Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Simon Jenkins: Parents are racists

Two of the more intelligent right-wing journalists - Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins - have recently started writing for the Guardian.

I suspect this represents a happy coincidence of interest. Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor, is on record as saying:
"If I had to choose between occupying a niche on the left or being nearer the centre, whether you display that through your news reporting or your comment or both, I'm more comfortable saying this an upmarket, serious mainstream newspaper. There's more potential for growth there than taking comfort in political positioning."
Equally, I am sure that Hastings and Jenkins relish the chance to address their columns to the people who run the country.

Simon Jenkins' column today suggests that he has quickly learned what his wider new readership wants. Writing on Labour's new education plans he says:
The education white paper offers a vision of a "parent-led" state secondary-school system. Its key institution is the "self-governing school free to parents", a copy of the Tories' grant-maintained school that Labour once derided. Parents will be able to control a school's "ethos and individualism". As one parent briskly put it to me, "We can keep out the blacks."
Parents cannot be trusted with a role in their children's education because they are all racists. No Guardian reader could ask more than that from a columnist.

It gets better after that. Jenkins writes well about the central role the Treasury now has in education, suggesting that it will severely limit the autonomy that schools will enjoy. And he argues that the central role of league tables means that good schools are unlikely to want to imperil their standing in them by federating with other, weaker establishments.

The conclusion I draw from this is that the government is not being radical enough. They should abolish league tables too. No doubt the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph would compile and publish tables in their own, but then parents will already have a pretty shrewd idea of which are the best schools in their area. League tables tend to be exercises in telling people what they already know.

While we are it, let's abolish the national curriculum too. Private schools have thrived without it, and there is no reason why schools in the maintained sector should not do so too.

I would feel much more comfortable if the Liberal Democrats were attacking Labour for not being radical enough.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not radical enough, but also changing the wrong things. We should abolish the national curriculum and league tables, then we should let democratically elected and accountable councils get on with running schools as they see fit.