In my view

You couldn’t make it up.

Two weeks ago a Government Minister told parents whose children do not have places at their first choice school to appeal, in areas where the allocation was made by lottery!
The whole point of the lottery (sadly) was to stop parents who care about their children’s future, or who live near to one of the better schools, from automatically getting a place there. This was the Government’s cruel solution to the fact that there are not enough places at good state schools to go round.

Instead of tackling this underlying problem – too few places at good schools – they decided to tackle what they think is the problem – “middle class” parents gaining the places at the better schools for their children.

Had he cared about consistency, the Minister would have said that he was delighted so many parents had failed to get their children into the school of their choice – because it shows the lottery system is working. He should have told them there is no chance of their winning on appeal, as all those places in the popular schools have been earmarked for children whose parents did not covet them, to be awarded by lottery and government fiat.
I oppose a lottery scheme because I believe in choice, and I think that people should be able to improve their lot in life and the lives of their children. I want a government that uses choice, and frees the schools more, to drive standards up generally. If money follows parent choices, more children will go to better schools. As it is, parents and children in the lottery system are fed up, and the Minister himself cannot live with the grim reality of his own policy.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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