Assisted places at fee paying schools?

I heard a passionate debate on Any Questions and Any Answers this week on the latest proposal from some private schools that they could provide free places to lower income pupils if the state paid them the average sum the state pays public sector schools for their places.

Those against argued that the fee paying schools do well out of their charitable status, and should not be given additional state cash. They saw the fee paying schools as seeking talent and money from the state sector to improve their own budgets and talent pools. They argued that everyone needing state support should use the comprehensive places that can be made available, though most fell short of demanding the closure of all fee charging schools for the rich.

Those who favoured the move thought it was a win win. Able pupils from low income backgrounds could receive excellent academic educations in the fee paying sector alongside children from rich parents. The school would subsidise the place, and the state would be spared any above average cost and additional capital cost of providing more places by putting pupils into private sector settings that already have their buildings and equipment. This could represent a decent saving in parts of the country needing to expand provision.

I myself won a scholarship providing a free place at a Direct Grant school. I also had the offer of a grammar school place, so either way would have received an academic education capable of helping me to university. It worked for me, and I saw no harm in it at the time. I would be interested in your thoughts on this suggestion from some fee charging schools.

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121 Comments

  1. Dame Rita Webb
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Assisted places only allow for further complacency in the state schools which are still in need of serious reform. On the home front my kids go to an academy, which is supposed to be the latest great idea of providing a quality education in return for what I pay in taxes. However I regularly receive letters from the head that are full of spelling and grammatical errors. For some reason, despite teaching my kids computing skills, the school does not appear to have worked out that their word processing program will have a spelling/grammar checker. The last OFSTED visit, by the way, was when Labour was still in power. Just another symptom of why more than a fifth of UK school leavers are functionally illiterate.

    • Hope
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      Each school has a literacy policy that the teachers are unable or unwilling to comply with! Academies by me are a title meaning failed school, loads of money thrown at the buildings and equipment, no improvement in education. The teachers openly fail to comply with the policies they make. The govt answer: dumb down private education or make it difficult for them to continue. One nation and a fair society if all schools are crap like the comprehensive system. No standards, no discipline, no education. Just a highly expensive baby sitting service.

      We read last week that (religious) schools deemed by the HMIC to be under performing or unacceptable behaviour cannot be closed or altered! We read the Casey report that the govt needs to change these areas or schools. I find it hard to understand why the govt is impotent to act?

  2. Newmania
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    I also won a scholarship at what was a Direct Grant school. It was a very old school but , sadly , not a very good one . It had an excellent intake with which it performed adequately . The results improved conspicuously when it was obliged to compete with other Public schools at the end of the Direct Grant system despite what was presumably a less naturally gifted set of pupils.
    I don`t recall any significant increase in social mobility at the top end and so whilst there may be some small good or bad to “debate” ,energies should clearly not be directed at this micro issue which means little outside the ranks of the Conservative Party , a feature of so much of our public life \at the moment .
    There are vastly more pressing issues , ask any teacher . The top 10% are reasonably well served the problem they have is with the bottom 5% held in a system that cannot cater for their behaviour and needs . This small number of pupils wrecks almost everything the state sector tries to do creating enormous costs and leaving the middling to struggle on alone ,( or taught by their parents ).

    A brace administration would tackle this issue by re introducing sizeable reform schools ( other name to be invented ) and making exclusion to them much easier.
    That single measure would transform English education which has much that is very good about it

    If we are to have one Party state please please can the Conservative Party start to talk to people outside its ranks and stop wasting time on symbols . The government of the country is now virtually absent , taken up by its grade projet / disaster and real problem we really could do something about are reduced to Conservative dogma discussed for their own entertainment

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Very well said, Newmania !

  3. formula57
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Prima facie the offer does indeed have a win-win look to it and I would expect those chosen to participate would benefit appreciably. The sound point against is that removing most of the talented students from state schools does diminish such schools, not least by depriving others of the example such students set.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      It does to a degree, pupils can often learn as much of other pupils as they do off the teachers. I can remember often helping others with their maths, chemistry and physics, while getting others to assist me with my French (or spellings).

      The other danger is that many of the private schools and indeed Oxbridge have a large bias towards often rather useless and non practical subjects art subjects rather than solid maths and science. We have far too many lawyers, classicists, divinity students, social scientists, language students, PPE graduates and history of art people already. Should we really even be paying for people to study such hobby subjects (in these numbers) at university when we have rather too many already?

      • Hope
        Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        Decent firms do their own assessments of ability not recognising state school system. Very understandable.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Removing talented students from state schools also removes the demoralising effect on dimmer students, because of the conceit that accompanies ability. The dimmer students can then do better as their ability is more appreciated.
      The school might suffer in the league tables, but the individual students of all abilities benefit.

      • Hope
        Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Special needs should cater for the top 5 percent and the bottom 5 percent. The reality is no one bothers with the top percentile. All money is thrown at the bottom and helping children speak English!

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Being a bit cynical and seeing how some of the minor private schools are on the ropes. I would suggest that this kind offer is only because they are feeling the pinch as their supply of overseas Chinese and Russian pupils dries up.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Assisted places should be awarded to children who are going to benefit most from whatever kind of education is offered by the independent school. Many of them are, indeed, ‘academic’ but not all.
      I can never quite understand why the most talented, as you put it, should be deprived of the education that best suits those talents in order to help less talented or differently talented pupils. It is the schools these latter pupils attend that should look to their own performance and not expect their job to be done for them by talented pupils.

  4. Edward.
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    When I was a kid, even the local secondary modern provided a decent education for those who developed not quite as fast as some and most schools could provide good technical blocks where children of all abilities might learn the basics of many useful as they are termed ‘vocational’ arts, crafts and skills.
    But the key was always acknowledged, a solid grounding in reading, riting and rithmatic and certainly not least in: British history.

    What happened was, the disaster of Socialist Utopian idealism that, one size fits all and therein: State bog standard Comprehensives or warehouses of mediocrity. Warehouses peddling dogma, filling the child’s mind with abstract tenets and ingraining ignorance of just about aught but particularly trashing the narrative, of this island race.

    Fee paying schools providing places for those unable to reach the fees and who have academically gifted children is a good idea but a better idea would be to provide a decent education for everyone irrespective of ability to afford specialist schooling.

    It could be done, with the will and that’s where the nation falls down, the spine has gone out of people and if you do speak to the truth, see what they did to Boris, see what they did to Andrea Jacqueline Leadsom MP.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Edward

      excellent post, could not have put it better myself

  5. Roy Grainger
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    If you walk along the South Bank of the Thames near Waterloo Bridge you pass lots of flats on the river. Only two types of people can live there. The very very rich who can afford the million pound prices, and the very poor who qualify to live in the flats which are social housing. No middle class person can hope to live there at all, ever.

    So it is with this suggestion. The only people who can be educated at these private schools are the very rich, and the “lower income” pupils. The middle classes can forget about it and make do with the local comp. and pay their taxes to subsidise the charitable status of these schools.

