Umm, Polly?

Interestingly, however, this is not a programme the present Swedish conservative government is expanding; only about 10% of Swedish children attend "free" schools, and Reinfeldt\’s ministers say their energy is directed to improving ordinary state schools. "Free" schools have proved socially divisive, attracting more middle-class families and ethnic minorities, many have restrictive academic admissions criteria, and there is intense unease over new segregated faith schools.

Here is an example of how "choice" can also restrict choice: a former social democrat minister tells me he is sad he feels he no longer has the choice to send his child to the once socially mixed neighbourhood school that he attended. Instead she travels miles away to a "free" school, where the brightest children have congregated, making his old school much worse. It\’s an irony that the Swedish conservatives no longer promote the "free" schools that Cameron will make his centrepiece policy: expect similarly divisive effects.

I\’m sorry, but how can anyone actually look at that description of the Swedish school system and say that choice restricts choice?

8 thoughts on “Umm, Polly?”

  1. Tesco restricts choice because no sane person chooses to do all the shopping on the high-street where there’s no parking and it takes 3 hours longer. So Tesco, combined with logic, has removed a choice, see?

    On the same basis, treating mental illness prevents the choice of repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a pencil.

  2. “..how can anyone actually look at that description of the Swedish school system and say that choice restricts choice?”

    It probably helps if, like Polly, the grey matter between your ears is given over entirely to the motor control needed to operate a keyboard, leaving none left for the task of thinking….

    “…a former social democrat minister tells me he is sad he feels he no longer has the choice to send his child to the once socially mixed neighbourhood school that he attended. Instead she travels miles away to a “free” school, where the brightest children have congregated”

    So, just like in the UK, MPs don’t feel obligated to inflict their policies on their own kids, just on everyone elses..?

  3. Free” schools have proved socially divisive, attracting more middle-class families and ethnic minorities,

    I never thought I’d see the day that the Guardian would claim a school that attracted more ethnic minorities was socially divisive!

  4. On the same basis, treating mental illness prevents the choice of repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a pencil.

    You owe me a new keyboard. Good stuff…

  5. JuliaM hits the spot. Said minister is probably the biggest hypocrite in the known universe – he could of course send his daughter to his old (presumably not-so-good school) but chooses to send her to a better one further away.

  6. How does that minister not have the choice to send his child to the local school? He chooses not to do so. Just as our politicians choose not to do so but, unlike the Swedish ones, they can impose lack of choice on the rest of the population.

  7. “Interestingly, however, this is not a programme the present Swedish conservative government is expanding; only about 10% of Swedish children attend “free” schools”

    Fraser Nelson in the Spectator seems to think otherwise (http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/526631/part_2/made-in-sweden-the-new-tory-education-revolution.thtml):-

    “Today one in every eight schools in Sweden is a so-called ‘free school’ — some 900 already, with a further 1,550 applications granted last year. That said, Hultin also points out that most of these applications do not result in new schools. ‘Many applications are by parents wanting to pressure a council which is threatening to close down a local school,’ he says. So of course, if the council backs down, the application is unnecessary.”

    Maybe the “free” sector isn’t expanding because it doesn’t need to. The threat of parents taking their money elsewhere is enough for councils to provide good services.

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