Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Polly Toynbee reveals the Labour view of education

Polly Toynbee writes in today's Guardian:
Conservative Brighton was a pioneer in holding a lottery in places for over-subscribed schools - which worked well. This bill should encourage all local authorities to do likewise.
To people like Toynbee, children are not individuals with unique talents, interests and abilities. They are an undifferentiated mass that can be assigned anywhere as long as it furthers the socialist ambition for geometric equality.


Tristan said...

I think this has long been true of the ruling classes, Labour or Tory.

Comprehensive education was part of it, as was the National Curriculum.

Going back to the very beginning and you have state education to ensure suitable labourers for industry and the military (as the public schools tended to be to educate the next generation of administrators for the Empire) and the Tories axing elected education boards because they started refusing to subscribe to this vision and going their own way.

lifeonmars said...

The point about lotteries is that they generate an incentive to ensure that ALL schools provide a decent level of education - so that individual children from whatever background have a fighting chance of achieving their potential. As long as middle class liberals can cherry pick places at the better state schools the failure of the worst is addressed by little more than hand-wringing.

However, if you've got a blueprint for a system that would allow a degree of equality of opportunity it would be interesting to hear.

Tim Hicks said...

I agree with "lifeonmars". To my mind, school lotteries are about breaking `ties' in some kind of objectively fair way when more people choose a school than can go there.

It reveals nothing to me about "the socialist ambition for geometric equality". Rather, I thought it was a (probably) necessary part of the sort of fair choice-based school system that I thought I recalled you favour.

James Dowden said...

The only genuine way of incentivizing schools to perform is to privatize them, this being one of the few state-run industries with genuine competition. That way failing schools would go bust and bad teachers would lose their jobs. The current system is no more than an NUT wheeze to defend incompetence.

Richard Gadsden said...

If there is anything to be said for school placement lotteries, it is that the alternative is someone deciding who should get in on criteria that are either arbitrary, stupid, disciminatory, or corrupt - and quite possibly all four.