Today we learn that some Labour MPs are very critical of parents who arrange the baptism of their children in to the Catholic Church so they can go to a Catholic Church School.
These Labour MPs seem to think it is wrong that parents should be able to exercise choice. They always blame the parents who take action to get their children into a better school, rather than taking action themselves to raise the standards of the other schools the discerning parents do not favour.
This criticism of these parents is doubly unpleasant. It firstly implies that all these baptisms are arranged just to get a child into a better school. They do not allow for the possibility that parents are believers and think baptism of the child when the child is old enough to have some understanding is a good idea.
Secondly, even if a parent is organising the baptism to secure the school place, that is not an unworthy thing to do. It shows parental concern and determination to do the best for their child within the framework of state educational provision.
To work properly, there needs to be more choice for parents in state education. I am fed up with the apartheid in UK schooling, between the fortunate few who can send their children to excellent schools by paying fees, and the many who have to send their children to local state schools, whether they are good or not. The answer is not to reduce choice and stop people being able to send their children to good schools. The answer is to give more parents more power to choose good schools, so more schools will become good in order to stay afloat. At least the Labour government has not tried the closure of the best independent schools, which would simply force them offshore, but it has sought to damage them by challenging their charitable status.
There was depressing news this week from a survey of teachers attitudes towards Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The survey showed that there are teachers who wrongly think Oxford and Cambridge charge higher fees than elsewhere, and who are unaware of the bursaries and scholarships available for children from low income homes who achieve the necessary standard. The survey also showed some teachers think Oxbridge mainly takes children from independent schools.
In order to break down the educational barriers between public and private we need more confidence in the state system, so more pupils are told they too can go to the best universities if they apply themselves to the task.