"[W]e have almost no comprehensive schools left. The children of the wealthy are educated in successful schools that select by mortgage price. The children of the poor are ring-fenced away in warehouse schools, where they mostly falter and fail. Because there isn't much academic selection, this system is called "comprehensive" - but only because because we have defined comprehensives down, accepting as a comp any school which doesn't have the 11-plus."What he says is, I think much more the case in England rather than Scotland (there is no 11-plus here) but in general he's right: we don't really have very many comprehensive schools, certainly not in our cities; what we have instead is neighbourhood schools. If you live in a shit neighbourhood, your kids will go to shit schools and if you live in a good neighbourhood, chances are the schools will be much better too. Negative exceptions include Glasgow where even if you live in a good neighbourhood, your kids will still go to a shit school where they run the risk of having me as their teacher - but in general I think the pattern holds.
Johann is also right, I think, in discerning behind the hostility towards the Brighton school lottery a desire to insulate postcode selection against any element of chance:
"The parents in the most plush catchment areas will fight like lionesses to preserve their privilege, and the national Labour leadership will be queasy about taking them on with measures that look like a shift to the left. So it's up to the rest of us to lobby our councils to make sure Brighton is not only a burning beacon of real educational opportunity, but the start of a nationwide bushfire."Indeed. But before attempting to initiate the 'brushfire', could we perhaps consider a couple of points?
One is, if the lottery principle was extended and this by chance produced a set of school placement results that were even more class-stratified than they are now, would anyone be happy with, or even accept, the results? I doubt it.
The other is, could we not give up quite so easily on the idea that, rather than devising mechanisms whereby people are given equal opportunities to escape shit schools, it just might be possible to make our shit schools less shit? I do appreciate this quaint notion will be insufficiently profound for the erudite minds on the pro-choice or pro-grammar school left of today.