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« Good news | Main | Anarcho-capitalism in Somalia »
Monday
Mar032008

Decision day

So, it's decision day for parents today. The day when thousands of worried mums and dads find out if they've got their children into their preferred school. The day when the hopes of many are dashed. The day when careers are remapped, and expectations for the future are downgraded in the light of decisions to go private or home-ed.

The educational establishment meanwhile has got its retaliation in first, with a press release:

School leaders are calling on politicians to end what they call "the misleading rhetoric" of school choice - which, they say, cannot be delivered.

and there's a strong hint that it's not just the rhetoric they want to see the back of:

The admissions regulator, chief schools adjudicator Philip Hunter, has said that the present system of admissions and "parental choice" is fuelling social and racial divisions.

He has said that options that will be unpopular with many parents, such as having local lotteries for places, might be necessary.

It's probably true that school choice can't be delivered at the moment, but this is mainly because of all the silly rules which the government has set up. My children's school, which is about five miles away, is very rural and struggles to keep numbers up, although it's generally held to be very good.  Last year it lost a teacher because of the falling roll and one of the classes is now a composite of two years' intake.

Meanwhile the school in the village where I live is again very good, but has had a surge in numbers. It is now hugely overcrowded, with classes held in corridors and cloakrooms.

In a sane world, parents from an overcrowded school would be offered places at the non-overcrowded one. But an absurd rule stops this from happening. To take the overflow, the school with space would need to take on a teacher, to replace the one it lost last time round. The rules say they can't do this. They can only offer out-of-catchment places up to their existing staffing levels.

I just can't imagine the levels of stupidity that would be required to think that a rule like this was a good idea.

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