Saturday, May 19, 2007

Church of England to finance City Academies

As the Conservative Party has announced its decision to abandon support for the grammar school system of selective education, Cranmer is bemused by the level of dismay the news has generated among traditional supporters. The Conservative Party purposely dismantled the system in the 1970s, and has done nothing to revive it during any of the years it has been in office since. Their policy is actually unchanged. Grammar schools have been the single greatest mechanism for social mobility in the country’s history. Any political party with an interest in social justice, as the present Conservative Party professes, cannot ignore the undeniable fact that they provided children from working-class background the chance to go to a school where the brightest and hardest-working could flourish. They were truly meritocratic, and therefore the embodiment of a foundational Conservative principle.

David Willetts has now declared that the grammar system is failing to help children from poor backgrounds achieve academic success. Setting aside that this may have something to do with the fact that the remaining grammars are only in those affluent areas where eloquent Conservative Party supporters argued persuasively for their retention decades ago, the conclusion hinges solely upon the statistics for the number of children claiming free school meals. Note that it is ‘claiming’; not those ‘entitled to’. For all manner of issues of ‘pride’, especially among some low-income minority-ethnic households, there is a considerable disparity between these two figures. Mr Willetts is therefore wrong to depend upon their reliability, and ought to examine more reliable data. His aim, however, is to make it much easier for new suppliers to enter the market and for there to be new models of schools. This is considerable progress.

While City Academies have achieved very mixed results under Mr Balir, under Conservative development they could offer smaller class sizes, an adaptable curriculum, and permit teachers and heads to experiment and innovate. Labour's education failure could indeed be turned around into a Conservative success, but not by adhering to outdated socialist educational dogma.

In fulfilment of its commitment to social justice, most notably during the 18th century, the Church of England has announced that it is to open 100 academy schools. They will be state funded but privately run by the newly-founded Church of England Academies Services Ltd, and will operate mainly in deprived areas. They will have a Christian ethos, but will be open to children of all faiths or none. The church already runs five academies and more than 200 other secondary schools, and has said it is ‘committed to providing good schools for the poorest. We're not looking for a short-term rise in exam results or for trophy schools, but for long-term improvement’.

Cranmer thinks it is wrong to be hung up on nomenclature and ‘outdated’ terminology. He has always supported grammar schools, but is committed to the principle of selection rather than to the label. City academies profess to rule out ‘arbitrary selection’ and promise a long-overdue emphasis on excellence. They may not have delivered, but, most importantly, specialist academies do perpetuate the principle of selection because they are permitted to select a percentage of their students by aptitude. Cranmer is unsure of the distinction between aptitude and ability, indeed, they appear to amount to the same thing. This being the case, amidst the reality that no party was ever going to re-introduce the grammar system, City Academies are quite possibly worth developing. They are not glorified comprehensives; they have an autonomy and an ethos that make them quite distinct.

Education reform must reassert the undeniable reality that bright children taught alongside other bright children do better. The Conservative Party asserts that setting and streaming achieve this. But Cranmer would like the party to consider something else - ‘vertical tutoring’. This has the capacity to create a ‘grammar stream’ within each school. These students are not then limited and held back by their age (as presently in the horizontal streaming system operating in most schools), but the vertical system would see, for example, the most able Year 9s being taught alongside Year 11s, and so on. It would even be possible for very able to skip entire years, perhaps entering school in (say) Year 8, or sitting increasingly-easy GCSEs in Year 9 or 10, and A-levels much earlier. Such a system is truly meritocratic. It manifestly stretches the brightest, and ends the absurdly simplistic age-discrimination; indeed, it would return English education to a golden era when it was possible to enter university in one’s early teens. And what could be wrong with that?

31 Comments:

Anonymous Dave Bartlett said...

Acadamies / Grammars aside, I think it's super news that the CofE is going to be opening more schools. I think Mr Cameron is right when he says we have a problem of civic responsibility, and civility, today and I feel the church can play an important role in changing that.

[Mr Cameron's talk on civility at the RSA is now available online]

19 May 2007 at 10:45  
Anonymous Bradford said...

The C of E is playing its role as handmaiden to the Government. In our area they opened an Emmanuel College which is basically a slum school. The teachers go AWOL when the police round up the truanting pupils, and it changes headteacher with the seasons. It has its name in neon lights above the door and is not quite the proverbial sink, but not far off.

The Cathedral City School is a C of E sink school. It has been in special measures for years. It was proposed to merge it with Dixons City Technology College until it revolted.

