Friday 22 September 2017

Tweaking school admissions won't solve problem of choice

There are just too many clashing principles at work in our schools. We either protect all religions or none, writes Sarah Carey

What barrier? The number of pupils rejected by Catholic schools for not having a baptismal cert is tiny
What barrier? The number of pupils rejected by Catholic schools for not having a baptismal cert is tiny
Sarah Carey

Sarah Carey

I'm occasionally accused of being a conservative but when it comes to education I'm actually a radical. Given a blank slate, I'd be Finland. In the 1990s, in the teeth of a recession and dealing with big public spending cuts, Finland closed one-third of its primary schools. They piled all the pupils into large schools in the nearest big town, and trained up the teachers. Though it was done to save money, the result was a dramatic improvement in standards and the country shot to the top of the OECD academic league tables.

So in Finland; there's one school and no "ethos" menu. No picking and choosing over gender, religion, language; and no parents fretting over which school might confer an advantage on their little pet. And almost no private schools. I entirely approve. Children shouldn't be separated for any reason, class being the most destructive division of all.

But if we tried that here can you imagine the reaction? There would be a revolution.

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