Friday, 9 March 2012

Wots Rong Wiv Are Edumacation?

(Blogger was dicking me around yesterday and for some reason would not let me post, so today you get two posts for the price of one. Get a grip Blogger!)

Yesterday’s post about universities has made me think about schools. I am so bored of the Left denigrating and disapproving of private education, viewing users as evil oppressors of the poor. As ever - for Polly’s benefit - I’m going to get my declarations in upfront.

1. I and my siblings went to private schools, which my parents worked hard and lived frugally to afford; mine was not a flash one for the record.

2. Mrs C attended both private and state schools.

3. The two small Craglettes currently attend a private primary school and assuming our hard work keeps generating enough shekels, then Mrs C and I intend to give them the best educational opportunity we can afford by sending them to a private secondary school.

Now having got my declarations of interest out of the way, let me make my points.

92% of children go to state schools. Overwhelmingly, their parents are not be able to afford a private education or, for a small number, if they could possibly afford it, they choose not to.

Just 8% of school children are educated privately. In my school experience, and in my childrens’ current experience, overwhelmingly this is unflashy, above average income but not rich parents who have made a decision to take on a massive financial burden in order to give their children the best educational opportunity they can. Now sure there are some kids from rich families, but in my children’s school, there are parents who are working their nuts off; mums doing several part time jobs and dads working all hours, in order to afford this. And I salute their selflessness, their commitment to their children and their dogged determination to deliver on a promise they have made.

But these two child cohorts have, on average, very different educational outcomes. Why so?

First, I don’t buy the argument about ‘better facilities bring better results’. China, India and the third world churn out very educated children who are taught in very basic schools and NuLab hosed taxpayer’s cash on improving thousands of schools with absolutely zero increase in educational outcome. In my private school, I was taught for two years in a ‘portacabin’ as the school had suffered a bad fire the term before I arrived and was being partly rebuilt.

(Lefties look away now). It is simply an undeniable fact that the private cohort on average come from families with higher educational attainment (which gives them a little advantage over many of their state educated peer group) whom are likely on average to be more supportive of them as they make their educational journey. This is not in any way to diss the state cohort. It’s just an undeniable reality, uncomfortable though it may be for some.

Added to this, many better than average teachers migrate to the private sector. In my days in the army, we had an expression: ‘There are no bad recruits just bad instructors’. And I believe this holds true in education. Many above average teachers, understanding their market value, head for the private system where they can realise that value ie get paid more.

Now my first point here is merely to establish that on average the private cohort are thus more likely to be pre-determined to achieve slightly better results. This is the fact the Left in turn both hates and invents intellectual gymnastics to refute. They are wrong and their fury is misdirected.

The injustice here is not that a very small percentage of children (a) get lucky with the bed they are born in, (b) have more family support at home, (c) get to go to better schools and thus (d) achieve better results. No, it’s that the taxpayer's cash is being poorly invested in a state system which is not doing a good enough job at educating the overwhelming majority of the population. And we should all be angry and pissed off about that rather than endlessly criticising and attacking the small number who go to private schools.

But what are the causes of this worse educational outcome?

Putting aside family circumstances which means some children are sadly probably pre-ordained to underachieve, fundamentally just three things:

1. The political correctness of ruling out selection - can both our next Nobel Laureate and the local road sweeper achieve their best possible outcome in the same classroom?

2. Trendy teaching bollocks since the 1960s - competition isn’t evil, children, it’s life.

3. The retention of bad teachers in the system due to union power - read those annual OFSTED reports about how many failing teachers we have in the state system and see the unions' response everytime a school tries to discipline or sack a failing teacher.

Let's focus our anger, attention and resolve on the 92% who are not getting the education we all want them to have rather than the 8% who have exercised 'choice' which is a right, Lefties, not an evil that should be stamped out.

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