Let me tell you about a school I know.
As schools go, it's a big one. The grounds and buildings are extensive although it has to be said that they're a bit of a mish-mash. They've had some new buildings in recent years, but many of them are a bit shabby and run-down to be frank. Still, everyone seems happy enough with them; "Needs must", they say. The parents are the same really - a real mix. The school has managed the unlikely feat of bringing together families from all sorts of different backgrounds in one place and avoiding all those social rifts you seem to get at most comprehensives: there are machinists and lorry drivers and teachers and accountants: name a job and you'll probably find a representative among the parent body somewhere. It's non-denominational too, with Christian and Moslem families represented alongside the secular majority. It's a cross-section of society at large I guess, and by and large they all seem to rub along together pretty well.
It's perhaps not the best-equipped school around: some decent science labs wouldn't go amiss for a start, but hey, some schools won't even let the kids try science practicals these days. Despite the less-than ideal facilities, the school still manages to achieve some truly excellent results. The children - it's co-ed by the way - score very highly in standardised tests of their language and maths skills - way above the average in fact, and what is really remarkable is that children from poor families are doing just as well as the rest - better in fact than a middle-class child at an average school. This is the kind of school where a bright kid from a poverty-stricken background can get their chance in life.
There's no selection though: no academic hothouse, this. There are children who are academic, of course, but most are just like any other kid: good at some things and not so good at others. The school has more than its fair share of special needs kids too. It's not easy coping with such a variety, of course, but they seem to have found a way to more than muddle through. I'm sure that other schools could learn a lot from watching them.
It's a fine school then. An extraordinary one, even. So there's no surprise that it's very popular, with the school roll growing at as much as 25% a year. With more and more parents wanting to get their children admitted, it's just as well they have so much room: so far they've been able to accomodate everyone who wants to get in.
It strikes me that this school should be, to a socialist, pretty much the ideal. Just run down the list again - comprehensive, non-denominational, child-centred, and turning out rounded, self-motivated children with literacy, numeracy and skills to boot. This is everything the left says it wants in a school.
So why the hell do they want to close it?
(*The inspectors report is here, by the way).