    The solution for private schools is simple: remove their charitable status and funnel any additional money this raises into the state sector. If private schools go bankrupt as a consequence so be it, those children and parents can go into the state sector and help to improve it. By the way, it is particularly galling for charitable status to be given to schools which tout for business in Russia and Hong Kong and elsewhere and have a large proportion of non-UK pupils as a result.

    Many successful education systems have virtually no private schools at all – Germany for example only has a few for special needs pupils.

  6. Caterpillar
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I suppose the simplest point is how the average state sum compares with the marginal cost of each additional student/pupil at the private schools.

    The next simplest would be which students – by academic selection, lottery or perhaps students who have been excluded?

    Less simply the question is why do we expect (know) it will work, so that lessons can go across to state schools (and economic resource if required). Quality/qualifications of teachers, preparation time for teachers, culture of thinking, background of students etc?

  7. Mark B
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    As some one who strongly believes in merit, I support this. Although I think private business should also be encouraged to contribute.

    We (especially the English from from previous articles here) already do this for the Scottish at all levels, and I would happily see this scheme extended to higher education.

    We should also do more for apprenticeships.

    Remember these people could well be the wealth generators of the future.

    • acorn
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Did you hear the one about the four £20,000 a year media studies graduates, in a flat with a broken toilet flush? They waited for six cross legged hours, for the £45,000 a year plumber to turn up, and literally get them out of the s**t.

      We need more Trade Schools, Technical Colleges and Polytechnics to develop skilled Tradesmen, Technicians and Engineers respectively. Like we used to have back in the sixties! There are far too many Mickey Mouse Universities with more, so called, “Professors”, than you can shake a stick at. Alas, it is all too late for the UK to change paradigms; there is no way back to prosperity from here.

      • libertarian
        Posted December 13, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        Acorn

        You are absolutely correct. We need vocational training for the 70% of non academic orientated pupils. Average earnings of apprentices now exceed average earnings of Uni graduates. Unless necessary ( i.e. Dr, Vet, Architect, Nurse ( why?) or other mandatory degree profession) theres little point in going to university from a career perspective and 100% of young people would be far better off if the government loaned them the money to put a property deposit down rather than a student loan

  8. Iain Gill
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I would go further. Give parents a cheque to spend in any school they like, including abroad or topped up to go outside the state sector. Shut council admission departments as they are corrupt and incompetent. Change the whole scene by handing buying power over to parents. Allow selection on ability and attitude, but ban discrimination on racial or religious grounds.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Iain Gill

      Absolutely agree 100%

      • Iain Gill
        Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        I would also abolish “qualified teacher status” which is little more than a 12 month course of political indoctrination. I would free the system up so that head teachers can accept anyone with a degree, just like fee paying schools. I would also allow state head teachers to exclude the most disruptive pupils more easily. But I would put in place proper remedial action for those pupils so excluded.

        Proper buying power in the parents hands would fix most of the problems.

        • Iain Gill
          Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          Indeed I would over time get the state out of owning and running schools, and restrict the state to providing the funds to parents to take where they want, and providing some level of regulation and inspection to shut the worst schools.

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Give everyone an education voucher that they can spend or top up as they like and largely as they wish. Thos or better still just tax people far less and leave the money with them to spend on their children’s education in the first place. With a safety net for the few who really cannot afford it.

    The more choice and less interference in education from governments, politicians, experts and local authorities the better education will be.

    Assisted places are, on balance, a good thing, but it is just a tiny step on the way to the far more sensible and cheaper solution above. Getting as much religion out of schools as possible would be a good plan too, including the daft “climate alarmism” one. Surely schools should be about education and not indoctrination in lunacy. How can pupils take teachers and schools seriously if they have religious figures and are clearly teaching “irrational beliefs” alongside the other subjects?

    If people really must do religion they can surely do it in their own time and not inflict it on others?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      George Osborne in the Spectator this week tells us that:- “he is writing a book to be called the “Age of Unreason”, his attempt to understand why populist nationalism is on the rise in our western democracies – and how those of us who believe in free markets and open societies can respond”

      Does he really delude himself into thinking he believes in free markets? This with his central wage controls, his enforced pensions, the huge rigging of the systems in transport, education, energy, housing, health and nearly every other area of life. His absurdly complex and high tax system alone kill both jobs and a free market. Not to mention his robbing of pensions funds, his slopping the pitch against tenants, his IHT ratting, his enforced pension savings, his absurd stamp duty rates, HS2, Hinkley and endless other absurd red tape and total insanities.

      Osborne certainly exhibits a great deal of “unreason” but he does not even recognise it in his dire and hugely misguided approach. He was a disaster as chancellor. Alas Hammond is clearly just more of the same.

      In what possible sense does Osborne believe in free markets? How can anyone who believes in free markets have wanted to remain in the anti free market EU, or have wanted to join the ERM or EURO?

      It is as daft as Gordon Brown describing Adam Smith as his ‘hero of the Scottish Enlightenment’, this when Brown had clearly had not understood anything Adam Smith had written.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        If Osborn wants to write a good book on “the age of unreason” he should cover, climate alarmism, the bonkers grants for wind, PV, lagoons and bio fuels, the economic illiteracy of tax borrow and piss down the drain chancellors like Major, Clarke, Gordon Brown, Darling and himself.

        All this while claiming to be “repaying the debt”, “keeping his IHT promise” (yeah sure), introducing very damaging central wage controls, absurd tax complexity, mugging pension pots, robbing landlords and tenants and even absurdly claiming to be an advocate for free trade.

        Just resign man and crawl into a hole like Cameron or join the Libdims where you clearly belong.

      • hefner
        Posted December 13, 2016 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

        Adam Smith also wrote “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” and his “Wealth of Nations” had not much to do with present globalised economy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Interesting to see Nicky Morgan’s equally expensive handbag on the front of the Daily Mail, after her childish attack on May’s (admittedly rather dreadful) leather trousers.

  10. Richard1
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    It’s a good idea, but a Conservative government should not be joining in this leftist virtue signalling demonisation of private schools – they should “do more” etc. Why? They are private and exist to serve their customers like any other private enterprise. Any institution which provides excellent education is a public good. Private schools provide good education, saving the state the cost and attracting export earnings from foreign pupils. A better route to go would be to replicate the choice and competition which exists in the private sector in the state sector. Some sort of a voucher system with schools being made independent from the state would be a better model. The dreadful PISA test results should be a wake up call. Bring back Michael Gove!

  11. stred
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I went to a Direct Grant school where some parents paid and often struggled to. One of my friend’s father was a teacher in the local grammar and he paid for his son to go to ‘public school’. Other boys were lucky enough to have passed the 11 plus and were paid for by the taxpayer. Of course in those days fees were much less onerous.

    The boys that went privately had to pass a test in grammar, writing and arithmetic instead of the 11 plus IQ style test. They were not prepared for this type of test but had grounding in the private test. Someone did some research in the 60s and found no significant difference in O level passes between 11 plus passers and the traditional test.

