Bedales School – a progressive, co-educational public school in the heart of Hampshire – is well-known for its famous alumni. Lily Allen, Sophie Dahl and Minnie Driver were all educated there, and celebrity parents include Mick Jagger, Jude Law, Jeremy Paxman and Boris Johnson.
The furtive glance down into his or her crotch is the tell-tale sign all modern teachers will recognise as a dead give-away that a student is using a mobile phone in class. It’s a comical sight, its sheer obviousness apparently lost on most students, but one that is also serious in its implications – that particular student is probably not paying attention at that moment, and perhaps hasn’t been for quite some time.
There’s a fundamental problem at the heart of our education system: private schools educate around 7% of students yet account for 44.6% of students at Oxford. A familiar statistic, but one that highlights the failure of too many of our state schools. Defenders of educational elitism rightly point out that top universities should take the best pupils wherever they find them. But making this point is too often a way of avoiding the real issue: that our state school system is failing to produce enough bright, confident and hard-working children.
There is no use in sugar coating it: parents are falling down in the job. Though most people will concede we mean well, the sad truth is, when it comes right down to it, most things are our fault. Climate change? Our fault. The debt crisis? Our fault. Economic decline, obesity, poverty? That’s us too.
Frantz Fanon, Iconic psychiatrist and author of books such as “Wretched of the Earth”, wrote that “literature increasingly involves itself in its only real task, which is to get society to reflect and mediate”.
By Dr Sima Barmania | | Wednesday, 26 October 2011 at 1:08 pm
Last year, Joseph Reynolds hit the headlines and shook up the world of education. Don’t know his name? Not surprising. Joseph Reynolds is not an expert in educational theory, nor is he a teacher. Neither is he a rich, influential and well-connected parent who can exert the ‘right’ kind of pressure on his daughter’s school or set up a free school. Since he works as a marine engineer in the merchant navy, he cannot even act as a governor.
There’s a real ambivalence towards teaching, learning and young people in our society. It’s a psychological and social conflict that starts young, and is costing us all.
Whilst sociologists and statisticians have continued to argue over the facts of social mobility, a political consensus has emerged as to the solutions. Understandably, perhaps, education has come to be seen as the primary mechanism by which a more mobile society might be created. Politicians might dispute the particulars, but few question education secretary Michael Gove when he argues that schools are ‘the means by which we liberate every child to become the adult they aspire to be’.
Our new mystery columnist is a freelance journalist as well as the author of several novels, none of which have sold quite as well as he hoped. Now, in the hope of paying the rent until his agent can sell his latest masterpiece, he has taken up a new position: lecturer at a prestigious University…
My profile of the other Blairite ultra in the Department for Education, Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, is on the Ethos journal website.
He, like his Secretary of State, Michael Gove, is carrying on the reforms that started under Tony Blair, and which will be one of the most important legacies of New Labour.
No one could [...]
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