Thursday, March 01, 2007

Brighton and Hove and the school places lottery

School places, and who goes where , is a hotly fought over issue in Brighton and Hove . The Council have come up with a new process , creating new catchment areas and lotteries within them for school places.The aim is to give all children , not just those whose parents can buy into the 'good' areas , a choice.
Its divided opinion amongst parents who are arguing as to whether or not it succeeds.

What exactly does choice mean?
Well if all things were equal, and all schools were well resourced and provided a good education, I suspect it would mean being able to go to a school close by or where other friends or siblings were.

Of course this is not really the agenda behind the 'choice ' debate in Brighton and Hove. As in most places those with the money buy houses close to the 'good' schools. The nice middle class parents want to retain some loose grip on their soft lefty principles and send little Chakra to a state school. Of course this is a state school with other nice middle class children.

As with other areas , as well as moving near to good schools many parents go to great lengths to get a place at their chosen school.Some pretend to be good church goers to get into a CofE school. I even knew of one work colleague who was so desperate that she obtained a psychiatric assessment for her sons which said they would be traumatised if they could not go to the right school. Of course being best mates with one of the local psychiatrists did not hinder this process.

For those working class parents stuck on the local sprawling estate there isn't any other options, they have to go to the local school and take what they are given.

Some parents were interviewed on the radio and were outraged at the decision. One mother said that her house was no longer in the catchment area that it had always been. Translation:

Do you now how much over the odds I paid for this house just to get near a good school?

Now my house price will drop.

My child can't possibly go to a school with the great unwashed, hoodie wearing , asbo collecting kids from the council estate.

Of course if all schools were of a good standard and well resourced there would not be such heated arguments and drastic measures employed by parents. Its about a high quality education for all our children and that is in short supply and hotly fought over.
In that regards I think the latest school selection process by Brighton and Hove council is no worse or better than any other. Its tinkering but does not address the inequalities in quality.

Of course whatever the quality of school I am sure some middle class parents will still want to have their own class apartheid and keep their children away from the working class council estate masses.