Saturday, 29 November 2014

Beware UKIP education policies

Imagine a National Health Service that had selection criteria on the basis  'we will only treat certain people we regard as worth saving'.  Now imagine a state school system based on the premise that only advantaged children will go to the 'good' schools.  Now take a look at this statement:

'Existing schools will be allowed to apply to become grammar schools and select according to ability and aptitude. Selection ages will be flexible and determined by the school in consultation with the local authority.'

The result of such a strategy would be to entrench a two tier system in our state schools. The 'good' schools will select on 'academic ability'. We have of course been here before in the old system of  Grammar and Secondary Modern Schools. Some might argue that it is as good idea because it ensures a good education for the brightest pupils. It will condemn those deemed less academically gifted to second rate schools.

You will note that the policy as stated doesn't say 'we will ensure that ALL pupils have the opportunity for education at the highest standards. It simply wants to restore the old system. It does say that selection ages will be flexible. But does anyone doubt that most selection will take place at 11? Of course it will, because that is the age at which most pupils move to secondary education.

It is extraordinarily silly to take a day in the life of a child at aged 11 and on that date determine their 'aptitude'.  Children develop at different rates not just in intellectual ability and understanding but in maturity. That is what was so wrong-headed about selection at 11.

New statistics released by Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools, the body which represents the county’s 13 selective schools is very instructive. It shows that only 16% of children from Aylesbury Vale – Bucks’ poorest district – passed the test, compared to 37% in the Chilterns – the county’s richest. There was a 64% pass rate for children in private education and only 4% for children on free school meals. Do we really think this reflects their true learning potential? Or do we suppose it reflects a pre-existing social and economic advantage?  I know which of these is likely to be the answer.

To push for Grammar Schools and selection on grounds of 'ability' will simply entrench  inequality of opportunities. It entrenches unfairness which affects the life chances of a generation.

So whose policy does this article give. You might assume it gives the Conservative Party policy. It doesn't. It gives UKIPs policy on secondary education.

It is often difficult to pin UKIP down on policy details. This one however is entrenched on the UKIP website under the heading 'What a UKIP government will do.'

UKIP will entrench the unfairness that exists in educational opportunities for our children and thus their life chances.

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