Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Policy Exchange Idea for Fighting Educational Inequality

The rightwing think-tank, Policy Exchange has come up with an interesting idea to improve education: pay schools a premium for taking children from poor areas. Our educational system is hugely marred by the 40% who fail to earn even 'baseline' qualifications of 5 medium grade GCSEs; with only half of that number going on to remedy the omission at a later date. This lumpen group comprise children from the lowest occupational strata- as has always been the case- where study is not valued or encouraged by parents and where children grow up to pass on such negativity to their children in turn.

Policy Exchange suggest schools should get £3000 for each pupil from the poorest homes, with lower amounts given according to category. The report suggests:

"If these resources were used successfully to boost attainment, middle-class families would start to be attracted to the school, [and] schools in wealthier areas might be incentivised to broaden their admissions criteria to attract higher value pupils."

I can see critics might say this is just 'throwing money' at the problem, in the manner of Blair after 2001, but resources are crucial and these children, as anyone with experience of trying to encourage them that learning is a good idea will know, are awfully, depressingly hard to teach. The Conservative Party- to whom the think tank naturally aims its ideas, have noted the report, though not adopted it as yet. The desperate shortage of funds to solve any problem might cause this idea to be sidelined. However, this attempt to solve one of the UK's most enduring problems of inequality and one which holds us back economically is interesting and, perhaps, a sign that the Conservatives are not short of ideas as they limber up for the next election.

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