Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How schools should be organised; sack David Willetts!

School photograph from Westbrookville, New York area circa 1908-1910. Photograph from the collection of Ralph Freudenberg (1903-1980) and Nora Belle Conklin (1902-1963). Nora Belle Conklin (1902-1963) has been tentatively identified as the second person from the left in the bottom row.

In the UK, should there be grammar schools or comprehensive schools or what?

The utterly foolish David Willetts, who should be sacked from the Conservative front bench, seems to be opposing grammar schools. Tories to reject grammar schools

The important point in education is this:

It is easy and cheap to educate the bright, well mannered, hard working children, whether they come from the upper, middle or lower class.

It can be more difficult and more expensive to educate the slow learners or the lazy kids, no matter which social class they come from.

It is most difficult and most expensive to educate the disruptive elements, be they upper class or whatever.

Comprehensive schools (and similarly-organised city academies) tend to fail almost everyone; this is largely because the lazy, the less able and the disruptive children set the tone.

Grammar schools tend to succeed, partly because they find it easier to exclude the children who are less easy to teach.

So, how should education be organised?

1. Let the grammar schools continue to do what they do well - educating the bright kids. But make sure that the grammar schools take in lots and lots of bright kids from the lower class. The system must be flexible and have no rigid entrance system.

2. Set up schools that give intensive care (very expensive) to the disruptive children.

3. Set up top quality schools that cater for the less academic kids. There are parents and children who want such schools - so long as they are well run, and do not become dumping grounds for the disruptive children.

Government bureaucrats, whether in local or national government, tend to love big one-size-fits-all comprehensive schools. They don't like the idea of having expensive 'special' schools. Schools should be taken out of the hands of government.
The best schools are often tiny private schools, with ancient desks and no fancy facilities. All schools should be tiny. The big schools should be broken up.

Parents and children must have a wide choice of schools where possible. No secondary school needs to have more than 200 children.


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