Now some group called Toc-H has been conned into turning it into an Academy. That will be a good PFI property deal to house another slum school.

No doubt Bradford and Leeds Grammar Schools will be quaking in their boots as The Academy betrays every principle Plato had in mind when he founded his.

The poor MA Cantab who had to liaise on this educational desolation moved on to Lambeth Palace where his background was better employed than engaging in such deluded games as trying to brand failed inner city schools as "Christian" to entice middle-class parents to sacrifice their children to political ideology.

The Church of England successfully branded primary schools but it is synonymous round here with Ofsted Special Measures Comprehensives.

What might work in leafy Braodstairs is not too successful in Muslim Bradford

19 May 2007 at 12:28  
Blogger jjlp86 said...

A very well written considered piece. I am a supporter of Grammar schools largely based on my own experience (the Grammar I attended changed to comprehensive just before I left and the effect was dramatic). I have linked to it on my blog.

http://joshty.blogspot.com

19 May 2007 at 13:15  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Oh incidentally the Church of England will probably not be financing anything. As usual there will be a commitment but ni real money and soft loans to get the C of E to brand these comprehensives.


So few of the sponsors of Academies have parted with real cash so i suppose the C of e will simply do as it does with primary schools - commit to pay 20% down which the Government will loan on very very very soft terms with carried interest, and hey presto the taxpayer will have funded another RBS-sponsored comprehensive school with a C of E logo over the door

19 May 2007 at 14:56  
Anonymous Voyager said...

C of E Schools

How many Church of England schools are there?

* 25.3% of all state primary schools in England are Church of England schools - that's 4,470 schools.
* 5.8% of all state secondary schools in England are Church of England schools - 220 schools.
* 18.6% of all primary pupils and 5.8% of all secondary pupils attend these schools and these percentages in each case are growing.



Academies: some academies are designated as having Church of England character. Academies are independent schools, owned by their trustees, governors employ the staff and are the admissions authority. The church appoints a minority of governors, religious education and worship are distinctively Anglican, set up capital is provided partly by the trustees. Revenue, and continuing capital funding are provided by the DfES. No fees are charged.

Development of Church of England schools

Following a report by the Dearing commission in 2001, the General Synod of the Church of England embarked on an ambitious development of 100 additional secondary schools. By October 2004 over 25 have been opened or expanded, a further 15 are scheduled to open in the next two years and 36 more are at various stages of planning.

19 May 2007 at 18:32  
Anonymous Athanasius said...

Some of these Academies will be joint Anglican/RC. This, I suggest, is a real triumph: recognising that the Enemy is sufficiently great and powerful for us to work together.

19 May 2007 at 21:01  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

I am a teacher and so you will forgive me for being so keen to tell you that some of what you say is just WRONG WRONG WRONG. But some is good.

It is silly to try to make this distinction between those who claim and those who are eligible for free school meals. The stats are correct. It is a very simple fact: There are few working class children in grammar schools. But perhaps one might want to argue that this does not matter? Private schools are allowed to exist, so why not grammar schools? But of course, the state does not fund the private sector... Or does it? Hmm... yes, I think there is an argument there after all.

Clearly the best route to go is to abolish all selection for everyone. You only consider the handful (literally 10 or 15) working class children who make it into the grammar school. What about the hundreds who do not make it, and who, without the clever ones who are locked away from them into the private and grammar sector, simply wallow away or are turned into the criminals who try to rob your house?

20 May 2007 at 19:31  
Anonymous Voyager said...

There are few working class children in grammar schools.

Simply incorrect. There are very few Grammar Schools - 164 out of 3000 Secondary Schools. They are in Conservative areas - largely North Yorkshire, Kent, Buckinghanshire and, I assume, Berkshire.

Only in State Schools can you claim Free School Meals for which the household income must be below £14.000 and the family must NOT be in receipt of Tax Credits. The family cannot claim as EU nationals from Accession States for 12 months but can as Asylum Seekers.

The whole system of Free School Meals is ridiculous. Either all should have school meals or none. To means-test school meals is divisive and stupid.

We should progress to the German system of NO school meals, or every child should have free school meals.

Clearly the best route is to privatise all schools and make teachers employed by the governors directly. The huge sums of public money currently spent on Education £77,000,000,000 is the entire revenue collected in VAT

In terms of outcomes the money is wasted. To spend £1.5 billion each week on Education and have the output statistics this country displays shows profligate use of public resources.

