31 July 2005

Why Stephen Pollard is talking crap (as usual).

Today, Pollard is on about education. He rightly denounces selection by wealth in the state sector, where middle class families buy into the catchment area of a good school.

He also makes a good point via (Nick Cohen in the Observer) that private schools do not have to put up with the disadvantage of unruly pupils being forced upon them.

His solutions however, are Tory voucher schemes and Grammar schools. This is very lazy and completely ignorant of him.

He argues that selective schooling is not right wing and somehow is the socialist route to take, utter crap! He even goes on to muddy the water by claiming that right and left wing are completely meaningless anyway. He slags off SureStart and Working Families Tax Credits as somehow "slowing the process of redistribution". He is totally wrong!

Firstly voucher schemes, an expensive bureaucratic nightmare, are just a way for the rich to fund their private education with tax payers money. What help will that be to the working class?

Secondly Grammar schools, which continue to hang around many years after they have been proved detrimental to the education pool of an area. It is a well known fact that in areas where Grammar schools exist, the median pupil's average results in the area take a nosedive. The Grammar school pupils may do better but the state sector pupils suffer substantially, for the obvious reason that all their bright peers have been removed. Children learn just as much from other pupils as they do from the teachers.

So what is the solution to selection by wealth in the state sector, I hear you ask?

The best and simplest solution I have heard is that every state school in the country (around 3000) gets a place at Oxbridge for their brightest pupil. This would mean that middle class parents would no longer have the incentive to concentrate their children in a few schools. They would have to take an interest in all schools as the best way of getting their children to the top universities. This would mean all children will benefit.

As for private schools, lets stop their tax free status! They already cost the state sector millions by poaching all the best staff from the state sector. They should have to pay compensation for this, or take on the expense of training their own teachers for once.

It is quite simple to solve these educational problems, the real problem is educating the politicians and people like Pollard, that these solutions matter!

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