Monday, November 19, 2007

Parental choice doesn't exist

If there's one thing you hear about as a parent it's something called 'choice'. Apparently when it comes to education all of us who have bred and successfully spawned are entitled to choice about education for our kids. I am yet to reach the time where secondary school beckons but the idea that there is choice in primary education, at least where I live, is nonsense.

Last week, the better half and I went to the local school which has a nursery attached. We had to meet the head and make sure that Mini-Me had his name down for said nursery. Now, whilst we live within spitting distance of the school - you can see it from our front door - we learn that we are by no means guaranteed a place. The head infomred us that they have to follow guidelines about intake that is not just about location, gender diversity plays a part.

Now, call me a nerdy engineering type if you must, but what happens if during the year of one offsprings birth there are more girls or more boys born? Do they start turning people away based on the number of XX and XY chromosones in the population? Or do they start offering the parents of three year old from miles way places and then chastise them for doing the school run?

On the point of choice though, the only choice we actually have is where to apply. The decision about where we go is not ours at all. However, it got even more silly when I asked about the school entry system from nursery. It does not follow that attending the nursery at the school 100 yards from my front door will mean that the nipper gets a place at the school.

In fact we have to apply again. When we do that though it is not, as with the nursery ,the school that decides. No. Instead some bureaucrat takes the decision in the local education authority, presumably based on "key indicators" and some other management-speak nonsense.

If we get the boy into the nursery and we really want him to go to the school at the same place, because he has friends there, and we liek the teachers, we can still find ourselves told, for arbitrary reasons, that we have to send him to another school further away. So where's the choice in that exactly?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your choice is, take it or leave it.

I left it and home educated my kids.

I moved to France three years ago and my daughter who is now thirteen went to school for the first time in her life and loves it. My son who is fifteen had two terms in a the local primary school, on the Isle of Wight, they then merged two years together, complete with two special needs children, under one teacher, who was excellent, but obviously could not cope. He tried one term in a private school and hated it. Back to home education. Now he is in college in France, still says he does not like school but comes out laughing with his friends and seems content.
Best of luck and hope it goes well for your lad.

Surreptitious Evil said...

It's not 'choice', it is the 'appearance of choice'.

Bobbylad said...

Gender balance in schools is very important and it safeguards choice. When a school has a biass to one gender in a significant way it hugely effects teaching and robs parents of choice of mixed sex or single sex education. At the minute your talking as if youve got no chance, I think somehow it is very likely if you want that school you will get it, its not as if your poor, black, an immigrant or many of the other selective means schools have been found to use, there is afterall a reason why LEAs have admissions critera afterall.

Curbishly said...

Cameron wants pupils to sit reading tests at the end of year one and the target will be for all, bar those with serious learning difficulties, to pass. Teachers say the plans will cause long-lasting harm to late developers by labelling them as failures at a young age. 'It flies in the face of international evidence that suggests children do better if they start formal education later on,' said Chris Davis of the National Primary Headteachers' Association. 'The target is too early. One of the worst things you can do with a very young child is give them the impression that they can't do something. That can put them off for a very long time, if not for ever.'

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,,2212809,00.html

When the above is the knee jerk reaction from the "professionals" Then Mr Whales suggestion looks good.

CityUnslicker said...

The Choice is public or private. Labour have no truck with choice as it may mean suppression of the working class through vindicitve exploitation....

Newmania said...

I haveppedn to notice that Greenwich was omne of the worst reas for escapee students in the country.I was suprised actually , didn`t think it was all that bad

Bernie Gudgeon said...

It’s a tough one. Until this last several years Greenwich remained practically child-free: the schools were abysmal - if you had kids, you didn’t live in the area. However, in recent times it’s become difficult to walk down a street without being mown down by push-chairs. This is primarily because most of the people who’ve moved to Greenwich can afford to educate their children privately. If you’re not in that league, and if you can’t get junior into the odd primary school that’s been colonised by the less affluent middle-class incomers, you are going to have to take a second job or move to Bexley.

Shug Niggurath said...

Welcome to Education, Education, Education.

Anonymous said...

From my perspective and experience, if a school could freely pick its own admissions policy, they should pick on supportiveness of the parents.

Of course, that would leave a large number of crappy parents struggling to get their kids into a place; people arguably pay for their parents' crappiness their whole lives, but education is perhaps the most significant aquired tool in overcoming that.

The big problem with competitive choice in schools as it's practiced in the UK is that the good schools will inevitably be oversubscribed and they'll only look at people who put them first choice, which means that, in effect, you only get one chance to get into a good school. Frankly, I think that parents shouldn't be required to indicate preferences and the schools just make their list of preferences and make their offers. That this largely cuts the LEA out of the whole thing is, incidentally, absolutely no coincidence at all.