Par­ents just want good lo­cal schools

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

If you wanted an il­lus­tra­tion of the lengths par­ents go to se­cure a place at a high­per­form­ing school, it came in a sur­vey this week. It sug­gested many are will­ing to pay a pre­mium on house prices of £32,000 to move into the catch­ment ar­eas of de­sir­able schools. The quest for a “good” school and the wish to give chil­dren the best start is noth­ing new or star­tling. In Kent, the pop­u­lar­ity of gram­mar schools is such that a thriv­ing coach­ing cul­ture has evolved, which crit­ics of the 11-plus say skews the odds to­wards those who can af­ford to pay for tu­ition. To their credit, county ed­u­ca­tion chiefs have recog­nised the prob­lem and have in­tro­duced a new set of tests de­signed to min­imise this fac­tor – al­beit with mixed re­sults. Gram­mars are high-achiev­ing schools and so they should be – their in­take rep­re­sents the 25% most aca­dem­i­cally able chil­dren, at least on the ba­sis of the 11-plus. But they are not for ev­ery child. Many head teach­ers say they are of­ten left to deal with the chal­lenge of pupils who have been coached or tu­tored re­lent­lessly only to strug­gle once they start at a gram­mar. The in­creas­ing frag­men­ta­tion of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, with academies and free schools, is sup­pos­edly de­signed to give par­ents more choice. But di­ver­sity within the sys­tem does not nec­es­sar­ily equal choice – es­pe­cially in more ru­ral ar­eas. The fact re­mains that what most par­ents want are good lo­cal schools of­fer­ing a var­ied cur­ricu­lum for their chil­dren.

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