Monday, February 06, 2006

Education, education, education

This is really a comment on this thread, which Bishop Hill noticed, and which is closed for further comments.

In my opinion the 11-plus, along with the elitist (i.e. selective) university system with grants, was the probably the best and most socially levelling thing the UK ever had. It meant that for the first time, children from poor backgrounds who were bright, could go to a good school, get a degree and work as teachers etc. in roles that were almost totally denied their ancestors. The changes that have happened since –comprehensive schooling where the quality of education depended on where you lived, lower standards from GCSE upwards, and wider access to higher education meaning that it is no longer free and therefore less available to the poor - have reduced opportunity and social mobility.

As for the issue of funding - given that funding for education will always be limited, would it not make sense to spend the money where it has the most effect rather than decreeing that it has to be spread evenly, or worse, thrown mostly at those who get the least out of it?

"In those days people will no longer say,
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge.'
Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—his own teeth will be set on edge.” (Jeremiah 31:29-30).

Shouldn't that be the aspiration of a state-funded education system?


Blogger Bishop Hill said...

I think you're right that the 11 plus was the best state education we have seen thus far.

I do have my doubts as to whether it's the best possible system. In essence we have tried splitting at 12 or not splitting at all. There must be thousands of other possibilities which have never been tried. This lack of experimentation is the true failing of the state education system.

This is why I would favour major deregulation and probably a voucher system.

We shouldn't expect politicians to come up with the right answer. They have never managed to do this in any other area. Why should education be any different?

2:54 pm  

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