Thursday, 8 November 2007

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

A row is growing over plans to shut the most successful school in Stoke-on-Trent as part of a £200m area-wide reorganisation.

The local council is proposing to shut all its secondaries, many of which perform badly, and reopen 12 new ones.

One of those in the frame is a Catholic selective school, St Joseph's College. It could not reopen as a grammar and perhaps not even as a faith school.

Parents are up in arms and pupils are organising online petitions.

Stoke's restructuring is part of the government's Building Schools for the Future refurbishment programme.

Its informal consultation says: "Some areas of the city that once had lots of young people now have fewer and other areas of the city are due to have new homes built.

"To make sure that we have the right size schools in the right places, we have looked again at the number and location of all secondary schools. Some changes are needed."

It says it is trying to avoid, "a two-tier system, where some schools are perceived as being better than others by virtue of their name, facilities or governance."

Isn't that just so typically socialist? Not all schools can be equally good, therefore all must be made equally bad.

You are never going to have a system in which all schools everywhere are equally good, and it does seem that Stoke-on-Trent is cursed with a lot of failing schools. And of course it is quite reasonable that the council should want to take action - possibly quite drastic action - to try to resolve the problems faced by those schools. But what good can possibly come of closing down a school which, so far from being a failing school, is in fact very successful?
Given St Joseph's' apparently excellent record, the likelihood is that children who are at present being educated at St Joseph's will, if the council's plans go through, receive an education which is, to one degree or another, inferior to that which they are receiving at the moment. Certainly it is highly unlikely that they will receive a better education. As such, it's difficult to escape the conclusion that Stoke's Labour mayor and council leaders are just taking the opportunity to reduce the number of grammar schools in the UK, to push the British education system that little bit further towards a state entirely free of such elitist anachronisms as selection and excellence. And if they should happen to harm the education of hundreds of children in the process - well that's just too bad.


JuliaM said...

"But what good can possibly come of closing down a school which, so far from being a failing school, is in fact very successful?"

Idealogical good, of course. For the aging class warriors in Nu Labour, the best kind...

Anonymous said...

I agree. Closing down the good schools is the only true reason for this exercise in the first place. They are being punished for showing up the failings of the rest.