    Personally, my education was no good and I missed learning favourite subjects and sports because of selection for assessed examination performance. I would have preferred to go to the grammar school, where some friends attended.

    How much more is it going to cost for the taxpayer to sent selected children to private schools than to a grammar or selected comprehensive stream?

  12. stred
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    not good, not no good. QED.

  13. SP
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    The education debate in this country is skewed by politics. I attended a grammar school which became comprehensive and then for sixth form received a bursary from an independent school. The teaching was best at the grammar but the level of dedication in the independent was inspirational. From a council house I went to a serious University and thence to practice law in the City.

    I live in London and my boys attend an independent London day school a bit like my grammar school but with the staff dedication of the independent. Over 30% of children are financially assisted which adds greatly to the diversity both ethnic and financial of the student body. The most important thing to me is to equip my boys for life in the 21st century. It is an imperative. Politics are of no interest.

    I am fortunate in that I can contract out of the state sector. I have however in another capacity visited and spoken to many hard working heads of sate secondary schools in Wandsworth and Lambeth and in many senses the schools have better facilities and are more modern than their independent counterparts.

    Clearly if one was to design a school system from scratch you wouldn’t start with the UK model. The most important thing to me is the education itself! I don’t think getting bogged down in issue of principle for which read ideology is appropriate. We need to equip our kids for the future. That is the only consideration. If that means poor kids to independents then so be it. If it means grammar schools so be it.

  14. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    The dogmatic approach of those who would deny pupils who might benefit from these places is horrendous.

    Until it is possible to provide the same level of education in the state sector as in the private sector we should grab offers like this and pay up too.

    The equality of outcome brigade insists that no one should have good schooling until all can have good schooling which highlights their priorities.

    Sometimes improvement can only occur incrementally so take what is on offer in the meantime.

  15. Lifelogic
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    You say JR that you free place worked for you. But you were bright and would have done well anyway, perhaps in a different field, with a different accent and perhaps without even going to university.

    Private schools give people a little polish and perhaps push their grades up a little but they do not really make people cleverer in the end. Perhaps the largest advantage it confers is contract with people who have more money and rather more useful contacts.

    Too many private schools turn out dim graduates, second rate lawyers other protected professions, civil servants and the likes. We hardly need yet more of these.

    • zorro
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Very astute lifelogic and in my opinion quite factual. Throughout life, I have often found that it is the ‘confidence’ skill that allows public school pupils to get on in life against their often more diffident state educated colleagues. I also know of less able children who are put through public school in the hope that contacts with other pupils/parents will ease their passage in later life.

      zorro

      • zorro
        Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, with regards to Mr Cameron a 1st in PPE did not seem to help his understanding of the UK/US power balance early in WW2.

        zorro

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 13, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          He even seemed to think he was a Cast Iron, Eurosceptic, low tax at heart Conservative and was “repaying the debt”.

          So he is either very confused, very dim or perhaps he was just blatantly lying for career advancement reasons.

  16. Ian Wragg
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    The proposals to strip private schools of their charitable status by a Tory government is scandalous.
    You fail to see the irony of the schools asking for £5500 per place to school 10000 pupils. The fact that the thousands privately educated save the government millions should be reason enough for charitable status
    Anyway it shouldn’t happen until we’ve left the EU otherwise all the places will be taken by EU nationals.
    etc ed

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Indeed but half the Tory MPs are just pathetic lefty Libdims at heart.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Ian Wragg

      Indeed and one other often overlooked issue with being registered as a charity is the inability to claim back VAT spent which amounts to a serious amount of money. Roughly 700,000 kids at private school if all returned to state schools would cost the government huge amounts of money

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted December 12, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        Education is usually an exempt supply so would not attract VAT reclaim on the costs of supply.

        Being a charity does not preclude an organisation from reclaiming VAT, it is the additional cost to the end user that means most charities avoid adding VAT to the product or service delivered.

        HM Treasury could make education zero rated so private schools could reclaim vat on their costs but that would give them an advantage over state schools which still could not reclaim their vat.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted December 13, 2016 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          But state schools are only paying vat back to the same state anyway. So it is just pointless money circulation and pointless admin.

    • hefner
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      What are you saying in your last sentence? Children of EU nationals more likely to do better at tests for getting into these private schools? I find your comment very discriminating towards British children?
      So I guess you support the last PISA survey findings.

      • ian wragg
        Posted December 13, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        I just think the white working class Brit would be put too the back of the queue as is the norm.

  17. agricola
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    My school career paralleled yours , in that I too went to a Direct Grant School having also been offered a place at a grammar school. The minimum teacher qualification at the time was a first class honours degree from Oxbridge. Apart from an academic education the other facilities at the school were quite outstanding. Over the years they have got even better to the point where no state school could come anywhere near in the opportunities on offer.

    In recent years a forward thinking Chief Master created a trust fund now standing at around £10 Million, all derived from free contributions by old boys of the school. This fund now pays the fees of around one hundred boys who have the academic talent but not the parental income. Entry for any boy is by a highly competitive examination. In my day one hundred boys were successful after an open exam, from three thousand. There are about eight hundred boys in the school.

    This is a scheme that could be encouraged via the Head masters Conference. It only requires government to leave charitable status alone and avoid interference. Those who have a congenital hate of excellence will never be satisfied whatever the public schools do to open their opportunities to the talented but impoverished. Within socialism there are some very nasty bigoted people who can only aspire to the lowest common denominator for the population at large while seeking out the better state schools and grammar schools for their own offspring. The country needs the highest common denominator achievable as a starting point. Put simply you cannot run a Spitfire on paraffin.

  18. Bob
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    If the state sector could be allowed to drop the obsession with equality and diversity and concentrate on education, there would be no need to seek assistance from the independent sector.

    The reinstatement of basic discipline would go a long way to restoring the ability of teachers to teach, rather than babysit their pupils.

    Uncontrolled immigration has been a big contributing factor to the decay of state education.

  19. alan jutson
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    See no problem with it at all.

    Additional School choice to parents/pupils and the same cost as State education for the Government/taxpayer.

    But then I have never seen why those paying for private education or private heath care should not get a tax allowance on their cost contributions.

    Why should they pay twice, you can only go to one school or one hospital at a time.

    I have never had/used either of the above.

  20. Anonymous
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    This is a good idea but in no way does it address the demand for grammar school places as it is a small gesture in the scale of things. The numbers are not there.

    All parents want is their children protected from the effects of the bad parenting of a minority and protection from dumbing down because of misguided ethos. It does seem that the state education system is there in many parts to keep the working class in its place.

    Most teachers are capable and most children are capable too, but it does not take a lot to disrupt a whole school – especially where there is a headmaster who would prefer equality over excellence.

    We don’t just need to produce university grade students but to make them ready to fill the skills shortages we so often hear about.

  21. DaveM
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I think we should help our young people any way we can. I can’t help wondering how many of the assisted places would go to white working class boys though.

  22. hefner
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Why aim such a scheme to fee paying private schools? If the idea is to allow bright children to get an academically (possibly) better education, why not apply such a scheme to (still in the state sector) grammar schools?

