Saturday, 22 March 2008

A Middle Class Education (System)

In England (as opposed to the rest of the UK) the education system has always been the property of the middle classes, it is their way of perpetuating their hegemony.

Witness how the post war education reforms that brought in the divide between grammar schools and secondary moderns was hijacked. A system of academically oriented grammar schools and trade oriented secondary moderns was perverted into one of success and failure. Grammar schools quickly became better funded, better equipped and better staffed, did you know that teachers in grammar schools were paid more for teaching smaller classes than their secondary modern colleagues?

Witness how the CSE, intended to give the less academically able pupil something to aim at, was quickly derided until the only grade that was worth having was the the top grade 1.

The introduction of the comprehensive should have ironed out many of the differences in schools, however the middle classes voted with their feet and moved into areas where they could all send their children to the same schools. These schools raised far more money through voluntary donations and fundraising and were also able to secure for themselves, the best public funding.

Recent scandals around so called parental choice and school admissions policy have all been about middle class, middle income parents getting their children into the right schools.

I concede that, even when children from differing backgrounds attend the same schools it is those with parents who see the value in education that do the best. However, the principle determining factor in the ability to support a child's education remains money, and even when these differences are are absent the child whose parents choose to spend money on a foreign exchange trip rather than a games console tend to be those who had better educations themselves.

Finally an interesting point to note and something well worth thinking about; the best performing children in any education system are the children of teachers.

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