The system should be selective, and allocative, and the farcical delusions upon which the system currently labours discarded wholesale. The world owes noone a living, and this country has a very mediocre position in the world, made dire by the wasteful and debased excuse for an education system.

It is time to break open the structures and inject competition into the system which is rather like Soviet agriculture in its current form, with exceptionally low yields and huge investment and featherbedding.

No country in Europe spends as much on primary education as England. No child should be permitted to progress unless fully proficient in all skills requied at the requisite age level.

English State Education works on turning out mass-produced units at lowest average cost, it is the sausage-factory and it is costing far too much money to turn out undifferentiated product

20 May 2007 at 20:03  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

who are locked away from them into the private and grammar sector, simply wallow away or are turned into the criminals who try to rob your house?

How can you write such stuff ? Deprived of highly academic pupils to bully in the playground, children grow up to become burglars according to a self-professed teacher

So the 85% pupils attending a Comprehensive School are according to this teacher, criminally inclined because they do not get to sit in the same classroom and study Latin and Ancient Greek with children who wish to do so.

No wonder State Education is so dire

20 May 2007 at 20:06  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Voyager, I am impressed by your stats. Yes of course there are few grammar schools about. But I'm not sure you have demonstrated that there are lots of working class children in them.

Clarendon Code, why do you assume that able pupils will be bullied in a state school? And of course I don't mean to suggest that all children in state schools are 'criminally inclined' as you put it. I am exaggerating. But yes, if you take away the able, it is hard to give higher aspirations to the rest. It is well known by those in education that those schools without a middle class intake struggle.

And why so angry? No need to insult me... is there?

Snuffy

20 May 2007 at 21:40  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

Well Snuffy, I see no insult. It is a simple statement of fact based on your text.

21 May 2007 at 05:57  
Anonymous Voyager said...

But I'm not sure you have demonstrated that there are lots of working class children in them.

I don't see why I should. Education is not run for the benefit of the working class as you so poetically describe it. It never was.

Education has a Latin root meaning to draw out. I don't think schools do that. I think we spend far too much money on Education, almost as much as on the NHS. Some parents pay twice - first the £5000 in taxes per state school place then the £6000 for a private day school (£10.000 pre-tax)

That means poor quality provision by The State leads to double-consumption. It is wasteful. I look at State Schools in new buildings, new names, but the same old dross. Money lavished on ancillary staff with titles and few functions.

State Schools are not educational institutions, they are social experiments. On any criterion they have failed but at huge expense. We cannot afford to spend £300 million each day on Education - at some stage Brown will have to impose cuts or raise taxes even higher.

It is time to introduce means-tested top-up fees into State Schools and get rid of this notion that it is free and worthless.

Teaching is the lowest entry qualification for any profession and is no longer a middle class occupation but the path into the professions for the working class.

It is not imbued with values and character of education and learning, but simply of ticket punching. It is teachers who destroyed education, undermined discipline, introduced crackpot ideas, and who want a monopoly on childcare.

The simple fact is that as teaching unions have become imbued with blue-collar attitudes they have embraced the closed-shop approach to schooling and the pitifully poor standards of discipline, learning, and the full panoply of trades union attitudes of the 1970s.

21 May 2007 at 06:08  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

Clarendon Code - the insult was implied in the statement about state education being so dire - ie because of teachers who are as stupid as me. But I can take it, don't worry.

Voyager - What does 'draw out' mean exactly? I think I draw much out of the children I teach. But no doubt to your surprise, I agree with much of what you say. Yes, the money is spent on all the wrong things: new buildings, interactive white boards etc. I have been shouting for years for a means-tested top up fees system as you say. But I don't demand it for the reasons you list (essentially because you don't think taxpayers should pay so much). Rather, I think that when people pay for things, they tend to appreciate it more. The welfare state teaches people to just hold out their hands. And I can't bear it when my students demand exercise books or treat their textbooks badly because they didn't buy it themselves.

You are right to describe the modern profession of teaching as you do. But teachers didn't make it this way. You should blame those who write the policies who turn teachers into bureaucrats. Blame the Ofsted criteria sheets for what is deemed a 'good' lesson. Blame the media and yourself for always blaming teachers.

Who wants a monopoly on childcare? I have no children. Crack pot ideas? What, like my idea that all children should have a decent education and be able to mix with all sorts of other children? And how can you say that teachers have undermined discipline? Blame the liberals who insist on schools being 'inclusive' and will not permit exclusions.

But yes, you are right about the unions. Abolish them all I say.