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      It takes a while to get Grammar schools up and running. This is a shovel ready project for the interim.

  23. fedupsoutherner
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I think this is a great idea John. It would give children who have no hope of getting a decent education in some of our state schools the ability to go far if they have the academic qualities needed in the first place. I know of so many children from ordinary backgrounds who could go far if given the chance. Private education is so much better. My son was lucky enough to attend a private school and I can honestly say without favour that he has turned out to be a very well rounded individual with all the qualities to go far. He is sensible, polite and has a great work ethic. When I look at other boys of his age I can see how fortunate he was and there is a lot of talent out there with other children who are disadvantaged. Let’s get some of it out there. All the top jobs go mainly to the wealthy and it simply isn’t the best way for the country. We need people from all backgrounds to get into the top jobs.

  24. snowstorm
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Get every kid under 7 able to read, write etc. (No targets at all ) The bright ones are then equipped to teach themselves for the rest of their lives.
    Any who cant learn can paint and play and be happy.

  25. hefner
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    On another topics, it is reported that John Redwood MP now supports the construction of a 15,000 house development in Grazeley (south of the M4) whereas he opposed a 5,000 house development in the same area in 1998.
    Independently of whether any of these decisions is right or wrong, may the Wokingham constituency voter know why Mr Redwood has changed his mind. Thanks a lot.

    Reply It is reported wrongly, as this website makes quite clear!

    • hefner
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I missed it when Mr Redwood addressed the issue in “A new settlement at Grazeley?” under “Local Issues”.
      It makes for a very interesting read to see how our MP seems to be simply saying “I have not been asked”, and “No there is no space in my constituency”. And that was it!

      As Mrs May PM said, MPs are representatives, not delegates.
      Could such a development not be worth a little more of “representation”? After all Wokingham Borough Council has a Conservative majority. Should it be so difficult to talk with fellow councillors?

      Reply I have of course talked to Councillors about this. As a result they too are consulting. This is not yet a firm proposal and I am interested i n hearing constituents views.

  26. Deborah
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I’m a 70s grammar school girl. I never saw my education as inferior to that of my public school peers, but I did observe a marked difference in their world view and their social connections.
    I would not choose to send my children to public school if a good state school was available, but I would welcome the reintroduction of an assisted places scheme.
    The state system has focussed on equality rather than academic excellence for far too long. In the interests of both the country and the children themselves the government should do everything it can to ensure all bright pupils are educated to their full academic potential. I think the priority is to reintroduce grammars and improve state sector education, but an assisted places scheme could benefit many bright children from poorer families..

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      I too went to a small grammar school (up north). When I got to Cambridge it was rather interesting meeting all these public school boys with their rather different perspectives and (often rather misplaced) confidence. I was reading Maths and Physics. It was perhaps rather worse on the arts side with rather more pretentious types in evidence.

      I enjoyed it all very much indeed.

  27. a-tracy
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Years ago I would never have agreed with this, but we’re getting it so wrong in inner City Manchester and Liverpool (and some high social housing area rural towns) the genuinely brightest from poor homes do need a life raft to get away from Council run failing schools that can’t improve and just talk up excuses about why they’re failing year after year for decades. My other problem is tests aren’t fair to children born later in the school year, especially those tests of verbal reasoning and writing skills there can be nearly a whole year advantage for a September born child.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      a-tracy
      Agree totally with your last sentence. I was born on 19th August and hence those born in September in the same year as I was were nearly a year older. One year when you are younger makes a hell of a difference. I always managed to catch up with everyone and often eventually became better but it was a struggle.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      They do usually adjust for age I understand.

      • a-tracy
        Posted December 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Those with summer birthdays were less likely to do well

        “Age plays a surprisingly big role in how well pupils perform at KS2 with those born in September – i.e. the eldest in the class – being far more likely to achieve the expected standard in reading writing and maths.

        Those with August birthdays – i.e. the youngest in the class – did worst.

        The reverse is true when it comes to the amount of progress made, however, with younger pupils making larger improvements than their elder peers.”

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/12/15/primary-school-results-nearly-half-children-fall-governments/

        My question is do these May to Aug born children get an adjustment on these tests as Lifelogic suggests or not? My understanding was that on SATs or the new test at Primary now they are not adjusted but often the streaming tests at High School do make slight adjustments in their entry tests.

  28. Andrew Williams
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Seems an excellent idea to me – but I am biased as growing up in a mining community I recieved a good education in grammar school in the 1960’s.
    I find it infuriating that many who have little or no knowledge of economically poor communities appear to want to block any try at improving the life chances of children growing up in these communities.

  29. Bert Young
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Private independent schools are entirely at the hands of parents ( grandparents and others ) to pay their cost of operating . These schools are basically successful because they are able to attract good teachers ; children who attend are not all academically skilled but they do receive the benefit of smaller sized classes . Some parents mortgage themselves to the hilt to pay the fees , some make other sacrifices to do so . I make these points because child rearing to some families is of great importance and they are prepared to short-change themselves in some areas in order to send their child to an independent school .

    Independent schools already offer scholarships and awards for certain children and so play their part in the broader education field ; as such I do not see the sense or need to impose other features of admission on them . Locally State schools are over-crowded and recently have received poor Ofsted ratings ; there is little attraction to any parent to send their child to them . Efforts to get the County Council to attend to the problem facing our local community have failed . There are 3,ooo extra houses being built in my immediate community where class sizes are already average 37+ ; the County Council have said ” There is no need to extend the existing Primary School and no provision for extra Secondary Modern places “. Faced with this dilemma , what does a local parent do ?

    Like John I received a scholarship to attend a Grammar School and also a Scholarship to attend University .My parents were not “well off” and might have preferred that I went out to work at an earlier age rather than to spend extra time in my education ; as such they made a sacrifice in the belief that the long term mattered . Subsequently I spent 11 years in education dealing with children of mixed abilities . I was never aware that any child was “short-changed” in their schooling .

    If we did not have to face the problem of over population exacerbated by the extra burden of immigration (and all its extra attendant problems ) , schools would provide a better rounded service . Parents would then not feel that their child at a State school was in any way worse off .

  30. Know-dice
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget that the parents of children at fee paying schools will have already paid via the tax system, then they pay again…

    I see it as a win-win situation, but it needs be children that are able to take advantage of the this opportunity from an academic aspect, not just because they are “disadvantaged”.

    There is “wittering” from the bleeding heart liberals that taking the brightest out of the state sector disadvantages the rest, but, I see a bright pupil in a poorly performing school just being bored and ultimately disruptive. Not only that, the not so academically able will also never be able to keep up and will also fall behind and be frustrated.

  31. JM
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    What everyone seems to forget is that those parents who send their children to private school will already have paid more than sufficient tax to educate their children in the state system; they are paying twice.

    Also, is it not a dreadful indictment of the state education system that it has to demand assistance from the private sector?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      In the case of private medicine they pay three times with the 12% medical insurance tax.

