produce,27/05/14) The Establishment clearly thinks that a state education is somehow inferior to going to a  public school, so Selina Todd`s opinion that her students,"all educated at comprehensive schools" and all having "received excellent teaching", have "moral character" is to be welcomed. It would help if the person wanting to be in charge of state schools thought the same, instead of agreeing with the prep school head who recently said that state educated pupils lacked a "moral compass". In my 40+ years of teaching in state schools, I saw pupils from a variety of backgrounds displaying "character" and "resilience" by the bucketload every day, recovering from serious setbacks and problems, many of which the results of changes in government policy, and still determined to do their best. Why is it that the privately educated fail to accept this, and repeatedly insist that only in private schools can "character" be developed?
   In a week when the Labour party is being inundated with advice about the best ways to retrieve disillusioned voters, it could do worse than send its prospective education secretary up to Oxford to talk with the history department at St Hilda`s! Tristram could then pop over to Cambridge and remind the admissions tutors of the research done by Cardiff and Oxford Brookes universities which revealed that "students from state schools gained better degrees than independently educated candidates with the same A-level grades". A pledge to increase social mobility is a vote-winner! Sadly, he `s probably too busy with his book to manage it.

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