To both Voyager and Clarendon Code, check out my blog: www.tomisswithlove.blogspot.com
Would be interesting to hear what right-wingers such as yourselves(ouch) might think of what I say.

21 May 2007 at 21:22  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

State Education is dire because of the way politicians and teachers make people feel their children are raw material in a political experiment.

They are treated with such low expectations and excused every failing without being held to account and told they have to prove themselves against an objective yardstick, fail, get up again, and do it all over, and not to give up.

As for your Blog...you could have gone to EBay to buy your Nokia...loads of old phones sold off by the upgraders......you had low expectations when lending the electric bike (valid ones) and were pleasantly surprised you found the boys that return what they borrow (always a pleasant surprise in life).

You probably have a tiresome job and think discipline is better in Jamaican schools, though I gather London streets are resembling Kingston streets.

I admire your fortitude but really see no reason why schools should not be disciplined and why any child should not excel at the basics nor why peer pressure should not control classes and reinforce learning

22 May 2007 at 07:13  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

How do teachers make people feel their children are raw material in a political experiment? I understand how you might accuse politicians of this, but teachers? Most teachers want to teach because they love their subject and because they like children. And then they apply to a school where they hope they will be happy. I can assure you that they aren't thinking about politics!

I always laugh when people who aren't teachers talk of low expectations. Have you been in a state school recently? Have you tried to teach in one? How about one in Peckham or Hackney? Most teachers work over 60 hours a week in a job that is emotionally draining, mentally exhausting and physically demanding. And they do so because they believe in stretching the children they teach. Circumstances and systems prevent them from doing so. And if you tried it out for a week, you would be able to speak from an informed position, rather than one of prejudice.

At least you admit to seeing no reason why schools should not be disciplined. What I don't understand is why you don't ask, say... me... who is a teacher and who might know better than you?

No. Instead you make your prejudiced assumptions. Not that this is unusual of course - you are just following in the footsteps of the media.

And how do you have the audacity to tell me that my job is tiresome? I am sure you wouldn't dare say this of most jobs because you would have the sense to consider that perhaps you have no idea what that job is like. But when it comes to teaching, as everyone was once a student, everything thinks they know what it is to teach. If I thought my job tiresome, I wouldn't do it.

And as for Jamaican discipline... I have no idea what it is like. My mother is Jamaican. I visited there for the first time this year in February.

But thanks for admiring my fortitude. I need it to argue with people like you...

22 May 2007 at 19:04  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

Sorry Cranmer - I meant my last comment for Clarendon Code, not for you.

In fact Clarendon, if you're still speaking to me, why not just leave a comment on my blog and we can continue this conversation there. Cranmer must be fed up with us!

Also, reading some more of my stories might give you some insight into the profession you love to hate so much.

22 May 2007 at 19:49  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

Actually snuffy enough members of my family are glad to have left teaching in state schools.

I know a good deal about state schools - though you I suspect know more about ILEA.

Peckham I do know well....when it had no gun crime, and you could walk safely across it....do you recall ?

What these children lack is FEAR...fear of failure....and drive to succeed

Again, a place my family exited rather than watch it fall into steep decline.

I don't hate teaching, I just have little regard for its results. I do not like to see £77 billion wasted on turning this country into a Third World slum....and believe me the future is grim.

You have had a 50% real increase in spending on Education since 2001 and you will never see that again. The failure of State education is evident after pouring billions into Education plus a £45 billion building programe for PFI Secondary Schools ongoing.

This country has 62 million people and without huge levels of public spending huge numbers of them would be unemployed since we are technologically backward and masters of subsidised low wage jobs.

Throughout history it is the industrial country with the largest population that has been No1....first it was Britain as the largest unified market in Europe.......then Germany and the USA.......now we are seiing India and China, each with a population greater than all industrial nations combined........

When China wants oil it can take it, when it wants coal it can take it........send 50 million troops to occupy Iran and leave 1.5 billion at home.

The greatest shift in global power for 300 years is taking place and we cannot even turn out children who can count, read a map, spell, or even talk properly let alone dress properly or act like they might have to carry bags for the Chinese businessmen who will dominate their lives

22 May 2007 at 20:19  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

Ok Clarendon - as you insist on staying put...

I think we have reached an agreement. Read my comment on Cranmer's entry today and you will see why.

It is because it is so dire (and in many ways it is) that my job in education is so thrilling. The fight for justice in the face of every opposition keeps me on my toes.