  32. Andrew
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Strongly in favour. The economic benefits seem clear and accrue to both the taxpayer (fewer new schools to meet rising demand) and private schools with spare capacity. Looking at the potential outcome for the school system as a whole in seems to benefit both pupils and the system. Socially, it appears to provide more choice and opportunities for individuals.

  33. margaret
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Some schools work for some and not others. A child, at selection just takes it and tries to settle down where he/ or she can . The competition is between governors, the executive and the teachers and is not always in the child’s interest .I remember I was not happy with the teaching . I had naughty children surrounding me and used to get the blame for their behaviour as the teachers back was to the blackboard. I always wanted things to make sense whilst many were learning parrot fashion . For example in maths ‘ you do this or that ‘ not why and how .
    I cannot see any harm in the state funding other schools if that is where that child would accomplish more. We are preparing children for adult hood and there will be no such divisions in society . What really concerns me is the criteria we use for judging a child’s potential. I have worked with many who got A* in many subjects yet to talk to them and reason with them , to ask them to work out simple problems is something which does not reflect the results.

  34. Antisthenes
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    One thing is certain and that is that education provided by private sector is superior to that provided by the state. That fact was evident and has lead to the provision of state funded schools outside local council control which is narrowing the gap.

    Progressives/socialists/Labour/other lefties put equality and social justice before excellence and the result always leads to impoverishment. So it was when they introduced the comprehensive system, progressive teaching and political correct practices. Like all the public bodies they have created or had a hand in shaping to serve us they have become dysfunctional and not fit for purpose. So anything that takes provision by the state away from government can only be for the good. The private schools offer although a good idea and will help many many more would be helped if much more education was provided by the private sector.

  35. JJE
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I was fortunate to have a grammar school education. The greatest advantage was the good discipline in class coupled with high expectations for academic achievement. The school was a haven for learning. This in turn conferred confidence in my ability to progress in the world.

    In so many classes today the challenge for the teacher is dealing with the consequences of family and community issues. Add in the OFSTED inspection nonsense and the associated paperwork, and pushing the academically bright to realise their potential is a long way down the priority list. It’s all about ticking the government inspector’s boxes, and the ideals of a true education are long forgotten.

    Governments may have had good intentions but they have done a lot of harm in education.

  36. Hope
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Why would successive govts allow failure in education after spending billions of our taxes on it ? This is Nothing to do with education, it is about vote base to the Labour Party and liberal left as well as you know.

    People should be allocated the cost of education to allow them to spend in whichever school they please. Watch them run in droves to grammars and private schools.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Indeed
      Allow all kids an opportunity, although there should be selection criteria whether it’s for practical or academic-based education.

  37. ChrisS
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I think the assisted places scheme is worthwhile – it costs the taxpayer nothing more than it would to educate the children in State Schools and they will get a better outcome and be able to contribute more to society as a result.

    However, the money has to come from somewhere and I suggest it is taken from the Overseas Aid budget as it needs to be targeted at the poorest bright children and the FAB certainly needs to be cut

    UK Foreign Aid budget has now become an even bigger scandal than the EU budget.

    How could our Foreign Aid expenditure ever be signed off as meeting even the most rudimentary standard of corporate governance ?

    Any PLC with budget control like this would rightly be pilloried and subject to action by Companies House. Shareholders would be up in arms and heads would roll at board level.

    It’s about time Parliament got to grips with this running sore and sorted it out once and for all.

    Clearly .7% of GDP is more money than could ever be spent wisely so they hand over multiple tranches of £100m to UN, EU and other agencies just to say that all the money has been spent.

    Forget any kind of budget target. The amount spent must be limited to projects where our cash can be seen and proved to have been wisely spent with 100% control and sound accountancy practices.

    The Opposition, Backbench MPs and Ministers all seem to have forgotten :
    .
    THIS IS OUR MONEY, ALL OF WHICH IS HAVING TO BE BORROWED !

    Can our Host please explain why backbenchers are allowing this scandal to continue ???

  38. Norman
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Spare us the state monolith. A range of options, with bridges between, is surely healthy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Indeed the more options and flexibility the better. The state is just unfair and largely incompetent competition. Look at the disaster of the NHS to see what damage virtual state monopolies can do.

  39. oldtimer
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Like you I received a free education at a direct grant school alongside fee paying students. The system worked well. That school later opted to become an independent fee paying school when forced to make the choice by the Labour government of the day. It now offers 6th form bursaries to those unable to afford fees and who will have a better chance of a university education. These are funded by donations. £5,000 is judged the amount needed; I am happy to donate to the scheme as I think it is an excellent idea and a current proxy for the scheme I benefitted from many years ago. It follows that I would support this latest proposal. I read it is estimated to cost c50 million pa, compared with £350 million currently provided by the endependent sector by way of bursaries.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Like you but I look at it from the other side of the fence. I don’t believe my Grammar School should ever have become independent, so I can’t bring myself to support the present system. Grammar Schools were good enough to stay as state Grammar Schools, without the staff and buildings being sold off to the highest bidder (Russians Chinese etc). Our bright kids deserve that education- let Russians and Chinese teach their own.

  40. Ray Rampton
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Like a lot in life, its all about cost and benefit, which in terms of education is not easily quantifiable for many reasons, I take the view that the best education should be provided by the state, even if it means paying to support students in a private school, students should qualify based on ability…not background, I myself went to an ordinary Secondary Modern School, I wasn’t particularly bright at that time, but some of my fellow pupils were brilliant at some subjects…and went on to further education based on there ability….I call it an investment for the future.

  41. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, I see a notorious europhile is spreading the myth that if we stayed in the EEA then we would be able to control immigration from the other EEA countries:

    http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/12/peter-wilding-we-at-british-influence-are-not-wreckers-rather-we-seek-a-brexit-middle-way-between-two-extremes.html

    “The EEA gives significantly enhanced powers to restrict the four freedoms which the Treaty of Rome does not. Membership of the EEA but being outside the Treaty of Rome means, for example, that we can negotiate quotas on migration.”

    Simply not true:

    http://www.efta.int/eea/eea-agreement

    “The EEA Agreement provides for the inclusion of EU legislation covering the four freedoms — the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital — throughout the 31 EEA States.”

    And how often have we heard that those four freedoms are indivisible?

    • a-tracy
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Can’t we say no benefits, no tax credits, no child tax credits, no housing benefit, no other State funded top ups until people have lived and paid National Insurance in the UK for more than five years? If people are homeless and sleeping on the streets then they must go back home for their nation state to provide housing for them.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        To some extent, as far as the EU allows. But most of the EU migrants are drawn here just by the prospect of much better paid employment than is available at home, and while some people quite understandably get wound up over their eligibility for benefits in reality that is a secondary issue.

  42. fedupsoutherner
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
    • stred
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      This ability to charge different customers different rates and switch off individual households is to be provided by the smart meters, currently being installed at great cost. Unfortunately, they are still unable to be read by different supply companies. About £4bn worth of them will have to be changed.

