Editor-At-Large: Ideals go overboard when it comes to choosing a school

Share
Related Topics

Don't you love the way alleged socialists and the community-minded middle classes justify their biggest act of hypocrisy – claiming that they want better education for all, while paying through the nose to send their offspring to private schools? Marcus Brigstocke, a pleasant enough comedian, has been doing a bit of hand wringing, telling this paper last week, "I have ethical problems with it [my choice] but... I think this is the best environment for them". Rich people always use the feeblest excuses to justify paying to segregate their children from the rest.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, has decided to send his kids, Luke and Liberty, to swanky Norland Place in west London, and says "we made a decision we feel is best for them". Since when did "best" mean "fee- paying"? Even lefty musicians undergo a radical change of heart when they start to breed. New Statesman columnist Alex James, whose band Blur trashed public schools in their song "Charmless Man", is opting for private, protesting "you want your kids to have the best education". The MP Diane Abbott shunned local schools in Hackney and spent thousands sending her son James to a top school, claiming she did not want him to "get in with the wrong crowd". A great message to send to constituents who have no other choice. She claimed that other West Indian mums sympathised with her – shameless.

Private schools account for only 7 per cent of students, but 45 per cent of the Oxbridge intake – and that's the reason middle-class parents, even in a recession, will remortgage their homes, give up holidays, and beg grandparents for cash to meet the fees. As parents struggle to pay this self-imposed tithe, independent schools are getting into debt – they're owed £120,000 on average – and many are raising fees. Surely the time is right for parents to come to their senses, save their lolly and give state education a chance?

I never thought I'd feel sympathy for Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, but I do. Tasked with trying to drag all state schools up to a decent level of achievement, he's besieged on all fronts. He's highly committed, but what about his fellow politicians? Not only does his own party prefer private education for their children, the Prime Minister says he's "terrified"of finding a good state secondary school for his family. The left is no better – many choose faith schools and selective secondaries in the belief that it will give their kids a better start in life. David Miliband is an atheist, yet sends his eldest son to a faith school over a mile away, when there is a secular primary close by. In short, few people in power or in the public eye are willing to endorse state schools.

It's as if Michael Gove is trying to sell us cars that no one in government, the professions or the City would be seen dead driving. He's got plenty of other problems on his plate – Ofqual, the body that monitors exam standards, recently failed to spot that 10 GCSE and A-level papers contained mistakes, affecting up to 250,000 students. They can hold an investigation and castigate exam boards, but surely the buck stops with them. Of course no one will get the sack or resign, and many young people will be denied the university of their choice.

This week, 300,000 teachers plan to strike over changes to their pension arrangements, and Gove has said schools have a "moral duty" to stay open. On top of all that, a review into testing primary school leavers wants to change the creative writing paper and replace it with "right" or "wrong" tick boxes. Doesn't sound very challenging to me. Teachers have moaned and moaned about these test, but the number of kids leaving primary school who are illiterate is shocking.

Gove needs more money for teachers to reduce class sizes – the only way that standards will improve. He needs to introduce quality vocational training for less academic kids at 14, so they will be ready to take up lucrative jobs as plumbers, engineers, and builders. Labour introduced worthless diplomas instead of A-levels, which have left hundreds of thousands of teenagers unemployed and unskilled. I am the product of a state education – and it couldn't have been better. Gove needs cash and moral support from his colleagues and prominent citizens. Sadly it looks as if neither will be forthcoming.

Clooney is many things, but unlucky he is not

I laughed when I read the headline "Lonesome George: why Clooney is unlucky in love" because it contains two obvious untruths.

First, there's something risible about the idea that anyone is "unlucky" if they are single – it implies that being in love and committed to a relationship is the benchmark of true happiness. The second misapprehension is the notion that if you are single you are "lonely".

Utter crap! George Clooney is a control freak and a serial monogamist. He's cleverly segued from one attractive woman to the next, after trying out married life for four years from 1989. He's been a consistent bachelor, who's never deviated from his mantra that single is best. Any girlfriend who starts babbling about babies and commitments, like Elisabetta Canalis stupidly did, will soon be heading for the departure lounge.

If you're good-looking, and have several million in the bank, what's not to like about the single life? There's nothing weird about enjoying the company of the same gang you've known for years. Why do we expect movie stars to behave like ordinary men, with mortgages, irritating kids and money worries? George never has to grow up, thank goodness.

Tesco, where every little hurts

Not much good news for Gordon Ramsay lately – last Monday, US viewers of his series Masterchef USA tuned in to see footage of hundreds of hopeful amateur cooks who had travelled to LA to be auditioned for the chance to win big money on the show.

Sadly, it's easy to see that several people turn up again and again; the scene has been "enhanced" in post-production, repeating the same groups over. If he wasn't a massive draw in LA, will Gordon, right, do any better at the box office in the UK? He appears as himself in the British romcom Love's Kitchen.

One critic calls it "wince-inducing", another says "the F word is Flop". Better stick to soufflés, Gordon.

Gordon's in the soup again

Good to hear that, in spite of the calming influence of the Wombles (who are performing this afternoon), Glastonbury has not lost its subversive element. It's been reported that a fake Tesco shop has been set up on site, displaying a product labelled Value Tinned Kittens – with a sign saying "every little hurts". Could this be local protesters trying to win support for their Facebook campaign to prevent a Tesco being built in the town?

There has been a long-running battle since the council gave planning approval in 2009, when the decision was called in by the Secretary of State. In February 2010, Tesco withdrew its application, but last December it lodged a new proposal for a 25,000sqft store, and some of the locals have been up in arms ever since.





React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Comms / Digital Marketing Specialist

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role exists for a...

Search Engine Optimisation/ SEO Executive

£25000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Electronics Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client are l...

Programme Planner

£30000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Backbencher Ben Gummer is seeking to rename National Insurance  

So much for the Seven Principles that MPs are supposed to abide by

Andy McSmith
 

Is Ed Sheeran the most important British man in black music?

Lee Pinkerton Lee Pinkerton
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor