Monday, November 02, 2009

Education, education, uh ... and lying

A major item in the news today has been about parents who lie to get their children into popular schools. The essence of the news is whether it's "right" to do so.

It seems to me we are missing the point. Twelve years ago, Tony Blair said his three main priorities for government were "education, education, education".

The real reason parents lie to get their children into schools is that, after twelve years of Labour rule, they realise that some schools do a much better job of educating their children. Labour has spent huge sums on education and delivered some improvements but too many schools fall short and parents aren't prepared to wait: their childrens' education is too precious.

The debate shouldn't be about how to punish parents who lie, but how to fix the problem: too many schools just don't measure up.


Anthony said...

Isn't this a case where a parent always prefers a better school, and there'll never be a situation where all schools are equally good? Essentially, parents lying would occur even if all the schools had improved, because some would still be better than others.

Sean Haffey said...

That's an interesting argument and it has some force.

However, there are plenty of schools known as sink schools, which caring parents are desperate to avoid.

Craig said...

Sink schools are a major problem, but let's not confuse the issue:
The sort of parents who play the system are middle class, live in middle class areas and so aren't in danger of their children going to sink schools, which are overwhelmingly based in highly deprived areas. Quite simply, the parents in question are playing an unethical zero-sum game and don't deserve this spurious defence.

Let's also not pretend Labour has neglected education. They have encouraged more teachers to apply by raising wages, have made schools fit environments for learning by spending money on infrastructure and IT, and have attempted to get all schools to improve by introducing various elements of competition. Further attention is needed on multiple fronts, but the notion that they broke a pledge is ridiculous.

Craig said...
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Sean Haffey said...

On your first point, do you have any supporting evidence for these claims?

On your second: A lot of good has been done by spending money on infrastructure. A lot has been wasted on building very controlling systems with excessive measurements and testing. In addition, Labour has shrunk from confronting teachers unions that employ teaching methods shown to be ineffective and similarly mollycoddling children so that they "never lose".

Finally, we have an alarming rate of school leavers who are functionally illiterate and innumerate.

Craig said...

On the first point: which facts do you think are in doubt?

On the second: whether or not Labour have done the best possible job for education is open for debate. Whether it's been a high priority is not.

On the third point: do you have any evidence that the proportion of school leavers who are functionally illiterate or functionally innumerate is HIGHER than 1997?!? Or does the existence of ANY prove failure, like the existence of murderers in the UK proves that crime policy is a mess?