      Ours could not be read when we changed and I was asked to press a button 5 times and guess which number was the reading. It took about 15 minutes and I damaged my knee. In order to avoid this, I changed back to the original company after a year and they said they would be able to read their smart meter again. Yesterday, a meter reader arrived and took 15 minutes on his knees to read it manually. The estimate on the display unit is £0 for electricity, so I am wondering what the smart bill will be.

      Well, at least it will be less than the bill for two currently aircraftless aircraft carriers if Donald cancels the only fighter plane than they can use, at £70m each. Not that the HMSs Gordon and Jock will last long anyway if they are hit by long range hypersonic missiles, which are coming into an ocean near you soon.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/12/donald-trump-pledges-cut-military-budget-criticising-control/

    • A different Simon
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      It’s the supposedly intelligent people who have got us into this situation and so many others ; European exchange rate mechanism etc .

      Look at HM Govt , it is full of people who have been educated beyond their intelligence .

      Most of them couldn’t change a light bulb let alone rewire a plug – and they look down on people who can rebuild a containerised genset for an oil rig .

      Based on the evidence from the executive and judiciary , I have no confidence that the independent schooling system can provide the
      talent the country desperately needs .

      The establishment needs to stop ignoring the 93% of the talent pool which does not go to independent schools .

      Just cherry picking some of the more able students from the state sector is not the solution .

  43. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Not sure about this.
    I hesitate to attract a slice of the best academically gifted kids out of the state system because of the lucre in the private system, mainly from Russians, Chinese etc. Our best kids could become the loss leaders to bring on Russian, Chinese kids, who will mainly take their education and skills back home. We need to think about linking the skills of OUR best teachers with OUR best kids to secure our future, not selling these on and leaving our kids high and dry.

  44. Prigger
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    The thing about maintaining a class society as all societies are based on the principle declared or otherwise, is to make sure well-off people have something other to spend their money on.

    In modern society there is little that rich people can obtain which is materially better.Examples:
    1. “designer clothes” which are deliberately badly made, to show you are capable of chucking money away in great wads on utter rubbish.
    2. A dining place at a Charity-do spending massive amounts of money for what amounts to chips and egg with apple crumble to follow ( and a bun )
    3. Farm Shop food with a mark up price of at least 50%
    4. Select delicatessens with quite inferior food, dressed up, marked up in price eliminating persons of a moderate income even entering.
    5. Peculiar and normally unavailable shell fish costing real money
    6. Odd unknown brands of pate and twenty times the price of other brands with weird inappropriate flavourings like nepalese ten-year long stored almond nut vinegar.
    7. A house in the middle of nowhere without normal fire, ambulance, police, plumber, electrician, gardener access….except in some cases at great cost.
    8. Much more expensive airline seats including frequent dishes of smoked stuff prepared by migrants.
    9. Hotel accommodation, massively priced, serviced by migrants and others on low wages and for them bereft of basic hygienic living conditions.
    10. Expensive holiday destinations where one is accommodated in the midst of a rubbish tip in a luxury hotel with tours into places that are dangerous and filthy.

    11. Better health care in regard to more personnel at your bidding: un-chanting, un-demonstrating mature doctors and nurses.
    12. Better education with the best facilities money can buy with teachers who can read. can actually, no really, understand English literature and language.
    13. Better safety features in ones expensive cars.
    14. Unique furniture, decor, and kitchen equipment with tin openers than can,
    15. Proper access to the legal profession

    Conclusion: So yes, introducing rich kids to poor kids on assisted places will give rich kids more to look down upon and satisfy that unfortunate aspect of human nature. It will make their parents’ money count. It will give poor kids what they ignorantly will believe is something to aspire to , and, educate them to just what they are up against…and, importantly, that there is absolutely nothing they can do to change things for the better.

  45. forthurst
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t listen to the BBC; however, the overwhelming majority of parents cannot afford private school fees, and, in particular, for more than one child. Some parents limit themselves to one child for this reason, thereby reducing the pool of talented English going through to another generation; I’m not suggesting this is a deliberate ploy by English-haters. So how will ‘poor’ children be selected: by poverty level or ability? If private schools can select on ability which they do and extend that to ‘poor’ children, why cannot the state just get on with reinstating the same range of schools or better that enabled JR, as with many others, to receive an education which his ability merited? The direct grant schools were all excellent as were most grammar schools.

    Most private school pupils transfer at thirteen by which time many publicly educated children already will be well behind their privately educated peers; the solution to the ‘problem’ of able children from ‘poor’ homes is to re-introduce mandatory selection on ability at eleven; the present system with comprehensives and sixth form colleges etc is a dog’s breakfast which will never be able to return schools and universities to the uniformly high examination and entry standards they achieved before comprehensivisation and which is becoming more and more essential as international competition increases relentlessly; the concept that we can always import skills when we need them is just another ploy by English-haters as is mass immigration of the unskilled and, in many cases, undesirable.

  46. E.S Tablishment
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    So, why would a fee paying parent wish to continue paying fees to a school with assisted places? They may as well send their child to the local comprehensive school where all, in a sense, are assisted places

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Because the teaching and facilities are better.
      However if a local Grammar offered those plus housing the brighter kids, that would indeed be better than the private option at lower cost.

  47. Commie
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I do not know why fee-paying schools have a charity status. I do not know why a wealthy parent would wish to send their child to a school with “charity” associated with its name.Unless they were the tuppenny-ha’penny millionaires one finds amongst liberals with pretensions of being middle-class yet have the “common-touch” of really funny leftie-liberal Guardian readers.

    • rose
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Education is charity, not business. Art, music, museums, churches, etc. are charity. Amateur choirs and orchestras are charity. They all get charitable status because they are pursuing a higher purpose to the greater good. Education has always been considered charitable. Education lifts us up and makes us civilized. It hands on knowledge to the succeeding generations. It is not trade or commerce. It doesn’t generate income and so should not be taxed.

      Maddening for the wealth creators and the suppliers of essentials, I know, but
      look at the huge salaries commanded by the CEOs in what you might consider to be real charities, and compare them with what teachers and other employees of private schools get. And where are the shareholders?

  48. teach your children
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I understand that the Frankfurt School is the model that is underway.

  49. A bit too educated
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Low-income-background kids would introduce the badly lacking sound DNA into their rich peers. The rich do seem in-bred,personally, politically, socially and culturally. Maybe the media is guilty in generalising for sensationalist reasons. But they show all kinds of rich odd-bods perhaps living despite their riches in a grass-sod roofed dug-out say near Glastonbury keeping goats for making cheese and recycling their toilet materials to light a 50 watt light bulb to radiate their privileged lifestyle.
    Well there must be good examples of sensible well-educated people.
    In politics the well-educated usually end up killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq whilst on a holy quest for WMD. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and private education has proved Age upon Age bitty.

  50. Honest Brit
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    It has been my personal experience with having a child go on a scholarship to similar, that the teachers there do not like poorer children.
    In my own education, I found that # if you like your teachers you will learn more from them, # if your teachers like you then you will learn more from them.

