Wednesday, February 28, 2007

That School Lottery

The BBC has been carrying this story about Brighton and Hove Council, currently Labour controlled, which has decided to end allocation of school places by catchment area and instead use a lottery.

At the last general election the Conservative party also wanted to scrap catchment areas in favour of parental choice but not a lottery.

The reasoning is clear. With a catchment area system what happens is that people with money buy out the catchment area and less well off people don't get a look in. It's clearly daft as people are effectively buying state provision.

Apparently some parents are going to mount a legal challenge. I have a bit of a problem with this. Firstly the council is democratically elected, so ought to be able to decide on local policy, but secondly and rather more importantly there is an election there in May so if the policy is unpopular, the council can be thrown out.

Update 20:10

I hear, (but it may be wrong) that the two most deprived areas in the city of Brighton and Hove, Moulscombe and Whitehawk have their own schools and are not within the new catchments areas of any others even under this new scheme.

If true, it is nice to know that Labour in the city are doing their bit to keep social exclusion going.

If any one can confirm this rumour I would appreciate it.


Anonymous said...

It's happening in Suffolk too, and I think everywhere, it's part of the new Labour policy. Our whole lives are going to be a lottery from now on.

Benedict White said...

Well, if you live in some postcodes I suppose that where your kids go to school is a lottery!

Mind you they do this sort of thing in the US and it's popular with parents.

Unknown said...

It can't possibly work if they are, at the same time, encouraging secondary schools to specialise.

I live in Exeter. One of the secondary schools has become a "college of Arts" which now only offers single award science GCSE. Completely useless if your kid is scientifically inclined. Likewise one of the other schools is a "science and technology college".

I'm not particularly enamoured of the specialisation. I think they've taken it way too far. However, the only thing that could make it worse would be if they started allocating the poor kids to the specialist schools randomly.

Benedict White said...

Timothy, that is of course one of the problems with "specialist schools". If you are in the wrong area, you have a problem.

Anonymous said...

This morning we received the news that our younger daughter had been given her first choice- a secondary modern girl's only school. Our Elder daughter passed the 11+ for a Grammar School six years ago.
The best way is for the re-introduction of selective schools with grammar and properly funded techical schools but most per capita funding should be in the technical sector