The Department for Education currently has a web site headline ‘admissions statistics show there are too few good schools’. My first reaction is one of surprise that such a generalised statement could appear in this way. The statement suggests that in order to be a good school you need to be over subscribed. I won’t go into the host of reasons as to why this does not always follow, not to mention that one might be preferring one good school amongst several, or the research that points to parental support as the over riding determinant of student success. What concerns me is the underlying negative message about schools that seems to be regularly promoted by government and by the media.
I work directly or indirectly with scores of schools and the vast majority seem, in my opinion, to be doing a good job. Even the minority that are struggling still deliver great commitiment and a degree of good teaching . It is worth remembering that our state school system has to manage without the influence and wealth of a significant group of parents who opt out of the system. It is also worth remembering that our system, unlike many countries, is genuinely in loco parentis and provides substantial additional social and psychological support for children and families. Schools also have to cope with a bewildering and exhausting amount of tinkering, often in the name of political parties chasing the floating voter. Who, other than Local Authorities, speaks up for the majority of schools? Schools would surely prosper from the encouragement that would follow from an accurate portrayal of their achievements. The extent to which we can claim to live in a tolerant and civilised society has much to do with the contribution of our schools, particularly the primary school.
I cannot speak with the authority of an official spokesman but I can speak as I find.