Dead Men Left

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Parental choice": a bad joke

Just time, in between other things, to note that my already overflowing pit of utter contempt for the jumped-up Tory lawyer that is apparently still the Prime Minister has been filled just a little bit higher by the Education White Paper. Yeah, I know: there has been warnings enough that the man knows no reasonable limits to his march rightwards; setting out to destroy the future prospects of a generation of British schoolchildren is perhaps a minor crime relative to invading Iraq, but can hardly be excused on those grounds. Simon Jenkins, nails, heads, mostly:

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."...

A child's schooling is not a hospital operation. It is a seven-year decision laden with social connotations. That is why, as Blair well knows, the only choice in education (other than to go private) is of parents by schools. Put parents in charge of schools and they will choose parents like themselves. The 11-plus was at least an objective test of aptitude. The white paper evokes prewar social selection.