Letter: Fleeing Islington

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The Independent Culture

Fleeing Islington

Sir: As an Islington parent I feel enraged and demoralised by the reports on the so-called failure of Islington education (19 May).

There are three types of parents in Islington. Those with limited resources, financially or socially, send their children to the nearest school that will accept them. Others complain about the local schools and do whatever it takes to get their kids into the school of their choice - by going private, sending them out of the borough, moving house or sudden religious conversion. Others do what we can to support our local schools - on governing bodies and home-school associations, with out-of-school activities and fundraising events - and get as much back as we put in.

Islington is recognised nationally for its exemplary nursery provision and does well at primary level, given its status as the country's 10th poorest area. At secondary level, the problem is that the schools are rendered incapable of providing a comprehensive education. To do so requires a social mix within a school and 40 per cent of 11-year-olds are being sent to non-Islington schools.

If those parents who will do "whatever it takes" to get their own kids into the school of their choice invested as much time and energy into supporting their local schools, then some of the problems could start to be solved. Of course schools also need money, resources and professional support. Ultimately government has to provide this.

But its hard to persuade parents with misgivings that a partnership between the school, local community and education authority is the way to raise standards for all our children when the Prime Minister himself has opted for the "do what's best for my own kids" approach.