I linked my school up with a school in China, went there in October last year and taught some lessons. The school was extraordinary, the children polite, bright and curious, and as you say, fearful. There were star charts on the walls to show everyone who was the best, and indeed, who was the worst. You would be shot on the spot if you even suggested such a thing in state schools here. Yet in the private sector, this is normal practice. There is a reason why China is set to take over the world and we are not.

I have no idea what Peckham used to be like. I am too young to remember both a sophisticated Peckham and for ILEA. Maybe that's why I don't match your standard 'teacher old labour hating anything deemed right-wing' image.

22 May 2007 at 21:17  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Cranmer must be fed up with us!

Ms Snuffy,

You are most welcome to His Grace's august blog of intelligent and erudite comment. He only gets 'fed up' with those who are incapable of fulfilling these prerequisites, or those who post anonymously. Your profession is to be admired, and you are more than welcome among His Grace's communicants.

22 May 2007 at 21:40  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

There were star charts on the walls to show everyone who was the best, and indeed, who was the worst. You would be shot on the spot if you even suggested such a thing in state schools here.

My State Primary School had exactly this feature on the wall with coloured stars and gold stars.....a bit like the Olympics where of course those placed 4th and below get no recognition

23 May 2007 at 04:56  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

Your Grace, I am much obliged. And thank you for the admiration. It is much appreciated. But might I ask why you are annoyed with those who post anonymously? Far be it of me to disagree, but do you and I, and indeed all of us, not do the same...?

Clarendon, did this star chart then not list those who were below 4th place? If it did not, this is key. In China, there was no fear of embarrassing the worst performer. And was this your own Primary? Might I be bold and ask then exactly what year this star chart existed? My guess is that if you visited your old Primary now, those star charts would have long disappeared...

23 May 2007 at 20:48  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

Clarendon, did this star chart then not list those who were below 4th place? I

The Clarendon Code not Clarendon....the difference is major.

You missed my point - The Olympics are concerned only with Gold, Silver, Bronze....and ignoring the "failures" seems acceptable to both spectators and athletes.......but in a school you tell us rankings are not permitted.......in my time at an excellent State Primary School all 38 children received stars.....we even had 40 in a class.

My old primary is gone.....like all good things

23 May 2007 at 21:00  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

Ok ok Clarendon Code... I just thought having had what might consitute a conversation, I would give you a nickname. I suppose I need to say THE too...? Boy you sure are sensitive.

Yes, I had missed the point. I get it now. Why did they knock down your school?

23 May 2007 at 21:48  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

I can see that you have no grasp of English History to know what The Clarendon Code is.....


Boy you sure are sensitive.

Yes the history of this country should be known by all....even teachers

24 May 2007 at 06:10  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

I can know what The Clarendon Code is and still call you Clarendon, can't I? Like if your name was The Battle of Waterloo, I could have called you Battle...right?

Or not, it would seem.

Though I'm not sure why the history of THIS country should be known by all.

My goodness, enough already!

24 May 2007 at 07:38  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

Though I'm not sure why the history of THIS country should be known by all.

You have rather summed up the dire state of education....we have it appears, nothing in common

24 May 2007 at 13:58  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

Dear Clarendon Code - Why do you insist on insulting me?! Why not explain instead why you think everyone in the world should know British history. Why the assumption that it is somehow more important than the histories of other countries? And do you mean ALL of British history? Or just the bits that do not bring shame? And from whose perspective should it be taught?

Your statement assumes so much and is loaded with prejudice, yet you think nothing of it. It reminds me of your statements about teachers...

24 May 2007 at 23:23  
Anonymous The Clarendon Code said...

Why the assumption that it is somehow more important than the histories of other countries? And do you mean ALL of British history? Or just the bits that do not bring shame?

You mean you don't knowv the history of any other countries either ?!!!!!!!!

Or just the bits that do not bring shame?

So typical - my comments on State education are sustained in that one comment. You know little British history let alone English history but you bring your prejudice and blinkers to the subject.

Ignorance is Strength was the motto in Orwell's description of what obviously motivates teachers in some of our schools

25 May 2007 at 07:10  
Anonymous Snuffy said...

Ok. I think I need to just withdraw gracefully from this. I don't understand your need to insult my colleagues and me. I have been very gracious, dodging your blows, but this is too much. You clearly have no concept of shame, either for yourself or for your country. How do you know what I know? In any case, it doesn't matter. Find yourself some manners sir! I understand they try to teach them at primary school - both state, and private. You might want to try your luck there.

Snuffy

25 May 2007 at 07:33  
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