Social Engineering Is The Future – For The Chiiiildreeeeen!

Ron Glatter (emeritus professor of educational administration and management at the Open University):

A special report on the UK says that in Britain “both the within and between-school impact of socio-economic background on educational attainment are well above the OECD average”. In fact more of the variation between the performance of different schools is related to their socio-economic intake in the UK than in any of 33 other OECD countries except Luxembourg, though the US runs us close, the report finds.

And you know what that means, don’t you?

This indicates that achieving turnarounds in poor performance will be particularly difficult in the UK where policy-makers imply that most of the variation in performance is down to the competence of the school staff and the school’s “effectiveness”.

Maybe that’s because those are the only areas the policy-makers can influence? They can’t force parents to send their children to particular schools.

Can they?

If politicians were serious about their oft-stated concern for the poor – and their claim to want to match the world’s best – they would do more to ensure that there is a better mix of pupils within schools, which the OECD has consistently urged.

Such as..?

It has found that increasing the social mix within schools boosts the performance of disadvantaged students without any apparent negative effect on overall performance.

So if the disadvantaged students get a performance boost, while the overall performance stays the same…then something must have decreased, mustn’t it? And that must be the performance of the non-disadvantaged students!

So what’s in it for the non-disadvantaged students and their parents? It seems like they would be the losers in this, sacrificed to the needs of the disadvantaged students.

And until there’s something tangible in it for them to offset the supposed decrease in performance, you just aren’t going to persuade them to send their children there.

Reducing our massive inequities will require jettisoning the notion that each school is expected to pull itself up by its own bootstraps whatever its circumstances and create proper structures for professional development, peer support and succession planning, together with strong social policies promoting equity.

And forcibly bussing the children of the Islington movers and shakers to a bog-standard Haringey comp over the anguished pleas of their parents? Because that’s what it’s going to take…

Tell you what; let’s start with all people who’ve written for CiF in the last five years, or who work for the Guardian. Fair?

10 comments for “Social Engineering Is The Future – For The Chiiiildreeeeen!

  1. john in cheshire
    April 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    What was the phrase used by the then government to gag the IRA; deprive them of the oxygen of publicity. Well, organisations such as this, and all other socialist constructs should not only be deprived of the oxygen of publicity, they should also be deprived of the sustenance of funding. Doing that would help to put these trouble-makers back in the very small box that they deserve to inhabit.

    • April 23, 2012 at 7:12 am

      Spot on!

  2. April 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I don’t know how “overall performance” is measured, but at one point some years asgo it was recognised in the education system that focusing on raising the achievement of the lower end risked ignoring/failing to stretch the upper end. So came in the “Gifted and Talented” initiative (aka G&T, nothing good happens without an acronym). However, this appears to have withered on the vine.

    • April 23, 2012 at 7:13 am

      Because eventually the ‘G&T’s were taken out of the system by parents appalled at the scenes in comprehensive schools?

      • April 23, 2012 at 8:43 am

        In my experience, it often seems to have fizzled out because, to the chagrin of the authorities, the vast majority of ‘G&T’ children turned out to be the offspring of successful ‘middle-class’ professionals.

        Faced with the embarrassment of bestowing largesse on those already abundantly equipped with social and financial advantage, some authorities simply allowed the initiative to sink without trace.

        (It goes without saying that to imply heredity plays any role in academic achievement is regarded as heresy in progressive circles.)

  3. ivan
    April 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Many years ago – more than I like to remember – I was teaching in a High School in Australia that had pupils streamed in classes A to F.

    One day I got the job of babysitting an F stream of kids. Not having anything set for them to do we talked about what they wanted to do in life, it was all negative.

    When I asked why they didn’t try to be like the A or B streams the reply I got was – we’ll never get anywhere near them so why bother?

    Later I asked one of my A stream physics classes what they thought of that and many of them gave the answer in reverse – they don’t do anything so why should we strain ourselves?

    You will NEVER raise the strength of anything by diluting it, it is the same with education – mixed ability classes only bring down the overall level of attainment.

    • April 23, 2012 at 7:13 am

      We’ve known this for so long, it makes me wonder why these people are still pushing the idea.

      • nisakiman
        April 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        Because, Julia, they are still wedded to the socialist ideology that all men are equal. However, as someone (I forget who) once quipped, “In socialism, all men are equal; it’s just that some are more equal than others…”

  4. Tattyfalarr
    April 23, 2012 at 11:48 am

    “They can’t force parents to send their children to particular schools, can they ?”

    Oh they’ve been doing that for decades now.

    What did parents think that 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice of middle/secondary school was about. Your children will go where they are told to go.

    If that happens to be where parents want them to go no one is any the wiser.

  5. Monty
    April 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Why do you imagine the very mention of education vouchers send them into paroxysms of rage? They know perfectly well what would happen, a divergence between the families who take education seriously, who would cluster around the school with the highest academic and disciplinary standards, and the scallies, who would take over the local comprehensive default school and turn it into Soweto.
    And onlookers would be drawn to the conclusion that there are indeed two kinds of people in the world….

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