Saturday, 20 August 2016

In praise of comprehensives

The "desire to open new grammar schools", as a solution to the "Seven Per Cent Problem", is only "understandable" if one believes in Tory mythology; as last week`s Leader said, "focusing on early-years education" is a more sensible way, based, as it is, on evidence rather than propaganda, and the recent forced closures of Sure Start centres is a national disgrace (Grammar schools and social mobility, 12th August, 2016).
  It is important, however, to acknowledge that increased investment in nursery and primary education is insufficient on its own, and that spending per pupil at secondary level is falling, with too many academies being forced to employ non-qualified members of staff. Indeed, with teacher recruitment reaching crisis levels, the fact that schools are using agencies to recruit from abroad is being ignored at the country`s peril. The recruitment problem will only ease when teachers receive, not only pay comparable with their importance to society, but also less criticism, at a time when teaching quality in state-schools is higher than ever before.
   Allowing comprehensives to flourish, and to continue helping "all children reach their full potential", instead of shifting the goal-posts, Gove-like, when they do, is certainly a way to reduce private school "domination of public life". On the other hand, looking at the problem from the other end could provide a more immediate solution; in line with the national figure, no university should be allowed to take more than 7% of its undergraduates from the private sector.


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