Coddington on school choice

An excellent column:

It’s about time parents formed a union equally as militant as the teachers’ unions and Principals’ Federation. Because who, in the current war over national standards in education, is sticking up for the kids?

A parents’ union – not a bad idea.

The education unions whine that if these standards proceed, media will publish them, parents will compare teachers and , and do what I and hundreds of other parents do – exercise choice. Well, we can’t have that, can we?

We’re trusted to choose our family doctor, our car, our fridge, our house, our MP, but when it comes to choosing the school our children go to, if the left have their way, we must go where the State dictates. Only those who can afford it are lucky enough to choose.

Spot on.

This all reminds me so much of that wonderful British comedy written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, Yes, Prime Minister. I’m thinking in particular of the episode titled “The National Education Service” when the Prime Minister decides he will let parents take their children to any school they choose. Sir Humphrey explodes into protest: “That’s preposterous. You can’t just let parents make these choices. How on earth would parents know which schools are best?”

Sir Humphrey, the consummate bureaucrat, is then asked which school he went to. It was Winchester, he says, and it was excellent. And who chose it?

“My parents, naturally, that’s quite different. My parents were discerning people. You can’t expect ordinary people to know where to send their people.”

I’ve said this many times – Yes Minister was a documentary.

I have no doubt the leaders of teacher and principal unions, when they buy a car or house, compare brands, neighbourhoods, or performance. Why then, when parents must by law trust their most precious and loved children to other adults’ care, do these same unionists deny them the right to compare schools’ performance?

Hundreds of primary school principals are threatening to keep secret the standards data because it might lead to a “blame and shame” culture. That behaviour graphically illustrates where their best interests lie, and it’s not with their pupils. Perhaps they need reminding of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

Once the date is made available, I’m wondering how hard it would be to do a mashup with it on Google Maps. People could see schools in their local areas, and their assessment data. You could even add stuff in like decile ratings, level of school funding etc.

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