    Also, in my own education I have found Secondary Modern School teachers, Comprehensive School teachers and Grammar School teachers take a shine to a very small number of pupils, if any. The teachers also despise one another. They despise teachers above their grade including headteachers, deputy head teachers, department heads and sports teachers.They would learn better from one another if they liked one another.They would teach better also.

    The problem is finding adequate teachers. The biggest problem by far ….in the UK. Very bad teachers indeed!

  51. UniquelyWellEducated
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Politely put, I was a butterfly in jobs, learning situations, in my wayward youth. I personally experienced most forms of schools both as a pupil and later on the teaching side…in most forms of school. Later still I butterflied into and through other careers and jobs.

    I never come across a professional or ordinary working-class /middle class group of people so intrinsically work and morality challenged than the teaching profession. It hardly, in fact does not deserve the name, of “profession” or even a meaningful working group.

    Politicians are forever arguing the toss of Grammar versus Comprehensive with side-swipes at private education. But the problem is overwhelming lacklustre teachers. If somehow they were transposed into steel workers , car workers, then we might as well buy all our cars directly from Japan and Germany and buy exclusively steel made in China.
    Unfortunately the people who would train and choose teachers for a job are people who they themselves are most utterly flawed. They generate and promote mediocrity and “Can’t drive into school today for there is a snowflake on the end of my nose “

  52. Dennis
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Off topic:- Many ask here why JR is not in the cabinet or is not prominent in advising Mrs May- well on today’s Daily Politics Ken Clarke said that she would be in a minority if she followed JR’s views. So there you are.

  53. ian
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    If they have the where with all to go ahead with Mrs May grammar school roll out let them do it as long as they just get the state school fee and they only take children from single mothers and children from household who earn less than 26.000 pounds a year.
    Anything better than nothing.

  54. Lame Duck
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    A bad industry: it loses money, profit, sales, it closes down. In many cases the management cannot transfer to similar roles, need to change, re-train into different industries and roles; the workers are not employed using their good or bad skills but retrained for something else. Sometimes moving home to far away.

    With schools and teachers, this does not happen. This is the problem.

    Our education system should not be “too big to fail”. A nationalised education system or, one where tax-payers money is used to bail out enterprises ( schools ) with “assisted places” “charitable status” or direct support to comprehensive nationalised schools of course is failing. Did nationalised railways have curly edged sandwiches? Yes, saw them myself with bicarbonate of soda put in with the tea leaves to make them go further irrespective of froth and taste.
    Am I suggesting all education should be un-free…bought? Well, I do not profess to have a solution of how to get round the terrible consequences of the nationalised industry of Education without throwing the children out with the bathwater. However, I do not have any objection whatsoever with teachers, headmasters and their educators and trainers being thrown out with the bathwater.

  55. ian
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Anyway grammar school should start at 14 till 18 years old not at a 11 years old because it used to be 11 years old till 15 year old which was 4 years, i think a 11 years old to 18 years old is to long, thats 7 years, 15 to 18 to 19 years old.

  56. SM
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I feel it would be better if some of the teachers swapped places for, say, a year – introduce public school diligence and expectations in state schools, and teach state employees how to get the best out of their pupils.

    Oh, and speaking as a grammar school product, widow of another and parent of two further grammarians, and as a Conservative, I don’t think the grammar school system is the best for the 21C child.

  57. Del
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I love the blog and support Brexit but please don’t try and fool people who have taken the time to study the accounting between HM Treasury and the Bank Of England.

    I studied it for 6 years.

    There is no such thing as tax payers money since we left the gold standard. You know this so stop spreading propaganda.

    Taxes are destroyed every night of the week in the overnight intrabank market so the Bank Of England can meet its overnight rate.

    They pay for nothing. Everything is paid for by the government spending the money. 90% comes back to the reserves by the spending chain it creates and is destroyed. The other 10 % is saved. Hence the deficit.

  58. Mike Wilson
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I struggle to understand the objections to this. Spend £xK a year on a pupil in a comprehensive school or spend the same money sending that child to a private school. That said, one needs to make sure the money is well spent. The private school my son attended for four years was, as far as I am concerned, just a very nice place for him to go to school. The education was not that good. I was told, when my children were school age, that really good, dedicated teachers prefer to work in the state system as it is more challenging and rewarding. I have no way of knowing if this is actually true.

    On a different matter – Mr. Redwood, how do you feel about the cries for council tax to be increased to pay for social care.

    Council tax DOUBLED while New Labour were at the helm and my modest house in Wokingham now costs me (I can’t bear to look at the paperwork each year) about £2600 a year out of my already taxed income.

    Council tax is NOT a progressive tax and is a real burden for pensioners on fixed incomes. It cannot be allowed to just start going up again like it did under New Labour.

    I wonder what your view is Mr. Redwood?

  59. ale bro
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    even if you get a 100% scholarship to a private school, the bill will still come stuffed with extras – music lessons, cricket coaching, summer uniforms, if you can name it they can bill it.

    I don’t see this as a genuine attempt to help the very poor, who wouldn’t be able to pay the cost of the extras.

  60. Mike Wilson
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    While I’m here … on a different subject … it was refreshing to watch the debate the other day on Brexit / Article 50. What a pleasant change from the absurd and diabolical Prime Minister’s Questions.

    Good to watch one intelligent and thoughtful contribution after another – and debate conducted in a proper, adult manner.

    I particularly liked Jacob Rees-Mogg’s contribution.

  61. PaulDirac
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Removing the charitable status from private schools is a pure attempt to punish them for being successful, the additional money for HM revenue will go to general budget and be lost to education.

    Why is this leftist obsession with crushing success? Even when it has a proven record of improving upwards mobility.

    My opinion is that low achievement in poor families is mainly due to the family environment (read Hillbilly elegy, American context but similar situation).

    The proposed solution (state to pay average state sector fees to public schools) is fair and if accepted has an extra large advantage; the number of poor children which will enjoy private education will be much larger than the case where private schools have to carry the full cost.

    • Dunedin
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      @Paul Dirac “My opinion is that low achievement in poor families is mainly due to the family environment ”

      A few years ago there was an interview with the Headmaster of one of the consistently top-performing state schools in Scotland. When asked about the “secret of his success”, he replied that his school has “supportive parents” – and that if parents do not see the value of getting 5 good GCSEs, then there is not much chance that their children will value education.

  62. libertarian
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic Sorry

    Dear Newmania, Ed mahony and Sam Stoner

    You know you claim theres a single market in services, well the French parliament has just approved a new 2% tax on websites in France displaying video content that isn’t a news site…..Lol 1) No single market here 2) Once again EU politicians show how deluded and out of touch they are… 3) Buy shares in UK web hosting companies immediately

    • libertarian
      Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      Oh and todays figures show a 6% year on year rise in new jobs in financial services in the city.

      Strange as you keep telling us they are all moving to Paris and Frankfurt so I wonder why they’re hiring more people here?

  63. agricola
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    On the QT proposal I would say, do not let government or politicians anywhere near it. The political classes have systematically destroyed education in the UK, making a really good education the privilege of those who can afford it while everyone else gets third best. If politicians are involved they can be guaranteed to wish to control it.

    The sum of money they talk of is inadequate to provide the level of education and experience even on a day pupil basis. Double the state provision and you are somewhere near, but that will not include the cost of all the peripheral activities.

    Better let the schools sort it out along the lines I described earlier. For anyone paying for private education I would also allow a tax exemption to the level of what is supposedly spent on state education. Why should anyone pay twice.

  64. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Whilst Corbyn, May,Abbot, Rudd are speaking on TV , the BBC, Sky News and CNN should be told to block transmission to all areas outside London. It could be no-one INSIDE London either knows what the hell they’re are banging on about in regard to anti-semitism, banning of nazi groups. They have lost the plot entirely countrywide.

  65. rose
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like the idea of “independent” schools being told what to do by the government. No-one can honestly say they are anything but charities: education is a charitable pursuit and they are not businesses with shareholders. So they shouldn’t have to earn their charitable status all over again. The fact is other people are envious and want to desroy something good that everyone can’t have. Rather than improve the bad council schools they want to pull down the good private ones, by attacking them in various ways such as removing charitable status.

    The schools already give bursaries and other forms of inclusion to pupils whose parents can’t or won’t pay fees. Facilities are shared. If they want to do more that should be only up to them. There should be no stick involved. Number 10 needs to stop the control freakery and get back to getting the basics right.

  66. Shuddering MPs
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    All Quiet on the Parliamentary Front tonight trying to keep it from the attention of the young Mrs May and even younger Ms Rudd that Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet was first a Conservative MP then a Labour MP, got locked up, released in 1943 ( in the middle of the war ). Stood for Parliament again in 1953. Not banned! Not proscribed! But he was many!
    The whole of the Tory Party and Labour Party could be proscribed under Rudd and May. before realising they are Party members.
    This is what comes of having two very naive, inexperienced people at the top with little knowledge of the history of this country nor politics in general. They lack balance.

  67. Iain Gill
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Re Phillip Hammond’s view that Brexit can be a long elongated drawn out process that drags on and on, tell him from me to get real. That’s as bad as the stupid lib dems.

  68. John
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Here is why I favour this and Grammar as one who would not have passed the 11 plus had I taken it.
    I’ve made a living out of having to do a cerebral job in the City that I was not naturally cut out for. I was a natural creative person, artist whatever you want to call it, there was my gift. In my day advertising, visual presentation, marketing etc was not seen as important by those in power, and many still don’t today. What the Left forget is that if you can take the academically gifted out of a school you could then focus resources on the talents that don’t require an exceptional memory, giving a much better chance for the artisans of this world.

    Unfortunately, too many in Parliament are lawyers and accountants and just don’t see the benefit. Today, yes I’ll tell someone from another country whether it is in their interests to invest in X in the UK and what the tax consequences are as they intend to return to X country. I’ll do that as well as many, but those like me, could have given more to this country than a mathematical taxation fact. if it allowed more focus, or as much, focus to be directed to those that can imagine and create, then that would be better for us. Better for the artisans.

    Better for those that don’t want to go to university and frankly, not only find it a great insult when the left say we/they are “second best” but receiving that insult from those without the sense to know that half our population have great talents elsewhere and don’t aspire to a Uni degree.

  69. Logical
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    For a nation such as Britain with centuries of education you would think we were educated enough not to need to debate such matters. It shows how ill-educated we have been under all the current and historic systems.
    So the answers to education must be outside our shores if answers exist. But finding the answers abroad should not be left to we badly educated British. It’s like asking an infant school child to come up with a system of higher education.

  70. Peter D Gardner
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    The devil is in the detail but the concept is essentially that of the voucher. The state funds education to £N. The overall aim must be that the parents are able to choose the most suitable school for their child or children – not always the most academic school. Postcode allocation must end. The same principle should be applied to healthcare.

    There would still be a need for scholarships in education because some children of poor parents would merit an education that costs a great deal more than £N.

    Given parental choice in education and patient choice in healthcare, competition would ensure bad service providers do not get funds and go out of business, and the good ones do get funds and given the right incentives would invest in improvements to their service provision. Obviously regulation is required.

  71. margaret
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Education is old fashioned. It still depends upon who you know,how much money is in the bank and which job parents have.Put 2 children next to each other both getting similar marks in exams , playing together , enjoying the same hobbies but one child’s father is a shop worker and the other is a lawyer, but out of work.The shop workers child is by far quicker and has a latent talent that would exceed the teachers talents. Who would get the assisted place ? In examining they get similar marks, so the lawyers child gets it, succeeds in life, but is still slow, yet improves depending upon his immediate environment and fails in another environment where the influence is less enlightened. The shop workers child has the answers, can work quickly on his own , but every step in life is put down no matter how the talent shines through because of that initial decision to perpetuate snob value purely based on the fathers qualifications which were gained in the same way.

  72. Atlas
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    It is a suggestion worthy of serious study.

  73. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    The Direct Grant system worked well at my school too. Merchant Taylors Crosby is now a public school but was a Direct School at the time. Who is to blame for ending the system? Was it Shirley Williams, as I recollect, or someone more recent?

    The Direct Grant system undoubtedly improved social mobility. Is that why it was abolished?

    • rose
      Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Shirley Williams – who got an honorary degree from Oxford. But Mrs Thatcher didn’t, because she was held to have damaged education.

  74. margaret
    Posted December 14, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I am very happy with two of my grandchildren who both attend different C/E schools. They are immediately taught good manners and are beginning to develop a social conscience .

  75. a-tracy
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    By the way, I like these new tests in primary schools especially if the Primary schools can’t teach to the expected test and the test is the same for every primary in England. This should stop the endless test papers that children begin to take and force the schools to widen the curriculum and not just cover the same ground that they’re expecting to crop up in the SATs test each year.

    If no school is given favour (by being given the test topics and questions beforehand) what is the problem? Surely it is in everyone’s interest to know the results and if a complete set of schools is doing much better learn from their best practice. If adjustments are made for the number of children from each birth month because of the young age of testing and the big difference between Sept and Aug born children then that seems fairer. I couldn’t make out from the Telegraph and Guardian article if children with English as a second language lowered the result of this test or improved it.

    In my local area out of 11 primary schools, there wasn’t one school that met the 65% target there were only two over 60%. There were two at 30% and one at just 19% with 26 pupils and that troubles me! The rest were around 46%. 6 of the 11 schools had no high achievers the rest between 2 and 5% with one school (outside of the town) achieving 11%.

    At the end of the High School years the younger children are given no extra time for their age so they’d better catch up quick because no one is going to hold up the Sept-Dec born children that wouldn’t be fair. I’d suggest parents with March – Aug born babies are advised from the birth to be aware to prepare them more for primary school with extra reading and writing parental support!

  • 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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