Socialist Worker

We will see boom and bust

by Ken Muller, teacher and parent
Issue No. 1909

MOST PARENTS and pupils know choice is a complete and utter fraud.

My 11 year old son is looking for a secondary school for next year. We put his name down at two schools in Hackney, the only mixed non-denominational ones. He got turned down for both.

We didn’t know what to do, so we went to a meeting at his primary school. It was full of furious parents. We found out that there are 600 children out of 2,200 11 year olds in the borough with no secondary school place for next year.

The only way we could have had the choice to send my son to the school we wanted was if we moved closer to the school. It would cost us £100,000.

I know parents whose children have nowhere to go next term. The children are depressed and feel unwanted, rejected by the school system.

The parents are stressed and can’t sleep. What sort of choice is that?

Choice means that schools go from boom to bust. It’s nothing to do with the quality of the teaching or the pupils.

The school where I teach in Islington began to get a good reputation. Middle class parents started sending their children to us, and the results got better and better.

Then we failed an Ofsted inspection.

So parents moved their children away.

New Labour is trying to turn schools into businesses, where some attract the resources and succeed while others get a bad reputation and go spiralling down.

Now Blair is talking about extending choice through creating more city academies. These get millions of public money to fund schools run by private interests.

They are just a way of bringing the market into education. And, as with any market, the rich get a choice and the poor lose out.


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Article information

Features
Sat 10 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1909
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