There\’s an Answer to This

There is in short a systemic problem – a roadblock on the route to meritocracy. Roughly 7% of children are educated at private schools, but these pupils take up 45% of Oxbridge places and a disproportionate amount at other top universities. When so many prizes are still going to a narrow, self-selecting pool of expensively coached talent, this makes a mockery of New Labour\’s protracted silence on the subject.

Recognising this is in 2008 the crucial first-order priority; ways of reducing the unfair premium can then be devised. I am not (unlike Alan Bennett) advocating abolition of private schools. Parents are perfectly entitled to spend their money on giving their children a first-class education. What they are not entitled to is the present assumption that that education almost automatically confers major socio-economic advantages.

Make all schools private. Slap a voucher on the back of every ankle biter and let the market sort them out.

11 comments on “There\’s an Answer to This

  1. Sadly this has nothing to do with better education for ankle biters, it is all to with old-fashioned class hatred – vouchers will not cure the left of this irrational hatred.

  2. “What they are not entitled to is the present assumption that that education almost automatically confers major socio-economic advantages.”

    We’re talking about middle class parents entrenching class advantage, or the need to get 45% of 18 year olds to University so that we have a highly educated workforce to compete in the 21st Century? I get so confused. Is education good or bad now?

  3. “Is education good or bad now?”

    Definitely not a good thing when parents are middle class because:

    “Middle class children who attend state schools with average results, or worse, still do well because of their backgrounds, a study suggests.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7256628.stm

    Evidently, the sharp elbows and nefarious ambitions of the middle classes are undermining government policy for accelerating social mobility through education. The only remaining recourse left open now is more Stalinism, like: eliminate the middle classes as a class, together with promoting more football at school.

    “The average basic salary of a footballer in the English Premiership is £676,000 a year, or £13,000 per week, according to an exclusive survey of professional players by The Independent. That figure typically rises by between 60 and 100 per cent when performance-related bonuses, including for actually playing, are added. . . ”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/163676000-the-average-salary-of-a-premiership-footballer-in-2006-473659.html

    Perhaps the most disturbing implication of all that IQ stuff is that half the population have less than average intelligence.

  4. “What they are not entitled to is the present assumption that that education almost automatically confers major socio-economic advantages.”

    This isn’t an assumption. It is THE fundamental given of a meritocracy. Either you have a meritocracy where people who genuinely want to put some effort in get rewarded or you don’t.

    Polly, and here is a surprise for you , wants to have it both ways.

  5. I’m with Cleanthes there. Of course education confers socio-economic advantages, that’s why we do it. Nutrition confers health advantages, and that’s why we do that.

    Some folk would rather see no individual human advancement at all, rather than accept the natural differentials in talents which are bound to emerge.

  6. “Of course education confers socio-economic advantages, that’s why we do it.”

    Economists divide about whether education is mainly a capital good or a consumption good and which way the causality runs in the positive correlation between economic growth and private and public spending on education.

  7. Make that voucher funded by a parental loan too so parents actually use the school for education rather than as a crèche!

  8. ” It’s junk science.”

    Of course it’s junk science. It’s in the Independent. Ditzy morons, the lot of them. I stopped reading it last year after the editors allowed the Green Goddess to write such utter claptrap as “scientists reassured us that the nuclear bomb was harmless” all the while puffing thinly disguised adverts for crystal shit to protect against ‘radiation’.

  9. “It’s in the Independent.”

    The cited study in the Indy relates to salaries of top professional footballers in top clubs but if you don’t approve of that, how about this:

    “Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe has condemned Chelsea captain John Terry’s salary as ‘obscene’ while criticising Manchester United’s ticket prices. . . Speaking at a sports summit in London, Sutcliffe said: “Good luck to John, but it is obscene to be on £150,000 a week.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/7073432.stm

    And this:

    “The Premiership’s biggest names could soon break through the £200,000-a-week pay barrier, thanks to the League’s new £2.7 billion television windfall. With England captain John Terry close to negotiating a £125,000-a-week contract at Chelsea, football business analysts are predicting that the new television deals will lead to a fresh round of pay rises for the top players.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2007/01/19/sfnbon19.xml

    Two years ago, Richard Caborn, then sports minister, was proposing a cap on football salaies.

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